Japan earthquake and tsunami: A year on


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The Independent Online

Next week, on 11 March, it will be exactly a year since one the most powerful earthquakes on record struck the north-east coast of Japan, triggering a massive tsunami wave up to 40 metres in height.

The 9.0 magnitude quake hit just before 3pm local time at a relatively shallow party of the Pacific Ocean, its epicentre just of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku. Sendai was the nearest major city to the earthquake and was among the worst affected areas. The northern Pacific coastline of Japan was devastated by the tsunami, which travelled at a rate of 500mph (800km/h), sending ships crashing into the shore, flattening buildings, sweeping away cars, trees and people.

The Japanese National Police Agency confirmed 15,850 deaths and thousands injured and missing. A ship carrying 100 people was swept away, four trains disappeared into the sea and an estimated 125,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Fires ripped across the country. A dam burst in Fukushima prefecture, submerging homes and flooding the nuclear power plant, causing radioactive material to leak. The following day an explosion triggered fears of a meltdown and it took months for the plant to be made safe.

It was a triple disaster: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear.

Twelve months on, independent.co.uk has put together a large picture gallery charting the events of March 2011 as they unfolded.

Click here or on "View Gallery" to launch