10 Years Since the Great East Japan Earthquake

Ten years ago, on March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck off Japan’s northeastern shore—the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit the country—generating enormous tsunami waves that spread across miles of shoreline, climbing as high as 130 feet. The fierce 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 thousands from their homes. The earthquake and subsequent disasters cost tens of billions of dollars and nearly 16,000 lives. Memorials planned for this year will be held, but most have been scaled back because of the ongoing pandemic.

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