Tag Archives: sendai earthquake


The aftershocks continue (Sendai Earthquake)

The last few days have been surreal. As most of the world knows by now, the northern part of Japan was slammed by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, around 14:46. Even as I type this out, my computer monitor is wobbling from yet another aftershock (have experienced 5 today so far), one of dozens that continue to jolt Japan.

When the earthquake hit, I had taken a day off from work to drive my family to the supermarket. We had just rented a car and were sitting idling in the rental car lot setting up the GPS when suddenly the car started shuddering. I initially thought it was because of a train passing underground, but the shaking just got worse. We were all getting more and more alarmed but I still didn’t think much of it until I looked across the street and saw the building in front of me literally rippling and swaying hard enough almost hit the neighboring structures.

The electric cables were swinging madly, the traffic lights and street signs rocking back and forth, and everything just became overwhelmingly chaotic as dozens of people ran out of their buildings. It only lasted for about 3-4 minutes, though with the constant aftershocks, it felt like it kept on going forever.

Believe it or not, after the worst of it was over, we still decided to head to the supermarket, figuring that was the end of that. It was only after we arrived at the supermarket that we saw live on TV the devastation that the tsunamis were causing. By this time, email and cell communications were down and we were having difficulty getting in touch with others.

(Some Before and After images of the Japanese landscape.)

We didn’t spend too much time at the supermarket. The sobering images on TV, as we saw the water sweep houses and cars away, made just want to head back home as soon as possible. It took us a solid 4+ hours to drive the 7km back to the apartment. Traffic was packed so badly it sometimes took us an hour to move 500 meters. Off in the distance we could see the smoke from the fires that had broken out at an oil refinery.

We now know that this earthquake was the largest to hit Japan (in recorded history), and that the shocks were felt as far away as the United States. The 9.0 quake was enough to move the entire main island of Japan some 16 feet/5meters to the east, shift the earth’s axis by almost a foot, and increase the speed of the earth’s rotation.

Today, the 3rd day after the quake hit, it feels almost like it’s back to business in Tokyo. People are at work, I’m in the office, and if it weren’t for the frequent tremors and the news that power blackouts will be starting soon, it would almost feel like a normal day. However, the news on TV shows us how bad it is just a few hours north, with entire towns washed away by 30-foot waves, the leaking nuclear reactors, and thousands missing or dead. I can only pause to thank God how lucky I and my family and loved ones have been, and to continue to pray for those who have are still struggling to recover from this tragedy.