Up to around 6,100 people would die in the event a major earthquake hits the heart of Tokyo, the metropolitan government said in a report Wednesday (25 May), revising down the estimate by around 30% from a decade ago.
The report by the metropolitan government’s panel of earthquake experts attributes the reduction of about 3,500 people to advances in the quake resistance of buildings and the greater use of non-combustible materials in their construction.
The panel simulated significant earthquakes with different epicentres for the latest damage projection, and concluded that the largest death toll of up to 6,148 would result if a quake with a magnitude of 7.3 originated in the southern part of central Tokyo.
Such a quake would register the maximum 7 on Japan’s seismic intensity scale, and rock some 60% of Tokyo’s 23 wards with an intensity of upper 6 or above.
At an intensity of upper 6, many people find it impossible to remain standing or move without crawling. According to the meteorological agency, the jolts are strong enough to toss people through the air.
Of the estimated deaths, 3,209 would be caused by collapsed buildings and 2,482 by fires, the report said.
Around 194,000 homes and other buildings would be damaged, while some 4.53 million people would be unable to return to their homes.
A similar projection in 2012 estimated up to 9,641 people would be killed, and about 304,000 homes and buildings damaged.
Among the factors cited for the reductions in the death and damage estimates is an improvement in the earthquake resistance of houses, with the proportion of quake-resistant houses increasing from 81% to 92% in 2020 in the space of 10 years.
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