Radiation Thwarts Search for Bodies in Japan

Many near Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor can't be recovered
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2011 10:20 AM CDT
Tokyo police in protective suits search for missing persons near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, March 28, 2011. Even small increases in radiation levels often force them to stop their work.   (AP Photo/Yomiuri Shimbun, Takuya Yoshino)
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(Newser) – Japanese authorities delivered some devastating news to the thousands waiting for word of their loved ones’ fates yesterday: Radiation may prevent many bodies near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant from being recovered. Yesterday, for example, police told CNN that they found a body in the town of Okuma, but had to leave it there after high levels of radiation were detected. They moved it indoors and moved on.

“It’s a real tragedy,” says one radiation oncologist, explaining that bodies, like any object, can absorb radiation and become hazardous. “Hopefully, if they do find a large number of bodies, they can still be dealt with respectfully." Roughly 4,760 people are still missing from Fukushima Prefecture, but police doubt they are all dead, because they’ve searched the area already. They say there are no bodies in the streets, though some could be undiscovered indoors.

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