Japan earthquake and tsunami aftermath, three-year anniversary

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March 11, 2014 marks the three-year anniversary of the magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake that struck off the east coast of Tohoku in Japan. The earthquake was the most powerful ever known to have hit Japan, and the fifth most powerful in the world in recorded history. Tsunami waves triggered by the temblor reached heights of up to 40.5 meters, and traveled up to 10 km inland. It also moved Honshu, the main island of Japan, 2.4 meters east and shifted the earth on its axis by estimates of between 10 cm and 25 cm.

The quake-tsunami disaster swept away roughly 18,000 victims, destroyed coastal communities, and sparked a nuclear emergency that forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes.

Remembrance ceremonies will be held in towns and cities around the disaster zone and in the capital Tokyo to mark the occasion. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are to lead tributes to those who lost their lives in the natural disasters.

Many local governments will switch on a tsunami alarm siren at 2:46 p.m., marking the exact moment a 9.0-magnitude undersea quake hit.

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