Res­cuers find ± 00 bod­ies

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today -

THE death t oll f rom t he tsunami was ex­pected to rise dra­mat­i­cally late last night as res­cuers fi­nally gained ac­cess to the hard­est hit ar­eas.

The lat­est un­con­firmed re­ports in­di­cated 300 bod­ies were found in the coastal area of Sendai which bore the brunt of a 10-me­tre wave.

An­other badly hit area was the his­toric fish­ing port of Hako­date which is a ghost t o w n a f t e r a t w o - m e t r e tsunami ripped through the cen­tre and authorities told 30,000 peo­ple to evac­u­ate.

Wooden boxes and fish cont a i n e r s w e r e s c a t t e r e d through the town while thou­sands of fright­ened res­i­dents fled coastal ar­eas, fear­ful that an­other wall of wa­ter could hit the har­bour in the south of Hokkaido is­land.

Cars jammed roads as train and ca­ble­car ser­vices were sus­pended. Lo­cal res­i­dents pre­pared to spend a rest­less night at shel­ters as af­ter­shocks con­tin­ued to shake houses and tall build­ings.

The dev­as­tat­ing 8.9-mag­ni­tude quake struck off­shore, jolt­ing large ar­eas of north­ern Ja­pan, un­leash­ing a 10-me­tre high tsunami that sparked fears that de­struc­tive waves could hit across the Pa­cific Ocean.

‘‘ It was quake I the big­gest have ever earth­felt. I thought I would die,’’ said Sayaka Umezawa, a 22-yearold col­lege stu­dent who was vis­it­ing the city with her friend from Fukuoka in west­ern Ja­pan.

‘‘ It was so scary,’’ Umezawa said. ‘ ‘ I ’ m wor­ried about whether our ho­tel is safe as it’s lo­cated quite near the seashore.’’

Kinji Kakimura, who lives two blocks away from the port, anx­iously watched in

AWASH: Wa­ter from the mas­sive tsunami stayed on the streets of Hako­date strand­ing thou­sands of peo­ple the direc­tion of the ocean.

‘‘ I’ve got to get my wife and her 85-year-old mother into my car when we evac­u­ate, be­cause my mother-in-law can­not walk so quickly,’’ Kakimura said. ‘‘ I also have a dog to take with us.’’

No one but po­lice and fire­fight­ers were seen at Hako­date Har­bour, which is usu­ally a vi­brant scene filled with fish­er­men, trav­ellers and shop own­ers.

Yumi Narita, 25, an em­ployee at a ham­burger shop near the har­bour, was busy clear­ing the kitchen be­fore clos­ing the restau­rant early.

‘‘ Res­cuers have made the rounds and told us to evac­u­ate, es­pe­cially be­fore the next tsunami wave may hit at high tide,’’ Narita said. ‘ ‘ Most other stores seem to have closed al­ready. We are prob­a­bly one of the last to run away.’’ DE­STROYED: Ve­hi­cles are crushed by a col­lapsed wall at a carpark in Mito city WRECKED: An aerial view shows de­bris on the ground af­ter a tsunami hit Hi­tachi­naka city in Ibaraki pre­fec­turePhoto:

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