03/17/2011, 00.00
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Helicopters and tankers in bid to cool Fukushima reactor

Bid to reactivate power and cooling systems. 50 engineers joined by 300 volunteers to work on the reactors. In some zones radiation level hits 10 millisieverts. Growing death toll: 5178 with 8913 still missing.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Military helicopters are dumping sea water on the overheated reactor in Fukushima, in an attempt to flood the bars of radioactive material and prevent the release of radiation.

Along with the helicopters, at least 10 tanker trucks are headed for the reactor to cool the plants from ground level. Defence Minister, Toshimi Kitazawa, said that 11 military trucks will join efforts. Government spokesman, Yukio Edan, denies that the bars of nuclear fuel reactor 4 are completely uncovered.

The plant operators are trying to reactivate the power to re-start cooling systems, blocked the earthquake and tsunami. The incident caused the overheating of the reactor, where in recent days there have been explosions and fires in four of six reactors. People who live in a radius of 30 km are being invited to stay indoors or leave the area.

Despite the danger of radiation, 50 engineers have decided to continue the work to prevent the risk of a nuclear disaster. Today, another 300 volunteer workers joined them in an attempt to reactivate the electrical system and therefore the cooling of the reactors.

In some parts radiation levels have reached 10 millisievert, permitting a maximum exposure of only 10 -25 hours.

Meanwhile, the death toll is climbing: 5178, with 8913 still missing. In the north-east area, the worst hit by the tsunami, at least 500 thousand people are living in temporary shelters. Further south, in the fear of radiation, other 450 thousand people have decided to leave their homes, sleeping in gyms and schools.

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See also
Fukushima, for the first time a group of technicians enter the nuclear reactor
Fukushima still out of control: months or years to return to normal
Damage to Fukushima reactors mounts. Foreigners flee
Fukushima: evacuation area extended. Power plant still out of control
Death toll climbs amid progress at Fukushima


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