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Fukushima Nuclear Plant Latest

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Tokyo Notes

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Latest

A new scare in Japan following a blast at a Fukushima nuclear plant hit by Friday’s earthquake appears to have passed.

As if things weren’t bad enough here, panic gripped the nation before lunch today with reports of another explosion at a nuclear plant and a tsunami warning.

Fortunately, though, the blast may not be as serious as initially feared, and no massive wave came ashore.

Shortly after 11am, reports came through of an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s No. 3 reactor. According to the government, the blast was caused by a hydrogen leak – similar to the explosion at the No. 1 reactor.

The fact that it was a hydrogen blast, as opposed to a steam explosion, should bring some relief. People will no doubt be concerned about leaked radiation, but it’s still too early to come to any conclusions about this.

At around the same time, a fire helicopter off the coast spotted what was believed to be a three-metre tsunami off the coast of stricken Fukushima Prefecture. Warnings gave people very little time to move to higher ground, but the meteorological agency soon announced that it was a false alarm and the warning was lifted.

But while people are still stoically going about their business, phone calls I’ve received, and a look at social media sites, suggests there’s growing concern, if not panic among many people.

Meanwhile, the Kyodo news agency reported that relief workers have discovered about 2,000 bodies on the shores of Miyagi Prefecture.

About 100,000 Self-Defence Force troops are now involved in the operation. Last night, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that they and other relief workers had rescued about 12,000 people.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has also reported that the government is considering a dispatch of reservists for the first time ever.

People are risking their own lives to save others. I salute them.