March 14, 2011 09:23
The death toll from a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Friday is mounting. On Sunday some 200 bodies were found in Higashimatushima in Miyagi Prefecture and another 100 in Natori, and four regions with populations of more than 10,000 were out of contact, leading to fears that tens of thousands may be missing.
In Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, where the entire town was destroyed, only 15,000 out of a total population of 75,000 were able to evacuate. The rest remain out of contact. In Minamisanriku some 10,500 people are missing. In Iwate Prefecture, 17,000 people in Rikuzentakata, another 10,000 in Ōtsuchi, and 1,700 in Sendai.
Japanese police said that as of 7 p.m. Sunday the official death toll stood at 1,217, but the Japanese media speculate that the figure could surge to between 20,000 to 30,000 after the head of police in Miyagi Prefecture said there will be more than 10,000 deaths alone in that prefecture. Many areas remain submerged and inaccessible to rescue workers since most roads were destroyed in the tsunami.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told reporters this is the greatest crisis to hit the country since the end of World War II 65 years ago and urged the Japanese people to join hands to overcome the situation. Japan began implementing regional blackouts starting on Monday to deal with power shortages caused by a halt of operations at its nuclear power plants.
There are fears of more tremors. Following the first earthquake off the coast of Tohoku on Friday, a total of 150 aftershocks continued in Japan until Sunday, spreading fears of another major earthquake. Geologists forecast magnitude 7 earthquakes will continue for some time.
Japanese weather officials revised the magnitude of the first earthquake from 8.8 to 9.
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