SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The World

March 12, 2011

Scenes of devastation at heart of Japan disaster

SENDAI, Japan — Miles from the ocean's edge, weary, mud-spattered survivors wandered streets strewn with fallen trees, crumpled cars, even small airplanes. Relics of lives now destroyed were everywhere — half a piano, a textbook, a soiled red sleeping bag.

On Saturday, one day after a massive tsunami tore through Sendai, residents surveyed the devastation that has laid waste to whole sections of the northern port of 1 million people, 80 miles (128 kilometers) from the epicenter of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that set off one of the worst disasters in Japan's history.

Rescue workers plied boats through murky waters around flooded structures, nosing their way through a sea of detritus, while smoke from at least one large fire billowed in the distance. Power and phone reception was cut, while hundreds of people lined up outside the few still-operating supermarkets for basic necessities. The gas stations on streets not covered with water were swamped with people waiting to fill their cars.

A convenience store three miles (five kilometers) from the shore was open for business Saturday, though there was no power and the floors were covered with a thick layer of grime.

"The flood came in from behind the store and swept around both sides," said shop owner Wakio Fushima. "Cars were flowing right by."

With most other stores closed, a steady flow of customers stocked up on drinks and instant noodles, knowing it would be a long time before life returns to anything like normal. Some recalled how they cheated death as the massive waves swept some 6 miles (10 kilometers) inland. An unknown number of others perished.

Police said they found 200 to 300 bodies washed up on nearby beaches, but authorities are only now getting a look at the extent of the devastation in Sendai and along the coast.

Rail operators lost contact with four trains running on coastal lines Friday and still had not found them Saturday afternoon, Kyodo News agency reported. The East Japan Railway Co. said it did not know how many people were aboard.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
The World

AP Video
Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Today in History August 21 Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Raw: Deadly Landslides in Japan Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Today in History August 20 US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing Rockets Fired From Gaza, in Breach of Ceasefire Raw: Japanese Military Live Fire Exercise Today in History August 19 Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine Raw: Building Collapse in South Africa, 9 Dead Assange Gets Cryptic About Leaving Embassy in UK Raw: Pope Francis Meets 'Comfort Women' Kurdish Peshmergas Retake Mosul Dam
NDN Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Are Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Breaking Up? Motorcyclist Sticks Landing This 'Breaking Bad' Reunion is the Most Hilarious Thing You'll See All Day! President Obama talks about who James Foley was Nicki Minaj Unleashes Her 'Anaconda' On the World Watch Helicopter Perform Aerial Ballet Can Buckeyes fill Miller's void? Victoria's Secret Models Prove They're in Fighting Shape How Brian Hoyer Stacks Up With Johnny Manziel Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS