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The World

April 11, 2011

Japan rattled by aftershock 1 month after tsunami

SENDAI, Japan — A strong new earthquake rattled Japan's northeast Monday just hours after people bowed their heads and wept in ceremonies to mark a month since the tsunami that killed up to 25,000 people and set off a still-unfolding nuclear crisis.

The quake, the second major aftershock in less than a week, was another jarring reminder of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that spawned the massive wave March 11. People in a large electronics store in Sendai screamed and ran outside and mothers grabbed their children, but there were no immediate reports of more damage or injuries.

Officials said operations were not endangered at the tsunami-flooded Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, where power was cut by the aftershock but quickly restored. Japan's meteorological agency measured the aftershock at a magnitude of 7.0, but a U.S. monitor said it was 6.6. The epicenter of was just inland and about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Tokyo.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is still leaking radiation after its cooling systems were knocked out by tsunami, and the government on Monday urged people in five additional communities near the plant to leave within a month, citing concerns about long-term health risks from radiation. People who lived within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius around the plant already have been evacuated.

With workers still far from bringing the plant under control, the bodies of thousands of tsunami victims yet to be found and more than 150,000 people living in shelters, there was little time for reflection on Japan's worst disaster since World War II.

People in hard-hit towns gathered for ceremonies at 2:46 p.m., the exact moment of the massive quake a month earlier.

"My chest has been ripped open by the suffering and pain that this disaster has caused the people of our prefecture," said Yuhei Sato, the governor of Fukushima, which saw its coastal areas devastated by the tsunami and is home to the damaged plant at the center of the nuclear crisis. "I have no words to express my sorrow."

In a devastated coastal neighborhood in the city of Natori, three dozen firemen and soldiers removed their hats and helmets and joined hands atop a small hill that has become a memorial for the dead. Earlier, four monks in pointed hats rang a prayer bell there as they chanted for those killed.

The noisy clatter of construction equipment ceased briefly as crane operators stood outside their vehicles and bowed their heads.

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