Japan - 366 days after the Quake... 19000 lives lost, 1.2 million buildings damaged, $574 billion

It has now been one year since the March 11th, 2011 earthquake and tsunami and just like STOP KONY 2012 or the Greece Economic Bailout , the 1 year anniversary is being remembered and quoted all over the internet and the world.   CATDAT and Earthquake-Report.com have been reporting on this cruel earthquake and tsunami from moments after it happened until today and we have been working hard to present you with the latest correct information from Eastern Japan.

Here is a summary of the latest numbers, information, the effects of the earthquake vs. the tsunami, integrated from the CATDAT Situation Report #50.

Read also : Summary page of our earlier published articles

One Year Summary of Losses in the Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami of March 11th 2011.

The earthquake hit a highly populated area in terms of world standards (around 100-500 people per sq. km.), but a lowly populated area of Japan with the exception of the Sendai area. The tsunami spread across the whole eastern coast and the Pacific ocean, causing damage up to 10km inland in a couple of places, but mostly along the direct 1km of coast removing already damaged earthquake debris and causing more housing collapses. From FDMA, NPA and work of CATDAT, Earthquake-report.com and Daniell et al. (2011), the following summary has been put together.

Population Density in Japan (left); JMA Intensities as determined via PGV at stations JMA (right)

Most of the buildings are wooden in the affected area, with some concrete and steel buildings making up the mix. The area contributes to between 7-9% of Japan’s GDP when including the 4 prefectures most affected.

Deaths and Injuries

The current FDMA and prefectural losses (CATDAT Report 50) gives 16273 dead, 3061 missing (a total of 19334). 27074 people were injured (with numbers still being counted).
This value still differs from the NPA giving a total of 15854 dead, 3167 missing (a total of 19021).
From this earthquake, the total shaking deaths are currently estimated at around 265.

The deaths from fire are at around 165 and the confirmed tsunami drownings at 14308 according to data released by the NPA out of 15308 confirmed bodies. 478 bodies are still yet to be identified.

It can be seen that many people missing have been found since the start of April 2011, meaning that we are now (March 2012) around 19000 dead and missing as a result of this earthquake and tsunami. Much lower than the 30000 expected in late March.

Ishinomaki City in Miyagi had the most fatalities with around 3735 currently expected (around 2.2% of the population). Otsuchi Town had the highest percentage of the population killed from any municipality (9.3%, 1286 deaths). The percentages on the right hand side show the killed population as a percentage of the total daytime population. The red shows the people confirmed dead, and the black shows the missing people (presumed dead).

It is interesting to see that Minamisanriku – where over 10000 people were reported to be killed as a result of the tsunami in the first 24 hours, has had less than 1000 dead and missing.

The highest proportion of dead and missing is of course in the coastal regions in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. It would be useful to know what the cause of each death was and we expect this information will come at some point.

It will never be known how many died due to the earthquake, as separated from the tsunami; however the CATDAT analysis, the autopsies give us an indicator that we can expect that about 1.4% of the 4.2% crushed were probably in earthquake collapsed houses.

This value corresponds quite well to the 175 non-tsunami impacted deaths that have been recorded in the non-coastal areas. Some of the non-coastal municipality deaths, however, were due to heart attack, fire or landslide.

As of 10th March 2012, 16100 have been killed and 3000 are missing (19100 in total). Of the approximately 19100, around 600 are assumed to have died from earthquake-related stress and chronic disease. Around 265 should be earthquake-collapse related. Around 230 could be related to other causes such as fire, landslides etc. Around 94.2% of deaths are tsunami related.

Age played a major role in the survival chances of people therefore escaping the tsunami, as people become older, they lose the ability and drive to escape in many cases. They will also move to save their families before themselves to a greater extent (usually!). The final predicted death percentages are as follows based on data from NPA from March 2011 to March 2012. Over 90% of the stress and chronic disease deaths (of which around 600 are expected (570 were counted as of mid-2011)), have come from elderly people over the age of 65.

In addition around 56% of the dead were over 65 years old.

