The Dim-Post

March 12, 2011

Honshu Tsunami

Filed under: general news — danylmc @ 8:57 am

I had nightmares about the tsunami footage I saw last night, but mixed in with the bad dreams was an insight I remembered as I woke up: this must have been what the (almost certainly) deadlier 2004 ‘Boxing Day’ tsunami in Indonesia looked like, but it mostly happened in poor, remote places that didn’t have news helicopters flying around to capture the spectacle.


  1. The footage of the tsunami was just eyond belief. It will become as iconic (if you can use that word) as the airliners hitting the twin towers. It looked like the most nightmarish creation of a Ridley Scott on acid, only this is real.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 12, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  2. And how quickly we’ve forgotten that the Boxing Day tsunami killed a quarter of a million people.

    I’m still trying to comprehend the enormity of a quake 8,000 times stronger than Christchurch. I can’t imagine what it must be like in Japan right now; mindbogglingly awful.

    Comment by James Shaw — March 12, 2011 @ 9:56 am

  3. Apart from that mass of black water and houses, one of the scariest shots I saw yesterday was of a tsunami wave at sea.

    Just looked at first like an incredibly regular line of surf coming in a la East Coast NZ – then when the helicopter shot zoomed in you could see the enormous mass of white spray coming off the top of it, like smoke off a burning building, and suddenly you realised it was a couple of storeys high and not slowing down in the slightest. Unimaginable what it must have been like for those living on the coast seeing that.

    Comment by Sam Finnemore — March 12, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  4. @James, I think it would be 800 times, not 8000. And that’s only the difference at the source of the earthquake – this one was deeper and the epicentre was out at sea, so the force on land would have been much more attenuated than with the Christchurch one. I have no idea how the actual force of shaking at any place on land would compare with that of the Chch earthquake.

    Comment by kahikatea — March 12, 2011 @ 11:39 am

  5. The picture you posted is historic – the first of all time to capture the awesome power of a giant Tsunami.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 12, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  6. Without minimising the horrors in northern Japan, I had the impression that the Boxing Day tsunami was considerably worse than even that.

    Comment by garethw — March 12, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

  7. I was working in Banda Aceh when the Boxing Day tsunami happened. Lucky I was about as inland as you could be that day. Weeks later, you couldn’t walk down the beach without stepping on a submerged body, however careful your step. The moment of greatest horror in my life, to which I have constant flashbacks, is of stepping on the beach and my foot going through into a cavity in the sand from which dozens of flies came streaming out, as my toe touched flesh.

    Comment by anon dave — March 13, 2011 @ 10:42 am

  8. I watched a full news clip of the black wave and houses which wiped out whole towns. It even showed cars driving in the streets. I’m not sure if it was intentional by the cameraman, but the shot in the last seconds would always moved away from the wave engulfing vehicles, although that’s inevitably what happened.

    Comment by NiuZila — March 14, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  9. The footage has been extremely eerily silent so far, mostly from above. Very little has emerged from ground level stuff, like it did in 2004, replete with screams of terror, people seen disappearing into the raging tide, etc. In fact people have been barely visible at all in the shots I’ve seen. But it’s very hard to see entire suburbs wiped flat and not think that thousands of people must be in there.

    I wonder how much of the absence of ground level footage speaks to the total devastation. Is anyone at all going to survive in some of those areas, where houses are being swept away, even buildings several stories high are being knocked down in seconds? If you end up in that water, you’re dead.

    Japan is a very different country to the ones hit in 2004. Their level of preparedness and organization are high, and their ability to provide post-catastrophe relief too. So there might not be the horrific after-toll that happened in Indonesia, people dying from lack of shelter/food/water/medical care. But it’s a MASSIVE catastrophe, make no mistake. Whole areas look to be unreachable, and unsalvageable.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 14, 2011 @ 11:41 am

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