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1,000 bodies found after quake

Japanese police said another 1,000 bodies have been found in quake-hit coastal areas.

A police official in Miyagi said that around 1,000 washed up bodies were found scattered across Miyagi coastlines after police staff inspected the areas from a helicopter Monday. The official said authorities were recovering the bodies.

Rescue workers have been using chain saws and hand picks to dig out bodies in Japan's devastated coastal towns, as Asia's richest nation faced a growing humanitarian, nuclear and economic crisis in the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Millions of people spent a third night without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures along the devastated north-eastern coast.

Officials at the Fukushima nuclear power plant said a third reactor had lost its cooling capacity, which could lead to overheating and an explosion similar to the two blasts at its other reactors, while the stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda.

More than 10,000 people are estimated to have died in Friday's tragedy that has caused unimaginable deprivation for people of this industrialised country that has not seen such hardships since the Second World War.

"This is Japan's most severe crisis since the war ended 65 years ago," Prime Minister Naoto Kan told reporters, adding that Japan's future would be decided by its response.

On Sunday, search parties arrived in Soma for the first time since Friday to dig out bodies. Ambulances stood by and body bags were laid out in an area cleared of debris, as firefighters used hand picks and chain saws to clear an indescribable jumble of broken timber, plastic sheets, roofs, sludge, twisted cars, tangled powerlines and household goods.

According to officials, more than 1,800 people have been confirmed dead - including 200 people whose bodies were found on Sunday along the coast - and more than 1,400 were missing in Friday's disasters. Another 1,900 were injured.

But police in Miyagi prefecture say 10,000 people are likely dead in their area alone. Miyagi, with a population of 2.3 million, was one of the hardest hit areas.