Some Japanese ports and airports affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of the country on March 11 have reopened, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
The hard hit Port of Sendai-Shiogama has reopened for ships carrying relief supplies, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The Port of Sendai-Shiogama is designated by the central Japanese government as specially important for international maritime transport.
All 11 local northeastern airports that closed in the wake of the twin natural disasters have also reopened, except Sendai airport in Miyagi Prefecture, which was only open on a limited basis to relief aircraft operated by the military, according to the ministry.
Japan's main airports and sea ports, including Narita airport near Tokyo, Haneda airport in Tokyo, the Port of Tokyo and the nearby Port of Yokohama, have not been affected directly by the earthquake and tsunami. The Port of Tokyo and the Port of Yokohama are Japan's largest and second-largest container ports.
The damage to roads, railways, airports and seaports hampers relief and recovery efforts in the worst-hit areas. Fuel shortages and fears of a serious nuclear disaster involving one of Tokyo Electric Power's nuclear plants add to the difficulties.
Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture has suffered fires and explosions and is leaking radiation. People living within a 12.5 mile radius of the 40-year-old plant have already been evacuated.
As of 5:00 a.m. on Friday Japan time, some local ports along the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan had reopened, including the Port of Miyako and the Port of Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture and the Port of Onahama in Fukushima Prefecture. But many local ports remained closed.
Casualties from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the resulting tsunami are rising day by day. As of 1:00 p.m. on Friday Japan time, 6,406 people had been confirmed dead -- 3,860 of them in Miyagi Prefecture, the worst-hit area -- and 10,354 others had been listed as missing, according to the National Policy Agency.
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