Around 27000 people have been reported to be injured as a result of this earthquake and tsunami, showing the large impact of the tsunami in killing people versus injuring people but this injury count is expected to rise to 50000 once finalised.

Building and Infrastructure Losses

As of March 10th, 2012, over 1.2 million buildings had been damaged by the tsunami and earthquake. When dividing these into coastal and non-coastal municipalities the following distribution results. It should be noted that coastal municipalities generally go much inland, and a much greater percentage was not impacted by the tsunami, than was.



Partially Destroyed

Partially Damaged

Coastal Municipalities




Non-Coastal Municipalities








In addition around 120000 additional buildings have been either flooded (with minimal damage) or are non-dwelling buildings damaged (with many still to count).

Over 1,200,000 buildings have been damaged in total from the earthquake, tsunami and associated aftershocks.

The data from this earthquake can be gained by sending us a request with the contact form.

As of March 10th, 2012, 3918 roads have been reported to be damaged, 78 bridges, 45 dikes and 29 railway locations. In addition around 200 landslides have been reported. The data seems to be incomplete however from many locations, as Chiba has reported 2343 damaged roads, with other prefectures where much shaking occurred reporting much less damage. Most of this damage was caused by liquefaction

Around 360 fires were extinguished by the fire department.

Using the intensity relationships created in the buildings from non-coastal municipalities (as nearly all damage in these municipalities inland must be earthquake related), then the following distribution results in tsunami and earthquake losses from Daniell et al. (2011).



Partially Destroyed

Partially Damaged









An additional 35466 buildings are in the towns and cities within the exclusion zone of the Fukushima I and II nuclear sites.

The best estimate of damage to buildings from Daniell et al. (2011) coming from each of the three events is the earthquake (42%), tsunami (39%) and nuclear disaster (19%).

The following diagram shows the relative impact of the earthquake vs. the tsunami in each location.

% of Damage caused by the earthquake (CATDAT)

Economic Loss Estimates

The economic loss estimates from CATDAT were distributed on earthquake-report.com with the release of $100 billion to $500 billion estimate (total, with 70% coming from tsunami), created after 70 minutes.

In total, one year after the event, reasonable estimates for the earthquake and tsunami direct economic loss is between $237 billion and $303 billion with around $275 billion USD the median estimate. In addition, around $65 billion USD direct damage occurred as a result of the powerplant incident in Fukushima.

Indirect losses could be in the order of $185 to 345 billion across the earthquake, tsunami and powerplant.

Without the tsunami, the earthquake would still have caused 40-45% of the total damage seen. (Daniell et al., Khazai et al., 2011)

In Billion USD




Direct Loss Inland




Direct Loss Coastal




Total Direct Loss

125-158 (42%)

112-145 (39%)

58-71 (19%)

Indirect Economic Loss




Total Economic Loss

194-290 (41%)

176-258 (36%)

109-162 (23%)

The following is a comparison of estimates of casualties and economic losses from various estimation models and from government and company modelling. All results represent only shaking losses from USGS-PAGER. Economic Losses and casualties from EQLIPSE-Q and R are as indicated. For further information, the Australian Earthquake Engineering conference in the Barossa Valley in November 2011 presented a large range of data on not only Tohoku but Christchurch.

The uncertainties came about because of the great uncertainties in modelling losses given certain intensities and the uncertainties in damage ratios and industries affected. In later versions, the economic losses from the tsunami reduced to around 57% (including the tsunami effects on the powerplant) vs. the earthquake at 43%.

Socio-economic loss estimates for the Tohoku Earthquake from various sources for the 2011 Tohoku EQ (Daniell et al., 2011)

Historically in such events, 20-30% of direct economic loss was residential based, with ranging estimates from 25-55% in other forms of industry, infrastructure and commercial losses. Around 70% of the capital stock is inland as compared to around 30% of the capital stock on the coast in the provinces of Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima and Ibaraki according to the Japanese Cabinet Office.  Extrapolating the damage in other prefectures, the Japanese Cabinet Office estimate should be about $254 billion once adding $46 billion loss in other prefectures not counted in the initial estimate.

