Japan Quake-Tsunami Death Toll Likely Over 10,000


japan-quakeTagajo, Japan – People across a devastated swath of Japan suffered for a third day today without water, electricity and proper food, as the country grappled with the enormity of a massive earthquake and tsunami that left more than 10,000 people dead in one area alone.

Japan’s prime minister called the crisis the most severe challenge the nation has faced since World War II, as the grim situation worsened. Friday’s disasters damaged two nuclear reactors, potentially sending one through a partial meltdown and adding radiation contamination to the fears of an unsettled public.

Temperatures began sinking toward freezing, compounding the misery of survivors along hundreds of miles (kilometers) of the northeastern coast battered by the tsunami that smashed inland with breathtaking fury. Rescuers pulled bodies from mud-covered jumbles of wrecked houses, shattered tree trunks, twisted cars and tangled power lines while survivors examined the ruined remains.

In Rikusentakata, a port city of over 20,000 virtually wiped out by the tsunami, Etsuko Koyama escaped the water rushing through the third flood of her home but lost her grip on her daughter’s hand and has not found her.

“I haven’t given up hope yet,” Koyama told public broadcaster NHK, wiping tears from her eyes. “I saved myself, but I couldn’t save my daughter.”

To the south, in Miyagi prefecture, or state, the police chief told a gathering of disaster relief officials that his estimate for deaths was more than 10,000, police spokesman Go Sugawara told The Associated Press. Miyagi has a population of 2.3 million and is one of the three prefectures hardest hit in Friday’s disaster. Only 379 people have officially been confirmed as dead in Miyagi.

According to officials, at least 1,200 people were killed – including 200 people whose bodies were found Sunday along the coast – and 739 were missing in the disasters.

For Japan, one of the leading economies with ultramodern infrastructure, the disasters made ordinary life unimaginably difficult.
Hundreds of thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers that were cut off from rescuers, aid and electricity. At least 1.4 million households had gone without water since the quake struck and some 1.9 million households were without electricity.

While the government doubled the number of soldiers deployed in the aid effort to 100,000 and sent 120,000 blankets, 120,000 bottles of water and 110,000 liters of gasoline plus food to the affected areas, Prime Minister Nato Kan said electricity would take days to restore. In the meantime, he said, electricity would be rationed with rolling blackouts to several cities, including Tokyo.

“This is Japan’s most severe crisis since the war ended 65 years ago,” Kan told reporters, adding that Japan’s future would be decided by the response to this crisis.

In a rare piece of good news, the Defense Ministry said a military vessel on Sunday rescued a 60-year-old man floating off the coast of Fukushima on the roof of his house after being swept away in the tsunami. He was in good condition.

Large areas of the countryside remained surrounded by water and unreachable. Fuel stations were closed and people were running out of gasoline for their vehicles.

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 buildings standing was a hospital, and a worker told NHK hospital staff rescued about a third of the patients in the facility.

In Iwaki town, residents were leaving due to concerns over dwindling food and fuel supplies. The town had no electricity and all stores were closed. Local police took in about 90 people and gave them blankets and rice balls but there was no sign of government or military aid trucks.

At a large refinery on the outskirts of the hard-hit port city of Sendai, 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 road could be heard from afar, and a gaseous stench burned the eyes and throat.

“My water is cut off,” said Kenji Fukuda, who lives in the rural town of Sukugawa. It “is a little bit rural and there is natural well water. We take it and put it through the water purifier and warm it up and use it in various ways,” he said.

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

Residents said the water surged in and quickly rose higher than the first floor of buildings. At Sengen General Hospital the staff worked feverishly to haul bedridden patients up the stairs one at a time. With the halls now dark, those that can leave have gone to the local community center.

“There is still no water or power, and we’ve got some very sick people in here,” said hospital official Ikuro Matsumoto.

One older neighborhood sits on low ground near a canal. The tsunami came in from the canal side and blasted through the frail wooden houses, coating the interiors with a thick layer of mud and spilling their contents out into the street on the other side.

“It’s been two days, and all I’ve been given so far is a piece of bread and a rice ball,” said Masashi Imai, 56.

Police cars drove slowly through the town and warned residents through loudspeakers to seek higher ground, but most simply stood by and watched them pass.

Dozens of countries have offered assistance. Two U.S. aircraft carrier groups were off Japan’s coast and ready to provide assistance. Helicopters were flying from one of the carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan, delivering food and water in Miyagi.

Two other U.S. rescue teams of 72 personnel each and rescue dogs were scheduled to arrive later Sunday, as was a five-dog team from Singapore.

In 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, the house seemed almost untouched, two cracks in the white walls the only signs of damage.

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 playing 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 huddled 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.

{The Associated Press/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Hashem has paid them back. Paid them back for the rishus in WW11. Had these Japenese been able to, they would have killed and gassed every Jew. They were known anti-semites and are doing the same anti-semitic act now, by keeping boys in prison, that they KNOW did nothing intentionally. Hashem does not forget.
    Yesh Din Vyesh Dayan.

  2. Yesh Din Vyesh Dayan.

    All the ways of G-d are just. And while I am saddened by the loss of life, I know that G-d’s ways are all just.

