The GREAT HANSHIN EARTHQUAKE (阪神・淡路大震災, Hanshin Awaji
daishinsai), or KOBE EARTHQUAKE, occurred on January 17, 1995 at
05:46:53 JST (January 16 at 20:46:53
Up to 6,434 people lost their lives; about 4,600 of them were from Kobe. Among major cities, Kobe, with its population of 1.5 million, was the closest to the epicenter and hit by the strongest tremors. This was Japan's worst earthquake in the 20th century after the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, which claimed more than 105,000 lives.
* 1 Earthquake
* 1.1 Intensity * 1.2 Damage * 1.3 Name
* 2 Other aspects
* 2.1 Volunteerism * 2.2 Disaster planning * 2.3 Memorials
* 3 Response * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 External links
Damage at Minatogawa,
Most of the largest earthquakes in Japan are caused by subduction of
Philippine Sea Plate
Great Hanshin earthquake
The Mj 7.3 earthquake struck at 05:46 JST on the morning of January 17, 1995. It lasted for 20 seconds. During this time the south side of the Nojima Fault moved 1.5 meters to the right and 1.2 meters downwards. There were four foreshocks , beginning with the largest (Mj 3.7) at 18:28 on the previous day.
USGS ShakeMap for the event
It was the first time that an earthquake in Japan was officially measured at a seismic intensity (shindo in Japanese) of the highest Level 7 on the scale of Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). After the earthquake, seismic intensity observation in Japan was fully mechanized (from April 1996) and JMA seismic intensity Levels 5 and 6 were each divided into 2 levels (from October 1996).
An on-the spot investigation by JMA concluded that tremors by this
earthquake were at seismic intensity of Level 7 in particular areas in
Awaji Island (now Awaji City ) and in the cities of
Tremors were valued at seismic intensity of Levels 4 to 6 at
observation points in Kansai , Chūgoku ,
* Level 6 in the cities of Sumoto (in Awaji Island) and
Damage was extremely widespread and severe. Structures irreparably damaged by the quake included nearly 400,000 buildings, numerous elevated road and rail bridges, and 120 of the 150 quays in the port of Kobe. The quake triggered around 300 fires, which raged over large portions of the city. Disruptions of water, electricity and gas supplies were extremely common. In addition, residents were afraid to return home because of aftershocks that lasted several days (74 of which were strong enough to be felt).
The majority of deaths, over 4,000, occurred in cities and suburbs in
One in five of the buildings in the worst-hit areas were completely destroyed (or rendered uninhabitable). About 22% of the offices in Kobe's central business district were rendered unusable, and over half of the houses in that area were deemed unfit to live in. High rise buildings that were built after the modern 1981 building code suffered little; however, those that were not constructed to these standards suffered serious structural damage. Most of the older traditional houses had heavy tiled roofs which weighed around two tons, intended to resist the frequent typhoons that plagued Kobe, but they were only held up by a light wood support frame. When the wood supports gave way, the roof crushed the unreinforced walls and floors in a pancake collapse . Newer homes have reinforced walls and lighter roofs to avoid this, but are more susceptible to typhoons.
The damage to highways and subways was the most graphic image of the earthquake, and images of the collapsed elevated Hanshin Expressway made front pages of newspapers worldwide. Most people in Japan believed those structures to be relatively safe from earthquake damage because of the steel-reinforced concrete design. Although the initial belief was construction had been negligent, it was later shown that most of the collapsed structures were constructed properly according to the building codes in force in the 1960s. However, the steel-reinforcement specifications in the 1960s regulations had already been discovered to be inadequate and revised several times, the latest revision being in 1981, which proved effective but only applied to new structures . Immediately before the collapse of the Kashiwai building
Ten spans of the
Hanshin Expressway Route 43 in three locations in
Most railways in the region were also damaged. In the aftermath of
the earthquake, only 30% of the Osaka-
Artificial islands, such as the modern
Rokkō Island and especially
Port Island in Kobe, suffered severe subsidence due to liquefaction of
the soil; water breaking through the surface and flooding those
islands was initially believed to have seeped in from the sea, but in
fact rose from the liquefied remains of once-solid soils used to
construct the islands. However, the newly completed artificial island
Kansai International Airport
Outside Japan the earthquake is commonly known as the Kobe
earthquake. In Japan, the disaster by this earthquake is officially
called The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster
(阪神・淡路大震災, Hanshin-Awaji Daishinsai), which is often
shortened to The Great Hanshin Earthquake Disaster (阪神大震災,
Hanshin Daishinsai). Hanshin refers to the region between Osaka and
Kobe. In the scientific literature it is often called the 1995
Damage in Sannomiya
The quake ravaged many of the facilities of what was then the world's sixth-largest container port and the source of nearly 40% of Kobe's industrial output.
