The sea unleashed
August 12, 2013 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Recently surfaced video of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. An incredible 25 minutes of breathtaking power and destruction.
posted by flapjax at midnite (81 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just last night I was rereading the original thread, and watching some of the links. Now I'll go watch this.
posted by rtha at 6:30 PM on August 12, 2013


I had to stop watching after awhile because I was afraid I would see a person floating in the water. Horrifying.
posted by Mouse Army at 6:38 PM on August 12, 2013


I saw this yesterday, and started flipping through Youtube, there's some pretty crazy tsunami videos out there.
posted by phaedon at 6:43 PM on August 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


Incredible how fast the shift from standing by the near empty river to cars whirlpooling around the cameraman progresses in this.
posted by quirkyturky at 6:45 PM on August 12, 2013


Jesus. How calm those people are. How quiet it gets when the water starts to return out to sea. Nightmare stuff.
posted by Banish Misfortune at 6:51 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


CGI can't come close to this horror.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:54 PM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Amazing. I knew exactly what was coming and was nevertheless completely surprised when it happened.
posted by googly at 6:55 PM on August 12, 2013


At the beginning, I was yelling at him to run. I knew that little wall wasn't going to hold back anything. The end was a scene straight out of Dante's Inferno. What a hellish tragedy.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:57 PM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Inexorable. When the surging water gets to be full of houses the camera doesn't know where to look. How scary. How hard to imagine that what would happen, even when you're in the middle of it.
posted by glasseyes at 6:57 PM on August 12, 2013


jesus this gives a much more visceral feeling of what a tsunami really is than just reading about it

it's not a wave, it's an invading army
posted by a birds at 6:57 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every time the camera jerked, I jumped, thinking that this is where the building starts to collapse (how did it not?!). The other people on the balcony all seemed much more subdued than I think I would be.
posted by rtha at 6:57 PM on August 12, 2013


Phaedon, your pretty link is... wow. Hadn't seen anything quite like that footage. Stunning.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:02 PM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


jesus christ, that's so much water

no wonder natural disasters like this get categorized as "Acts of God", if you were part of a community survived this kind of thing there'd be no other way to conceptualize it
posted by a birds at 7:05 PM on August 12, 2013


NHK has now started showing some short interviews with people covering their experiences during the exact moment, and those can be quite chilling, too. Most of the interviewees are obviously calm and collected (being a year or two after the event) and tell their stories in a matter-of-fact way, but you sometimes forget how crazy the actual experience must have been - when you don't know if the water will come any higher or not, etc. Quite frightening. (あの日 わたしは)
posted by Metro Gnome at 7:07 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, that's devastation on an epic scale. Being inundated with so much water that fires break out is kind of the definition of ironic, too, isn't it? Thank God that little bit of high ground was sufficient for those folks.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:07 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


First the water, then the fires. As the sky darkens, you just know that things are still getting worse, even though the water has crested, and begun to return to the sea.
posted by paulsc at 7:07 PM on August 12, 2013


Sweet Jesus the water starts coming and it seems like just a small wave at first, but then it just doesn't stop. It's a monster.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:15 PM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


phaedon: "I saw this yesterday, and started flipping through Youtube, there's some pretty crazy tsunami videos out there."

That second video was really disturbing. At least the person filming it had the decency to pan away just before the moment of death from those who were obviously killed.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:15 PM on August 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Reminder to self: never, ever read YouTube comments.
posted by Songdog at 7:18 PM on August 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


The other people on the balcony all seemed much more subdued than I think I would be.

...Having been through another "what the FUCK" event, I'd guess that that "subdued" is more "shocK". You're looking at what's happening, but it is so far out of your wheelhouse of Things That Could Happen that your brain just goes "....I have no idea what to do with this situation," and you just end up looking at it and going "Uh." The freakout comes later once everything sinks in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 PM on August 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


At 6:19 when the camera person walked up that tiny hill to get a better view of the inexorably rising water... chilling. Then at 9:45 the houses start floating upstream.
posted by anthill at 7:26 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In my book the crazy one is the definitive tsunami video.

