A Japan tsunami survivor has revealed the tragedy she witnessed and the horrors that still haunt her on the disaster’s fifth anniversary.
Tarah Millen told The Mirror that the image of a small boy, cycling towards the harbour, is one she cannot shake.
Millen, from Canada, said she was watching a boy ride his bike when the tsunami hit – covering her surroundings with 130-foot waves. The town she was in – Ōtsuchi in Iwate – lost a staggering 10 per cent of its population. She was 21 at the time and visiting the area as a porpoise activist.
The 2011 disaster struck the north-east coast of Japan at 2:45pm – while Millen was at the harbour – with a magnitude of 9.0, killing more than 18,000 people.
Five years on, and for Millen and thousands of others the tragedy still remains fresh.
She told The Mirror:
After about one minute of the ground shaking nearly every bird in the area rose into the sky.
I remember feeling more amazed by the spectacle than anything. That was my first clue that this earthquake could be much more serious than I had assumed.
Knowing something serious was about to happen, Millen and her team got in their car and sped up to a lookout point to get to high ground.
As soon as we stepped out of the car I looked back over the town and what I saw shocked me to the core: It was gone.
I stood, staring, in stupefied silence and exclaimed something like, ‘oh my god, the whole town is under water’. I really had no idea.
Tarah told The Mirror that by the time the tsunami struck, the water had receded and washed back several times, dragging the entire town – homes, cars, boats, and bodies – with it.
Still, five years later, many of the residents haven’t been able to return to their homes.
But despite the tragedy and horrific memories, Japan came together today to remember the disaster, as a mark of respect for the victims. Let’s do the same.