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The World

March 15, 2011

Radiation level soars after Japan nuke plant fire

(Continued)

SOMA, Japan —

Tokyo reported slightly elevated radiation levels, but officials said the increase was too small to threaten the 39 million people in and around the capital, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) away. Closer to the stricken nuclear complex, the streets in the coastal city of Soma were empty as the few residents who remained there heeded the government's warning to stay indoors.

Kan and other officials warned there is danger of more leaks and told people living within 19 miles (30 kilometers) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex to stay indoors to avoid exposure that could make people sick.

"Please do not go outside. Please stay indoors. Please close windows and make your homes airtight," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told residents in the danger zone.

"These are figures that potentially affect health. There is no mistake about that," he said.

Weather forecasts for Fukushima were for snow and wind from the northeast Tuesday evening, blowing southwest toward Tokyo, then shifting and blowing east out to sea. That's important because it shows which direction a possible nuclear cloud might blow.

Some 70,000 people had already been evacuated from a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius from the Dai-ichi complex. About 140,000 remain in the new warning zone.

Officials said 70 workers were at the complex, struggling with its myriad problems. The workers, all of them wearing protective gear, are being rotated in and out of the danger zone quickly to reduce their radiation exposure.

Another 800 staff were evacuated. The fires and explosions at the reactors have injured 15 workers and military personnel and exposed up to 190 people to elevated radiation.

Temperatures in at least two of the complex's reactors, units 5 and 6, were also slightly elevated, Edano said.

"The power for cooling is not working well and the temperature is gradually rising, so it is necessary to control it," he said.

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