AOL News has a new home! The Huffington Post.

Click here to visit the new home of AOL News!

Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Reports: 9,500 Missing in Japan Coastal Town

Mar 12, 2011 – 11:46 AM
Text Size
Lisa Holewa

Lisa Holewa Contributor

As emergency responders made their way today into the hardest-hit coastal villages of Japan, the country's Kyodo News Agency reports that 9,500 people are unaccounted for in Minamisanriku -- roughly half the town's population.

The town, located along the Pacific Ocean on the northeast coast of Japan, has a population of 17,000 residents.

Japan Self-Defense Forces are trying to help local authorities find residents, Japanese public broadcasting station NHK reported. So far, they've only been able to confirm that about 7,500 residents were successfully evacuated to dozens of shelters after the massive earthquake and tsunami, NHK reported.

Even before rescuers reached the hardest-hit areas, NHK reported stories of devastation from the towns and villages along Japan's northeastern coast affected by the quake and its aftershocks.

In Sendai, the largest nearby city, police said between 200 and 300 bodies were found along the coast. Many more are believed to have been buried in the rubble or washed out with the waves.

Military helicopters grabbed survivors from rooftops and streets were littered with remnants of the destruction. The U.S. agreed to send helicopters from Okinawa to assist rescue efforts.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said more than 3,000 people have been rescued, Kyodo News Agency reported.

"We'd first like to focus on saving lives and secondly the comfort of the evacuees," Kan said. "There will be many resources that will be needed for this evacuation process."
Filed under: World, Japan Disaster
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

2011 AOL Inc. All Rights Reserved.