A decade ago, Japan, land of the Rising Sun, was met with one of the greatest natural disasters in modern history. The March 11th, 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, Japan was a devastating 9.0-9.1 magnitude on the rector scale. In the country, it is commonly referred to as the Great East Japan earthquake, 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the Great Sendai earthquake, or the Great Tohoku earthquake.
The natural event was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan, and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world in modern times. A great tsunami followed the large tremor. Waves reached heights of to up to 133 feet (40.5 meters) high and traveled at speeds of 435 miles per hour (700 km/h). Residents of nearby city Sendai only had a fleeting 8-10 minutes to evacuate. The powerful tsunami swept throughout mainland Japan and killed over 15,000 people. A majority of victims drowned, while sheer blunt trauma became a factor as well.
According to a recent report from the Japanese National Police Agency, there have been a confirmed 15,899 deaths, 6,157 injured, and 2,529 people who remain missing across twenty prefectures.
The aftermath of the tsunami caused the level 7 meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex. This event caused a massive evacuation affecting hundreds of residents. An intense build-up of heat caused a large production of hydrogen gas resulting in an inevitable explosion.
It is estimated that 1 million tons of debris still remains in the Pacific Ocean from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Exactly 10 years later, Japan has spent $31 trillion yen ($286 billion USD) on the reconstruction of the tsunami torn landscape. New neighborhoods, parks, and schools have been erected. But for many residents, memories of that March 11th still haunt them and have kept them frozen in time. Many still mourning the loss of loved ones, still holding out hope, and still finding the reasons to go on.
Further reading and videos:
Image above: Handwritten letters from a widowed housewife Sachiko Kumagi to her husband Migaku, who went missing in the tsunami. Read the Reuters story for the full and heartbreaking interview with Sachiko.
Reuters has done a thoughtful piece on the grief and devastation the earthquake and tsunami left behind. Along with interviews of people who are still mourning their personal losses, each coping and trying to find a way forward. This coverage of the event 10 years after was especially poignant for me. It provided the victims a voice and identity that is often lost behind the aftermath of the natural disasters themselves. Check it out here: “After the Wave: 10 years on, grief never subsides for some survivors of the Japan’s tsunami”
Devastating footage of the tsunami reaching land and breaching a dam.
For us mystery and supernatural lovers, this small video provides a glimpse into the restless spirits and ghosts of the victims who still roam Japan. The latest installment of “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix also has a whole episode covering this very topic if you are interested!