TEN months after a massive tsunami crashed into Japan following a huge undersea earthquake, police figures show a total of 19,294 people are believed to have died.
Across the disaster zone, 15,844 people have been confirmed dead since the March 11 disaster, the national police agency said.
In addition, the whereabouts of 3450 people are yet to be confirmed, the police said, as the hunt for bodies – many of which are believed to have been washed out to sea – continues.
As well as laying waste to vast stretches of coastline in Japan’s northeast, wiping out towns and destroying communities, the tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Reactors were sent into meltdown and radioactive materials leaked into the air, soil and the sea in the world’s worst nuclear accident in a quarter of a century.