Aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last Friday
Japan has held a minute's silence to mark exactly one week since the
country was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, reports
It comes as the crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant continues
with emergency crews attempting to reconnect electricity to its
cooling systems as four reactors continue to overheat.
Four of the facility's six reactor units have seen fires, explosions
or partial meltdowns in the week since the country was hit by a
massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Engineers have been trying for days to avert a potentially
catastrophic release of radiation from the plant but the experts in
the US have said it could take weeks to cool the fuel rods down.
Officials from Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) hope to fix a power
cable to at least two of the reactors in the hope of restarting water
pumps but have said no more seawater will be dropped on them from the
Smoke is still billowing out of Reactor 2 but its cause is not known.
A spokesman for the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 150 miles (240km) north
of Tokyo, has admitted that the situation is "severe".
The country's nuclear agency spokesman has also conceded that a
"Chernobyl solution" of burying the reactors in sand and concrete was
in the back of authorities' minds.
Millions of people in the north and in the capital remain indoors as
fears grow of a blast of radioactive material from the complex.
The head of the UN atomic watchdog has urged Japanese Prime Minister
Naoto Kan to provide more specific information on the nuclear
"We have been receiving information but there is the opinion in the
international community that more detailed information is needed,"
said Yukiya Amano from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The crisis has triggered alarm and reviews of safety at atomic power
plants around the globe.
US President Barack Obama has ordered a review of safety of all of
America's nuclear plants.
Even if the engineers manage to connect the power, it is not clear if
the pumps will work as they may have been damaged in the quake or
subsequent explosions and there are real fears of the electricity
shorting and causing another explosion.
Meanwhile, Japanese police say the number of dead or missing from last
week's disaster has reached 16,600, with 6,539 killed.
And finance officials from the G7 major industrialised countries have
agreed on a coordinated effort to weaken the Japanese yen, which has
surged to record levels this week.