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Report: 128 elderly abandoned in Japan hospital

Elderly Japanese earthquake refugee
An elderly evacuee sits near a kerosene stove that's hasn't been used since morning to save oil at the destructed town of Yamada, northeastern Japan, March 18, 2011. AP

Children and the elderly are often the first to suffer and the hardest-hit by natural disasters.

One week after a massive earthquake sparked a chain-reaction of disasters in Japan, the toll of the triple-crisis on the nation's aging population is becoming apparent.

Complete coverage: Disaster in Japan
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The Guardian newspaper reports Friday that Japanese Self Defense Force troops found 128 elderly patients abandoned at a hospital about six miles from the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

According to the British newspaper, most of the patients were comatose and 14 of them died soon after being discovered. Japan issued an evacuation order for the area surrounding the Dai-ichi plant as the possibility of a meltdown increased in the days following the quake and tsunami.

Another 11 elderly Japanese -- residents of a nursing home slammed by the tsunami -- were found dead by security forces, apparently having succumbed to hypothermia. The newspaper said 47 residents of the home died as the wave initially washed over the building in Kesennuma.

It was not said how many people remained alive at the retirement home when the troops arrived, but the owner told The Guardian that they were, "alone and under high stress", explaining that fuel for their kerosene heaters was dwindling.

An estimated 452,000 people were living in shelters in Japan following the earthquake, and crews worked feverishly to try and cool overheating reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and avoid a total meltdown.

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