At the beginning of the video there is a town. Six minutes later there is not a town. It doesn't get much more dramatic than that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:26 PM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Christ. What a nightmare. I'm glad they found shelter in that building. The hills might have been too far.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:28 PM on August 12, 2013


That second video was really disturbing. At least the person filming it had the decency to pan away just before the moment of death from those who were obviously killed.

Are you talking about the lady in the black coat and pants with the handbag that's the last straggler at 4:36 and the guy in the blue/purple jacket and beige coveralls that's just ahead of her to her left? Because at 5:09, if you carefully at the people that they are pulling up the steps at the lower left part of the screen, I think you can see her crawling up the steps (she's switched her purse from her right arm to her left arm) and I think the very last guy they pull up is the blue/purple jacket guy.

I think they all turned right up the hill and made it to the steps and made it out.
If I'm wrong about that, don't tell me.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:42 PM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


First the water, then the fires. As the sky darkens, you just know that things are still getting worse, even though the water has crested, and begun to return to the sea.

Then you see the people lined up on that distant rooftop, in silhouette against the flames.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:54 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


..and it began snowing.
posted by stbalbach at 7:57 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck me. And I was doing so well trying to break my finger-biting habit. Unreal.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:02 PM on August 12, 2013


Sending this to all my friends on the left coast along the Cascadia fault.
posted by humanfont at 8:11 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can anyone translate the public address announcements in the video? Over the PA, and from the truck?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:12 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow! I never knew fire was such a thing in a tsunami.
posted by unliteral at 8:22 PM on August 12, 2013



That was incredible. I can't even imagine being in something like that.


I also discovered that my dogs do not like Japanese being yelled over a bullhorn. At the beginning of the video when it starts and sounds echoy they got all agitated and started pacing. Made the whole thing seem even more surreal.
posted by Jalliah at 8:30 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can never tear my eyes away from these. Just another reason to move to the friggin mountains.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:33 PM on August 12, 2013


Wow! I never knew fire was such a thing in a tsunami.

Earthquakes too. Shifting buildings off their foundations causes a lot of gas lines to break and a lot of electrical connections to short.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:40 PM on August 12, 2013


Scary shit. Poor creatures.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:43 PM on August 12, 2013


jesus christ, that's so much water

...and at the same time such an insignificant fraction of the sea, which is itself a mere drop in the Earth's bucket.

People who genuinely think of geo-engineering as a reasonable response to global warming should perhaps spend some time watching videos like these and pondering the scale of the consequences of being wrong.
posted by flabdablet at 9:02 PM on August 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


People are often blasé about water because it's so ubiquitous. But a cubic meter of water (almost exactly 1.3 cubic yards) weighs a tonne (1.1 tons). There's around 2,500 tonnes of water in a large swimming pool. Think how much weight and how much pressure there is in an entire bay! And in a tsunami, it's all coming your way. Terrifying.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:03 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was holding on fine until the zoom-in on the silhouettes atop the distant building, fires bright orange behind. Then my heart broke all over again for the people of Japan.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:16 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


When the wall of water becomes a wall of buildings my mouth literally dropped. And then the whole thing ends with the place burning? What a vision of hell.
posted by swift at 9:20 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


What exactly is going on here? Watch the far side of the screen, near the left. It looks like a ghost or a demon or a dog or something racing up the stairs and disappearing. Is it just a mist of water? Very freaky.
posted by dobbs at 9:20 PM on August 12, 2013


I don't see nothin'.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:25 PM on August 12, 2013


