National / Crime & Legal

Municipality in Miyagi Prefecture to appeal ruling over students' tsunami deaths

Kyodo

The municipal assembly of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, decided Tuesday to appeal a high court ruling that ordered local authorities to pay around ¥1.4 billion in damages to the families of elementary school students killed by the March 2011 tsunami.

The court said the city and prefectural governments could have prevented the deaths of 74 students if they had updated a disaster contingency plan.

Ishinomaki Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama told the assembly before the vote that it is unreasonable to require teachers to have knowledge akin to that of disaster prevention experts.

The prefectural government is also expected to file an appeal with the Supreme Court by the Thursday deadline.

A total of 74 students and 10 teachers and officials of Okawa Elementary School died in the tsunami that followed the magnitude 9 earthquake on March 11, 2011. The tsunami engulfed the students and teachers as they began evacuating to an area near a 7-meter-high riverbank.

The families of 23 students filed a damages suit in 2014.

The Sendai High Court on April 26 ruled that the deaths could have been prevented if the governmental authorities’ risk management manual had designated locations such as a nearby mountain for evacuation, raising the amount of compensation by about ¥10 million from a lower court ruling in October 2016.