Our prayers go out to all of those passed away or are affected by the massive earthquake that hit Japan yesterday. We watched on television the massive devastation of some coastal towns and the impact of tsunamis rippling across the Pacific ocean at a speed faster than jet planes. Mother nature is incredible, both in what she gives and what she chooses to take away. It is a humbling display of how tenuous or fleeting our existence on this planet really is.
On another note, I am old enough to vaguely remember the “Ruby Tower” collapse during an earthquake that struck Manila in 1968 where over 300 out of the 600 residents of the apartment building perished, many others injured and pulled out from under the debris. I thought of this because of the proliferation of highrise buildings in Manila over the past 10-15 years. I am sure building technologies have improved over the years, but I wouldn’t bet my lunch that all of those buildings would be able to withstand an earthquake of 8.9 magnitude. We used to live in a 15 story Makati apartment building designed and built in the 1970’s by that venerable international firm, Bechtel (and rated to withstand up to an 8.0 magnitude on the richter scale if I recall correctly), and we were sleeping one evening on the 10th floor when a roughly 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck in the 1990’s and our lamps flew off the side tables, and staff sleeping on bunk beds were likewise rudely thrown off. It was a serious jolt, and one of the reasons we moved to a rented home. So if a 7.5 magnitude earthquake were to strike here in Manila, it would be 10x as strong as that 6.5 one, yes read 10x as strong, and if it lasted for two minutes, I would guess that several dozen buildings in Manila would be irreparably damaged. And we haven’t had a really strong earthquake in say 30+ years… That’s a pretty compelling reason to live closer to the ground, in my opinion.
NOTE: In light of the Nuclear Power Plant issues in Japan as a result of the recent earthquake, and for those interested, it is worth revisiting my two -year old post on the possible/potential re-commissioning of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, HERE and reading the 150+ comments it generated, including those of the congressman who strongly supported the bill, as well as folks who strongly opposed it. I had a follow-up post HERE.