Earthquake, tsunami preparation advice offered by Japan

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Spokane — Japan will help Washington state prepare for “the big one” – a possible rupture of a geologic fault along the Pacific Coast that would cause a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who is in the middle of a trade mission to Japan and South Korea, said Thursday he met with government officials in Kobe, the site of a massive quake in 1995 that killed more than 6,000 people, and visited the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution in that city. Gov. Toshizo Ido, governor of the Hyogo Prefecture, offered the area’s experts for formal or informal training to improve Washington’s disaster preparedness.

A geologic fault known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone sits off the Pacific Coast from Vancouver Island to Northern California. Geologists say it averages a 9.0-magnitude quake every 500 years or so, and the last such quake was in 1700.

Disaster preparedness officials from around the country will use a scenario involving a Cascadia quake next year as training for first responders, National Guard and military units.

One key message from the Japanese was that the tsunami, a huge tidal wave spawned by the quake, is likely to be the more fatal event, Inslee said. Washington may need to improve its evacuation procedures for coastal communities.

Also while in Japan this week, Inslee and other members of the trade mission visited the Mitsubishi factory, which is developing a new regional commuter jet with help from Washington state. The company will test the MRJ in Moses Lake with AeroTEC and will open an office of aerospace engineers in Seattle for the jet.

The plane, which has 70 to 90 seats, is for a “niche” market that doesn’t compete with Boeing’s commercial jetliners, Inslee said.