Nankai quake could kill 6,700 in Nagoya, 1.5 times previous estimate

A magnitude 9 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 central Japan city government said Wednesday.

The city with a population of 2.27 million also projected 15,000 people would sustain injuries, assuming that the temblor occurs late on a winter night.

In May last year, Aichi Prefecture covering Nagoya forecast that the death toll from a powerful quake could reach 4,600 in the city 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 a week after the disaster.

In February, the municipality estimated the western half of the city could experience a quake measuring up to the highest level of 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale and that a tsunami up to 3.6 meters high could engulf the port of Nagoya in the worst-case scenario.

About a quarter of the city area could be flooded by water 1 centimeter or more deep, according to the city's February projection.

The most recent study found 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 bolstering the quake resistance of homes, securing furniture and early evacuation could reduce the number of deaths to 1,500, the municipality said.

The city also projected that 34,000 buildings would be completely 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.

In response to the report, an official of the city's fire department said, "Casualties can be reduced by quick evacuation. It's important to be prepared for the worst."