URAYASU, Chiba Pref. — Flanked by Tokyo Bay and greenery, Urayasu has long been a popular home for young families. But the March 11 earthquake turned the resortlike city into one of tilting houses, cracked roads and thrust sewer pipes up.

About 300 km from the epicenter off Miyagi Prefecture and a 20-minute train ride from central Tokyo, Urayusu suffered ground liquefaction — which causes soil to act like quicksand — because three-fourths of the city sits on landfill.

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