Disasters & Accidents

Japan commemorates 11 years since tsunami, Fukushima disaster

Tokyo, March 11 (EFE).- Japan commemorated Friday the 11th anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast of the country, caused 15,900 deaths and 2,523 missing and caused the Fukushima nuclear crisis, which maintains some 38,000 displaced people.

Infrastructure in the hardest-hit areas has been largely rebuilt, but tens of thousands of people remain far from their homes more than a decade later, especially those in areas near the troubled atomic plant, where cleaning and dismantling efforts continue.

A magnitude 9 earthquake with its epicenter in the sea off Japan’s northeast Pacific coast hit the country on March 11, 2011. The tremor lasted for several minutes and caused a tsunami that exceeded 10 meters in height at certain points, destroying everything in its path.

The walls of the retaining dam around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could not contain the onslaught of the waves, which flooded the basements where the emergency generators were located.

The nuclear reactor cooling failed and three cores suffered meltdowns, causing hydrogen explosions and radioactive leaks. The contamination is still present in the flora and fauna of some forests in nearby areas, where decontamination work has not been completed.

The Japanese central government holds an annual commemorative ceremony, and numerous local memorials were held Friday in the affected areas, including in Fukushima, to honor the victims and those affected.

According to Japanese authorities, the natural disaster left 15,900 dead, while 2,523 people are still missing, mainly in Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures. The number of deaths later due to causes related to the event, such as illness or suicide, was 3,784 until September last year, according to data from the Reconstruction Agency.

Although evacuation orders linked to the disaster have been lifted over the years, there are still large exclusion zones where entry is prohibited due to the high radioactivity in the vicinity of the plant, whose dismantling is expected to be completed toward 2040.

Fukushima continues to suffer the ravages of the disaster today and its agricultural and livestock activities continue to struggle to recover, an effort that could be clouded by the government’s decision to dump from 2023 the treated contaminated water used to cool the reactors. EFE


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