Nearly Half a Million Japanese in Shelters

With the world’s attention riveted on the unfolding nuclear crisis in northeast Japan, the more immediate toll from the powerful earthquake and tsunami continued to mount on Thursday, as more deaths were confirmed, more foreigners prepared to leave the country and more of the disaster’s wide-reaching effects came into focus.

Japanese officials said confirmed deaths had climbed on Thursday to 5,692, and that the names of 9,506 people missing and unaccounted for had been registered. But many thousands more are believed missing.

Nearly a week after the earthquake struck, the national police agency said that more than 452,000 people were staying in schools and other shelters, where supplies of fuel, medicine and other necessities were running short.

In a tsunami-battered neighborhood in Sendai, the major city nearest the quake’s epicenter, there is still no running water. One resident, Noriko Sawaki, told The Associated Press that just living day to day was exhausting. “It’s frustrating, because we don’t have a goal, something to strive for,” she said. “This just keeps on going.”

In a smaller town, Kesennuma, people stood in long lines after a supermarket, picked bare over the last few days, got a delivery of supplies that included instant rice packets and diapers. The NHK broadcasting network reported that each person was limited to 10 items.

Foreign governments stepped up efforts to move their citizens out of harm’s way or out of Japan entirely.

Read the rest of the story: Nearly Half a Million Japanese in Shelters, as DeathTolls Rise.

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