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[dai-con01.gif] Great Hanshin Earthquake Restoration

Great Hanshin Earthquake and the destruction of the infrastructure
     At 5:46 in the morning of January 17th, 1995, a strong earthquake struck a stretch of the southern part of Hyogo Prefecture. Rated at a magnitude of 7.3, the epicenter of the large-scale earthquake was a mere 16 km directly underneath the northern part of Awaji Island. Known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake, this disaster was responsible for a large loss of life and extensive damage to many homes and public building and structures, as well as many fires in the aftermath. Centered on the city of Kobe, the Hanshin area is home to a population of approximately 3.5 million people, and as it normally plays a central role in the economy of Japan, the damage caused by this disaster was massive.

Fatalities: 6,400
Missing persons: 3
Injuries: 40,092
Collapsed homes: 240,956
(Completely destroyed, about 43%,
half destroyed, about 57%)
(Statistics as of December 27, 2001: Hyogo Prefecture Disaster Planning and Firefighting Division Report)
Bridge collapse in Nishinomiya City
Fires raging in Nagata Ward of Kobe City
A home destroyed so completely that it was difficult to tell which part was originally the first floor.
     The Great Hanshin Earthquake exposed the extreme fragility of the social infrastructure to large-scale earthquakes. About 2.6 million homes had their electricity cut off, and gas service was lost in about 845,000 homes. Tap water pipes were destroyed and about 1.27 million homes had their water supply cut off. Restoration took several months in some regions. Incorporating the latest technology, far too many of the high-speed expressways that should have been strong enough to resist the earthquake either collapsed or were mercilessly destroyed, and there was serious and extensive damage to many port facilities, including Kobe Port, various railways, subways, and the Shinkansen Line. Thus, the transportation network was completely paralyzed. The firefighting efforts were severely hampered due to the loss of water, and as the roads were impassable, emergency vehicles were unable to respond as expected. This breakdown of the social infrastructure was also one cause of the heavy loss of life. In the end, the damage due to the earthquake was estimated at 9 trillion, 927 billion yen (Statistics from a report published by the Hyogo Prefecture Disaster Planning and Firefighting Division; April 5, 1995).

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