Japan earthquake: PM breaks silence as flood of funerals begins

Theresa May says Britain will assist government officials and nuclear power operators in Japan after a quake and tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant Dignitaries are due to attend a…

Japan earthquake: PM breaks silence as flood of funerals begins

Theresa May says Britain will assist government officials and nuclear power operators in Japan after a quake and tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant

Dignitaries are due to attend a state funeral for the 76 people killed when Japan was devastated by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake on 11 March.

In a statement released ahead of the service in Sendai on Friday morning, the prime minister, Theresa May, said: “The UK Government will support all government officials and the nuclear power operators, until then responsible for safely stabilising and decontaminating these facilities. The government will continue to work closely with Japan’s government, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other international partners.”

She said the government was offering “anyone affected by the emergency any assistance they need”.

Key dates in the disaster:

11 March 12-1pm as Japan earthquake/tsunami struck, triggering a 12-metre wave as well as setting off a series of rolling power cuts that left the country without electricity for two days. A total of more than 5,000 deaths have been confirmed.

18 March At least 160,000 buildings are thought to have been damaged and 26,000 damaged severely. In the worst-hit city of Sendai, 150m people lost power and over 2.5m people remained without clean drinking water. A further 140,000 people are homeless, reports show.

30 March Government-owned Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) confirmed meltdowns at the three Fukushima Daiichi reactors, which had been struggling to prevent a fresh leak of radioactive steam. The utility also said the No 4 reactor had suffered a partial meltdown but the levels of radioactive materials had fallen as efforts were made to cool it, but that it continued to release radiation.

11 April Tokyo Electric Power Co said four more workers at the Fukushima plant were taken ill after being exposed to high levels of radiation, raising the total number of workers fighting the crisis to 3,555 and to give each 23 times the permissible limit of exposure.

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