On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, unleashing a savage tsunami.
More than 18,000 people were killed in the disaster. Most died by drowning.
Hour after the earthquake, the first of many tsunami waves hit Japan’s coastline. The tsunami waves reached run-up heights (how far the wave surges inland above sea level) of up to 128 feet (39 meters) at Miyako city and traveled inland as far as 6 miles (10 km) in Sendai. The tsunami flooded an estimated area of approximately 217 square miles (561 square kilometers) in Japan.
The effects of the great earthquake were felt around the world, from Norway’s fjords to Antarctica’s ice sheet. Tsunami debris continues to wash up on North American beaches two years later.
Japan still recovering
In Japan, residents are still recovering from the disaster. Radioactive water was recently discovered leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered a level 7 nuclear meltdown after the tsunami. Japan relies on nuclear power, and many of the country’s nuclear reactors remain closed because of stricter seismic safety standards since the earthq
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