Hardest-hit Tohoku region in Japan quake reports 432 dead; home to 4,500 Filipinos By Gloria Jane Baylon

Tōhoku region, JapanImage via WikipediaMANILA, March 13 (PNA) — Philippine diplomats in Tokyo still have no news of whether or not Filipinos are casualties in Friday’s history-filled earthquake in Japan, apparently largely dependent on the assessment of damages, deaths and injuries by bedraggled Japanese authorities.

At last official count, no less than 500 persons are presumed dead, hundreds more are missing and thousands with varying degrees of injuries.

But in the hardest-hit prefectures alone of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, prosperous provinces in what is known as the Tohoku region, and where live many Filipino spouses of landed Japanese nationals, 432 have been confirmed dead. A total 1,128 were injured and 725 are missing.

There are about 4,500 Filipinos in the Tohoku region (909 in Iwate, 1,039 in Miyagi and 2,366 in Fukushima), the DFA confirmed.

In a press conference on Saturday, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said the names and nationalities of those who died in Tohoku are not yet determined.

He added communication lines in the Tohoku region are still down and transportation lines are also heavily affected.

The epicenter of the quake is Miyagi Prefecture’s Sendai City, which was also the hardest hit by 10-meter high tsunami that followed the devastating quake.

At 8.9-magnitude, the Friday quake is said to be the biggest that ever hit Japan since it began recording disasters.

An 8.4-magnitude temblor in 1923, known in history as the "Great Kanto Earthquake" that hit the island of Honshu where Tokyo is located, reportedly caused at least 100,000 deaths and more widespread damage because of the conflagration that engulfed Japan’s capital following the quake.

The DFA is actively coordinating with its posts in Japan and the Filipino community to ascertain the situation of the 305,000-strong group, not 350,000 as originally stated, Seguis said at a press conference.

Helpless for the moment, the DFA has advised the Filipino community to heed all instructions of both Japanese and Filipino authorities in their respective locations.