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New Minamisanriku town hall opens 6 1/2 years after tsunami devastation

The new town hall is seen in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, on Sept. 3, 2017. (Mainichi)

MINAMISANRIKU, Miyagi -- A ceremony marking the opening of a new town hall was held here on Sept. 3, nearly six and a half years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami destroyed the former town buildings, claiming the lives of 43 people.

The new Minamisanriku Municipal Government office was built in an upland area about 60 meters above sea level, introducing anti-disaster equipment and solar power systems. The building is designed to withstand an earthquake registering 7 on the Japanese seismic scale of 7.

The former town hall and its adjacent disaster prevention center were located about 400 meters from the coastline. Forty-three people, including town employees, lost their lives when the massive tsunami triggered by the March 11, 2011 earthquake swallowed the buildings, up to their rooftops. After the disaster, town employees had continued their work in a makeshift, prefabricated office building.

Town services at the new town hall, located about 1.5 kilometers from the former buildings, began on Sept. 4. The construction of the three-story ferroconcrete and wooden building cost around 2.15 billion yen.

The former Minamisanriku disaster prevention center is seen in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, in this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo. (Mainichi)

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