This story from the Daily Mail should give you an idea of the loss of life that has occurred.
Just 48 hours ago, it was a picturesque fishing town where tourists flocked to enjoy the coastal air and natural hot springs. But this horrifying picture shows all that remains of Minami Sanriku after it was destroyed by the tsunami that has wreaked devastation across Japan.
Last night, the official death toll from Friday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tidal wave stood at 1,700 people – although it is feared the final total could rise sharply once a full picture of the catastrophe emerges.
In Minami Sanriku alone, 10,000 people could have died – more than half of the city’s population.
It only took a few minutes for the 30ft wave to wash the town away with terrifying force. The locals desperately tried to escape to higher ground. But most did not stand a chance.
It is hard to imagine any life remains among the debris. Where last week fishing boats bobbed in the harbour, it is now impossible to tell where the sea begins and the land ends.
One of the few buildings left standing is the town’s Shizugawa Hospital – the large white building to the centre left of this picture. But the rest of what was once the town centre is flooded with filthy sea water.
Other structures lie battered and smashed in piles of broken wood and twisted metal, but most are now little more than debris.
Just visible through the murky waters towards the bottom left of the photograph are the painted stripes of a zebra crossing.
There are vague remnants of roads and the occasional outline of a flooded car, and it is just possible to see the half-submerged outline of the town’s athletics track towards the top left of the picture.
Minami Sanriku lies about 55 miles west of the earthquake’s epicentre and directly in the path of the subsequent tsunami.
It's going to take weeks for anyone to begin to grasp the extent of the devastation.And in Fukushima, thousands of people were forced to flee the vicinity of an earthquake-crippled Japanese nuclear plant after a radiation leak and authorities faced a fresh threat with the failure of the cooling system in a second reactor.