Importance of Buildings Not to Collapse

The primary aim in the disaster prevention and quake-resistance should be to make buildings not to collapse. If buildings had stayed, they would not have crushed the victims to death -- 88% of the deaths in the Great Hanshin Earthquake were caused by the collapse of buildings crushing people. Also if buildings had not collapsed, the occurring and spreading of fire caused by the collapse could have been avoided. In other words, by making buildings -- especially those of wooden structure which occupy a large proportion of the urban constructions -- hard to collapse, primary damage in an earthquake will greatly decrease. Seismic retrofit should be regarded as principal in urban disaster risk management.

Energy Source to be Safer

The second aim should be to make buildings not to burn, even if they collapse. In the disaster, the cause of as much as 70% of the fires was electricity or gas. In some cases, leaked gas caught fire from a candle which was used as a light, and in some other cases fire was provoked by leaked electricity in a collapsed house. Such cases of fire must have been far less had it not been for gas leaking even if the house had collapsed, or electricity automatically restored even if gas was leaking. In some cases, an old type oil heater without a shockproof self-extinguishing device was the origin of fire.

It should be made compulsory to install a hand-power operation panel in each house to restore the electricity, which prevents electricity from automatically recovering. Regarding gas, the safety system should be further improved and adopted widely. Outdoor equipment should be made not to leak. As to petroleum products, too, those without a shockproof self-extinguishing device should be banned.



(TAKEYAMA Kiyoaki)