Friday’s natural disasters were called the most severe challenge Japan has faced since World War II by Japanese Prime Minister Nato Kan. It left more than 10,000 deaths across the country and made thousands of people live nearly four days without fresh water, electricity as well as food. The crisis also damaged two nuclear reactors which potentially sent one through a partial meltdown and added radiation contamination to the public.
Though the temperature began lowering toward freezing, rescuers still pulled bodies from collapsed houses, shattered tree trunks, twisted cars and tangled power lines while survivors examined the ruined remains and thousands of hungry survivors gathered at darkened emergency centers. Large areas of the countryside remained surrounded by water and unreachable.
Two fires burn amid the devastated houses in Yamada town
Black smoke fills the sky when a huge fire burns at the oil refinery at Chilba City
Miyagi prefecture, which was worst affected by a catastrophic earthquake and huge tsunami, will alone have more than 10,000 deaths. Only 379 people have officially been confirmed as dead in Miyagi.
Hundreds of people were forced to stay on the floor of the Haneda Airport
Flames engulf houses in Sendai, Miyagi
In the town of Minamisanrikucho, about 10,000 people (nearly two-thirds of the population) have not been heard from since the tsunami wiped it out. In Iwaki town, residents must live without food, electricity and fuel supplies but there was no sign of government or military aid trucks.
Sendai Airport in north-east Japan was one of the first places to be swamped by the tsunami
Collapsed houses in Iwaki, Fukushima
The worst affected areas are said to be Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures. Water swept through the town in Iwaki, Fukushima
While the government doubled the number of soldiers joining in the aid effort to 100,000 and sent 120,000 blankets, 120,000 bottles of water, 110,000 liters of gasoline plus food to the affected areas, dozens of countries have offered assistance including U.S.
The waves swept through the car park of the airport and engulfed buildings in Sendai