Friday, March 25, 2011
The death toll from the Sendai earthquake has now increased to over ten thousand. In Japan, the National Police Agency has stated that 10,019 are now known to have been killed as a result of the disaster.
The Agency also reported that 2,775 had been injured and the location of 17,541 individuals was unknown. Meanwhile, 1,900 evacuation sites are now thought to be occupied by approximately a quarter of a million people.
When the event happened two weeks ago, 18,000 thousand households were destroyed and 130,000 were damaged by the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. In spite of this, twelve of the fifteen north-eastern ports of Japan have recommenced operating, while the majority of the oil terminals of the country remained open, according to Inchcape Shipping Services.
Amongst the aftermath of the earthquake, plant number 3 at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is suspected to have been damaged and may be releasing radiation. The Japanese government have reported that an ongoing investigation is occurring to attempt to discover the cause of the radiation leak at the power plant. Chinese authorities have reported two Japanese tourists were found to have levels of radiation “seriously exceeding limits” on their clothing and luggage. In Tokyo, the amount of radiation in the supply of water has decreased, however it remains high in various parts of the north of Japan.
According to BBC News Online, two workers were hospitalised because of the leak. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), who operate the building, reported that three employees placing electrical cables at the location were given treatment for being exposed to radioactive water; they had experienced ten thousand times the regular amount of radioactivity. Of those three men, beta rays caused two of them to receive burns. The two individuals did not stop working despite meters advising of unsafe radiation levels. It was later discovered that they were wearing inadequate protective footwear and failed to draw their attention to a radiation alert. TEPCO has since received government orders to improve worker management.
The radiation emitted from the plant has had a significant effect on the Japanese food industry. In the surrounding areas of the plant, shipments of foodstuffs have been prohibited. In Fukushima prefecture, residents have been advised not to consume eleven leafy green vegetable types produced locally due to radiation concerns. There has also been a significant decrease in customer demand at a fish market in Tsukiji.
Japanese product importers have discovered some foodstuffs to have a small radiation amount, which is not thought to be potentially deadly. Numerous Asian countries, the European Union, Australia, Russia and the United States have prohibited milk items, seafood and vegetables from being imported from various Japanese prefectures.
Closing the power plant down may take at least one month to achieve. Speaking to AFP, an individual talking on behalf of TEPCO stated that the company is “still in the process of assessing the damage at the plant, so that we can’t put a deadline on when the cooling operations will work again”. Residents living within thirty kilometres of the plant have been advised to avoid going outdoors to attempt to prevent radiation exposure as far as possible.