A new explosion at a stricken nuclear power plant hit Japan Monday as it raced to avert a reactor meltdown after a quake-tsunami disaster that is feared to have killed more than 10,000 people. Searchers found 2,000 bodies just in the northeastern region of Miyagi, while millions were left without water, electricity, fuel or enough food. Hundreds of thousands more were homeless after the tsunami drowned whole towns.
Panic selling saw stocks close more than six percent lower on the Tokyo bourse on fears for the world’s third-biggest economy, as power shortages prompted rolling blackouts and factory shutdowns in quake-hit areas. In Ishinomaki, a hard-hit town of about 165,000, it was a “desperate race against the clock to save those who may be trapped and wounded beneath colossal mounds of debris”, said Red Cross Asia-Pacific spokesman Patrick Fuller.
“At the Red Cross hospital, no space is left unused. Exhausted Red Cross medics sleep side by side with the wounded,” Fuller said in a Red Cross blog. The police chief in Miyagi prefecture, which took the full force of Friday’s massive tsunami following the biggest quake ever to hit Japan, said the death toll was certain to exceed 10,000 in his region.