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    Earthquake developments

    Sixteen people are confirmed dead in last night’s earthquakes, and more damage has been reported: a collapsed tunnel, what sounds like an entire buried village. (In Japan, news footage of mudslides is relatively common, BTW.)

    Added at 18:03: As you can imagine, NHK is all earthquake, all the time, today. A few things I should probably clarify: I’ve been saying this wasn’t a “major” catastrophe. The terms in which I’m speaking are other quakes of 6.8-ish magnitude we might use as a point of reference: The Bam quake in Iran that flattened a city and killed 30000 last December, for example. You might count the Kobe quake (6.9 MJ) itself, for that matter. It killed 6500 people, caused upper floors of the city hall to pancake, and took out sections of the bullet train and expressway that link Tokyo with the south. By comparison, 21 dead, 1500 seeking treatment, and some buckled roads and crumbled concrete are tragic but manageable. (I’m not making light of the loss of houses and other property, but if you’re going to suffer from an earthquake, it’s better to have to rebuild your house than to die when it crashes on your head.) It’s also fortunate that there weren’t more fires; the first quake hit at 6 o’clock, when a lot of people probably had gas flames going preparing dinner.

    The Mainichi is reporting that last night’s quake actually had higher “acceleration” than the Kobe quake. This is apparently different from 震度 (shindo, the ground-level movement measured by the JMA scale) and magnitude (measured by the Richter scale). Something to do with how furious the vibrations are. Note that Niigata was still getting aftershocks into this afternoon. They may still be, though NHK hasn’t said. Some of the aftershocks were weak 5’s on the JMA scale, which was surely intense enough to scare the blazes out of people who’d just gone through three strong 6’s in succession.

    2 Responses to “Earthquake developments”

    1. Simon World says:

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