2016-03-11 08:48:00

Japan marks anniversary of deadly tsunami

(Vatican Radio) Japan is marking the fifth anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that left thousands of people dead and triggered the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

Listen to Christopher Wells’ report:

The 9.0-magnitude quake struck offshore on a chilly Friday, sparking huge black waves along a vast swathe of coastline and killing nearly 20,000 people.

The tsunami crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant, where meltdowns in three reactors spewed radiation over a wide area of the countryside, contaminating water, food and air.

More than 160,000 people were evacuated from nearby towns and some 10 percent still live in temporary housing across Fukushima prefecture. Most have settled outside their hometowns and have begun new lives. Some areas remain no-go zones due to the high radiation.

On Friday, Emperor Akihito Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took part in a ceremony in Tokyo that included a moment of silence at the time the quake struck. Bells rang out in the city centre and residents across the nation bowed their heads in remembrance. Japan marked the day with prayers and graveside visits.

Billions of dollars in government spending have helped stricken communities rise from the ruins, including elevating the earth to protect them from future waves and cleaning radiation-contaminated land, but much remains to be done for thousands still languishing in barracks-like temporary housing.

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