Friday, April 22, 2011

Japan to expand no-go zone

Police officers man a checkpoint with an electric sign board with Japanese words reading, "Off Limits," set up at a point close to a just-declared no-go zone at Minami Soma, Fukushima prefecture, April 22.

Source: Press TV

Japanese authorities have asked residents of five other areas outside the no-go zone to prepare to leave their homes in a month over the country's post-quake nuclear woes.

"We are very sorry for causing further trouble. I would like residents in those areas to evacuate to other places," AP quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano as saying on Friday.

The government announced the no-go zone on Thursday to prevent people from returning to their home to collect whatever remaining belongings they had despite fears of high levels of radioactivity.

“Off-limits” signs have been set up along roads leading to the zone which covers an area of 12 miles (20 kilometers) around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The UN nuclear monitors say the safety-zone is not sufficient enough to protect the public from health hazards. They have advised Japanese authorities to double the radius of the no-go area to 40 kilometers.

Police forces deployed to the area have established checkpoints to turn people back. The new emergency law says those entering the no-go zone will be fined up to 100,000 yen ($1,200) or may face detention for 30 days.

Before the new law went into effect at midnight, residents rushed to their devastated homes, saying this is the last chance for them to get what they need.

Fukushima operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), says the level of radiation in the water that leaked into the sea is 20,000 times the legal limit.

TEPCO has also said it will take six to nine months to bring the situation at affected reactors in the plant under control.

Japan's Finance Ministry says the government has approved an emergency budget of 4 trillion yen ($50 billion) to help the reconstruction work.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of the dead and missing from Japan's March 11 quake and tsunami now stands at over 28,000.

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