10 million homes affected as rolling power cuts restart in Japan
Rolling blackouts affecting 10 million homes restarted Tuesday in Japan following a three-day break as relief efforts continued and the death toll rose, media reports said. The outages started around 9:20 am (0020 GMT) and were expected to last until 10 pm, dpa reported according to the Kyodo News agency.
Tokyo Electric Power Co said disruptions to supplies would last 3 hours and 40 minutes in each area.
The company predicted that capacity would be outstripped by demand as the working week started following a public holiday on Monday.
Total deaths in the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 have reached 8,805, the National Police Agency said late Monday.
Around 320,000 people were still living in shelters.
"Until now, we've asked (relief workers) to prioritize the rescue of affected people. We now want them to place priority on assisting people who are living in the shelters," Miyagi prefecture Governor Yoshihiro Murai said in the prefecture's capital Sendai.
The government of Iwate prefecture said on Monday that access had been restored to all its communities.
Following reports that some guesthouses had turned away people fleeing the nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture due to fears about radiation, the Health Ministry told prefectures that they must monitor hotels to prevent this.
Not all relief efforts were running smoothly.
In Sendai, refugees housed in a school have been unable to eat microwave food due to a lack of power and were still waiting for underwear to be supplied, local officials said.