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Japan Earthquake: 10,000 Feared Dead, Hundreds Of Thousands Without Food, Water

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Author Topic: Japan Earthquake: 10,000 Feared Dead, Hundreds Of Thousands Without Food, Water  (Read 82 times)
Courtney Caine
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« on: March 13, 2011, 06:33:13 pm »

For Japan, one of the world's leading economies with ultramodern infrastructure, the disasters plunged ordinary life into nearly unimaginable deprivation.

Hundreds of thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers that were cut off from rescuers, aid and electricity. At least 1.4 million households had gone without water since the quake struck and some 1.9 million households were without electricity.

While the government doubled the number of soldiers deployed in the aid effort to 100,000 and sent 120,000 blankets, 120,000 bottles of water and 29,000 gallons (110,000 liters) of gasoline plus food to the affected areas, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said electricity would take days to restore. In the meantime, he said, electricity would be rationed with rolling blackouts to several cities, including Tokyo.

"This is Japan's most severe crisis since the war ended 65 years ago," Kan told reporters, adding that Japan's future would be decided by its response.

In Rikuzentakata, a port city of over 20,000 virtually wiped out by the tsunami, Etsuko Koyama escaped the water rushing through the third floor of her home but lost her grip on her daughter's hand and has not found her.

"I haven't given up hope yet," Koyama told public broadcaster NHK, wiping tears from her eyes. "I saved myself, but I couldn't save my daughter."

A young man described what ran through his mind before he escaped in a separate rescue. "I thought to myself, ah, this is how I will die," Tatsuro Ishikawa, his face bruised and cut, told NHK as he sat in striped hospital pajamas.

Japanese officials raised their estimate Sunday of the quake's magnitude to 9.0, a notch above the U.S. Geological Survey's reading of 8.9. Either way, it was the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan, which lies on a seismically active arc. A volcano on the southern island of Kyushu – hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the quake' epicenter – also resumed spewing ash and rock Sunday after a couple of quiet weeks, Japan's weather agency said.

Dozens of countries have offered assistance. Two U.S. aircraft carrier groups were off Japan's coast and ready to help. Helicopters were flying from one of the carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan, delivering food and water in Miyagi.

Two other U.S. rescue teams of 72 personnel each and rescue dogs arrived Sunday, as did a five-dog team from Singapore.

Still, large areas of the countryside remained surrounded by water and unreachable. Fuel stations were closed, though at some, cars waited in lines hundreds of vehicles long.
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