Work To Demolish Tsunami - Hit Town Hall Begins

Work to demolish tsunami-hit town hall begins

Workers have started demolishing a former town hall building in northern Japan that was severely damaged by the tsunami on March 11th, 2011.

People of Otsuchi Town in Iwate Prefecture have been divided for nearly eight years over whether to demolish the building or preserve it as a memorial to the disaster.

The tsunami killed the mayor at the time and 27 town employees who were inside the building. The town hall is located about 1.5 kilometers from the coast.

The town decided to demolish the building after considering the opinions of people who don't want it as a constant reminder of the tragedy.

On Saturday, workers operating heavy machinery began demolishing the walls of the west side of the second floor, where an assembly hall was situated.

Yasushi Kurahori visited the site. His brother was a town employee and died in the disaster at the age of 30. He said he feels sad about what's happening and is no longer sure if he was right in hoping for the building's demolition.

Local official Shigemi Kawano said since people of the town have expressed a range of opinions, he also has mixed feelings.

A group of local residents had filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the demolition. But a district court dismissed the case on Thursday.

Town officials say they plan to finish demolishing the building by the end of February and level the ground by around early March.