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Hiroshima Pref. man loses newlywed wife to mudslide before handing over ring

Koji Tsunomori sits beside an Anpanman doll, which he had given to his two sons, in the town of Kumano in Hiroshima Prefecture on July 8, 2018, hours after he confirmed the death of his wife Nana in a landslide. (Mainichi)

KUMANO, Hiroshima -- Koji Tsunomori, 54, was going to hand a wedding ring to his newlywed wife Nana on July 7, but Mother Nature intervened and tragedy occurred.

The couple, both in their second marriage, had just tied the knot on June 14. Nana, 44, was swept away in their house on the night of June 6 by a landslide triggered by devastating torrential rains that wreaked havoc across western Japan. Their children Minori, 13, and Kenta, 2, and Nana's mother Hiroko Aoki, who are believed to have been in the house together, remain unaccounted for.

The body of Nana was taken to an apartment building here in the town of Kumano in the western Japan prefecture of Hiroshima. "What are you doing here?" said a crying Tsunomori as he watched his wife's lifeless body. "Why are you here?"

Tsunomori, a company employee, was living away from the rest of his family to work in the city of Yasugi in Shimane Prefecture in western Japan. He planned to spend the weekend of July 7 and 8 with the family, and started driving back home on the evening of July 6. On the way, he received a message through the LINE social networking application from Nana around 8 p.m. "Be careful," she texted. Those were the last words Tsunomori received from his wife.

Nana said in an earlier message that the rain gutters in front of their house were overflowing, but Tsunomori did not tell her to evacuate. He didn't know what was coming. When he came home on the morning of July 7, the home was gone. "There was nothing from the ground up," Tsunomori said.

The children and the 71-year-old mother-in-law are missing, according to Tsunomori. Minori was a soccer lover and played in a team in the neighboring city of Higashihiroshima, hoping to enter a high school with a strong soccer team. Kenta, who used to call the father "otchan," an affectionate way to address an older male, began to be able to pronounce his full name, and the father was looking forward to hearing the son say so with his own ear.

After Nana's body was found at around 2:30 p.m. on July 8, a stuffed doll of Anpanman, a picture book character popular among children, was found in a heap of mud. Tsunomori had given the doll to the kids, and Kenta was always hugging it. He was hoping Kenta could be found near the Anpanman doll.

Tsunomori confirmed the face of his deceased wife. She was beautiful as always. He first thought it was her mother, who looked like her, but the deceased had pierced ears, and the outfit was in red and white border patterns, which Nana often liked to wear.

A grieving Tsunomori recovered a family album from the heap of mud and gravel. "I want to keep my sons' pictures," he said. "And I want to return the pictures of the mother-in-law to the brother-in-law."

(Japanese original by Yuta Shibayama, Osaka City News Department)

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