March 16, 2011

Freezing Weather, Heavy Snow In Japan

New Zealand Herald
written by NZ Herald Staff and AP
Thursday March 17, 2011

Freezing temperatures and heavy snow fall are adding further pain to already suffering Japanese communities hard-hit by Friday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami, amid the backdrop of the ongoing trouble at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

With temperatures dropping below freezing overnight, rescuers hopes of finding more survivors is diminishing.

In the coastal Miyagi Prefecture city of Sendai, one of the hardest hit by last Friday's tsunami, temperatures will reach only as high as 4 degrees Celsius today and will drop back below zero overnight, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency this morning.

In the Fukushima Prefecture where thousands remain without supplies and confined to their homes between 20-30km from the troubled Daiichi nuclear plant, the temperature sits just above freezing.

Across the Iwate Prefecture in the north, temperatures will barely creep above zero degrees Celsius today and in Ibaraki Prefecture temperatures will climb over 5 degrees Celsius before plummeting under zero as night falls.

Tomorrow, the temperatures across Japan's northeast are forecasts to drop even further.

In the devastated coastal town of Minamisanriku, in the Miyagi Prefecture, temperatures currently sit around freezing point and, like many towns across the northeast of Japan, rescue efforts and supplies to shelters are being hampered by heavy snow fall.

Mayor Jin Sato told NHK World around 8,500 people are in shelters in the town.

A town of 17,000, half of the Minamisanriku population remain unaccounted for.

Mr Sato told NHK World people in the city's shelters desperately need food and fuel to keep warm.

"In this disaster the suffering will go on for a long time," he said. "We will need to secure supplies for a long time so we will continually need Japan's support."

He said the city remains isolated with many roads still closed.

"We are doing our level best to get supplies to the city," he said.

Mr Sato said people in the city are frustrated with the lack of information they are receiving from authorities.

"They want to know where their families and relations are, but unfortunately we are cut off."

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