A 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011 killed 28,000 people, leveled towns on the coast of Japan, and basically destroyed the Fukushima nuclear reactor, resulting in meltdowns and radiation leaks that, thankfully, have to this point not yet lead to a gigantic fire-breathing lizard emerging from the sea. But it wasn’t the earthquake that caused all of that damage. It was the tsunami it caused.
It’s difficult if not impossible to imagine the kind of devastation a surge of ocean water can cause unless you see it for yourself. And this recently released half-hour amateur video provides an incredible account of what the tsunami did in one Japanese coastal town. Beginning with a shot of an inlet all but drained of water — water typically rushes out to sea before crashing back into shore during a tsunami — we see a surge begin to head inland. At first, it merely looks like something that might make you slightly seasick. But it quickly turns into a ruinous deluge of water carrying cars, houses, trees, and who knows what else. The video ends as fires rage all over the city and smoke billows into the sky.