From historical quakes and looking at business interruption, for a $280 billion direct economic loss from this earthquake, around $110 billion (2-yr) to $220 billion (5-yr) in extra indirect losses could be expected. Further analysis will be needed over the coming years.

This is the highest economic loss from any earthquake historically, eclipsing the approximately $210-280 billion loss (2012-adjusted) from the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.

Shelter and Homeless

The peak number of homeless and people living in shelters is hard to calculate given incomplete data in the first few days. It was likely that a total of around 700000 people were living outside of their homes on the 12th March, however data is lacking. In Miyagi for instance, the total in shelters was counted at 45979 at 5.00am JST on the 12th March, but was then counted at 320885 at 16.00 JST on the 14th March. In Ibaraki prefecture, a peak of 72000 people in shelters was seen at 12/03/2011 at 8.00am when the shelters opened, and then reduced after that.

Around 400,000 people are expected to be homeless as a result of this earthquake (due to destroyed buildings or forced evacuation).

Many official shelters were only built in the days after the earthquake rather than directly on the 11th March. In addition there was incomplete counting during this period. During the tsunami danger period, locations like Hokkaido, also had many people in tsunami shelters for a few hours after the event. A combination of these factors, mean that it will be impossible to know exactly what happened in the first 2-3 days.

When looking at the total impact in Fukushima with the forced evacuations due to the nuclear plant, once all people were found and those who evacuated were counted, the total of the population who went to shelters and other prefectures was around 134000 people of which around 90000-110000 were evacuees of the Fukushima plant disaster and between 24000 and 44000 were probably earthquake and tsunami impacted. Other influences may have included the gas, water and power outages, landslides and torrential rain that were also present.

As of 10th March 2012, around 56,000 people are living outside the prefecture from Fukushima, and around 50,000 internally (of which at least 42,000 are from the nuclear affected towns).

Before and After

Here are some pictures of different locations before and after. This shows the destruction.

Some key references (but see others in our other articles):

Daniell, J.E., Vervaeck, A., Wenzel, F. [2011] “A timeline of the Socio-economic effects of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake with emphasis on the development of a new worldwide rapid earthquake loss estimation procedure”, Australian Earthquake Engineering Society 2011 Conference, Nov 18-20, Barossa Valley, South Australia.

Daniell, J.E. [2003-2011] “The CATDAT Damaging Earthquakes Database”, searchable integrated historical global catastrophe database, Digital Database, updates v0.0 to latest update v5.022.

Daniell, J.E., Vervaeck, A. [2011-2012] “The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake – CATDAT Situation Reports 1-50”, Earthquake-Report.com.

Daniell, J.E., Wenzel, F., Vervaeck, A. [2011] “The Socio-economic effects of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake”, Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 13, EGU2011-14270.

Daniell, J.E., Khazai, B., Wenzel, F., Vervaeck, A. [2011] “The CATDAT damaging earthquakes database”, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 2235-2251, doi:10.5194/nhess-11-2235-2011, 2011.

Vervaeck, A., Daniell, J.E. [2011-2012] “Tohoku Earthquake Articles on earthquake-report.com”, many updates from 11/03/2011 to 10/03/2012.


  1. Is there a website where I could check the names of those who perished?

    • Armand Vervaeck says

      Yoy should contact Japanese instances to het the list of the perished people.

  2. Lacie Bursill says

    how much did the earthquake cost Japan? What sectors of the economy were most affected? How did the government manage the economic impacts? What were the short-term economic effects? What were the long term economic effects?

    how many buildings were damaged? Were the buildings residential or business/industry? Was the infrastructure damaged (roads, railways, ports)? Were any agricultural areas damaged? What were the flow-on effects?

    Were people warned before the hazard? Were there evacuations? What emergency services or help were available to people/ Which charities were involved?

    Anyone know the answers? I'd love to know!

  3. Tim Towers says

    How many people died in this disaster that were non-Japanese? Does anyone know where to find statistics on that?