Record 8.9 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Japan, Unleashes Tsunami

March 11, 2011 8:45 a.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

1||March 11, 2011: An 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s northeastern Honshu island on Friday, causing extensive damage and unleashing a giant tsunami. It is the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to strike Japan.

Click here for the latest report.||Kyodo/Newscom&&

2||According to early reports, hundreds of people were killed in the disaster, with even more still missing. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

3||A petrochemical plant burst into flames after being hit by the earthquake. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

4||The earthquake struck about 250 miles Northeast of Tokyo, creating 33 foot high waves, according to the Kyodo news agency. ||Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

5||Hawaii and much of the American West Coast were put on tsunami alert as the earthquake’s ripple effects spread. ||CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&


7||The United States Geological Survey measured close to 70 aftershocks of a 5.0 magnitude or greater in Japan.||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

8||It was the fifth largest recorded earthquake in the last century.||Kyodo/Newscom&&

9||Airplanes and cars were washed into a heap at Sendai airport in Miyagi Prefecture. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&


11||The Sendai airport was left completely submerged after the tsunami struck. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

12||Dozens of fires broke out in coastal towns and cities, according to the Kyodo news agency. ||imago stock&people/Newscom&&

13||||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

14||||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&




18||The tsunami capsized boats all along the coast. One report said a ship carrying some 100 people was swept away.||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&


20||A petrochemical plant in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, Japan burst into flames. Japan closed down chemical and nuclear plants as a precaution following the quake. ||Kyoto/Xinhua/Newscomv&&

21||People took cover as a ceiling collapsed at a bookstore in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture.||Kyodo/Newscom&&


23||||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

24||Video footage showed homes across Northeastern Japan submerged or washed away.||SIPA/Newscom&&


26||Smoke rose over Tokyo following the earthquake. ||Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&



29||The earthquake collapsed a wall inside Tokyo City Metropolitan Hall. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&


31||Debris from a mudslide blocked a road in Waki, Fukushima Prefecture ||Kyodo/Newscom&&


33||Students remained at school to wait out the earthquake and its aftershocks.||Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

34||||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

35||In Taiwan, fishermen secured their boats to prepare for the tsunami’s ripple effects. ||photo mall/Xinhua/Newscom

36||The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency produced a graphic showing wave heights created by the earthquake. ||

37||Fires burned amid a flooded coastal neighborhood in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&



40||People huddled inside a shelter in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&



43||Huge swells were reported along the west coast, including in North Monterey County in CA. ||he1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

44||Footage from a Japanese news station showed collapsed buildings in Iwate, Japan. ||Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

45||People took shelter after evacuating their homes in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

46||One day after the tsunami struck, television footage showed people seeking refuge on rooftops, waving flags to call for assistance. ||CNN&&

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: