Third Blast Rocks Nuclear Plant

Image: AFP

A desperate race against time to avert a nuclear meltdown was under way in Japan last night. The country appealed to the U.S. for help to control three overheating reactors crippled by Friday’s devastating earthquake.

The plea came as a third explosion rocked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, damaging two reactors. And officials said today that radiation continued to leak as a fourth reactor caught fire.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned that there are dangers of more leaks and told people living within 19 miles of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex to stay indoors. The Prime Minister also warned that radiation levels around the plant had become high and there was a risk of radiation leaking into the atmosphere.

'The level seems very high, and there is still a very high risk of more radiation coming out,' Kan said in a televised statement.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said: 'Now we are talking about levels that can damage human health. These are readings taken near the area where we believe the releases are happening. Far away, the levels should be lower.'

Edano warned that there were signs that fuel rods were melting in all three reactors. ‘Although we cannot directly check it, it’s highly likely to be happening,’ he added.

Meanwhile, The French embassy in the capital warned in an advisory that a low level of radioactive wind could reach Tokyo within 10 hours. Experts said the nightmare scenario was of a meltdown which triggers a massive build-up of pressure inside the containment unit.

If the unit cracks, a plume of radioactive dust and gas would spill hundreds of miles into the air. Fears of that meltdown at a Japanese power plant rose sharply last night after a new explosion was reported in the complex.

It is understood the blast was in the Number 2 reactor, where fuel rods had been in danger of overheating. Explosions have already occurred in the Number 1 and Number 3 reactors.

The new drama occurred because the explosion in the Number 3 reactor had damaged the cooling system in the adjoining reactor, resulting in last night's third blast. Officials have been struggling to pacify the public's concerns about radioactive material escaping into the atmosphere.

The Mayor of Fukushima City, Mr Tananori Seto warned of grave consequences for people who were living within a 20km range of the power station if they stepped out from their homes. He admitted that although evacuations had begun in the past two days, many people had remained in their homes - and now they were trapped there.

'It is too dangerous to go outside and even if they did they would not be able to be transported to a safe place because we have no fuel for our vehicles,' he said.

'We need more information from the government. We aren't getting enough information.'

Mr Seto said he hoped those who were still in their homes would keep a watch on their TVs and listen to their radios for updates.

'Don't even step outside to hang out your washing,' he said. 'If you've already done your washing, don't bring it in from the line because it will be contaminated.'

People have been told to take showers if they think they have been contaminated but in many places there is no running water. Water stored in outside tanks, officials warned, would be contaminated anyway.

With serious questions now surrounding the safety of the three crippled reactors, many people believe the chances of the material escaping have increased dramatically. Workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant fled last night after a third explosion raised serious concerns about a meltdown.

Embarrassed officials of the Tokyo Electric Power company called a hurried news conference in Tokyo to apologise to the public for 'the inconvenience'. But they were hesitant in disclosing details about the full extent of the danger to the public. 

Sumber: Daily Mail

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