Tokyo, March 14 (IANS) Eleven people were injured in an explosion that rocked a second nuclear reactor in Fukushima in Japan Monday as 2,000 more bodies were found in the worst hit Miyagi prefecture. The toll in the 9 magnitude earthquake, which was followed by a giant tsunami, is expected to exceed 10,000.At least 11 people were injured and seven were missing in the second hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, Xinhua reported Monday.
The first explosion occurred at the plant Saturday, the second Monday morning following an aftershock. There are reports of a cooling problem in a third nuclear reactor in the plant.
Plumes of white smoke were seen rising from the Fukushima plant after a loud explosion at its No.3 reactor, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the plant, said 11 people were injured and seven others were missing after the blast. One of the walls of the reactor building collapsed.
Fukushima, about 240 km from Tokyo, is home to 10 reactors at two nuclear power plants.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano was quoted by DPA as saying that measurements at the Japanese nuclear reactor where an explosion occurred showed no higher levels of radiation. The hydrogen blast damaged the reactor building but the reactor hull remained intact.
Commercial operation of Fukushima’s first nuclear reactor (Fukushima I-1) started in 1971, while the most recent one (Fukushima II-4) started in 1987.
A US aircraft carrier sailing in the Pacific ocean went through a radioactive cloud from nuclear reactors in Japan that were damaged in the devastating earthquake.
New York Times quoted government officials as saying Sunday that aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan travelled through a radioactive cloud from nuclear reactors in Japan. It caused crew members on deck to receive a month’s worth of radiation in about an hour.
American helicopters that were flying about 60 miles north of the damaged reactors were coated with particulate radiation that had to be washed off.
A senior official said the US had “hypothetical plots” for worst-case plume dispersal.
Annika Thunborg, a spokesperson for an arm of the UN that monitors increase in radioactivity, said that for now, the winds over Japan were blowing eastward across the Pacific.
At this point, she said, detectors midway between Japan and Hawaii had not picked up anything.
“We’re talking a couple of days – nothing before Tuesday – in terms of picking something up,” NYT quoted Thunborg as saying.
The issue of radioactive plume had arisen in 1986 when radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, now in Ukraine, spread around the globe on winds and reached the US West Coast in 10 days.
While struggling to avert a nuclear meltdown, the Japan government is also striving to take care of millions of survivors who are still without drinking water, electricity and proper food. The toll has been rapidly rising.
Naoto Takeuchi, a senior police official, said over 1,000 bodies were found in the town of Onagawa in Miyagi prefecture.
Takeuchi also said about 1,000 bodies were also found in Minami Sanriku in the prefecture.
He said the toll in the prefecture alone could exceed 10,000.
The National Police Agency had earlier confirmed the death of more than 1,600 people.
In an effort to ensure rapid rescue efforts, Japanese authorities have blocked several speedways towards tsunami and tremor-hit regions to ensure that rescue vehicles are not hampered in any way, reports a RIA Novosti correspondent.
Japan’s northeastern Fukushima prefecture, one of the most seriously affected by the 9 magnitude quake and the tsunami, suffers a shortage of petrol and lines of cars could be seen waiting near fuel stations.
Natori, a town in Miyagi prefecture, still suffers a massive power outage, resembling an abandoned area with lights coming from several single buildings.
There is no drinking water and food in the town, Saito, a 60-year-old taxi-driver, said.
He said the tsunami had devastated the eastern part of the town.
“It was a tsunami wave, not the quake that swept away the buildings from the coastal line.”
“When the earthquake started, I was in my car. I thought I would die,” Saito said.
Following the blasts in the nuclear reactor, Singapore said it was testing imported Japanese food for radiation.
The city-state’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority was to monitor Japanese produce, including fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood, based on its source and potential risk of contamination, the Straits Times newspaper reported.
“Samples will be taken for radiation testing and fresh produce will have priority,” a spokesman for the authority said.