Exclusion zone around nuclear plant is expanded

Japan's government expanded the evacuation area around a damaged nuclear plant yesterday after fierce criticism that people living outside the 12-mile zone were being exposed to too much radiation.

The announcement was followed by one of the strongest aftershocks since the 11 March earthquake and tsunami that left 300 miles of the north-east coast in ruins and kicked off the nuclear crisis. Yesterday's 7.0-magnitude tremor, which struck just south of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, triggered a tsunami alert and forced engineers to pull out of the facility after electricity supplies were briefly cut off.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which operates the plant that has been leaking radiation since the twin disaster knocked out its cooling systems, said it suffered no further damage in the quake.

Tepco workers have been struggling to bring Fukushima under control, spraying water on three overheating reactors and battling to contain a build-up of toxic water. A string of explosions at the plant sprayed contamination over a wide area of the surrounding countryside and rain is thought to have also spread radiation 25 miles away.

Yukio Edano, a government spokesman, explained that the wider exclusion zone was aimed at protecting people near the plant from accumulated radiation: "These new evacuation plans are meant to ensure safety against risks of living there for half a year or one year."

The government's decision follows criticism that villages and towns beyond the 12-mile zone were being contaminated by growing levels of long-life caesium and other toxic substances. Iitate, roughly 25 miles from the plant, is among a string of villages that will have to be evacuated. About 1,000 of its population of 6,000 have been moved to temporary housing.

Yesterday's quake almost overshadowed events to mark the one-month anniversary of the magnitude-9.0 quake, which sparked Japan's worst disaster since the Second World War. Thousands of people bowed their heads and prayed, and some wept for the 28,000 people dead or missing. Over 150,000 people are homeless.

Tepco's beleaguered president Masataka Shimizu also paid his first visit yesterday to Fukushima's local government offices since the crisis began and apologised, but angry local governor Yuhei Sato snubbed him.

"What [the president] should prioritise now is to settle the nuclear plant's trouble," said Mr Sato, who refused to meet Mr Shimizu or accept an apology.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss