Journalist Ryuichi Kino's photographs of the ex-evacuation zone triggered my memory of what the former mayor of Futaba-machi had said about the fateful day.
Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa's recollection of March 12, 2011, as compiled by journalist Hiromichi Ugaya who attended Idogawa's press conference in February 2012 (from my post on that day):
We weren't told of the "vent" [of Reactor 1] that the government decided to do. The vent was carried out while the residents were still in town. I wonder if they [the government] think of us as Japanese citizens. This is like pre-Meiji Restoration [when there was no notion of citizens of a nation].
On March 12, as the residents were fleeing, I was in front of Futaba Kosei Hospital guiding the hospital patients and elderly people from the nearby senior citizens' home to a bus [for evacuation] when the first hydrogen explosion took place. There was a dull "thud".
"Oh no, it finally happened," the mayor thought. After a few minutes, small debris that looked like glass fiber insulation materials came falling down from the sky like large snowflakes. "Big ones were this big", the mayor puts his thumb and index finger together to form a circle.
Futaba Kosei Hospital is only 2 kilometers away from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. About 300 people, including municipal workers, doctors and nurses, watched the flakes of insulation materials fall like snow, stunned. The mayor thought, "We're finished."
The mayor looks back and says, "That was a very, very strange sight. It was like a movie". Not knowing what to do, he just dusted off his clothes with his hand.
Futaba Kosei Hospital in June 2013, by Ryuichi Kino. This is where Mayor Idogawa was on March 12, 2011.
For more of Kino's photos from June 2013, see my previous post.
As announced by Fukushima prefectural government in September 2012, in Kamihatori District in Futaba-machi, about 1.5 kilometers west of Futaba Kosei Hospital, the radiation level spiked to 1,590 microsieverts/hour at 3PM on March 12, 2011, BEFORE the hydrogen explosion of Reactor 1 building at 3:36PM.