Thursday, 5 April 2012

Kobe Earthquake, 1995

Based on my own research, some data could be different to what you find.. 

Case Study of the Management of a Tectonic Event in an HIC: Kobe Earthquake, 1995

Intro facts: Cause of the earthquake:
  • The earthquake was caused by the Philippines Plate being subducted under the Eurasian Plate.
  • The focus was very shallow; it was only about 15km.
  • The epicentre was very close to Kobe, around 20km away.

Intro facts: Short term impacts of the earthquake
  • Nearly 200,000 buildings were destroyed.
  • A 1km stretch of the elevated Hanshin Expressway collapsed.
  • 120 of the 150 quays in the port of Kobe were destroyed.
  • Electricity, gas and water supplies were disrupted.
  • Fires caused by broken pipes and ruptured electricity lines, swept the city.
  • An estimated 230,000 people were made homeless.
  • The number of deaths was put officially at 5500.
  • At lest 40,000 people suffered serious injury.

How Was The Earthquake Disaster Managed?

Before the earthquake: Prediction
  • The Japanese government established the Imperial Earthquake Investigation Committee in 1892 in response to the Nobi earthquake (1891) which caused significant damage in Japan. However, they failed to predict the Great Hanshin Earthquake.
  • Even though Japan has one of the most advance Earthquake prediction systems, they failed to predict it. Kobe had not had a major earthquake for more than 400 years so there was less prediction equipment there than in other areas of Japan.
  • Although people on duty could see that there were many tremors (prior to the earthquake), they did not raise the alarm. It could be that they were getting complacent because they had not received a huge earthquake for a long time.
Before the earthquake: Preparation 
-        Illusion of preparedness made people complacent-caught unaware.
-        There were still many old, traditional houses in Kobe. They had heavy tiles on the roofs to withstand typhoons; but they injured many people when the wood supporting the roof collapsed.
-        Most new buildings built had been designed to be earthquake proof; but because of liquefaction, they still toppled over. The houses were not retrofitted, resulting in many elderly people injured.  Transport infrastructure not retrofitted either.
-        They didn’t have sufficient emergency supplies. Especially water-couldn’t fight fire efficiently.
+        Schools and factories had regular earthquake drills.
After the earthquake: Response In The Short Term
·         They had to get clean, fresh water from other parts of the country.
·         The Japanese government evacuated people into temporary shelters because they still faced the dangers of fires and unstable buildings. The government was criticized for being so slow in mobilizing the army-sluggish response.
·         Bulldozers were brought in to clear fallen buildings.
·         The local fire department put out the fires.
·         Civilians helped to rescue others who were trapped.
·         Medical aid centres were set up.
After the earthquake: Response In The Medium & Long Term
  • By January 1999, 134,000 housing units had been constructed. All homes and buildings had to be built to strict regulations and they were made more earthquake resistant. (Flexible frames, steel support.)
  • Water, electricity, gas and telephone services were fully working by July 1995.
  • Within a year, 80% of the port was working but the Hanshin Expressway was still closed.
  • The railways were back in service by August 1995.
  • More instruments were installed in the area to monitor seismic activity.
  • Major transport routes were reinforced so they do not get destroyed or damaged in the event of another major earthquake.
  • Earthquake resistant shelters were constructed in local parks.
  • The city plan was more spaced out, buildings were further apart so that if one collapsed, it would not create a domino effect. Buildings were not allowed to be built on unstable land.
  • Developed more open space in the city so that people had a large area to evacuate to.
  • Japan refused international aid for a while then finally let them in.


  1. Thank you so much. I have now also done my IGCSEs and PASSED thanks to you and your blog. Thank you.

    1. Ooh congrats on finishing!! And you're very welcome, I'm so glad the blog was of use. :) :)

  2. Wow what a great piece of information! My geography assessment is the least of my worries now! :D

  3. this is really helping me revise so thanks a lot :D

  4. Thank you these notes are so helpful.
    Yours truly,
    Fred Reeman

  5. Very informative, very useful, helped me tons with my essay

  6. Thanks so much very informative. Off to eton next year!

  7. is no one going to talk about how the local Yakuza gang helped out


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Note: This blog will no longer be updated as I finished IGCSEs in 2012. Sorry! :( If you are interested in buying IB notes though, please contact me. :)