Japan Radiation Leak a "Worrisome Situation" for PM

Mar 15, 2011, 06:39

Japan's radiation leak levels increased on Tuesday, with radiation releases being detected from the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant.

The confirmed death toll since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake followed by gigantic tsumani tidal waves plundered northeastern Japan Friday was 2,475, police said, but other reports gave a far higher number. Tens of thousands were homeless.

An explosion at the No. 2 reactor set off fears of a critical meltdown resulting from the destruction of the fuel rods in the reactor, Kyodo News reported.

Kyodo reported radiation levels 100 times more than usual were recorded Tuesday morning in neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture to the south as the wind blew from north to south.

"A worrisome situation remains but I hope to take the lead in overcoming this crisis," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said.

The BBC reported some estimates suggested 10,000 people may have died. Japan's national police agency also reported at least 3,611 people remained missing

Thousands in shelters remained without necessary supplies.

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai has said a shortage of fuel at hospitals was posing a major problem and inadequate medical supplies were hampering efforts to attend the seriously injured. Power cuts were making it difficult to make dry ice to pack bodies.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said as of Monday night it had counted 72,945 buildings either destroyed or damaged.

The BBC reported Miyagi's Minamisanriku town presented a picture of total devastation, with everything leveled by the tsunami expect the town's hospital and a government building.

The explosion at the No. 2 reactor was the third blast at the plant since Friday. A hydrogen explosion at the No. 3 reactor Monday damaged the structure housing the reactor. The first explosion occurred Saturday at the No. 1 reactor.

It was feared the cores of the three reactors may already have partially melted despite continuous injection of seawater to cool down them down.

The latest developments sent prices on Tokyo's stock markets sharply lower in early trading. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index took another plunge at the opening after closing sharply lower Monday.

Tokyo Electric Power resumed rationing of its electricity supply in areas around Tokyo.

The United States sent technical experts to help resolve Japan's nuclear plant disasters. President Barack Obama promised all possible help to the stricken nation.

Source: UPI