National

Bridge linking Miyagi Prefecture's disaster-hit Oshima Island with Kesennuma is opened

JIJI

A bridge connecting Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture with a nearby island in the Pacific Ocean went into service Sunday.

The bridge to Oshima was built as a lifeline for its residents. When the island’s ferry port was damaged during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, people living on the island were isolated for around three weeks.

The Miyagi Prefectural Government spent some ¥6 billion constructing the 356-meter-long bridge.

On Sunday, Oshima residents and others crossed the bridge during a ceremony to mark its opening.

Recalling his bitter experience in connection with the 3/11 disaster, Yuichi Hatakeyama, a 71-year-old resident, noted that his wife was scheduled to enter a hospital in Sendai that day. Due to the disruption of ferry services, however, she was not hospitalized until about three weeks later, he said.

Hatakeyama said that he had been “extremely worried” that her symptoms could worsen. “I’m now full of emotion to see the much-awaited completion of the bridge,” he added.

A tourism-related facility is slated to open on the island next year. “I want many people to visit the scenic island,” said Kesennuma Mayor Shigeru Sugawara.

A total of 33 people lost their lives on Oshima during the disasters. As of the end of February, the population on the island stood at 2,447.

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