Written by Reuters Friday, 18 March 2011 20:10
Japan has raised the severity rating of the nuclear crisis from level 4 to level 5 on the seven-level INES international scale, putting it on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, although some experts say it is more serious.
TOKYO—Exhausted engineers scrambled to fix a power cable to two reactors at Japan’s tsunami-crippled nuclear station on Saturday in a race to prevent deadly radiation from an accident now rated at least as bad as America’s Three Mile Island in 1979.
In a crude tactic underlining authorities’ desperation, fire engines also sprayed water overnight on a third reactor deemed to be in the most critical state at the Fukushima plant in northeastern Japan, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.
The unprecedented multiple crisis of earthquake, tsunami and radiation leak has unsettled world financial markets, prompted international reassessment of nuclear safety and given the Asian nation its toughest time since World War Two.
It has also stirred unhappy memories of Japan’s past nuclear nightmare—the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
At Fukushima, nearly 300 engineers were working inside a 20 km (12 miles) evacuation zone. Their focus is on attaching power lines to two of the six reactors in order to restart water pumps and cool overheated nuclear fuel rods.