11:53, 14 July 2020
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weather

Japan recalls tsunami, nuclear tragedy six years on

Japan paused Saturday to mark six years since a deadly earthquake,

tsunami and nuclear disaster devastated a wide swathe of its northeastern coast as more than 100,000 people remain unable or unwilling to return home. The magnitude 9.0 quake, which struck under the Pacific Ocean on March 11, 2011, and the tsunami it spawned left about 18,500 people dead or missing. The massive flow of water overwhelmed cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, causing meltdowns in three reactors in the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. The quake and tsunami caused extensive damage to homes and property while radiation spread over a wide area, with more than 450,000 people evacuating in the immediate aftermath. More than 123,000 remain displaced, the majority from Fukushima prefecture due to high radiation. Some may never be able to go home. At a national ceremony in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other participants bowed their heads in silent prayer at 2:46 pm (0546 GMT) -- the exact moment the quake struck -- as did many residents across the affected region. "When I think of the despair of those who lost beloved members of their families and friends in the disaster, I am overwhelmed even now with deep sorrow," Abe, dressed in formal mourning attire, told the gathering.