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Friday, 18 March 2011






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Japan disaster dead, missing toll nears 15,000

JAPAN: The official number of dead and missing after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast has neared 15,000, police said Wednesday, but reports hinted at a much higher toll.

The number of confirmed dead from Friday's twin disasters stood at 5,457, while the official number of missing hit 9,600. A total of 2,282 people were injured in the disaster.

But reports continued to come in which indicated that the final toll could be much higher.

The mayor of the coastal town of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture said Wednesday that the number of missing there was likely to hit 10,000, Kyodo News reported.

Saturday, public broadcaster NHK reported that around 10,000 people were unaccounted for in the port town of Minamisanriku in the same prefecture.

Amid a mass rescue effort there were grim updates indicating severe loss of life along the battered east coast of Honshu island, where the monster waves destroyed or damaged more than 55,380 homes and other buildings.

Meanwhile, The US military will fly an unmanned spy plane over an earthquake-hit nuclear power plant in Japan to take a closer look at its troubled reactors, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

Pictures taken by the Global Hawk high-altitude reconnaissance plane could provide a useful clue to what is occurring inside the reactor buildings, around which high-level radiation has been detected, Kyodo quoted a government source as saying.

The aircraft is equipped with infrared sensors.

The planned mission comes as the Japanese government appears unable to contain the crisis after the seaside plant was struck by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on Friday.

The US military has already provided logistical transportation, and search and rescue help in the wake of the disaster that hit the Pacific coast northeast of Tokyo.

In Washington on Wednesday, a Pentagon official said US forces in Japan are in principle not allowed within a 90-kilometre (60-mile) radius of the plant, Kyodo said.

The massive earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan has shifted the country more than two metres away from the neighbouring Korean peninsula, scientists said on Thursday.

The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASSI) said the Korean peninsula moved east up to five centimetres (two inches) while Japan shifted some 2.4 metres (7.92 feet) east.

Consequently, the distance between the countries increased by more than two metres, the institute said.

The disputed Dokdo islands, also claimed by Japan where they are known as Takeshima, relocated furthest, moving five centimetres east, as the islands in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) are relatively closer to the epicentre. Tokyo, Thursday, AFP


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