Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Thousands flee Tokyo as experts try to calm radioactive contamination fears

A local resident clears up in the area damaged by tsunami after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 15, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll continues to rise with fears that the official death count could well reach up to 10,000 in "the most tragic event in Japanese history since World War Two".
A local resident clears up in the area damaged by tsunami after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 15, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll continues to rise with fears that the official death count could well reach up to 10,000 in "the most tragic event in Japanese history since World War Two".
Local residents walk through an area damaged by tsunami after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 15, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll continues to rise with fears that the official death count could well reach up to 10,000 in "the most tragic event in Japanese history since World War Two"
Debris is seen through an area damaged by tsunami after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 15, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll continues to rise with fears that the official death count could well reach up to 10,000 in "the most tragic event in Japanese history since World War Two". (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
Members of a Korean rescue team walk through an area damaged by earthquake and tsunami after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 15, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll continues to rise with fears that the official death count could well reach up to 10,000 in "the most tragic event in Japanese history since World War Two".
A clock that appears to indicate the time when a tsunami struck lies among the rubble in the city of Kesennuma, northeastern Japan, on Tuesday March 15, 2011. The Japanese characters read: "40th Anniversary of Foundation."
An official wearing a protective suit helps usher people through a radiation emergency scanning center in Koriyama, Japan, Tuesday, March 15, 2011, four days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A radiation detector is used near Shibuya train station in Tokyo
Pharmacist Donna Barsky measures potassium iodide for a prescription at the Texas Star Pharmacy on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 in Plano, Texas. The pharmacy has been receiving an unusually high number of calls about potassium iodide from people who are afraid radiation from the Japan nuclear crisis will reach the U.S. Health agencies in California and western Canada warned Tuesday that there's no reason for people an ocean away to suddenly stock up on potassium iodide, even as some key suppliers say they're back-ordered and getting panicked calls from would-be customers. (AP Photo/Richard Matthews)
The damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility in Japan (AP)
Rescuers continue to pull survivors from the rubble following the earthquake in Japan (AP)
Smoke rises from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's Unit 3 (AP)
Upon hearing another tsunami warning, a father tries to flee for safety with his just reunited four-month-old baby girl who was spotted by Japan's Self-Defense Force member in the rubble of tsunami-torn Ishinomaki Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit northeast Japan.
The damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility in Japan (AP)
Workers remove the rubble in the earthquake and flood het area Monday, March 14, 2011 in Kesennuma, northern Japan following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
Vehicles are left on a flooded street in Watari, Miyagi, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
Firefighters and rescuers conduct their operations in Watari, Miyagi, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
Rescue workers run through rubble for the higher place in Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan, upon hearing a tsunami warning Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yumiuri Shimbun) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY
Damaged platforms for bullet trains are seen in Sendai, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano speaks during a press conference about planned blackouts in Tokyo and other cities, and the second hydrogen explosion at Dai-ichi nuclear plant, in Tokyo Monday, March 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
This Nov. 15, 2009 photo provided by GeoEye shows the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Japan. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011, causing a tsunami that devastated the region. Four nuclear plants in northeastern Japan have reported damage, but the danger Monday appeared to be greatest at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, where one explosion occurred over the weekend and a second was feared. (AP Photo/GeoEye) MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES
In this March 12, 2011 photo provided by the U.S. Navy, an SH-60B helicopter assigned to the Chargers of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 14 from Naval Air Facility Atsugi flies over the city of Sendai, Japan to deliver more than 1,500 pounds of food to survivors of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami. The citizens of Ebina City, Japan, donated the food, and HS-14 is supporting earthquake and tsunami relief operations in Japan as directed. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)
Residents head to search for missing people in Yamada, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
Smoke rise from an oil refinery on fire following a tsunami triggered by a strong earthquake in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
A helicopter from fire department searches over the debris of a destroyed house Monday, March 14, 2011 in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
