Five years on, Japan remembers victims and survivors of 2011 tsunami

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People offer prayers at Fukanuma beach on Friday in Sendai, Japan. Today Japan marked the fifth anniversary of the 2011 tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and the subsequent damage to the reactors at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Getty Images

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In the town of Minamisanriku, a handful of tourists offered prayers in the morning at the skeletal remains of the former disaster prevention centre, where 43 workers died as tsunami waves engulfed the building. Getty Images

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On the eve of the anniversary, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to bolster reconstruction efforts in tsunami-hit northern Japan and the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games. Getty Images

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The magnitude-9.0 quake struck offshore, creating a vast water surge that devastated the north-east coast. It also triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Getty Images

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The subsequent disaster spewed radiation over a wide area and forced the evacuation of more than 160,000 local people. Five years on, most have not been able to return to their homes, despite extensive decontamination work. Getty Images

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People release balloons to commemorate the victims during a ceremony at former Arahama Elementary School in Sendai, Japan on Friday. Getty Images

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The earthquake on 11 March 2011 was one of the most powerful ever recorded. But it was the resulting tsunami that claimed the most lives, as a wall of seawater powered through coastal areas of Tohoku, flattening entire towns and villages. Getty Images

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Buddhist monks offer prayers in front of the memorial at Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Japan on Friday. Overall 470,000 people were evacuated from the area around Fukushima as the scale of the radiation threat became clear. Getty Images

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The government has spent billions of dollars on reconstruction work, but much remains to be done and many have never been able to return. For many survivors though, emotional difficulties are their main concern. Getty Images


Updated Date: Mar 14, 2016 16:40 PM

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