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Japan earthquake and tsunami: Widower continues to search for wife 3 years later

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Tuesday, March 11 marks the third anniversary of the Japan earthquake and tsunami that killed over 18,000 people, with over 2000 still unaccounted for. On March 9, 2014 AFP reported that one man continues to search for his wife who drowned in the disaster despite the fact that three years have passed.

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Bus driver Yasuo Takamatsu, 57, never imagined he would be able to scuba dive, but says he feels drawn to the water when he thinks of the last time he heard from his wife, Yuko. Takamatsu received a text moments before she was taken away by one of the massive waves. Now he and others continue to search the freezing water for Yuko as well as other missing victims of the tsunami.

Yuko was working at the bank in the small town of Onagawa when the earthquake hit. She and her coworkers were aware of the tsunami and went on the roof of the building. Takamatsu received a text message from his wife 30 minutes after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan and triggered the 23-foot tsunami.

"I want to go home," was the last text Takamatsu received from Yuko.

Although Takamatsu was bothered that he was unable to contact her, he says he was not too worried after the earthquake as he thought she was safe with her coworkers. Takamatsu was not allowed to go into the area where Yuko worked until the next day and that is when he learned that his wife and coworkers were swept away.

Weeks later bank workers found Yuko's phone and returned it to Takamatsu. Surprisingly, Takamatsu was able to turn the phone on and he found that she had written another message that he did not receive. He said the text was written around the time the water was thought to reach the roof where she was at.

"'Tsunami huge'. That was all she wrote in the very last one," Takamatsu said.

Three years after the Japan earthquake and tsunami, Takamatsu knows the chances of finding Yuko are slim, yet he cannot stop trying. There are many people who continue to have hope in finding their family members. They do not have expectations of finding them alive but it is important to be able to lay them to rest and have some closure.

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