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Fukushima fire, radiation cause workers to evacuate plant

Fukushima fire: The fire that began on Tuesday has led to extreme radiation leaks that have forced officials to withdraw all crews from the nuclear plant. The Fukushima fire can not be confirmed to still be burning in the now-unmanned plant.

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Fukushima fire leads to plant evacuation: A woman in Osaka reads an extra edition of a newspaper reporting high levels of radiation detected at the quake-hit Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, Tuesday. After a rapid rise of radiation levels, workers were evacuated from the crippled nuclear power plant, Wednesday, leaving no one to cool the reactors.

Kyodo News/Newscom

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Japan suspended operations to prevent a stricken nuclear plant from melting down Wednesday after a surge in radiation made it too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said work on dousing reactors with water was disrupted by the need to withdraw.

The level of radiation at the plant surged to 1,000 millisieverts early Wednesday before coming down to 800-600 millisieverts. Still, that was far more than the average.

"So the workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now," Edano said. "Because of the radiation risk, we are on standby."

Experts say exposure of around 1,000 millisieverts is enough to cause radiation sickness.

Earlier officials said 70 percent of fuel rods at one of the six reactors at the plant were significantly damaged in the aftermath of Friday's calamitous earthquake and tsunami.

News reports said 33 percent of fuel rods were also damaged at another reactor. Officials had said they would use helicopters and fire trucks to spray water in a desperate effort to prevent further radiation leaks and to cool down the reactors.

The nuclear crisis has triggered international alarm and partly overshadowed the human tragedy caused by Friday's double disaster, which pulverized Japan's northeastern coastline, killing an estimated 10,000 people.

Authorities have tried frantically since the earthquake and tsunami to avert an environmental catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex in northeastern Japan, 170 miles (270 kilometers) north Tokyo.

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