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via NASA Earth Observatory

JPN - 10 years after Japan's big tsunami

See before and after satellite images of one coastal city from the March 11, 2011, Japanese tsunami. How it looked before, and how it looks today.

October 31, 2016

More than 10 years after the 9.1-magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11, 2011 – triggering a devastating tsunami that destroyed much human infrastructure and left 20,000 dead – at least one coastal city in Japan is still recovering. Rikuzentakata, a harbor city that borders Hirota Bay, is located in Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan. In parts of Iwate Prefecture, the tsunami reached a run-up height – or maximum inundation point above sea level – of 133 feet (40.5 meters).

Approximately 8% of the population of Rikuzentakata was lost to the colossal waves, and 80% of the residential areas were destroyed.

The tsunami swept away a pine forest that was meant to act as tidewater control between the bay and the city. Some 70,000 trees were lost to the sea. Farmland was swamped with seawater for weeks.

Rikuzentakata is located northward of the now-disabled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which also underwent a major disaster due to the events of March 11, 2011.

In this closeup view of Rikuzentakata captured by NASA on March 14, 2011, you can see more clearly the extent to which the waves bulldozed the land flat and washed everything out to sea, leaving the earth scoured. Image via NASA.

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