Follwing the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the rescue and relief operations are continuing today with 80,000 self-defense forces personnel, police officers and firefighters mobilized in the devastated areas, where temperatures have dropped to midwinter levels.
The National Police Agency said it has confirmed more than 4,000 deaths in 12 prefectures and more than 8,000 people remained unaccounted for in six prefectures.
The death toll, however, will inevitably climb higher as the recovery of bodies mainly in the tsunami-hit coastal areas started in full swing after waters there held back and tsunami warnings were lifted.
Some 430,000 people are still staying in more than 2,400 shelters in eight prefectures, prompting the prefectural governments of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima to request Japan Prefabricated Construction Suppliers & Manufacturers Association to build 32,800 temporary homes in total.
The number of people evacuating from Fukushima Prefecture to nearby prefectures is increasing amid growing fears of a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No.1 power station, five days after the mega earthquake crippled it.
Signs of reconstruction were seen Wednesday in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, where numerous houses were destroyed by tsunami, while ships and cars are still scattered throughout.
Classrooms reopened at elementary and junior high schools in the city, but the municipal education board is considering sending counselors there to provide psychological care for children who have experienced trauma following the disaster.
Aftershocks also continued, with a strong quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 jolting Tokyo and its vicinity Wednesday afternoon, measuring lower 5 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 in parts of Chiba Prefecture.