SOURCE: Miyamoto International

Miyamoto International

March 14, 2011 16:55 ET

Dr. Kit Miyamoto Reports: Day 3 After the Earthquake

TOKYO--(Marketwire - March 14, 2011) - Dr. Kit Miyamoto, CEO of Miyamoto International, a global earthquake and structural engineering firm, reports on his experience on the third day after the earthquake in Japan.

"My super-packed train has stopped again. I am in the middle of Tokyo, heading to Shibuya to catch a van to the north. The threat of a power outage has changed the train schedule. People are getting sick in the trains, because so many of us are packed in tightly together and the train frequently stops because of sudden schedule changes.

"I sense a dark cloud of stress hovering over this well-organized, advanced society. This earthquake disaster is evolving into something much more than anyone expected on Friday. We are anticipating more than 10,000 deaths now. Beyond damaged nuclear plants, many fossil fuel-burning power plants are also damaged along the eastern coastline. Because of these damaged plants, we are experiencing 4-hour rolling power blackouts in the cities to save energy, forcing many large stores and businesses to close.

"And the aftershocks continue. The constant rolling motion of the ground makes me dizzy. There is a 70 percent probability of a magnitude 7 or larger aftershock in the next five days, which would cause more damage and potentially another tsunami. Many businesses and plants across the country, including Toyota, are closed because of damage to key suppliers operations. The total economic impact on society is still unknown, but it will be huge -- and it will be felt worldwide.

"Why did the seawalls and power plants fail? Weren't they engineered using advanced Japanese earthquake engineering technology? The answer is simple. Following a standard building code is not good enough to provide sustainability for a building or for a city. Many buildings in Japan are designed to withstand a magnitude 7, or what engineers call a 500-year earthquake event. This level has pretty much been the standard worldwide. But forces in earthquakes often exceed these levels. If we had engineered these seawalls for 10-meter tsunamis, if the cooling system of the nuclear plant had not failed because the tsunami went over the seawalls, then the impact of this earthquake would be much less. Is it too expensive to design and build to such a level? That question should be asked of the people in the cities that were swallowed by the tsunami or the people in buildings that collapsed and can no longer be occupied. There are often cost-effective, innovative ways to control the effect of disasters.

"It is getting dark. I am climbing into the van heading toward Sendai. This will be a long ride. We'll arrive late in the evening, more reporting to follow from on the ground in Sendai."

About Miyamoto
Miyamoto International is a global earthquake and structural engineering firm that provides critical services to sustain industries and communities around the world. The firm specializes in designing High-Performance Earthquake Engineering solutions that reduce lifecycle costs and produce a positive net impact on a structure's operation. Miyamoto helps tackle some of the most challenging projects in the world from diverse offices in the Americas, Asia and Europe. The firm's clients include government agencies, private-sector organizations, developers, architects and contractors who desire highly effective and sustainable technical solutions.

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