Almost 25,000 troops fanned out along Japan’s devastated northeast coast Monday in a grim search for some of the thousands of bodies still missing since a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Dozens of aircraft, boats and navy divers took part in the two-day search, the third and most intensive of its kind since the twin disasters washed away whole towns and villages more than six weeks ago.
More than 14,300 bodies have been recovered since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan. Almost 12,000 more people are still unaccounted for, and authorities fear many were carried out to sea by the wave.
The government also sent veterinarians for the first time into the 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to inspect the condition of thousands of abandoned farm animals.
Dead livestock will be sprayed with lime to prevent the spread of disease, and the dying will be slaughtered with the permission of their owners.
On Friday, the government approved an initial budget of $50 billion for quake recovery, with additional funds expected to be announced in June.
The first funding package will pay to build temporary housing for the homeless, and to start cleanup efforts.