Surviving earthquakes and rebuilding lives

Surviving earthquakes and rebuilding lives

After all the natural calamities that cause destruction all over the world, rebuilding lives is one of the most difficult tasks we humans are made to face. In Japan, several earthquakes take place every year which destroys many lives in the blink of an eye. Many people end up losing their lives, while the survivors have to rebuild theirs in times of grave destruction and scarcity of livelihood. To understand more about this, we should first know what an earthquake is.


An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth‘s lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to propel objects (and people) into the air and wreak destruction across entire cities.


Now the question is, why does Japan face so many earthquakes every year? Japan is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is the most active earthquake belt in the world. Japan accounts for around 20 per cent of earthquakes around the world with a magnitude of 6.0 or more. Around 1,500 earthquakes strike the island nation every year and minor tremors occur nearly every day.


In the year 1995, in January, a strong earthquake hit the city of Kobe and surroundings in Japan. It was named as the Southern Hyogo Earthquake or Great Hanshin Earthquake, which killed 6,000 and injured 4,15,000 people. 1,00,000 homes were destroyed and 1,85,000 were severely damaged. On March 11, 2011, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Japan triggered a massive tsunami along the Pacific Coast of Northeastern Japan. This earthquake named as Great East Japan Earthquake ensued a tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people and caused a nuclear accident at a power plant in Fukushima Prefecture. This power plant released radioactive material in the air and water which made the seawater discharge 4385 times more radiation than the maximum safety levels.


Thus, even after not getting killed in an earthquake, the next possible challenge is to stay alive. The nuclear power plant meltdown caused people to starve more. With no fresh water, food, electricity or shelter, living was difficult. At such times people prefer dying after losing their loved ones and once everything gets restored they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


Hortensia Amaro, Distinguished Professor and associate dean in Bouvé College of Health Sciences, of Northeastern University discusses the role post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be playing in the lives of the Japanese people today.


Earthquakes render people homeless and destroy their sanity, which makes us wonder how people rebuild their lives after that. Usually, the answer is that ‘we don’t have a choice’; life goes on and so do we. Japan has been successful in rebuilding people’s lives after such mass destruction but all of us know that the scars will always remain and sufferings may never end.


Shivangi Sinha



Shivangi Sinha

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