An aerial view of damage to Sukuiso, Japan, a week after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the area in March, 2011.
Credit: Dylan McCord. U.S. Navy
Millions of Japanese marked the third anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on Tuesday. Ceremonies observing a moment of silence were held at 2:46 p.m. local time (10:46 a.m. EST), AFP reported. The moment of silence was the same time the magnitude-9 earthquake hit on March 11, 2011, triggering a massive tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people and left more than 300,000 people homeless.
The Tohoku earthquake was the nation's worst catastrophe since World War II. Along with the deaths and destruction, the one-two punch of a giant earthquake and tsunami sparked a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, releasing radiation into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is still struggling to contain radiation leaking from Fukushima. The first signs of Fukushima radiation — tiny amounts of radioactive cesium-134 — have been detected in waters offshore of Vancouver, Canada, and could hit United States beaches later this year, according to research presented at the American Geophysical Union's Ocean Sciences meeting in February. A volunteer effort is monitoring the low levels of contamination, which aren't expected to pose a threat to human or animal health in the United States, as they cross the Pacific Ocean currents.
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