An Osaka prefectural government panel said Wednesday that up to 133,000 people could be killed in the event that a magnitude 9 earthquake occurs in the Nankai Trough off Japan’s Pacific Coast.
The figure is more than 10 times the estimate given in a national government scenario in August. At that time, according to projections released by the Cabinet Office, up to 320,000 people could be killed in 30 prefectures by tsunami generated by a massive earthquake in the trough which stretches for 750 kilometers from Kanto to Kyushu. It projected about 10,000 deaths in the Osaka region.
However, the Osaka panel said its projections showed that an area three times greater than the Cabinet Office estimate would be devastated by a tsunami and that liquefaction would destroy many levees, causing even more flood damage.
But the panel said that was a worst-case scenario. It said a tsunami could take about 110 minutes to reach the Osaka metropolitan area and that the number of deaths could be reduced by 80% if evacuations begin within 10 minutes of a tsunami alert.
On a national scale, the Cabinet Office estimates that the highest number of casualties are expected to be in Shizuoka (109,000 projected deaths), followed by Wakayama (35,000), Miyazaki (34,000) and Kochi (25,000).
However, the report said the number of deaths could be reduced by 80% if evacuations begin within 10 minutes of a tsunami alert. It also called for more evacuation centers on high ground and taller buildings, as well as regular evacuation drills.