Survivalist Forum banner
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

· Registered
9,321 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is my basic report, I may at a later stage expand it to include percentages but that will take a good year of research to do, and I felt you couldnt wait that long.

By Purdy Bear
1 July 2011

In the following report I will be concentrating on the 11 March 2011 Japanese Disaster, specifically the Tsunami which was caused by a level 9 earthquake of the northern coast of Japan, with 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.

To date (26th June 2011) the death toll is 15,500 with 7,306 missing with 5.389 injured. The numbers are divided into Prefectures as follows:

Miyagi Prefecture - 4,661 missing and 9,275 dead
Iwate Prefecture - 2,321 missing and 4,661 dead
Fukushima Prefecture - 320 missing and 1,597 dead

They have had 260 deaths so far by survivors in the shelters, this may not just due to depression and PTSD. It is culturally acceptable to commit suicide in Japan, and it is seen as honourable especially if the person would become a burden to their family in any way.

Of the victims 92.5% died of drowning with 65.2% being over 60, with 24% being over 70. This does not include animal deaths from the Tsunami and Fukushima for these are the unknown disaster.

The wave height (on average a London Bus is 15ft high) was as follows:

Kamaishi - 6.8m - 22ft (1 ¾ London Buses)
Ofunato - 3.2m - 10ft or higher (¾ London Bus)
Ishinomaki-shi Yukawa - 3.3 - 11 ft (¾ London Bus)
Miyako - 4.0m - 13.1 ft (3/4 London bus)
Kamaishi - 4.1m -13 ft (¾ London Bus)
Erimo-cho Shoya- 3.5m- 11ft (Just over half a London Bus)
Somo - 7.3m - 24 ft (1 ¾ London Buses)
Oarai - 4.2m - 14 ft (1 London Bus)

Kamaishi was hit first at 3.12 quickly followed by Ofunato at 3.15, Ishinomaki Shi Ayukawa at 3.20, Miyako at 3.21, Kamaishi at 3.21, Ermo-cho Shoya at 3.44, Soma at 15.50 and Oarai at 4.52

Other heights being found were as follows:

Port of Hachinohe -5 to 6m (16-19ft), its local area 8 to 9m (26 - 29ft - 2 London Buses)
Port of Kuji - 8 to 9 m (26-29ft - 2 London Buses)
Offshore of Iwate (Miyako) - 6m (20ft - 1 ½ London Bus)
Port of Kamaishi - 7 to 9 m (23-30ft - 2 London Buses)
Offshore of Kamaishi - 6.5m (22ft - 1 ½ London Buses)
Port of Ofunato - 9.5 m (31ft - that is two London buses) with the water registering 24m (79ft - that is the height of 5 London buses).
Offshore at Miyagi -5.6m (18ft - just over 1 London Bus)
Port of Onagawa - 15m (50 ft - 3 and a bit London Buses)
Port of Ishinomaki - 6m (16ft - 1 London Bus)
Shiogama/Sendai port - 4m (13 ft - Just under 1 London Bus)
Sendai port - 8m (26ft - Just under 2 London Buses)
Sendai Airport 12m (39ft - 2 ½ London Buses)

So the highest wave was the height of 5 London Buses. To put it into perspective, with the average height of men in Japan being 5ft 7 inches, that would 14.5 men standing on each others shoulders.

The temperature of the water was said to be 9-10°C, or around 48-50° F which could be survived by a healthy man dressed normally for 2 - 3 hours.

These are just the facts, after watching many hours of You Tube footage the following are my findings on the event:

The heights of the multiple waves were caused by the depth of the sea bed off shore coming in land. The more shallow the depth of water, the higher the Tsunami waves. NHK TV footage shows at least 6 waves approaching the Japanese coast. In some places the waves continued for hours into the night.

The weather was overcast in most places with snow and blizzards in others.

The height of the protective Tsunami walls were from 0 to 15.5 meters (51ft) at Fudai where only one person was lost (a fisherman who went to check his boat outside the all) and no houses. Some of the walls did not go the whole length across the sea fronts and some were of different (stepped) heights on one wall. The water may have gone round the edges rather then over the main area of the wall.

The sign of a Tsunami approaching was evident - in at least three videos the water receded leaving the sea bed dry before the first wave came in. The water would scrub the floor of the sea bed so was full of sand, fish etc.

In a lot of the videos the first initial wave had no power or speed and crept along the roads. This, however, was quickly followed by the second wave which had
tremendous force and speed (reported to be 500mph) bringing with it the depth of water, which quickly overtook the first wave. In one video it took 9 seconds to travel approximately 100 yards and took a coach off its wheels.

