This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
Advertisement

Another Japanese earthquake could trigger 34-metre tsunami: report

Government reports say if the tide was right, a similar earthquake to last year’s could result in even greater havoc.

A man walks by a collapsed house and debris at Sendai Port in Sendai following last year's tsunami. New government reports say a similar quake could result in an even larger tidal wave.
A man walks by a collapsed house and debris at Sendai Port in Sendai following last year's tsunami. New government reports say a similar quake could result in an even larger tidal wave.
Image: Koji Sasahara/AP

JAPAN’S PACIFIC COAST could be inundated by a tsunami over 30 metres high if another powerful earthquake was to occur off its shore, according to revised estimates by a government panel.

The panel of experts says any tsunami unleashed by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in the Nankai trough, which runs east of Japan’s main island of Honshu to the southern island of Kyushu, could top 34 metres (111 feet) at its highest.

An earlier forecast in 2003 put the potential maximum height of such a tsunami at less than 20 metres (66 feet).

Last March’s magnitude-9.0 earthquake spawned a 14-metre (45-foot) wave that devastated most of Japan’s northeastern coast and triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The revised tsunami projections, contained in a report posted on a government website, are based on new research following last March’s magnitude-9.0 quake, which devastated a long stretch of Japan’s northeastern coast and killed about 19,000 people.

Last year’s catastrophe and the ensuing crisis at Fukushima prompted sweeping reviews of Japan’s disaster preparedness and criticism over apparent failures to take into account potential risks.

The tsunami knocked out power at the 40-year-old coastal nuclear plant, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Tens of thousands of residents have had to leave the area, and it’s unclear whether some will ever be able to move back.

The Fukushima plant was designed to withstand a 6-metre (20-foot) tsunami, less than half the height of the surge that hit it on March 11, 2011.

The latest forecast shows a tsunami of up to 21 metres (69 feet) could strike near the Hamaoka nuclear plant. Its operator, Chubu Electric Power Co, is currently building an 18-metre high sea wall to counter tsunamis; this wall is due to be completed next year.

The plant was shut down in 2011 due to estimates it has a 90 percent chance of being hit by a magnitude 8.0 or higher quake within 30 years.

Unsettling news for Tokyo

In other unsettling news, another government report shows that a strong earthquake hitting the Tokyo Bay region could shake the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area — home to more than 33 million people — at the maximum seismic intensity of 7 on the Japanese scale.

That report, issued Friday by the Ministry of Education, came in the form of mapping that shows that much of the Tokyo region would likely experience severe shaking from a magnitude-7.3 earthquake inside Tokyo Bay.

The study prompted calls for Tokyo residents to be better prepared for such disasters. Although they live with the constant threat of a major earthquake that experts have long said is overdue for the region, not all living in the region keep water and other supplies on hand.

A report in the newspaper Asahi Shimbun listed troubles that might be expected from a major quake, such as electricity outages that could persist for more than a week and water supply disruptions that could last for nearly a month, based on government estimates.

The revised tsunami forecast for a possible Nankai earthquake says Tokyo could expect waves up to 2.3 metres in height. But at the coastal town of Kuroshio, on the island of Shikoku, the tsunami could top 34 metres (112 feet), it shows.

The computer modeling for the revised forecasts assumes a high tide for the highest estimates.

- Elaine Kurtenbach

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (6)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel