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#TodayInHistory: March 11 - The 10th Year Anniversary of the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Written by: Jei Beltrano | Published on: March 11, 2021 at 1:03 AM PHT (GMT+8)

"Unpredictable. Immeasurable." This is how the victims and survivors described the Japan's 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami, the greatest nightmare of the modern era unfolding right before the eyes of the people of Eastern Japan which happened exactly 10 years ago on March 11, 2011.

Aerial view of the live destruction of tsunami along the coast of Iwate prefecture - Photo: CBS News

On March 11, 2011 at exactly 2:46 PM JST, a magnitude 9.0 - 9.1 megathrust earthquake struck the east of Tōhoku region in Japan. 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.

Illustration of the cause and location of the earthquake. - Photo: EOS, USGS

The earthquake triggered destructive tsunami waves reaching the heights of up to 40.5 meters (133ft) travelling at 700 km/h (435 mph) and crashed up to 10 km (6 mi) inland which swept the mainland particularly the Iwate prefecture and Sendai area, and caused nuclear accidents which made the situation even worse.

First tsunami wave crashing at the coast of Eastern Japan. Photo: NHK News

According to the latest record of the National Police Agency of Japan, the disaster resulted to a total deaths of 15,899 people, 6,157 injured, 2,529 people missing, and over 220,000 people displaced across twenty prefectures.

Early estimates placed insured losses from the earthquake alone at US$14.5 (approx. PHP730 billion) to $34.6 billion (approx. PHP1.67 trillion ) and according to World Bank, it estimated an economic cost of up to US$235 billion (approx. PHP12.4 trillion ) making it as the costliest natural disaster in history.

Aerial view of the tsunami destruction in Eastern Japan. - Photo: Atlanta

The tragedy was so overwhelmingly destructive that even Japan, known for its highly developed systems best with disaster preparedness, kneeled down to the joint earthquake and tsunami. It was an eye-opener and a lingering thought to all people not just from Japan but the entire world that forces of nature are unpredictable and immeasurable... nothing can stop, no one is strong, when nature strikes.


Sources: CBS News, NHK News, National Police Agency of Japan


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