View Full Version : Interesting Quake Comparison

20th January 2003, 05:59
Jan 17 1994

The massive "Northridge Earthquake" strikes Los Angeles, producing a ground pulse far greater than its 6.7 magnitude would indicate. It causes 61 deaths and damages reaching $20 billion. The quake is by far the most expensive cataclysm in U.S. history.

Jan 17 1995

One year after the Northridge quake in California, a large 7.2 quake strikes Kobe Japan, killing 5,090, leaving 1.5 million homeless, and causing damage of approximately $200 billion dollars. It is the most destructive quake in Japan since the 1923 Kanto disaster.

If you take into account the fact that the Kobe Quake is half and order of Magnitude higher, and no what that means, then the Japanese did pretty well really. Even so, indications from the first quote show that the effective strength of the Northridge quake may have been higher.

23rd January 2003, 06:38
the northridge earthquake may have been stronger. in addition to the 60+ deaths, many people were injured and homeless for a while. some houses still have yellow and red tags on them. a lot of people described the 30 second earthquake as feeling longer b/c the shaking was so great.

up my neighborhood, we had fires and floods, and several apartments did collapse in their foundations. it was a huge mess after the earthquake hit, and the red cross stuck around for a while.

i wouldnt be surprised if the northridge earthquake was stronger. i wouldnt know what the kobe one felt like. i just remember that there was more news coverage of the northridge earthquake than the kobe one.

23rd January 2003, 07:16
The Kobe quake was a stunning disaster for many reasons, many of them related to the incompetence of response (I was here, in Tokyo, and I remember being glued to the TV for a week.)

* Gas company didn't turn off the gas main for hours, which could have prevented the extensive fires which destroyed so many wooden structures.
* Narrow roads + collapsed buildings = rescue trucks couldn't get into many hard hit areas.
* Post collapse studies showed that the "earthquake proof" highways/overpasses/bridges were not built to spec (shoddy concrete, supports too thin, etc.) -- standard pork barrel.
* Japanese gov't denied US military help even though the US had helicopters flying over the scene within an hour of the earthquake. In general the central gov't didn't get a full assessment of the severity and damage until hours and hours later, making the official response quite slow.
* Int'l search and rescue dog team held up at Narita airport for 4 days -- the animals were quarantined (I lived in Narita City at the time so I know this to be true. It was on local news as "Can you believe we're doing this?!") and when finally OK'd, the team went home as it was too late to bother.
* Domestic law doesn't allow the SDF (military) to travel across prefectures w/o explicit permission from the prefectural gov't before travelling. This and many other ridiculous SDF laws were highlighted in an excellent tv show titled something like "Why do SDF tanks have turn signals and brake lights? How the SDF is incapable of defending Japan" (Answer: they are required by law if they are to be driven on regular roads.) So rescue crews took days to get to the area.

Looking back, the biggest shame was that a little better city planning, a couple of decent disaster protocols in place to open communications, and thousands of lives could have been saved. I remember they interviewed the mid-level manager at the gas company who got called by the night workers asking if they should shut down the main gasline and he said "I told them no. If we shut down the main gas line, to turn the gas back on we'd have to send an engineer to every house to check the gas, one at a time. It was winter and cold and people would be really inconvenienced if they had to wait for an engineer to turn on the gas. It would be really inconvenient for our customers and very embarassing for us." To his defence he had NO idea of the extent of the damage, and the company had to emergency/contingency plans, so he did what he was trained to do.

Kinda wandered off topic, sorry.
renfield kuroda

David T Anderson
23rd January 2003, 15:28
Interesting.... For years I've seen TV clips and read stories about the awesome Japanese efficiency and preparation for earthquakes. I guess that reality again turns out to be different from 'media reality'...

P Goldsbury
23rd January 2003, 22:03
Originally posted by David T Anderson
Interesting.... For years I've seen TV clips and read stories about the awesome Japanese efficiency and preparation for earthquakes...

Don't you believe it. There has been talk of another huge earthquake about to strike: a repetition of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 but no one really has any idea of where or when. When it does strike, I do not expect the response to be much different from that to the Kobe earthquake. The response to several nuclear accidents here has been amateurish in the extreme.

