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Japan: six months on from March 11

Thursday, September 08, 2011 - 02:52

Sept 8 - Japan is set to commemorate six months since the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, the nation's worst disaster since World War Two. Nick Rowlands reports.

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This is the moment last March when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan was felt in Tokyo. Despite being centred some 370 kilometres north of Tokyo, the quake was so powerful that it violently shook buildings in the capital. But the real damage was yet to come, as the earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people, destroyed over 100,000 homes, and ignited a far-reaching nuclear crisis. This Sunday marks six months since the triple disaster, considered the worst to hit the nation since World War Two. For 26-year-old mother of two, Aya, the last six months don't seem real. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 26-YEAR-OLD MOTHER FROM OOKUMA TOWN AYA: "I feel like time has just stopped. Ever since March 11th, time has sort of stopped for me. I don't know what's going to happen, and everything that was is completely changed." The colossal tsunami - reaching heights of up to 23 metres - overwhelmed coastal towns' protective walls, crashing through streets and hurling homes, cars, and even ships deep inland. Hundreds of thousands of people were left stranded, or homeless, and had to be evacuated to temporary shelters in schools and public buildings. The tsunami also hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, destroying crucial power lines to the plant's cooling system and causing reactors to overheat. In the subsequent hours and days, there were hydrogen explosions and fires, and three reactors experienced meltdown. Eventually categorized as a level seven disaster, the crisis triggered a radiation scare that spread nationwide. Aya and her daughters were one of thousands of families evacuated from the exclusion zone set up around the plant and - like many others - must face the prospect of never being able to return home. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 26-YEAR-OLD MOTHER FROM OOKUMA TOWN AYA: "I don't know what'll happen with the nuclear reactor and I have to wonder if I'll ever be able to go back to Ookuma, my home town. But then again I have to wonder if I'll be able to build my life here. I just can't even begin to think about what to do in the future." As Japan begins the daunting task of reconstructing the country, March 11th will be remembered not only for a destructive earthquake and tsunami, but as the moment Japan began to question its reliance on nuclear energy. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.

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Japan: six months on from March 11

Thursday, September 08, 2011 - 02:52