Olds inmates lost their lives on the way of evacuation

By Kikki - Last updated: 月曜日, 4月 25, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

 [From Ofunato city-my stricken home town]

-East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Disaster-

The old-people’s home ‘Sanriku-no-sono’ in Sanriku town 

The joint memorial service is held for old inmate-victims.


56 lives aged around 80 have been found dead or still missing at an old-people’s home ‘Sanriku-no-sono’ in Sanriku town caused by the tsunami on March 11. Most victims were bedridden old people or wheelchair users. All old inmates including daily care inmates of the house were taken refuge at the courtyard just after the earthquake occurred. However, most of them were washed away while they tried to move up to the high ground. Mr. Keichiro Sato, the chairperson of the board of directors, made their apologies at the memorial service held on April 23.

Most victims were bedridden old people or wheelchair users 

Stricken area of Ryori community in Sanriku town


According to Mr. Kanjiro Oikawa (63), the general manager of the house, there are 67 old inmates including day care users had stayed in the house on the day of disaster, March 11. All old inmates could take refuge at the courtyard guided by 10 staff members just after the earthquake occurred.

They realized that a big tsunami warning was issued on the radio. Then, staff members tried to bring them to the community center located on the high ground. But the tidal wave washed up to them on their way of evacuation route. Only 10 or few inmates could escape from the wave. The staff members of the house tried to evacuate 24 day care based inmates by their two cars, but one inmate lost life when the car skidded by the tsunami and turned over on its side, and another inmate could not ride on the car and washed away. Although, the house is located far about 1,000 meters from the sea, it was flooded up to the ceiling level of the first floor. Mr. Oikawa, the GM of the house, said. ‘We never thought of the tidal wave rushing into our house, because, we had no record of reaching the tsunami caused by the 1933 Sanriku earthquake (昭和三陸地震) the site. We had full staff according to the rules, but we can’t afford to evacuate all inmates. We have obligations to that.’ Ms. Tomoko Owada (43) from Ofunato town, whose mother Yaeko (79) was still missing, said. ‘I believe that all staff members tried their best, but I wish they could evacuate them earlier.’ Mr. Akio Yoshida (63) whose mother Chiyomi (94) is still missing said on the contrary. ‘I don’t think all 67 inmates could be evacuated only by 10 staff members.’

‘It’s too sad and regrettable’ 

The joint memorial service is held at the nearby gymnasium of Okirai Junior High School. About 500 mourners including families of dead and missing assembled at the service. Mr. Toyosaburo Tabata who lost his mother made a speech at the service. ‘Although, it was the natural disaster, it is too sorrow and regrettable.’ Name of each victim was called one by one at the service. One municipal fireman burst into tears in saying ‘We could not save all inmates….’

The 1933 Sanriku earthquake (昭和三陸地震)


The 1933 Sanriku earthquake (昭和三陸地震,) ,was a major earthquake whose associated tsunami caused widespread damage to towns on the Sanriku coast of the Tohoku region of Japan in 1933. Although the earthquake did little damage, the associated tsunami, which was recorded to reach the height of 28.7 meters (94 ft) at Ofunato, Iwate, caused extensive damage, destroyed many homes and caused numerous casualties The tsunami destroyed over 7,000 homes along the northern Japanese coastline, of which over 4,885 were washed away. The tsunami was also recorded in Hawaii with a height of 9.5 feet (2.9 m), and which also resulted in slight damage. The death toll came to 1522 people confirmed dead, 1542 missing, and 12,053 injured. Hardest hit was the town of Taro, Iwate (now part of Miyako city), with 98% of its houses destroyed and 42% of its population killed.





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