• Kyodo, Jiji


The remains of a person discovered last month near a coast in Miyagi Prefecture have been identified as those of a woman who went missing during the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated the region nearly 10 years ago, police said Thursday.

The local police found that the mostly skeletal remains discovered Feb. 17 were those of Natsuko Okuyama, based on forensic dental study and DNA analysis. The woman, a resident of Higashimatsushima in Miyagi Prefecture, was age 61 at the time of the disaster on March 11, 2011.

According to the prefectural police, a person walking in the grounds of a company in the city’s Nobiru district near the coast found what appeared to be a skull and reported it. A police investigation revealed an almost full body buried in the ground.

It is the first time since August 2012 that the body of a person missing after the disaster was found in Higashimatsushima.

The woman is thought to have returned home from work after the mega-earthquake struck the city, but was swept away by a subsequent tsunami as she fled.

“I am extremely happy that my mother was found as the 10th anniversary (of the disaster) is coming up. This will allow me to get my emotions in order and move forward,” her son said in a statement released through the local police.

More than 18,000 people died or went missing due to the earthquake and tsunami disaster which especially hit Miyagi and the neighboring prefectures of Fukushima and Iwate.

In Higashimatsushima, 1,132 people died in the disaster, while 23 people went missing, according to the prefecture.

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