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Structural engineers say Japan was prepared for this week's earthquakes

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Rescue workers in Japan are still searching for survivors following a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that killed at least 60 people.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Still, structural engineers say that Japan was actually ready for the disaster.

KRISTA LOOZA: Japan has a lot of earthquakes.

FADEL: That's Krista Looza, a structural engineer based in California.

LOOZA: They have almost three times as many earthquakes as we see here in California. And California is considered a region of high seismicity. So you can imagine, in Japan, they are very prepared and very aware of the hazards that they live around.

MARTÍNEZ: That preparation makes a difference when an earthquake hits.

LOOZA: They did lose lives, which is extremely unfortunate. But overall, comparatively, the strength of that earthquake - 7.6 - they did perform very, very well. And I think that speaks to their level of preparedness, the way they design and their awareness for the environment that they are in.

FADEL: Looza says some buildings in Japan are equipped with some of the best earthquake-resilient technology available.

LOOZA: A lot of their taller buildings employ dampers and base isolation, which is like the Cadillac of performance options when you come to buildings.

MARTÍNEZ: As she puts it, high-end buildings get high-end technology.

LOOZA: Additionally, they instrument a lot of their buildings. What that means is that after every earthquake, they have a bunch of scientific data to look at so they can continually learn and improve their practices.

FADEL: And they share their findings with the rest of the world.

LOOZA: As part of the seismic design community, we feel every earthquake, and we are definitely thinking about the people of Japan. As we saw in the Turkey earthquake last year, significant loss of life occurred, and we all feel that. We feel when communities don't perform. We want to all do better together. And so we really look forward to learning from Japan and from this experience so that, you know, communities around the globe can perform better.

FADEL: That was Krista Looza, a structural engineer based in California. A?

MARTÍNEZ: Yes?

FADEL: You're in California - earthquake country. Do you have an emergency prep kit?

MARTÍNEZ: Have one in the car. Have one by the door. I do need to update them, though. That's the thing. I think sometimes you leave things and things inside the kit, you know, they get old. So you got to make sure that they are up to date. And I will do that as soon as we are through with the show.

FADEL: Wow. I was not as prepared when I lived over there. Well, the American Red Cross has some emergency preparedness guidelines for different types of natural disasters, including earthquakes, and you can check them out online at redcross.org.

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