570 ‘quake-related deaths’ feared

Kyodo

The death toll from the March earthquake and tsunami may rise by hundreds as about 570 possible “related deaths” have been reported in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures.

The final death toll will include related deaths such as those from stress and chronic disease while living in shelters.

The official toll by the National Police Agency came to 15,616 in 12 prefectures as of Saturday, with 4,949 people missing in six prefectures.

Of 49 municipalities in the three prefectures, three as of Friday had recognized 33 related deaths by paying condolence money to families and five municipalities were still determining which cases need to be screened, suggesting the total could grow further.

Twenty-nine municipalities said they were planning to set up screening panels to determine whether deaths were related to the natural disaster.

Of the three municipalities where screening is already under way, Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, recognized all 20 cases reported, mostly elderly people who died of pneumonia after getting soaked in the tsunami, a municipal official said.