Perhaps some of the older residents here will remember the air disaster in Gumma Prefecture, when a fully-loaded Boeing 747 crashed into a mountain. The Americans were very quickly up and ready to respond, but the Japanese reply was No, it was OK, thank you; rescue work would start the following morning when it was light. As a result many people died during the night and there were just 4 survivors.

Bullet trains here run very efficiently and my Toyota car is extremely reliable, and very well serviced, at a price. Everything else? Except perhaps for the pachinko industry (the proceeds of whuch largely fund North Korea), nothing I would describe as awesome. For example, I often why it is necessary to close down Japan's entire newspaper publishing operations once each month, merely to allow delivery personnel to have a holiday.

P Goldsbury
23rd January 2003, 22:22
Damn. The 15-minute rule again... Oh for an automatic spell-checker...Correct to "which" and supply "wonder" where appropriate.

Jeff Hamacher
23rd January 2003, 23:39
Originally posted by David T Anderson
>> Interesting.... For years I've seen TV clips and read stories about the awesome Japanese efficiency and preparation for earthquakes. I guess that reality again turns out to be different from 'media reality'... <<

it's propaganda, pure and simple. the Japanese media are very fond of reporting on robots that can move their limbs exactly like humans, or mobile phones with built-in cameras and internet access, but the basic governance of the nation is hopelessly ass-backward. the endless process of building concensus, following protocol, and getting official approval before any plan is put into action has been the undoing of this country since the stock market collapse. Gregory Clark refers to it as "the fishing village mentality".

'course, it's not as though i can claim that Canada is paradise on Earth or anything, eh, David?:D

David T Anderson
24th January 2003, 02:45
Originally posted by Jeff Hamacher

'course, it's not as though i can claim that Canada is paradise on Earth or anything, eh, David?:D

I'd never try to claim that...I doubt if Canadians would do a lot better in case of a big, widespread disaster. Fortunately we don't seem to get many of those, although the Vancouver area is _way_ overdue for a big quake...to the point that earthquake insurance is next to impossible to get in that area, and the insurance companies are doing their best to avoid exposure [my wife is an insurance professional, so I hear about things like this]. AFAIK there is practically _no_ preparation underway either...the official policy seems to be 'Don't think about it, and maybe it won't happen...' Heh -- maybe we are learning from the Japanese after all....

24th January 2003, 04:43
heh, thanks for the FYI. I have been looking at property in Vancouver.

Then again, it must still be better than SF. At least the property in Vancouver is relatively affordable.

24th January 2003, 08:12
the toll may have been higher, but those of us who were in northridge at the time of the earthquake felt the full impact :(

its probably a good thing no one tried to save anything. one of my bookshelves fell completely to the floor and when the earthquake was over we noticed the dishes from the kitchen had all fallen from the cabinets. someone may have been seriously injured had they tried to retrive any items. all that stuff can be replaced :)...unless, of course, there was a fire.

it doesnt really matter which one was stronger- both earthquakes exacted a lot of damage and resulted in death. im still reminded of the earthquake when i pass by a certain apartment that was the epicenter of the earthquake.

i just hope that in the future more can be done to prevent damage, injury, and death.

2nd June 2003, 06:39
Is it too late to jump in here? I happened to experience both quakes. In 94, I was in Santa Barbara, 90 miles from Northridge, in a house on stilts, and we were nervously laughing. In 95, I was in Yonago city, 150 miles from Kobe, in a third story apartment, and I thought I was gonna die. It was THAT must scarier. Ironically, in fall 2000, a supposed 7.4 quake hit here and no one died. (The key here is to stay as far away from me as possible.;)

As stated before, the high Kobe death toll was due to government officials sitting on their hands as thousands burned while trapped in the rubble. One woman from Northridge survived the quake in her hometown only to die in Kobe a year later.

Ted Taylor

Striking Hand
2nd June 2003, 06:47
Japan has done quiet a few chances since the Kobe earthquake.

Typical Japanese fashion lots of new technology is being used, 2 of the most significant developments are.

1.) Ambulance/ Fire Engine hybrid car.
2.) Deploying of fire fighting Off-road Bikes. No kidding here.

BTW, I don't think they did too bad in the recent earthquake. Besides moronic officials playing pachinko.