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 Over 21,000 dead or missing.

Quake aftermath in Onagawa
Members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces clean up debris around a tilting house in the quake-hit town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 21, 2011. The area was devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11. (Kyodo)

Over 21,000 dead or missing in quake-hit Japan: police

TOKYO, March 22  Kyodo  


     The total number of people killed or reported missing as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan stood at 21,459 as of 9 p.m. Monday, the National Police Agency
said, while growing signs of reconstruction emerged, with access restored to all communities in the disaster-struck coastal prefecture of Iwate.
     The number of deaths reported in a total of 12 prefectures stood at 8,805, while the number of people reported missing by their relatives climbed to 12,654 in six prefectures. Police have identified around 4,080 bodies, of which 2,990 have been returned to their families, the agency said.
     A total of about 320,000 evacuees, including people who fled areas around the troubled nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture, are now staying at about 2,100 makeshift shelters set up in 16 prefectures.
     ''Until now, we've asked (relief workers) to prioritize the rescue of affected people. We now want them to place priority on assisting people who are living in the shelters,'' Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai told reporters after calling at a Ground Self-Defense
Force camp in Sendai, the prefectural capital, to encourage troops on a disaster mission.
     In the hard-hit city of Ishinomaki, also in Miyagi, the governor handed a letter addressed to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, requesting aid for reconstruction, to a visiting ruling party lawmaker, as Kan canceled his scheduled visit to the city Monday due to bad weather.
     Murai later toured shelters to comfort people displaced by the quake and tsunami.


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