Constructed in 2006, just outside Kadonowaki, Japan, the Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital stands as a monument to civil engineering. The five-story, 402-bed hospital operated at full capacity during and immediately after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the east coast of Japan in 2011. Surrounding the building like a moat, the hospital’s base isolation system enabled its survival without even a broken window. The steel springs and rubber dampers of the isolation system, that support the hospital, reduced the horizontal displacement of the building to just 26 centimeters. Engineers, also, estimate that several more earthquakes of similar magnitude can be sustained before the base isolation springs need replacement. Japan’s long history with earthquakes has fostered a significant culture of seismic design and much of its infrastructure is useable after an event.
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, is currently flushing water to keep the reactors' temperature low enough in an effort to avoid radioactive releases. Radioactivity of the used water is reduced through a special treatment procedure, however current technology cannot remove a relatively harmless radioactive isotope called tritium. Tepco now wants to evaporate huge amounts of that water, raising concerns over the particular practice.
Simulations assessing how the system would have responded to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake show that a tsunami alarm would have been raised in 7 minutes or less, thus might had saved many of the 22,000 killed by the massive tsunami that followed the earthquake.
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University have come up with a cheap way to improve the properties of some 'shape memory' alloys, often used in earthquake design due to their ability to return to their original shape after being deformed.
NEC Corporation (Japan), in collaboration with Thailand's National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC), announced a few days ago the completion of the trial for a prediction system that identifies areas prone to landslide danger in Thailand.
Rains, exceeding all historical records since 1976, have caused massive landslides last week in the outskirts of Hiroshima, urging the evacuation of residential areas and rising the death toll to 50 people so far, with many more reported missing. About 600 emergency personnel were already in the area, however forecasts of more rain made rescue efforts even more difficult. The video below shows the extent of the damage.