SENDAI – Hundreds of items used by schoolchildren who were killed in the March 11, 2001, tsunami were burned to ashes during a memorial service Sunday at Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.
At the service, organized by relatives of the dead, people threw the items into a makeshift fireplace on the school grounds.
After those items were incinerated, participants released hundreds of balloons into the air, praying for the victims’ souls.
A 44-year-old mother who lost her two children confessed her home is still full of items that remind her of life before the tsunami and said she couldn’t burn everything.
The school lost 70 percent of its students in the tsunami. Many pupils and staff perished in the waves that rushed upstream along a local river while they were fleeing to higher ground.
The school was about 5 km from the mouth of the river.