It has been exactly one month since the massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Here are some facts and figures about the crisis one month on.
Top news today is that Japanese authorities have raised the alert level of the radiation accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant to the highest possible rating. The International Atomic Energy Agency provides some context for this decision in a just-released fact sheet:
The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) today issued a new provisional rating for the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the IAEA International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).
The nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi is now rated as a level 7 “Major Accident” on INES. Level 7 is the most serious level on INES and is used to describe an event comprised of “A major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures”. Japanese authorities notified the IAEA in advance of the public announcement and the formal submission of the new provisional rating.
The new provisional rating considers the accidents that occurred at Units 1, 2 and 3 as a single event on INES. Previously, separate INES Level 5 ratings had been applied for Units 1, 2 and 3. The provisional INES Level 3 rating assigned for Unit 4 still applies.
The re-evaluation of the Fukushima Daiichi provisional INES rating resulted from an estimate of the total amount of radioactivity released to the environment from the nuclear plant. NISA estimates that the amount of radioactive material released to the atmosphere is approximately 10 percent of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, which is the only other nuclear accident to have been rated a Level 7 event.
Via Reuters: 13,228 people were confirmed dead by Japan’s National Police Agency as of 3 p.m. Japan time (0600 GMT) on Tuesday, while 14,529 were missing.
Via Reuters: Around 141,500 people were in shelters around the country as of Tuesday following evacuation, the National Police Agency said.
210,000 people are still without running water and 158,000 are without electricity.
Via Islamic Relief: Communities along hundreds of miles of the coastline were flattened and the Japanese government estimate the cost as high as $310 billion in damage.
And here is the latest crisis map, via Relief Web, from USAID