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This mix includes raw sewage, which adds to the potential for disease.The rush of water can also undermine cliffs, hills and raised roadways that don't crumble immediately but become unstable and dangerous.
Adverse conditions include contaminated water and food supplies, lack of shelter and lack of access for medical personnel.
Diseases can spread rapidly, and minor infections can quickly turn into major ones.
The Japanese word "tsunami" means "big wave," and it's the preferred way to refer to the phenomena that used to be known as tidal waves.
Tsunamis don't have much to do with ocean tides -- they are created by seismic events, such as earthquakes and landslides on the ocean floor.
Salt inhibits plant growth and can render farmland sterile for several years.
The entire contents of commercial and industrial buildings can be washed out by the mass of water, and as a result, chemicals can get mixed together in dangerous combinations and may be washed out to sea or deposited on the ground.
A tsunami is a series of large waves generated by an abrupt movement on the ocean floor.
They are caused by the movement of the ocean due to earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, or the shifting of tectonic plates.
This tsunami, caused by a massive earthquake that measured 9.0 on the Richter scale, reached a maximum height of 40.5 meters (133 feet), traveled as much as 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) inland and was responsible for 20,000 deaths, as well as the widespread release of radiation.
The reactor cooling systems apparently functioned normally during the event, but the facility's protective seawall was too low to shield the backup generators from the advancing wave.