But worse was to come.
From The Age :
In Kesennuma, fire had replaced the waves as the principal source of danger on Saturday night.
Blazes that began amid the chaos wrought by the tsunami were spreading out of control. Night-time aerial footage showed huge tracts of the city, home to 74,000 people, engulfed in flames.
Witnesses said the fires began after the tsunami hit an oil tanker at the port. The flames then spread inland along the river towards the city centre.
Local news agencies reported that a third of the city had been completely submerged in mud and fires continued to rage in the rubble and debris.