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If Big One hits, many will go hungry
The Asahi Shimbun

If the Big One strikes the Tokai region, nearly 2 million people will go without food and water and coastal areas could face 10-meter tsunami, a central government earthquake council said Tuesday.

A major earthquake could hit the Tokai region at any time, forcing an estimated 1.9 million people to evacuate to shelters for at least a week, the Central Disaster Management Council said.

And when it does, existing evacuation facilities would be short of about 23 million meals, the council said.

That estimate is based on figures for Tokyo and seven nearby prefectures including Shizuoka, Aichi and Gifu, judged likely to be hardest hit by a projected Tokai Earthquake, which could claim up to 10,000 lives.

Shizuoka Prefecture would be short of around 14 million meals; Aichi, 6.5 million; and Yamanashi, 1.9 million, according to council estimates. By June, the council expects to map out a plan for transporting relief goods and personnel to devastated areas.

One likely hotspot would be Shizuoka Prefecture, where about 1.2 million people are expected to take refuge at shelters following the quake. To meet their needs for a week, about 22,000 tons of drinking water and 14 million meals are required.

About 7.8 tons of powdered milk for babies would also be lacking.

The council Tuesday also revealed an outline to prepare governments, public transport, medical facilities and schools for anticipated Nankai and Tonankai earthquakes, likely to hit a wide area from Shizuoka to Miyazaki prefectures. At worst, two successive earthquakes could claim 21,000 lives.

The outline identified 652 cities, towns and villages in Tokyo and 20 other prefectures as requiring greater preparedness.

It also said that coastal areas must prepare for tsunami of 10 meters or higher. It emphasized the need to establish a nationwide relief and rescue network.

The outline noted that one characteristic of the Nankai and Tonankai earthquakes is that they ``run the risk of triggering enormous disasters simultaneously over a wide area.''

For that reason, the central and local governments will need help from neighboring regions, it said.

Thus, communities likely to be hit by the Nankai and Tonankai quakes should work to prevent the disaster's spread if the two quakes should hit at different times. In the past, temblors in those regions have occurred simultaneously or within several days.

The outline emphasized the potential for great damage from tidal waves triggered by earthquakes.

If residents are aware of the dangers of tsunami and evacuate in time, related casualties could be reduced to about 5,000, from about 12,000 at worst, the council outline estimated.(IHT/Asahi: December 18,2003) (12/18)


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