Japan Death Toll Climbs Astronomically As Nuclear Crisis Intensifies

Oil Refinery MiyagiAn oil refinery burns in Miyagi Prefecture

Photo: AP

SENDAI, Japan — Japan faced mounting humanitarian and nuclear emergencies Sunday as the death toll from Friday’s earthquake and tsunami climbed astronomically, partial meltdowns occurred at two crippled plants and cooling problems struck four more reactors.

In one town alone, the port of Minamisanriku, a senior police official said the number of dead would “certainly be more than 10,000.” The overall number is also certain to climb as searchers began to reach coastal villages that essentially vanished under the first muddy surge of the tsunami, which struck the nation’s northern Pacific coast. Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a news conference late Sunday: “I think that the earthquake, tsunami and the situation at our nuclear reactors makes up the worst crisis in the 65 years since the war. If the nation works together, we will overcome.”

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