Prince William meets Japan tsunami survivors who handwrote newspaper

image copyrightChris Jackson
image captionPrince William, Duke of Cambridge, was shown handwritten newspapers produced after the 2011 tsunami

The Duke of Cambridge has heard the harrowing stories of survivors of the Japanese tsunami during his visit to communities hit by the disaster.

As part of his week-long visit to Japan and China, Prince William visited the north-east coast where thousands were killed when the wave struck in 2011.

In the city of Ishinomaki, he met Hiroyuki Takeuchi, a retired journalist at the Ishinomaki daily newspaper.

The paper produced handwritten editions in the days following the tsunami.

The duke told him that, like 9/11, everyone remembered where they were when they saw the images of the tsunami.

"It remains with you forever. You remember where you were. It must have been unbelievably terrifying for you and all the others," he said.

Mr Takeuchi said: "Immediately afterwards it was like hell. So many died and their bodies were on the roads. It is still raw in my memory."

image copyrightChris Jackson
image captionA remaining muddy mark 8ft (2.4m) high an outside wall of a museum showed how high the tsunami reached
image copyrightKAZUHIRO NOGI
image captionThe prince laid a bouquet for the victims of the 2011 tsunami in Ishinomaki where 3,000 people died

The massive tsunami was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake which hit Japan on 11 March 2011.

It killed almost 19,000 people and triggered a major nuclear accident.

In Ishinomaki, which lies 220 miles (350km) north-east of Tokyo, some 3,000 people died and more than 40,000 buildings were destroyed.

Prince William heard how the earthquake pulled the Japanese mainland 19ft (6m) into the Pacific Ocean - causing Ishinomaki to sink by 70cm.

He met Mr Takeuchi in a small museum founded to chronicle the disaster.

The museum features original editions of the single poster-sized newspaper pages written in red, black and blue felt tip, complete with a hand-drawn masthead.

Lucky escape

Mr Takeuchi said: "The tsunami hit our newspaper as well. But we found printing paper that miraculously stayed dry and we hand-wrote the news.

"There were just six copies every day. We put them on bulletin boards at evacuation centres."

William asked: "Where were you when it happened?"

Mr Takeuchi said: "I was in the newspaper. There was such a big tremor that I thought it would collapse, although it didn't.

"We felt that as long as we had pen and paper we could send out news, and that this was our duty as a newspaper. Luckily, among our staff no-one died."

image copyrightKAZUHIRO NOGI / POOL
image captionThe duke submitted to the jaws of a lucky Chinese-style lion which greeted him in Onagawa
image copyrightREUTERS/Thomas Peter
image captionPrince William rang the Chime of Hope, which was washed away by the tsunami, but recovered and restored
image copyrightFRANCK ROBICHON / POOL
image captionPrince William is carrying out his four-day visit to Japan to promote its ties with the UK
image copyrightKAZUHIRO NOGI
image captionWell-wishers turned out to greet Prince William as he visited a hill top in Ishinomaki

He showed William one of the editions of the handwritten paper from five days after the disaster, when people in Ishinomaki, had no electricity and were largely isolated from the outside world.

The prince also met people who lost relatives in the disaster, including couple Shinichi and Ryoko Endo, who lost their three children, Hana, Kana and Kanta, all of them under 12.

The visit was the Duke of Cambridge's final engagement in Japan, before he flew into China, becoming the first senior British royal on an official visit there in 30 years.

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