Japanese scientists have warned of a huge chance of a devastating earthquake coming to Japan within the next three decades that is comparable to the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku which left over 15,000 people dead.
In a statement on Tuesday, a panel of experts from the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion revealed that there is a 7- 40% probability of a powerful tremor over 8.8 magnitude on the Richter scale hitting the island of Hokkaido in the next 30 years, potentially killing about a thousand people.
The panel is urging for increased disaster preparations in the surrounding area as the Chishima trench is reportedly long overdue for a massive quake. The announcement is reportedly their first revision to predictions in 13 years, according to Asahi Shimbun.
Experts further warn of a 70% chance that an earthquake between the magnitudes of 7.8 and 8.5 may hit off the coast of Nemuro and a 60% probability a quake hitting further north.
“I hope disaster preparations are reviewed based on the possibility that a super-gigantic quake like the one that struck the Tohoku region could also strike Hokkaido,” University of Tokyo seismology professor and chairman of the panel’s Earthquake Research Committee, Naoshi Hirata was quoted as saying.
An earthquake on such scale had been observed to hit the area at intervals of every 340 and 380 years, and since the most recent one occurred about 400 years ago, scientists have concluded that it’s already due for another big one. Previous studies have reportedly found that gigantic quakes have rocked Hokkaido 18 times over the past 6,500 years.
The magnitude 9 earthquake in 2011, considered as the strongest ever recorded in Japan, created a massive tsunami in its aftermath that killed 15,894 people, left 2,546 missing and injured 6,156 people. It also caused the meltdown of a nuclear plant in Fukushima.