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BREAKING NEWS

Bells and sirens as Japan marks tsunami anniversary, pledges recovery

Bells and sirens as Japan marks tsunami anniversary, pledges recovery
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Bells rang and sirens sounded on Monday as Japan observed a moment of silence to commemorate the eighth anniversary of a massive earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 people dead or missing, and triggered triple nuclear meltdowns.

The quake of magnitude nine on March 11, 2011 struck north of the Japanese capital, unleashing a tsunami that engulfed large swathes of the Pacific coast and caused the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years.

"Even now, 14,000 people are enduring protracted, inconvenient lives in such places as temporary housing," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a memorial service in Tokyo.

"We will provide seamless support ... and accelerate reconstruction."

At the ceremony, Yuki Takahashi, who lost his mother in the tsunami, said, "Keeping in mind precious lives that were lost, I'll keep on going to pass on lessons learned from the disaster."

In a message to the dead, Takahashi, 41, added, "I'll no longer shed tears. Please watch over us as we move toward reconstruction."The dismantling of Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the decontamination of affected areas, and compensation are estimated to cost 21.5 trillion yen ($193.3 billion).

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas, situated on the "Ring of Fire" arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Ocean.

($1=111.2300 yen)

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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