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The World

March 15, 2011

Radiation level soars after Japan nuke plant fire

(Continued)

SOMA, Japan —

With snow and freezing temperatures forecast for the next several days, shelters were gathering firewood to burn for heat, stacking it under tarps and tables.

Though Japanese officials have refused to speculate on the overall death toll, Indonesian geologist Hery Harjono, who dealt with the 2004 Asian tsunami, said it would be "a miracle really if it turns out to be less than 10,000" dead.

The 2004 tsunami killed 230,000 people — of which only 184,000 bodies were found.

Rescuers were heartened Tuesday to find one survivor.

The 70-year-old woman was found inside her house, which had been washed away by the tsunami, said Osaka fire department spokesman Yuko Kotani, whose teams had raced to the region to help with disaster relief. It wasn't clear if the house was still at sea, or if it had returned to the shoreline, when she was found.

The woman was conscious but suffering from hypothermia and is being treated at a hospital, Kotani said.

The impact of the earthquake and tsunami dragged down stock markets. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average plunged for a second day Tuesday, nose-diving more than 10 percent to close at 8,605.15 while the broader Topix lost more than 8 percent.

To lessen the damage, Japan's central bank made two cash injections totaling 8 trillion yen ($98 billion) Tuesday into the money markets after pumping in $184 billion on Monday.

Initial estimates put repair costs in the tens of billions of dollars, costs that would likely add to a massive public debt that, at 200 percent of gross domestic product, is the biggest among industrialized nations.

The Dai-ichi plant is the most severely affected of three nuclear complexes that were declared emergencies after suffering damage in Friday's quake and tsunami, raising questions about the safety of such plants in coastal areas near fault lines and adding to global jitters over the industry.

___

Yuasa reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this report.

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