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Nuclear meltdown

[ 2011-03-14 11:20]     字号 [] [] []  
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Japan fought on Sunday to avert a meltdown at two earthquake-crippled nuclear reactors, describing the massive quake and tsunami, which may have killed more than 10,000 people, as the nation's biggest crisis since World War II.

The country is struggling to respond to a disaster of epic proportions, with millions of people without water or power and whole towns wiped off the map.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency upgraded the magnitude of Friday's massive earthquake from 8.8 to 9.0 on Sunday, the strongest ever recorded in Japan.

"The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War II," a grim-faced Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a news conference.

"We're under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis."

He said the nation's future will be decided by the choices made by each Japanese person and urged all to join in their determination to rebuild the nation.

As he spoke, officials worked desperately to stop fuel rods in the damaged reactors from overheating, which could in turn melt the container that houses the core, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the wind.

A complete meltdown - the collapse of a power plant's ability to keep temperatures under control - could release uranium and dangerous contaminants into the environment and pose major, widespread health risks.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Sunday that a hydrogen explosion could occur at No 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, the latest reactor to face a possible meltdown.

That follows a blast the day before in the power plant's No 1 reactor, and operators attempted to prevent a meltdown there by injecting seawater into it.

"At the risk of raising further public concern, we cannot rule out the possibility of an explosion," Edano said.

Up to 160 people might have been exposed to radiation, said Ryo Miyake, a spokesman from Japan's nuclear agency. The severity of their exposure, or if it had reached dangerous levels, was not clear.

Broadcaster NHK, quoting a police official, said more than 10,000 people may have been killed.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Nuclear meltdown

About the broadcaster:

Nuclear meltdown

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.