The little town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi, Japan, used to be a thriving fishing port of 17,000 people, famed for its nearby islands, beaches, and festivals.
After the tsunami hit, the town was all but obliterated.
Located 50 miles west of the quake’s epicenter off the coast of Japan, Minamisanriku was hit by 33 foot waves that destroyed 95 percent of the town. Hundreds of thousands of tons of salt water and debris filled the valley 40 feet deep. Homes were buried in a sea of mud. Only the town’s tallest buildings remained.
As of Sunday, about 10,000 people remain missing from the town, roughly half the population.
The destruction is worse in Minamisanriku than anywhere else in Japan.
Alex Thompson, a correspondent for Channel 4 News, reports from Minamisanriku, “Between alarms, the people wander back during the day, some bewildered, others phlegmatic, but all simply dwarfed by this...the empires of men upturned in moments.” WATCH:
An SOS sign is written on the ground of Shizugawa High School in Minamisanrikucho on March 13, 2011: