Japanese officials said Thursday that more than 15,000 people were either killed or left missing by the devastating earthquake and tsunami which ravaged the country's northeast last week.
Another 387,000 Japanese residents had been forced from their homes and were in temporary accommodation -- the quality of which varied greatly. According to the most recent figures, released by Japan's national police agency, at least 15 people have died in refugee camps, according to CBS News.
Yukihiko Akutsu, parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office, said in Miyagi Prefecture he was instructed by Ryu Matsumoto, state minister for disaster management, to focus from Thursday on livelihood support for survivors staying at shelters.
In the severely hit coastal city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate, the development in rubble removal has enabled the Self-Defense Forces to build roads so rescue workers can search for victims across greater areas.
Mayor Futoshi Toba said, ‘‘There were some areas where we could not enter, but now we can go anywhere (in the city) by car.'‘
The prefectural government of Miyagi has almost completed confirming isolated areas from the air, and it will start distributing relief materials to these areas by helicopter, one of its officials said.
Sendai Airport, which was submerged by a tsunami following the quake, reopened part of its runways for use by police and SDF airplanes to transport relief materials. It has not been decided when commercial flights will be resumed, Japan Today reports.