The No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, is seen at left, with its upper part of the walls blown off after an explosion in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture (state), northeastern Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Mainichi Shimbun, Taichi Kaizuka) JAPAN OUT NO SALES ONLINE OUT MANDATORY CREDIT
Rubble is scattered across the wide areas of the town of Minami Sanriku, northeastern Japan, on Sunday March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING ALLOWED IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
A man holds his baby as they are scanned for levels of radiation in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011. Friday's quake and tsunami damaged two nuclear reactors at a power plant in the prefecture, and at least one of them appeared to be going through a partial meltdown, raising fears of a radiation leak. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A man climbs out the window of his heavily damaged home Monday, March 14, 2011, in Yotsukura, Japan, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A woman walks past a damaged car Moday, March 14, 2011, in Yotsukura, Japan, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A man, with his face covered to protect against dust, looks out at the damage Monday, March 14, 2011, in Yotsukura, Japan, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A residents of the seaside town of Yotsukura, northern Japan, walks past damaged homes Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A resident of the seaside town of Yotsukura, northern Japan, carries his bike through debris Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Residents of the seaside town of Yotsukura, northern Japan, inspect under their car as they clear debris from their homes Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A resident of the seaside town of Yotsukura, northern Japan, clears debris from his home Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
ALTERNATE CROP AND CAPTION ADDITION - A mother strokes the head of her dead daughter as she and her husband look at the body of their daughter they found in a courtesy vehicle of a driving school that's smashed by a tsunami at Yamamoto, northeastern Japan, on Saturday March 12, 2011, a day after a giant earthquake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
This combo made from images provided by GeoEye shows an area of Natori, Japan on April 4, 2010, left, and March 12, 2011, after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck causing a tsunami that devastated the region. (AP Photo/GeoEye) MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES.
A parent and child react as they search for missing relatives through debris caused by Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami, in Kamaishi, northern Japan Sunday, March 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Asahi Shimbun, Toshiyuki Hayashi) JAPAN OUT, NO SALES, MANDATORY CREDIT
People walk to receive water supply through a street with the rubble Monday March 14, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
A fishing boat sits inland in Kesennuma, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
Members of Japan Self-Defense Forces rescue people stranded at a flooded city center in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
No. 3 unit of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, is seen, 2nd from right, with unit 1 reactor, left, with its top part of walls blown off after Saturday's explosion seen in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture (state) , northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011. Japanese officials say they believe a hydrogen explosion has occurred at the nuclear plant, similar to an earlier one at a different unit in the facility. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
People put away cans containing beer and juice swept out from a beer factory in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
People walk amid the rubble in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after the powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
A man walks amid the rubble in Minamisanriku town, Iwate prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
This Arpil 4, 2010 image released by GeoEye shows an area of Ishinomaki, Japan. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011, causing a tsunami that devastated the region. (AP Photo/GeoEye) SEE NY231 FOR SIMILAR IMAGE AFTER EARTHQUAKE. MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES.
A man watches a coastal area from a building where he took shelter in Tamura, Iwate, northern Japan as tsunami warning was issued Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
A car sits on top of a small building in a destroyed neighborhood in Sendai, Japan, on Sunday, March 13, 2011 after it was washed into the area by the tsunami that hit northeastern Japan. AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Young residents of the seaside town of Toyoma, northern Japan, walk amongst the debris around their homes Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - The hand of a man killed sits among concrete sea barriers Monday, March 14, 2011, in Toyoma, northern Japan, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A statue is all that remains of a house in the seaside town of Toyoma, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Residents of the seaside town of Toyoma, northern Japan, carry belongings from their homes Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a giant quake and tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
This image made from Japan's NHK public television via Kyodo News shows the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant's Unit 3 after an explosion Monday morning, March 14, 2011, in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. Japan's chief cabinet secretary said a hydrogen explosion has occurred at Unit 3. The blast was similar to an earlier one at a different unit of the facility. (AP Photo/NHK TV via Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES, TV OUT, EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALE IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
