A magnitude 6.1 earthquake rocked northern Japan’s Hokkaido region, reported the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) on Saturday.
The affected areas include coastal cities Kushiro and Nemuro. Despite this, there has been no tsunami warning issued as of yet.
The USGS reported that the earthquake began at 10:27 pm (1327 GMT) with a depth of 43 kilometers.
Public Japanese broadcaster NHK has notified citizens to watch for additional earthquakes for roughly one week following the seismic activity in Hokkaido.
Japan is highly susceptible to earthquakes due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire. The Pacific Ring of Fire is a region around most of the rim of the Pacific Ocean that contains many active volcanoes and earthquakes. Due to Japan being situated in this region, it has the 17th highest natural disaster risk, as reported in the World Risk Report 2016 published by United Nations University.
Many of Japan’s skyscrapers and buildings are built to withstand sudden earthquakes. Shock absorption built into many buildings’ foundations allow structures to absorb as much seismic energy as possible. On many floors of skyscrapers, builders put motion dampers to reduce the vibrations in a building, thus neutralizing how much a building can move during a seismic event.
Like many countries that practice fire drills in school, Japanese schools hold earthquake drills. These routine exercises teach young people how to safely take cover during an earthquake. Children are taught to get under desks head-first and to hold onto the desk’s legs until the quake subsides.
The most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan occurred in 2011 in the Tōhoku region. This quake triggered massive tsunami waves, and as a result of both environmental catastrophes, 19,759 people died, 6.242 people were injured, and 2,553 people went missing.
The losses from this event have been estimated by the World Bank at $235 billion, causing the 2011 Tōhoku quake to be the costliest natural disaster in human history. The subsequent damage to infrastructure also caused major disasters at four nuclear power stations.
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