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Explosion in Japan N-plant; toll rises
Published on 13 Mar. 2011 12:36 AM IST
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Radiation leaked from Japan’s earthquake-crippled nuclear plant on Saturday after a blast blew the roof off, and authorities prepared to distribute iodine to people in the vicinity to protect them from exposure.
The government insisted radiation levels were low because although the explosion severely damaged the main building of the plant, it had not affected the reactor core container. Local media said three workers suffered radiation exposure at the plant in the wake of Friday’s massive earthquake, which sent a 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami ripping through towns and cities across the northeast coast.
Kyodo news agency said more than 1,700 people were killed or missing. Later it said 9,500 people in one town were unreachable, but gave no other details. The blast raised fears of a meltdown at the power facility, 240 km north of Tokyo, as officials scrambled to contain what could be the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl explosion in 1986 that shocked the world. The plant’s operators, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), said there was no damage to the steel containers in which the reactors are encased.
The government nevertheless extended the evacuation zone to residents living within 20 km of the plant. Edano had earlier described the situation as “potentially very serious”, but called on people to remain calm. Meanwhile, residents within 3 kms of a second nuclear plant, Fukushima II located about 11 kms from Fukushima I, were also ordered to leave.

Japan Quake-Tsunami shifted earth 4 inches on its axis
The massive earthquake that shook Japan and triggered a huge tsunami appears to have shifted the Earth on its axis and moved an island of Japan, a media report said Saturday.
Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey, told CNN: “At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass.” Reports from an Italian institute estimated that Japan earthquake shifted Earth on its axis by as much as 4 inches, CNN said.
Shengzao Chen, a geophysicist, explained that the quake occurred as the Earth’s crust ruptured along an area about 400 km long by 160 km wide, as tectonic plates slipped more than 18 metres.
Japan is located along the Pacific “ring of fire,” an area of high seismic and volcanic activity stretching from New Zealand in the South Pacific up through Japan, across to Alaska and down the west coasts of North and South America.

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