8:00am

Thu March 24, 2011
The Two-Way

Crisis In Japan: Dead, Missing Total Rises Above 26,000

Here are some of the latest developments in Japan, which is recovering from the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands, left hundreds of thousands homeless and crippled a nuclear power plant in Fukushima:

-- More Than 26,000 Dead Or Missing: According to the latest estimate from the National Police Agency, "more than 26,000 people are officially dead or missing." There are 9,737 confirmed deaths and 16,423 people unaccounted for. (NHK)

-- Nuclear Workers Exposed To Radiation: "Two workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant suffered injuries when their feet came in contact with radioactive elements while laying electrical cables in one unit, said Fumio Matsuda, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industry Safety. NHK television reported that the workers' legs were exposed as they worked in a basement flooded with radioactive water. The two were being treated at a hospital.

"They were exposed to radiation levels between 170 to 180 millisieverts, less than the maximum amount of 250 millisieverts that the government allows for workers at the plant, Matsuda said. [But] that's more radiation than many people will receive in a lifetime. It's also enough to cause burns to the skin and damage to bone marrow." (NPR staff and wires)

A third worker was also exposed to the high-level radiation, Kyodo News reports. But while the other two reportedly suffered possible radiation burns on their feet, the third worker did not.

-- Water Problems: "The scope of radiation-contaminated tap water expanded Thursday, with radioactive iodine detected in tap water in Chiba and Saitama prefectures, while the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which said the day before its drinking water was contaminated, scurried to distribute 240,000 bottles of water to households with babies. ... On Thursday, however, the [Tokyo] metropolitan government lifted the alert after radioactive iodine in tap water at the purification plant in Katsushika Ward dropped below the alert level for infants, officials said. Depending on the course of events, however, the alert could be reinstated, they said." (The Japan Times)

-- Feelings Of 'Accept Pain, Don't Complain' Among Many Japanese: "No country is more familiar with nuclear peril than Japan. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, at the end of World War II, killed or irradiated hundreds of thousands of people, an event that dwarfs any nuclear incident since then.

"One might think, then, that people in Japan would be traumatized by the calamity at the nuclear power complex in Fukushima. But the reality is more nuanced than that. From one generation to the next, even the most horrible events fade from cultural memory." (NPR's Christopher Joyce, on Morning Edition.) Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.