The 11 March 2011 magnitude 9.0 Honshu, Japan earthquake (38.322 N, 142.369 E, depth 32 km) generated a tsunami that was observed all over the Pacific region and caused tremendous devastation locally. As of 30 May 2011, the Japan National Police Agency reports 15,270 persons killed and 8,499 persons missing from the earthquake and tsunami. 115,433 residents are still staying at evacuation shelters. The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami Joint Survey Group (http://www.coastal.jp/tsunami2011/) reports highest tsunami runup heights at Sendai in the 15-20 m range. On 7 April 2011, a M7.1 (USGS) earthquake aftershock occurred which killed 2 persons, but no tsunami was generated.
The 11 March 2011 Japanese tsunami was the first to cause deaths since the 1993 Sea of Japan magnitude 7.7 earthquake caused 23 deaths and generated a tsunami that caused an additional 208 deaths in Japan. In comparison, the most fatal and damaging tsunami that has ever occurred in the world was the 2004 magnitude 9.1 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami that caused almost 230,000 deaths, $10 billion in damage, and a maximum water height of 50 m.
According to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) (formerly National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) / World Data Center for Marine Geology and Geophysics) (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/hazard/) Global Historical Event databases, 260 confirmed tsunamis have been generated near Japan since 684 A.D. Of these, 71 (27%) caused deaths. The majority of Japanese tsunamis were generated by earthquakes (94%), the remainder were caused by volcanic eruptions (6%). The most fatal Japanese tsunamis are listed below:
- 1498 Enshunada Sea earthquake-generated tsunami caused 31,000 deaths
- 1586 Ise Bay earthquake and tsunami caused over 8,000 deaths
- 1707 Nankaido earthquake and tsunami caused 30,000 deaths
- 1771 Ryukyu Islands earthquake-generated tsunami caused over 13,000 deaths
- 1896 Sanriku earthquake and tsunami caused over 27,000 deaths