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Since Jan. 2010 is the 15th anniversary of the Kobe earthquake that struck on Jan. 17, 1995, I decided to upload these photos for the first time. I visited Kobe 10 days after the killer quake struck. Had to take a hydrofoil from Osaka to reach Kobe.
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Kobe Port. Most of the people entering Kobe during this time were relatives and friends of Kobe residents, bringing relief goods.
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Distribution place for relief goods. Ten days after the earthquake, the initial fires, confusion, and pandemonium had subsided. It was pretty calm by then, but the damage was still visible.
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Kobe City Hall buckled at the middle floor.
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Near Kobe City Hall along Flower Road was this office building which had also collapsed at a middle floor.
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Santica building near Sannomiya Station had a middle floor crushed. As I walked around the devastation, I could see common ways in which the buildings collapsed. High rise buildings commonly collapsed on a middle floor.
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Kobe Shimbun newspaper offices near Sannomiya Station was in shambles.
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Expressway pylon broken.
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In front of Sannomiya Station is Sogo Dept. Store.
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Sogo Dept. Store cracked vertically in the middle. This building was later torn down and replaced with a new dept. store building.
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Cracked Sogo Dept. Store in Sannomiya.
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Employees are removing merchandise from Sogo Dept. Store.
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Shop shutters along Ikuta Road are tilted due to the crushing weight.
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Tilted buildings near Sannomiya Station. It took only 15 sec. to wreak all this damage.
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The building next to Washington Hotel scraped against the hotel as it fell.
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Damage to Sannomiya Station building.
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Sannomiya Station
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Hankyu Railways' Sannomiya Station being torn down.
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Nihon Seimei Bldg. collapsed at the middle.
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Nihon Seimei Bldg. collapsed at the middle, near Sannomiya Station. It's hard to imagine what would've happened if the quake struck during working hours with people working in this building.1 comments
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A mess inside a restaurant.
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Fallen clock which stopped at the time of the earthquake.
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No, my camera lens is not distorting this picture. That building is actually tilting a lot, but they still allowed traffic on the road below.
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Crushed car
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Store in shambles.
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Interesting contrast between buildings which fell and didn't fall.
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Amid the rubble of a collapsed building, a yakisoba stall sold yakisoba noodles.
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People eating yakisoba amid the rubble.
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Another common way in which buildings collapsed was the 1st floor giving way like this small hotel.
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The 1st floor is totally flattened.
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One hotel guest escaped by using bed sheets as a rope.
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Backstreet destruction.
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Sign saying they are okay.
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Vending machine
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Truck carrying relief goods.
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Boxes of food (biscuits).
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A building owner stands by her destroyed building.
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Crushed car
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In the Kitano area where there are many Western-style homes, the damage was not so apparent. But the interior sustained damage. None of the buildings collapsed though.
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Weathercock House, built in 1909, withstood the quake.
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Only the chimney broke off atop the Weathercock House. The inside is a different story.
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Water station
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Line for the bus headed for Ashiya Station.
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Bus for Ashiya Station, the furthest that trains could go at the time. Trains weren't running within Kobe.
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The next day, I again visited Kobe, this time by train to Ashiya Station. See gravestones overturned.
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Ashiya Station platform.
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Ashiya Station
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Collapsed shopping center near Ashiya Station. That's the 2nd floor which now looks like the 1st floor.
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Crushed Audi.
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This house stood firm, while its neighbor collapsed.
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Not a good idea to live in a house standing right next to another building.
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Houses along the train tracks in Ashiya. Basically, Japanese-style homes with heavy tile roofs collapsed easily, while concrete homes withstood the quake better.
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Collapsed 1st floor of an apt. building. I don't recommend living on the 1st floor of any building in Japan.
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House covered by a blue tarp to protect against rain.
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Sign says, "Keep our town beautiful."
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Another distinct pattern was buildings on stilts easily collapsing.
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A makeshift altar placed on the collapsed home. Someone died here. By the time I visited, most of the trapped people had been rescued.
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Sifting through the rubble.
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I really felt sorry for the people who had just bought a house or condo with a 35-year mortgage and the house or condo was destroyed by the quake. They are stuck paying off the housing loan and also have to pay monthly rent at a new place.
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At least they recovered some things.
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The emergency stairway got torn off this building whose first floor got crushed.
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Something they needed the most was torn off the building. If you live in a high-rise building in Japan, have ropes ready in your veranda in case your stairway is destroyed like this.
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When you look at these toppled homes, you cannot help but think that they do look flimsy with thin walls. The problem is, such cheaply-made homes are very common in Japan.
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The Japanese tile roof makes the home top-heavy, making it more vulnerable to horizontal swaying and eventual toppling.
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The famous scene of the expressway collapsed on its side was completely gone 10 days after the quake. They had cleared the collapsed section (about 600 meters) of the road.
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The collapsed expressway was so embarrassing that they made it a priority to clear it ASAP.
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The expressway that supposed withstand such quakes collapsed. It was a major scandal. The shinkansen bullet train tracks also had broken concrete columns which revealed pieces of scrap wood mixed in.
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The engineers said this would be strong enough, but they were dead wrong.
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Earthquake tourists getting their picture taken.
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Fukae Shopping Center
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I was amazed to see Mos Burger back in business so soon. It was another sign of a very progressive recovery.
 
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