A tide of bodies has washed up along Japan's coastline, crematoriums are overwhelmed and rescue workers have run out of body bags as the nation faces the grim reality of a mounting humanitarian, economic and nuclear crisis after its tsunami and earthquake. Millions of people were facing a fourth night without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures in the north-east devastated by an earthquake and the tsunami wave it spawned.
Meanwhile, a third reactor at a nuclear power plant lost its cooling capacity and the fuel rods at another were at least briefly fully exposed, raising fears of a meltdown. The stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda, The Press Association says.
In Japan most people opt to cremate their dead, a process that, like burial, requires permission first from local authorities. But the government took the rare step today of waiving the paperwork to speed up funerals.
A Health Ministry spokesman said: "The current situation is so extraordinary, and it is very likely that crematoriums are running beyond capacity.
This is an emergency measure. We want to help quake-hit people as much as we can.", Independent reports.