the great east japan earthquake and tsunami one year later


Today is the one year anniversary of Japan’s devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that caused the deaths of approximately 16,000 people and created the worst nuclear crisis in modern times centered on the Fukushima nuclear plant. Adding to the current known death toll, an additional 3,000 people are still missing.

According to the BBC, the National Police Agency of Japan reports that as a result of what is now called the Great East Japan Earthquake, almost 300,000 buildings were destroyed with a further one million damaged, either by the quake, tsunami or resulting fires. Almost four thousand roads, seventy-eight bridges and twenty-nine railways were also affected. Having lost their homes, between three and four hundred thousand people are currently living in some kind of temporary accommodation.

During last year’s assessment, the Japanese Cabinet Office estimated that the earthquake and tsunami it cost the country approximately US$208 billion [16.9 trillion yen]. That is quite a large figure. Approximately 25 million tons of debris was generated in the three worst-affected areas, which is three times the amount created by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

One official commented on what he saw, “The only way I can describe how it was is that it was just like out of the Terminator movie – a futuristic scene of mangled and twisted wreckage.”

While the Japanese, resilient as they are, will weather this crisis like they have with so many others in the past, humanity continues to learn that the power and fury of Mother Nature is seemingly endless.