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WATCH: The Japanese Tsunami that killed over 18,000 on March 11, 2011

PortandTerminal.com, March 11, 2020

MIYAKO CITY, JAPAN – It was 9 years ago today that a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, unleashing a savage tsunami.

It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The effects of the great earthquake were felt around the world, from Norway’s fjords to Antarctica’s ice sheet.

The tsunami waves the earthquake created reached run-up heights (how far the wave surges inland above sea level) of up to 128 feet (39 meters) at Miyako city and travelled inland as far as 6 miles (10 km) in Sendai. 

Tsunami debris has continued to wash up on North American beaches years later.

Harley Davidson motorcycle that washed up on shore in Canada after tsunami in Japan
Harley-Davidson motorcycle was found on Graham Island, in British Columbia in Canada, in the container that its Japanese owner, Ikio Yokohama, had used to store it back in Japan.

More than 120,000 buildings were destroyed, 278,000 were half-destroyed and 726,000 were partially destroyed, the agency said. The direct financial damage from the disaster is estimated to be about $199 billion dollars (about 16.9 trillion yen), according to the Japanese government.

The number of confirmed deaths is 15,894 as of June 10, 2016, according to the reconstruction agency in Japan. More than 2,500 people are still reported missing. An estimated 90% of the deaths were from drowning during the tsunami.

Devastated homes, wreckage, debris, ship after massive tsunami
The tsunami travelled inland as far as 6 miles (10 km) inland

The total economic cost is upwards of $235 billion, the World Bank estimated, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history.

The tsunami also caused a cooling system failure at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which resulted in a level-7 nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials. The electrical power and backup generators were overwhelmed by the tsunami, and the plant lost its cooling capabilities.  

Tsunami crashing into nuclear power plant
Tsunami crashes into  Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which resulted in a level-7 nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials

“Fukushima was created by the tsunami. The earthquake was not a factor,” Titov said. “Fukushima was designed for a tsunami smaller than the one we saw.”

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