Within hours of Japan's silent pause in memory of the victims of March 11 temblor and tsunami, the weary survivors were jolted by yet another quake and rattled by the sound of a new tsunami warning on Monday. The new quake was the latest in a series of month-long aftershocks and “secondary shocks.” It was some consolation, though, for the saddened people that there were no immediate reports of a repeat-tragedy. And the tsunami warning was lifted quickly.
Shortly before Prime Minister Naoto Kan led the national remembrance, he revealed an updated toll of the month-ago disasters: more than 13,000 confirmed dead, over 14,000 still unaccounted for, and nearly 150,000 in shelters for people who lost their homes or were asked to evacuate to safety. Amid this gloom, “all possible resources” were being “mobilised” to bring the quake-and-tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi civil nuclear plant under “stable control … at the earliest possible time,” said Mr. Kan in Tokyo.
The IAEA, which has been monitoring the ballooning radiation crisis in and around the plant, said the epicentre of Monday's quake, with its estimated intensity lowered from 7.1 to 6.6 on the Richter scale, was about 68 km from the already-stricken nuclear power station. More or less similarly exposed to epicentre of this quake were three other atomic energy plants. And, the chequered work of cooling the Daiichi reactors and the spent nuclear fuel was briefly suspended. In any case, the IAEA team of reactor specialists was slated to conclude its current mission to Japan sometime on Monday itself.
While the Japanese government was seized of the modality of extending the evacuation zone around the Daiichi plant from the existing 20-km. radius, some economists started seeing a silver line. They expected the inevitable government spending on recovery and reconstruction to drive the battered economy out of a potential rut.
Keywords: Japan tsunami