Sumiyoshi, Japan, February 1995
The Great Hanshin Earthquake, or Kobe earthquake, occurred on January 17, 1995 at 5:46am. It measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. The tremors lasted for approximately 20 seconds, and aftershocks continued for more than a week. The epicentre of the quake was 17 km beneath the northern end of Awaji Island, 20 km away from Kobe.
6,434 people lost their lives; about 4,600 of them were from Kobe. This was Japan's worst earthquake in the 20th century after the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923, which claimed more than 105,000 lives.
We lived in the Mikage area of Sumiyoshi, in the Higashinada ward. Sadly this ward had the highest death toll. I was just getting ready to go to the airport when the earthquake struck, and was in the Kitchen. Ingrid was in our bedroom, and the power of the quake meant we couldn’t reach our children in their rooms until it stopped. Fortunately, our house was lightly damaged as it was a modern building, though we lost all power and water. We did’t leave for a couple of days, preferring to stay home with our three youngest children (Michala, Victoria & Daniel), Rita, our helper, and our two dogs, Sandy and Benji. Eventually, that wasn't viable, so we took the 9 hour drive alongside the fallen motorway to Osaka, all together in our Volvo station wagon.
These images were taken in February, 1995, when the clearing-up was underway.
Nikon F4s, Nikkor 35-105mm, Ektachrome 100