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Japan marks seventh anniversary of tsunami that killed 18,000

JAPAN marked the anniversary yesterday of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 16,000 people and left 2,500 missing.

The tsunami struck Japan’s north-eastern coast, causing massive damage and meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

Residents along the coast gathered outdoors to remember the tragedy as sirens wailed at 2.46pm, the moment the magnitude-9 offshore quake that set off the tsunami struck.

The tsunami overwhelmed sea walls and washed away buildings, cars and entire neighbourhoods as it swept inland.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at an official ceremony in Tokyo that reconstruction is making steady progress, but more than 70,000 people are still displaced and many have no prospect of returning to their homes.

Separately, several hundred people observed a moment of silence and made offerings at an altar set up in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo.

Cleaning up the still radioactive Fukushima nuclear plant site remains a daunting challenge that is expected to take 30 to 40 years.

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