Silence marks one month since Japan tsunami

The deadly quake and tsunami sparked the worst nuclear emergency in 25 years.

Updated: Apr 11, 2011, 13:20 PM IST

Rikuzentakata: Somber ceremonies
and moments of silence were planned on Monday to mark one month
since a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan`s
northeast coast, killing as many as 25,000 people.

But with thousands of bodies yet to be found, a
tsunami-flooded nuclear power plant still spewing radiation
and more than 150,000 people living in shelters, there was
little time for reflection on Japan`s worst disaster since
World War II.

"We offer our deepest condolences to those who lost
their loved ones," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said
today at a brief news conference where he pledged the
government would do whatever it could to help survivors and
end the nuclear crisis.

"We are sorry for causing inconvenience and
difficulties to those who still live in shelters."

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami it
generated flattened communities along hundreds of miles
(kilometers) of coastline. The government has estimated the
cost of damages from the disaster could grow to USD 310

Frustrations are running particularly high among
people like Atsushi Yanai, a 55-year-old construction worker
forced to live in a shelter not because his home was destroyed
but because it is within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) evacuation
zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Government officials have ordered people out of the zone
because of radiation concerns, and those farther from the
plant may also be told to leave as the crisis drags on.

"We have no future plans. We can`t even start to think
about it because we don`t know how long this will last or how
long we will have to stay in these shelters," Yanai said.
"This is what is so hard for us."

Ahead of the anniversary, nuclear safety official
Hidehiko Nishiyama apologiSed for the worry and inconvenience
caused by the radiation spilling from the plant, where cooling
systems disabled by the March 11 tsunami still have not been
restored and likely won`t be for several months.

"We`ve done all we could to come this far," Nishiyama
said yesterday.

"Unfortunately, we still cannot give any timeline for
when we can move on to the next phase, but we are hoping to
achieve a sustainable cooling system, contain radiation and
bring the situation under control as soon as possible."

Bureau Report