24 Jan 2012

Big Tokyo quake predicted within next four years

11:05 am on 24 January 2012

Researchers at the University of Tokyo say there is a 75% probability that a magnitude 7.0 quake will strike the Japanese capital in the next four years.

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated the north-eastern coast of Japan on 11 March last year.

The BBC reports the last time Tokyo was hit by a big earthquake was in 1923, when more than 100,000 people died after a magnitude 7.9 quake.

Researchers at the university's earthquake research institute based their figures on data from the growing number of tremors in the capital since last year's disaster.

Compared with normal years, they say there has been a five-fold increase in the number of quakes in the Tokyo metropolitan area since the disaster.

They said seismic activity had increased around the capital, which in turn leads to a higher probability of a major quake.

The government says the chances of such an event are 70% in the next 30 years.