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Developments in Japan's disasters, nuclear crisis

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By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 9:03 AM

-- - DEMAND FOR BOTTLED WATER SPIKES IN TOKYO. Shops in Tokyo ration water, milk and other goods as a run on products coupled with delivery disruptions leaves shelves bare Thursday. Demand for bottled water spikes a day after officials reported radioactive iodine in the capital's tap water was more than twice the level considered safe for infants. The government urges calm and orders special distribution of bottled water to families with babies under 1. Even as readings show Tokyo tap water is safe again, reports emerge of elevated levels of cancer-linked iodine in three neighboring prefectures.

- WORKERS INJURED AT NUCLEAR PLANT. At the tsunami-struck Fukushima nuclear plant, two workers are hurt when their feet touch radioactive elements. Officials say the pair have been hospitalized but that they were exposed to radiation levels below the maximum allowed for workers trying to prevent the plant's reactors from overheating.

- WORRIES REACH EUROPE'S SHORES. In Iceland, officials say they have measured trace amounts of radioactive iodine in the air but assure residents it is "less than a millionth" of levels found in European countries in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The U.S., Canada, Australia and Hong Kong had earlier said they were either halting or upgrading controls on Japanese food imports from areas near the plant.

- DISASTER DEATH TOLL TOPS 9,800. Japan's National Police Agency says 9,811 people died in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, while another 17,541 are listed as missing.

- RESCUE EFFORTS REACHING MASSIVE DIMENSIONS. The crisis in Japan has prompted outpouring of aid worldwide. More than 19,000 U.S. Marines and sailors, with 20 ships and 140 aircraft, have delivered relief supplies, surveyed ports, conducted aerial searches and surveys and provided support to rescuers. U.S. 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk calls it "the most complex humanitarian mission ever conducted." Even reclusive North Korea says it is helping. State media reports leader Kim Jong Il has sent $500,000 to ethnic Koreans in Japan.

- PORPOISE RESCUED. Rescuers return a stranded baby porpoise to the sea after it was found splashing in an inland rice paddy where it was heaved by the tsunami. A passer-by spotted the 3-foot-long (meter-long) finless porpoise Tuesday just over a mile (two kilometers) from shore.


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