tsunami top

Earlier this year, we brought you videos shot by those who fled the wall of water that the March 11, 2011 earthquake brought to Northeastern Japan. As shocking as they were, most – thankfully – were taken from relatively far away by the towns’ residents once they had reached comparative safety. The following footage taken in Iwate Prefecture, however, was recorded right where the tsunami hit by security and roadside cameras.

The footage shows the awesome, raw power of the tsunami, and gets much more up close and personal than anyone would every hope to. We should warn you that some readers may find the following images disturbing.

The footage was taken by cameras installed in three different locations in Iwate coastal towns. In the first, we see an intersection over which an iron footbridge passes. Drivers can be seen speeding away from the coast (bottom left) only moments before water sweeps over the road.

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The camera pans right as the seawater, carrying with it dozens of cars and piles of debris rushes into the town. The camera then turns further right and out into the bay, which is now almost indistinguishable from the land.

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As the camera turns back to the footbridge around 25 seconds into the video, we can actually see a fishing boat (left) being carried beneath it.

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The second piece of footage comes from a camera positioned beside a bridge that crosses a small river in the town of Miyako. Everything seems normal at first – a few cars pass over the bridge, the long grass sways gently in the wind. And then all of a sudden the utility poles in shot begin swaying violently and the camera is shaken so hard that the image becomes blurred.

Seconds later, an enormous torrent of water comes hurtling down the river, which was barely flowing before. In the blink of an eye, the bridge is engulfed, and a wooden building is dragged past the camera, swept out of shot as quickly as it appears.

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The final piece of footage is perhaps the most disturbing of the three. Taken in the town of Yamada, we see a busy road, along which several cars are moving. Suddenly, a number of drivers halt and quickly perform U-turns, going back the way they came.

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One driver, however, does not seem to spot the danger ahead, and only comes to a stop when the water is barely 100 metres ahead of him.

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He begins a hasty three-point turn, but the water – and with it several tons of wreckage – is closing in fast. For a second it looks like he’s not going to make it.

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But then, in a moment that this driver will likely remember for the rest of his life, he manages to turn his vehicle just at the last moment and speed away. And not a second too soon, because although they were out of shot and not visible to you and me, the encroaching water was bringing with it not just a few fence posts and road signs…

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… but entire houses. Several of them, lifted from their foundations and swept across the land as the water rose higher and higher.

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March 11, 2011 is a day that we are sure will live in infamy for generations to come. It was an absolutely terrifying and heartbreaking day, and we genuinely hope that Japan – nor any other country for that matter – never has to experience another like it. We’ll leave you with the video in full.

Source: YouTube
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