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Sun 11 Mar 2012 11:04 AM

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Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake

Number of dead and missing caused by natural disaster reached more than 15,000

Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
With a moment of silence, prayers and anti-nuclear rallies, Japan marked on Sunday one year since an earthquake and tsunami killed thousands and set off a radiation crisis that shattered public trust in atomic power and the nation's leaders. (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
A year after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake unleashed a wall of water that hit Japan's northeast coast, killing nearly 16,000 and leaving nearly 3,300 unaccounted for, the country is still grappling with the human, economic and political costs. (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
In the port of Ofunato, hundreds of black-clad residents gathered at the town hall to lay white chrysanthemums at an altar dedicated to the town's 420 dead and missing. (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
"We can't just stay sad. Our mission is to face reality and move forward step by step," said petrol station owner Kosei Chiba, 46, who lost his mother and wife in the disaster. (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
"But the damage the town suffered was too big and our psychological scars are too deep. We need a long time to rebuild." (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
Just a kilometer (half a mile) from Tokyo Electric Power Company's (Tepco) wrecked Fukushima plant, where reactor meltdowns triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, residents of the abandoned town of Okuma were allowed back for a few hours to honor the dead. (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
"It was a wonderful place. If it wasn't for all that's happened, I'd be able to come back. But thanks to Tepco, I wasn't even able to search for the bodies of my relatives," said Tomoe Kimura, 93, who lost four members of her family in the tsunami, two of whom were never found. (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
Authorities have imposed a 20-km (12 mile) no-go zone around the plant and residents may never be allowed back. (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
Along the northeast coast, police and coastguard officers, urged on by families of the missing, still search rivers and shores for remains even though the chances of finding any appear very slim. (Getty Images)
Japan marks 1st anniversary of devastating earthquake
The nation observed a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. (12.46 a.m. EST) when the quake struck. Ofunato, will pause again 33 minutes later to mark when a 23-metre (75-foot) tsunami ripped through this town of 41,000. (Getty Images)