Food, fuel and water are growing scarce in the crisis-hit areas of Japan as fears mount of dangerous radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power station.
VOA correspondents reported Wednesday family members and rescue teams were finding nothing but wreckage in the aftermath of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. In one small town, a reporter saw a tugboat tossed into someone’s backyard and cars suspended from second-story windows.
Another VOA reporter says roads in northeastern Japan are increasingly empty both because there is no gasoline available and because drivers are choosing to stay far away from the leaking reactors and steaming fuel rods at the damaged power plant. He said vegetable prices further north have doubled as supplies run out.
Emergency centers are packed with those left homeless from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and killer tsunami. Heavy snow Wednesday left the survivors huddling for warmth as they waited for emergency supplies of food, water and fuel.
The International Red Cross Federation said Wednesday more than 2 million Japanese Red Cross volunteers are pitching in to help the earthquake and tsunami survivors. Countries from around the world have offered their help in delivering aid.
But foreign countries are also urging their nationals to evacuate Tokyo and northeastern Japan, with some countries and major foreign companies organizing group evacuations.
In a rare address on public radio and television, revered Emperor Akihito urged all Japanese to take care of one another as they struggle to overcome the tragedy. He also expressed hope that authorities can get control of the situation at the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The National Police Agency was quoted Wednesday as saying more than 3,600 people have been confirmed dead and that more than 7,500 still are missing.
Outside the area of heaviest destruction, Japanese are coping with rolling electricity blackouts because of shortages stemming from the crisis at the Fukushima complex. The government’s chief spokesman appealed Wednesday for people not to horde gasoline to ensure there is enough available for relief efforts.
In Ofunato, a port city of 40,000 in Iwate province, television pictures show virtually nothing is left standing near the waterfront. Officials say about 850,000 households in the north are still without electricity and 1.5 million are without running water.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency says crematoriums in Miyagi province are running out of fuel to cremate bodies.