Waste where cities stood
WASTELANDS of mud and debris now stretch along Japan’s northeast coast where towns and villages used to be, consumed by a terrifying tsunami triggered by Japan’s biggest earthquake.
The port town of Minamisanriku was practically erased, more than half its 17,500 population unaccounted for after huge waves inundated the area following the magnitude nine quake, a hospital one of few structures remaining.
For the lucky ones, such as some residents in Kamaishi city , tsunami evacuation sirens came quickly enough for them t o scramble up to higher ground before watching in horror as the raging sea tore through their homes.
The sheer power of the water tossed cars like small toys , and upturned trucks that now litter the roads in Sendai city where the haunting drone of tsunami sirens at one point echoed into the cold night.
Dislodged shipping containers piled up along the coastline and swaths of mangled wreckage consume d what used to be rice fields. An elderly woman wrapped in a blanket tearfully recalled how she and her husband evacuated from Kesennuma town, north of Miyagi prefecture, where a massive tsunami swept through a fishing port.
‘‘ I was trying to escape with my husband, but water quickly forced us to run up to the second storey of a house of people we don’t even know at all,’’ she said.
‘‘ Water still came up to the second floor, and before our eyes , the house’s owner and his daughter were flushed away. We couldn’t do anything. Nothing.’’
As Sendai city endured a pitch - black night amid a power black out , Sendai Teishin Hospital spokesman Masayoshi Yamamoto said the building was able to keep its lights on using its own power generators.
Around 50 people arrived looking to shelter from the cold night air in the lobby of the downtown Sendai city hospital, he said.
‘‘ Many of them are f r om outside Miyagi prefecture , who had visited some patients here or came in search of essential medicines,’’ he said, adding that people were without electricity and water.
But with water supply cut, Yamamoto said hospital officials were worried about how long its tank-based supply would last. The hospital may also run out of food for its patients today.
‘‘ We have asked other hospitals to provide food for us but transportation itself seems difficult,’’ he said.
An explosion at the Fukushima atomic plant blew off the roof and walls around one of its reactors on Saturday, triggering fears of a meltdown.
Along the northeast coast the nuclear threat cast a deep shadow over rescue efforts.
DEVASTATION: A residential area in Sendai extensively damaged by the tsunami. Fears are
the death toll may be well above 10,000.
A woman holding her granddaughter