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8.9-magnitude earthquake hit off the east coast of Japan on March 11, 2011. The quake -- one of the largest in recorded history -- triggered a 23-foot tsunami that battered Japan's coast, killing hundreds and sweeping away cars, homes, buildings, and boats.

This graphic, issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows the height of waves from the tsunami as it travelled across the Pacific basin

As night fell across the country, the fires gave the sky an orange glow as they continued to burn among the rubble of destroyed buildings

Two fires glow like molten lava amid the devastated houses in Yamada town

A plume of black smoke fills the sky as a huge fire burns at the oil refinery at Chilba City

Workers inspect a section of road that was torn in half by the force of the earthquake

The mud the tsunami dredged up left countless cars submerged and tossed others around, some with their drivers and passengers still inside

Volunteers struggle through debris that litters railway lines in Japan, where bullet trains were missing with hundreds of passengers feared dead

Flames engulf houses in Sendai, Miyagi, after they were swallowed up by enormous waves that swept through Japan after a massive earthquake this morning

The tsunami slams into the shoreline along Iwanuma in northern Japan after the 8.9 earthquake struck

The tsunami engulfs a residential area in Natori, Miyagi

A small fishing vessel is dragged towards the vortex of a whirlpool formed by tsunami waves at a port in Oarai, in the state of Ibaraki

These cars were about to be shipped from Hitachinaka City but instead were washed away by the flood

Sendai Airport in north-east Japan was one of the first places to be swamped by the tsunami that raced inland following the quake

Resident clamber through the wreckage of houses in Iwaki, Fukushima, which have been reduced to rubble by the earthquake

Three shocked employees look at what has become of the factory in Sukagawa city, Fukushima, where moments earlier they had been working

Giant fireballs rise from an oil refinery in Ichihara, Chiba, that was shaken by the tremors from the catastrophe

In this image from Japan's NHK TV video footage, houses in Sendai are washed away by the tsunami as the waves power ashore

Light planes and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept by a tsumani that struck Sendai airport in northern Japan

The impact of the quake is shown

Yurikamome train passengers walk on the elevated track towards Shiodome Station in Tokyo's Shiodome district

Houses swallowed by tsunami waves burn in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast

The murky flow of mud and debris trapped in the tide of water washes over the tarmac car park at Sendai airport in northern Japan

A young woman wells up and leans on her friend as the true scale of the disaster that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people becomes apparent

See more images on dailymail.co.uk & boston.com

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