If the water came to a barrier it couldn’t get over, it would vortex slowly building in height until it breached the obstruction.

The water would take the easiest course building in depth in these areas with side streets sometimes with much slower shallower water. This however meant that the debris field would end up there and so easily trap the unwary or in some cases aid them in escaping to higher ground/buildings.

As the water receded at high speed and strength it met the next incoming waves causing it to be more chopping, vortex and gain more height. Thus it gave a false safe zone of time for those escaping on the ground, thinking that no more water was going to arrive, and thus walking about, leaving safe areas etc; or giving time to escape to higher ground. It must be noted one should always head for higher ground and not wait to see if any more water is coming.

The more powerful wave would win the battle and bring another power surge forward and thus new areas would be deluged with water and debris. The water found its way round the streets and farm buildings thus could come from any direction. At least one video shows escaping people finding water approaching up a railway line behind them. If on flat ground the water can come in from any direction.

The debris field was made up predominately of wood in broken planks from houses, thus also glass, nails and house hold items. Along with this were cars (some were afloat, some sunk), lorries, trains, coaches, people, animals. Some items did float such as blue packing cases (for fish), fishing nets, roofs and complete houses taken off their footings. In the most part anything wooden was smashed into bits. This is just what was on the surface; the depth of the field under the water is unknown. It would have been this that was most perilous to those in the water, trapping limbs, cutting etc.

In at least four videos people were seen in the water. In two cases people were in up to the chests, unable to reach dry land due to the force of water. In another a man was stuck in a chest height debris field with trapped legs - he was later rescued. Another two were able to climb out of the water onto cars and then onto a small car parking area. I feel anyone hit with the full force of the water (estimated at 500mph) would not have survived, but some were able to survive in side streets.

Those who had reached a safe high area were very active in warning others with shouting warnings and specific instructions to higher ground. There was also a speaker warning system in each town, and a high pitched alarm siren as well as announcements on radios and TV plus text messages to mobile phones. The police drove down roads announcing the Tsunami. If not in town or in a car with nothing on then there was no warning of its approach, other then the local police which may not have happened in the farming districts.

Many who thought they were on safe ground, buildings and Tsunami centres (multi storey buildings) were washed away by the huge waves. One heroine (Miki Endo) stayed at her post in a two storey building giving speaker instructions and died. The said building was stripped to its Rolled Steel Joists (RSJs) with just the roof and stair case in place. Many (approx 33) were swept away from the roof but some (approx 6) managed to survive by hanging onto the stair case.

Other buildings where taken off their steel footings even when made of cement and brick and shoved down the street by 50 meters. When the water couldn’t find a way round it pushed its way through the windows and out the other side, and also made its way up staircases. Future storey buildings would need to be at least 6 floors high (in one town the height of water came to the thigh of a man holding his child on the roof of a 5 storey building - Minamisariku). The same building had its footings washed away and only stood on the metal rods of the footings.

In another case many felt they were safe on a high hill by a school, but the waves swept all who could not hold on to anything away.

In two videos people used small ladders to climb up architectural features of buildings, or just pulled each other up by brute force. In one video they climbed up several of these features ending up on a vast corrugated roof area. Many of the high roofs were either corrugated iron, or flat with meshed metal fencing round the top.

The debris field did catch fire in places due to the fuel stoves and gas from fishing vessels. This burnt on into the night and could be seen by those sheltering on roofs of high buildings.

Many survived on tiled and corrugated iron roofs where they signalled with emergency flares, waving white material, making SOS signs with sheets and so on.

Rescue helicopters were not seen until after the waves stopped and then only smaller types were seen (similar to the Sea King Helicopter). The people were winched up one by one from roof tops and rescued from school playgrounds and taken to safe areas.

Many had to be guided out the debris field by rescue workers across wooden planks. In one video they lined up tables then covered them in wooden sheeting to guide out the people across a 30 ft pool of water.

The shelters were set up in schools, which were fortunately mostly on the highest land, as well as theatres and the like.

Over 100 Tsunami shelters were destroyed by the waves.

· Registered
9,321 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

Cultural Changes

The wearing of proper shoes inside the houses instead of slippers would give more time to escape. There is no need to stop wearing slippers but they need to be better soles. This would also help after the even helping with walking over the debris field full of nails and broken glass.

