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Initial Reconnaissance Efforts
by Jelena Pantelic
On the day of the earthquake, it was spontaneously decided by the participants at the Fourth U.S.-Japan Workshop on Urban Hazards Reduction to change the agenda for the meeting, and attempt to assist our Japanese colleagues in reconnaissance efforts. The organizers of the workshop arranged for transportation to the effected areas of Kobe through the sponsorship of major Japanese newspapers, and television and radio stations. Taxies were hired and dispatched to the field with maps of the city of Kobe and damage locations. In each of the cars was a driver, one reporter from the sponsoring agency, and two to three researchers. My unit included Guna Selvaduray, San Jose State University, Tadashi Ashimi, Osaka Civil Engineering Technology Foundation, and Junichi Taki, a newspaper reporter from Nikkei, Nihon Keizai Shinbun.
Our well-organized visit to the damage sites proved to be a hair-raising experience. Cars and buses smashed under tons of concrete, railway lines twisted or just hanging in the air, derailed railway cars, tipped over apartment buildings, smoldering blocks, and huge lines of people waiting patiently for water and food were among the scenes of devastation. The weather was fortunately still mild, but later turned for the worse, and contributed to the magnitude of the disaster. Sand boils could be seen throughout Kobe.
Experiencing a moderate earthquake in a country which puts a high priority on earthquake hazard reduction should serve as an alert to other nations: when it comes to earthquakes, nothing can be taken for granted.
Some of the material reported herein is based upon work supported in whole or in part
by the National Science Foundation, tbe New York State Science and Technology Foundation,
the U.S. Department of Transportation and other sponsors. Any opinions, findings, and
conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the views of MCEER or its sponsors.