By Alan Medsker
The seismic event was huge and was felt all over the world. With a moment magnitude of over 9.0, the earthquake and was the fourth largest ever in the more than 100 years of recorded history. Huge land masses shifted as much as 2.4 meters, and the rotation of the earth was changed so that days were suddenly just a little (but measurable) bit shorter. It had sped up the world.
With the earthquake unleashing an amount of energy equivalent to that required to run the city of Los Angeles for an entire year, areas far from the epicenter were affected. Coastlines dropped, soil was pulverized by liquefaction, causing extensive damage to buildings, roads, and other structures. Hundreds of thousands of people ducked and covered to escape falling ceiling tiles, collapsing bookshelves, light fixtures, and other furnishings. Power plants automatically tripped and went off line. Oil refineries caught fire. But the earthquake was just the beginning.
Soon after, tsunami waves reportedly as high as 45 meters hit 670 km of coastline, pushing the crushing wall of water inland as much as 10 kilometers, destroying villages, roads, bridges, boats and more. Many citizens evacuated the coastlines when the tsunami warnings were issued, but thousands were still caught in the powerful surge and lost their lives. The deathtoll mounted, and in the end the event took the lives of over 15,000 people, with over 340,000 more were estimated to have been displaced from their homes.
Following the earthquake and tsunami, severe disruptions in train service due to earthquake damage stranded tens of thousands of people who had no other way to get to their destinations. Track damage, collapse of stations and even trains getting swept away by the tsunami all hindered the restoration of service, which continued to be impacted for days following the
By Alan Medsker