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Why did so many people die in the Kobe earthquake?

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Kobe Earthquake In my essay I am trying to answer the question 'Why did so many people die in the Kobe earthquake?' The great earthquake that measured 7.2 on the Richter scale, struck Kobe at 5.40pm on Tuesday 17th January, 1995, the earthquake only lasted 20 seconds; however a lot of damage was caused. Southern Japan, where Kobe was located, is the world's largest container port and is also a very rich country. It is very technology advanced and often the first country to manufacture the most modern products. The earthquake caused a lot of destruction in this part and was nearly completely destroyed. Kobe has not had a major earthquake since 1596. Many people died because of their houses been so poorly built. Houses that were built before 1981 collapsed in the earthquake because the roofs were made of very heavy concrete tiles, and were wooden framed houses. These were very heavy so a lot of people would have died from suffocation, or from being crushed. These houses were not earthquake proof, so people that lived in these were in great danger. ...read more.


By the end of the devastating earthquake, 23,600 were injured, 356,000 people were left homeless, and 5,000 people were dead. This damage was so great because Japan is so densely populated at about 310 people living there per square kilometre. Many sufferers also died from a lack of oxygen, starvation and being burnt form fires that occurred, although the majority of deaths were caused by fire storms. A large number of people were trapped under rubble for hours until they died of suffocation, but many volunteers made the effort to decrease that number by helping to find victims by searching with their bare hands. As 230,000 homes were left destroyed and a massive 849,500 people that lost electricity, which caused large areas of Kobe to black out, many people had to suffer and live in the cold. Surprisingly, these people were some of the lucky ones as a large amount of people didn't even have a home and had to go to there local school/ church/ community centre where more volunteers would help look after them. ...read more.


If the earthquake hit in the summer, this would have possibly saved lives because people wouldn't have froze to death. In a sense, Kobe can count themselves lucky as they are an MEDC in an LEDC, the services would have not been able to come quickly in this emergency to help in a less developed ad poorer country because people will have less communication and technology. Poorer countries are at a great disadvantage. Overall, I think that the reason why so many people died in the Kobe Earthquake was because they weren't prepared for it. Emergency services couldn't get to people quick enough, and, most importantly, houses weren't earthquake proof. I also think that it is because the earthquake was in the middle of January when it would be icy and very cold. People had nowhere to go or to sleep, and at night it is the coldest so a large amount of people died of hyperthermia. However, Kobe has learnt to build stronger, earthquake-proof houses so that they will be prepared for earthquakes in the near future. They now know what to expect and what to do in the next earthquake, more than they did before. ...read more.

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