Reconstruction brings new hope to Japan's earthquake victims
Entire communities destroyed, many lives lost and tens of thousands of people displaced following a nuclear meltdown. This was the terrible aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Eastern Japan on March 11, 2011. Today, almost five years on, the region is recovering. M&C reports from one of the many reconstruction sites that are bringing new hope to the survivors.
It was the middle of the afternoon and the rush hour traffic in the small coastal town of Rikuzentakata had not yet begun and the streets were quiet. Some people were on their way to pick up their children from school, others were shopping or planning their evening meals.
Then the buildings began to shake, and within minutes the town fell victim to the worst earthquake in Japanese history.
Measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, the quake whipped up a furious tsunami and waves some 18 m high swept across the lawns and scenic rice fields, leaving a trail of destruction.
By nightfall, with only a few buildings left standing in the lower coastal areas, the town had virtually disappeared. Over the next few days and weeks, the facts began to emerge – almost 4 000 homes destroyed, more than 1 700 people dead and thousands made homeless and desperate.
They were not alone. Some 250 km to the south, the eyes of the world watched in horror as engineers fought to save the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The attempt failed and a total meltdown, the biggest since Chernobyl, was a reality.
Numerous communities along the coastline suffered that day. But it is Rikuzentakata, in Iwate Prefecture, that has become the symbol of hope and belief in the future thanks to a massive reconstruction program that is now beginning to get results.
The sound of hope
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