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A magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck Chile yesterday morning (Japan time), triggering waves of tsunami across the Pacific Ocean. Tsunami warnings were released at Hawaii and the coastal regions of Japan.

I am currently at Ishinomaki, a costasl town in Miyagi Prefecture. Ishinomaki was hugely affected during the tsunami in 11 March 2011, as many parts of the town were completely swept away. Of course, 3 years since then, Ishinomaki has recovered rapidly, in both the physical and spiritual sense. This is my 4th time to Ishinomaki, and I can see how it has changed, mainly in the resurgence of many local organizations and voluntary groups.

Tsunami waves were expected to reach the coastal regions of Japan at 5:30am this morning. At around 3am, Tsunami sirens echoed throughout the town, as the announcement warned people not to get near to the coast, as tsunami waves as high as 1m were expected.

This is my first time being in a coastal town when tsunami warnings were released. The pretty eerie sirens awakened me and for a moment, I was at a loss of what to do. After a few seconds, I realized that the announcements were to warn people not to get close to the coast, and not to evacuate immediately.

Where I stayed was pretty far from the coast, and it would take a tsunami bigger than the one in 3/11 to reach where I was. That realization calmed me down a little as I returned to sleep.

When I woke up in the morning, an earthquake that had struck Iwate prefecture (just a few kilometres north of Miyagi) sent a few seismic waves, shaking the building quite a bit. It was also my first time experiencing an earthquake in Tohoku region (a region extremely prone to earthquakes).

But I recalled what I had learnt. The buildings in Japan are built to be resistant to earthquakes. Earthquakes will (almost) never bring down a building. The most it can hurt you is by dropping items off the shelves, or bringing down the shelf itself.

Tip: Do not panic. Place yourself in an open space (without any shelves or things hanging on the wall or ceiling around you), or under a table if there is a huge earthquake. Remember: The building will not collapse. There is a higher chance of you getting hurt running out and getting hit by something that fell off the wall or ceiling.

The earthquake lasted for a good 10 seconds, as I switched on the television to see it on the news. Here is another tip: Switch on the television (or radio) to keep yourself in touch with what really is going on.

After washing up and getting prepared, I set off to the bus station to take a bus to one of my destinations today. Unfortunately, the tsunami warnings had not been withdrawn and the buses were not in operation yet.

I then snapped up a plan B and took a train to another destination.

Earthquakes and tsunami are inevitable in a sense. We cannot prevent it, but we can prepare for it.

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