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On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced the strongest earthquake in its recorded history. The earthquake struck below the North Pacific Ocean, 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region, a northern part of the island of Honshu.
 
The Tohoku earthquake caused a tsunami. A tsunami—Japanese for “harbor wave”—is a series of powerful waves caused by the displacement of a large body of water. Most tsunamis, like the one that formed off Tohoku, are triggered by underwater tectonic activity, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The Tohoku tsunami produced waves up to 40 meters (132 feet) high,
 
More than 450,000 people became homeless as a result of the tsunami. More than 15,500 people died. 
 
The tsunami also severely crippled the infrastructure of the country. In addition to the thousands of destroyed homes, businesses, roads, and railways, the tsunami caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Fukushima nuclear disaster released toxic, radioactive materials into the environment and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and businesses. 
city
Noun

large settlement with a high population density.

country
Noun

geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.

cripple
Verb

to disable or weaken.

damage
Noun

harm that reduces usefulness or value.

destroy
Verb

to ruin or make useless.

devastating
Adjective

very destructive or damaging.

displacement
Noun

forced removal of something, often people or organisms, from their communities or original space.

earthquake
Noun

the sudden shaking of Earth's crust caused by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.

environment
Noun

conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

evacuate
Verb

to leave or remove from a dangerous place.

Noun

part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.

impact
Noun

meaning or effect.

infrastructure
Noun

structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.

Noun

body of land surrounded by water.

power plant
Noun

industrial facility for the generation of electric energy.

radioactive
Adjective

having unstable atomic nuclei and emitting subatomic particles and radiation.

Noun

any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

tectonic activity
Noun

movement of tectonic plates resulting in geologic activity such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

toxic
Adjective

poisonous.

trigger
Verb

to cause or begin a chain of events.

tsunami
Noun

ocean waves triggered by an earthquake, volcano, or other movement of the ocean floor.

volcanic eruption
Noun

activity that includes a discharge of gas, ash, or lava from a volcano.

wave
Noun

moving swell on the surface of water.