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March 29, 2011

Balinese in Japan are Safe

Governor Made Mangku Pastika has confirmed that Balinese students and workers in Japan are safe after Friday’s large earthquake and tsunami.

“We have received the latest information from our ambassador in Japan and the Foreign Ministry. There were no victims from Bali,” the governor said Tuesday.

Governor Pastika expressed his concern on Saturday about the fate of Balinese people in Japan.

“We will do everything to find them,” he said.

Thousands of Balinese are currently working and studying in various places in Japan, including the tsunami-stricken cities.

Only a few months ago, 340 students from Buleleng, Jembrana and Karangasem regencies were sent to Japan to work as interns in several companies.

Despite the disaster currently unfolding in Japan, Bali’s provincial administration will not require that the students return home.

“Most of them live in cities quite far from the tsunami-affected regions,” administration spokesperson Ketut Teneng said.

The students are presently working at several agricultural and cattle companies and at small-scale industries.

Made Sulastri, head of Buleleng’s manpower office, said she was pleased to learn that the 55 migrant workers from the regency in Japan are okay.

“They are working in the agricultural sector in Ibaraki under an agreement between the Buleleng regional administration and Ibaraki authorities,” she said.

The workers left for Ibaraki on March 9 and will work there for several months or even years according to their working agreements.

A number of parents from Jembrana regency in West Bali have been unable to contact their children in Japan.

Made Sinta and Ni Made Armini were worried about their son, who has worked in Japan for several months.

One hundred and seventy migrant workers from Jembrana are currently in Japan working at a cattle farm.



Japan nuclear: PM Naoto Kan signals 'maximum alert'

The BBC's Chris Hogg reports on life inside the nuclear exclusion zone
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said his government is in a state of maximum alert over the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Plutonium has been detected in soil at the facility and highly radioactive water has leaked from a reactor building.
Officials say the priority remains injecting water to cool the fuel rods.
Mr Kan told parliament the situation at the quake-hit plant "continues to be unpredictable".
The government "will tackle the problem while in a state of maximum alert", he said, adding that he was seeking advice on whether to extend the evacuation zone around the plant.
Meanwhile National Strategy Minister Koichiro Gemba said the government could consider temporarily nationalising Tepco, the company running the plant.
On Monday shares in the company dropped to their lowest level in three decades.

FUKUSHIMA UPDATE (29 MAR)

  • Reactor 1: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas explosion. Highly radioactive water detected in reactor
  • Reactor 2: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas blast; containment damage suspected. Highly radioactive water detected in reactor and adjoining tunnel
  • Reactor 3: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas blast; containment damage possible. Spent fuel pond partly refilled with water after running low. Highly radioactive water detected in reactor
  • Reactor 4: Reactor shut down prior to quake. Fires and explosion in spent fuel pond; water level partly restored
  • Reactors 5 & 6: Reactors shut down. Temperature of spent fuel pools now lowered after rising high
  • Plutonium: Found at five locations in soil - levels said to represent no danger to human health
'Utmost efforts'
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, in another press briefing, described the situation at Fukushima as "very grave".
Workers are battling to restore power and restart the cooling systems at the stricken nuclear plant, which was hit by a powerful quake and subsequent tsunami over two weeks ago.
The twin disasters are now known to have killed 10,901 people, with more than 17,000 people still missing across a swathe of northern Japan.
"We are doing our utmost efforts to contain the damage," Mr Edano said.
"We need to avoid the fuel rods from heating up and drying up. Continuing the cooling is unavoidable... We need to prioritise injecting water."
But he said work to safely remove contaminated water was also a priority.
On Monday highly radioactive water was found for the first time outside one of the reactor buildings at Fukushima plant.
The leak in a tunnel linked to the No 2 reactor has raised fears of radioactive liquid seeping into the environment.
Plutonium - used in the fuel mix for one of the six reactors - has also been found in soil at the plant, but not at levels that threaten human health, officials say.

