Of the 48 people who died from the successive quakes in Japan recently, nearly 80 percent of them apparently died because they were trapped under or hit by collapsed houses or buildings, highlighting once again the need for making houses and buildings more quake-resistant, more than 10,000 houses and other buildings have been damaged or destroyed.
Buildings built after the quake-resistant standards were adopted in 1981 have done much better but most of the building stock was built before 1981. Of the 4,426 houses and buildings in the town that had been examined by Friday, 2,194 — nearly half of them — were found to be in danger of collapse. The number of those found to be usable stood at only 949, or about 20 percent of the total. Many of the houses either damaged or destroyed were old houses built before the new quake-resistant standards were introduced.
Yet not all houses or buildings built under the new standards were found to be safe. While many of those houses had only their windowpanes broken, some relatively new houses, built only about 10 years ago, collapsed when the “main shock” hit the area on April 16.
There will need to be an assessment of how to deal with the current building stock.
Top image: The Weiguan Jinlong residential building in Tainan after collapse. The surrounding buildings do not appear to have severe damage. Image used for reference purposes only.