The sheer size of the earthquake caused a major decline in Japanese stock markets, with the Nikkei 225 index plunging by 1,025 points on the day following the quake. This financial damage was the immediate cause for the collapse of Barings Bank due to the actions of Nick Leeson , who had speculated vast amounts of money on Japanese and Singaporean derivatives. Discussions of Japan's "Lost Decade " tend towards purely economic analysis, and neglect the impact of the earthquake on the Japanese economy which at the time was already suffering from recession.
Despite this devastation in a big production center, the local
economy recovered very quickly. Even though less than half the port
facilities had been rebuilt by that stage, within a year import
volumes through the port had recovered fully and export volumes were
nearly back to where they would have been without the disaster. Less
than 15 months after the earthquake, in March 1996, manufacturing
activity in greater
The fact that volunteers from all over Japan converged on
In December 1995, the government declared January 17 a national "Disaster Prevention and Volunteerism Day", and the week from January 15 to 21 a national "Disaster Prevention and Volunteerism Week", to be commemorated with lectures, seminars, and other events designed to encourage voluntary disaster preparedness and relief efforts.
The earthquake proved to be a major wake-up call for Japanese
disaster prevention authorities. Japan installed rubber blocks under
bridges to absorb the shock and rebuilt buildings further apart to
prevent collateral damage. The national government changed its
disaster response policies in the wake of the earthquake, and its
response to the
2004 Chūetsu earthquake was significantly faster and
more effective. The Ground Self-Defense Forces were given automatic
authority to respond to earthquakes over a certain magnitude, which
allowed them to deploy to the Niigata region within minutes. Control
over fire response was likewise handed over from local fire
departments to a central command base in Tokyo and Kyoto. 1.17
In response to the widespread damage to transportation infrastructure, and the resulting effect on emergency response times in the disaster area, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport began designating special disaster prevention routes and reinforcing the roads and surrounding buildings so as to keep them as intact as possible in the event of another earthquake. Hyōgo's prefectural government invested millions of yen in the following years to build earthquake-proof shelters and supplies in public parks.
Local memorial in Kobe. "We won't forget that time"
Approximately 1.2 million volunteers were involved in relief efforts
during the first three months following the earthquake. Retailers such
Local hospitals struggled to keep up with demand for medical treatment, largely due to collapsed or obstructed "lifelines" (roads) that kept supplies and personnel from reaching the affected areas. People were forced to wait in corridors due to the overcrowding and lack of space. Some people had to be operated on in waiting rooms and corridors.
To help speed the recovery effort, the government closed most of the Hanshin Expressway network to private vehicles from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm daily and limited traffic to buses, taxis and other designated vehicles. To keep the light rail system running even though it had quite severely damaged sections, shuttle buses were commissioned to transfer patrons to stations around damaged sections.
* Earthquakes portal * Japan portal * 1990s portal
List of earthquakes in Japan
* ^ A B C D ISC (2015), ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake
Catalogue (1900–2009), Version 2.0, International Seismological
* ^ A B C D USGS (September 4, 2009), PAGER-CAT Earthquake Catalog
, Version 2008_06.1,
United States Geological Survey
Wikimedia Commons has media related to GREAT HANSHIN EARTHQUAKE .
* Great Hanshin Earthquake