Start Quote

During the day, these frail, crumpled people sit bundled up in blankets around the space heater that is inadequate to warm the large common room”
End Quote Karen Mueller Red Cross, northern Japan
Correspondents say the government has been accused of indecision and delay in tackling the crisis.
Tepco, meanwhile, was criticised by the government after issuing incorrect radiation readings.
On Sunday it said radiation levels at reactor No 2 were 10 million times higher than normal, before correcting that figure to 100,000 - something the government called "absolutely unacceptable".
It has also been accused of a lack of transparency and failing to provide information more promptly.
Regional fallout Officials in China, South Korea and the United States say they have recorded traces of radioactive material in the air.
The US Environmental Protection Agency said it had detected traces of radiation in rain water in the north-east of the country.
It said these were consistent with the Fukushima nuclear accident and also said they did not constitute a health hazard.
A child holds bottled water in Tokyo, Japan (24 March 2011)
China's Ministry of Environmental Protection has said that "extremely low-level" doses of iodine-131, a radioactive material, have been found in coastal areas including Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Anhui, Guangdong and Guangxi.
It had already reported traces of the radioactive material in the air above the northeastern province of Heilongjiang.
However, the doses were so small as to not pose a threat to public health and no measures against it were necessary, the agency statement said.
Water and food is being tested for radiation; bans on some imported Japanese foodstuffs remain in place.
In Vietnam, the Thanh Nien newspaper has reported that Vietnamese scientists have found small amounts of radiation in the air.
The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said it had detected traces of iodine-131 in Seoul and seven other places across South Korea.
However, an agriculture ministry official told AFP that "no trace of radiation has been found so far either in our own fish or those imported from Japan".
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Are you in Japan? Have you been affected by the latest earthquake? You can send us your experiences using the form below:
Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7725 100 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.


March 20th.2011 
ALL the latest updates on the nuclear and humanitarian crises in Japan will be posted here as they come to hand. TIMES ARE AEDT | CLICK HERE TO REFRESH
Concerned for Australians missing in Japan? Call DFAT on 1300 555 135
9.05am Another fascinating piece from the New York Times about the man who babysits Chernobyl.
The death of a nuclear reactor has a beginning; the world is watching this unfold now on the coast of Japan. But it doesn’t have an end.
7.46am The New York Times examines the impact on Japanese produce, including Kobe beef:
Even the perception of contamination, one Japanese agriculture expert said, could cause long-lasting "brand damage", especially if there was evidence of radiation spreading across Japan.
6.34am A wrap of latest developments:
Abnormal levels of radioactive iodine found in water supply in areas including Tokyo and Fukushima - officials say no threat to human health
Tainted milk found in Fukushima prefecture; contaminated spinach discovered in neighbouring Ibaraki prefecture
Power could be restored at Fukushima nuclear plant as early as today
Six plant workers exposed to high levels of radiation - more than 100 millisieverts - but continuing to work
5.34am And still the toll rises ... the number of people confirmed dead or listed as missing in Japan neared 20,000 early today. Police said 7653 people had been confirmed dead and 11,746 officially listed as missing - a total of 19,399 - as at 1am (AEDT).
Even so, the missing figures still do not include local reports from along the tsunami-hit coast of vast numbers of people unaccounted for.
2.32am Talk about cool in a crisis. Video has popped up on YouTube of one Japanese gamer who refuses to leave his Call of Duty even through the sixth biggest tremor on record.
Best quote: "Wait, wait, it's huge! It's massive! This is the biggest earthquake ever!"
Watch the world's coolest gamer here
11.28pm The rest of the world gets nervous. Germany has ordered an audit of its nuclear facilities and protestors have come out in Sofia against the Bulgarian government's plans to build a second nuclear plant near town of Belene.
With good reason? Maybe - the Japanese government has admitted there's radioactive iodine in Tokyo's tap water.
9.46pm Another reminder that disaster is far from averted. A 5.9 magnitude earthquake has struck 98km south of the Fukushima plant.
Initial reports say it was strong enough to rattle buildings in Tokyo, but no tsunami alert was raised.
8.40pm More promising news. Engineers have linked an electricity line back up to reactor No 2 at the Fukushima plant. No power yet, though. That may come tomorrow if everything goes to plan.
8.23pm Ambulances, police and army buses are evacuating more than 800 hospital patients from facilities within a 30km radius of the Fukushima nuclear plant.
"The operation is likely to be completed within one or two days," said an official.
8.15pm Finally some small relief for Japan as a warm front brings respite to those left homeless by the disaster. AFP reports:
Although still bitterly cold at night, the mercury climbed to 10 degrees Celsius today in coastal Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, which bore the brunt of the giant wave triggered by a huge earthquake last week.
The misery of the survivors – more than half a million of whom remain in evacuation shelters with no power and scant fuel, food and water – had been compounded by a severe cold snap on Wednesday that lasted for three days.
The freezing weather was blamed for the deaths of a number of elderly, already weakened survivors, who had suffered most from the lack of power and heating in the ill-equipped shelters.
The race is now on to get fresh supplies to evacuation centres while the warmer weather lasts. You can read the full story here.
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