Scenes from Rikuzentakata: Hundreds Died in Low-Lying Shelters Where They Were Trained to Go

Scenes of extensive damage to the city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate from the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami.

Rescuers on Monday dug through rubble in Rikuzentakata, a port city of over 20-thousand people in Iwate Prefecture, which was virtually wiped out by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. Local media estimates that almost three-quarters of the city was swept away by the tsunami, which surged over an eight-metre (26 feet) high dike. Footage also shows emergency workers searching through the wreckage for survivors in the town of Iwanuma in Miyagi prefecture.

All buildings less than three stories tall have been completely flooded.

Among about 1,000 people in three buildings near City Hall, the only survivors were about 100 people who made it to the top floor of the three-story City Hall. One man commented that people relied too much on their trust of the bureaucracy for their safety.

As of 2008, the city had an estimated population of 23,687 and the density of 102 persons per km². The total area is 232.29 km². The city was founded on January 1, 1955.