This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Populations at Risk in Japan

The largest earthquake ever to hit Japan (8.9 on the Richter Scale), and one of the largest ever recorded on earth hit today, killing at least 300 people, and sending a Tsunami across the Pacific Ocean. The New York Times notes that the deaths are especially related to the fact that the town nearest to the earthquake (which was itself centered off-shore) is on relatively flat ground.
Japanese police officials said that more than 200 bodies were found in Sendai, a port city in the northeastern part of the country and the closest major city to the epicenter, and the government put the official death toll at more than 300. But with many people still missing there and elsewhere, the death toll is expected to rise.
Vasily Titov, director of the Center for Tsunami Research, said that coastal areas closest to the center of the earthquake probably had about 15 to 30 minutes before the first wave of the tsunami struck. "It’s not very much time. In Japan, the public is among the best educated in the world about earthquakes and tsunamis. But it’s still not enough time.”
Complicating the issue, he added, is that the flat terrain in the area would have made it difficult for people to reach higher, and thus safer, ground. "There are not many places they could go," he said.

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