An advisory panel to the Miyagi Prefectural Government said Thursday it will recommend that four facilities wrecked in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami be preserved as memorials of the tragedy.

The buildings include the three-story disaster headquarters in the town of Minamisanriku, where 43 staff died as the tsunami rolled in. The building was wrecked but its frame remains standing. A makeshift shrine has been set up nearby.

The building is "globally well known, and a valuable asset in conveying (the importance of) disaster prevention," the panel said.

Whether to preserve debris has been hotly debated in parts of Tohoku directly affected as relatives of the dead say it is painful to see reminders of what happened that day.

Among the other proposed sites is Kadonowaki Elementary School in Ishinomaki, which was heavily hit by tsunami and fire.

Reports described how school staff took pupils to the rooftop, believing they would be safe there, only to be swept off as the water surged in.

The panel is expected to submit a formal recommendation to Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai soon, probably next month.