News / Asia

Second Japanese Nuclear Reactor At Risk of Exploding

Policemen wear gas masks and patrol near the nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture on March 12, 2011 a day after a massive 8.9 magnitude quake and tsunami hit the region.
Policemen wear gas masks and patrol near the nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture on March 12, 2011 a day after a massive 8.9 magnitude quake and tsunami hit the region.

Government officials say as many as 160 people may have been exposed to radiation in Fukushima Prefecture

Japan is struggling to keep nuclear power reactors under control. This comes as massive search and rescue efforts are underway in the northeastern part of the country following Japan's worst ever natural disaster.

Watch video of the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant

The official death toll is now over 1,000 with thousands more people unaccounted for and 300,000 Japanese evacuated from severely damaged communities following Friday earthquake and large tsunami.

Government officials early Sunday said as many as 160 people may have been exposed to radiation here in Fukushima Prefecture. That occurred following an explosion at the crippled number one plant of the Fukusihma nuclear power complex.

It apparently happened as the result of steps taken to try to  prevent the reactor melting after the facility lost power as a result of the quake and tsunami. Plant operators initiated a desperate measure to cool the number one reactor using seawater and boric acid. Government officials say the containment vessel around the reactor's core is intact.

On Sunday, Japan's nuclear safety agency reported an emergency at a second reactor here. And there are domestic media reports that up to six reactors in all here in Fukushima Prefecture have lost their cooling function. Worries of meltdowns of reactors is now overshadowing the search and rescue efforts following the mega-quake and resulting tsunami that has devestated hundreds of kilometers of Japan's pacific northeastern coast.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan Saturday evening addressed Japan expressing hope that as he put it this disaster can somehow be survived. Besides helping the thousands of people injured and made homeless by the quake and tsunami, he said his top priority is the emergency with the damaged nuclear power plants here in Fukushima Pretecture.

Social Media: Disaster in Japan

The Crisis Commons volunteer community has mobilized, and part of the effort is being coordinated by Japanese students at U.S. universities.

The Red Cross has opened a page on to raise money for the victims of Friday's disaster in Japan.

For more on how you can help, visit and Time Out Tokyo.

Google has launched a service for people seeking to reconnect with those in the disaster area.

The State Department tweeted:
RT @TravelGov: U.S. citizens in #Japan can stay informed about current conditions in the region through #STEP: #tsunami

But the government is facing mounting criticism for delayed and partial information, generating skepticism about whether they are being totally forthcoming about the total extent of the crisis. A 20-kilometer evacuation zone has been established at the number one reactor and a 10 kilometer zone around a second one.

About 170,000 people have been moved out of the danger area. For most survivors however the immediate concern is not about potential radiation exposure. They are just trying to get by with life. More than one million households are expected to have been without water since the quake hit. Food supplies are dwindling, with many countryside communities cut off. They are surrounded by water or roads have been damaged.

The death toll remains unclear. Troops are finding hundreds of bodies along the beaches where tsunamis swept out to sea entire communities in neighboring Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.  Other rescuers in helicopters are lifting people one by one who were stranded atop damaged buildings.

About 50,000 Japanese troops are to get assistance from foreign teams which are converging on northeastern Japan.  More than 50 countries have offered help.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs