Small aircraft, cars and trucks were shown scattered amongst the shattered debris of buildings like an unruly child's toy box. And what looked like prefabricated factory units were shown floating under a bridge as drivers spun their cars and trucks around to try to outrun the waves.
Nearly five million people tuned in to video sharing site YouTube on Saturday to watch one raw, unedited video of the wave chewing away at Japan's coastline. Several other videos had notched up between three and four million hits. Hundreds of people commented on the videos across the web and shared information, from social network giant Facebook to micro-blogging site Twitter -- as well as local, Japanese language websites.
The site was updating, in English and Japanese, by the hundreds every few minutes. A random search of the common Japanese surname "Sato" brought up hundreds of results, many of them for people living in Sendai -- the city that faced the brunt of the thunderous body of rolling water. Gunduzhan posted a message seeking Aki Sato, a dentist from Sendai who studied at Ohu University in Koriyama. A photo of the pretty young woman was also posted on the site.
"Looking for Aki Sato," the post read. "Last heard from after earthquake but before tsunami." Another post seeking Fatima Sato had some good news -- "Mom is ok. She is on her way home." The international and Japanese Red Cross also set up a similar site. And micro-blogging site Twitter was updating every second with messages of good will, of condolences and offering aid.
The English version of the Red Cross website
The English version of the Google friend finder service
Facebook's Japan tsunami page