Woman from Iconic Tsunami Photo Reunited With Family

Born in the city of Ishinomaki, Yuko Sugimoto lost her husband and child when the 9.0 magnitude earthquake completely destroyed the place. The photograph, which was taken on March 13, 2011, showed Sugimoto looking in the direction of the kindergarten where her 4-year-old son Raito used to go. The kindergarten was partly submerged and surrounded by piles of debris.

It was only when she found her husband that both began the hunt for their lost child. They found their child the very next day. He and some other children had been rescued by the military from the roof of the kindergarten the morning after the tsunami.

It has been a year since the devastating earthquake and although much of the debris in the region has been removed by restoration operations, life for Sugimoto and her family has still not returned to normal. The house they built four years ago was submerged nearly upto its second floor and they lost most of their belongings. What remains is a 31-year-mortgage of around 25 million yen ($310,000) they still have to pay.


A woman looks at the damage caused by a tsunami and an earthquake in Ishimaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, after the magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck the area March 13, 2011. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto is pictured holding a picture of herself and standing in the same place she stood in March 13, 2011 after the area was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Sugimoto was pictured last year, wrapped in a blanket in front of a pile of debris as she looked for her son Raito who was missing. Her picture became an iconic image of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Japan a year ago. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto and her son Raito visit their house which was submerged to the second floor following the March 13, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto and her son Raito pray Feb. 22, 2012, at the site where their pet dog was buried in the yard of their house in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto and her son Raito stand at the same place she stood in March 13, 2011 after the area was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture in northern Japan. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto looks at her son Raito as he talks about his friend who had passed away, during their visit to the Ishinomaki Mizuho No.2 kindergarten in Ishinomaki, northern Japan. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto stands inside her house which was ruined following the March 13, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto and her son Raito walk down the staircase of Ishinomaki Mizuho No. 2 kindergarten where Raito survived the earthquake and tsunami last year by evacuating to the rooftop in Ishinomaki, northern Japan. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto is pictured holding a picture of herself and standing in the same place she stood in March 13, 2011 after the area was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture in northern Japan. (Reuters)


Yuko Sugimoto’s son Raito stands in the old playroom of his former house after the first floor had been destroyed in the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan. (Reuters)

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