Japan's Death Toll Hits 18K

Damage costs could top $235B
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2011 2:25 AM CDT
Japan's Death Toll Hits 18,000
An Urban Search and Rescue officer from South Africa walks along a road during a search of a suburb in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, Monday, following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

The numbers are grim—more than 18,000 dead and $235 billion in rebuilding costs. These are the estimates coming out of Japan today, as the police, World Bank, and other organizations weigh in on the extent of the damages from the March 11 earthquake, reports AP. Nationwide, 8,600 people have been confirmed dead, but more than 13,200 are still missing. Another 452,000 people have been displaced and are living in shelters. "The recent bodies—we can't show them to the families," said a disaster-relief official on the outskirts of Sendai. "Some we're finding now have been in the water for a long time, they're not in good shape. Crabs and fish have eaten parts."

A World Bank report estimated that the disaster's cost to private insurers will be as much as $33 billion, and place the government's reconstruction costs at $12 billion; but the overall costs to Japan over the next five years could be $235 billion. However, there have been a few spots of good news, too. Two survivors—a grandmother and a young boy—were pulled from the rubble yesterday, and officials said conditions at the troubled nuclear reactor in Fukushima Dai-ichi appear to be improving. (More Japan earthquake stories.)

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