Snow blankets Japan's tsunami deadlands

TOKYO, JAPAN - A blanket of snow covered disaster areas of northeast Japan on Wednesday, amid a cold snap in the debris-strewn wastelands created by last week's quake and tsunami catastrophe.

Survivors and rescue crews - already facing an acute lack of water, supplies and fuel, power blackouts and poor telecommunications - had their troubles compounded by snow flurries over roads and rubble.

Temperatures in the worst-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures fell sharply to near zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), and the meteorological agency forecast a drop to minus five degrees C Thursday.

In the devastated town of Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, Hideo Chiba was working his way through the debris and rubble of what was once his family home, as snow silently blanketed the wreckage.

"I thank God for saving my life," Chiba said as he was shifting the splintered timber and rubble. "My family is alright, too. I'm even appreciative of the fact that I have work to do."