Red Cross aid hasn’t reached Japan quake victims

Source: Orlando Sentinel

Peeling crossJapan’s Red Cross has collected more than $1 billion in the first three weeks after the massive earthquake and tsunami but has yet to distribute any funds directly to victims, prompting Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano to urge Sunday that the process be accelerated.

Meanwhile, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant reported no significant progress in stopping the leak of radioactive water into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials think the leak has been coming from a concrete pit holding power cables near reactor No. 2, and attempted Sunday to seal a crack there with a special polymer.

Edano said that the government was going to have independent experts retest the air and soil around the power plant and use that information to re-evaluate whether its current evacuation orders should be modified. Currently, the government has told residents living within 12 miles of the plant to evacuate, and has urged those living within 18 miles to leave or at least stay indoors as much as possible.

The government has come under renewed pressure from groups including Greenpeace to expand its evacuation area, but at the same time, residents who vacated the 12-mile zone have been seeking permission to return to their homes briefly to gather personal items. Officials in recent days have not shown signs of budging in either direction, and Edano said Sunday the current order will last “a long time,” though he conceded it was “tough on residents.”

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