NATORI, Japan — The tsunami that barreled into northeast Japan on Friday was so murderous and efficient that not much was left when search-and-rescue teams finally reached Natori on Monday. There was searching, but not much rescuing. There was, essentially, nobody left to rescue.
The mournful scene here in Natori, a farm and fishing town that has been reduced to a vast muddy plain, was similar to rescue efforts in other communities along the coast as police, military and foreign assistance teams poked through splintered houses and piles of wreckage. The death toll from what the United States Geological Survey called an 8.9-magnitude quake — the strongest in Japan’s seismically turbulent history — continued to climb, inexorably so, as officials uncovered more bodies. By Monday afternoon, the toll stood at more than 1,800 confirmed dead and 2,300 missing. Police officials, however, said it was certain that more than 10,000 had died.
Police teams, for example, found about 700 bodies that had washed ashore on a scenic peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture, close to the epicenter of the quake that unleashed the tsunami. The bodies washed out as the tsunami retreated. Now they are washing back in.
Here's video of a Japanese town that was 'swept away':