This is the story of the Japanese tsunami and the nuclear catastrophe which happened afterwards, seen through the eyes of the Japanese children.
The tsunami hit on a Friday afternoon just before the school ended that day. It demolished many schools along 200 miles of Japan’s north-east coast. All the schools were evacuated to high ground except for Okawa Primary School.
The earthquake which created the tsunami hit at 14:46 on the 11th of March. The quake measured 9 degrees on the Richter scale and lasted for more than two minutes. Before reaching Okawa Primary School, the tsunami would devastate two other schools near the sea. The teachers at the first school managed to get the children to higher ground. Then the tsunami flooded the second primary school where teachers and children successfully escaped to the roof.
Now the tsunami aimed for Okawa, the school two miles inland.
More than 1/2 hour had passed since the beginning of the disaster and around 100 children were still in the school recreation area, lingering about. The teachers were arguing whether to go up the highland behind the school or head for the adjoining bridge.
During that half an hour the tsunami created an unimaginable amount debris along 200 miles of Japan’s Pacific shoreline, and took 19,000 lives.
As the tsunami died down, a 100 miles south of Okawa Primary School – in Fukushima – another tragedy happened.
The tsunami broke the cooling systems at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and nuclear fuel in three of its reactors began to melt down. As the authorities were trying to take back the control over the plant, one of the reactors blew up. Two days after the explosion, a second blast discharged smog of radioactive dust high into the atmosphere.
Twenty six hours after the tsunami, Japan broadcasted an evacuation order to everyone residing within 12 miles of the plant. Over the next two days 80,000 people deserted their homes.