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Earthquake video shows how engineering may have saved lives

Footage of Japanese buildings swaying with the earthquake seems to show that strict engineering practices prevented an even bigger calamity.

Those who survive will think to themselves that it could have been worse.

Awful though some images of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami truly are, other images taken during the quake appear to show that things could have been even worse.

Even though the quake--U.S. Geological Survey Seismologist Lucy Jones told CBS News--was 30 times stronger than the devastating 1906 quake in San Francisco and 3.000 times more powerful that the Northridge quake, many buildings seem to have remained intact.

Another report in the Atlantic suggests that Japanese building codes and engineering practices have become ever more rigorous, given the reality of living in an area so prone to tremors.

The New York Times reports that, in its view, the difference in the death toll would be in the thousands, had something of this magnitude occurred in a densely-populated city in another country.

The Times says that it isn't just skyscrapers, but seawalls that are designed according to some of the most stringent building codes in the world. Some, however, reportedly say the seawalls offer a false sense of security, partly because they obscure the ocean.

Communities along the Japanese coast are reportedly more prepared than most. Even such details as pathways to higher ground are often clearly delineated so that people can escape quickly.

Indeed, the footage I have embedded (from Shinjuku, Japan) shows that buildings swayed, just as they are designed to do, without appearing to suffer any structural failure.

The fact that someone felt brave enough to shoot this footage shows a confidence that might not have been felt by those in other parts of the world.