Thursday, July 18, 2024

Japan toll to exceed 10,000 in one state

The quake, tsunami-torn country scrambles to avert nuclear meltdown; millions without power and drinking water
The death toll in Japan’s earthquake and tsunami will likely exceed 10,000 in one state alone, an official said yesterday, as millions of survivors were left without drinking water, electricity and proper food along the pulverized northeastern coast.
“This is Japan’s most severe crisis since the war ended 65 years ago,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan told reporters, adding that Japan’s future would be decided by the response to this crisis.
AFP reports the death toll from earthquake and tsunami is certain to exceed 10,000 in Miyagi prefecture alone, its police chief told reporters yesterday.
“There is no doubt that the number will reach the 10,000-level,” said Naoto Takeuchi, quoted by state broadcaster NHK.
Miyagi has a population of 2.3 million and is one of the three prefectures hardest hit in the disaster. Only 379 people have officially been confirmed dead in the prefecture.
According to officials, more than 1,400 people were killed — including 200 people whose bodies were found yesterday along the coast — and more than 1,000 were missing in the disasters. Another 1,700 were injured.
The US Geological Survey calculated the initial quake to have a magnitude of 8.9, while Japanese officials raised their estimate yesterday to 9.0. Either way it was the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan. It has been followed by more than 150 powerful aftershocks.
Teams searched for the missing along hundreds of miles of Japanese coastline, and hundreds of thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centres that were cut off from rescuers and aid. At least 1.4 million households had gone without water since the quake struck and some 2.5 million households were without electricity.
Trade Minister Banri Kaeda said the region was likely to face further blackouts and that power would be rationed to ensure supplies go to essential needs.
Large areas of the countryside remained surrounded by water and unreachable. Fuel stations were closed and people were running out of gasoline for their vehicles.
The government said 2,75,000 people have been evacuated to emergency shelters, many of them without power.
In Iwaki town, residents were leaving due to concerns over dwindling food and fuel supplies. The town had no electricity and all stores were closed. Local police took in about 90 people and gave them blankets and rice balls but there was no sign of government or military aid trucks.
At a large refinery on the outskirts of the hard-hit port city of Sendai, 100-foot-high bright orange flames rose in the air, spitting out dark plumes of smoke. The facility has been burning since Friday. A reporter who approached the area could hear the roaring fire from afar, and after a few minutes the gaseous stench began burning the eyes and throat.
In the small town of Tagajo, near Sendai, dazed residents roamed streets cluttered with smashed cars, broken homes and twisted metal.
Residents said the water surged in and quickly rose higher than the first floor of buildings. At Sengen General Hospital the staff worked feverishly to haul bedridden patients up the stairs one at a time. With the halls now dark, those that can leave have gone to the local community centre.
“There is still no water or power, and we’ve got some very sick people in here,” said hospital official Ikuro Matsumoto.
One older neighbourhood sits on low ground near a canal. The tsunami came in from the canal side and blasted through the frail wooden houses, coating the interiors with a thick layer of mud and spilling their contents out into the street on the other side.
“It’s been two days, and all I’ve been given so far is a piece of bread and a rice ball,” said Masashi Imai, 56.
Police cars drove slowly through the town and warned residents through loudspeakers to seek higher ground, but most simply stood by and watched them pass.
Dozens of countries have offered assistance. Two U.S. aircraft carrier groups were off Japan’s coast and ready to provide assistance. Helicopters were flying from one of the carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan, delivering food and water in Miyagi.
Two other US rescue teams of 72 personnel each and rescue dogs were scheduled to arrive later yesterday, as was a five-dog team from Singapore and a 102-member South Korean team.
In Fukushima prefecture, people said the city of Soma was hardest hit. Rubble was all that remained of one coastal housing district where some 2,000 people lived. Their houses were simply washed away.
No signs of life remained yesterday night, except for the occasional dog searching for its owner. The only lights in town came from the fire engines patrolling the area.
MELTDOWN FEAR
Japan fought yesterday to avert a disastrous meltdown at two earthquake-crippled nuclear reactors.
Officials worked desperately to stop fuel rods in the damaged reactors from overheating after some controlled radiation leaks into the air to relieve pressure.
The government said a building housing a second reactor was at risk of exploding after a blast blew the roof off the first the day before at the complex, 240 km of Tokyo, reports Reuters.
The fear is that if the fuel rods do not cool, they could melt the container that houses the core, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the wind.
Authorities have set up a 20-km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant and a 10 km zone around another nuclear facility close by. Around 1,40,000 people have been moved from the area, while authorities prepared to distribute iodine to protect people from radioactive exposure.
The nuclear accident, the worst since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, sparked stinging criticism that authorities were ill-prepared for such a massive quake and the threat that could pose to the country’s nuclear power industry.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said there might have been a partial meltdown of the fuel rods at the No 1 reactor at Fukushima. Engineers were pumping in seawater, trying to prevent the same happening at the No 3 reactor, he said in apparent acknowledgement they had moved too slowly on Saturday.
“Unlike the No 1 reactor, we ventilated and injected water at an early stage,” Edano told a news briefing.
The No 3 reactor uses a mixed-oxide fuel which contains plutonium, but plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said it did not present unusual problems.
Asked if fuel rods were partially melting in the No. 1 reactor, Edano said: “There is that possibility. We cannot confirm this because it is in the reactor. But we are dealing with it under that assumption.”
He said fuel rods may have partially deformed at the No. 3 reactor but a meltdown was unlikely to have occurred.
“The use of seawater means they have run out of options,” said David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Nuclear Safety Project.
TEPCO said radiation levels around the Fukushima Daiichi plant had risen above the safety limit but that it did not mean an “immediate threat” to human health.
Edano said there was a risk of an explosion at the building housing the No. 3 reactor, but that it was unlikely to affect the reactor core container.
The wind over the plant would continue blowing from the south, which could affect residents north of the facility, an official at Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.
The disaster prompted an angry response from an anti-nuclear energy NGO in Japan which said it should have been foreseen.
“A nuclear disaster which the promoters of nuclear power in Japan said wouldn’t happen is in progress,” the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre said. “It is occurring as a result of an earthquake that they said would not happen.”

