by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
On March 11 at 2:46 p.m., residents across Japan observed a moment of silence to remember the thousands of people killed or lost when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the country just one decade ago, Donican Lam reports for Kyodo News. The 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed 15,900 people, and subsequent deaths from illness and suicide linked to the disaster totaled 3,775. Today, about 2,500 people are still considered missing.
Anniversary memorial services in Japan were largely cancelled last year amid the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the country recognized the date with a national memorial service in Tokyo, as well as local memorials in affected regions. The ten-year anniversary also offers a milestone to revisit the progress of rebuilding the areas affected by the tsunami, including Fukushima, where the 50-foot-tall wave caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Officials say that cleaning out the melted nuclear fuel from inside of the three damaged reactors could take 30 to 40 years. Critics say that timeline is optimistic, Mari Yamaguchi reports for the Associated Press.