Japan earthquake death toll tops 10,000
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The number of people confirmed dead from Japan’s earthquake has reached 10,035 people, the National Police Agency said on Friday. In a report listing the affected prefectures it said that more than 17,000 are still remain missing, while a total of 2,775 people are injured. There are fears that the toll could rise further.
Hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless, short of food, water and shelter following one of the country’s most deadly natural disasters.
It could take up to a month to achieve a cold shutdown – when temperatures fall below boiling point and cooling systems are back at atmospheric pressure - at the damaged Fukushima plant.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co said on Friday it was still in the process of assessing the damage and could not say exactly when cooling systems would be operational again.
Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is considering increasing the disaster from five to six, out of seven on the atomic accident scale. This would put the incident on the same level as the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania, and one level under Chernobyl.
In China, two Japanese travellers were hospitalised with “severe” radiation, China’s safety watchdog said on Friday. The two arrived on a commercial airliner in Wuxi on Wednesday from a Tokyo flight. Radiation levels were said to have “seriously exceeded limits”.
Elsewhere, Taiwan on Friday imposed a ban on food imports from five Japanese areas near the Fukushima plant due to radiation concerns. Wang Jet-chau from the health department said they would “continue monitoring the situation in Japan and might extend the ban if it gets worse”.*
China on Friday decided to ban some Japanese food and agricultural products.
In Vietnam, the Ministry of Health’s Food Administration has asked Japanese companies to guarantee food exports are radiation-free. A foreign ministry spokesperson had told reporters on Thursday that Vietnam was not banning imports from Japan. A number of countries across the world have restricted Japanese food imports or asked for certification regarding levels of radiation.
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