I’ve just experienced my first earthquake. We slept through a couple of quakes in Nagoya, but this is the first time I’ve been awake for one. I felt no movement, just heard the building creaking in a slow, swinging rhythm and what sounded like the occasional banging on a metal tank. I thought that something was going terribly wrong with the air-conditioning, because the sound was loudest in them, but the sound was also clearly coming down the wall that my computer backs against. I wondered, briefly, if it was a quake, but there was no movement and nothing outside seemed to be moving, either. I called reception and the housekeeping manager came up to say that she had just called the engineer to come and check the air-conditioning in another room. While she was with me, the news of the quake came in and reception called to let us know.
As you can see from the map, above, the epicentre was a long way away, off the coast of Northern Sumatra, so it’s not surprising to find that the quake was huge, magnitude 8.7, since we felt it, here. That something can move the very earth so deeply that we feel it so far away, and only in the bones of a building, reminds me how flimsy our layer of cement and metal really is on the surface of this planet.
I have to admit that I’m – pardon the pun – a little shaken by the whole thing, and wondering whether my building is safe, so I feel for those living closer to the epicentre, they must be terrified. This quake was in almost exactly the same place as the 2004 earthquake, which was magnitude 9.1, and set off that terrible tsunami. I pray that the wave will not develop, this time, and that, if it does, everyone is more prepared, and will be safe.