What's so strange is the way the flood of water inexorably transforms into a flood of stuff. I know it's poor form to compare it to Katamari Damacy, but you can't not think of it: First the bits of wood and styrofoam, then an almost immediate escalation to entire rivers of broken products -- a stream of traffic cones, a current of packing materials, a torrent of lumber, a tide of hatchbacks, a river of houses. And each of these streams is made of bizarrely matching stuff, warehouses emptied, turned to rubble, and swept away in a coherent wash, to overrun the next, larger section of city. Maybe instead of a nightmare Katamari though, it's more a nightmare Miyazaki, the dream of a cleansing flood to sweep away the junk of capitalism gone horribly wrong, the flood instead sweeping us all along with it too, cleaning nothing and leaving things far, far worse than before. Anti-capitalism has led to this romanticization of the post-apocalypse, where everything has instantly become this appealing mix of rust, rubble, and new forests. And even these videos contribute a bit to that, with the merest glimpses of the individuals swept under, the ultimate in survival selection bias. But they really show that there's no way back off the mountain of junk we've built for ourselves -- no quick solution to wash it all away -- except to slowly step back down, piece by piece, year by year, dismantling as we go. There's a lot of stuff to put back.
posted by chortly at 9:28 PM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Looks kind of creepy, but I'm pretty sure that's a spray of water, like through a hose. Not sure what the water is being sprayed through exactly, but to me it definitely looked similar to a large volume of water spouting through something too small.
posted by yasaman at 9:29 PM on August 12, 2013


People are often blasé about water because it's so ubiquitous.

Yeah. I had a peripheral involvement with the 2004 tsunami and I remember a friend asking innocently and earnestly if there would have been a lot fewer deaths if people had known how to swim. After these videos from Japan it is no longer a question he asks.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:30 PM on August 12, 2013


My link overshot it a bit. It's here, creeping me right the fuck out. Watch the stairwell of the building with the red roof on the left.
posted by dobbs at 9:30 PM on August 12, 2013


I noticed those plumes too. Fire/explosion --> ?

Just needed to say, I did not expect to be this impressed by the video. I am also curious what was being said over the megaphone 20 minutes in with swirling houses all around: "watch out for the tsunami?"
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:30 PM on August 12, 2013


Oh yeah, creepy. There are a few mystery puffs of gas and so forth - that looked a bit like a fire extinguisher discharging, or a gas bottle being popped open.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:32 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"watch out for the tsunami?"

"Don't hang around by the river, filming."
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:32 PM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the "crazy" video linked above, near the end, a man goes back down to the edge of the tsunami to help some others and apparently is swept away.
posted by mecran01 at 9:42 PM on August 12, 2013


When you see that first wave come in, it's hard to tell the scale but the front only looks a foot or two high, so all your experience tells you to expect the boats to just kind of bob around when it hits. Instead they get plowed away like a high-speed bulldozer is coming through. Because what's hit them is not a wave in the sense that we usually mean it, that of a feature in the water. It's a whole nother body of water coming in, and that body is the Pacific Ocean, and it's not coming in on top of the existing water, it's pushing it all in front of it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:00 PM on August 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


The OED would do well to include a link to this video under the definition of inexorable.
Also, as scary as the video is it's also scary to see how much of our modern world is made up of buoyant plastic.
posted by islander at 10:03 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I noticed those plumes too. Fire/explosion --> ?

Those are propane canisters. It's very normal in rural Japan to heat your hot water for the bath with large propane canisters stored outside your house. They've been ripped loose and are spraying compressed propane.

Propane canisters likely caused the fire on the other side of the river.

Somebody upthread asked what was being repeated over the PA at the beginning of the clip.

The police or fire department folks are saying "Take refuge. A large tsunami is becoming because of the earthquake. Take refuge."
posted by KokuRyu at 10:08 PM on August 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


5th largest earthquake in recorded history:
“According to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the earthquake’s enormous strength shifted the Earth’s axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led a number of small changes, including those to the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth’s rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.6 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth’s mass.

A report by the U.S. Geological Survey said that Honshu, the main island of Japan, was shifted 2.4 m (7.9 ft) toward the east. Researcher Lucy Jones said of the precise data, “The Japanese have the best seismic information in the world… This is overwhelmingly the best-recorded great earthquake ever.”

