The toll from a killer 7.8 earthquake off Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido mounted to 81 dead and 167 missing Tuesday after a powerful nighttime earthquake jolted the region and then sent tidal waves pounding into the shorelines of Japan, Russia and South Korea.
As the toll from the disaster continued to mount, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa canceled his campaigning for Sunday's general election and flew to southwestern Hokkaido Tuesday night for a first-hand assessment of the situation."I've heard what the situation is and decided to go to Hokkaido," Miyazawa told reporters in Tokyo, hurrying off the campaign trail to personally inspect the devastation. "It's tremendously sad," he added. "The government should do all it can."
Authorities rushed tons of food, water and medical aid to the island during the day as rescuers poked through the remains of entire neighborhoods reduced to kindling, looking for survivors under collapsed homes. The government said it would offer low-interest loans to help quake victims rebuild.