Workers flee Japan nuclear plant
Workers have been evacuated from Japan's tsunami-stricken nuclear complex after grey smoke was seen rising from one of its reactors, a plant spokesman has said.
Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesman Hiroshi Aizawa said the firm is investigating after the smoke was seen rising from the spent fuel storage pool of Unit 3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.
Officials have been battling to cool reactors and spent fuel pools to bring the radiation-leaking plant under control after it was damaged in the massive earthquake and tsunami which devastated north-east Japan on March 11.
The problem-plagued Unit 3 had already alarmed plant officials over the weekend with a sudden surge of pressure in its reactor core.
Officials had reported some progress in their battle to bring the radiation-leaking complex under control but the crisis is far from over, with the discovery of more radiation-tainted vegetables and tap water adding to public fears about contaminated food and drink.
Meanwhile, Japan's nuclear safety agency has revealed that the operator of the troubled nuclear complex repeatedly failed to make crucial inspections of equipment in the weeks before it was crippled by the earthquake and tsunami.
Elsewhere, the World Bank has suggested Japan may need five years to rebuild after the catastrophes, which have caused up to €165bn of damage.
The March 11 disaster - which police have estimated killed more than 18,400 people and left thousands more missing in north eastern Japan - is likely to shave up to 0.5pc from the country's economic growth this year, the bank said in a report. The impact will be concentrated in the first half of the year, it said.
Japan's north east, the epicentre of the disaster, is home to ports, steel mills, oil refineries, nuclear power plants and manufacturers of car and electronics components. Many of those facilities have been damaged, while nationwide power shortages have severely harmed car and electronics production.