This earthquake released a surface energy (Me) of 1.9±0.5×1017 joules, dissipated as shaking and tsunami energy, which is nearly double that of the Sumatran earthquake in 2004 which killed 230,000 people. However, the total energy released (Mw), the USGS WPhase Moment Solution, recorded 3.9×1022 joules, slightly less than the 2004 Sumatra quake. The total energy released underground was some 205,000 times that on the surface. The total energy released was equivalent to about 9.32 teratons of TNT, approximately 600 million times that of the Hiroshima bomb, or about 80 years of global energy usage, estimated to be 4.74×1020 joules for the year of 2008″
posted by stbalbach at 10:13 PM on August 12, 2013 [16 favorites]


turbid dahlia: “"Don't hang around by the river, filming."”
That's the one thing I can't get over. They'd all just experienced a very powerful earthquake. The water was obviously abnormally low. The warning sirens were going off and warnings were being given over the loudspeakers. The fire brigade drove by and gave a warning. Helmet Dude told him to get away from the water. The only thing that could have been more clear would be the Wicked Witch of the West flying over and writing, "Run, Stupid!" in the sky. Yet the person behind the camera still almost waited until it was too late.

Of course, it'd be no better to be like those poor bastards in those videos phaedon linked. I'm just devestated by the thought of them having run to the point of exhaustion and being within yards of safety but unable to run another step as the flood nips at their heels.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:13 PM on August 12, 2013


I lived and continue to spend a lot of time in a town just like that. It's remarkable how similar it is. Anyway, I lived about four blocks from the river - a river of similar size - and I often thought that I would be safe in the event of a tsunami.

The thing is, no one in living memory had ever experienced a tsunami of that size and scope. It's not something you expect to happen.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:18 PM on August 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


chortly: "What's so strange is the way the flood of water inexorably transforms into a flood of stuff. I know it's poor form to compare it to Katamari Damacy"

Actually I was thinking the same thing. I actually thought about this as a concept for an indie game, perhaps based upon ukiyo-e style art, in particular The Great Wave off Kanagawa...

This is probably the most potent example I can think of when it comes to the power of mother earth. Volcanoes are pretty high up there in destruction, of course, but I don't think the unrelenting power is conveyed nearly as much. The trail of devastation is burnt out. Sure there's lava fields all blackened, but you don't see the debris of everything piling up.

And you think back to the Tao Te Ching and the power of water. Watching the force of the water against those pylons on the bridge I kept wondering when it would collapse.

"The soft overcomes the hard"

The panning away for the one in the "crazy" video I think is especially noticeable when it appears they're trying to get someone who is in a wheelchair out, and the wheelchair is stuck (it's to the far left of the screen, vertically center), and right as the water seems to engulf the wheelchair bound person and the two helpers the camera person moves it out of frame.

---

There were a couple other videos I recall watching shortly after the event. The first one was another city one like this, where they kept continually going higher and higher, but the spaces were so much more confined, that a sense of claustrophobia began to kick in.

But the more potent one I saw was this giant field with cars just small little things driving on some overpasses or bridges or something. Over a field. Empty fields. But then, you see it coming. Slow at first, then unceasing, then it overtakes and swallows up the vehicles, and it's terrifying.

--------
And you think of the tentacled creatures, and how this wave is a giant creature with all these arms going into spaces deep and deep and never relenting, splitting and reforming. No escape, but save for the heights, and the fact that the universe is a rhythm and the waves pulses out, and it pulses in, and eventually hits an equilibrium once again.
posted by symbioid at 10:20 PM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


dobbs...

Those gas whiffs might be portable propane tanks from a kitchen
than were on when they were torn from the stove.
posted by quazichimp at 10:57 PM on August 12, 2013


But then, you see it coming. Slow at first, then unceasing, then it overtakes and swallows up the vehicles, and it's terrifying.

I think what's interesting about the tsunami is the way it builds vertically. This is a particularly difficult thing to assess and react to on the ground. I think it's why people tend to stand near the water and think it's not a big deal, and then the next minute they are running for their lives.

