MASHIKI, Japan – The power of the earthquakes was unlike any that most had experienced before. On back-to-back nights last week, the Japanese city of Kumamoto and nearby communities were rocked by earthquakes that knocked over dozens of homes, killed at least 41 and sent 180,000 people to temporary shelters. The voices of survivors convey the enormity of the shock that people felt and still feel today.
YUICHIRO YOSHIKADO, father of a 3-month-old son, Mashiki town
"It's as if all control was lost," he said. He was taking a bath when the first earthquake struck. "I thought I was going to die, and I couldn't bear it any longer, so I grabbed onto the sides of the bathtub, but the water in the tub, it was about 70 percent filled with water, was going like this (waving his arms), and all the water splashed out of the tub."
YOSHIAKI TANAKA, 62, Ozu town
"Then came the big one, which was so powerful I couldn't even stand on my feet. It was horrifying," he said of the second earthquake, which left his house tilted with severe roof damage. "I don't think we can go back there. Our life is in limbo."
TOKIO MIYAMOTO, 75, Aso village
"I go to the evacuation center, with my futon, and come home during the day," he said. Even though his house withstood the quake, he doesn't want to sleep by himself at night. "It's a hassle, but it's too scary to be alone."