Japan to mark quake and tsunami anniversary
Japan is set to mark the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck the north-eastern coast, killing thousands.
The magnitude 9.0 quake, the most powerful since records began, also triggered a serious nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Thousands of people were evacuated as radiation leaked from the plant.
Memorial services have been planned and a minute of silence will be observed at the exact moment the quake hit.
The main memorial ceremony will be held at Tokyo’s National Theatre and will be attended by Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
The 78-year-old emperor had heart surgery three weeks ago and reports say he will attend 20 minutes of the hour-long ceremony with Empress Michiko.
Warning sirens will sound across the north-east of the country tomorrow at the precise time the quake struck. Bells and prayers will also reverberate across the country as the minute of silence is observed.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency also reported that some trains in and around Tokyo will stop to mark the moment.
The earthquake hit at 14:46 local time about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo on 11 March 2011.
Shortly after the quake, an immense surge of water enveloped the north-eastern coast as a tsunami swept cars, ships, and buildings away, crushing coastal communities.
The twin natural disasters claimed more than 15,700 lives, and more than 4,500 people remain unaccounted for. (BBC)