SENDAI, Japan (AFP) - Millions of Japanese were without food, water or power Monday and hundreds of thousands more were homeless as the disaster-struck economic superpower battled third-world conditions. Aid workers and search teams from across the world joined 100,000 Japanese soldiers in a massive relief push as the rattled country suffered a wave of major aftershocks and fresh tsunami scare, while temperatures plummeted. Store shelves and petrol stations emptied across the country as panic buying took hold following Friday's 8.9-magnitude quake and the resulting tsunami, with the state of a crippled nuclear power station putting nerves on edge. According to the United Nations, 2.6 million houses were without electricity and 3.2 million people were running out of gas supplies. Queues snaked across hard-hit Sendai city on the northeast coast as people waited patiently to stock up on essentials. Lines stretched from the few remaining phone boxes, with mobile signals patchy in the disaster zone. At one reopened supermarket, cheerful staff manned stalls in the car park carefully allocating food. Customers were allowed to buy up to two grapefruits, two oranges, chocolate, five bags of crisps, and up to two tins of tuna. Ravaged Ishinomaki, a town of about 165,000, is without power or communications and aid supplies have faltered due to transport damage. Half of the city is estimated to have been engulfed by the tsunami. "First of all, we have no drinking water," mayor Hiroshi Kameyama told public broadcaster NHK. "We also have neither food nor information." Asia-Pacific Red Cross spokesman Patrick Fuller, working in Ishinomaki, said it was a "desperate race against the clock to save those who may be trapped and wounded beneath colossal mounds of debris". Meanwhile, Japan's nuclear emergency Monday prompted Germany and Switzerland to halt nuclear programmes as anxious Europe scrambled to review cross-border safety while safeguarding the powerful industry. With some 150 reactors scattered across the continent in half as many nuclear power plants - some located in seismic areas - the European Union convened emergency talks Tuesday of energy ministers, national nuclear safety officials and big nuclear companies. In Germany, where tens of thousands of anti-nuclear activists protested in a human chain this weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a three-month moratorium on plans to extend the operation of its nuclear power plants. "We cannot just go back to business as usual," Merkel said, adding that events in Japan "teach us that risks that were thought to be completely impossible cannot in fact be completely ruled out." Switzerland suspended plans to replace five ageing nuclear power plants, while Italy and Poland decided to rethink prior decisions to invest in nuclear energy.