14 aftershocks hit Japan

The damage caused by the quake that struck Friday was amplified by tsunami waves slamming Pacific coastal regions in northeastern Japan.

Up to 300 bodies were recovered in Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi prefecture, Xinhua reported, citing broadcaster NHK.

A total of 725 people have still been unaccounted for in six prefectures, the report said.
The number of victims of the catastrophe is expected to rise to well over 1,000 people, the defence ministry said Saturday.

The National Police Agency said around 1,800 houses in Fukushima prefecture were destroyed.

Search and rescue efforts are being conducted with the help of the US military, with around 20,000 personnel, nearly 200 aircraft and 25 boats being dispatched to the hardest-hit northeastern region.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan Saturday inspected a quake-hit nuclear power plant in Fukushima, where damage from a radioactive leak is feared. He also toured other affected areas.
"I realised the huge extent of the tsunami damage," Kan told reporters after returning to Tokyo.

The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant opened the valves of the containers housing the reactors to reduce pressure, a move that led to the release of a small amount of radioactive steam.

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