Quake warnings, seismic culture

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Science  01 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6367, pp. 1111
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar4640

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  • Earthquake early warning systems should accompany response plans
    • Shino Iwami, Project Researcher, University of Jyväskylä

    Richard M. Allen discussed the importance of providing predictive information (1). In Japan, earthquake early warning (EEW) are delivered to mobile phones, televisions and radios several seconds before the earthquake come, and the Shinkansens (high-speed railway lines in Japanese) stop urgently in order to prevent derailment.
    The 2011 Tohoku-Oki M9.0 earthquake was unfortunately accompanied by a nuclear accident. The Japanese government's research institute had SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information), but information was not provided to citizens. Without disclosing observation data, the government only explained "there is no immediate risk to health" (2). I heard that one researcher suggested that he could provide second-best information but his organization refused it. In Tokyo with a huge population, citizens’ temporary evacuation would be impossible even if only information were provided. In fact, the traffic almost stopped, and a large amount of people could not get home (3).
    There is a reason why I dared not write the concrete source of second-best information. Both good news and bad news about nuclear power plants necessarily become controversies of optimism and pessimism, and finally they disdain each other.
    The absence of an evacuation plan means that there is no hope for the future. A person is unacceptable even if the system provides accurate data when there is no hope under extreme fear conditi...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) is limited: Bosai is crucial for saving our lives

    Richard M. Allen et al., wrote an article entitled "Quake warnings, seismic culture," published in Science (1). Japanese government believes that after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the early warning system, along with Japan's tsunami warning system, was considered to be effective although the tsunami killed over 10,000 people. From the disaster lessons in 2011, we have learn the important fact of "Bosai" (2). “Bosai” is a Japanese word meaning disaster prevention and mitigation. Almost all of the nearly 3,000 elementary and junior high school pupils in Kamaishi successfully evacuated and stayed safe where children sought refuge all the way to higher ground, and did not stay in the evacuation center that the hazard map said would be safe (2). In Kamaishi schools, three principles of evacuation in Bosai have been taught: do not get fixated on assumptions, do whatever you can do in the given situation, and take the initiative in evacuating (2).
    Besides, with Bosai, another important point is how quake warnings should be delivered to anyone staying in the expected disaster areas as quickly as possible for evacuation.

    1. Richard M. Allen et al., "Quake warnings, seismic culture," Science 01 Dec 2017: Vol. 358, Issue 6367, pp. 1111a
    2.Lessons from disasters.

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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