Saturday, April 9, 2011

New quake causes power outages, toxic water spill in Japan

2011-04-08 19:00:00
Last Updated: 2011-04-08 20:57:13

Tokyo: Adding to Japan's misery, the strongest aftershock since the devastating March 11 quake and tsunami killed at least four people, knocked out power to millions of houses and sparked fresh concerns about the radiation-leaking Fukushima nuclear plant where the crisis is far from over.

The latest tremor, whose magnitude was revised to 7.1 from 7.4, rocked the northern and central parts of Miyagi Prefecture, which was the worst affected by last month's mega quake and tsunami, at 11:32 pm on Thursday night.

Radioactive water spilled from pools holding spent nuclear fuel rods at the Onagawa power plant in Miyagi following the aftershock, the nuclear safety agency was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency on Thursday.

However, the powerful quake did not hamper the ongoing work to restore reactor cooling systems at the crippled Fukushima plant, though workers were briefly evacuated after a tsunami advisory issued, the operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said.
It said no new irregularities were detected in radiation readings or other indicators, except for the surface temperature of the No.1 reactor at the plant, where engineerings have been battling for nearly a month to bring the situation under control.

Before the quake, the reading stood at 223 degrees Celsius. Just after the tremor, it rose to about 260 degrees Celsius at midnight -- but fell back to 246 degrees Celsius this afternoon, according to national broadcaster NHK.

After the tsunami warning issued for the area was lifted, the workers inspected the site and resumed their critical task to cool the overheating reactors at the facility.
Last night's quake triggered panic among residents already being sheltered at local facilities following the last month magnitude-9 quake and tsunami that has left nearly 30,000 people dead or unaccounted for in Japan's northeast.

Two men, aged 85 and 79 respectively, died in Miyagi while a 63-year-old woman was killed in the neighbouring prefecture of Yamagata after the tremor, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. An 83-year-old woman in Miyagi was reportedly taken to hospital immediately after the earthquake and later confirmed dead.
About 140 people were also injured, Jiji Press reported.

The National Police Agency said five buildings were totally or partially destroyed in Miyagi and three each burnt down in Miyagi and Iwate.

Tohoku Electric Power Company said as many as four million homes lost power at one point and, despite its restoration effort, the outage continued across Aomori and Iwate and in some areas in Tohoku prefectures till this morning, affecting 3.04 million homes.

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