    It could well be (spirtually) related to the boys locked in Japan. It could also have to do with World War II

    I just hope that G-d pays venegance also to Germany!!! Please oh Please dear G-d remember all the pain the Nazi’s did to us, and eradicate them in the worst hell ever from the face of this world.

    And remember your children for good, along with all people who you know are good.

  3. Wow where to begin, ok for starters you do realize that very very few of those killed could possibly have been of age to do much during WW2. Secondly (and more importantly) The Japanese where great for yidden during WW2 many many yidden were saved thanks to the japanese either letting them stay in Japan, or in areas under their control, or at the very least to alow them to pass through on their way someplace else. Have you heard of the mir yeshiva? Where were they during WW2?

  4. #1: Wow, do you have a direct line to Hashem? Ever hear of the Mir Yeshiva, which was rescued by the Japanese? Ever hear of Chiune Sugihara?

    And, how many of the victims of this event were directly involved in the alleged atrocities you cite?

    Yesh Din v’yesh Dayan, indeed. However, “lo Machshevosaim machshevoseichem, v’lo darcheichem Derochoi, Ne’um Hahsem.”

  5. #1, You disgust me. You warped opinion on this disaster makes me wonder about the Jewish faith. The Torah teaches us NOT to rejoice upon our enemies downfall. The Japanese are clearly not our enemies. You are attempting to figure out Hashems cheshbonos and putting blame on thousands of innocents. How would you feel, people rejoicing about the Holocaust. It would make you sick, would it not? Why is this any different? Shame on you

  6. I knew it wouldn’t take long before someone would make the above comment—I just didn’t think it would be the absoulte first post. Japan gave passage to China to Jews escaping Nazi Germany . I believe this included rabbis and students from Mir. The Jewish drug smugglers are in jail like non-Jewish drug smugglers are.

    Orthodox Union already has a donation relief program for the Japanese vicitms. That is true Judaism.

  7. You should open a history book before you open your mouth. You can start by googling Chiune Sugihara and the Mir Yeshiva, then get the PBS special titled “Sugihara: A legacy of kindness”. You might not agree with the Japanese legal system, but to call it Anti-semitism cheapens the term. Last I recall, in Halacha an aveira committed without intent is still an aveira.

  8. wow, while it’s bracing to see Hashem mete out justice, not everything that is thought should be said, nor may everyone agree.

  9. This is unbelievable. I know people from the Mir who owe their lives to the Japanese, who didn’t understand what the crazy Germans had against Jews, so didn’t bother to exterminate us. The Mir yeshiva, its faculty and talmidim, survived in Shanghai because the Japanese ignored the German requests to kill them out.

    And what about Sugihara, the righteous gentile who saved hundreds of Jews in Vilna by giving them visas out, endangering himself in the process and ending his diplomatic career?

    We should be praying for them, with hakaras hatov. In any case, the Japanese of that generation are dead and gone. The Japanese of today mostly weren’t even born during WWII.

    What have we become, that some of us can make such hateful comments as #1 and #2?

  10. #1 is 100% correct! I witnessed the horror of Japan personally. I risk to say they were even worse than the germans ym”s. They certainly are today. Maybe now FINALLY, Jewish neighborhoods will no longer be full of Hondas and Toyotas and support this evil regime to save a few dollars. Put your money where your mouth is! Hashem tried recalls. That was not enough. Now Toyota is shut down, hopefully for good. I promise you that this goes way back and has nothing to do with a few bochurim there

  11. i have the highest respect and admiration for the Japanese people. I know the history of the Mir yeshiva and the Japanese are not anti-Semitic in the least. I don’t feel that their alliances with anti-Semitics were based on hatred of Jews … rather on business interests or other issues … that being said … it is very strange to have this happen after such intense controversy over our three precious yeshiva bochrum … after they refused to even consider their innocence regadless of our pleadings … some of our holiest rabbeim visiting the prison to plead on their behalf … and the fact they were used as drug mules and had no knowledge of their cargo … ordinarily i might say that this is simply Japanese justice and it would have been shown to anyone, any race,nationality or religion … but this severe Japanese justice was shown to three of our holy bochrum … Torah students … and that involved Ha-Shem personally … that might have made the difference … sort of ‘you don’t mess with my Torah students’ sort of thing … something to think about …

  12. It is hard not to associate massive natural disasters of this magnitude with our limited human notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Sadly, it is easy to lose our Torah-based requirement as frum Jews to see Hashem’s good in all; very hard to {simply} pray for Hashem’s rachmanus over din–without the editorials. The images//imagery that Nature, G~d’s handmaiden has provided, are writ large, especially as we approach Purim, where the hidden will be revealed. “The tsunami [in Sendai]… blasted through the frail wooden houses, coating the interiors with a thick layer of mud while spilling their contents out into the street …. From (the)outside, (most) houses seemed almost untouched, but for one or two cracks in the white walls.” One great gift of Hashem is the understanding that we must move away from nuclear power(sic). Another is the role of Jews dedicated to chesed. I have been reading about the work of Chabad and Rabbi Binyomin in Sendai, Kiddush Hashem! What a wonderful “coincidence” of names: Binyamin, beloved brother of Yosef Hatzaddik who was imprisoned on false charges, and…we know the outcome…. Hold strong. Hold to Emunah//Bitachon…