March 16, 2011

Millions of Quake Victims Face Freezing Temperatures as Snow Is Forecast

Bloomberg news
written by Patrick Harrington, Tokyo, Japan
Monday March 14, 2011 9:05pm PT

Rain and snow are forecast for areas of northern Japan ravaged by a record earthquake on March 11 as rescue workers struggle to reach thousands of people and others huddle in emergency shelters.

In tsunami-ravaged Miyagi prefecture, where officials say the death toll may reach 10,000, there is a 70 percent chance of rain this evening in the capital of Sendai, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The precipitation is expected to turn to snow tomorrow morning as the temperature drops to 1 degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Farenheit) and below freezing in other areas.

In Fukushima prefecture, where workers are battling to avoid a nuclear meltdown, the forecast was also for afternoon rain turning to snow with the temperature dropping tomorrow to a low of minus 3 degrees Celsius in some areas.

About 1.3 million households were without power in Japan and 1.4 million had no running water, according to a government report on the earthquake. The temblor was upgraded yesterday to a magnitude of 9 from 8.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Rescue teams have had trouble reaching about 24,000 people stranded in northeastern Japan, according to public broadcaster NHK, and more than 310,000 are in emergency shelters and heating systems are short of fuel.

About 120,000 blankets, 120,000 bottles of water, 100,000 packages of instant noodles, 10,000 diapers and 130 portable toilets were en route to the most devastated areas, according to a statement on the prime minister’s website.

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