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Why did so many people die in the Kobe Earthquake?

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Introduction

Why did so many people die in the Kobe Earthquake? Japan is situated in North East Asia between the Sea of Japan and the North Pacific Sea and has a population of 125,688,711 (1997) and a total area of 377,815 kilometres squared (145,874 square miles). Japan occupies over 3900 islands of which consists of four main islands which are Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku. The central island of Honshu occupies 61 per cent of the total land area and contains 80 per cent of Japan's population. Honshu also contains the capital Tokyo, which is Japan's major city with a population of 8,019,938 (1995). Japan in the 19th century was living in a medieval era that was centuries behind the rest of the world's lifestyle. This came as a great shock to their country as they had been isolated from other cultures for such a long time. Eventually, Japan had to face the concept of joining and chasing the rest of the world in hope it would improve the nation overall. Between 1867 and 1912 Japan pursued an ambitious modernisation program. Within that Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese war, 1904-1905 establishing itself as a world power. ...read more.

Middle

The power of an earthquake is almost impossible to imagine. Millions of tonnes of rock are moved in the space of a few seconds, and thousands of square kilometres of land may be affected by the shaking. Energy released by earthquakes can be equal to 180 million tons of TNT, more than the first atomic bomb. The largest Earthquakes are sometimes felt more than 1,000 miles (1600 kilometres) from the source of the shock. The destructive effect of an earthquake depends not just on its size but also on the human population of the area affected and any other natural events that may be triggered. Earthquakes are more likely in some parts of the world than others. Most earthquakes happen along plate boundaries so the countries located near the edges of plates are more likely to suffer earthquakes. Almost 95 out of every 100 earthquakes occur on the boundaries of the Pacific plate and the Mediterranean plate. Most earthquakes happen along plate boundaries so the countries located near the edges of plates are more likely to suffer earthquakes. Japan lies by three different tectonic plates, they are the Eurasian plate, the Pacific plate and the Philippine plate. This triple junction of plates is one of the most unstable parts of the earth's crust. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Kobe earthquake and the 142 fires that it triggered damaged about 300,000 buildings and homes (100,000 were traditional wooden houses), leaving 330,000 people homeless. The earthquake burned 100 hectares (246 acres) of Kobe, killing 6,310 people and injuring 43,000 more. 20,000 people were trapped in buildings, 5,000 were pulled out and only 700 were alive. The emergency was not taken under control until almost a week later. There are many reasons for why so many people died because of consequences of the earthquake. Firstly, the rescue services were unable to get to the worst affected areas because of the fires and the roads that had collapsed or were unstable. The fires were started when leaking gas from broken pipes caught fire and set light to the wrecked wooden houses this killed many survivors. The emergency services were unable to put out the fires because the water pipes were broken. The fires then raged for nearly seven days in Kobe until there was nothing left to burn. So the rescue services had to work their way around and in between the fires trying to save the people trapped in their homes or in the fires. ...read more.

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