With a projected mega earthquake coming from the Nankai Trough, researchers have called for the review of schools found in Japan’s coastal areas and designated as tsunami evacuation sites. Ironically, as 75 percent of elementary and junior high schools in seven prefectures are preparing for tsunami damage should an earthquake hit their area, 90 percent of these schools are also assigned as evacuation areas.
Takao Kasumi, professor at the Tohoku Fukushi University, said, “With the risk of tsunami always in mind, schools and teachers should proactively discuss the designation of evacuation sites and other steps with local governments and residents.” A survey conducted in 1,436 schools from February-March of last year showed that out of the 815, which responded, 73.6 percent of 600 expressed concern on damage from a tsunami, while 90.2 percent or 735 of these schools are assigned as evacuation sites. The schools surveyed are located in the prefectures of Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie, Wakayama, Tokushima and Kochi, which could all be affected should a tsunami is set off by a Nankai quake.
In March 2011, 854 children and teachers died from the tsunami that hit the Okawa Elementary School. Located in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, the school was not labeled a tsunami hazard and was indicated as an evacuation site. Based on hazard maps by local administrative officials, 354 out of the 815 schools are located in areas that could be swallowed by giant waves. 50 of these 354 are found within 1 kilometer away from the coast, less than 5 meters above sea level and lacks nearby highlands to head to, placing them at the highest risk.
[via Japan Times]