Japan Death Toll Estimates Surpass 10,000

Updated from 10:01 a.m. EST with the rising death toll in Japan.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Estimates of the death toll from Friday's earthquake and tsunami in Japan surpassed 10,000 as the nation struggled to avert multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns.
A survivor of the tsunami that swept through his village of Saito, in northeastern Japan, retells the story to a rescue team that arrived to search the area on Monday.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the disaster was the nation's worst crisis since World War II.

The official death toll from the disaster reached 1,897 on Monday, CNN reported. The death toll continues to rise every few hours as search and rescue efforts are underway.

More than 3,000 people were missing Monday, the National Police Agency said, and 450,000 were living in shelters, NHK reported.

About 2,000 bodies were found Monday in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's northeast coast, according to the Kyodo news agency, CNN reported. If confirmed, the discovery would be the largest yet of victims from the earthquake and tsunami.

Police in Miyagi, one of the worst-hit states, estimated over the weekend that more than 10,000 people had been killed, according to The Associated Press.

Thousands of residents have lost their homes, while many others are without electricity or water. Roads and railways throughout much of Japan's northeast region have been damaged or destroyed. The estimated the cost of the multiple disasters is as much as $170 billion, Reuters reported, as analysts fear the economy may fall back into recession.

Kan said that Japan's future would be decided by its response to the disaster, the AP said.

Kan also said it would take days to restore electricity. In the meantime, Japan will ration electricity, with rolling blackouts in several cities including the capital, Tokyo, the AP reported.

The possibility of a major radiation leak at the Fukushima nuclear complex, located 150 miles north of Tokyo, now remains one of the largest fears for the Japanese.

"First I was worried about the quake," Kenji Koshiba, a construction worker who lives near the plant, told the AP. "Now I'm worried about radiation."
A man and his baby are scanned for levels of radiation in Fukushima, Japan, after Friday's quake and tsunami damaged two nuclear reactors at a nearby power plant.

The second hydrogen explosion in three days rocked the power plant on Monday morning, injuring 11 workers. The blast occurred at the Unit 3 reactor, two days after an explosion at Unit 1.

Water levels in Unit 2 of the nuclear reactor dropped sharply for a second time on Monday, increasing the risk of radiation, as well as the possibility of a meltdown.

"Units 1 and 3 are at least somewhat stabilized for the time being," Nuclear and Industrial Agency official Ryohei Shiomi said, AP reported. "Unit 2 now requires all our effort and attention."

Meanwhile, a set of fuel rods at a separate reactor in the complex were exposed after losing its ability to cool down, the AP said citing officials. The meltdowns increase the chances of a possible radioactive leak while the exposure raises the risk of overheating and a possible third explosion at the plant.

Nearly 80,000 residents have been evacuated from the area around the power plant, according to the Kyodo news agency, AP reported. Over 1,500 nearby residents have passed been scanned for radiation exposure.

"We have no evidence of harmful radiation exposure," Deputy Cabinet secretary Noriyuki Shikata told reporters.

--Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Theresa McCabe.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to @TheresaMcCabe.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

More from Stocks

Stocks Lower as Optimism Wanes Over China Trade Talks

Stocks Lower as Optimism Wanes Over China Trade Talks

Video: Jim Cramer Reacts to Tiffany's Better Than Expected Earnings

Video: Jim Cramer Reacts to Tiffany's Better Than Expected Earnings

Jim Cramer: Union Pacific Is Positive on NAFTA Talks

Jim Cramer: Union Pacific Is Positive on NAFTA Talks

Jim Cramer: I Remain Constructive on Micron Shares

Jim Cramer: I Remain Constructive on Micron Shares

Imagining the Stock Market in 10 Years

Imagining the Stock Market in 10 Years