Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan: Damage from mega quake increasing, death toll feared to top 1,700

Damage caused by Friday's catastrophic earthquake in Japan expanded Saturday, with the combined number of people who have died or are unaccounted for is feared to top 1,700, while an explosion occurred at the nuclear reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and injured four workers.

The four are conscious and their injuries are not life-threatening, according to the electricity firm, while the Fire and Disaster Management Agency dispatched the Hyper Rescue squad from Tokyo to bring equipment to cool down the nuclear plant facilities.

Radioactive materials -- cesium and iodine -- were also detected around the No. 1 reactor of the plant, according to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The death toll has exceeded 600 so far, a police tally showed, while 200 to 300 bodies were transferred to Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. It was also reported that another 200 bodies were transferred to gymnasiums in Iwanuma and Natori, both in Miyagi, while around 650 people are missing following the 2:46 p.m. quake with a magnitude of 8.8, the strongest ever recorded in Japan. (read more)