Japan Rattled By Another BIG Quake, Nuke Evacuation Zone Expanded
MSNBC.COM - A strong aftershock rattled Japan on Monday — the one-month anniversary of the massive earthquake and deadly tsunami that devastated the country — briefly knocking out cooling systems to reactors at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
A warning was issued for a 3-foot tsunami, the same as after a 7.1 aftershock that shook the northeast coast last week. However, like last week, Monday's warning was later withdrawn.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the very shallow quake was centered 14 miles southwest of Iwaki, south of the nuclear plant.
NBC News said there were reports that four people might be trapped in a house that collapsed in Iwaki.
Japan's meteorological agency measured the aftershock at a magnitude of 7.0, while the USGS out it at 6.6.
Power company TEPCO said the quake stopped the offsite power used to pump water to cool the crippled No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex. The utility later said pumping had resumed.
"It (pumping of water) was stopped for about 50 minutes ... safety issues are unlikely to have occurred from this," a senior official with Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency, Hidehiko Nishiyama, said.
NUKE ZONE EXPANDED
Tokyo -- (Reuters) - Japan said on Monday it may extend some parts of an evacuation zone around its crippled nuclear plant if tests show high radiation outside the area, imposed after an earthquake and tsunami sparked the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.
Japan has steadfastly refused to extend its 20 km (12 mile) evacuation zone, despite international concerns over radiation spreading from the six damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima which engineers are still struggling to bring under control a month after they were wrecked by the 15-meter tsunami.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the existing area was sufficient as the risk of an accident was now lower.
But the government might extend the evacuation zone if tests show high levels of accumulated radiation in specific areas, he said. The Asahi newspaper said evacuations may extend 30 km out from the plant.
"This won't be based on a radius zone-type (evacuation)...from the perspective of accumulated radiation, we need appropriate steps to ensure safety," Edano told reporters.
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