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Japan earthquake: 2000 bodies wash ashore, 2nd blast at nuclear plant

Rescue workers and engineers battled through the weekend to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and to care for the millions of people running without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures along the devastated northeastern coast.

About 2,000 bodies were found Monday on two shores at Miyagi Prefecture in northeast Japan following last Friday's catastrophic earthquake and ensuing enormous tsunami, Kyodo News agency reported.

Last week’s devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which the US Geological Survey said struck at a depth of 18 kilometres, was the fifth most powerful to hit the world in the past century.

It surpassed the Great Kanto quake of Sept. 1, 1923, which had a magnitude of 7.9 and engulfed more than 140,000 lives in the Tokyo area.

2000 bodies found on coast
On Monday, about 2,000 bodies were found coming ashore at the Miyagi prefecture.

About 1,000 bodies washed ashore at hardest-hit Miyagi's Ojika Peninsula and another 1,000 have been spotted in the town of Minamisanriku where the prefectural government has been unable to contact about 10,000 people, which makes over half the local population, Kyodo reported.

The recent reported fatalities will significantly increase the death toll from the disastrous earthquake-triggered tsunami that likely killed thousands.

Japan’s police have so far confirmed 1,597 deaths and 1,481 people missing across the affected areas in north-eastern and eastern Japan.

Last week’s devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which the US Geological Survey said struck at a depth of 18 kilometres, was the fifth most powerful to hit the world in the past century.

Life gets worse for survivors
Following the Friday's double-headed tragedy, the Asia's richest nation faced a humanitarian, nuclear and economic crisis.

Rescue workers and engineers battled through the weekend to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and to care for the millions of people running without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures along the devastated northeastern coast.

"People are surviving on little food and water. Things are simply not coming," Hajime Sato, a government official in Iwate prefecture, one of the three hardest hit, was quoted by CBC as telling The Associated Press.

"We have repeatedly asked the government to help us, but the government is overwhelmed by the scale of damage and enormous demand for food and water," he said, "We are only getting around just 10 per cent of what we have requested. But we are patient because everyone in the quake-hit areas is suffering."

Mass cremation falling behind
Sato said local authorities were also running out of body bags and coffins.

"We have requested funeral homes across the nation to send us many body bags and coffins. But we simply don't have enough. We just did not expect such a thing to happen. It's just overwhelming."

The Miyagi prefectural government, meanwhile, has decided to ask for help from other prefectures as work to cremate bodies is falling behind, according to Kyodo news agency.

Second blast strikes Japan plant
UPDATE: A hydrogen explosion rocked the earthquake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

This is the second explosion in the plant following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday.

On Saturday, a hydrogen explosion occurred in the No. 1 reactor at the same power plant.

The second explosion that occurred at 11:01 a.m. in the No. 3 reactor of the power plant, left eleven people injured, NHK said.