As mobile phones rang simultaneously alerting their owners via “area mail” that an earthquake was anticipated, public warning broadcasts kicked into gear, creating a palpable sense of tension as residents braced themselves for the earthquake that never was.
But rather than blaming the JMA for the error, netizens were instead relieved that the warning mechanisms in place were all functioning properly, with many remarking that it was a good earthquake drill.
Emergency Earthquake Warning Error “Shindo 7 Earthquake in Kansai”, Shinkansen Temporarily Suspended — Japan Meteorological Agency Admits Trouble With Seismograph
On August 8 at 4:56pm, the Japan Meteorological Agency published emergency earthquake information stating that an earthquake between 6-lower and 7 on the agency’s shindo scale was expected in Nara and Osaka prefectures. However, it was discovered that this was in fact an error, and that the anticipated earthquake would not occur. The cause is taken to be a small quake immediately prior to the warning being issued, coupled with signal trouble on one of their seismographs, and the agency have initiated an investigation into the error.
JR Tokai temporarily suspended Shinkansen routes between Odawara and Shin Osaka, while JR West Japan suspended Shinaksen routes between Shin Osaka and Shin Iwakuni station. Operations were resumed on all lines by 5:15pm.
According to the Meteorological Agency, there was an earthquake at around 4:56pm on August 8, with its epicentre taken to be in the northern part of Wakayama Prefecture. The magnitude of the earthquake was estimated to be 2.3, and there was no seismic activity exceeding shindo scale 1, and 18.5 seconds after the earthquake, trouble arose when a signal from a seismograph installed in the seabed offshore from Mie Prefecture was interrupted. Despite there being no earthquake, it was determined that there had been a quake that had moved the ground surface 1cm.
Based on these two sources of information, the Meteorological Agency’s systems erroneously judged that there had been an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8, with its epicentre in Nara Prefecture, therefore issuing the emergency earthquake warning.
Comments from Twitter:
For about 10 seconds after the newsflash alarm had sounded, I was on the ball thinking about things that would fall over and cause problems, kitchen utensils and stuff. That was a long 10 seconds, I can tell you.
Wow that gave me a fright! But there, might have been an error, but it still made a good drill.
An area mail [an automated text messaging system warning of earthquake, tsunami etc] came to my phone, TV was newsflash screen, public information radio was sounding a warning alarm — I took it seriously and braced myself. Turned out it was a hit and miss, but it was a good experience to have. :::
I was also pretty shocked when I saw the warning.
Everyone’s phones went off at once, so we were all worked up wondering if another big quake was heading our way. And at the same moment Yahoo! went down too…
I was only Twitter that didn’t go down, and I realised once again how useful Twitter is as means of communication during an emergency. #emergencyearthquakewarning
Right after my smartphone went off the local authority’s emergency earthquake broadcast sounded; it’s the first time I’ve ever heard it apart from during earthquake drills, but it made me think how prepared they were, and I was really relieved (๑╹◡╹๑)
Absolutely no need for apologies for this one. Yes, they made everyone worried, but we’re in an area that hasn’t been affected by earthquakes, and it’s better if every now and then we have some sense of tension about it.
I only just heard about this (笑)
There’s no need to apologise. And the media and everyone should cut them some slack. No matter how advanced our technology is, it’s impossible for it to be 100% accurate anyway.
Comments from Yahoo! Japan:
Gave me a fright.
I was shocked when loads of cell phones started going off at once in the office!!
Still, I’m so glad it was an error ☆彡
Really increases the tension when the cell phones of everyone around you start going off at once…
I was surprised when everyone’s phones suddenly started going off, but this is a welcome mistake.
This is far better than being in a position where “There actually was an earthquake but my phone didn’t go off…”.
I want them to take this mistake as a lesson, and concern themselves with further improving the accuracy of our detectors.
I’ll leave this in the hands of the government and the Meteorological Agency, and hope that they do all they can.
Mistake is better than the alternative.
Got a shock when my phone rang!
Got worked up, but glad it was nothing in the end.
I want people to give them a break over the error, but it was the first chance in a long while to think about earthquakes.
Still, this is definitely a function that is going to help us out in the future, so I want them to investigate the error properly so that it will work from now on.
I was frightened precisely because the estimated epicentre was in Wakayama, which is close to where the Nankai earthquake was.
I was in the southern part of Saitama Prefecture when my phone was like:
Briiiiing, briiing with the sound of the emergency alarm, and then when we saw that the epicentre was in Nara, everyone around me was totally losing it.
The fire service broadcast that it was a mistake.
The fire service really do respond quickly.
I felt kind of safe knowing they dealt with things so quickly.