On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, an earthquake with an epicenter 130 kilometers east of Sendai off the Pacific coast of northern Japan shook the Tohoku region more violently than any tremor in a thousand years. The quake was approximately 9.0 in magnitude, and it in turn triggered a set of tsunami hurtling across the Pacific Ocean, striking first the coast of Tohoku with waves of unprecedented height and strength, along a coastline stretching roughly 400 kilometers. In Fukushima, 180 kilometers west-southwest of the epicenter, 15-meter waves roared over seawalls supposedly protecting a nuclear reactor built just a few meters from the ocean's edge, starting a chain of events that resulted in an explosion the following day that began the release of radioactive materials (which continues still), sparking high anxiety if not palpable panic in Tokyo, the center of which is 240 kilometers to the south-southwest of the Fukushima nuclear complex.

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