2,000 more bodies found in Miyagi Prefecture

Tokyo: Some 2,000 bodies were found on Tuesday on the two shores in Miyagi Prefecture, the worst hit by Friday`s earthquake and massive Tsunami, as Japan continued to struggle to grasp the full extent of the disaster.

The findings will significantly increase the death toll from the magnitude 9.0 quake and ensuing tsunami, with police having so far confirmed 1,647 deaths and 1,720 people missing across the affected areas in northeastern and eastern Japan, Kyodo news agency reported from Miyagi`s main town Sendai.

About 1,000 bodies were washed ashore on the hardest-hit Miyagi`s Ojika Peninsula while another 1,000 were spotted in the town of Minamisanriku where the prefectural government has been unable to contact about 10,000 people, or over half the local population.

The official death toll excludes about 200 to 300 bodies in Sendai, the capital of Miyagi, that have yet to be recovered by police and other workers due to the difficulty of reaching them amid the devastation and rubble.

About 450,000 people had evacuated by yesterday in Miyagi and five other prefectures but water, food and fuel are in short supply in various locations where they have taken refuge, prompting the government to decide to airlift supplies by Self-Defense Forces helicopters.

The whereabouts of about 2,500 tourists who were visiting the quake-hit areas have not been confirmed, the Japan Tourism Agency said.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said today in a meeting at the government disaster headquarters that emergency workers have so far rescued 15,000 survivors.

A Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer rescued 32 people around the quay at Ishinomaki port on Saturday, the Defense Ministry said separately.

With the country`s largest recorded quake having crippled some nuclear power plants in the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is set to start an unprecedented rationing of power in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo later in the day to make up for an expected power shortage.

The region-specific outages, expected to last at least until the end of April, will affect most of the 45 million people in the power firm`s service area in Tokyo and eight prefectures, with railway operators suspending most services in the region through Monday.

Communication failures also continued in quake-hit areas centering on Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, with 561,000 phone lines and 221,400 fibre-optic connections operated by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. remaining out of service as of 6 am (local time).