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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

2,000 bodies wash ashore on one stretch of coast as scientists warn Japan faces SECOND monster quake and tsunami

By Daily Mail Reporter

-Second 'monster' quake could measure have magnitude of 8
-Terrible tide of at least 2,000 bodies wash up on the coastline
-Crews fight to bring reactor at nuclear power plant under control
-Millions left without food and power and hospitals have no medicine

Devastating: A woman sobs on a road as she surveys the destroyed city of Natori in the region of Miyagi in northern Japan

Devastated Japan today faced the prospect of a second massive earthquake and tsunami even as millions of citizen struggled to come to terms with its biggest-ever natural disaster.

Over 2,000 bodies had been washed ashore on the country's decimated coastline - raising fears the death toll could be higher than previously thought.

While the official death toll stood at nearly 1,900, the discovery of the washed-up bodies and other reports of deaths suggest the true number is much higher. In Miyagi, the police chief has estimated 10,000 people could have been killed by the quake and tsunami alone.

Bird's eye view: A photograph of the devastation in Sendai taken from a U.S. military helicopter

Grim: The Panaese army search for bodies in Higashimatsushima City, in Miyagi, the state where up to 10,000 people may have died

Crematoriums were overflowing with the dead and rescue workers ran out of body bags as the nation faced the reality of its mounting crisis.

The bodies washed up had been found on the shoreline in Miyagi on the eastern coast of the country.

Millions were still without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures in the devastated north-east. An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.1 jolted the Tokyo area around 5am on Tuesday - 8pm on Monday in the UK.

Though Japanese officials have refused to speculate on the death toll, Indonesian geologist Hery Harjono, who dealt with the 2004 Asian tsunami, said it would be 'a miracle really if it turns out to be less than 10,000' dead.

Meanwhile, a third reactor at a nuclear power plant lost its cooling capacity and the fuel rods at another were at least briefly fully exposed, raising fears of a meltdown.

The stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda following the 9.0 magnitude quake on Friday.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the nation faced its worst crisis since World War II. Kan said last night in a television address that the nation's future will be decided by the choices made by each Japanese and urged all to join in their determination to rebuild the nation following a massive earthquake and tsunami.

People walk a road between the rubble of destroyed buildings in Minamisanriku town, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, three days after the earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 struck

Laid waste: Huge swathes of land were destroyed when the tsunami hit Sendai in Miyagi province, sweeping away everything in its path

Screening: A mother tries to talk to her daughter who had been isolated for signs of radiation after evacuating from the vicinity of Fukushima's nuclear plants (left). She then drops down to talk to the family dog

Waiting for rescue: Isolated survivors sit around a fire and await help in a makeshift camp near Ishinomaki, northern Japan

Experts are now warning a second huge quake - almost as powerful as the first - could hit the country, triggering another tsunami.

The director of the Australian Seismological Centre, Dr Kevin McCue, told the Sydney Morning Herald that there had been more than 100 smaller quakes since Friday, and a larger aftershock was likely.

'Normally they happen within days.
'The rule of thumb is that you would expect the main aftershock to be one magnitude smaller than the main shock, so you would be expecting a 7.9.

'That's a monster again in its own right that is capable of producing a tsunami and more damage.'

Another expert believes Friday's quake is the 'aftershock' of an earlier eruption two days before, in which a 7.2 magnitude explosion shook the Pacific sea floor near the northern Miyagi area.

John McCloskey, a geophysicist at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, told the journal Nature the quakes have 'probably also affected the stress field further south along the fault zone, critically increasing the earthquake risk in the Tokyo region'.

He added that the aftershocks 'may be as large as, or even stronger than, the quake that last month devastated Christchurch in New Zealand', the website Good reported.

That disaster, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, claimed more than 160 lives.

Japan is beginning to take stock of what the prime minister labelled its ‘most severe crisis since the Second World War’, when the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japanese police said 1,000 washed up bodies were found scattered today across the coastline of Miyagi prefecture.

Desperate: A 'help' sign is written on the ground of Ohara Primary School near a sea coast covered with the rubble in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture

Scale of the disaster: Rescuers, seen from the air, appear tiny when viewed against the backdrop of carnage and devastation. They were searching for victims of the tsunami in Noda village, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan

The discovery raised the official death toll to about 2,800, but the Miyagi police chief has said that more than 10,000 people are estimated to have died in his province alone, which has a population of 2.3million.

In one town in a neighbouring prefecture, the crematorium was unable to handle the crush of bodies being brought in for funerals.

'We have already begun cremations, but we can only handle 18 bodies a day,' said Katsuhiko Abe. 'We are overwhelmed and are asking other cites to help us deal with bodies. We only have one crematorium in town.'

In Japan most people opt to cremate their dead, a process that, like burial, requires permission first from local authorities. But the government took the rare step today of waiving the paperwork to speed up funerals.

A Health Ministry spokesman said: 'The current situation is so extraordinary, and it is very likely that crematoriums are running beyond capacity.

