Photo/IllutrationTakatsuki Mayor Takeshi Hamada, second from right, and others pray near a new fence at Juei Elementary School on June 18. It replaces a concrete block wall that killed a 9-year-old girl when it toppled during an earthquake on the same day in 2018 in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture. (Yuki Shibata)

  • Photo/Illustraion

TAKATSUKI, Osaka Prefecture--A year has passed since a 9-year-old girl was killed here by a concrete block wall that toppled during a magnitude-6.1 earthquake.

The quake, which registered a lower 6 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7, struck on June 18, 2018, in northern Osaka Prefecture, killing six people and damaging 65,000 homes.

At 7:58 a.m., the time the quake hit, Takatsuki Mayor Takeshi Hamada and others offered silent prayers by a newly installed fence at Juei Elementary School.

Rina Miyake, a fourth-grader at the school, was killed at the spot when a concrete block wall beside the school's swimming pool fell on her.

“We lost a precious life at the school, which should be a safe place," said Principal Mie Sato, who started working at the school in April. "We will do everything possible to make sure children are safe and happy here.”

At a school assembly, Sato spoke about the incident before an audience of about 320 pupils.

Many citizens also offered flowers and prayers. Hanayo Okamoto, 46, who has a child in junior high school, said, “We shouldn't forget about this incident. As parents, we also want to help the schools protect our kids.”

In fiscal 2019, the education ministry plans to remove and strengthen 1,000 kilometers of block walls at public schools nationwide.

The land ministry ordered each municipality to require owners of housing with private block walls located along evacuation routes to assess their earthquake resistance.