23 Mar 2011

24,000 dead or missing in tsunami disaster

8:15 pm on 23 March 2011

The number of people confirmed dead or listed as missing in Japan has exceeded 24,000, following a massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated the north-east coast.

There are fears of a much higher toll from the disaster on 11 March which flattened entire towns along the Pacific coast of northern Honshu island.

The National Police Agency said on Wednesday that 9408 people have been confirmed dead and 14,716 officially listed as missing - a total of 24,124. Some 2746 people have been injured.

The quake has become Japan's deadliest natural disaster since the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which killed more than 142,000 people, AFP reports.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and have taken shelter in evacuation facilities.

However, dozens of people, many elderly, are reported to have died due to a lack of proper treatment or the harsh winter.

Doctors in evacuation centres say because many phones are still down, it is difficult to find out what medication some people should be on.