Japan marks first anniversary of earthquake

Sunday 11 March 2012 07.32
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A man prays in front of a shrine for the victims from the Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki. Of the 108 students, 74 died and three remain missing.
A man prays in front of a shrine for the victims from the Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki. Of the 108 students, 74 died and three remain missing.
A ship called Asia Sympathy ran aground in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture photographed on 18 March 2011
A ship called Asia Sympathy ran aground in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture photographed on 18 March 2011
The same area photographed on 16 January 2012
The same area photographed on 16 January 2012
The same area as photographed on 16 January 2012
The same area as photographed on 16 January 2012
A catamaran was washed by the tsunami onto a two-storey home in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture
A catamaran was washed by the tsunami onto a two-storey home in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture
The view of a tsunami hit area of Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on 14 March 2011 (L) and on 15 January 15 2012 (R)
The view of a tsunami hit area of Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on 14 March 2011 (L) and on 15 January 15 2012 (R)
Cars salvaged from the tsunami are piled, waiting for owners to claim them in Ishinomaki
Cars salvaged from the tsunami are piled, waiting for owners to claim them in Ishinomaki
Photographs lay in a school gymnasium set up as a collection site for lost possessions in Yuriage, Natori
Photographs lay in a school gymnasium set up as a collection site for lost possessions in Yuriage, Natori
Workers from a power company repair damaged power lines in an area affected by the tsunami in the Yuriage area of Natori
Workers from a power company repair damaged power lines in an area affected by the tsunami in the Yuriage area of Natori
The destroyed no. 3 reactor building of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
The destroyed no. 3 reactor building of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
A woman walks along a alley between blocks of temporary housing in the town of Kesennuma, 11 months after the earthquake
A woman walks along a alley between blocks of temporary housing in the town of Kesennuma, 11 months after the earthquake
Around 7,000 people took part in an anti-nuclear protest in Tokyo on the 11th-month anniversary of the earthquake
Around 7,000 people took part in an anti-nuclear protest in Tokyo on the 11th-month anniversary of the earthquake
Residents who live in the 20km exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant undergo a radiation screening test
Residents who live in the 20km exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant undergo a radiation screening test
The disaster zone in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture 100 days after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami
The disaster zone in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture 100 days after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami
A women lays flowers for the victims in Kesennuma
A women lays flowers for the victims in Kesennuma

Japan marks the one-year anniversary of the biggest earthquake in its history, which along with a massive tsunami on the northeast coast killed nearly 16,000 people.

Nearly 3,300 people remain unaccounted for.

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck on 11 March 2011, followed by a large tsunami and several after-shocks, which triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

The thousands who had to flee radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may never be able to return home.

Some towns will effectively pass into history, little more than names on a map where no one lives because it is too dangerous.

Outside the zone in Fukushima prefecture as a whole 1.5 million have been affected, with livelihoods lost as farmland has been polluted and businesses, such as hotels or shops have closed

Progress has been frustratingly slow in cleaning up the disaster zone and more than 40,000 have fled the three worst-hit prefectures.

Traditional Japanese music echoed through the large General Assembly hall of the United Nations this week during a commemoration concert ahead of the anniversary.

Addressing the audience, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, praised Japan's resilience in recovering from the devastating effects of the 2011 quake and tsunami.