The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the problems with emergency medical care

Ren Fail. 1997 Sep;19(5):633-45. doi: 10.3109/08860229709109029.


One of the world's largest port cities, Kobe and its vicinity, was hit by a so-called "shallow and direct hit" type earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale in the early morning of January 17, 1995. A total of 6308 people were killed and approximately 35,000 people were injured. About 400,000 houses and buildings were more or less damaged, and electricity, water, and city gas supply were suspended in a wide area. Medical facilities were also greatly damaged. The destruction of roads, highways, bridges, and railways made it difficult for people to move within this area. Extraordinary traffic congestion occurred. Telephone lines were disconnected or overloaded. Thus, the modern healthy urban lives that the people had taken for granted were lost in a moment. Emergency responses to the disaster fell behind. Transportation of severely injured patients away from the disaster area to the non-affected area was not smooth because of the interruption of communications and traffic congestion. The scope of the damage from the disaster, types of injuries, characteristics of the victims, problems with emergency medical care encountered in this disaster, and revisions of countermeasures executed after the disaster are reported.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Disasters*
  • Emergencies*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Transportation of Patients / methods
  • Transportation of Patients / organization & administration*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality