The Big One

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Chieko Chiba walks through the rubble after going to see her destroyed home on March 16 in Kesennuma, Miyagi province.


A pleasure boat sits on top of a building amid a sea of debris in Otsuchi town in Iwate prefecture on March 14.


A local resident looks for items from his mother's car in Sendai, the city closest to the March 11 earthquake's epicenter, on March 14.


Debris and wrecked houses smoulder following th tsunami at Ofunato city in Iwate province on March 14.


Rescue workers search for bodies under an upturned house in Natori City in Miyage prefecture on March 14.


A Japanese Self Defense soldier smiles as he holds a four-month-old baby who survived the tsunami along with her family in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture.


A man cycles past tsunami-wrought devastation in Natori City, Miyagi prefecture on March 14.


An ambulance moves along a road littered with debris left by the tsunami in the Takekoma area near the town of Rikuzentakata, about 5 kilometers from the coast, in Iwate prefecture, on March 14.


A religious statue stands amongst tsunami debris in an area close to the shore, in Natori, Miyagi prefecture, on March 14.


Members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force head out to rescue 60-year-old Hiromitsu Shinkawa, who was discovered floating on a piece of his roof in waters about 15 kilometers offshore from Fukushima Prefecture, two days after he and his house were swept away by the massive tsunami.


A man looks for the remains of his house in the town of Watari, Miyagi prefecture, on March 14.


A soldier carries an elderly woman on his back as people are evacuated to a shelter at Kesennuma, a city in Miyagi prefecture.


White smokes rises into the air in badly damaged Yamada, a coastal town east of Tokyo.


A group of people who've been evacuated, arrange chairs into an SOS sign on the roof of a school in Sendai, a city in northern Japan.


In neighboring Natori, people walk on a muddy road as they evacuate to a shelter.


Elsewhere in Natori, an aerial view shows floodwater and debris around the terminal building of the region's airport.


Even with extensive warning systems, most coastal cities in Japan only had minutes advance notice of the earthquake-spawn tsunami. Frames from an animation show the tsunami's progression across the Pacific Ocean in the hours after the massive earthquake struck.


Collapsed houses and debris remain on a field in Kesennuma, a city with a population of about one million north of Tokyo.


Also in Kesennuma, a ship is washed into the city center.


A satellite image shows the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.


The tsunami smashed vehicles and houses in the coastal city of Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan.

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