World — 13 March 2011

10,000 missing in Minamisanriku

After the earthquake, the tsunami and ongoing atomic accident, the latest bad news in the Japanese Disaster of March 2011 is that more than half of the population of Minamisanriku city, some 10,000 people are missing since the tsunami.  Japanese broadcaster NHK broke the news of this latest development in the disaster, and said the coastal town normally has 17,000 people living there.

The developing emergency at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is the most alarming danger, with technicians and engineers fighting to try and cool the damaged fuel rods in two atomic reactors. They are the Dai Ichi and Dai Ni reactors (Number 1 and Number 2) run by the Tokyo Electric Power Company. The facility is right on the shoreline, 160 miles (about 250 kms) north of Tokyo — Japan’s capital city.

When the 8.9 scale earthquake erupted 130 kms off the shore of north-east Japan at 2:46 pm local time on Friday 11th March, the nearby nuclear power plants were shut down. However the tsunami damaged some of the cooling equipment and the controlled shutdown of two of those reactors failed. They shut down, but the super-heated core and the fuel rods were not cooled.

It is those super-heated fuel rods in those two reactors which are the danger. And this is where the fear of a possible atomic meltdown comes from.

Then, as technicians desperately pumped water into the Fukushima Dai Ichi (Number 1) reactor to try and cool down the core, there was an explosion of steam which blew apart the building and injured four workers. This occured at around 3:30 pm yesterday.

The building was damaged but we are told the reactor was not damaged. The race to try and cool down the two damaged reactors is continuing, but the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is still possible.

Authorities have doubled the radius of the evacuation zone around the nuclear facility to 12 miles, and have ordered the residents to flee.

There have been dozens of large aftershocks since the main earthquake. These threaten more tsunamis, threaten to further collapse already-damaged buildings and hamper rescue efforts.

Death Toll:

This morning (Japan time) the official figures are 686 dead, 642 missing. and 1,040 people are reported injured. 

  • 200 to 300 more bodies were counted from the air in Sendai city
  • The Japanese military has found 300 to 400 bodies around Rikuzentakata city
  • The quake shifted the earth’s axis by 4 inches (10 cm) and moved the island of Japan 8 feet (2.5 m)
  • Six million homes have lost electric power
  • Tens of thousands of buildings have been destroyed
  • Many civil airports have been closed because of mud and debris from Friday’s tsunami
  • 215,000 people need emergency shelter in winter conditions
  • Water and food supplies in Tokyo are running out

The first foreign search and rescue teams are starting to arrive in Japan. This includes experts from Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, and another resure team from Los Angeles is on its way from the United States.

Eight US warships including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan are on their way to help with communications, expertise and bring heavy lifting equipment.

Other overseas have also promised to help.

The enormous scale of the disaster presents a mind-boggling catastrophe, with so many people in so many different places all in desperate need of rescue. But hundreds of thousands also need emergency shelter, and millions are in need of food and water. But with hampered communications, closed railways and damaged roads, the help is going to take time that the victims do not have.

Editor’s note: This sitrep is now out of date. An up to date news report has been posted for you on NEWS



About Author

David Harvey, Editor

David Harvey left school at 17 and went straight into newspapers as a cadet reporter. (He also a keen photographer and learned both trades.) He worked as a photojournalist in Hong Kong and as a war correspondent in Vietnam during the war. He moved to Australia in the late 1970s and got involved in I.T. during the mid-80s. This website is his latest venture here, combining news-gathering with the power of the internet. See: news-reporter

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