The earthquake struck at 5:46am just before the morning rush hour. It was Tuesday, 17 January 1995.
The epicentre was on the sparsely populated Awaji island out in Osaka Bay.
The earthquake measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. The focusof the earthquake was 14km deep.
The nearby port town of Kobe was badly affected. The nearby business centre of Osaka and the historic centre Kyoto also suffered significant damage.
Kobe lies on the Nojima fault above a destructive plate boundary.
The oceanic Pacific and Philippine Plates are sinking beneath the continental Eurasian Plate at a rate of 6.8cm a year.
The stress created by this movement was suddenly released sending shock waves along the fault line.
Primary and secondary effects
Primary effects:5,477 people were killed. 316,000 people were made homeless. 12 trains were derailed. The eastern line of the bullet train buckled. Part of the elevated Hanshin Expressway collapsed. The port facilities were destroyed. Water and gas mains ruptured cutting off supply to one million homes.
Secondary effects: Over 200 people were crushed in their vehicles beneath the Hanshin Expressway. Fires spread as a result of ruptured gas mains. Thousands of business were forced to close. Trade in and out of the port was seriously affected.
Total cost: 10 billion yen
- 316,000 people were given emergency accommodation in public buildings
- Meals and bottled water were flown in.
- The japanese army co-ordinated rescue efforts.