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Planet Ark World Environment News Auto Graveyard Born From Japan Tsunami Wreckage

Date: 28-Mar-11
Country: JAPAN
Author: Jon Herskovitz

Auto Graveyard Born From Japan Tsunami Wreckage Photo: Carlos Barria
Vehicles destroyed by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami are seen at a car dump in Miyako town, Iwate prefecture March 25, 2011.
Photo: Carlos Barria

The destruction wrought by the tsunami that slammed Japan two weeks ago has given rise to graveyards for machinery pulled from the wreckage.

Cars mangled by the massive wall of water that destroyed into Japan's northeast coast are being removed by construction equipment, placed on trucks and laid to rest by the thousands on flood plains once covered with water.

The cars, many of which are marked with spray paint to indicate if bodies needed to be removed from inside, are laid in neat rows with license plates easily visible for licenseowners or family members hoping to find lost vehicles.

"I parked near the office, saw the tsunami from my window and after the water withdrew, my car was nowhere to be seen," said Motohiro Yamazaki, who was looking for his Suzuki among hundreds of wrecked cars at auto graveyards in the tsunami-devastated city of Miyako.

Workers are slowly clearing paths through the destruction with bulldozers, leveling land after fire fighters have checked and made sure there are no bodies buried in the debris.

The city of Sendai has used parks and baseball fields as dumping grounds for electronics removed from the debris.

Residents trickle into an open field of destroyed vehicles in Miyako to take off license plates and remove registration forms, which will make it easier for them to cut through red tape with insurance companies and the government to declare their cars dead.

"I left my drivers license, work license and health insurance card in the car. I can't go to the hospital without that."

Two weeks after the tsunami, electricity has been turned on again to many areas on higher ground near the devastation, mobile phones service is slowly being restored and goods have finally appeared on once empty store shelves.

Yamazaki's car, however, was nowhere to be found.

"I guess it's somewhere in the Pacific Ocean."

(Additional reporting by K.J. Kwon in Sendai)

(Editing by Sugita Katyal)

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