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Japan is struggling as the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami grows. A thousand bodies have washed up along Japan’s coastline, crematoriums are overflowing and body bags are running out, say officials.

Japan is struggling as the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami grows. A thousand bodies have washed up along Japan’s coastline, crematoriums are overflowing and body bags are running out, say officials.

Japan’s National Police Agency said that 2,478 people are confirmed dead, and thousands are still missing. 400,000 people are living in makeshift shelters or evacuation centres without water or food.

In the Miyagi prefecture, officials estimate that the death toll will climb to at least 10,000.

In a neighbouring prefecture, bodies of those killed in Japan’s earthquake and tsunami stack up as the crematorium struggles to handle the sheer volume being brought in.

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"We have already begun cremations, but we can only handle 18 bodies a day. We are overwhelmed and are asking other cites to help us deal with bodies," said a crematorium spokesperson.

In the Iwate prefecture, a government official said that authorities are receiving just 10% of the food and other supplies they need. Body bags and coffins are running so short that the government may turn to foreign funeral homes for help, he said.

"We have requested funeral homes across the nation to send us many body bags and coffins. But we simply don't have enough," he said.

"We just did not expect such a thing to happen. It's just overwhelming."

In the north-east, which was hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, millions of Japanese are facing a fourth night without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures.

Rescue teams from 13 countries are continuing with their searches, some assisted by dogs and helicopters scan the damage from the sky.

Japan has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks since Friday’s earthquake, the latest one a 6.2 magnitude quake that was followed by a new tsunami scare. The United States Geological Survey revised the magnitude of the earthquake to 9.0, from 8.9, but it was the subsequent tsunami that did the most damage.


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