The latest estimate is that there may have been up to 10,000 people killed.
In one coastal town alone — Minami Sanriku, in Myagi Prefecture — some 9,500 people, half the town’s population, were unaccounted for. Rescuers trudging through water-logged, debris-filled streets found the city of Sendai in ruins. Cars were stacked on top of one another; and a carpet of sludge covered the remains of what used to be homes. Sendai lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of the earthquake epicenter. About 2.5 million households — just over 4% of the total in Japan — were without electricity Sunday, said Ichiro Fujisaki, the nation’s U.S. ambassador. Lights were turned off in most landmarks to save energy, including the Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo.