General Question

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Did the Japanese have time to evacuate or was the tsunami a total surprise?

Asked by BBSDTfamily (6834points) March 28th, 2011

I have watched several videos and haven’t seen many people in them. I thought the tsunami struck very quickly and without warning, but did they have advance warning and time to evacuate? If so, how much time did they have to react? Also, how many miles were underwater off of the coast line?

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6 Answers

Brian1946's avatar

IIRC, their tsunami warning system gave them about a 30-seconds advance notice.

I think the tsunami traveled at about 500 MPH, which means that the tsunami source was about 4 or 5 miles offshore.

jlelandg's avatar

If I lived in Japan and encountered an earthquake that lasted that long I’d head for the hills as quick as I could.

the100thmonkey's avatar

They didn’t have time to escape. Many dead are buried in the remains of the buildings and vehicles they were in. Many many more dead are in the flotsam that was pushed miles inland by the wave. A great many were also simply washed away.

“The Japanese National Police Agency has officially confirmed 10,901 deaths, 2,776 injured and 17,649 people missing across eighteen prefectures, as well as over 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.”


cazzie's avatar

The coastline isn’t straight, so some had more warning than others. But they have very good warning systems and civil defence systems, some of the best in the world as far as infrastructure goes, but the wave formed relatively close to the shoreline, sadly.

Here is another interactive map of earthquakes around the world. You can scroll in to the area of Honshu, Japan and see how many quakes they’ve been having… dozens since the large one.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Do any of you live in the U.S. or know the U.S. well enough to compare the extent of the damage, say if the tsunami had happened right off of the Gulf of Mexico coastline? Would surrounding cities be destroyed or the entire bottom halves of states? Looking at maps of somewhere I’ve never been is difficult for me to understand the extent of the devastation.

mattbrowne's avatar

In some areas it was more than 30 seconds. And some people did in fact reach higher grounds in time. Depended on the topology and the availability of taller buildings with strong steel girders. This is why we get so much video coverage.

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