National

Prayers offered on 10th anniversary of deadly Iwate-Miyagi quake

Kyodo

People offered prayers Thursday as the Tohoku region marked the 10th anniversary of a major earthquake in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures that left 17 people dead and 6 unaccounted for.

In Kurihara, Miyagi Prefecture, relatives of the victims and others affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake gathered at a cenotaph and offered silent prayers at 8:43 a.m., the time the quake struck the area in 2008.

“I remember the quake vividly as if it happened yesterday,” said Mayor Kenji Chiba.

He added that the city is also dealing with the stigma of radiation contamination following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, which was triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, and must achieve a “real recovery.”

“My grief and sorrow have deepened even more after 10 years. Life has not returned to its pre-quake state,” said Akio Sugawara, 62, in a speech at the memorial ceremony.

Sugawara, who operated the Komanoyu hot spring inn in the city, lost his mother, Chikako, and his brother, Takao, when the quake triggered a landslide that engulfed the inn.

Toru Hino, 56, whose uncle Masayuki died in the disaster at age 59, said, “I hope to continue sharing with people how dangerous earthquakes are so others do not have to go through the same experience.”

The Iwate-Miyagi Inland Earthquake triggered a series of landslides around Mount Kurikoma, which straddles Iwate, Miyagi and Akita prefectures. The landslides engulfed houses and cut off access to some villages.