Japan marks decade since 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster



Japan on Thursday marks 10 years since the worst natural disaster in the country’s living memory: a powerful earthquake, deadly tsunami and nuclear meltdown that traumatised a nation.
Around 18,500 people were killed or left missing in the disaster, most of them claimed by the towering waves that swept across swathes of the northeast coast after one of the strongest quakes ever recorded.
The ensuing nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant blanketed nearby areas with radiation, rendering some towns uninhabitable for years and displacing tens of thousands of residents.

The day will be full of private and public ceremonies, with a minute’s silence marked nationwide at 14.46 local time, the precise moment a 9.0-magnitude quake struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the disaster.

As the sun rose in Fukushima prefecture’s Hisanohama, 78-year-old Toshio Kumaki was walking along a giant sea wall built after the tsunami.

“I come here every morning for a walk, but this is a special day,” he told AFP as he pressed his hands together and prayed in the direction of the rising sun.

Around 60 people were killed in Ohisa, one of the districts adjacent to the beach, when tsunami waves of seven metres washed ashore, wiping away everything but a tiny shrine.

Kumaki’s eyes filled with tears as he remembered the disaster.

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