Police officers from Hyogo Prefecture search missing persons in the rubble in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
CORRECTS WHOLE CAPTION - Patients at a hospital wait to be evacuated without medicine and electricity in Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture (state) Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a strong earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Yasuhiro Takami) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY
A couple walk along the rubble at a residential area in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yumiuri Shimbun) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY
Gutted vehicles and the rubble is seen in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
In this 1999 file photo, Unit 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture. Japan's chief cabinet secretary says a hydrogen explosion has occurred at Unit 3 Monday, March 14, 2011. The blast was similar to an earlier one at a different unit of the facility. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE
People walk in the rubble in Minamisanriku town, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011, two days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country's east coast. (AP Photo/The Yumiuri Shimbun) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY
SHIROISHI, JAPAN - MARCH 13, 2011: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by U.S. Military prior to transmission.) In this handout image provided by U.S. Navy, sailors assigned to the Chargers of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS-14) deliver 1,500 pounds of food on March 13, 2011 to residents of Shiroishi City in the Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. The citizens of Ebina City, Japan, donated the food, and HS-14 is providing humanitarian assistance in support of earthquake and tsunami relief operations in Japan as directed. An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale has hit the northeast coast of Japan causing tsunami alerts throughout countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. (Photo by Oscar Sosa/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
SENDAI, JAPAN - MARCH 14: A local resident tries to approach a car left abandoned in the area damaged by tsunami after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 14, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll is currently unknown, with fears that the current hundreds dead may well run into thousands. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
SENDAI, JAPAN - MARCH 14: A worker operates a power shovel to remove trees after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 14, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll is currently unknown, with fears that the current hundreds dead may well run into thousands. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
SENDAI, JAPAN - MARCH 14: Members of the Ground Self-Defense Forces help a man evacuate the area when a warning of tsunami is issued after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 14, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll is currently unknown, with fears that the current hundreds dead may well run into thousands. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
SENDAI, JAPAN - MARCH 14: Members of a rescue team climb into a house after a warning of tsunami is issued after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 14, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll is currently unknown, with fears that the current hundreds dead may well run into thousands. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
SENDAI, JAPAN - MARCH 14: A local resident rests as she evacuates an area after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 14, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll is currently unknown, with fears that the current hundreds dead may well run into thousands. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
SENDAI, JAPAN - MARCH 14: Members of the Ground Self-Defense Forces help a man evacuate the area when a warning of tsunami is issued after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 14, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll is currently unknown, with fears that the current hundreds dead may well run into thousands. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
SENDAI, JAPAN - MARCH 14: Local residents walk through an area damaged by a tsunami after a 9.0 magnitude strong earthquake struck on March 11 off the coast of north-eastern Japan, on March 14, 2011 in Sendai, Japan. The quake struck offshore at 2:46pm local time, triggering a tsunami wave of up to 10 metres which engulfed large parts of north-eastern Japan. The death toll is currently unknown, with fears that the current hundreds dead may well run into thousands. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
ALTERNATE CROP OF TOK890 OF MARCH 13, 2011 - Futaba Kosei Hospital patients are assisted by Japan Self Defense Force personnel as they disembark from a helicopter in the compound of Fukushima Gender Equality Centre in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Sunday morning, March 13, 2011 after being evacuated from the hospital in Futaba town near the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex. They might have been exposed to radiation while waiting for evacuation when an explosion of Unit 1 reactor of the complex blew off the top part of its walls on Saturday, one day after a strong earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Daisuke Tomita) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY
Boy carries bottles of water amid debris in Kesennuma, northern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011 following Friday's massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE, CORRECTS DATE PHOTO TAKEN
In this video image taken from NTV Japan via APTN, smoke rises from Unit 1 of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. Government spokesman Yukio Edano said the explosion destroyed the exterior walls of the building where the reactor is placed, but not the metal housing enveloping the nuclear reactor, however the government has ordered the evacuation of all people within a 12-miles radius of the plant
