With more than 9,000 dead or missing, Friday's magnitude-9.0 quake in northeastern Japan is now the nation's worst natural disaster in the postwar period, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Wednesday, March 16.
According to the agency, the figure surpassed that of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake which left 6,437 people dead or listed as missing. At that time, the quake was the worst natural disaster in Japan since 1945.
The whereabouts of more than 15,000 people could not be confirmed as of Wednesday, raising concerns that the toll could mount significantly.
In the prewar era, the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake resulted in more than 100,000 casualties.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, as of midday Wednesday, at least 4,957 people have been confirmed dead in the first five days of the disaster.
According to the agency, 2,306 people were confirmed dead, while 6,883 were missing.
The latest disaster is the 10th since World War II in which more than 1,000 people were killed or classified as missing.
Meanwhile, 410,000 people were staying at evacuation centers in the disaster-affected areas as of midday Wednesday.
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