“This is a slow-moving nightmare.”
The words of one expert hint at a growing sense of desperation as Japan battles to pull its earthquake-hit nuclear plant back from the brink of disaster.
The state of a pool holding spent nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima facility in the northeast is causing serious concern.
Reactor No. 4 caught fire, a day after an explosion blew a hole in the building, housing spent fuel rods
Helicopter efforts to dump water on the complex had to be abandoned because of fears over radiation levels.
The European Union’s energy chief Guenther Oettinger said Japanese authorities appeared to have lost control of the situation.
Despite increasing signs that the entire six-reactor complex is now at risk of overheating, the head of the UN’s atomic watchdog does not share that view.
But Yukiya Amano described developments as “very serious.”
Just outside the 30-kilometre exclusion zone, in the city of Koriyama, locals fearing radiation exposure have been lining up for tests.
“Today one person was decontaminated by using water,” said a city fire department spokesman.
Observers continue to note the calm and dignity of the Japanese people. But more are now expressing anger at a lack of information about what may well be remembered as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.