5 Years Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake

Five years ago a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off Japan’s northeastern shore—the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan—generating enormous tsunami waves that spread across miles of shoreline, climbing as high as 130 feet (40 meters). The powerful inundation of seawater tore apart coastal towns and villages, carrying ships inland as thousands of homes were flattened, then washed tons of debris and vehicles back out to sea. Damage to the reactors at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant then caused a third disaster, contaminating a wide area that still forces nearly 100,000 residents to live as evacuees. The March 11 earthquake and subsequent disasters cost tens of billions of dollars, and nearly 16,000 lives.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Jacquelyn Martin / AP

    Photos of the Week: 11/11–11/17

    The Ministry of Fun Santa School opens for the season in England, a red fox meets a stegosaurus in Siberia, Australians vote to allow same-sex marriage, and much more.

  • R S Iyer / AP

    Delhi's Toxic Sky

    Toward the end of autumn, parts of northern India and Pakistan are frequently covered by a thick smog caused by a temperature inversion. This year is particularly bad.

  • Ross Burgener / NOAA, OAR, ESRL, GMD

    A Photo Trip to Antarctica

    Images from the past few years of the Antarctic landscape, wildlife, research facilities, and some of the scientific work taking place there.

  • Yasuo Osakabe / U.S. Air Force, 374th Airlift Wing

    Photos of President Trump's Trip to Asia

    For the past 12 days, President Trump has been on a wide-ranging tour across Asia.

Join the Discussion