June 18. 2018 11:19PM

NH siblings studying in Japan safe after 6.1 magnitude earthquake hits Osaka

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent


Paul and Lauren McGee of New Hampshire are studying in Japan and were just south of Osaka, in Mount Koya when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Monday morning. The brother and sister are safe. (Lauren McGee/Facebook)

A brother and sister from New Hampshire were unhurt when a magnitude 6.1 earthquake jolted Osaka, Japan, Monday.

Lauren and Paul McGee are in Japan for a study-abroad program.

Japanese media said Monday night at least four people had been killed and more than 370 were injured in the earthquake, which hit Osaka in western Japan Monday morning.

Lauren McGee, 18, who grew up in Litchfield and Londonderry, was with her brother, Paul, in Mount Koya about 35 miles south of Osaka when the quake hit.

“We are staying at a shrine, a Buddhist temple, which has paper walls. This morning we had just woken up and all of a sudden our phones started blaring with siren sounds and notifying us of an emergency alert,” McGee said. “We had no idea what it was and we all ran out into the hall.”

Her professor notified the students it was an earthquake and then the group began to feel a rumbling.

“It was not that intense, but we could definitely feel it. It was so strange because we hear the alert and a few seconds later we felt it,” said McGee. “Luckily nobody was hurt here.”

The quake occurred just before 8 a.m. local time as commuters were heading to work. Japan is 13 hours ahead of American Eastern time.

The epicenter of the earthquake was just north of Osaka city, said the Japan Meteorological Agency, which originally put the magnitude at 5.9 but later raised it to 6.1.

CNN reported the earthquake hit at a depth of about 8 miles.

“It was very scary for my mother,” McGee said. “We didn’t realize at the time that anyone could have gotten injured because it was just a slight rumbling for us. But when my mother called and told me to look at the news, it was all of a sudden very sad. It was a lot more sad for us at that point.”

McGee said her group was scheduled to travel into metropolitan Osaka today, but McGee said there were some concerns about transportation.

“We heard the trains weren’t working and some hotels are closed,” she said. “Fortunately we are all safe here, but it was interesting.”

The McGees arrived in Japan earlier this month as part of a study-abroad program with Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Mass. She and her brother are studying the religions of Asia as part of the one-month program.

According to The Japan Times, the quake set off dozens of fires in Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto and Mie prefectures. Subway services were being restored. Electricity in the Osaka Prefecture was initially lost to 171,000 buildings, but had been restored later on Monday, the Times said.