Osaka warns of dire Nankai quake toll


The disastrous earthquake expected to occur in the Nankai Trough off the Pacific coast could cause more than 130,000 deaths in Osaka alone, the prefectural government said Wednesday.

If people do not act promptly to escape the tsunami spawned by the quake, the death toll could reach 133,891, it reported at a meeting of its disaster response team.

That’s more than 13 times the central government’s estimate of 9,800 for Osaka.

A swift evacuation would reduce that number to 8,806, according to Osaka’s estimate.

In August, the prefecture said that, based on its own analysis, including estimates of how far the seawalls would sink as a result of the quake, the ensuing tsunami could flood an area 3.6 times larger than the central government’s estimate.

Areas around Osaka Station might be submerged by 2 meters of water, it said.

Osaka’s estimates were based on a huge earthquake hitting western Japan at 6 p.m. on a winter day.

Linking its new death toll projection to evacuation speed, Osaka said deaths will reach the maximum level under two scenarios: if only 20 percent of the people evacuate within 10 minutes of the quake or only 50 percent flee within 20 minutes of the quake.

The remaining 30 percent of the populace is not expected to evacuate.

As many as 132,967 lives are expected to be taken by tsunami, with 90 percent of the deaths projected to be concentrated in the city of Osaka.

If everybody starts evacuating within 10 minutes, the number of tsunami victims would fall to 7,882, with 735 expected to die under collapsed buildings and 176 from fire, according to the prefecture’s estimate.