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Japan Tsunami Death Toll To Exceed 10,000

Benjamin Gottlieb |
March 13, 2011 | 2:41 p.m. PDT

Senior News Editor

Image of the U.S. rescue effort in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy).
Image of the U.S. rescue effort in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy).

The death toll from Japan's Friday afternoon magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami is expected to surpass 10,000, defining the worst national catastrophe since the Second World War, Japanese officials said on Sunday.

In a horrific display indicative of the disaster, hundreds of bodies reportedly washed ashore near Sendai, one of the hardest-hit coastal cities in Japan, officials said.

Japan’s public broadcasting network NHK reported that just 1,300 people were confirmed dead by Sunday. But many people are still missing along the devastated eastern coastline of Japan.

In Minami-Sanriku alone, 10,000 of the 17,000 residents are still missing. Ninety-five percent of the town has reportedly been destroyed by the disaster.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan stepped up nationwide rescue efforts Sunday, increasing the number of soldiers sent to the ravaged coastal areas to 100,000.

"I ask for utmost efforts to save the lives of as many people as possible," Kan said, following a meeting at the Japanese emergency disaster headquarters. "We will put all-out efforts into rescuing people who have been isolated."

According to The Times of India, a Japanese police chief believes the death toll could exceed 10,000 in the hardest-hit prefecture of Miyagi alone.

The Guardian reports:

The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said rescue operations were being hampered by continual aftershocks, tsunami alerts and fires, while the Japanese Red Cross – which has deployed more than 600 people in 86 teams – said medical relief would be a "longtime battle".

An OCHA report said at least 1,600 people were dead, 10,000 were missing, 380,000 had been evacuated from areas affected by the tsunami and quake, and 210,000 had been moved outside a 12-mile radius of the Fukushima nuclear plants.

"The main humanitarian needs are food, drinking water, blankets, fuel and medical items which the government and private sector in Japan are urgently mobilizing and sending," said the OCHA.

Meanwhile, entire coastal villages along Japan's northern Pacific shoreline remain completely underwater.

Nearly half a million people have been forced from their homes since the quake and subsequent tsunami and are now in desperate need of aid.

More footage of the tsunami can be seen below:

Watch the AP's report below:

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