20th Anniversary of Kobe Quake Highlights Disaster Preparedness, Risk

According to a Thomson Reuters Foundation piece, earthquakes combine with poor-quality buildings to kill more people than any other natural hazard. Additionally, of the 10 earthquakes with the highest death tolls in the world since 1900, four have occurred since 2004.

  • 2010 Haiti earthquake destroyed capital, Port-au-Prince
  • 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami affected 14 countries
  • 2008 Szechuan earthquake in China took more than 80,000 lives
  • 2005 Muzaffarabad earthquake in Pakistan took more than 80,000 lives

Margareta Wahlström, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, writes:

“The worst disasters that could occur have not happened yet. One only has to look at the explosive rate of urbanisation across many active seismic zones to realise that land use and poor implementation of building codes are driving up the potential for disaster. Worldwide, 3 billion people live in regions prone to earthquakes, and every year there are on average about 150 earthquakes which measure at least 6.0 on the Richter scale. It went unremarked at the time, but the real significance of the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with the loss of over 1,000 lives, was how such a disaster would be replicated many times over if the teeming mega-city were to be struck by a major earthquake.”

She continues:

“As we recall the impact the Kobe earthquake had 20 years ago, many eyes are now focused on another Japanese city that has been tested by an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear accident. Sendai is well on the road to recovery but not so much so that participants in the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be able to avoid imagining for themselves what it must have been like there on that March day four years ago when the ground shook and the sea came in at the speed of a jet with just a few minutes’ warning. Hopefully, Sendai is also destined to be associated with the adoption of a positive, action-oriented agenda for dealing with disaster risk in the 21st century, and tackling the drivers that make earthquakes and other hazards so dangerous, including land use and building codes.”

Sendai will be the site of the Third U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Details of the U.N. Conference:

Third U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
March 14-18
Sendai, Japan
Governments are scheduled to adopt a new global action plan for disaster prevention.


To read more, click here: http://www.trust.org/item/20150113090648-ar4lg/