The Great Kanto Earthquake hit Tokyo and surrounding areas at noontime on September 1st, 1923. It lasted for somewhere between 4 to 10 minutes with a strength of 7.9 on the Richter scale. Upwards of 100,000 people were killed, the Imperial Palace burned and even the massive 93 ton, 40 feet tall ‘Great Buddha’ statue, which had sat placidly for nearly 700 years some 60 miles from the epicenter, slid forward several feet. The most lethal consequence of the quake were the fires that spread from domestic hearths, in use for food preparation at that time of day, to quickly engulf the wooden structures that housed them. Fanned by high winds, they developed into a huge firestorm that engulfed much of the city.
The Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tusnami of March 11, 2011has yet to prove as lethal with some 13,000 confirmed dead and over 14,000 as yet unaccounted for. Because of the tsunami and absence of open fires, fire was not such an issue this time around. But, the interesting parallel with Kanto Earthquake is that, in the end, the most deadly aspect of the disaster might very well end up being the destruction of another energy source – the nuclear reactors that provide the electricity that has replaced fire.