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"In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan."

Those were the words of Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake Link opens to new window that shook Japan on March 11, 2011.

The earthquake triggered a series of events that shocked the world:

  • A tsunami which hurled 23-foot waves onto the Japanese shoreline, sweeping away houses, cars, trains and anything else in its path
  • Tsunami warnings in more than 20 other countries
  • More than 900 aftershocks, with 63 over 6.0 in magnitude
  • The loss of power, clean water and available food for millions of people
  • Explosions at nuclear reactors, resulting in equipment failures and the release of radioactive material into the atmosphere and ocean
  • Over two million residents evacuated from the areas surrounding the nuclear reactors
  • Over 13,000 deaths with over 14,000 people still missing

The Japanese government has said that this could be the most expensive natural disaster on record, with expenses totaling $309 billion.

Thousands of workers from dozens of different career paths are coming together all over the world to aid in recovery. We've collected some of the careers involved in the cleanup, as well as those involved in safety and preparation measures for the future.