Taro, Japan: Seawall Offered a False Sense of Security From Tsunamis

TARO, Japan — So unshakeable was this town’s faith in its seawall and its ability to save residents from any tsunami that some rushed toward it after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeast Japan on the afternoon of March 11.

After all, the seawall was one of Japan’s tallest and longest, called the nation’s “Great Wall of China” by the government and news media. Its inner wall was reinforced by an outer one, and they stretched 1.5 miles across the bay here. The surface was so wide that high school students jogged on it, townspeople strolled on it, and some rode their bicycles on it. A local junior high school song even urged students: “Look up at our seawall. The challenges of tsunamis are endless.”

But within a few minutes on March 11, the tsunami’s waves tore through the outer wall before easily surging over the 34-foot-high inner one, sweeping away those who had climbed on its top, and quickly taking away most of the town of Taro.

Read the rest of the story: In Japan, Taro’s Seawall Offered a False Sense of Security From Tsunamis.