Around half the town’s 18,000 residents are missing but search and rescue teams are still working desperately through the rubble to try and find more people.
Police are also trying to stop people returning to their homes.
Despite the first tsunami warning being issued to the town that lies two miles from the coastline, some residents decided to stay in their homes instead of fleeing – leading to the high number of missing people, CNN reported today..
Most of the houses in Minami Sanriku have been completely flattened and waterlogged and one house was found even with seaweed inside.
Last night, the official death toll from Friday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tidal wave stood at 763, but more than 1,700 people are believed to have been buried in the rubble or washed away by waves.
Rescue efforts have been hampered by hundreds of aftershocks, and it is feared the final death count could rise sharply once a full picture of the catastrophe emerges. In Minami Sanriku alone, 10,000 people could have died – more than half of the city’s population.
It only took a few minutes for the 30ft wave to wash the town away with terrifying force. The locals desperately tried to escape to higher ground. But most did not stand a chance.
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