Authored by: Cinna Lomnitz , Ben Wisner

The Routledge Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415590655
eBook ISBN: 9780203844236
Adobe ISBN: 9781136918698


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Earthquakes can produce many human casualties among vulnerable groups through collapse of structures and secondary hazards such as fire, landslide and tsunami. Earthquakes also can bring heavy economic loss. They can be destructive over large areas. People living in zones affected by frequent earthquakes have learned to live with them in a variety of ways. For example, in Japan there are neighbourhood-based volunteer fire-fighting groups dating from the 1700s, and traditional architecture in Japan tends to use light, flexible materials. Following the catastrophic earthquake that destroyed Lisbon, Portugal in 1755, the prime minister commissioned Europe’s first city master plan. Lisbon was rebuilt with mandatory clearance between buildings to prevent the spread of fire, wide avenues and maximum building heights (Mullin 1992). Thus people have been learning experientially and adapting their way of life to sudden release of seismic energy in the Earth’s crust. However, it was only recently that contemporary approaches to earthquake have taken shape.

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