Japan tsunami, nuclear tragedy remembered 7 years on
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led a sombre ceremony on Sunday as Japan marked the seventh anniversary of a deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that devastated its northeastern coast and left around 18,500 people dead or missing.
The magnitude 9.0 quake - which struck under the Pacific Ocean on Mar 11, 2011 - and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and took the lives of thousands of people.
The killer tsunami also swamped the emergency power supply at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, sending its reactors into meltdown as cooling systems failed in what was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
Abe, lawmakers and family members who lost their loved ones in the disaster bowed their heads in silent prayer at a ceremony in Tokyo at 2:46 pm (1.46 pm, Singapore time - the exact moment the quake struck. Japanese private broadcasters also showed residents in the affected areas offering a moment of silence.
"I offer my condolences to those who lost their beloved family members and friends," said Abe, dressed in formal mourning attire. Hideko Igarashi, one of the three residents from the disaster-hit region who spoke at the ceremony.