The Japanese government’s Central Disaster Management Council has predicted that a powerful earthquake may kill up to 199,000 people in the north and northeast of the country.
Council’s experts said that a magnitude 9.1-9.3 quake can cause a tsunami up to 29.7 metres (95.14 feet) high in the northeastern regions of the Japanese island of Honshu and 27.9 meters near the southern coast of Hokkaido.
As a result of tremors and tsunami, up to 137,000 people may die in Hokkaido, almost 41,000 in the Aomori prefecture and about 11,000 in Iwate. Moreover, 220,000 residential buildings may be destroyed, the experts were cited as saying.
The worst scenario is a powerful earthquake in winter. In such a case, about 42,000 people are expected to get wet and die from hypothermia even if they manage to survive the deadly tsunami.
The death toll might be reduced by 80 per cent if the authorities manage to start evacuations within 10 minutes after the tremors, the experts were cited as saying.
The Council’s ad hoc expert group will now work on developing new measures and actions to combat natural disasters taking into account the updated forecast.
Japan is located in a seismically active zone known as the Ring of Fire and regularly suffers from powerful earthquakes.
The 2011 magnitude 9 earthquake and the following tsunami killed more than 15,000 people and caused the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.
The Japanese authorities have been reviewing the country’s disaster management since the tragedy.