Saturday, April 7, 2012

Japan, Kochi Pref. eyes underground tsunami shelter

KOCHI -- Kochi Prefecture in western Japan has decided to look into the feasibility of an "underground shelter" project using submarine technology to protect residents from a tsunami of up to 34.4 meters -- the height of the tallest wave an expert panel under the Cabinet Office predicts may strike the prefecture's coast.

The Kochi Prefectural Government made the decision after concluding that the present scheme to build a tsunami evacuation tower cannot help residents along the prefecture's coastal region to safely flee from such an enormous wave.

The expert panel announced March 31 that tsunami higher than 20 meters could hit several parts of Japan's Pacific coast if the largest possible earthquake occurs in the Nankai Trough in the seabed off central to western Japan.

Kochi Gov. Masanao Ozaki explained the underground shelter plan to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in a meeting at the prime minister's office on April 6.

Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku Island, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, has been alerted by the expert panel that the municipalities of Kuroshio, Tosashimizu and Shimanto may be stuck by tsunami of up to 34.4 meters, 31.8 meters and 26.7 meters, respectively.

The tsunami evacuation tower project calls for building a structure 12 to 15 meters above sea level, as constructing a tower more than 30 meters in height is not feasible. Instead, the prefecture determined that an underground shelter is more effective in coastal areas without tall buildings or nearby high-ground.

Calling the underground shelter plan a "Submarine Initiative," the prefectural government is contemplating installing oxygen supplies and independent power generators inside the 200-person shelter. Read More