All fall down

In the months after the March 11 earthquake, a condominium management association conducted a survey of the Tohoku region to find out the damage sustained by multi-resident buildings. Almost all those that were built since 1981, when stricter earthquake-proofing codes went into effect, survived with minimal damage, but there were quite a few built before 1981that didn’t do as well. In fact, the survey found that about 60 structures in Sendai alone had been declared zenkai (“completely damaged”; in other words, legally uninhabitable).

The Asahi Shimbun looked at several of these buildings. One, the somewhat optimistically named Sunny Heights Takasago, was built in 1976 and was actually damaged in 1978 during a large earthquake that struck Sendai. However, the damage wasn’t “complete” and repairs were made. The building was not so lucky this time. The condominium is actually two 14-story buildings positioned in an L-shape. During the initital earthquake the two structures knocked against each other, but afterward inspectors declared them yochui–residents should take caution but they could keep living there. But the condos sustained further damage in the aftershock of April 7: window and door frames deformed, cracks appeared on outside corridors, steel beams were exposed. Even worse, the ground itself was “damaged.” Consequently, the properties were condemned. Read More