Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nothing could prepare Japan for massive disaster - 12th Mar 2011

At least 1,000 people have died and the toll could increase sharply, a Japanese government spokesman said Saturday morning, after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck a large area on Japan's east coast on Friday.

TOKYO — No country may be better prepared for a major earthquake than Japan. Seismic standards for construction are among the strictest in the world. From a young age, Japanese learn to dive under desks to protect themselves in a quake. The country that gave the world the word tsunami has a state-of-the-art tsunami-warning system

That preparation undoubtedly saved many lives Friday, when a magnitude-8.9 earthquake struck offshore of Japan's main island, shaking buildings in a large swath of the country and sending a 30-foot tsunami onto a populated stretch of coast.

But an uncomfortable truth may emerge from this quake, which killed hundreds of people and caused damage that could mount into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The lesson is there's only so much that disaster preparedness can do. The offshore quake that struck at 2:46 p.m. local time was the biggest to hit Japan since record-keeping began in the late 1800s. It ranked as the fifth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and was nearly 8,000 times stronger than one that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, scientists said. Read More