Japan Quake Death Toll Could Rise to 1,300; Nuclear Plant Explosion Causes Radiation Leak, Fear of Meltdown


The death toll from yesterday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan could rise to more than 1,300, government officials told Japanese news media. CNN is reporting that the number of deaths is 900 and is expected to rise. Half the population of one town, Minamisanriku, is still unaccounted for; that’s 9,500 missing in a town of 17,000. Two aftershocks shook Japan today, one of 6.1 and the other of 6.4 magnitude. Ten percent (six million) of Japanese households have been left without electricity. and roads are jammed as large segments of the population try to move to outlying areas. [CNN, NYT]

An explosion at a nuclear power plant 160 miles north of Tokyo caused a radiation leak and fears of a meltdown. An estimated 15,000 people have been evacuated from around the site, and Japan’s prime minister has called the power plant the number one priority at this time, above search and rescue. One of the reactors at the plant could be experiencing a meltdown, although officials say this is unlikely because the reactor container was not damaged. [NYT, Al Jazeera]

I’m reposting the list of ways to help that we posted yesterday:

Donate to the Red Cross or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.

You can text ‘JAPAN’ or ‘QUAKE’ to 80888 to make a $10 donation to the Salvation Army.

Global Giving has a disaster relief fund; you can donate online.

Doctors Without Borders is sending folks to Japan to help.

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg’s Fund To Advance New York City is accepting donations that will go to help victims.

As for the tsunami’s impact on the Americas, thankfully there wasn’t much damage. It caused flooding as far away as Chile, but it lost much of its energy moving across the Pacific. In the U.S., the waves mostly destroyed a port in Oregon and resulted in Santa Cruz’s sustaining about $2 million in damage to boats and docks. A man was swept out to sea in California and rescuers are still searching for him. [Reuters]