Japan survivors' desperate search for loved ones

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Japan survivors' desperate search for loved ones

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Survivors of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami are trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives unaware of the whereabouts of relatives and friends.

In the coastal city of Natori, 15 kilometres from Sendai City, the bereft congregate at a relief centre desperate for information about missing loved ones: “I am looking for my sister, who has been missing for three days. I can’t make contact, I have no news of her,” said one elderly man.

Latest estimates suggest as many as 10,000 people may have died in the disaster.

In the nearby port of Soma City the remaining residents have been evacuated to higher ground following further tsunami warnings. One local said: “My relatives and friends are missing after the tsunami destroyed the village. They were all washed away.”

The search for those missing continues as authorities deal with emergencies on a number of fronts.

People are scared, whole towns have been swamped and there are shortages of food, water and medical supplies.

Some are growing frustrated by the lack of government assistance. “We are basically being ignored, they are telling us to clean up on our own. Nobody is coming here, except to take pictures,” said one resident of Kuji.

Some help is getting through as bulldozers and lifting equipment arrive in the worst hit areas. As many as 100,000 Japanese soldiers have been mobilised to deliver provisions and assist the stranded.