There is something literally incomprehensible about it. The danger is not in the impact of the first wave, rather it's in the colossal amount of water following it.
posted by phaedon at 11:21 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Recently surfaced

I see what you did there.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:08 AM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Damn. The big fishing vessel slowly drifting back along the path of of the river at about 21:00 is just so horrifically out of place.

I'd always wanted to live up in Sendai, or nearby in the areas around Matsushima. I'm so, so lucky that I stayed in Chiba, and only had the quake to deal with. I need to stop watching videos like this. With this sort of thing, there's just not much you can do, and as bad as it is, burying your head in the sand just seems so much less frightening.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:18 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


symbioid: “But then, you see it coming. Slow at first, then unceasing, then it overtakes and swallows up the vehicles, and it's terrifying.”
I was surfing around trying to find some pet reunion videos or something to try and distract me from the fact that 15,883 people were killed, more than 9,500 in Miyagi Prefecture alone, and 2,656 are still listed as missing. I can't find any search terms that don't just mostly lead to more of the same kind of videos already linked here. Hell the first video on YouTube when I searched for "tohoku earthquake pet reunion" was a devastating video of a grandfather and grandson searching… I can't even write it. Needless to say, it wasn't a happy ending.

Still, while searching I found some video of areas where instead of an inexorable flood, there was a great wave. It's a helluva thing.


It took me 90 minutes of searching, but finally I found something that made me smile. One Love, Tōhoku.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:54 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


ob1quixote, that 'great' clip is hard to watch. The guys are joking around at the beginning, talking about how the boats are making any headway, laughing to themselves. One says to the other 'should we get out of here?' and the other says no. After the second wave hits the buildings and wipes them out, there's a moment where, looking down at the buildings being washed away, one of them says 'Is everyone okay?' referring to whoever was down below in the buildings. Up until that, there's some pretty standard blase-ness to their comments. After that, they're a lot more quiet.

It's painful to watch, knowing what they didn't at the time, that things were going to get a lot worse very soon, and that they weren't aware how their laughter and jokes would be preserved like this.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:13 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to write something about anything but the terrifying horror of this, but - I can't. I thought maybe there were some observation, something I could see or say but I am on the verge of tears and there are no more words. It's just so horrible - after surviving the seeping, smashing, black waters, and then there's the fire.

Isn't the tsunami enough? Can't these people get a fucking break? Everything is flooded, there is nowhere to run... could the surviving buildings at least have the decency not to light up like kindling?

23 minutes in, and what kills me is the zoom in on the other survivors on a rooftop on the other side of what used to be a river that these people in this town have crossed every single day of their lives - our man with the camera zooming in on them and the camera catching the red and orange flames and thick smoke right behind them. Right behind them, as the people over on this balcony murmur "fire" and are on their phones trying to reach their family, their friends, calling "hello, hello?" over and over again.

Nature is terrifying, the tsunami was horrifying and I really don't have anything else to say. All those people. All those lives.

Words seem so inadequate.
posted by harujion at 2:35 AM on August 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would really like to know what the people are saying to each other, while they watch the tsunami develop and carry things, destroying their town. Are they talking about what they are seeing? Are they thinking about their life, more important topics, people whom they love?

Though on second thought, the more reflective conversations probably took place in the months ensuing, after some of the more immediate dangers were under control.

Still, I'd love to know, if anyone would like to translate some of the conversations people were having on the balcony, as I don't speak Japanese.
posted by ipsative at 3:04 AM on August 13, 2013


Ipsative, I watched a while ago, so it's starting to fade a bit, but for the most part, the conversations were very mundane. Lots of statements that very roughly translate to "unbelievable" "amazing" "scary" and "look at that" or "this is very bad." To some extent, the full scope is something that came together in the hours after. Most likely the people watching had no idea that it wasn't just their town, but a large part of the entire coastline that looked exactly the same. As mentioned above, you can hear a woman's voice saying "moshi moshi" over and over again. She's trying to call someone on her cell phone, and isn't getting through.

