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Why did so many people die in the Kobe earthquake?

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Why did so many people die in the Kobe earthquake? On the 15th of January 1995 at 5.46am a horrendous earthquake reaching 7.2 on the Richter scale, the worst in half a century struck the large Industrial town of Kobe. Over 5000 people were killed as a result of this earthquake. The tension built up between the Pacific and Eurasian plates and caused the earthquake, as the focus was at such a shallow point, the waves of the earthquake were very powerful. The epicenter was on Awaji Island within 20km of Kobe, so there wasn't enough space between the epicenter and Kobe for the waves to be absorbed. ...read more.


Houses collapsed trapping many people in their beds, immediately fires started and burnt out of control, trains were thrown off their tracks, water and gas mains collapsed. It was announced a state of emergency and army troops were sent to help. Very few people died due to the actual earthquake, most people died because of the primary or secondary effects. Primary effects such as damaged buildings or broken water or gas pipes lead to the secondary effects, buildings and bridges that have collapsed delay the emergency services, and burst water mains lead to contaminated water and disease. ...read more.


Kobe is a very densely populated town; there are many tall offices and houses built closely together, Japan knew Kobe was at risk of earthquakes, but little was done to prepare for one, Tokyo was thought to be much more at risk. The Japanese assumed that they could predict an earthquake. Most of the newer buildings were made 'earthquake proof' but this technology failed as most buildings, old and new collapsed in the earthquake, even the emergency water mains collapsed. The newer buildings in Tokyo are built in the same 'earthquake proof' style, so people there are worried as the same technology in Kobe failed. ...read more.

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