Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami Killed 19,000 People

By By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
March 14, 2013, 4:45:48 PM EDT

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The second anniversary of the major earthquake that sparked a massive tsunami near Japan was at 12:46 a.m. EST on March 11. Even two years after the tragedy, parts of Japan are still trying to recover.

The earthquake itself was a 9.0 magnitude that occurred just off the east coast of Japan at a depth of about 20 miles, according to the USGS. The 9.0 magnitude quake is tied for the fourth strongest earthquake dating back to the year 1900. Following this quake, there have been hundreds of after shocks rating higher than 4.5 magnitude.

This powerful quake resulted in an equally powerful tsunami that struck the eastern coastline of Japan. A research team from Yokohama National University and University of Tokyo estimated the tsunami reached a maximum run-up height of 127 feet near Miyako, becoming the highest such report since records began in Japan. The tsunami measured over 20 feet in many locations along the Japanese coastline, while areas as far away as Chile and the United states reported a tsunami surge over 6 feet.

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The death toll in Japan from this disaster was near 19,000, according to the Associated Press. A large majority of the fatalities occurred due to drowning following the tsunami.


Damages from the earthquake and tsunami are still being assessed with estimates well into the tens of billions of dollars. The Japanese National Police Agency reported that over 150,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. Tohoku Electric Power reported nearly 4.4 million households were without power for at least some time following the quake and tsunami.

According to the Japan Times, nearly 10 percent of Japanese fishing ports were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami.

The other main story to come from the earthquake and tsunami was the meltdown of a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which occurred when the tsunami crashed over the tsunami wall and inundated parts of the facility.

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