A driving school in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, was ordered by the Sendai District Court on Tuesday to pay ¥1.9 billion compensation to the relatives of 25 students and a part-time employee who died when the tsunami hit on March 11, 2011.
In filing the damages suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the school failed to take immediate action to evacuate the students even though a tsunami warning had been sounded after the quake struck, NTV reported.
The focal point of the suit was whether or not the driving school could have anticipated that the tsunami would reach their facility which was 750 meters away from the shore. School officials kept students on the premises for about 50 minutes after the quake hit before deciding to move them. As they were leaving in four vehicles, they were engulfed by the tsunami, killing them as well as 10 staff. Two other students, who were on foot, also perished.
The court said that fire trucks had sounded the alert earlier and that the school should have evacuated the students much sooner than it did, NTV reported.
Staff said the school director made the decision to keep everyone at the facility after hearing the initial alert, putting the height of the tsunami at only six meters. The director also died in the disaster.
This was the fourth suit against workplaces and kindergartens or schools over deaths resulting from failure to evacuate before the tsunami struck. The court has sided with the plaintiffs in two of the cases. At least 11 more cases are pending, NTV reported.© Japan Today