The utility company that runs a tsunami-crippled Japanese nuclear power plant said today two workers were killed when the wave swept ashore.
The announcement by Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is the first confirmation of deaths at the plant. The workers had been missing since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said the bodies were found on Wednesday and had to be decontaminated. The announcement was delayed out of consideration for the families.
Radiation has been spewing from the plant since the tsunami knocked out cooling systems there, causing the reactors to dangerously overheat.
The two workers aged 21 and 24 had been missing since the earthquake spawned the wave. Engineers have been scrambling to restore power to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in order to restart cooling systems and stabilise dangerously overheating reactors.
"It pains me that these two young workers were trying to protect the power plant while being hit by the earthquake and tsunami," Tepco chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said.
The men sustained multiple external injuries and are believed to have died from blood loss, Mr Tsunoda said. Their bodies had to be decontaminated because radiation has been spewing from the plant over the past three weeks.
Yesterday authorities said a source of at least some of the radiation was determined when a crack in a maintenance pit was found.
Water was still spilling into the Pacific from the crack today after attempts to seal it with concrete failed.