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Japan Earthquake: Photos of Fukushima’s Last Tsunami

John Patrick Pullen, Kacy Burdette
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Toya Chiba, a reporter for local newspaper Iwate Tokai Shimbun, is swept by a tsunami at Kamaishi port

Less than 24-hours after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico, 6.1-magnitude tremors rocked the coast of Japan Wednesday. The quake’s epicenter was 175 miles east of Kamaishi, and not far from the 9.0-magnitude blast that sent tsunami waves racing toward Fukushima in 2011. As of this writing, there have not been any reports of damage or tsunami warnings, but the earthquake hit at 2:37 a.m. local time, and the story is still developing.

After the 2011 event caused massive damage at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan is understandably on edge over undersea earthquakes. During the earthquake--which was the fourth-largest in world since measurements began in 1900-- and the subsequent tsunami, nearly 20,000 people died or went missing.

The tsunami waves, not the earthquake, were what caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility to melt down. Amidst the fallout, the nearby town was ordered to evacuate. More than 5,000 aftershocks hit over the next year, causing $220 billion in damage to to the country.

The images of that disaster were heart-crushing, and many have been indelibly burned into the world’s collective memory. The photo gallery above is a reminder of both the might of Mother Nature and the potential danger of nuclear power, as well as a warning for what could happen the next time a big earthquake hits.

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