 

Courtesy of The Daily Star

Related News

Internet likely to face disruption for 12 hours today

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Internet connectivity in Bangladesh will face partial disruption for 12 hours from this morning because of maintenance of 1st submarine cable, said Bangladesh Submarine Cables PLC (BSCPLC) in a press release. The statement said from 6:01 am to 6:00 pm, the consortium has scheduled maintenance for a land cable fault near ... Read more

Chess Grandmaster Ziaur Rahman passes away

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh Grandmaster Ziaur Rahman passed away at a hospital in the city after suffering a heart attack during the 12th round game of the ongoing National Chess Championship at the Chess Federation on Friday. Zia bhai is no more. He breathed his last at around 6:00pm at Ibrahim Cardiac Hospital,’ confirmed ... Read more

Ending GPA-5 era, SSC results to be published with English letter grades

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams will no longer be evaluated under the Grade Point Average 1-5 scale but rather be graded with English letters. A meeting of the National Curriculum Coordination Committee with the Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury approved the new evaluation framework on Monday (1 July). “There are ... Read more

Over 1.04 crore animals sacrificed on Eid-ul-Adha this year

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A total of 1,04,08,918 animals were sacrificed across the country on the occasion of the holy Eid-ul-Azha this year. As many as 3, 67, 106 more animals were slaughtered this year compared to previous year, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock said in a press release on Tuesday. This year the ... Read more

9am-5pm office time to resume from Wednesday

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The public offices across Bangladesh are set to go back to old office timing from 9:00am to 5:00pm with Fridays and Saturdays being the weekly holidays as usual from Wednesday. The cabinet in its weekly meeting on June 3 decided restoring the old office timing between 9:00am and 5:00pm on weekdays ... Read more

5 magnitude earthquake jolts parts of Bangladesh

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A magnitude 5 earthquake jolted a large part of the country on Sunday (2 June) afternoon., including Dhaka. The quake struck at 2:44pm from a depth of about 110km, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, and was centred in the Mawlaik area of Myanmar, 441 km southeast of Dhaka. The quake ... Read more

Over 2cr to be fed as daylong Vitamin ‘A’ plus campaign begins

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The National Vitamin A-plus campaign is being conducted with a target to feed the capsules to over 2.22 crore children, aged between six months and 59 months. The campaign started at 8am on Saturday (June 1) and will continue till 4pm. Feeding Vitamin A capsules prevents blindness in children, ensures normal ... Read more

