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Introduction to Earthquakes Earthquakes are natural hazards which occur on plate margins Earthquakes are the result of plate movements The strain builds up along the fault line between two plates until they move causing earthquakes So why did the Kobe earthquake happen Japan is at a high risk to earthquakes Kobe is no exception Japans second most major port is situated on a minor fault the Nojma Fault Unfortunately it lies above a destructive plate margin Kobe is located above where the Philippines crust oceanic crust and the Eurasion crust continental crust meet It was along this fault that the triggered the earthquake that hit Kobe When did it happen At 546am on January 17th 1995 whilst many of its citizens were still asleep the Japanese city of Kobe was hit by the largest earthquake in Japan since 1923 It was recorded at 72 on the Richter scale and lasted for 20 seconds During this time the ground moved 18cm horizontally and 12cm vertically The earthquake was not only powerful but the epicentre was only 20km away from the city it resulted in massive damage to property and loss of life The worst effected area was in the central part of Kobe a region about 5km by 20km alongside the main docks and port area This area is built on soft and easily removed rocks especially the port itself is built on reclaimed ground Here the ground actually liquefied and acted like thick soup allowing buildings to topple sideways resulting in huge cranes in the harbour toppling over into the sea More than 102000 buildings were destroyed in Kobe leaving 30000 people homeless The cost to repair the infrastructure of the city was estimated at 150 billion dollars and that was just for the state owned buildings and services The final cost makes the earthquake the most expensive
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