In the middle of the silent corpses a baby cried out - and Japan met its smallest miracle.
On March 14 soldiers from the Japanese Defense Force were going door-to-door, dragging bodies from homes compressed by the earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki City, a coastal town northeast of Senda. More familiar to the chomping of rubble and the sloshing of mud than to the sound of life, they sent away the baby's cry as a fault. Until they perceive sound again.
They made their way to the pile of wreckage, and carefully removed wreckage of wood and slate, devastated glass and rock. And then they saw her: a four-month old baby girl in a pink woolen bear suit.
The tidal wave factually swept the unnamed girl away from her parents' arms when it hit their home on March 11. Since then her parents - both of whom survived the tragedy - have taken safe haven in their ruined house, and worried that their little girl was dead. Soldiers managed to reunite the baby with her delighted father shortly after the rescue.
"Her detection has put a new energy into the search," a civil defense official told a local news crew. "We will listen, look and excavate with even more assiduousness after this." Ahead of the baby's rescue, officials reported finding at least 2,000 bodies washed up on the beach of Miyagi region. How the child survived drowning - or being crushed by fallen trees and houses - remains a mystery.
In a nation short on good news, other saves have marker morale, too. In Iwate prefecture, northeastern Japan, the overwhelming tidal wave swept away an old woman along with her entire house - but it couldn't put out her will to live.
Rescuers found the 70-year-old alive inside her home on March 15, four days after the black tidal wave wiped out much of the region. Osaka fire department spokesman Yuko Kotani told the Associated Press the woman is now receiving treatment in a local hospital. She is conscious but suffering from hypothermia.
Elsewhere, 60-year old Hiromitsu Shinkawa survived two days at sea by clinging on to his floating rooftop. He was discovered 10 miles off the Japanese coastline. "Several helicopters and ships passed but none of them noticed me," he said after his March 13 rescue. "I thought that was going to be the last day of my life."