March 10, 2016 6:54 am
Updated: March 10, 2016 12:11 pm

Japan resumes underwater searches for tsunami victims, 5 years later

WATCH ABOVE: The Japanese coast guard resumed underwater searches on Thursday for the first time in more than two years in Rikuzentakata, where more than 200 people are still missing from the 2011 tsunami.

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RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan – The Japanese coast guard has resumed underwater searches for some of the more than 2,500 people still missing from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country’s northeast coast.

Six divers entered Hirota Bay on Thursday in near-freezing temperatures at the behest of surviving families in the city of Rikuzentakata.

GALLERY: Japan tsunami debris

As reconstruction of the disaster-hit region gains pace, stretches of the bay have been reclaimed for building sea walls. Relatives fear that the remains of their loved ones might be buried forever.

Police say that more than 2,500 people remain missing in the disaster-hit region, including more than 200 in Rikuzentakata. Nearly 16,000 have been confirmed dead, bringing the presumed death toll to more than 18,000.

© 2016 The Associated Press

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