NAGOYA – A magnitude-9.0 earthquake along the Nankai Trough off central and western Japan could kill as many as 6,700 people in Nagoya, 1.5 times the number previously estimated, the municipal government said Wednesday.
Nagoya, with a population of 2.27 million, also projected that 15,000 people would sustain injuries, assuming that the temblor occurs late on a winter night.
Aichi Prefecture forecast last May that Nagoya could see a death toll of 4,600 from a powerful quake, based on estimates from the central government.
The new study by Nagoya projects the temblor could destroy 51,000 buildings in the city. Based on data from past quakes, there would be an estimated 373,000 refugees in the immediate aftermath.
In February, the Nagoya government estimated that in the worst-case scenario, the western half of the city could experience a quake measuring up to level 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale and that a tsunami up to 3.6 meters high could engulf the port area.
About a quarter of Nagoya could be flooded by water of at least 1 cm, according to the city’s projection.
The study estimated that around 2,100 people would be killed by falling buildings and debris, 4,400 by tsunami and another 300 by fire.
If the quake occurred at night, fatalities would increase due to buildings collapsing on sleeping inhabitants and delayed flight from tsunami, the city said.
Preventative measures such as strengthening the structural integrity of homes, securing furniture and timely evacuation could reduce the number of deaths to 1,500, officials said.
The city also projects that 34,000 buildings would be destroyed by the quake, another 5,900 by fire, 7,500 by tsunami and 2,800 by ground liquefaction.
If a powerful quake hits the city on a winter evening, fire from kitchens and heaters could cause the number of buildings gutted by fire to jump to 21,000.
“Casualties can be reduced by quick evacuation,” an official in the Nagoya Fire Department said. “It’s important to be prepared for the worst.”