Sabtu, 19 Mac 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

The Star Online: World Updates

SNAPSHOT - Japan's nuclear crisis

Posted: 19 Mar 2011 07:06 AM PDT

(* indicates a new or updated entry)

TOKYO (Reuters) - Following are main developments after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan and crippled a nuclear power station, raising the risk of uncontrolled radiation.

A doctor talks to evacuees from the vicinity of Fukushima nuclear plant, at an evacuation center set in a gymnasium in Yamagata, northern Japan, March 19, 2011, eight days after Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami. (REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao)

- Engineers successfully attach a power cable to the outside of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in a first step to help cool reactors and stop the spread of radiation.

- Further cabling inside under way before an attempt to restart water pumps to cool overheated fuel rods. Once power is restored, the next stage will be to check equipment is working and not damaged before trying to crank up the coolers at reactor No. 2, followed by 1, 3 and 4.

- Japan government spokesman says some stabilisation at the stricken No.3 reactor. Engineers meanwhile are using diesel generators for less critical reactors No. 5 and No.6 reactors.

- Tests detect radiation above the national safety level in spinach and milk produced near the Fukushima plant.

- The U.N.'s atomic agency says conditions at the plant are grave but not deteriorating badly.

* The International Atomic Energy Agency says Japan has ordered a halt to all sales of food products from Fukushima prefecture and radioactive iodine in food can pose short-term risk to human health.

- If engineers are unable to cool the reactor, the last option would be entombing the plant with concrete and sand to prevent a catastrophic radiation leak, the method used at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.

- Severity rating of the nuclear crisis raised to level 5 from 4 on the seven-level INES international scale, putting it on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Chernobyl was a 7 on that scale.

- A report about a man pulled alive from the rubble of a house eight days after the quake turns out to be false. The man had been in an evacuation centre and returned to his ruined house when he was discovered by rescue workers.

- Nearly 7,000 people have been confirmed killed in the quake and tsunami. Another 10,700 people are missing with many feared dead.

* Japanese PM Kan tried, and failed, to form a crisis cabinet following the earthquake and tsunami. The opposition, including the Liberal Democratic Party, told Kan it rejected his idea of increasing the number of cabinet ministers to create new posts to handle reconstruction policy.

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Syria mourners call for revolt, forces fire tear gas

Posted: 19 Mar 2011 07:06 AM PDT

DERAA, Syria (Reuters) - Thousands of mourners called on Saturday for "revolution" at the funeral of protesters killed by Syrian security forces, the boldest challenge to Syria's rulers since uprisings began sweeping the Arab world.

Security forces responded by firing tear gas to disperse crowds in Deraa, a tribal region south of the capital where at least 10,000 people demonstrated on Saturday at the funeral of two protesters, among at least four who were killed on Friday.

"Revolution, revolution. Rise up Hauran," chanted the mourners in Deraa, administrative capital of the strategic Hauran plateau, as they marched behind simple wood coffins of Wissam Ayyash and Mahmoud al-Jawabra.

"God, Syria, Freedom. Whoever kills his own people is a traitor," they said. Some of the mourners exited a mosque and headed for the centre to protest.

The two were killed when security forces opened fire on Friday on civilians taking part in a peaceful protest demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption in Syria, which has been ruled under emergency laws by President Bashar al-Assad's Baath Party for nearly half a century.

A third man who was killed on Friday, Ayhem al-Hariri, was buried in a village near Deraa earlier on Saturday. A fourth protester, Adnan Akrad, died on Saturday from his wounds.

Secret police at the main funeral in Deraa arrested at least one mourner, activists said. Security was heavy in the city, especially around police stations.


Protests against Syria's ruling elite, inspired by revolts in the Arab world, have gathered momentum this week after a silent protest in Damascus by 150 people demanding the release of thousands of political prisoners.

At least one activist from Deraa, Diana al-Jawabra, took part in the protest. She was arrested and is facing charges of weakening national morale, along with 32 protesters in jail, a lawyer said.

Jawabra was campaigning for the release of 15 schoolchildren in who were arrested in Deraa this month after writing slogans on walls inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia that swept their autocratic leaders from power.

Residents say the children's arrests in the tribal region deepened feelings of repression and helped fuel the protests in Deraa, the biggest threat yet to the authority of Assad.

Assad said in an interview in January that Syria's leadership was "very closely linked to the beliefs of the people" and there was no mass discontent.

"The leadership have given a clear signal that they are not in any hurry to embark on fundamental political reform," one diplomat in the Syrian capital said.

Deraa is home to thousands of displaced people from eastern Syria, where up to 1 million people have left their homes because of a water crisis over the past six years. Experts say state mismanagement of resources has worsened the crisis.

The Hauran region, once a Middle East bread basket, has also been affected by diminishing water levels, with yields per hectare falling by a quarter in Deraa last year.

(Editing by Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Peter Graff)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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