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How the 2011 Japan Tsunami Happened

This recent C4 documentary explores how the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami happened.

This recent C4 documentary explores how the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami happened.

Some of the raw facts about the disaster are mind-boggling:

  • It was the most powerful known earthquake ever to hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful in the world since modern records began in 1900.
  • The amount of energy released by the earthquake was 2 million times that unleashed by the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945
  • The earthquake shifted the Earth on its axis by almost 10 cm (3.9 in).
  • The cost of the disaster could reach $309 billion, making it the world’s most expensive natural disaster.
  • The earthquake triggered tsunami waves of up to 97ft (29.6m)
  • The waves struck inland minutes after the quake and some travelled up to 6 miles (10 km) inland.
  • So far the official death toll is 11,828 and 15,540 people are still missing
  • Over 125,000 buildings have been damaged or destroyed.
  • Japan suffered extensive structural damage with roads, railways and dams affected
  • Around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water.
  • Many electrical generators went down, and at least three nuclear reactors suffered explosions due after cooling system failures.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said: “In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.”

You can still donate to relief efforts.

In the UK The British Red Cross is collecting funds to support the Japanese Red Cross which is playing a leading role in the disaster response.

Save the Children, World Vision and Oxfam are supporting the work of their colleagues in Japan.

If you are in the US you can donate via the American Red Cross.

> Watch the documentary in better quality at Channel 4’s site
> More on the 2011 Tลhoku earthquake and tsunami at Wikipedia
> Coverage of the disaster at BBC News and the New York Times
> Interactive map of the disaster at the New York Times