Japan: grief and emergency after the earthquake

Police said the death toll rises to 700 killed and 800 missing. Some 215,000 victims have also been able to find refuge in shelters provided by the authorities.

Tokyo, Japan’s capital, was also very disturbed by the destruction caused by the earthquake, the largest ever known in Japan in the last century. The inhabitants, who couldn’t return home that night, began using means of public transport which have started functioning.

In train or subway stations, on television screens, they can see the horrific images of the earthquake and tsunami. These huge waves of 7 to 10 meters in height have penetrated five miles inland, sweeping everything in their path. The tsunami is largely responsible for the casualties announced because most of the victims drowned.

With trains and the airport of Sendai, the city at the heart of the most affected region, being largely useless, the army is leading relief operations: 50 000 soldiers were mobilized, pending any foreign reinforcements in case the Japanese government appeals to international assistance, which doesn’t seem to be the case yet.

The media has gone to great resources and constantly broadcasts the rescue work. Permanently, a map of the country is displayed on screens, highlighting in red the areas that remain under alert because of possible risk of a tsunami as the aftershocks were numerous.

More than 215,000 people were evacuated in shelters in the north and east of the country.

This figure includes more than 100,000 displaced people in Fukushima Prefecture, among which 45,000 are people who were told to evacuate within a radius of 20 km the zone around two nuclear power plants located in the prefecture. The total number of evacuated persons could be much higher; the police have not yet received a record of the evacuations in the Miyagi prefecture, one of the areas that suffered the most significant human and material damage.


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