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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Study says 65% of victims in Japan's twin disasters were old people

More than half of the mortalities of the mega earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on 11 March were old people according to calculations based on police records.
According to Yomiuri Shimbun's computations, 65.1 percent of the 2,853 fatalities who were identified as of Wednesday were 60 years old or older.
This raises the fact that when the disasters struck, it was the seniors who were at most risk due to their inability to move rapidly to save their lives.
The calculations also showed that 46.1 percent of the casualties in Chiba, Ibaraki, Iwate, Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures—the most heavily hit areas—were people aged 70 and above.
It is obvious that younger people were more likely to run immediately away from the 10-meter high tsunami that followed minutes after the magnitude 9.0 tremor occurred and damaged the shorelines of Kanto and Tohoku areas.
In Iwate Prefecture, 63.3 percent of victims were 60 years old or older and 44 percent were 70 or older (total deaths: 721).
In Miyagi Prefecture, 63.1 percent were 60 years old or older and 44.9 percent were 70 or older (total deaths: 1,579).
In Fukushima Prefecture, the ratios were worse. 72.4 percent of the victims were 60 years old or older while 52.4 percent were aged 70 years or older (total deaths: 515).
In 2010, 34.9 percent of Iwate Prefecture's population were people aged 60 while 20.8 percent were aged 70 or older.
The ratios reveal that there was double the chance that the old people became victims of the catastrophes.
About 39.3 percent of the 6,402 victims in Hyogo Prefecture during the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake were aged 70 or older (total deaths: 6,434).
Despite being healthy, the aged people most frequently fail to escape calamities because they cannot move fast like the younger people, according to Prof. Yoshiaki Kawata, an expert on disaster management from Kansai University.
He said, "The central and local governments should review the way they evacuate the elderly and impress on young people that they should help out in an emergency."
The data for other disaster victims based on age groups were: 4.1 percent (<9), 3.2 percent (10-19), 3.2 percent (20s), 6 percent (30s), 6.9 percent (40s) and 11.6 (50s).
Japan (pop. est. 2010: 127.3 million) tops the world for longevity with 82.6 years life expectancy between 2005 and 2010 (male: 78; female: 86.1) according to UN data.
Details of this report here.

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