SENDAI – Ishinomaki, the city with the highest number of people in Miyagi Prefecture missing from the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami, is still struggling to assess the disaster’s human toll.
Of the more than 7,700 people still unaccounted for in the Tohoku region, 2,770 remain listed as missing in Ishinomaki. The figure has remained unchanged for more than two months.
Although some 500 corpses have been found in the city, municipal officials said they stopped updating the tally after April 4, as they determined that duplications and omissions of some of the missing rendered it inaccurate.
The city, whose predisaster population stood at 162,800, also has the prefecture’s highest confirmed death toll, at 3,097. Municipal officials are continuing efforts to confirm the fate of residents by checking lists of evacuees and other documents against the resident registry, and asking local commissioners to visit each house.
“Little headway is being made in confirming the safety of residents in the central part of the city, where neighborhood communications are scarce,” one official said, adding the city’s “large population compared with other disaster-hit municipalities” is also slowing efforts.
While the municipal office expects to update the tally in July, the neighboring city of Higashimatsushima announced May 14 that it had revised downward the number of missing residents to 395, after listing the figure at 740 on April 20.
A prefectural tally later put the number at 141.
A municipal official said the tally had declined as a result of more people contacting the municipal office.
The city, which had a population of 41,400 as of May 1, has the prefecture’s second-highest confirmed death toll, at 1,039 people.