After three years and thousands of people who have perished or gone missing, the effects of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami can still be felt up to now. This is what an elementary school in Ishinomaki learned after they found out that relatives of 23 students who were swept away during the deluge are suing them.
The lawsuit is being brought by relatives of students from Okawa School in Ishinomaki. Out of the 108 students enrolled in the school, 74 died during the twin disasters, while 10 out of the 13 school staff also perished. The families of the students have filed a lawsuit against the school at the Sendai District Court for their failure to evacuate the students and are seeking 100 million yen in damages per child. School officials were accused of gathering the students in the schoolyard for more than 45 minutes, which caused delay in their proper evacuation to a higher place. When the tsunami struck the city, it swept the students and staff away, killing more than half of them. Yoshiaki Suzuki, father of 12-year old Kento Suzuki and 9-year old Hana — both former students at the school — expressed anger over the school’s mistake. “The delay in judgment caused irreparable damage. It was simply a man-made disaster,” he said.
The relatives are also blaming officials from the local government for the death of the 23 students. They have accused them for sounding the tsunami alarm late, which did not give many people a chance to run to higher ground and escape the oncoming tidal wave. But officials from the school and local government have argued that there was no way to know the size of the tsunami and how far it would go inland, thus they decided to gather them in the yard for awhile to be ready to move. Families have gathered at a memorial dedicated to these students who lost their lives, located outside the ruined elementary school, before the first session of the lawsuit at the Sendai District Court to mourn the 23 students.
[via The Telegraph]