Japan's soldiers have been assigned the grim task of searching for victims and survivors of Friday's 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

In the days after the tragedy, they combed northeastern coastal towns and cities. They face vast expanses of wreckage and debris.

Rescuers found less survivors five days since the quake struck, with the number of bodies recovered increasing.

Among the images being taken were signs of a life gone by. One rescue worker was seen leafing through a family photo album.

Miyagi prefecture has been among the hardest hit. The prefecture includes Sendai, a city of over 1 million people, which was a focus of attention in the immediate aftermath of the quake as airborne cameras captured widespread flooding which swept away cars, boats, light aircraft, homes and small buildings.

The scene was equally devastating in other cities in the prefecture such as Kesennuma City, about 60 miles north. Higashimatsushima, about 20 miles north had similar scenes.

In the adjacent prefecture just north, Rikuzentakata and the fishing town Otsuchi reflected many of the same scenes. Some survivors in Otsuchi were seen looking through long lists of names at a collective center for evacuees.

Meanwhile American troops gave some aid to search and rescue missions, with helicopter flights over Sendai.