Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 

Nuclear crisis worsens

Top news: Japan's nuclear crisis continued to worsen today as workers briefly abandoned the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant because of high radiation levels and were forced to drop water from a helicopter to try to cool an overheating reactor. Winds have sent radiation wafting into Tokyo. While officials say levels are not immediately dangerous in the Japanese capital, they are 10 times higher than normal.

Reactor units in two of the plants reactors now appear to have ruptured. These containment vessels were considered the last line of defense against a large-scale release of radioactivity, though it's not yet clear how serious the breaches are. Fires at the reactors, likely caused by the intentional release of hydrogen gas to relieve pressure within the reactors, were reported on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More than 3,600 people have been confirmed dead from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami -- a number which is likely to increase to more than 10,000. Hundreds of thousands are still living in temporary shelters. Emperor Akihito made a rare public address, saying he was "deeply worried" about the nuclear crisis.

Libya: Pro-Qaddafi forces continued to close in on the rebel-held city of Benghazi, taking the nearby town of Ajdabiyah. A resolution on imposing a no-fly zone over the country was introduced at the U.N. Security Council, but appears unlikely to move forward.