Japan's Tohoku tsunami death toll/missing persons moved lower by almost 50 in the past 48 hours. Workers recovered 29 new bodies, while 76 were dropped from missing persons. Meanwhile, TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi threatens new and lingering deaths.
The National Police Agency (NPA) list of the recovered dead changed only a small amount over the past 48 hours, but the 29 new bodies recovered over May 24 and 25 brought the recovered dead above 15,200 to 15,217. The slow pace of recovery continued the recent clear trend of slow but constant increase in the number of bodies found. The missing persons lists, however, made a little more substantial move, also continuing, thereby, a constant but somewhat more volatile negative trend. While not in the same league as the three-figure drops that have occurred every few days for the past three weeks, this two-day decline of 76 people dropped the number of known missing down to well under 8,700. The new number is 8,666, a far cry from the roughly 15,000 of just a few weeks ago.
Today, the combined total of dead and missing amount to a potential death toll of 23,883 people... a decline of 47 persons from Monday's total of 23,930, a short two days ago.
As if a death toll of nearly 24,000 weren't enough, TEPCO, the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has been so protective of its assets and corporate reputation that it has allowed essential information to stay buried for weeks. For instance, a very advanced, commonly-used computer model of what happens in a nuclear plant undergoing severe trauma was used by an American investigator. He determined that the first meltdown began only 3 1/2 hours after the cooling pumps quit working. He gave TEPCO the information in mid-March, and TEPCO... sat on it until May 15, when a robot confirmed the meltdown. Now it seems that Daiichi reactors 1 through 3 have all partially melted down, and may have damaged the pressure vessel containment as well.
In a second, really terrible move, TEPCO allowed as many as 4,000 workers to come into the plant soon after hydrogen explosions had scattered radioactive water droplets and materials all over the site, and spend time there. The workers are known now to have received radioactive poisoning... from the inside. It appears that breathing radioactive particles gets them stuck in one's lungs, whence they emit radioactivity for some extended period. How would a nuclear plant management company not know that a steam explosion, in a reactor filled with radioactivity from the damage sustained, would inevitably send miniscule particles into the air and dust to be inhaled by anyone walking by without breathing protection? And who wouldn't offer that protection? The ubiquitous little white masks one sees everywhere in Japan are of no use in that situation. Somebody's reality monitor needs calibrating.