2,000 more added to death toll in Miyagi

SENDAI (Kyodo) The dead and missing in the wake of Friday’s 9.0-magnitude quake and massive tsunami topped 5,000 Monday, after some 2,000 bodies were found along two shores in Miyagi Prefecture.

Police and firefighters meanwhile worked to recover another 200 to 300 bodies in Sendai, but the debris is slowing down the recovery effort.

Of the 2,000, about 1,000 were spotted on the coast at Minamisanriku, where the Miyagi Prefectural Government has been unable to ascertain the fate of about 10,000 people — over half the town’s population.

The findings point to a significantly increased death toll from the quake and tsunami.

About 1,000 bodies were found washing ashore at Miyagi’s hardest-hit Ojika Peninsula.

About 450,000 people had evacuated as of Sunday in Miyagi and five other prefectures, but water, food and fuel are in short supply in various locations where they have taken refuge, prompting the government to airlift supplies by Self-Defense Forces helicopters.

A South Korean was among the confirmed dead, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry. China has been unable to contact about 100 trainees in the Miyagi city of Ishinomaki but was able to confirm the safety of 6,957 Chinese across Japan, according to Xinhua news agency.

The whereabouts of about 2,500 tourists who were visiting the quake-hit areas has not been confirmed, the Japan Tourism Agency said.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a morning meeting at the government disaster headquarters that emergency workers have rescued 15,000 survivors.

A Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer rescued 32 people around the quay at Ishinomaki on Saturday, the Defense Ministry said separately.

Communications failures also continued in quake-hit areas centering on Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, with 561,000 phone lines and 221,400 fiber-optic connections operated by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. remaining out of service as of 6 a.m.

With the country’s largest recorded quake having crippled a key nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. has started an unprecedented rationing of power in the Kanto region to make up for an expected power shortage.

The region-specific outages, expected to last at least until the end of April, will affect most of the 45 million people in the power firm’s service area in Tokyo and eight prefectures, with railways suspending most services in the region through Monday.