On March 11 2011 at 2:46 pm Japanese time, Japan experienced its worst earthquake ever with a magnitude of 9.0.
According to Japan’s national police agency, as of April 10th 2015, the earthquake, which later triggered an enormous tsunami, took the lives of 15,891 people, damaging thousands of buildings and houses in the process.
The earthquake was caused by the pacific and eurasian plates colliding against each other. As they had been colliding against each other for more than a hundred years, stress gradually built up, causing the tremendous earthquake.
Within seconds of the earthquake, and before anyone could register what was happening, automatic warnings in the form of sirens sounded throughout the country, even interrupting a Japanese parliament broadcast.
The coastal region of Sendai just 130 km from where the earthquake originated began shaking. Destructive Waves from the quake known as s waves, which travel at speeds of 3km per second, threw Sendai into chaos.
The shockwaves raced 150km south of Sendai reaching Fukushima.
“If you take the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, this event was probably 2 million of those. A really huge amount of energy” Tom Jordan, director at the southern California Earthquake centre said.
The earthquake was so powerful that it produced a low frequency rumble known as infrasound, which traveled into space and was detected by the Goce satellite.
The earthquake was only the beginning of a nightmare that was to come for Japan. The immense energy and force of the earthquake triggered Japan’s most fierce tsunami.
The tsunami began in Tohoku, travelling at speeds of up to 800km per hour, obliterating Kamaishi, Ofunato, Rikuzentakata, Kesennuma, Minamisanriku and Tagajo.
Takayuki Saijo, a local cable tv cameraman that witnessed the tsunami firsthand said: “The sound of buildings crashing against each other, the sound of wooden structures crunching, theres just no way to say it, it’s difficult to comprehend it as a reality.”
“There’s nothing you could do but pray to God. We couldn’t do anything in the face of such immense power. There was nothing to do but yell and scream.” Kenji Saito, sweet and cake business owner said.
As Japan had already experienced tsunamis dating back to 1771, walls were built in preparation for other tsunamis. In the town of Miyako, the high defensive walls proved useless as the tsunami eased its way through the walls, sweeping away houses and people.
The destructive tsunami waves traveled across the Pacific, reaching Alaska, Hawaii and Chile. According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, in Chile, the tsunami was 2 meters high when it reached the shore.