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2,000 bodies found on Miyagi coast after tsunami

TOKYO — A total of about 2,000 bodies have been found in Miyagi Prefecture's coastal area in the wake of last week's calamitous earthquake and tsunami, according to the prefectural government.

In a meeting Monday morning at the disaster response headquarters set up by the prefectural government, it was reported that about 1,000 bodies had been discovered in Minami-Sanrikucho, a coastal town razed by a tsunami generated by the latest killer quake.

Meanwhile, an estimated 1,000 bodies have been found on the coast of the Ojika Peninsula in Ishinomaki, the prefectural police said, adding the death toll likely would continue to rise.

According to a central government count, about 530,000 people were taking shelter at public facilities and other makeshift evacuation centers early Monday morning in areas struck by the massive earthquake and tsunami. Those evacuees included about 150,000 in Miyagi Prefecture and 130,000 in Fukushima Prefecture.

About 9,600 people remained stranded on hills, buildings and other elevated locations, waiting for rescuers to arrive at their sites after fleeing from structures flooded by tsunami waves.

Japan's Self-Defense Forces have increased the number of personnel tasked with rescuing quake victims to 66,000. These SDF members are continuing their relief activities in quake-stricken areas, including the transportation of relief supplies to these locations.

Their mission is being carried out in cooperation with personnel aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and seven other U.S. vessels dispatched to rescue and aid victims of Friday afternoon's offshore earthquake.

As of Monday noon in Japan, the death toll stood at 1,647, including 643 in Miyagi Prefecture and 531 in Iwate Prefecture. Meanwhile, those reported missing totaled 1,720 in the stricken areas, with 1,990 people injured, according to the National Police Agency.

On Monday morning, the blackout caused by the calamity continued to affect an area that normally covers an estimated 1.13 million households, including about 930,000 in Miyagi Prefecture and 150,000 in Iwate Prefecture. At least 1.4 million households in 14 prefectures, mainly in the Tohoku and Kanto regions, remained cut off from water supply.