Wrecked... Upturned cars litter the landscabem buildings have collapsed as Miyagi Prefecture lies in ruins

Wave of destruction: The ruined shoreline of Sendai (left) and cars burnt out by fires in the wake of the tsunami lined up nearby

Vast expanse: The process of clearing the wreckage has been slow despite 100,000 troops being deployed to help scour the debris

'This is an emergency measure. We want to help quake-hit people as much as we can.'

Friday's double tragedy has caused unimaginable deprivation. In many areas there is no running water, no power and four- to five-hour waits for petrol . People are suppressing hunger with instant noodles or rice balls while dealing with the loss of loved ones and homes.

'People are surviving on little food and water. Things are simply not coming,' said a government official in Iwate prefecture, one of the three hardest hit.

He said authorities were receiving just 10 per cent of the food and other supplies they need. Body bags and coffins were running so short that the government may turn to foreign funeral homes for help, he said.

Carnage: Tsunami has left a scene of devastation that will cost billions to repair

Evacuees, who fled from the vicinity of Fukushima nuclear power plant, rest at an evacuation center set in a gymnasium in Kawamata, Fukushima

U.S. and British search and rescue teams set up a base to bed in for the night in a gymnasium after arriving at the Setamai school in Sumita, northern Japan

100,000 troops are on the ground across Japan searching for bodies with the death toll expected to be in excess of 10,000 once all the bodies have been discovered

'We have requested funeral homes across the nation to send us many body bags and coffins. But we simply don't have enough,' he said.

'We just did not expect such a thing to happen. It's just overwhelming.'

The coast has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks since Friday, the latest one a 6.2 magnitude quake that was followed by a new tsunami scare today.

As sirens wailed, soldiers abandoned their search operations and told residents of the devastated shoreline in Soma, the worst hit town in Fukushima prefecture, to run to higher ground.

People line up to get kerosene in Hitachi in Ibaraki Prefecture (left) while an aerial picture shows the remnants of train tracks in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture

Search parties arrived in Soma for the first time since Friday to dig out bodies.
Ambulances stood by and body bags were laid out in an area cleared of debris, as firefighters used hand picks and chain saws to clear a jumble of broken timber, plastic sheets, roofs, sludge, twisted cars, tangled powerlines and household goods.

Officials said one-third of the city of 38,000 people was flooded and thousands were missing.

Hundreds of Britons – many of them English language teachers – are among those who have not been traced to date.

Ghostly: The scene of devastation seen from the air. Vast areas have been completely wiped off the map by the tsunami

Reduced to matchsticks: A view of a vast area of tsunami devastated Shizugawa district in Minami Sanriku

Japanese officials have refused to speculate on how high the death toll could rise, but experts who dealt with the 2004 Asian tsunami offered a dire outlook.

'It's a miracle really, if it turns out to be less than 10,000,' said Hery Harjono, a senior geologist with the Indonesian Science Institute, who was closely involved with the aftermath of earlier disaster that killed 230,000 people - of which only 184,000 bodies were found.

He drew parallels between the two disasters - notably that many bodies in Japan may have been sucked out to sea or remain trapped beneath rubble as they did in Indonesia's hardest-hit Aceh province.

But he also stressed that Japan's infrastructure, high-level of preparedness and city planning to keep houses away from the shore could mitigate their losses.

Totally destroyed: The town of Minamisanriku town, Miyagi, where 10,000 people are missing

According to public broadcaster NHK, 430,000 people are living in emergency shelters or with relatives. Another 24,000 people are stranded.

One reason for the loss of power is the damage several nuclear reactors in the area.

At one plant, Fukushima Dai-ichi, three reactors have lost the ability to cool down.
Explosions have destroyed the containment buildings of the other two reactors.

More than 180,000 people have evacuated the area around the plants in recent days.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Seventh Fleet said it has moved its ships and aircraft away from an earthquake-stricken Japanese nuclear power plant after discovering low-level radioactive contamination.

The fleet said today that the radiation was from a plume of smoke and steam released from the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, which has been hit by two explosions since Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Chilling: The destruction caused by the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, right, caused similar

devastation. Left a survivor in Otsuchi, Iwate, looks through a family photo album as the country struggles to come to terms with the scale of the disaster

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was about 100 miles (160km) offshore when its instruments detected the radiation.

But the fleet said the dose of radiation was about the same as one month's normal exposure to natural background radiation in the environment.

Tokyo Electric Power held off on imposing rolling blackouts planned for today, but called for people to try to limit electricity use.

Many regional train lines were suspended or operating on a limited schedule to help reduce the power load.

Japan's central bank injected 15 trillion yen (£114 billion) into money markets to stem worries about the world's third-largest economy.

Shares fell on the first business day after the disasters. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average shed nearly 634 points, or 6.2%, to 9,620.49, extending losses from Friday. Escalating concerns over the fallout of the disaster triggered a plunge that hit all sectors.

Japan's economy has been ailing for 20 years, barely managing to eke out weak growth between slowdowns. It is saddled by a massive public debt that, at 200% of gross domestic product, is the biggest among industrialised nations.

Preliminary estimates put repair costs from the earthquake and tsunami in the tens of billions of dollars - a huge blow for an already fragile economy that lost its place as the world's No. 2 to China last year.



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