A car leans against a wire from an electric pole in Miyako, northeastern Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011, one day after an 8.9-magnitude quake and the tsunami it spawned hit the country's northeastern coast
White smokes rise from still burning house in Yamadamachi in Iwate Prefecture (state), northern Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011, one day after a strong earthquake-triggered devastating tsunami hit the area
An elderly man is carried by a Self-Defense Force member in the tsunami-torn Natori city, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011, one day after strong earthquakes hit the area
Houses are in flames while the Natori river is flooded over the surrounding area by tsunami tidal waves in Natori city, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, March 11, 2011, after strong earthquakes hit the area
In this image made from Japan's NHK television, a house is sticks out from scattered debris as the area is submerged in Minami Soma, Fukushima prefecture (state), Friday, March 11, 2011 after a ferocious tsunami unleashed by Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coasts
A bride and groom from Japan walk in the lobby of the Sheration Waikiki Hotel, Friday, March 11, 2011 in Honolulu. A ferocious tsunami unleashed by Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday, killing hundreds of people as it carried away ships, cars and homes, and triggered widespread fires that burned out of control. Hours later, the waves washed ashore on Hawaii and the U.S. West coast, where evacuations were ordered from California to Washington but little damage was reported
An aerial view shows residential area affected by tsunami in Sendai, northern Japan Saturday, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday
SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 11: (L - R) Leighana Murphy and Ted Lanpher walk across a portion of a beach between tsunami surges on March 11, 2011 in Half Moon Bay, California. A tsunami warning for Northern California has been issued and a voluntary evacuation is in effect in Half Moon Bay. (Photo by Kim White/Getty Images)
Black smoke raises from a building during a fire in Tokyo after one of the largest earthquakes on record slammed Japan's eastern coasts Friday, March 11, 2011
Houses are in flames while the Natori river is flooded over the surrounding area by tsunami tidal waves in Natori city, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, March 11, 2011, after strong earthquakes hit the area
Smoke rises from burning facilities in an industrial zone in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Frida
Gas storage facilities burn in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday
Black smoke rises from burning buildings in a factory zone in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday
A local resident walks through debris in Rikuzentakata, Iwate, northern Japan Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday
Smokes billow from an residential area in Sendai, northern Japan Saturday, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast
A man looks over tsunami-drifted debris and mud filling rice paddies in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast
Smoke rises from Tagajo city as it is observed from Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast
A woman, carrying a child on her back, walks over tsunami-drifted debris and mud in Rikuzentakada, Iwate Prefecture, Saturday morning, March 12, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast
Buildings burn in Yamada town, Iwate prefecture (state) after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit Friday March 11, 2011
Giant fireballs rise from a burning oil refinery in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
In this image fromJapan's NHK TV video footage, vehicles are washed away by tsunami in coastal area in eastern Japan after Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, ships and boats are washed ashore in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefectur, Japan
An oil refinery burns in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture Japan Friday March 11, 2011 following a massive earth quake.
Hotel employees gather at the hotel's entrance in Tokyo, Japan as an earthquake hits Friday, March 11, 2011. Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.8 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
People at a book store react in Sendai, northern Japan as an earthquake hits Friday, March 11, 2011. Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.8 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter.
An area is flooded by tsunami in Iwaki as Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan reacts during an upper house budget committee session at parliament in Tokyo, Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011. Kan said earlier in the day he will not resign after acknowledging that his campaign office had unknowingly received illegal donations from a foreign supporter _ days after his foreign minister stepped down for a similar reason. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
People at a book store react as the store's ceiling falls in Sendai, northern Japan Friday, March 11, 2011. Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.8 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, FOR COMMERCIAL USE ONLY IN NORTH AMERICA
Office workers in Tokyo's Shiodome district near Tokyo Bay stay on the pedestrian deck Friday, March 11, 2011, shortly after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake has struck off Japan's northeastern coast. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Reporters at the Associated Press Tokyo Bureau in Tokyo take shelter under a table while a strong earthquake strikes eastern Japan Friday afternoon, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
Black smoke rises from a burning building in Tokyo after Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake (AP/Kyodo News)

