Japan rescue teams save 3,000 people, two more shocks hamper relief efforts

23:28, March 12, 2011      

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced Saturday that over 3,000 people have been rescued following a mammoth relief effort involving Japan's self defense forces and support from a number of other foreign countries.

However, damage caused by Friday's biggest-ever earthquake is believed to have claimed the lives of upwards of 1,000 people, according to NHK reports.

The prefectural government in Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan have said that in the town of Minamisanriku, some 9,500 people still remain unaccounted for.

A magnitude-6.0 aftershock was recorded as striking the already ravaged northeastern Japan late Saturday, followed by a 4.8 magnitude quake in quick succession.

The latest jolts are said to be compounding the difficulties of emergency relief teams, as efforts continue to find survivors and recover bodies continue through the night.

Concerns about a troubled nuclear reactor in the quake-hit region, were slightly abated after Japanese officials confirmed that while an explosion did occur at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station in the prefecture on Saturday afternoon, the blast did not happen at the location of its reactor.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at an emergency press conference convened in Tokyo that owner and operator of the nuclear facility, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has confirmed that the steel container housing the reactor is intact.

Japan's top government spokesperson said that the blast, which occurred at 3:36 p.m. local time (0636 GMT), destroyed the roof and the walls of the reactor's outer container, but called for the Japanese people to remain calm.

Source: Xinhua

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