Japan Quake Magnitude Upped to 9.0 as Officials Do Grim Accounting of Quake, Tsunami

Officials running out of body bags, stock market plunges, banking propped up.

March 13, 2011, 11:22 PM

March 14, 2011— -- Japan is taking a grim accounting of the catastrophe and the figures are daunting -- from the number of people without electricity to the number of body bags needed.

Now, there's a new figure -- 9.0, the new order of magnitude of the massive earthquake, upgraded by U.S. and Japanese scientists from their earlier estimate of 8.9 magnitude.

Four days after the quake and tsunami struck, thousands of Japanese along the coast are struggling without food, water and power as the temperatures hovered above freezing.

The starkest figure is the growing death toll, which has risen past 2,400. But officials fear that the number only hints at the scale of the fatalities.

In the prefecture of Miyagi, a coastal area that took the full force of the tsunami, a Japanese police official told the Associated Press that 1,000 bodies were found along shore. In Miyagi, the police chief has said 10,000 people are estimated to have died in his province alone.

Morgues are overflowing and school gyms are being used instead, lining up bodies on the floor for people to identify. The traditional method of cremation has overwhelmed the local facilities and the supply of body bags has been exhausted.

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Almost as pressing is Japan's nuclear crisis as engineers try to manage two crippled nuclear reactors and today a third reactor has lost its ability to cool, raising fears of a meltdown.

The stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda. Toyota and Sony have halted production. And the central bank to line up a record $183 billion in funds to help stabilize the banking system.

According to the Japanese National Police Agency, 4,993 buildings collapsed fully or partially, and 39,876 buildings are damaged, figures that are likely to increase dramatically.

Roads in the quake area are quiet as cars have been abandoned on the roadside in some of Japan's hardest-hit areas.

"People are surviving on little food and water. Things are simply not coming," Hajime Sato, a government official in Lwate prefecture, one of the three most affected areas, told the Associated Press.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said 100,000 troops, plus 2,500 police, 1,100 emergency service teams, and more than 200 medical teams have been deployed for recovery efforts.

Ichiro Fujisaki, the nation's U.S. ambassador, said about 2.5 million households -- just over 4 percent of all households in Japan -- were without electricity Sunday, and 500,000 homes were without water.

There were worries over the welfare of the elderly population who live in some of the affected areas.

"They have some medicines for the immediate future, but in the coming weeks that's when it really could become an issue," Sam Taylor, spokesman for Doctors Without Borders, told the AP.

Americans in Sendai

The U.S. Embassy said that 100,000 Americans are known to be in Japan, and 1,300 of them live in the areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami. There are no known American casualties.

"We worked out a system where a couple of us would go search for friends or any foreigners we could in Sendai and try to help them out, and then a couple of us would go to the convenient store and try to collect food for us to survive off of for the next couple days," said Wade Ramsey, an American living and teaching in Sendai.

Ramsey, who grew up in California, knew what to do if an earthquake hit.

"The moment the earthquake hit I honestly didn't know the size of it. For the past two days before it we've been having some small earthquakes. As soon as the earthquake was going for longer than 30 seconds, I knew it was a bigger earthquake," said Ramsey.

With phone lines down and batteries drained, people are turning to the Internet to track down friends and relatives. Many in Japan have been using the internet to search for their missing loved ones.

"The internet is such an amazing thing. For awhile when we didn't have electricity I was just using my phone. It was the only way I could know what was going on. I didn't even know the damage until I got home and got on the internet and did some research," Ramsey added.

Another American teacher living in Sendai, Greg Lekich, told ABC News that several of his friends were killed when the roof of the gymnasium they were in collapsed. He said that he has enough water, but is in need of food supplies.

To find out how you can help with disaster relief in Japan, click here.

ABC News' Leezel Tanglao, Clarissa Ward, Akiko Fujita, Jessica Hopper, Michael James and Dan Childs and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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