The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, also known as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the Great East Japan Earthquake and the 3rd of March Earthquake, was a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (Japan Standard Time) on Friday, 11 March 2011, with the epicentre approximately 70 kilometres east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku and the hypocentre at an underwater depth of approximately 32 km.
It was the world's fourth largest earthquake since 1900 and the largest in Japan since modern instrumental recordings began 130 years ago. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres in Miyako in Tohoku's Iwate Prefecture, and which, in the Sendai area, traveled up to 10 km inland. The earthquake moved Honshu 2.4 m east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between 10 cm and 25 cm.
The tsunami obliterated tens of thousands of buildings, devouring almost anything in his path, and caused widespread devastation, with an official count of around 20,000 people confirmed to be killed/missing. The highest tsunami which was recorded at Ryori Bay, Ofunato, reached a total height of 30 m. In addition the tsunami precipitated multiple hydrogen explosions and nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant
The 9.0 Richter magnitude earthquake and the resulting tsunami have provoked the largest crisis that Japan has encountered since the end of World War II.
As the death toll soared, dozens more countries braced themselves for similar scenes of destruction as the full force of the mother-nature powered through the Pacific Ocean. Tsunami warnings were issued to the entire Pacific Rim.
An energy map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows the intensity of the tsunami caused by the magnitude 8.9 earthquake which struck Japan on March 11, 2011. A tsunami warning was issued for the entire Pacific basin except mainland United States and Canada. The warning included Hawaii and extended from Mexico down to South American countries on the Pacific, the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. (NOAA/Tsunami Warning Center/)
Stretching into the distance, waves caused by the tsunami pour over the coastline and rush inland swamping all before them. As the seawater passes over the land it mixes with the soil and begins to change colour to a dark brown.
Helpless: A ship, dwarfed by the sheer size of the whirlpool, is drawn ever closer towards the vortex as is tossed about in the foaming waters off the port of Oarai, Ibaraki.
Menace: Wave upon wave heads towards the coastline which has already been breached by an earlier onslaught.
With fires and destruction all around him an helmeted man picks his way carefully though the rubble.
Collapsed: Three shocked employees look at what has become of the factory in Sukagawa city, Fukushima, where moments earlier they had been working.
Raging seas: The tsunami pours through trees and engulfs homes on the coast of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, after the earthquake struck.
The same scene just moments later shows how the entire area with dozens of homes is completely obliterated by the unforgiving waters which swept away anything in their path. Bobbing about on the surface is all the debris the waters have picked up along the way.
Houses swallowed by tsunami waves burn in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11. (Kyodo News/Associated Press).
Light planes and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept by a tsumani that struck Sendai airport in northern Japan. (Kyodo News/Associated Press).
Fishing boats and vehicles are carried by a tsunami wave at Onahama port in Iwaki city, in Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan. (Fukushima Minpo/AFP/Getty Images).