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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 80 times)
Courtney Caine
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« on: March 13, 2011, 06:33:30 pm »

The United States and a several countries in Europe urged their citizens to avoid travel to Japan. France took the added step of suggesting people leave Tokyo in case radiation reached the city.

Community after community traced the vast extent of the devastation.

In the town of Minamisanrikucho, 10,000 people – nearly two-thirds of the population – have not been heard from since the tsunami wiped it out, a government spokesman said. NHK showed only a couple concrete structures still standing, and the bottom three floors of those buildings gutted. One of the few standing was a hospital, and a worker told NHK that hospital staff rescued about a third of the patients.

In the hard-hit port city of Sendai, firefighters with wooden picks dug through a devastated neighborhood. One of them yelled: "A corpse." Inside a house, he had found the body of a gray-haired woman under a blanket.

A few minutes later, the firefighters spotted another – that of a man in black fleece jacket and pants, crumpled in a partial fetal position at the bottom of a wooden stairwell. From outside, while the top of the house seemed almost untouched, the first floor where the body was had been inundated. A minivan lay embedded in one outer wall, which had been ripped away, pulverized beside a mangled bicycle.

The man's neighbor, 24-year-old Ayumi Osuga, dug through the remains of her own house, her white mittens covered by dark mud.

Osuga said she had been practicing origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into figures, with her three children when the quake stuck. She recalled her husband's shouted warning from outside: "'GET OUT OF THERE NOW!'"

She gathered her children – aged 2 to 6 – and fled in her car to higher ground with her husband. They spent the night in a hilltop home belonging to her husband's family about 12 miles (20 kilometers) away.

"My family, my children. We are lucky to be alive," she said.

"I have come to realize what is important in life," Osuga said, nervously flicking ashes from a cigarette onto the rubble at her feet as a giant column of black smoke billowed in the distance.

As night fell and temperatures dropped to freezing in Sendai, people who had slept in underpasses or offices the past two nights gathered for warmth in community centers, schools and City Hall.

At a large refinery on the outskirts of the city, 100-foot (30-meter) -high bright orange flames rose in the air, spitting out dark plumes of smoke. The facility has been burning since Friday. The fire's roar could be heard from afar. Smoke burned the eyes and throat, and a gaseous stench hung in the air.

In the small town of Tagajo, also near Sendai, dazed residents roamed streets cluttered with smashed cars, broken homes and twisted metal.
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