JAPAN TIMES, ASAHI SHIMBUN (Japan) AFP
TOKYO – On Monday, Japan honored the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that killed nearly 19,000 people two years ago.
At 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck northeast Japan, triggering a tsunami with 30-meter high waves that wiped out entire communities.
A total of 15,881 people are confirmed to have died in the disaster, with 2,668 others still unaccounted for, reports the AFP.
The triple disaster also left more than 315,000 people homeless, including almost 157,000 people forced to evacuate the region around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Two years later, almost all the evacuees still live in temporary housing and many of the people who fled the Fukushima evacuation zone will never be able to return, according to the Japan Times.
Reactors 1 to 4, days after the Tsunami (digital globe)
Two years on, reports the Asahi Shimbun, firefighters are still searching for bodies in the coastal regions where the tsunami hit. They have been searching for human remains almost every day since the tsunami swept, even though the last time a body was discovered was in June 2012.
On Sunday, around 40,000 people protested in Tokyo, asking the Japanese government to halt nuclear power, reports the Asahi Shimbun. Almost 300 such protests were organized around the country.
On Monday, about 800 survivors of the Fukushima nuclear crisis filed a class-action suit with the Fukushima District Court, demanding $520 a month from the government and TEPCO until the region contaminated by radioactive fallout is restored, said the AFP. The plaintiffs are from Fukushima and neighboring regions – the evacuation zone includes 11 towns and extends up to 45 kilometers from the plant, according to the Japan Times.
Nearly 10,000 aftershocks have been registered since the March 11 quake.
Video in English: Press Conferenceby PM Abe to commemorate the 2nd Anniversary of the GreatEast Japan Earthquake nettv.gov-online.go.jp/eng/prg/prg317…— PM's Office of Japan (@JPN_PMO) March 11, 2013