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The World

March 17, 2011

Japanese choppers dump water on stricken reactor

(Continued)

ZAO, Japan —

While American officials have been careful not to criticize Japan's response, they have made clear it's difficult to ascertain what is going on.

"It's a very fluid and indeed it's a very confused situation," U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman told reporters Wednesday.

Japanese officials raised hopes of easing the crisis early Thursday, saying they may be close to bringing power back to the plant. The new power line would revive electric-powered pumps, making it easier for workers to control the high temperatures.

Tokyo Electric officials said they hoped to have the new power line working later Thursday, and had electricians standing by to connect the power plant.

Nearly a week after the disaster, police said more than 452,000 people were staying in schools and other shelters, as supplies of fuel, medicine and other necessities ran short. Both victims and aid workers appealed for more help.

"There is enough food, but no fuel or gasoline," said Yuko Niuma, 46, as she stood looking out over Ofunato harbor, where trawlers were flipped on their sides.

Along the tsunami-savaged coast, people must stand in line for food, gasoline and kerosene to heat their homes. In the town of Kesennuma, they lined up to get into a supermarket after a delivery of key supplies, such as instant rice packets and diapers.

Each person was only allowed to buy 10 items, NHK television reported.

With diapers hard to find in many areas, an NHK program broadcast a how-to session on fashioning a diaper from a plastic shopping bag and a towel.

More than 5,300 people are officially listed as dead, but officials believe the toll will climb to well over 10,000.

Other countries have complained that Japan has been too slow and vague in releasing details about its rapidly evolving crisis at the complex of six reactors along Japan's northeastern coast.

___

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writers Elaine Kurtenbach and Shino Yuasa in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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