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» 03/24/2011
Death toll climbs amid progress at Fukushima
Toll now stands at 26 thousand between dead or missing. The water in Tokyo returns to normal levels of radioactivity. Electricity restored to reactors 1 and 3. Three workers hospitalized for radioactive contamination. Highway to the north and the high-speed train service reopened. Many survivors not yet reached by rescue teams.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The number of dead and missing in Japan has climbed to 26 thousand, according to latest police figures. But there are fears that the real consequences of the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March, which hit the north coast of Honshu are even more devastating.

The confirmed deaths are now 9700, while 16,501 remain missing, for a total of 26,201.

The country is also facing a nuclear crisis with a radioactive leak from the Fukushima power plant, hit by the tsunami.

Today the government today reassured the people of Tokyo saying that radioactive levels in tap water has returned to normal. Yesterday the residents of the capital had been warned not give tap water to infants because of the concentration of radioactive iodine, which harmful to children. Two days ago, the iodine concentration was 131 to 210 becquerels per kilo, but that has now dropped to 79. Normal levels- not harmful to health - is 300 for adults and 100 children.

The most disturbing data is that the presence of iodine in sea water near Fukushima, has increased by up to 147 times the levels prescribed by law.

Today the central Fukushima technicians managed to restore electricity to the control room of reactor No. 1. Just hours before power was also reconnected to the control room of reactor No. 3.

The technicians are confident that this can kick-start the reactor cooling system, removing the danger of a nuclear fusion due to overheating of the bars. The Ministry of Health’s advice not to eat vegetables grown in the area of ​​Fukushima still stands, although their level of radioactivity is not dangerous.

Currently the highest level of radiation recorded at the nuclear plant is 500 millisieverts per hour. This means that technicians who work there may be exposed for a maximum of half an hour without risks of health problems. Three workers were hospitalized, however, owing to contamination by radiation. Their conditions are stable.

Today for the first time since the earthquake the highway linking Tokyo to the disaster area was re-opened. Even the high-speed trains have resumed running in part. This will allow relief and emergency teams to get to the disaster area more easily. Still today, 13 days after the earthquake and tsunami, there are areas that yet  to be reached by rescue teams. Many survivors are without food, water or medicine.

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See also
03/26/2011 JAPAN
Sea near Fukushima contaminated. Radiation 1,250 times over safety limit
03/21/2011 JAPAN
Fukushima: signs of progress, but alarm over contaminated water, food and milk
06/30/2011 JAPAN
Earthquake in Japan, 7 injured. The country thinks about energy policies
by Pino Cazzaniga
04/11/2011 JAPAN
New quake hits Fukushima as Church sends volunteers to tsunami-stricken areas
by David Uribe
03/28/2011 JAPAN
Fukushima still out of control: months or years to return to normal

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