Japan asks IAEA to help avert nuclear disaster

Japanese authorities asked the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday to send experts to help the country manage the emergency situation at its Fukushima nuclear power plant, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said.

“Today, the government of Japan asked the Agency to provide expert missions. We are in discussions with Japan on the details,” Amano said in a statement to IAEA member states in Vienna.

Fears of a large-scale nuclear disaster remain high in Japan as the country continues relief operations following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that have killed at least 5,000 people and left thousands missing.

Amano described the situation in Japan as “one of the greatest natural disasters of modern times.”

“The Japanese authorities are working as hard as they can, under extremely difficult circumstances, to stabilize the nuclear power plants and ensure safety,” he said.

The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, said on Monday Japan had also asked the United States to provide the country with additional equipment to be used in operations to cool the plant’s three troubled reactors.

A blast hit on Monday reactor No. 3 of the Fukushima plant, injuring 11 people and further escalating concerns about possible radioactive leaks. Although pictures from the site showed massive destruction of the reactor building, Japanese officials said the reactor itself resisted the blast and maintained that there is no major health risk.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported on Monday that the cooling system at reactor No. 2 had failed. Injection of water into the reactor restarted later in the day, which helped avert an explosion.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yuko Edano said on Monday there was a high likelihood of a meltdown at all three reactors of the troubled Number One Fukushima nuclear power plant.

MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti)

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