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Tsunami,Killer Wave!

April 1, 1946 Hawaii


On the early school bus that carried Bunji Fujimoto to school that morning, the students had been well aware that it was April Fool’s Day. Laughter of disbelief greeted the information volunteered by some, as the bus came down the hill, that the sea had receded and left the ocean floor bare. When the doubters were finally persuaded to look from the bus window, however, they discovered it was not a joke. Excited by this unusual event, but completely unaware of its significance, some left the bus as soon as it stopped and ran to the seawall. Others, a little more cautious, or less curious, stayed on the grass. Bunji was one of those who kept his distance from the ocean. As he watched his more daring classmates and his brother, he saw the water rise over the seawall. At first he did not realize the danger. It was not a crashing, breaking wave, but an ever-rising, ever-encroaching wall of water that flowed without stopping. Scared now, he turned and ran across the grass toward the higher ground. Other students fled behind him, and he noticed a member of the basketball team who made good use of his long legs, for he had been on the ocean side of the seawall when the wave began to surge; with his natural speed enhanced by terror, he achieved safety. Some were overwhelmed by the wave but not dragged out to the sea because they became stuck in the bushes. Others like Bunji’s younger brother were swallowed by the rushing sea and never seen again. Still others were blessed with a special fortune: although they had been tossed into the sea, they would live and remember the experience with awe.

[ Tsunami! – Walter C. Dudley and Min Lee ]

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