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ABOUT REAL HONG KONG'S TSUNAMI RISK.... (Hong Kong)

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“Hong Kong is very prone to tsunamis but it doesn’t have any safety measures,” says Wu Tso-ren, a tsunami expert and assistant professor at the National Central University in Taoyuan, Taiwan. “It should do something as soon as possible to protect itself.”

What’s more, the surprising magnitude of the Japan mega-quake has led some scientists at home and abroad to conclude that, if a big quake were to strike the Philippines, there would be a high risk of Hong Kong being hit by a tsunami capable of wiping out houses in Stanley and flooding Tsim Sha Tsui.

Wu says the Manila trench is, in theory, long overdue a magnitude 8.5 quake. Since Protected content , no magnitude 8 earthquake or above has occurred along the trench. For the past few centuries, the trench has been building up enormous amounts of energy as the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate continue to push against each other.

“Today the fault slip from the two plates is about 38 metres. The slip in northeast Japan was only 17 metres. The greater the slip, the more water will be heaved up to create bigger tsunamis,” Wu says.

“Hong Kong is very prone to tsunamis but it doesn’t have any safety measures,” says Wu Tso-ren, a tsunami expert and assistant professor at the National Central University in Taoyuan, Taiwan. “It should do something as soon as possible to protect itself.”

Wu says the Manila trench is, in theory, long overdue a magnitude 8.5 quake. Since Protected content , no magnitude 8 earthquake or above has occurred along the trench. For the past few centuries, the trench has been building up enormous amounts of energy as the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate continue to push against each other.

“Today the fault slip from the two plates is about 38 metres. The slip in northeast Japan was only 17 metres. The greater the slip, the more water will be heaved up to create bigger tsunamis,” Wu says.

Ander Chow, associate director of Arup, is also conducting a study on how Hong Kong would be affected by a magnitude 8.5 quake in the Manila trench. Preliminary findings show that if the city experienced a tsunami of up to two metres high, there would be significant impact on land between Stanley and Silvermine Bay, on Lantau Island. He urges the government to prepare for such an event.

“Hong Kong doesn’t have any [protective] measures, which is not realistic. It’s especially important to protect vulnerable infrastructure such as power stations and the MTR,” Chow says.

Says Yuen: “We don’t know when Hong Kong will be hit, but you have to be prepared before it’s too late. It may be necessary to have some form of seawalls built at strategic places. The investment would not be that much when you compare this with the potential damage.”

The Observatory says it is “always concerned with the tsunami risks facing Hong Kong, particularly those arising from earthquakes in the Manila trench”. In Protected content , it opened a seismograph station in Mid-Levels to better monitor tsunamis and earthquakes worldwide. Advanced equipment was installed to estimate the arrival time and size of any tsunami reaching Hong Kong.

The Civil Engineering department, however, says there is “no pressing need” to put in place measures against tsunamis.

“The failure of the seawall at Kamaishi [in northeast Japan] to guard against the tsunami in Protected content also put the effectiveness of massive and costly shore protection structures in serious doubt. The government will continue to monitor the need in future,” a spokesman says.

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