The mayor of the village of Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, won a U.N.-sponsored award Monday for his prompt response to the March 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, when he worked to save 1,600 people from high-level radiation.

Mayor Masahide Matsumoto received the 2013 Green Star Award in the disaster response category along with the New York Debris Removal Task Force, which treated more than 1.5 million cu. meters of debris generated by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Matsumoto took the initiative to organize the evacuation of the entire population of his village on the evening of March 14 following the explosions of two reactors at the Tepco plant.

A few hours after the evacuation, early on March 15, another reactor exploded and released radioactive fallout that covered the whole village, which was outside the 20-km evacuation zone.