Damaged Fukushima Nuclear Plant cause for concern
On 18 March 2011, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency raised the alert level to five on a seven-point international scale for atomic accidents as officials continued to drop water onto the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The following day electricity was partially restored, but the pressure in reactor 3 is rising again. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the situation remains very serious.
On 20 March 2011, over 8,000 people were confirmed dead with over 12,000 officially listed as missing. Authorities believe the death toll will rise above 15,000. Already more than 21,000 people have moved out of affected areas and into other parts of the country.
In response, the government has requested that the housing industry construct 30,000 homes for the displaced, already beginning with the construction of 200 homes in Iwate Prefecture. In response to fuel shortages, 4.3 million litres of fuel have been delivered to affected prefectures to date. Medical assistance, water and non food items continue to be delivered to affected areas. Several Japanese NGOs are assisting those in need through Japan Platform, an established emergency humanitarian aid NGO that works as an umbrella agency, and more Japanese NGOs are preparing to assist the relief effort.
The number of people in evacuation centres and the number of households without electricity are decreasing, but weather conditions remain bitter and four search and rescue teams are still engaged in debris removal and recovery activities. These teams are expected to finish their missions early next week and international NGOs will then be able to access more affected areas.