What it was like to be in Japan's worst-ever earthquake

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/13/what-it-was-like-to-be-in-japa.html


Seeing the tsunami sweep away trucks like Tonka toys and manhandle jetways gives me second thoughts about wanting to live near the Pacific (or, to be honest, any place subject to flooding).


That was not wonderful. Terrifying. Amazing footage, though.

Interesting that the people didn’t get under the tables in case of falling debris. I’d have assumed that would be standard procedure.


Good god. Humans are really quite insignificant, aren’t we?


While the shaking on the video appears to last FOREVER, the person filming didn’t start until the quake was already half over. There was another three full minutes of quake before this even begins. The full quake that lasted six minutes and moved Honshu (the main island of Japan) 8 ft to the wast.

I’m absolutely amazed at the durability of the airport construction to stand that amount of prolonged shaking. The walls bend but never buckle. Amazing!


This is why I hate layovers. Shit like this happens and your connection is screwed.


This is Sendai airport, btw. (I’d imagine the Japanese descriptions in the youtube video note this fact.) I actually took a flight from there 2.5 years ago; so, well after the the quake. There was a marker in the ground-floor concourse showing how high the floodwaters had actually gotten on that level, as I recall it was more than 2 meters above the floor.


God, who needs horror movies? That was terrifying.


What did the planet say after the earthquake?

“Sorry, my fault…”


Couldn’t even finish watching that.

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I think I now know the Japanese word for “oh shit”


Holy. Fucking. Shit. And, the camera operator comes off as extremely calm during the entire thing.

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A couple of questions:
What is the protocol if you are a jet ready for departure? I would think that as many jets as possible would want to get off the ground, especially if there was a tsunami coming.
I am astonished at how little damage there was to the terminal. Unsecured displays fell over, but even the pictures mostly stayed on the walls.

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YouTube recommended another video of the flood that’s even more amazing. First the water carefully picks up the cars and carries them around the corner and down the street.

Then it picks up the buildings.


I remember this video. Just heartbreaking. That’s Kesennuma in northern Miyagi Prefecture. I visited it a few years before the earthquake and found it a really lovely town.

eta - Here’s what it looks like two years after, according to Google


That pretty much blows my own experience in the '92 Northridge Quake out of the water.

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I’d expect that one would evacuate the plane, because you couldn’t take off until the safety of the runway was confirmed. But that’s just my guess.

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Also probably depends on whether the airport’s air traffic control tower has been evacuated or not!

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Runways are rarely completely flat; some well known ones dip in various locations or bobble up and down slightly (not to mention crosswinds, short runways, extreme terrain, etc.), so unless there were notable cracks or liquefaction, I doubt it would matter. Evacuating the plane might not be an option (look at what happened to the jetway in the video!) ATC crews are nearly as unflappable as test pilots, considering they have to keep dozens of planes from running into each other daily, so if they didn’t have to evacuate and had power, they might try.

I was thinking that concrete slabs could be kicked up, in addition to what you mentioned, which would ruin an aircraft’s day. So without walking the runway it wouldnt be safe to depart. But that’s just my thought.