A total of 1,629 deaths have been confirmed in worst-hit Miyagi Prefecture, said the police agency, adding the figures stood at 1, 193 and 506 in Iwate and Fukushima prefectures.
Up to 6,737 people have been reported missing in the three prefectures, said the agency.
According to local media reports, around 530,000 evacuees are now living in more than 2,600 shelters in quake-hit areas.
A lack of food, drinking water, medicine and fuel has been a common problem in quake-hit areas, where supplies of essential resources have been wiped out and communications infrastructures crippled. The Japanese government is stepping up efforts to ship disaster relief supplies there.
A 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific coastal areas of northeastern and eastern Japan, triggering enormous tsunami. Heavy casualties and extensive damage have been caused by the disaster.
Japanese PM slams nuke plant operator's handling of growing crisis,
SDF switch to relief from rescue
TOKYO, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday slammed Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) for its botched handling of the quake-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant at which two explosions Tuesday led to the leak of radioactive substances into the atmosphere.
According to the Kyodo news agency, one of its reporters overheard Kan saying to the company's executives at TEPCO's head office, "what the hell is going on?