2,000 bodies found on tsunami-stricken Japanese coast

Estimated death toll still over 10,000; over 500,000 people now evacuated from homes; search and rescue efforts continue.

By REUTERS
March 14, 2011 05:22
2 minute read.
The destroyed city of Natori, northern Japan

japan earthquake 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Japan battled through the weekend to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and to care for the millions without power or water in its worst crisis since World War Two, after a huge earthquake and tsunami that likely killed more than 10,000 people.

Kyodo news agency said 2,000 bodies had been found on Monday on the shores of Miyagi prefecture, which took the brunt of the tsunami.

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A TV station also reported a new tsunami on Monday but the weather agency said it had not detected unusual wave movement.

A badly wounded nation has seen whole villages and towns wiped off the map by a wall of water, leaving in its wake an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions.

As the country returned to work on Monday, markets began estimating the huge economic cost, with Japanese stocks plunging around 5 percent and the yen falling against the dollar.



Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant remained worrisome and that the authorities were doing their utmost to stop damage from spreading.

"The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War Two," a grim-faced Kan had told a news conference on Sunday.



"We're under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis."

The world's third-biggest economy also faced rolling power blackouts to conserve energy, and Tokyo commuters reported long delays as train companies cut back services.

DEATH TOLL 'ABOVE 10,000'

Broadcaster NHK, quoting a police official, said more than 10,000 people may have been killed as the wall of water triggered by Friday's 8.9-magnitude quake surged across the coastline, reducing whole towns to rubble. It was the biggest to have hit the quake-prone country since it started keeping records 140 years ago.

"I would like to believe that there still are survivors," said Masaru Kudo, a soldier dispatched to Rikuzentakata, a nearly flattened town of 24,500 people in far-northern Iwate prefecture.

Kyodo said 80,000 people had been evacuated from a 20-km (12-mile) radius around the stricken nuclear plant, joining more than 450,000 other evacuees from quake and tsunami-hit areas in the northeast of the main island Honshu.

Almost 2 million households were without power in the freezing north, the government said. There were about 1.4 million without running water.

"I am looking for my parents and my older brother," Yuko Abe, 54, said in tears at an emergency center in Rikuzentakata.

"Seeing the way the area is, I thought that perhaps they did not make it. I also cannot tell my siblings that live away that I am safe, as mobile phones and telephones are not working."


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