Sendai: A Japanese court Tuesday ordered a kindergarten in Miyagi Prefecture, hit hard by a major quake and tsunami in 2011, to pay 17,19,055 USD in damages over the death of four children in a bus that was swamped by high waves.
It was the first court ruling handed down in a damages suit filed by families of tsunami victims against operators of facilities in areas devastated by the March 2011 disaster.
The plaintiffs had insisted before the Sendai District Court that the kindergarten could have predicted the danger of a tsunami as the facility had been violently rocked by the preceding earthquake.
The privately run kindergarten had maintained that it was impossible for the facility to foresee a tsunami of that scale, saying the disaster was the largest in the past 1,000 years.
Five children and a female staff member died when the shuttle bus they were in was engulfed by a tidal wave as it was driving toward lowland coastal areas from the Hiyori kindergarten located on a hill 23 meters above sea level in Ishinomaki, according to the suit.
Seven other children had got off the bus earlier, while the driver was confirmed safe after being swept away by the tsunami.
The bus left the kindergarten about 10 minutes after the temblor hit the area.
The families had said the kindergarten drove the bus toward the coastal area after failing to collect information on the tsunami.