Sunday 23 September 2018

Tsunami tears turn to smiles

THE young Japanese woman clutches a beige blanket tight around her shoulders as she stares into the distance in her devastated hometown of Ishinomaki.

The photograph became an iconic image of the March 11 tsunami last year that killed 20,000 people. The woman's name is Yuko Sugimoto. She is now 29.

Nearly two days after the quake she had yet to find four-year-old son Raito.

Reunited with her husband the next day, the two began making the rounds of evacuation centres -- until they heard he had been rescued from the roof of his kindergarten.

"When I saw Raito in the corner of a room, the next moment I was weeping so hard I couldn't see anything," Yuko said.

Now, nearly a year later, Yuko (above) stands in the same place, embracing her son and smiling.

"Now, every single day is precious to me. I realise that time with my family is what is most important," she said.

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