Tokyo, May 25 (EFE).- Some 6,100 people could die in Tokyo in the event of a major earthquake in the city, according to a report published Wednesday by local authorities, which lowers its estimates of victims by about 30 percent from a decade ago.
The study was carried out by the committee of experts on earthquakes that works with the government. It attributed the reduction in some 3,500 victims with respect to a previous analysis of 2012 to the advances in the construction of buildings with greater seismic resistance and the greater use of non-flammable building materials.
Researchers simulated several large earthquakes with different epicenters and said the greatest number of deaths (6,148) would occur if an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 on the Richter scale originated in the south of Tokyo.
An earthquake of these characteristics could register the maximum level of 7 on the Japanese seismic scale (focused on measuring surface agitation and damage), and would shake about 60 percent of the city’s territory with an intensity of 6 or higher.
With that intensity, many would find it difficult to stand or move without crawling. Shaking in such a scenario could be strong enough to launch a person into the air, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Of the estimated deaths in this hypothetical situation, some 3,200 would be caused by the collapse of buildings and some 2,500 by fires, according to the report, which was presented Wednesday by the committee to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
The metropolitan government will draw on the study to draft its 2022 disaster prevention plan.
The text said some 194,000 homes and buildings could be damaged, while 4.53 million people, or 32 percent of the city’s population (some 14 million in 2021) could not return to their homes.
Estimates made in a report in 2012 said fatalities could rise to more than 9,600 and the damage could extend to some 304,000 buildings and homes.
Experts attribute the lowering of estimates above all to the improvement in construction. The percentage of earthquake resistant houses increased from 81 percent to 92 percent in 2020, in 10 years.
Another factor is the decline in densely populated wooden house residential areas, where fires can spread more easily.
These types of areas proliferated during Tokyo’s rapid post-war urbanization process and came to occupy an approximate area of 16,000 hectares (160 square kilometers).
Subsidies to demolish old homes and replace them with others adjusted to stricter regulations have helped reduce that area by around half, which in 2020 was about 8,600 hectares (86 sq kms.) EFE