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Work resumes at Japanese reactor

Efforts have resumed at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to restore electrical power and cool its overheated reactors, seriously damaged by the 11 March earthquake.

The work was interrupted after emissions of white vapour and smoke from two of the reactors.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary says it is impossible to say what the cause is.

The plant’s operators are unable to see what’s going on inside the buildings housing the reactors, he added.

Workers at the plant have been battling to cool reactors and spent fuel ponds to avoid a large-scale release of radiation.

The death toll from the quake and tsunami stands at 8,450, with nearly 13,000 people missing. More than 350,000 people are still living in evacuation centres in northern and eastern Japan. Food shipments halted

The Fukushima plant was crippled by fire and explosions after the 11 March quake and tsunami.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission – whose staff are in Tokyo conferring with the Japanese government and industry officials – said the Japanese nuclear crisis appeared to be stabilising.

The NRC said that reactors 1, 2 and 3 had some core damage but their containment was not currently breached.

Early on Tuesday, white vapour was seen rising from reactor 2 and hazy smoke from the reactor 3.

Meanwhile, the government has ordered a halt to some food shipments from four prefectures around the Fukushima nuclear plant, as concern increases about radioactive traces in vegetables and water supplies.

Villagers living near the plant have been told not to drink tap water because of higher levels of radioactive iodine.

The suspension – which the government said was just a precaution – applies to spinach from the prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma, as well as milk from Fukushima.

Over the weekend spinach and milk produced near the nuclear plant was found to contain levels of radioactive iodine far higher than the legal limits.

However, senior government official Yukio Edano told a news conference that eating or drinking the contaminated food would not pose a health hazard. “I would like you to act calmly,” he said.

The World Health Organization said it had no evidence of contaminated food reaching other countries. However, China, Taiwan and South Korea have announced plans to toughen checks of Japanese imports.

“We have been using helicopters to deliver relief goods to some places but for today we have to switch the delivery to places that we can reach by road,” he said.

Some aid from foreign countries has started to arrive, and the government has started the process of finding temporary housing in other parts of the country for those made homeless.

Workers in north-east Japan have begun building temporary homes for the displaced. The prefabricated metal boxes with wooden floors were put up on the hillside near the devastated town of Rikuzentakata.

Nearly 900,000 households are still without water.

Find out more on BBC News

Category: World News |

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Last updated October 24, 2016 at 6:05 PM
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