This Article is From Mar 18, 2011

'Suicide squad' mans Japan's nuclear plant

'Suicide squad' mans Japan's nuclear plant
Tokyo: Personnel attempting to cool down Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have been dubbed a "suicide squad" with their families accepting their fate like a "death sentence".

The Sankei Shimbun newspaper called the police team "Kesshitai" - meaning a "unit that expects to die", according to The Independent.

The nuclear plant was badly damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. There have been explosions at three reactors while a fire engulfed a fourth reactor, sparking fears of a nuclear meltdown.

Experts have been working round the clock to cool the reactors and giant helicopters have been used to dump water over them. Twenty people have been confirmed to have suffered from radiation exposure.

A worker's daughter told The Sun: "My father says he has accepted his fate much like a death sentence."

There are about 180 personnel working round the clock to cool the plant. Working in rotating teams of 50, they enter the radiation hotspots for only 15 minutes at a time to limit their exposure.

Another worker sent a message to his wife that said: "Please continue to live well, I cannot be home for a while."

Citing Japanese broadcaster NHK, DPA reported that seven military fire trucks sprayed 50 tonnes of water on the fuel storage pool at reactor No.3 on Friday.

Steam was seen rising from the damaged building, an indication that the water was reaching the overheating fuel rods.

Cooling systems at the reactors failed after the electricity system was knocked out in the disaster.

Around 30 Tokyo fire department tankers were also expected to spray reactor No.1, where the level of water in the fuel storage pool was falling, an official said.

Throughout Thursday, army helicopters continued to pour water over the reactors.

But NHK said the plan had to be abandoned because the chopper pilots were exposed to gamma rays from the stricken complex.

Growing concern about the status of the nuclear plant has also led warnings by embassies in the country.

While, France advised its citizens to leave Tokyo, Britain, Ireland and others have recommended its nationals to reconsider travelling to the capital.

Experts have said the levels of radiation detected in Tokyo were not harmful to human health, but thousands of foreigners have put their families on trains to other parts of the country, or on planes to Asia, Europe or America.

This exodus, however, was in sharp contrast with the determination of millions of Japanese citizens. Office-goers in smart black suits can be seen going to work, while housewives queued up for bread and water.