Inside the ‘ghost’ school of Ishinomaki where 74 died after tsunami hit in 2011

Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries tells the shocking story of how a school in Japan was devastated when a tsunami and earthquake struck in 2011.

The disaster killed more than 18,000 people and left 2,500 missing.

Afterwards many residents in Ishinomaki city experienced a strange phenomena, with some claiming to have seen the dead or be plagued by sprits.

One school that was badly hit was Okawa Primary School in the village of Kamaya on the outskirts of Ishinomaki city.

On that fateful day 108 people were in school, with 74 kids and 10 members staff killed.

The entire area around the school was destroyed – and it has now been preserved as a memorial to mark the devastating disaster that hit the country.



Inside the 'ghost' school of Ishinomaki where 74 died after tsunami hit in 2011
One school that was badly hit was Okawa Primary school in the village of Kamaya on the outskirts Ishinomaki city

Chilling photographs have now emerged showing the twisted remains of the school’s buildings.

One disturbing snap shows debris scattered on the floor of the classroom.

Another picture shows small tokens of remembrance hung on barbed wire outside the school.

Another heartbreaking image shows a collection of school bags in a huge pile of rubble.



Inside the 'ghost' school of Ishinomaki where 74 died after tsunami hit in 2011
Another picture shows small tokens of remembrance hung on barbed wire outside the school

At its peak tsunami was 40 metres high and half a million people were left homeless after it had unleashed its wrath on Japan.

The elementary school was more than 200 miles north of Tokyo in a village called Kamaya.

On the day of the disaster, it’s thought the kids were evacuated from the building immediately after the earthquake hit at 14:46 local time.



Inside the 'ghost' school of Ishinomaki where 74 died after tsunami hit in 2011
Okawa Elementary School is seen six months after the tsunami

It is claimed just five minutes after earthquake tremors hit, the children had been successfully evacuated from the building. They were in the playground, lined up by class, wearing the hard plastic helmets normally stored in their lockers.

But when the tsunami warning came, kids and staff stayed where they were.

It is not clear why they didn’t climb to the safe ground of a hill directly behind the school, over 200 metres high.



Inside the 'ghost' school of Ishinomaki where 74 died after tsunami hit in 2011
Chilling photographs have shown the twisted remains of the school’s buildings

According to survivors’ accounts, a few of the kids suggested climbing the hill.

But it is said some local men claimed that no tsunami would ever reach so far up the river to this inland location, so teachers decided to stay put.

The evacuation plan for the school instructed teachers and staff to go to a traffic island by the bridge across the river, which was on slightly higher ground.



Inside the 'ghost' school of Ishinomaki where 74 died after tsunami hit in 2011
Debris are scattered at a classroom on the second floor at Okawa Elementary School

Sadly the plan was followed – meaning the kids were led towards the tsunami as it ferociously cascaded up the riverbed, reaching up to 15 metres in height.

When some of the older kids realised what was happening, a couple of them quickly turned round and made a dash for the hill.

Despite this they were caught up by the rushing flood but four managed to fight their way to higher ground and survive.

The remaining 74 children and all but one teacher died.

One of the survivors told The Guardian:“It felt like the huge force of gravity when it hit me,” he said. “It was as if someone with great strength was pushing. I couldn’t breathe, I was struggling for breath.”

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