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South-east Asia 'more cautious' after Japan nuclear crisis

Reuters/Tokyo Electric Power Co

Japan’s nuclear crisis is likely to have a “psychological” impact of on South-east Asian countries and will make them think twice about their plans to tap atomic energy for power generation, the head of the Association of Southeast Asian States (Asean) said Monday.

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“They will continue to explore but the sense of urgency will certainly be contained,” Asean’s secretary general Surin Pitsuwan said, speaking on the sidelines of a regional economic conference in Singapore.

Surin said the impact of the crisis would also fan the search for safer alternative fuels.

Vietnam has already given the green light for the construction of its first nuclear power station, while Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand have also put plans together to explore atomic energy.

Surin was speaking as Japan continued efforts to restore power to the Fukushima plant, which suffered heavy damage from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami which struck on 11 March.

Workers were temporarily evacuated from part of the plant on Monday after a plume of smoke rose from one reactor, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said engineers where making “slow but steady progress” in the race to contain the leak of radioactive substances and restore power.

Japan has ordered a halt to shipments of certain foods from four prefectures after abnormal radiation levels were found in some produce, including vegetables and milk.

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