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Giant Japan offshore quake could kill 320,000: government

Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:25am
Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - An earthquake as big as the one that jolted northern Japan last year could kill more than 320,000 people if it happened off central and western Japan, though the probability of such an occurrence is extremely low, the government said on Wednesday.

The report, compiled by a government panel of experts to help devise a new disaster response policy, was commissioned following the March 2011 magnitude 9 earthquake off northern Japan. The official toll from that calamity stands at the moment at 15,869 dead and 2,847 missing.

In the worst case scenario, in which a magnitude 9 earthquake hits in the middle of the night in winter, up to 323,000 people would likely be killed, with the tsunami accounting for 71 percent of the deaths, the report said.

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