Search efforts for people missing since the March 11 tsunami have shifted from the land to the sea in the hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate and Miyagi.
Since September, most bodies in that region have been found at sea.
The Iwate prefectural police have enlisted divers to search waters off heavily damaged coastal areas of both prefectures.
A nongovernmental organization is also assisting in searches of bay areas.
On Oct. 4., the Iwate prefectural police began mounting intensive searches in waters close to a fishing port in the Kirikiri district of Otsuchi town. Seventeen divers participated, but no bodies were found that day.
The prefectural police plan to continue search efforts in waters around fishing ports in Kamaishi, Ofunato, Miyako and other municipalities until Oct. 21.
Some 3,700 people from the two prefectures remain missing. In September, 11 bodies were recovered in Iwate Prefecture and more than 40 bodies were found in Miyagi Prefecture. Most of them were found at sea.
Of the 11 found in Iwate Prefecture, four were in Yamada Bay where a Hokkaido-based NGO, Daisetsu River Net, is searching for missing people. In the past, it has searched waters around Hokkaido.
Yamada Bay, which is famous for oyster cultivation, is calm like a lake. For this reason it is called, "Lake Towada in the sea." (Lake Towada is located in the border area between Akita and Aomori prefectures, both of which are part of the quake-stricken Tohoku region.)
However, rafts used for cultivation were swept away by the tsunami, and a huge amount of rope used in the operation became entangled with quake debris and settled in the narrow opening where the bay meets the Pacific Ocean.
Eigo Okada, leader of the NGO, has been appointed by the Yamada town office as a senior staff in charge of searches in coastal areas.
"It is also out duty to save the hearts of families. We will continue our activities (of searching for missing people) as long as there are people who wait (for their return)," Okada said.
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