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Starving Fukushima cows gnawed wooden posts in cattle shed

One of the gnawed wooden posts is pictured in a cattle shed in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 3, 2017. (Mainichi)

MINAMISOMA, Fukushima -- Starving cows abandoned here after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster apparently gnawed at wooden posts in their cattle shed in a desperate bid to survive.

Dairy farmer Issei Hangui, 67, had kept about 40 milk cows in the shed in the Odaka district of Minamisoma, within 20 kilometers of the nuclear plant. However, restrictions were imposed on the movement of livestock following the March 2011 outbreak of the nuclear crisis at the power plant. Hangui tied up his animals in the cow shed and left his home to take shelter elsewhere.

Hangui said he knew what would happen to his cows.

In the summer of 2011, he returned to the shed to remove the cows' carcasses to bury them. In the shed, he found signs that his cows had gnawed on the wooden posts up to about 60 centimeters from the ground. The desperate cows appear to have chewed on the posts after their feed ran out and they began to starve.

Six years have passed since the March 2011 triple disaster. Hangui has quit dairy farming due to the guilt he felt for leaving his cows to die.

"I've preserved my cattle shed to remember the cows," said Hangui.

A prefectural museum is planning to make a cast of at least one of the gnawed wooden posts for a replica.

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