Wed, May 02, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Fuji eruption ‘could paralyze’ Tokyo


Children play soccer on Tsujido Beach as Mount Fuji looms in the background in Fujisawa, southwest of Tokyo, on Jan. 11.

Photo: EPA

Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji could paralyze Tokyo with ash if it erupted, choking roads and halting water supplies, according to a government disaster planning study, a news report said yesterday.

The snow-capped peak of the country’s highest mountain 100km west of Tokyo is a symbol of Japan — and is also an active volcano.

It last erupted in 1707, but while it has not shown any signs of life in recent decades, a potential eruption could shower more than 10cm of ash on central Tokyo, according to a government study seen by the Kyodo news agency.

The ash would paralyze the capital, rendering roads impassable and stopping the flow of goods and people, Kyodo said.

The study found that just half a centimeter of ash could cause mechanical problems for cars and more than 1cm could cause mass power outages and the failure of water filtration systems, it added.

Noriko Urata, an official in charge of disaster research, confirmed that the government is assessing the possible effects of an eruption and preparing measures to deal with the scenario.

“However, we are not in a position to unveil details,” he told reporters.

The Japanese government has estimated that an eruption could result in damage and losses worth more than ¥2.5 trillion (US$23 billion).

“However, if we include the impact on aviation and other transportation, as well as secondary infrastructure, the cost could be far more than ¥2 trillion,” said Toshiyasu Nagao, head of Tokai University’s Earthquake Prediction Research Center.

“Mount Fuji is categorized a young volcano,” Nagao told reporters. “It would be no surprise if Mount Fuji erupts any time in the near future.”

Japan, with more than 110 active volcanoes, sits on the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

In January, a Japanese soldier was killed and several other people injured after an eruption near a popular ski resort in northwest of Tokyo.

On Sept. 27, 2014, Japan suffered its deadliest eruption in almost 90 years when Mount Ontake, in central Nagano Prefecture, burst unexpectedly to life.

An estimated 63 people were killed in the shock eruption, which occurred as the peak was packed with hikers out to see the region’s spectacular autumn colors.

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