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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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


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


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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.

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


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


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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.


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



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



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


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

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