Radiation Dangers Slow Recovery of Japan's Dead

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The human toll from the Japan earthquake of March 11 continues to rise with more than 19,000 estimated dead and another 16,000 still missing.

"We find bodies everywhere - in cars, in rivers, under debris and in streets," a police official from the hard-hit Fukushima prefecture said Thursday.

Tens of thousands of people have also been displaced by the disaster, which also affected hundreds of miles of the country's northeast coastline.


Radiation is still leaking from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant nuclear power facility and authorities may expand the evacuation zone another 12 miles. But they insist that the high levels of radiation still do not pose an immediate threat to human health.

Authorities continue to remove bodies found within the 12-mile evacuation zone surrounding the plant. Police in that prefecture dressed in full radiation suits retrieved 19 corpses from the rubble Wednesday, a police official said.

"We want to recover bodies quickly, but also must ensure the safety of police officers against nuclear radiation," he said.

Plant operators reported some progress in pumping out contaminated water from around some of the plants reactors. Repairs cannot be completed until that water is removed.

Japanese officials are increasingly seeking outside help, including experts in eliminating contaminated water from French nuclear giant Areva.

"The amount of water is enormous, and we need any wisdom available," Nuclear Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.

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