Radioactivity was detected in Tokyo's city centre yesterday, the possible prelude to a disaster forewarned but never really expected: the meltdown of a nuclear power plant and the showering of fallout over 28 million people.

Experts and government ministers said that the radiation levels in the city were negligible, and that the battle to save the stricken plant in Fukushima was making progress. But they warned that contamination within the danger zone around the plant, about 300km north-east of the capital, was dangerous to human health, and told people inside the zone to evacuate or stay indoors.



The crisis follows an explosion at the plant on Tuesday, which is believed to have caused a crack in the chamber of reactor No 2. Steam and radioactive substances reportedly poured through the crack, sending contamination levels soaring. The government's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, later said that the levels quickly fell again, but refused to rule out further leaks. Engineers are still pumping seawater into reactors No 1, 2 and 3 in a bid to cool them and prevent meltdown, and last they were battling falling water levels in No 5 and a fire in No 6. Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned last night that the risk of further contamination from the Fukushima complex was "still high".



Thousands of foreigners and Japanese citizens are fleeing the capital. Several airlines, including Air China and Lufthansa, have stopped flying into the city's airports. But experts tried to dampen down fears of a catastrophe: "We don't believe it is necessary to evacuate Tokyo, even though the radioactivity is certainly out there," said Masako Sawai, of the Citizens' Nuclear Information Centre. "However, there is a possibility that our view may change depending on how the reactor activity progresses."



The crisis wiped billions from Japan's stock market, sending the Nikkei share index down 10.55 percent yesterday. The central bank has pumped about $280bn into the financial system since the weekend in a bid to shore up confidence.



Shibuya Square is normally the buzzing youthful heart of Tokyo, its giant neon signs and television screens towering over an intersection permanently clogged with pedestrians and cars. Today, the screens are blank and the neon has been switched off to save power. The crowds have thinned and many of the people hurrying through the square have cases and overnight bags.



"We're being sent west by our company, to Osaka," said Ryousuke Sanada, who works for a food distributor. "They say it's just a normal transfer, but they're worried about the radiation. Of course I'm scared, but I don't think the worst will happen as long as people pull together."



Experts have appeared nightly on television to caution against over- reaction, saying that a Chernobyl-style catastrophe is unlikely. Modern nuclear plants are built better, they say, and the Fukushima complex has been shut down since last Friday. But such reassurances have not soothed the sense of impending doom in the capital, or the steady stream of apocalyptic headlines. "Radioactivity in Greater Tokyo at 100 times normal levels," screamed last night's copy of Sponichi, a tabloid newspaper.



Some have heard that the Emperor has abandoned the city for Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, though there is no evidence that it is true. "That's not what concerns me," said Yutaka Aoki, a taxi driver who works the area around Shibuya Station. "My biggest problem is getting petrol. They sold me just 20 litres today. How am I supposed to work on that?" A scratchy broadcast from a dashboard television in his car keeps spitting out the latest dreadful news from Fukushima. "If it blows what can we do? We're finished," he said.



The shops have started running out of water, toilet rolls and rice as the city's beleaguered citizens panic-buy and supplies get clogged in the country's transport arteries. Candles, facemasks and umbrellas have sold out too, after government officials advised using them to protect from fallout. "Leave the umbrellas outside your door when you come back home," said one. Many convenience stores have shut their doors after ending up with nothing to sell, a minor but telling sign of the disintegration of normal life in a city where the stores light up almost every street.



Around Shibuya, groups of young people could be seen wearing masks and carrying umbrellas, though the skies were clear. "My mother told me it would protect me," explained 15-year-old Ryo Umebayashi, a high school student. "I don't know if it's going to work, but I guess it's better than nothing." And if the radiation worsens? "I don't know," he shrugs. "We're talking about going to Okinawa [in Japan's far south] but none of us has enough money."



The symbolism of youngsters sheltering from radioactive precipitation in a country that gave the world Black Rain, the term used by survivors of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to describe nuclear fallout, is not lost on the city's older citizens. "It's like the situation after the [Second World] war," one told state broadcaster NHK this week. "It's frightening, but we rebuilt then and we were far poorer."



The faces on trains from Shibuya are sombre, the carriages filled with the pensive energy of a normally stoic people wondering what on earth tomorrow will bring. History's strongest earthquake, a tsunami that washed away towns, villages and thousands of people in its muddy embrace, a string of nerve-wracking aftershocks, 400,000 people stranded, and the constant dread that the Frankenstein monster that once helped keep Shibuya Square lit like Christmas will have its revenge.

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