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Tsunami dead and missing rise above 20,000

Tsunami dead and missing rise above 20,000
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Police in Japan say the number of dead and missing after the earthquake and tsunami has risen above 20,000. Three quarters of the victims were in Miyagi prefecture alone – one of four that bore the brunt of the disaster.

Officially, 12,272 were listed as missing in the northeast on Sunday, and the confirmed death toll stood at over 8,133.

More water has been sprayed over the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant to try to control the disaster.

The authorities have made some progress. They have restored a power cable to two reactors and hope to restore electricity to cooling systems today.

But radiation levels have been increasing. The danger to workers was clear from the emotion in the fire chief’s face as he spoke to reporters.

“He asked me what was the most difficult. Well, it is my firefighters,” said .

After a long pause he added: “my firefighters have a very high level of motivation and work very hard”.

The government has ordered more tests after excessive radiation levels were found in milk and spinach from a farm about 30 kilometres from the plant.

Tiny traces of radioactive iodine have also been found in tap water in Tokyo.

Despite government reassurances, many are worried that rain forecast for Sunday could spread contamination.