Saturday, May 14, 2011

Japan Fukushima nuclear plant worker dead

In this March 20, 2011 file photo, the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant are seen in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan. -- PHOTO: AP

TOKYO - A WORKER died at Japan's disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant as emergency crews worked to prevent a major meltdown, a report said on Saturday.

The male worker in his 60s was confirmed dead after he was rushed to hospital after falling unconscious at the plant, Jiji Press news agency said.

A spokesman for the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. earlier confirmed the worker was in a serious condition but could not immediately confirm his death.

'It was confirmed that he has not been contaminated by radiation,' Tepco spokesman Shotaro Okawara said. Mr Okawara said the worker, who was not immediately identified, was carrying equipment inside a facility to treat contaminated water being released from the plant's crippled reactors.

The giant ocean wave triggered by the massive magnitude 9.0 seabed quake on March 11 knocked out the plant's water cooling systems, leading fuel rods inside several reactors to partially melt and sparking explosions.

Workers have since doused reactors and fuel rod pools with water to stop them from overheating and releasing far greater amounts of radiation. Tepco hopes to bring the plant into stable 'cold shutdown' some time between October and January. -- AFP

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