East Japan Earthquake    March 11, 2011

90% of death by drowning -tsunami more severe than earthquake

March 19, 2011, 3:04 PM JST

Hirotaro Iwase, a forensic medicine specialist of Chiba University, after reviewing the cause of the 126 that died in Rikuzen-Takata in the Iwate prefecture, said that 90% of the death cause was from drowning as a result of the tsunami that hit the area soon after the earthquake. It is a considerable contrast to the similarly disastrous earthquake that hit the Hanshin area of Japan, in which 80% of the deaths were caused by suffocation and crushing blows due to building collapse. Professor Iwase, after conducting the autopsy of the victims, conducted in during the 13th to the 16th of this month, that while most bodies have broken bones, 90% of them most likely came after drowning to death. Of the 90 bodies that were lying outdoors, 40% had their ribs, necks, hands and/or feet broken. The broken bones shows that it was caused by a heavy blow, one that would equate to a car driving 20 to 30 miles an hour, indicating that the debris from houses and cars that the tsunami carried hit their bodies thereby breaking their bones. About 50 bodies, mostly the elderly, were found with 7 to 8 layers of shirts and jackets with their valuables such as their personal seal and their insurance certificate, along with emergency food like chocolate. Professor Iwase believes from this that it was not necessarily because of the lack of time that they drowned to death, but it was because they were preparing themselves to evacuate when the tsunami that far superseded any of their expectations hit them causing their death. (Yomiuri News)

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