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US mourns second anniversary of Japan tsunami

Workers are seen next to the No.4 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 6, 2013
Workers wearing protective suits and masks are seen next to the No.4 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma, Fukushima prefecture on March 6, 2013. The United States mourned

The United States Friday mourned the "unimaginable disaster" which hit Japan two years ago when a tsunami smashed into the coast, killing some 19,000 people and triggering a nuclear calamity.

But US Secretary of State John Kerry said that while mourning the victims "we also recall that the world marveled at the resiliency and dignity of the Japanese people as they worked to overcome the tragedy."

"Over the past two years, Japan has made steady progress in its recovery and rebuilding efforts -- and I'm pleased that the United States has been able to play a role in this process," Kerry said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who lost loved ones. While observing this sad anniversary, we also recall and renew the deep bonds of friendship that connect us across the Pacific Ocean."

Monday marks the second anniversary of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that sent a huge wall of water into the coast of the northeastern Tohoku region.

Waves battered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 220 kilometers (136 miles) northeast of Tokyo, where reactors went into meltdown, sending out radioactive material that forced tens of thousands of people to flee.

More than a million homes were destroyed or damaged by the natural disaster.

Of the roughly 470,000 people who fled during the initial catastrophe and in the weeks after the nuclear crisis began, more than 315,000 people still live in temporary housing.