Municipalities ignored tsunami warnings

Evacuation advisories deemed unnecessary by 30 of 42 localities: survey

Thirty out of 42 municipalities in Aichi, Mie and Wakayama prefectures along the Pacific coast did not issue evacuation advisories after the stronger of two powerful earthquakes hit western Japan on Sunday, although the Meteorological Agency issued a binding tsunami warning for the areas, according to a Kyodo News survey.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency told local governments nationwide in 1999 to issue evacuation advisories when a tsunami warning is issued.

However, many local governments said in the survey, released Wednesday, that they did not issue evacuation advisories this time because they figured the tsunami would be small.

The Meteorological Agency issued the tsunami warning between 12:01 and 12:03 a.m. Monday after the second quake, a magnitude-7.3 temblor, occurred at 11:57 p.m. Sunday. The warning covered three municipalities in Aichi Prefecture, 18 in Mie Prefecture, and 21 in Wakayama Prefecture.

Earlier on Sunday, a 6.9-magnitude temblor struck the same general area.

Of the 42 municipalities, only 12 issued the advisory and evacuated residents after the second quake, in line with local disaster prevention plans.

The remaining 30 municipalities said that after sending officials to the coast, they judged the expected tsunami would be rather small and thus not merit an evacuation.

Many of them said they have an automatic broadcast system for tsunami warnings that issues alerts over loudspeakers that can be heard in each household.

Some municipalities said that, although they did not issue an explicit evacuation advisory, they urged residents to use local shelters, and many evacuated.