Japan court awards millions for kids' tsunami deaths

2016-10-26 20:11
Flowers and gifts are left by a stranded fishing boat standing in a residential district of Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan. (File, AP)

Flowers and gifts are left by a stranded fishing boat standing in a residential district of Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan. (File, AP)

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Tokyo - A Japanese court on Wednesday ordered millions of dollars compensation be paid to families of children swept out to sea by a massive 2011 tsunami.

The Sendai District Court in northern Japan ruled two local governments must pay a combined ¥1.43bn ($13.7m) to 29 plaintiffs - parents of 23 children who were killed in the disaster - according to a court spokesperson.

The victims, from the public Okawa Elementary School in the city of Ishinomaki, were among a total of 74 children who perished in rising waters after being told to wait for more than 40 minutes at the school grounds with teachers, 10 of whom also died.

The plaintiffs had demanded that Ishinomaki and the larger Miyagi prefecture of which it is a part pay a total of ¥2.3bn in compensation, arguing that their children would have survived if they had evacuated to a hill just behind the school rather than waiting.

"The teachers were able to predict the massive tsunami would reach the school," presiding judge Kenji Takamiya was quoted as saying by Jiji Press.

‘My terrified son’

READ: Strong quake in western Japan knocks out power, injures 7

Public broadcaster NHK showed family members rushing toward cameras outside the court in the city of Sendai after the verdict was announced. One of them held up a banner reading, "We won: Our children's voices were heard."

"Why did my son have to die?" Kazutaka Sato, one of the parents, told NHK.

"I still ask this question although more than five years have passed since the disaster.

"I want teachers in Ishinomaki to understand how terrified my son must have been."

In response to the verdict, Ishinomaki Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama told reporters he takes the ruling "seriously", adding the city will decide as soon as possible whether or not to appeal.

In 2013, the same court ordered a kindergarten pay a combined ¥170m in damages to parents of four children who died after being put on a bus that drove toward the incoming tsunami.

A massive undersea quake on March 11 2011, sent a giant tsunami barrelling into Japan's north-eastern coast, leaving more than 18 500 people dead or missing, and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

WATCH this video:

It was Japan's worst post war disaster and the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Read more on:    japan  |  japan earthquake

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