Alarm Changes

The speaker message system is a good one but many had too much faith in the protective walls to keep them safe. An alarm which goes off when the wall is breached would be good. Also a confirmed Tsunami alarm as many heard it so often they ignore it with total faith in the wall. Zone alarms in different zones progressively away from the wall as well as flashing road signs would be an advance and would help to notify those in cars without radio or mobile phones.

Architectural Changes

More brick earthquake resistant buildings are a must, with front line houses being boat shaped as well as hefty storm drains within the town to take the force of the water away from the main living areas.

Multi storey car parks worked extremely well, with levels people could easily access and the water finding its way through from one side to the other stood on the metal rods of the footings. These would need to be at least 6 storeys high.

Personal Behaviour

People need to go to high ground after any high magnitude earthquake even before the Tsunami warning happens and stay there until the all clear is given.

Bug out Bags is needed in cars and homes, but also a good supply in buildings on the highest ground. Each family or household should have a lock up where they can store items they would need in an emergency, thus available to them. This could also be a place for sentimental stuff (shrines, photographs etc) to be stored. This would have to be protected like a normal storage unit. The Japanese went to great lengths to recover personal items including many photographs, had them cleaned and boxed so the survivors could try to find lost items

Pets should be taken with them, or if the person is away at work put into pet day care on the highest ground. This would also be a good place for veterinary practices to set up, as well as barns for holding the animals not allowed in shelters. Farm animals should also be given an escape plan, with a rescue plan in place for those who survive the area. The 7 day kill policy should not include any animal that has escaped the Tsunami and the policy should be made redundant.

Shooting videos gives you a narrowed awareness while filming:

a) Have a watcher who is designated with your safety and a driver to get you away if need be.

b) Escape first then film, or have a clip on camcorder (spy cams) so you don’t use your hands or loose your spaceal awareness when filming. A helmet cam and a bike came is also available. Film but be aware. On at least a dozen occasions people were caught out by the water by filming and not taking notice of what was going on around them.

Yet again, some forgot to rescue themselves and died. This is a very common occurrence. REMEMBER to rescue yourself so others don’t have to put themselves in danger doing so.

There was a severe problem with prescription medicines afterwards, so carry them on you if you can.

Shelter Problems
Noise, privacy is a major problem as well as cooking for those in the shelter. Water supplies and food were very slow in coming through, with some shelters only allowing those in their town inside. For the meals, yet again changing out of slippers to get the food and then changing to go back to their area slowed things down. Meals were often in very small amounts with rice balls being the main stay. Some of the smaller towns waited for over a month for supplies to arrive.

Lack of pet friendly shelters were a major issue, with pets being put in cars, vets, and put out to foster.

The Water
The initial wave maybe slow but the power comes in the second wave bringing depth, it may circle behind you and cut off escape routes. Even shallow water can take you off your feet

Those caught in the water would have to deal with mountains of debris. In some places the field was 30ft high, with most being about 6ft and everything covered in a thick sludge of mud and sand. It also included chemicals from farming, houses, and fishing boats and sewage. Some ferries, large deep sea fishing boats, coaches were left miles inland and on top of multi storey buildings.

Items used to survive the water.

a) Hanging onto trees and climbing them.
b) Walls
c) Telegraph poles and wire
d) Tops of bus shelters
e) House and building roofs
f) Car roofs
g) Hoses used as safety lines
h) Climbing piles of cars and debris fields to higher levels
I) A few stayed in cars that floated but the majority didn’t stay on the level.
j) Climbing any stairs available outside or inside buildings
k) On flat roof tops and normal roofs.
l) A women used a peddle cycle to escape on farm land and survived.
m) Bridges were used as the water went underneath, but some broke while others the water came up the sides. One group of lorry drivers parked up on the edge of a bridge while the water went down each side of them. They survived.

Recommended kit

Water purification
Cooking kit
Sleeping bag
Warm clothes
Waders/gaiters - dungaree type
A stick to probe water depths
Good soled shoes (there will be lots of nails and glass to walk over)
Rope to tie self to railings etc if needed
Full gas tank
Human and Pet BoBs
Medicines and your prescriptions
Spectacles and your prescriptions
Body mounted camcorder - spy cam or helmet cam

Multiple escape routes
All high buildings, were their entrances are, and how to get up to the roof
In new areas make sure you know where high ground is.

ALWAYS travel with the radio set to the local station, with mobile phone on.

Bibliography (needs more work)


Survey by Waseda University showing Tsunami Shelter after 15.5 meter wave.
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.