Tokyo: The earthquake and tsunami that pulverised coastal Japan crippled a bank's security mechanisms and left a vault wide open, allowing someone to walk off with 40 million yen (USD 500,000).

The March 11 tsunami washed over the Shinkin Bank, and the vault came open.
"The bank was flooded, and things were thrown all over. It was a total mess. Somebody stole the money in the midst of the chaos," said a police official in Miyagi prefecture, where Kesennuma is located.

The bank notified police on Tuesday, 11 days after the disaster, said the official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.