As of 3:00 pm Sunday 3/27 in Japan, the official death toll had risen to 10,668, and the number of reported missing had declined to 16,574.Â These numbers represent an increase of 517 in the collected dead, and a decline of 479 in the number of reported missing from Saturday.Â The greatest percentage of this decline can be attributed to identifying the dead among the flotsam and jetsam left by the tsunami. There have been few, if any, stories of people reported missing being found alive in other shelters or elsewhere.Â A problem that still remains unaddressed by the Japanese National Police.Â Entire towns are gone.Â Who reports those people by name if their friends, neighbors and relatives are gone, and their local prefecture officials with them?
Despite the ever-rising death toll, the government and the press remain focused primarily on the nuclear emergency at Fukushima Dai-ichi.Â Radiation inside two reactor buildings (outside the containment) has periodically spiked.Â At one time radiation in water in Unit 2 was erroneously reported to have spiked as much as 10 million times the levels deemed safe by TEPCO.Â That the report was believed at first to be a testament to the fear engendered by the constantly changing nature of the disaster.Â The actual radiation level in Unit 2‘s building was later reported to be four times the safe level.Â Further, radiation in the sea around the Dai-ichi reactors has increased significantly.Â The government has expanded the evacuation zone from 12 to 20 miles (albeit voluntarily in the expanded area), and vegetables, milk and water have been found to be contaminated with radioactive iodine and cesium.
The reality is, despite the doomsayers and others who want no nuclear power used at all, of the two disasters (the quake/tsunami and the nuclear plantÂ’s troubles) Fukushima Dai-ichi will have much the lesser impact on the life and health of the public of the two.
The quake/tsunami has directly claimed the lives of over 10,500 people to date, and that death toll will likely rise to somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000, perhaps more, with deaths caused by illness, exposure and privation after the tsunami adding 5 Â– 10 percent to that number.Â Fukushima Dai-ichiÂ’s toll to dateÂ… is zero.Â ItÂ’s likely ultimate death toll, assuming no uncontainable event in one of the cores?Â Also zero, or close to it.
People displaced by the nuclear emergency, were sent to prepared shelters in areas where food, medicine and heat were available.Â People displaced by the tsunami were forced to shelter wherever they could find space, and the very nature of the disaster that drove them from their homes made the necessities of life unavailable to them.Â The former are readily available to a press corps focused on the nuclear emergency, and living near it.Â The latter are difficult to find, and hard to get to, and the press corps cannot live near them unless they share their privation.
Dai-ichi will remain the focus of the press.