ONAGAWA, Miyagi Prefecture–Demolition work began here March 3 on a toppled building that many townspeople wanted to preserve as a memorial to the devastation caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
The four-story Onagawa Supplement building, which was built around 1967, was knocked over when tsunami waves an estimated more than 10 meters high destroyed much of the fishing town center on March 11 three years ago.
Despite a movement to keep the toppled concrete building as is, Onagawa town officials decided to demolish the structure to prevent it from hampering reconstructing efforts.
Susumu Chiba, 52, who operated a health food store in the Onagawa Supplement building, and his family of five lived in the structure at the time of the disaster. They survived by fleeing to higher ground and later moved to his wife’s hometown in Aomori Prefecture.
Chiba had few words to say about the demolition.
“I am away from there now,” he said.
Although a rare occurrence, two other buildings remained intact after being toppled by the tsunami in Onagawa.
One, the four-story Enoshima Kyosai Kaikan building, is scheduled for demolition by autumn. The other, the two-story Onagawa “koban” (police box), will be preserved as a memorial.
The disaster killed 569 people in Onagawa and left three still missing, according to the town’s website.