Vol­un­teers in ‘ sui­cide mis­sion’

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

THEY are be­ing hailed as the mod­ern-day sa­mu­rai – the 180 brave men who stayed to fight the cri­sis at Ja­pan’s crip­pled Fukushima nu­clear power plant know­ing they had very likely vol­un­teered for a sui­cide mis­sion.

The mes­sage that came out from one of them was that he was ‘‘ not afraid to die’’ – that was his job.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Naota Kan told the vol­un­teers: ‘‘ You are the only ones who can re­solve a cri­sis. Re­treat is un­think­able.’’

In shifts of 50, with no elec­tric­ity, they are worki ng in to­tal dark­ness us­ing flash­lights or hel­mets with lamps on them.

Wear­ing head-to-toe pro­tec­tive gear and breath­ing through oxy­gen tanks as ra­di­a­tion reaches po­ten­tially lethal lev­els and tem­per­a­tures soar, they crawl through dark mazes of pipes to ad­just a valve or read a gauge.

Nu­clear ex­perts say the skele­ton crew is more likely to be skilled older men than fit young ones be­cause they have al­ready had chil­dren and, even if they are ex­posed to mas­sive doses of ra­di­a­tion, their can­cers are un­likely to de­velop in their life­times.

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