Local police and coast guard conducted an intensive search Monday for traces of those whose remains have not been found since the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami disaster in the coastal areas of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

"Families of the missing people cannot go undersea by themselves. We hope we can recover (their remains) or something that could identify them," said Nobuki Fujita, 38, who led a team of four divers who were involved in the search activities in Kesennuma, Miyagi.

Overall, 2,698 people remained unaccounted for as of Feb. 6 following the disaster, of whom 2,483 were from the two prefectures, according to the National Police Agency. The death toll stood at 15,880.

In Rikuzentakata, Iwate, some 90 officers from the local coast guard and fire headquarters observed a moment of silence in honor of the victims on the seashore before launching the search.