With the temperature dropping to below zero, the devastated areas of Japan have been covered with a blanket of snow
As Japan embarks on its fifth day of search and rescue since the devastating earthquake and tsunami, the country has found itself with a new force of nature to contend with: heavy snowfall.
With temperatures dropping to below zero degrees, the devastated areas have been covered with a blanket of snow, disrupting the authorities as they battle to rescue any remaining survivors.
The freezing conditions have also made things considerably worse for the hundreds of thousands now homeless, having to take refuge in temporary camps and makeshift shelters.
With food and supplies running low, this latest shift in weather could have a serious impact on aid reaching those who need it in some of the more isolated regions.
The final death toll is now thought to be well over 10,000, with 4,000 bodies already recovered and another 7,000 people reported missing.
The Emperor of Japan this morning made a rare TV appearance, urging his people ‘not to give up.’
In a video message, Emperor Akihito – who rarely appears in public – said: ‘I hope from the bottom of my heart that the people will, hand in hand, treat each other with compassion and overcome these difficult times.’
‘We don’t know the number of victims, but I pray that every single person can be saved.’
‘People are being forced to evacuate in such severe conditions of bitter cold, with shortages of water and fuel – I cannot help praying that rescue work is done swiftly and people’s lives get better, even a little.’