Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis

TOKYO Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:28pm EDT

Workers checking the parameters of instruments in the central control room at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, March 23, 2011. REUTERS/Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency via Kyodo

Workers checking the parameters of instruments in the central control room at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, March 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency via Kyodo

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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.

* Chief Cabinet Yukio Edano acknowledges that public confidence in nuclear power has changed and says Japan will have to review its policy "from a zero base" once the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is resolved.

He says the debt-burdened government knows it faces a tough balancing act to maintain market confidence in government bonds while funding steps to recover from the earthquake and tsunami.

- Many shops in Tokyo have run out of bottled water after radiation from the plant makes tap water unsafe for babies.

- Chiba prefecture, adjacent to the capital, has detected radioactive substances in its water purification system in amounts above what is considered safe for infants.

- Radioactive cesium 1.8 times higher than the standard level is found in a green leafy vegetable grown in a research facility in Tokyo, Kyodo news agency reports.

- Singapore and Australia join the United States and Hong Kong in restricting food and milk imports from the zone around the crippled nuclear power plant.

* German shipping companies are avoiding Tokyo Bay area ports due to radiation fears. Ship industry officials say Japan could face severe supply chain bottlenecks as vessels get diverted.

- About 300 engineers, struggling to regain control of the plant, resume work on the No.3 reactor, considered the most critical, after a one-day suspension when black smoke was seen rising.

- Estimated cost of damage from the earthquake and tsunami to top $300 billion, making it the world's costliest natural disaster. The 1995 Kobe quake cost $100 billion while Hurricane Katrina caused $81 billion in damage.

* The U.N. Atomic agency (IAEA) says Japanese scientists have found measurable concentrations of radioactive iodine-131 and caesium-137 in seawater samples taken 30 km (18 miles) from land. A draft IAEA report says the closing of aging nuclear reactors is expected to peak in 2020-30, posing a big challenge in terms of safety and the environment.

* U.S. top nuclear regulator votes to conduct a safety review of nuclear reactors in response to the crisis in Japan. Turkey's energy minister says approval for construction of a nuclear plant with Russian help may now take 1- years.

- Govt says there is no need to extend a 20-km (12-mile) evacuation zone around the tsunami-damaged nuclear plant, despite elevated radiation readings outside the area

* Official death toll from earthquake and tsunami exceeds 9,800, Kyodo news agency reports national police as saying. Total number of dead and missing stands at about 27,400. More than a quarter of a million people are living in shelters.

(Tokyo bureau; Compiled by World Desk Asia)

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