We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


Tokyo to be hit by a major quake 'within next few years'

A major earthquake is far more likely to hit Tokyo in the next few years than the government predicts, researchers at the University of Tokyo said yesterday, warning companies and individuals to be prepared for such an event.

There is a 70 per cent chance a magnitude-7 quake will jolt the southern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area in the next four years, the university's Earthquake Research Institute said.

In contrast, the government estimates a 70 per cent probability of such an event in the next three decades.

A magnitude-9 quake, the strongest on record in Japan, and subsequent tsunami devastated the north-east coast last March. It left up to 23,000 dead or missing and wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering power shortages and radiation leaks.

A government survey says a magnitude-7.3 quake centred in the north of Tokyo Bay would cause 11,000 casualties and destroy around 850,000 buildings, though one of the University of Tokyo team said it was hard to predict the impact of a major quake on the city.

"The chance that a magnitude-7 earthquake will happen [in the area] has increased since the March quake," said the institute's Shinichi Sakai.

A government official said the Tokyo University estimate was based on a different model from the one it uses. The university took into account the greater seismic activity since March.