Japan marks 10 years of a magnitude 9 earthquake, deadly tsunami and Fukushima nuclear meltdown. We track numbers showing how much progress has been made since March 11, 2011.

This file picture taken on March 11, 2011 by Sadatsugu Tomizawa and released via Jiji Press on March 21, 2011 shows tsunami hitting the coast of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture in Japan.
This file picture taken on March 11, 2011 by Sadatsugu Tomizawa and released via Jiji Press on March 21, 2011 shows tsunami hitting the coast of Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture in Japan. (AFP)

Ten years after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's northeastern coast, triggering meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, much has been achieved in disaster-hit areas but they are still recovering. 

Numbers show how much progress has been made and what still remains.

This file photo taken on March 13, 2011 shows elderly people, evacuated from the area near the Fukushima nuclear plant, reading a newspaper with reports about the explosion at the plant, at Tamura in Fukushima prefecture.
This file photo taken on March 13, 2011 shows elderly people, evacuated from the area near the Fukushima nuclear plant, reading a newspaper with reports about the explosion at the plant, at Tamura in Fukushima prefecture. (AFP)

9.0 Earthquake

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake was one of the strongest temblors on record. It struck offshore at 2:46 pm (local time) and generated a towering tsunami that reached land within half an hour. A wave as high as 19 meters was recorded in the town of Miyako in Iwate prefecture.

In Miyagi prefecture, the tsunami swept as far as 6 kilometres inland. The coastline where the tsunami had an impact stretches about 400 kilometres.

This file picture taken on  March 12, 2011 shows a young boy (C) reading a newspaper report about the earthquake at a shelter for evacuees in the town of Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture.
This file picture taken on March 12, 2011 shows a young boy (C) reading a newspaper report about the earthquake at a shelter for evacuees in the town of Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture. (AFP)

18,426 dead

The National Police Agency says 18,426 people died, mostly in the tsunami, including 2,527 whose remains have not been found.

 Local authorities still regularly conduct searches in the sea and along the coast for traces of those still missing. None of the fatalities has been directly linked to radiation.

In this July 24, 2011 photo, an abandoned bicycle rests on a road partially blocked by ships that washed ashore in the town of Namie, inside the 20-km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
In this July 24, 2011 photo, an abandoned bicycle rests on a road partially blocked by ships that washed ashore in the town of Namie, inside the 20-km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. (AP)

42,500 people haven't returned

Nearly half a million people were displaced across the northeastern region.

Ten years later, 42,565 people, including 35,725 from Fukushima, still haven’t been able to return home.

This image made available from Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Kyodo News, shows the damaged No. 4 unit of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, northeastern Japan, on March 15, 2011.
This image made available from Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Kyodo News, shows the damaged No. 4 unit of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, northeastern Japan, on March 15, 2011. (AP)

$295 billion cost

The government has spent $295 billion for the region's recovery, including construction of roads, seawalls and houses, and support for people's livelihoods. 

In addition, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the destroyed nuclear plant, says its costs for decommissioning, compensating evacuees and decontamination of radioactive materials outside the plant will total $200 billion, though analysts say it could be much higher.

In the March 21, 2011, file photo, people look out at the tsunami damage from a hill where there is a shelter set up in a school in Minamisanriku, northern Japan.
In the March 21, 2011, file photo, people look out at the tsunami damage from a hill where there is a shelter set up in a school in Minamisanriku, northern Japan. (AP)

2.4 percent off-limits

A decade after the disaster, no-go zones remain in nine Fukushima municipalities surrounding the wrecked nuclear plant. 

The area accounts for 2.4 percent of prefectural land, down from more than 10 percent in the initial no-go zone. 

Decontamination efforts, such as the removal of topsoil and tree branches and the washing down of roofs, helped reduce radiation levels. But many residents are reluctant to return because of a lack of jobs and continuing radiation concerns.

In this November 12, 2011, file photo, the Unit 4 reactor building of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is seen through a bus window in Okuma town, north of Tokyo.
In this November 12, 2011, file photo, the Unit 4 reactor building of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is seen through a bus window in Okuma town, north of Tokyo. (AP)

14 million tonnes of radioactive waste

About 14 million tonnes of radioactive soil, trees and other waste from decontamination efforts across Fukushima are packed in massive numbers of plastic waste bags piled at temporary storage sites.

The bags, enough to fill 11 enclosed baseball stadiums, are now being transported to a medium-term storage facility being built in the two towns that are home to the Fukushima nuclear plant. 

The government has promised to remove the bags from the prefecture in 30 years, but a final repository has not been determined.

This photo shows bags containing dirt which was removed from the surface of the ground in areas affected by the nuclear power plant disaster at a temporary storage area in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture.
This photo shows bags containing dirt which was removed from the surface of the ground in areas affected by the nuclear power plant disaster at a temporary storage area in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture. (AP)

432 kilometres of seawall

Much of Japan's northeastern coastline hit by the tsunami has been fortified with enormous concrete seawalls as high as 15 metres.

All of the walls have been completed except for sections of the eastern coast of Fukushima. When completed, the total length will be 432 kilometres. Critics say the walls look like giant fortresses and block sea views, while posing a possible risk of preventing water from flowing back to sea if they are breached by a future tsunami.

Members of the Tomioka town fire brigade conduct operations to search for clues on people missing since the 2011 disasters, on the shores near the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant in Tomioka, on March 11, 2021.
Members of the Tomioka town fire brigade conduct operations to search for clues on people missing since the 2011 disasters, on the shores near the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant in Tomioka, on March 11, 2021. (AFP)

4,000 nuclear plant workers employed

About 4,000 workers are employed every day at the damaged nuclear plant to help in its decommissioning, which officials say will take up to 40 years, a target critics say is overly optimistic.

They are removing spent fuel rods from cooling pools, reinforcing a seawall to protect from future tsunamis, treating radioactive cooling water leaking from the reactors and removing highly contaminated debris.

A member of the Japan Self-Defence Forces carries a man in Natori city, in Miyagi prefecture March 12, 2011.
A member of the Japan Self-Defence Forces carries a man in Natori city, in Miyagi prefecture March 12, 2011. (Reuters)

1.24 million tonnes of radioactive water

Since the disaster, contaminated cooling water has leaked from the damaged reactor containment vessels into the basements of reactor buildings, where it mixes with groundwater.

Much of the water is treated and stored in 1,000 huge tanks now crowding the plant. 

The operator, TEPCO, says the tanks currently contain 1.24 million tonnes of water and will be full in the fall of 2022. It says the water and tanks need to be removed to make room for facilities needed in the decommissioning process.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies