Panic as cri­sis grows

Nu­clear ex­plo­sions un­leash ra­di­a­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

EX­PLO­SIONS and a fire at Ja­pan’s quake-hit nu­clear plant un­leashed dan­ger­ous ra­di­a­tion last night, spark­ing a col­lapse on the stock mar­ket and panic-buy­ing in su­per­mar­kets.

Tokyo stocks yes­ter­day plum­meted an­other 14 per cent.

In towns and cities, fear­ful cit­i­zens stripped shelves of food and wa­ter, prompt­ing the gov­ern­ment to warn panic-buy­ing could hurt its abil­ity to pro­vide aid.

Ra­di­a­tion lev­els around the Fukushima No. 1 plant on the east­ern coast had ‘‘ risen con­sid­er­ably’’, to the point where it en­dan­gered hu­man health. In Tokyo, some 250km to the south­west, authorities also said higher than nor­mal ra­di­a­tion lev­els had been de­tected but not at harm­ful lev­els.

The fire, which was later ex­tin­guished with the help of US troops, broke out in the plant’s num­ber-four re­ac­tor, mean­ing four out of six re­ac­tors were in trou­ble a nd t e mper­a­tures were re­port­edly ris­ing in the other two.

Ra­di­a­tion lev­els later dropped at both the plant and in Tokyo.

On t op of t he at omic emer­gency, Ja­pan is strug- gling to cope with the enor­mity of the dam­age.

The of­fi­cial death toll rose to 2414 yes­ter­day, but of­fi­cials have said at least 10,000 were likely to have per­ished.

In the only coun­try in the world to have ex­pe­ri­enced a nu­clear at­tack, Ja­panese cit­i­zens are gripped by fear of nu­clear fall­out.

More than 200,000 peo­ple have been evac­u­ated from the ex­clu­sion zone around the crip­pled plant.

The cri­sis at the age­ing Fukushima nu­clear plant has wors­ened daily since Fri­day.

A gov­ern­ment spokesman said ra­dioac­tive par­tic­u­lates had leaked.

The UN’s nu­clear watch­dog , the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency, said Tokyo had asked for ex­pert as­sis­tance.

But the IAEA’s Ja­panese chief Yukiya Amano moved to calm global fears that the sit­u­a­tion could es­ca­late to ri­val the world’s worst nu­clear ac­ci­dent at Ch­er­nobyl in Ukraine in 1986. ‘‘ The pos­si­bil­ity that the de­vel­op­ment of this ac­ci­dent into one like Ch­er­nobyl is very un­likely,’’ he said.

The UN weather agency said yes­ter­day winds were cur­rently blow­ing ra­dioac- tive ma­te­rial to­wards the ocean, and that there were ‘‘ no im­pli­ca­tions’’ for Ja­pan or coun­tries nearby.

The dev­as­ta­tion in tsunami-hit ar­eas such as Sendai city in the north­east, how­ever, is ab­so­lute.

Aid work­ers and search teams from across the world have joined 100,000 Ja­panese sol­diers in a re­lief push in the shat­tered ar­eas.

Mil­lions have been left with­out wa­ter, elec­tric­ity, fuel or enough food and hun­dreds of thou­sands more are home­less and fac­ing harsh con­di­tions with sub-zero tem­per­a­tures, and snow and rain fore­cast.

SOFT POWER: Em­pa­thy for Ja­panese te­nac­ity

EMPTY SHELLS: Cars burnt out by fires trig­gered by the tsunami in Ja­pan lined up near Sendai in Miyagi pre­fec­ture

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