Rising up in this small fish town on Japan's northeastern coast, 16-year-old Minami Sato by no means took the yearly tsunami drills gravely.
Her consideration the town's thick, two-story-high harbor walls would protect in opposition to any big wave. As well, her home was perched on a top of hill more than a mile (about two kilometers) from the water's edge. It was also just under a designated "tsunami refuge" — an well-known patch of grass that looked carefully down across the town's maximum four-story buildings.
But the oversize wave that slammed into Shizugawa last week "was ahead of mind's eye," the high-school student said. "There was naught we could do, but run."
The overwhelming tsunami that follow Friday's massive earthquake erased Shizugawa from the map, and raised questions about what, if anything, could have been done to stop it. More than half the town's 17,000 people are missing and scene of ruin dot the towns and villages along Japan's northeastern coast, destruction not seen here since the U.S. dropped tiny bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.
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