Japan tsunami ship to be scrapped

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In this March 13, 2011 file photo, a ship washed away by a tsunami sits amid debris in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture after Japan’s biggest recorded earthquake hit its eastern coast. Last week, the city announced it will be torn down after a heated debate and citywide vote. AP

TOKYO – A fishing boat that was swept far inland by the 2011 tsunami in Japan and became one of the most poignant symbols of the disaster is to be scrapped, authorities said Tuesday.

Officials in the city of Kesennuma, which was flattened in the disaster, said the decision to dismantle the 60-meter (200-foot) ship, named the No. 18 Kyotoku-maru, came after local people said they wanted it gone.

“Our city has decided to demolish the vessel since nearly 70 percent of residents did not want to preserve it,” a local official told AFP, citing the results of an opinion poll.

That reversed earlier plans to preserve the boat as a monument to the quake-tsunami disaster, which killed more than 18,000 people and triggered a nuclear accident at Fukushima in the worst atomic crisis in a generation.

The stranded vessel had been swept around 500 metres (yards) inland by the tsunami on March 11, 2011, and survived a subsequent fire that engulfed the small city on Japan’s northeast coast.

Since then, the partially charred blue and red vessel has rested in the middle of a residential district, drawing visitors who pray and leave flowers at the site.

The ship is expected to be dismantled later this month.

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