Quake-hit island bids farewell to US marines

(Pictured above: Japanese firefighters stand in front of a boat (unseen) washed ashore by the March 11 tsunami in Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture on March 20, 2011.)

SENDAI - US marines on Wednesday said goodbye to residents of Oshima - a Miyagi Prefecture island left devastated and cut off by the giant March 11 earthquake and tsunami - where they had spent several days helping with restoration work.

Residents of the island off Kesennuma held a ceremony to thank the US service members assigned to remove rubble from roads and do other repairs.

The troops were part of a larger US military contingent dispatched to help with search-and-rescue, restoration and other missions after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

"You arrived very quickly and we truly appreciate your efforts," said Yuji Shirahata, head of the island's disaster relief headquarters, during the morning ceremony at a community center.

Rear Adm. Jeffrey Jones, chief of the marines assigned to the island, said his team received a warm welcome by the island's residents, adding that he was confident they would rebuild their home.

The island's port was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami, cutting it off from the mainland and hampering reconstruction and the delivery of emergency supplies.

-The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network