New video in from Brian Barnes of StormTours http://www.stormtours.com who was in Otsuchi Japan which was near the Epicenter of the 9.0 Earthquake and north of the city of Sendai Japan.
He went to Otsuchi Japan as part of a volunteer group for Save Japan Dolphins (SJD) http://www.savejapandolphins.org that is operated by Earth Island Institute and lead by Ric O’Barry of the Oscar winning movie "The Cove" to document the largest slaughter of cetaceans in the world, the Dall’s porpoise slaughter.
I met up with Scott West and Tarah Millen who were there with the Sea Sheppard Conservation Society (SSCS). We agreed to go to Otsuchi together because the area has had very little western activist in it in the past and the fishermen there have shown aggressive violent behavior to those who have previously monitored the Dall’s porpoise hunt, we figured we would need to watch each others backs.
Brian said "We were scouting out the location and were filming the docks and the Porpoise fishermen in the harbor when the earthquake hit." He said that he jumped out of the car and tried to start filming the earthquake but it was so up/down, and back/forth that I could barely get the camera started.
In the video he shot you can see the earthquake was still shaking the area their rental car moving back and fourth. Brian said "I think my instincts with disasters from my years of Storm Chasing just sort of took over. I’ve never been in anything like that before and I knew it was major but I guess you still just see it as a natural disaster at the time and instinctively do the "chase" thing, if that makes sense. We really shouldn’t be alive."
As soon as the ground stopped shacking we got in our rental car and were followed by another car with SSCS volunteers and headed to the top of a hill overlooking the town just before the 25 meter high Tsunami hit where we were just standing only minutes before. The time from the Earthquake to the Tsunami striking Otsuchi was about eight minutes.
The Tsunami reduced the city to ruins and the tsunami protection wall that was built to save the city was smashed and washed out to sea, everything was completely destroyed. Brian watched as the ocean recede and then rushed back in at least a dozen times where at one point the entire ocean floor was exposed. At one point we saw and heard a woman in the water screaming for help, but she was washed out to sea before they could do anything to rescue her.
"We saw cars and what was left of homes floating in the water and what was not destroyed in the Tsunami was burned up in the massive fire that started after the Tsunami.
We were stuck on this hill because the road at the bottom on either side was completely gone and had to take shelter in our rental cars for the night. The rental cars they had are still on the hill side where they had to abandon them since the road below was gone.
In the morning we got up and abandoned their rental cars on the road up on the hill and hiked back into town. They started seeing the dead bodies everywhere. A woman hanging from a tree where the wave left her, people dead in what was left of their cars, total devastation. It took us an entire day to walk out of the town, rubble doesn’t even describe what we saw. To bring home the massive destruction, Hurricane Katrina and the Greensberg Kansas Tornado, those disasters are nothing compared to this. Every car we saw was smashed along with just about every wooden home was destroyed.
There wasn’t one thing left standing, it looked like something out of a world war two film after the war ended.
We finally made it to safety after climbing over the ruins of houses and walking over burning rubble and back to our hotel in Tono before paying a kings ransom to take a taxi to Akita Japan where I’m waiting for a flight back to America.