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Mayor Hamaguchi

January 31, 2005
In the Japanese town of Wakayama, there is a monument to Mayor Hamaguchi...

The terrible disaster in the South East Asia took a heavy toll of human lives. A huge wave tsunami emerged suddenly from the sea and hit the coast smashing down and crushing everything on its way. Such a great number of victims could have been avoided if people had been warned about the danger.
However, it is not enough to be warned about the hazard. It is necessary that people in the disaster area understand the danger and act rapidly and in orderly manner. To survive, it is enough just to run away from the shore or 20-30 m up the mountains.
In Japan, one can often see stone plates with hieroglyphs on the sea shore. They say, “Remember about earthquake; if you feel an earthquake, remember about a tsunami; if you see a tsunami, run to the mountains.” However, such a devastating phenomenon as a tsunami occurs rarely enough so people forget about the danger and become careless. Therefore, some administrator must take, on his own responsibility, a decision to evacuate people from the shore and also provide them with a system of prompt warning.
In the Japanese town of Wakayama, there is a monument to Mayor Hamaguchi who, over 200 years ago, saved the townsfolk from death in an odd manner.
The Mayor felt a strong earthquake and understood that it would be followed by a tsunami. He also understood that he would not have time to warn all people. Therefore, Hamaguchi ran to the mountains and set rice fields on fire. The excited people set up an alarm and everyone young and old rushed out of the town to fight the fire. A gigantic wave hit the deserted town but the people escaped the danger of death. 
 
Information and images: www.pref.wakayama.lg.jp.

 

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