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Japanese couple survives Hualien quake after escaping 2011 disaster

2018/02/07 21:49:54

Taipei, Feb. 7 (CNA) A Japanese couple that survived the devastating 2011 earthquake in their country was rescued Wednesday from a building that partly collapsed in a magnitude 6.0 quake in Taiwan the previous night.

Shumin Okubo (大久保淑珉), 63, and her 68-year-old husband were staying in the Yun Men Tsui Ti residential and commercial building in Hualien when the earthquake struck close to midnight Tuesday.

Okubo (大久保淑珉) said their bed began sliding toward the wall as the building tilted and she held on tight to her husband Tao Okubo (大久保忠雄), who has a physical disability due to a stroke.

"I knew that if I ever let go, he would have fallen," she told the media. "I thought, whatever happens, we must face it together."

When rescuers finally reached the couple, the Okubos learned that the building's seventh floor where they were housed had collapsed to the level of the second floor.

It was the second major disaster that the couple had lived though, having survived the Honshu Earthquake in Japan in March 2011.

Shumin Okubo said they were living in Tokyo when the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of Honshu, Japan's main island, causing widespread damage and creating a huge tsunami that devastated many coastal areas of the country.

Five years ago, the couple decided to move to Taiwan to be near Shumin Okubo's brother and sister in Hualien, she said.

Her brother, who is physically challenged, was also living in the building that collapsed Tuesday night, while her sister Lin Shu-jing (林淑靜) was living close by.

When Lin learned that all her family members were safe in a hospital, she rushed there to see them and broke down in tears.

Meanwhile, Shumin Okubo said she and her husband were hoping to return to Japan sometime for visit.

"Having survived another natural disaster, I hope my husband and I will be able to make a trip back to Japan to enjoy a sakura (cherry blossom) season," she said.

She said, however, that her heart was heavy because her brother's Filipino caregiver was still missing after the quake.

The earthquake was measured at magnitude 6.0 and registered an intensity of 7 in Hualien, the highest level on Taiwan's intensity scale.

(By CNA coverage team and S.C. Chang)
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