Japan's 'miracle pine' reminder
Three years ago last week, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of northern Japan, unleashing the largest tsunami in the country's history. Traveling as fast as a jet plane, the wave reached an astounding 132.5 feet high – that's roughly the height of Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue.
More than 18,000 people lost their lives. Coastal communities were decimated. And the most serious nuclear crisis since Chernobyl ensued.
In one town on Japan's coast, only a handful of buildings remained standing when the water receded.
A forest of 70,000 trees – trees that had protected the town for hundreds of years – were lost. All, that is, but one.
The pine tree in the video was the only one to survive the massive wave. It became known as the "miracle pine," a symbol of hope for the devastated community. When saltwater threatened its life in 2012, the 270-year-old, 88-foot tree was cut down, hollowed out and preserved. It was then erected in the same spot, now serving as a memorial to the tsunami victims.
Radioactive water from Fukushima is still said to be periodically leaking into the Pacific. 100,000 people are still living in temporary housing. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week he would not let the disaster "fade from memory."
This tree won't let it.