March 16, 2011
Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant was abandoned for hours today, as soaring radiation forced emergency workers to flee for their lives and authorities were reduced to spraying reactors with police water cannons.
All 50 emergency workers who had been fighting to keep overheating reactors cool were this morning pulled back 500 yards from the complex as radiation levels became too dangerous.
And in an extraordinary attack, the French government accused the Japanese of losing control of the situation and hiding the full scale of the disaster.
Military helicopters made a failed attempt to drop water on the reactors from above, amid desperate efforts to cool nuclear fuel. Police water cannons usually used in riot control were even requested to spray the site.
The emergency teams had been pumping sea water into reactors using fire engines, but those efforts are thought to have stopped as the workers were pulled out. But Japanese officials said 180 workers were now back on the site.
Fears of ‘an apocalypse’ were raised by European officials as radiation levels soared. In another attack, French Industry Minister Eric Besson said: ‘Let’s not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control (of the situation). That is our analysis, in any case, it’s not what they are saying.’