Anniversary of the March 11 earthquake in Japan

People in Japan pause to commemorate those who lost their lives nine years ago to the earthquake that struck the country with a magnitude of nine on the Richter scale, the tsunami and the resulting nuclear accident. The disaster has claimed 15,899 lives and 2,529 people are still missing.

Early Wednesday morning, people gathered in disaster-affected areas of tohoku to pray for the victims' lives.
"This is a very special day for me," said a man in his 70s from Ishinomaki city, Miyagi Prefecture, who lost 13 of his classmates in the disaster.

The number 11/3 has become synonymous with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which has suffered three nuclear meltdowns in what has become the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes. The entry ban is still imposed in several municipalities, almost 10 years after the incident. Authorities say there are still about 48,000 displaced people.

Recovery efforts are also far from over. The operator of the damaged nuclear plant says it does not know what to do with about 1 million tons of radioactive water stored at the plant. This water is used to cool damaged reactors.

Some 170 tons of radioactive water are produced daily and the Government has not yet decided how to dispose of it.

The commemoration took a different feel this year because of the spread of the Coronavirus. The annual commemorative ceremony was cancelled because of the outbreak of the virus.

Instead, the Japanese Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet observed moments of silence in Tokyo at 2:46 p.m., the time of the earthquake.

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