Radiation spikes add to nuclear peril in Japan
Officials face another setback in their struggle to contain the Fukushima nuclear reactor crisis. In a rare address,
Emperor Akihito says he is praying for his people.
By Mark Magnier, Barbara Demick and Laura King, Los Angeles TimesLos Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 16, 2011
Reporting from Sendai and Tokyo, Japan
A series of grim developments hit a shaken
on Wednesday, including reports that high-
level radiation may have leaked from a second damaged nuclear reactor and that emergency
workers were forced to temporarily scramble for safety.
The setbacks aggravated public fears that authorities might not be able to contain the expanding
Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said radioactive steam might have escaped from
the containment unit of a second reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) plant 150 miles north
. The announcement followed unsettling news that a midmorning surge in radiation had
forced emergency workers to halt their efforts to try to avert a meltdown of three other reactors at
the plant, work that included the crucial task of keeping water on the reactors' overheated cores.
The burgeoning crisis has imposed a deepening isolation on the
- and tsunami-
battered country, with foreigners fleeing in growing numbers, rescue crews mindful of exit routes
and international flights being diverted from the capital.
Another quake, centered off the coast near Tokyo and given a preliminary magnitude of 6, jolted
the capital shortly after Edano's announcement, further fraying nerves.
In a rare televised address that reflected the worsening situation, Emperor
told his people
not to give up hope and offered his condolences to the victims of last week's natural disasters.
"I pray for the safety of as many people as possible," said the 77-year-old monarch, seated in a
wood-paneled reception room at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
In the country's north, tens of thousands of residents within about a 20-mile radius of the
Fukushima plant were essentially trapped indoors for a second day Wednesday, urged again by
authorities to avoid going out unless it was an emergency. That confinement coincided with
growing hardship across the quake zone, where temperatures have dropped and snow fell
"Yesterday, we ate a bit of rice and one egg," said Yoshiko Tsuzuki, 55, a homemaker waiting in