Postponed notice fake, HSC exams on June 30 as per schedule

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent exams will be held on time as per previous announcement, beginning on 30 June. The routine deferring the exams for a month that is making rounds in social media, is fake, the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Dhaka said on Saturday. A circular ... Read more

3 month-long ban on fishing, tourism in Sundarbans begins

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The forest department has imposed this three-month ban on fishing and tourism in the Sundarbans. Local communities, including fishermen, wood and honey collectors, who depend on the Sundarbans for their livelihoods, are concerned about a three-month ban on all activities in the forest starting Saturday. The restriction applies to visitors, including ... Read more

Appellate Division upholds HC verdict on DU teacher Samia’s demotion

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Appellate Division today (26 May) upheld the judgement of the High Court which declared illegal the demotion order of Dhaka University faculty Samia Rahman on charges of plagiarism. A four-member appellate bench headed by senior judge M Enayetur Rahim of the Appellate Division rejected the appeal of DU as invalid. ... Read more

3.2 million children at risk as Cyclone Remal hits Bangladesh coasts: UNICEF

News Desk : dhakamirror.com As Cyclone Remal hit the coastal areas of Bangladesh, over 8.4 million people, including 3.2 million children, are at high health, nutrition, sanitation, and safety risks, according to UNICEF. ‘Our thoughts go out to the children and their families at this critical moment as they endure the storm’s impact,’ said UNICEF ... Read more

Classes suspended at coastal area schools due to cyclone

News Desk : dhakamirror.com No classes will be held at schools in the coastal areas due to Cyclone Remal, said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Mohibur Rahman. He said this after a meeting of the inter-ministerial disaster management coordination committee at the Secretariat on Sunday. According to a bulletin of the Met Office, ... Read more

Cyclone Remal forms over Bay, signal 7 at Payra and Mongla

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The deep depression over the east and west central Bay of Bengal intensified into a cyclonic storm “Remal” at around 9:00 pm today and is expected to hit the country’s coasts between 6pm and 11:59pm tomorrow, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD). The Met Office asked the Payra and Mongla ... Read more

Admissions for Class XI start tomorrow

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The first phase of applications for Class XI admission for the 2024–2025 academic year will begin tomorrow, May 26, and run through June 11th. According to the XI class admission circular 2024-25, the online application system is divided into three phases with designated application windows, result announcements, and confirmation periods. Students ... Read more

Exam will not be postponed for Cyclone Remal: NU

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The National University has decided not to postpone the Introduction to Government Policy exam for 4th-year Political Science honours students for the academic year 2022, despite the warning for the approaching Cyclone Remal. The exam is scheduled to be held on Sunday (26 May) at 1:00pm, the same day that the ... Read more

Gold price cut by Tk 1,084 per bhori

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The prices of gold in the country’s local market witnessed a fall on Thursday as the Bangladesh Jewellers’ Association (Bajus) slashed the price of 22-carat gold by Tk 1,084 per bhori (11.664 grammes). The new rate for the precious metal will come into effect on Friday, BAJUS said in a press ... Read more

Don’t pay anyone for visas, or work permits: Italian envoy

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Italian Ambassador to Bangladesh, Antonio Alessandro, advised visa-seekers not to pay anyone for visas, emphasising that the embassy only charges small taxes and processing fees. “Our services are free except for these official fees,” he said today (21 May) following a meeting with Shofiqur Rahman Choudhury, the State Minister for Expatriates’ ... Read more

Bangladeshi mountaineer Babar Ali conquers Everest

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Babar Ali from Chattogram has summited Mount Everest and raised the red and green flag on the world’s highest peak. He reached the summit at 8:30am local time (8:45am Bangladesh time) on Sunday, proudly raising the red and green flag of Bangladesh. He began his journey on 1 April, after necessary ... Read more

Price of gold increases by Tk1,178 per bhori

The new rate will be effective from Sunday (19 May) News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Bangladesh Jewellers Association (Bajus) today (18 May) increased the price of gold by Tk1,178 per bhori, followed by a price hike in the local bullion market. According to a Bajus statement, 22-carat gold will now cost Tk1,18,460 per bhori (11.664 ... Read more

9 Bangladeshis named in Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Nine Bangladeshis have been named in Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list for their contributions across various industries. Forbes announced its prestigious “30 Under 30 Asia” list for the ninth consecutive year yesterday (15 May), showcasing 300 exceptional young individuals under the age of 30 who are making significant strides across ... Read more