The official death toll from Japan’s devastating earthquake-tsunami has now surpassed 10,000, while almost a quarter-million people are sheltered in about 1,900 evacuation centers as of Friday evening, according to the National Police Agency (NPA).
More than 17,000 people are listed as officially missing.
However, these numbers are surely to rise, partially because search and rescue efforts in the Fukushima prefecture in northeast Japan have been interrupted by severe winter weather and the ongoing nuclear emergency which has prevented searches near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Police in Miyagi Prefecture, who have so far recovered about 2.000 bodies from the sea, have suggested many more bodies will likely wash ashore.
Since the number of dead has overwhelmed the capacity of local authorities to properly cremating them, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures have chosen burial instead.
In the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima (the epicenter of the disaster) nearly 10,000 autopsies have been completed, but less than 7,000 have been identified.
The financial toll of the unprecedented disaster, including damage to homes and infrastructure, is estimated at anywhere between 16 trillion to 25 trillion yen (not including the fears raised by radiation leakage at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant).
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.