Death Toll Rises as Japan Rushes to Save Survivors

Japan on Saturday mobilized a nationwide rescue effort to pluck survivors from collapsed buildings and rush food and water to thousands in an earthquake and tsunami zone under siege, without water, electricity, heat or telephone service.

Entire villages in parts of Japan’s northern Pacific coast have vanished under a wall of water, many communities are cut off, and a nuclear emergency was unfolding near two stricken reactors as Japanese tried to absorb the scale of the destruction after Friday’s powerful earthquake and devastating tsunami.

Japanese news media estimates of the death toll ranged between 1,300 and 1,700, but the total could well rise. Many communities were scrambling to find the missing; in the port town of Minamisanriku, nearly 10,000 people were still unaccounted for, according to the public broadcaster NHK. Much of the northeast was impassible and by late Saturday, rescuers had not arrived in the worst-hit areas. More than 300,000 people have been evacuated, with 90,000 fleeing the zone around the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Kyodo News reported.

Read the rest of the story: As Death Toll Rises, Japan Scrambles to Rescue Survivors.

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