Powerful aftershock as Japan remembers dead

Sirens wailed and people bowed their heads and wept along Japan’s devastated north-east coast as they marked a month since the devastating earthquake and tsunami which killed up to 25,000 people and unleashed a nuclear crisis.

With thousands of bodies yet to be found, a tsunami-flooded nuclear power plant still spewing radiation and more than 150,000 people living in shelters, there was little time for reflection yesterday on Japan’s worst disaster since the Second World War.

And the remembrance was followed by a massive aftershock, measuring 7.1, which was centred about 100 miles north of Tokyo where the international airport closed two runways as a result.

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The tremor, which led to a tsunami warning, sent survivors in Sendai, which was devastated by last month’s disaster, screaming and running out of stores. The alert was lifted after about an hour.

Remembering those killed in the disaster earlier, Yuhei Sato, the governor of Fukushima, which contains the damaged plant at the centre of the nuclear crisis, said: “My chest has been ripped open by the suffering and pain that this disaster has caused the people of our prefecture. I have no words to express my sorrow.”

The Japanese government has urged more people to evacuate the area around the crippled nuclear plant which has been spewing radiation since the tsunami.