Unbelievable stories of heartbreak and loss, the carnage is beyond our wildest imagination…
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:43 AM on 18th March 2011
- Reporters not allowed to speak to children to guard against false hope
- Ishinomaki confirms the huge number of its citizens missing
- North Eastern port town was hit by 20ft tsunami
- Fears that overall death toll has been terribly underestimated
Even amid the carnage and despair of Japan’s tsunami victims, the plight of the 30 children at Kama Elementary School is heartbreaking.
They sit quietly in the corner of a third-floor classroom where they have waited each day since the tsunami swept into the town of Ishinomaki for their parents to collect them. So far, no one has come and few at the school now believe they will.
Teachers think that some of the boys and girls, aged between eight and 12, know their fathers and mothers are among the missing and will never again turn up at the gates of the school on the eastern outskirts of the town, but they are saying nothing.
Wholesale destruction: A few ruined houses are all that lies scattered amid the sludge of Ishinomaki
Instead, they wait patiently reading books or playing card games watched over by relatives and teachers, who prevent anyone from speaking to them.
Officials fear that even the sound of the door sliding back might raise false hope that a parent has come to collect them. Their silence is in marked contrast to other children playing in the corridors of the four-storey building, whose parents survived due to a complete fluke.
Sports teacher Masami Hoshi said: ‘The tsunami came just when the parents of the middle age group were starting to arrive to collect their children so we managed to get them inside and to safety.
‘The younger ones had left with their parents a little earlier. The ones who went to homes behind the school probably survived, the ones who went the other way probably didn’t.’
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The school, where children’s paintings still line the walls, has no running water, electricity or heating but is home to 657 people living among corridors and rooms filled by mud and debris. It is a mile from the sea wall that was meant to protect Ishinomaki.
When the tsunami struck, 160,000 people were living in the town, which is about 50 miles north-east of Sendai. So far 425 have been confirmed dead with another 1,693, including the parents of the 30 pupils, listed as missing.
The terrible toll of Japan’s double disaster became clearer as it emerged as many as 25,000 people could be dead after Ishinomaki officials confirmed that 10,000 of their citizens were missing.
The estimated 10,000 people missing in Ishinamaki is the same figure given as in the town of Minamisanriku, also in Miyagi state, which lost around half its population when it was razed to the ground by the 20 foot high wall of water.