15 Apr 2011

Japan's emperor visits quake homeless

10:39 am on 15 April 2011

Japan's Emperor Akihito has made his first visit to the north-east of the country since the region was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in March.

The emperor and his wife, Michiko, knelt on mats as they spoke to people made homeless by the disaster at two shelters in the city of Asahi, the BBC reports.

Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed in the Asahi, which lies on the Pacific coast about 86km east of Tokyo.

The total number of homeless as a result of the 11 March earthquake and subsequent tsunami exceeds 150,000. More than 13,000 people died and another 14,851 are missing.

Meanwhile, Japanese police wearing protective suits are searching a 10km area around the Fukushima nuclear plant for bodies.

As many as 1000 bodies are thought to be in the area but their retrieval has been delayed because of fears of radiation from the plant.

The authorities say falling levels of radiation have now made it safe to send teams within the 10km zone.