Earthquake Damaged Japan Death Toll Could Reach 10,000
POSTED: Monday, March 14, 2011 - 1:47pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 4:08pm
JAPAN— The death toll could reach 10,000 according to new reports, and concerns over radiation exposure have raised new fears.
Several nuclear reactors in Japan have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami that hit the island country on Friday. Explosions at nuclear reactor sites are raising fears about radiation exposure. Although the exposure is estimated to be less than 10 percent of a typical chest x-ray, those who have been exposed have been quarantined.
The Japanese Government has distributed 230,000 doses of stable iodine to evacuation centers— in case a large meltdown does occur. The pills would prevent radioactive iodine from accumulating in the thyroid— without the pill, the accumulation could cause cancer. While another explosion occurred at the Fukushima nuclear plant Monday, plant officials said the core is still intact.
Japanese meteorologists said that in the event of further radiation leaks, winds headed east into the Pacific could help dissipate any chemicals.
Nuclear medicine specialists said people living near the reactor sites have a higher risk of facing other health threats. The lack of clean water, the risk of additional earthquakes— or aftershocks, fires, explosions, and other risks are higher than the risk of radiation. At least 18 million people have spent the past three nights without food, water, or electricity, and the lack of heat in near freezing temperatures is another major concern.
Japan's Kyodo News Agency said 2,000 bodies have been found in two coastal towns.
The American Red Cross estimated that more than half a million people have been displaced by the natural disaster, and many of them could be in need of minor to serious medical aid.