The Tokyo Metropolitan Government released new data this week detailing what would happen if the Japanese capital were hit with a major earthquake. According to the projection, a 7.3-magnitude quake would likely kill about 9,600 people, and it would leave 147,000 more injured. Of those, about 21,900 would likely be seriously injured, according to the projection. A quake of that magnitude would also destroy or seriously damage about 378,000 buildings, according to the government projection.

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Counting bodies before they actually die is pretty morbid business, but it’s a serious study for a country that is still recovering from a 9.0 earthquake that struck the northeast coast in March 2011. That quake killed about 19,000 people after a massive tsunami swept homes and people out into the ocean. According to the government projection, a mega-quake would leave about 5.2 million people unable to go home because of damage to transportation systems and the power grid.

Tokyo sits at the intersection of four tectonic plates, and according to the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute, there is a 50 percent chance the city will be struck by an earthquake of magnitude-7.0 or higher within the next four years. With a population of more than 8 million people, Tokyo is the largest city in Japan. But the devastation caused by a major earthquake would probably be even worse than government projections, because it doesn’t take into account the additional 27 million people living in the greater Tokyo metro area.

+ Tokyo Metropolitan Government


Photos by Morio and Laitr Keiows