While Japan has aggressively prepared for years for major earthquakes, reinforcing buildings and running drills, the impact of the tsunami — which came so quickly that not many people managed to flee to higher ground — was severe.
A Japanese police official said 1,000 washed up bodies were found scattered Monday across the coastline of Miyagi prefecture. The official declined to be named, citing department policy.
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 2.3 million.
By Monday, officials were clearly overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis, with millions of people having spent three nights without water, food or heat in near-freezing temperatures. At least 1.4 million households had gone without water since the quake struck and some 1.9 million households were without electricity.
Officials in one devastated town said they were running out of body bags.
Officials have declared states of emergency at six Fukushima reactors, where Friday's twin disasters knocked out the main cooling systems and backup generators. Three are at Dai-ichi and three at the nearby Fukushima Daini complex.
It was not clear if the radiation had leaked during Monday's explosion. That blast was felt 25 miles (40 kilometers) away, but the plant's operator said radiation levels at the reactor were still within legal limits.
The explosion at the plant's Unit 3, which authorities have been frantically trying to cool after a system failure in the wake of Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami, triggered an order for hundreds of people to stay indoors, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. The two disasters left at least 10,000 people dead.
Operators knew an explosion was a possibility as they struggled to reduce pressure inside the reactor containment vessel, but apparently felt they had no choice if they wanted to avoid a complete meltdown. In the end, the hydrogen in the released steam mixed with oxygen in the atmosphere and set off the blast.
Overall, more than 1,500 people had been scanned for radiation exposure in the area, officials said. The U.N. nuclear agency said a state of emergency was also declared Sunday at another complex, the Onagawa power plant, after higher-than-permitted levels of radiation were measured there. It said Japan informed it that all three of those reactors there were under control.
Source: Yahoo News