File photo dated 30 March 2011 taken in the Fukushima Prefecture, which suffered huge damage in the tsunami. Kyodo/AP/Press Association Images

Over €30 million found after Japanese disaster handed in

Police say they have returned the majority of the money to its rightful owners.

BILLIONS OF YEN found after March’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan have been handed in to the police, Japan Today reports.

The cash was recovered from abandoned safes, wallets and handbags in the areas worst affected by the twin disasters. Japan’s National Police Agency says that 3.7 billion yen (€33.6 million) was handed in by members of the public between 11 March and 10 July. Just 15 per cent of the recovered funds have yet to be returned to the rightful owners.

Thousands of people are still unable to return to the homes they evacuated in March after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami caused serious damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, sparking a nuclear crisis.

Part of the plant suffered a meltdown after the tsunami knocked off the cooling system’s power supply and its operators TEPCO are still working to bring the facility to a complete ‘cold’ shutdown. TEPCO recently announced company losses of €5.16 bn for the three months between April and June 2011.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog IAEA visited Japan in May for a fact-finding mission investigating how the country tackled the nuclear emergency, concluding that Japanese authorities had underestimated the risk a major tsunami posed to the coastal plant. In its report, the IAEA commended the authorities’ response to the crisis as “exemplary”.

Japan’s government and TEPCO have defended their response to the crisis over criticism that they failed to inform people quickly enough of the unfolding situation. Commercial nuclear production resumed

Kyodo News reports that overseas contributions for the victims of the disasters continues to flow into the country. Around 23,000 people were killed or are still missing after the 11 March disasters.

Read: Japanese nuclear power plant reopens >

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