Death toll in Japan quake nears 4,000 - police

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More than 3,600 people died and over 7,500 are missing in the wake of a series of natural disasters that hit Japan last week, police reported on Wednesday.

More than 3,600 people died and over 7,500 are missing in the wake of a series of natural disasters that hit Japan last week, police reported on Wednesday.

"As of 08.00 local time [on Wednesday], 3676 people have died and 7,558 are considered missing," a police source told RIA Novosti.

About 1,990 people are injured, he said.

Large parts of eastern Japan were left devastated after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast on Friday, sparking a powerful tsunami.

A series of aftershocks have since caused blasts and fires at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Complex, raising fears of a nuclear meltdown.

Japanese media reported a new fire at Fukushima plant early on Wednesday. Local television showed white smoke pouring from the No.4 reactor at mid-morning.

The previous fire at the 4th reactor of the plant on Tuesday resulted in a radiation leak.

Japanese authorities suspended on Wednesday operations to prevent the possible nuclear meltdown after a surge in radiation made it too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility.

The government also evacuated all residents within a 20 kilometer radius of the Fukushima plant, and announced a no-fly zone over the plant to avoid the spread of radiation.

Fears of a large-scale nuclear disaster remain high in Japan as the country continues desperate efforts to contain the looming crisis.

 

TOKYO, March 16 (RIA Novosti)

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