NHK just reported that this is the third Bon festival since the quake and tsunami, and that most of the 2600 people still missing have, for the most part, been proclaimed dead. The news is talking about the different families trying to decide whether or not to register their family members as presumed dead. It's kind of hard to watch.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:21 AM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


the dream of a cleansing flood to sweep away the junk of capitalism gone horribly wrong, the flood instead sweeping us all along with it too, cleaning nothing and leaving things far, far worse than before

Zizek, is that you?
posted by spitbull at 3:57 AM on August 13, 2013


Thank you, Ghidorah.
posted by ipsative at 4:48 AM on August 13, 2013


That's the one thing I can't get over. They'd all just experienced a very powerful earthquake. The water was obviously abnormally low. The warning sirens were going off and warnings were being given over the loudspeakers. The fire brigade drove by and gave a warning. Helmet Dude told him to get away from the water. The only thing that could have been more clear would be the Wicked Witch of the West flying over and writing, "Run, Stupid!" in the sky. Yet the person behind the camera still almost waited until it was too late.

There is something alluring about when a mystery tide goes out. People are mesmerized. It even happens on inland lakes every now and then.

As with tornadoes, the debris is what causes a lot of the damage. A wall of water is bad enough. A wall of water with stuff in it is a wrecking ball.
posted by gjc at 5:24 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


...there was a great wave....

o god why are there boats still in the water when the wave is clearly coming in get to shore you guys seriously
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 AM on August 13, 2013


There is something alluring about when a mystery tide goes out.
I was in Wilmington NC a handful of hours before Floyd hit. It was a storm that hit landfall on the high tide of a full moon. The low tide immediately preceding it was about 400 yards... out? I mean, here was an extra quarter mile of sand before you got to the water...

Mesmerizing is not the correct word. It was the epitome of the silence before the storm, where soo many things seemed just wrong that even the things that appeared "normal" felt somehow out of place. Even the typical gentle breezes were foreboding. When we were driving home we actually got angry at the radio for playing... music.

Even having experienced that... I simply cannot wrap my brain around what took place in Japan. Someone above mentioned CGI not getting it right. I can only surmise that it's the speed that is always wrong. Tsunami's are caricatured as a huge wave vertically, that moves horizontally faster than normal. But this wasn't that at all... it was a "normal" wave that just didn't stop when it hit the beach, and it "hit" painfully slowly.

Even still, the thing that CGI will never be able to replicate... is the fact that you are looking at someone who is about to lose everything, and in that moment you imagine all of the things that are important to you, and you imagine yourself losing those things. You subconsciously put yourself on the ground next to that person, and emphatically lose everything with that person. No amount of special effects will ever be able to recreate the horror that you create in your own mind. And no amount of psychologically processing can recreate the horror that these people went through, and are still going through.

And that part... is the scariest part of all.
posted by Blue_Villain at 6:48 AM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


> why are there boats still in the water when the wave is clearly coming in get to shore you guys seriously

Would be a lot less dangerous to go out to sea, assuming you are past the waves or make it through them to deeper water. You can see the larger boats further out at anchor aren't affected by the tsunami.
posted by anti social order at 7:22 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The power of all that water is really scary. It just kept coming and coming. It wasn't until about minute 20 until it started to recede.
posted by caddis at 7:39 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Wikipedia:
It was the most powerful known earthquake ever to have hit Japan, and the fifth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900.[12][14][15] The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku's Iwate Prefecture,[16][17] and which, in the Sendai area, travelled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland.[18] The earthquake moved Honshu (the main island of Japan) 2.4 m (8 ft) east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between 10 cm (4 in) and 25 cm (10 in).[19][20][21]
On 12 September 2012, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,883 deaths,[22] 6,145 injured,[23] and 2,667 people missing[24] across twenty prefectures, as well as 129,225 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 254,204 buildings 'half collapsed', and another 691,766 buildings partially damaged.

posted by caddis at 7:45 AM on August 13, 2013


Would be a lot less dangerous to go out to sea, assuming you are past the waves or make it through them to deeper water.

