March 21, 2011 / 3:00 AM / 9 years ago

Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis

TOKYO (Reuters) - Following are main developments after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan and crippled a nuclear power station, raising the risk of uncontrolled radiation.

- The World Health Organization says the detection of radiation in food is a more serious problem than first expected, and food contamination is not a localized problem. It says, however, there is no evidence of contaminated food from Fukushima reaching other countries.

- The operator of the stricken Fukushima plant said a small trace of radiation had been found in the Pacific sea waters nearby, but officials stressed the levels were minute and posed no immediate danger.

- China and South Korea say they will toughen radioactivity tests on imports of Japanese food, and Japan tells four prefectures near the nuclear plant to halt shipments of spinach.

- Government also bans milk shipments from Fukushima province.

- Government says Japanese food produced outside the nuclear crisis zone is safe.

- Official death toll from earthquake and tsunami 8,450 with 12,931 missing. Police say more than 15,000 feared dead in Miyagi prefecture alone.

- The U.N. atomic agency chief said on Monday that Japan’s nuclear situation remained very serious but that he had no doubt the country would “effectively overcome” the crisis.

- Japan’s nuclear safety agency says it sees risk of radioactive dust being inhaled by workers at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, but there are no signs that has happened yet.

- Reactors at the Daiichi nuclear power plant are showing some improvement but the situation remains uncertain, Tetsuro Fukuyama, Japan’s deputy chief cabinet secretary, says.

- Firefighters postponed spraying Japan’s badly damaged nuclear reactor No. 3 with seawater on Monday after a plume of grey smoke was seen over the structure, the government says.

- Engineers have re-established power cables to all six reactors. Electricity restored at No. 2 reactor and a pump in reactor No. 5 is now running on power from grid.

- If engineers are unable to cool the reactor, the last option would be entombing the plant with concrete and sand to prevent a catastrophic radiation leak, the method used at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.

- Tests detect radiation above the national safety level in spinach and milk produced near the Fukushima plant. A sample of tap water from Tokyo shows a tiny level of radioactive.

- The health ministry said that radiation levels exceeded safety standards in Fukushima and nearby Ibaraki prefecture. It said it had prohibited the sale of raw milk from Fukushima prefecture.

- The earthquake and tsunami will depress growth briefly before reconstruction kicks off and gives the beleaguered economy a boost, the World Bank says in a report.

Tokyo bureau; Compiled by World Desk Asia

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