Case studies of earthquakes

Kobe, Japan, 1995 (MEDC)

On 17th January 1995, an earthquake struck Kobe, a heavily populated urban area in Japan. It measured 7.4 on the Richter scale and occurred as a result of plate movement along the boundary between the Philippines Plate, Pacific Plate and Eurasian Plate.

Effects

curriculum-key-fact
  • Primary effects happen immediately. Secondary effects usually occur as a result of the primary effects.

Primary and secondary effects of an earthquake

Primary effects

  • 35000 people injured.
  • Buildings and bridges collapsed despite their earthquake proof design.

Secondary effects

  • Buildings destroyed by fire when the gas mains fractured.
  • 316000 people left homeless and refugees moved into temporary housing.

Responses

These can be divided into short and long term.

Short term

  • People were evacuated and emergency rations provided.
  • Rescue teams searched for survivors for 10 days.

Long term

  • Many people moved away from the area permanently.
  • Jobs were created in the construction industry as part of a rebuilding programme.

Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005 (LEDC)

On 8 October 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale hit the Kashmir region of Pakistan. The earthquake was the result of collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates.

Primary effects

  • Buildings collapsed.
  • 79,000 people were killed.
  • Landslides, and large cracks appeared in the ground.

Secondary effects

  • Broken sewerage pipes contaminated water supplies and spread disease.
  • 79,000 people were killed.
  • People died of cold during the harsh winter.

Responses

Short term

  • The army and emergency services arrived to join the rescue effort.
  • Tents were given out by charities.
  • Aid workers arrived from abroad to find survivors and treat the injured.

Long term

  • Schools and hospitals were rebuilt.
  • Building regulations were improved to reduce damage and the death rate in future earthquakes.