Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Sunday that Japan was currently facing its worst crisis since World War II.
The statement was made by the Japanese Premier after the toll from the earthquake and tsunami crossed the 1,000 mark and amid fears of a meltdown at a quake-damaged nuclear power plant.
Radiation levels had surpassed the legal limits at the Fukushima I plant in north-eastern Japan, 240 km north of Tokyo, officials said Sunday, raising concerns over radiation leaks and a possible core meltdown.
After Japan’s most severe earthquake on record and in view of a looming nuclear catastrophe, Kan said the situation at the Fukushima plant ‘continues to be in an alarming state’, according to the Kyodo news agency.
Kan told reporters that more than 12,000 people had been rescued since Friday. But as local and international search-and-rescue teams continued their search for survivors, police said more than 1,000 bodies had been found.
The number of casualties from Friday’s earthquake, upgraded Sunday by Japanese authorities to 9.0 and which triggered a devastating tsunami, was expected to increase dramatically.
Takeuchi Naoto, the police chief of the hardest-hit prefecture of Miyagi, said he had ‘no doubt’ the toll would rise above 10,000 in the prefecture alone, according to public broadcaster NHK.
More than 600,000 people in the worst hit areas had taken refuge in schools and community centres, as per Kan.
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