This. There were scuba diving boats with people in the water off Phuket who didn't know anything had happened until they started back and saw the debris.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:03 AM on August 13, 2013


Yeah, a tsunami is nothing at sea; the energy is carried by the waveform, not by moving water, so it isn't until it compresses as it reaches shallow water that hell starts to break loose.
posted by tavella at 10:23 AM on August 13, 2013


While these videos are fascinating and terrifying, it's also important to look ahead. While there are many Japanese NPO's that are organizing rebuilding efforts (i.e., it's not just foreign "White Knights" coming to the rescue by any means), Canadian Mike Connolly has been doing some great an interesting work, starting immediately following the quake and tsunami when he organized a convoy of trucks to deliver supplies to the region.\

Based in Tokyo, Connolly is involved with a number of different volunteer orgs, notably It's Not Just Mud, Tohoku Planning Forum, and Foreign Volunteers Japan.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


o god why are there boats still in the water when the wave is clearly coming in get to shore you guys seriously

In heavy weather of any kind you want to have as much sea-room as possible, which means away from the harbor/shore and away from other boats.
posted by elizardbits at 12:01 PM on August 13, 2013


Yeah, intellectually I know the boats would be okay, but my lizard brain is all water doing bad things flee the water flee flee flee.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:10 PM on August 13, 2013


My dad is a smart science-minded M.D. who has always had an apocalyptic bent and the philosophical fatalism that seems to be common among doctors. Our phone conversations usually cover topics like asteroid impacts, influenza and super-volcanoes. During one of the avian flu scares years ago he told me he was storing some extra food and that I would be welcome to come to his house in case of an actual pandemic, but I had to understand that once I was there, if I left he couldn't let me back in and risk infecting everyone else.

Ever since I was a little kid he's told me that if I ever saw a body of water receding from the shore, that I should run away NOW, preferably for the hills. We lived in the midwest, and the only significant body of water was Lake Michigan 60 miles away, but I heard this so often from my dad that it became a basic fact for me that I figured most people knew. As I got older I realized he might be preoccupied with disaster to a slightly unhealthy degree, but seeing the incredible destruction and loss caused by the two big tsunamis of the past 10 years has made me appreciate knowing this particular fact. It actually makes me appreciate his imagination--there were some big tsunamis in the 60s & 70s, but watching these videos makes me realize there is a big difference between reading that 2600 people were killed and seeing first person youtube videos of the unstoppable force of nature that actually looks completely unnatural as it suddenly shows up and sweeps away cities, homes, pets, people, everything. But my dad knew, and he wanted me to know too.

This may seem like a weirdly personal reaction to terrible events that affected entire nations or regions of the planet, but my dad is old and is experiencing the inevitable physical decline associated with his diabetes, which he's described to me very matter-of-factly, and when I see these videos I'm overwhelmed at what the people in them are going through, but they also remind me of the loss I am going to suffer soon.
posted by jjwiseman at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The "2600" number I think refers to the people declared missing after the tsunami, who have now been declared "dead." Including these folks, the total number of dead from the tsunami (apart from the earthquake) is something like 20,000.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:40 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu: “The "2600" number I think refers to the people declared missing after the tsunami, who have now been declared "dead." Including these folks, the total number of dead from the tsunami (apart from the earthquake) is something like 20,000.”
Regarding my use of the word 'missing', I copied my numbers out of a report entitled "Damage Situation and Police Countermeasures associated with 2011 Tohoku district - off the Pacific Ocean Earthquake" [PDF] released 9 June 2013 by the National Police Agency of Japan. This is the source for the numbers in the Wikipedia article on the Great East Japan Earthquake, although it appears there is a discrepancy between the article and source.

I looked up the numbers and confirmed them in the source material because, like KokuRyu, I thought I had read that the missing were now presumed dead. I wanted to be so precise because, after watching that video I can't write about, I felt like it was the least I could do to honor the 18,539 personal tragedies the numbers represent.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:46 PM on August 13, 2013


Watching something like that in person must invoke the most helpless feeling imaginable. Every place has its share of natural disasters, but I'm glad I live on a mountain right now.
posted by dgran at 8:41 AM on August 15, 2013


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