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A major earthquake off the eastern part of the Kii Peninsula in western Japan would destroy 176,000 homes, according to a damage estimate compiled by an insurance group.

The Nonlife Insurance Rating Organization of Japan also estimated that a large quake under the sea off Shikoku would trigger tsunami up to 6 meters high.

The rating entity, consisting of 45 casualty insurers, made estimates for three large quakes that seismologists say could occur in the near future, one in the Nankai region between Shikoku and the Kii Peninsula, one in the Tonankai region east of the Kii Peninsula, and another around the Tokai region centering on Nagoya.

The estimates were made using simulations based in part on past damage from similar earthquakes.

“The three quakes (would be) expected to cause extremely widespread damage, unlike the Great Hanshin Earthquake,” in which damage was limited mainly to Kobe and its nearby areas, said Hiroaki Tsubokawa, a lead researcher for the rating entity. “We hope companies will make use of our study to make their own disaster manuals.”

The damage from a big earthquake east of the Kii Peninsula could be as extensive as the one projected for the Tokai region, according to the study. In the worst-case scenario, 25,000 homes would be consumed in ensuing fires, according to the estimates.

A big earthquake in the Tokai region would destroy an estimated 199,000 homes, and one off Shikoku and the Kii Peninsula would destroy 21,000 homes, according to the study.

Tsunami between 3 and 6 meters high would hit areas along Shikoku, the Kii Peninsula and Suruga Bay around Shizuoka Prefecture, according to the estimates.

Areas likely to register 6 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 if hit by a quake in the Tokai region and the sea east of the Kii Peninsula host 29,000 facilities that manufacture, store or deal with dangerous substances, the destruction of which could result in secondary damage, the study says.

The government’s Central Disaster Management Council reported in August that 230,000 homes would be destroyed and more than 8,000 people killed if the Tokai region was hit by a major quake.

The council’s subpanel is studying the extent of damage estimated for the other two possible quakes also covered in the insurance rating entity.

The estimations are based on three massive temblors, with a magnitude of 8 or greater, such as those that strike areas along the Pacific coast every 100 to 150 years, according to seismologists.

The Tokai region has been under constant watch for signs of a massive earthquake.

A government task force studying earthquakes puts the possibility of massive quakes occurring within the next 30 years in those two areas at between 40 percent and 50 percent.

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