Hundreds of bodies have appeared on the shores of northeastern Japan after the devastating events that occurred March 11.
An earthquake burst through the earth’s crust stretching 150 miles long and 50 miles across, which in turn spawned a massive tsunami.
Initially, the earthquake was determined to have a magnitude of 8.9.
However, on March 15, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) revised the magnitude to a 9.0 through additional research.
The combined destructive force of the earthquake and the tsunami left Japan in a state of instability.
Approximately 350,000 people are reportedly relocated or without a home.
Many have found housing accommodations in shelters, eagerly awaiting news of friends and relatives’ well-being.
Thousands of individuals have been unaccounted for.
According to the New York Times, the last update of missing persons was released by the national police on March 8.
At that time more than 15,000 individuals were missing, although just 2,414 deaths had been confirmed since the earthquake.
Police officials have estimated 10,000 people may have been swept away by the sea in one town alone, Minamisanriku, north of Natori. The death toll is expected to rise.
Natori was the locale for some of the first photographs taken of the tsunami.
Early photographs depicted an immense initial wave making impact with a cluster of trees. Those photographs not only displayed the extent of the shattering natural disasters that had occurred on the island but also the magnitude of relief assistance that will be needed to reconstruct what has been lost.
Along the coast of Natori all that remains is a field of black mud.
Officials from different government departments searched the coast for survivors: police in navy blue, the handlers of sniffer dogs in orange and the military squads in camouflage.
Officials made their way around stranded boats and buckled houses, finding toys, ragged bedding, tangled fishing nets, car parts, pottery shards and all the ordinary pieces of daily life, now fragmented along the coast of the town.
Occasionally, a body was found, sometimes already covered by a tarp.
Natori still has awful living conditions: water and power are still unavailable.
At Natori City Hall, survivors lined up at a truck providing large containers of water.
Locations providing gasoline had lines that stretched nearly a mile.
At City Hall, residents could find a list of 8,340 individuals who had arrived safely to one of the 41 temporary shelters.
Crowds of people squeezed into the hall’s lobby to review the lists in hope that their loved ones may have been listed.
Unfortunately, many people did not see their loved ones’ names.
They left messages on pieces of paper and taped them to the entrance just in case their loved ones eventually appear.
Hundreds of small notes hung along the entrance.
The mother of Mikako Watanabe, 26, and Yumiko Watanabe, 24, was one of the individuals not listed.
The Watanabe sisters were both working when the tsunami struck, but their mother was resting at home in the Yuriage neighborhood after her night shift as a nurse, a typical day for their mom.
“I hope she woke up with the earthquake and got to safety in time,” Mikako said. “We have no way to contact her.”
By Monday March 14, three days after the tsunami, there was still no word of her.
Their message simply stated, “Yurika Watanabe, we’re looking for you. Contact us if you see this.”
In the city of Fukushima, located farther south in Japan, stores and restaurants were closed, and convenience stores had nothing but cigarettes.
Red Cross dispensed clean drinking water to Fukushima residents who waited in lengthy, orderly lines.
Since Fukushima nuclear plants are being lost to the national power network, The Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the nuclear plants, plans to create blackouts across the region in an effort to conserve power.
According to the New York Times, this was the first controlled blackout in Japan in 60 years.
These controlled blackouts began on the morning of Tuesday, March 15, in four prefectures outside Tokyo.
The utility, which delivers service to 45 million people in the area, said the cuts could continue for up to six weeks.
With the anticipation of more power cuts many people have resorted to stocking up on candles, water, instant noodles and batteries for radios.
Tokyo felt the effects of the disasters as well.
Employed residents struggled to get to work Monday due to a number of important commuter rail lines running on restricted schedules.
A total of six lines, including Japan’s famous shinkansen, or bullet trains, did not run.
Also, six major department stores closed for the day because employees were unable to travel into the city.
The physical condition of the island was not the only thing affected by the disasters. Japan’s financial condition had also started to change for the worse.
According to the New York Times, major disruptions have fallen upon Japan’s $5 trillion economy, the third-largest in the world, and systemic apprehension over the damaged nuclear reactors caused disarray amongst Japanese stock holders that resounded across the area on March 15.
The Japanese stock market lost about 13 percent by the middle of Tuesday. This caused a domino effect amongst other Asian markets.
The Bank of Japan added $183.8 billion into the economy on Monday, March 14 in an attempt to maintain liquidity.
The Bank then emptied tens of billions of dollars more on Tuesday in order to halt the decline.
However, that didn’t end or even pause the financial failure.
With Japan using all of its resources to try to recover from the chaotic events, the U.S. has proposed to take action.
On March 14, President Barack Obama publically announced that the U.S. will use its resources to assist in aid relief for Japan. Obama offered Japan any support that it may need from the United States after suffering from “multiple disasters.”
Obama, along with many Americans, share a mutual perspective on the dire condition of Japan. According to the Associated Press, Obama said he continues to be heartbroken by seeing the damage that has fell upon Japan, a U.S. ally.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Navy said it has relocated several U.S. ships away from a distressed Japanese nuclear plant after noticing low-level radiation on 17 helicopter crew members positioned in Japan for relief efforts.
The Prime Minister Naoto Kan described these natural disasters as Japan’s worst crisis since World War II.