I was surprised to find out that the amount of relief donations is relatively small. Plus, I found out yesterday that AT&T and Verizon are holding onto the money donated via text for at least a month, which really screws the people of Japan. Please donate directly to relief agencies, because the money gets there more quickly. (The Red Cross site allows you to use Amazon Payments, which is painless.) Obviously, people need help now:
FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Surging radiation levels forced Japan to order emergency workers to temporarily withdraw from its crippled nuclear plant Wednesday, losing time in a desperate operation to cool the overheating reactors — the most urgent crisis from last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The technicians were dousing the nuclear reactors with seawater in a frantic effort to cool them when they had to retreat in the late morning. The plant’s operator ordered the technicians back to the site in the evening after radiation levels subsided.
In the hours in between, it was not clear what if any operations continued. Officials gave only sparse information about reactors.
But conditions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant appeared to be worsening. White steam-like clouds drifted up from one reactor which, the government said, likely emitted the burst of radiation that led to the workers’ withdrawal. The plant’s operator reported a fire at another reactor for the second time in two days.
At one point, national broadcaster NHK showed military helicopters lifting off to survey radiation levels above the complex, preparing to dump water onto the most troubled reactors in a desperate effort to cool them down. The defense ministry later said those flights were a drill, and it had no plans to make an airborne water drop.
“The anxiety and anger being felt by people in Fukushima have reached a boiling point,” the governor of Fukushima prefecture, Yuhei Sato, fumed in an interview with NHK. He criticized preparations for an evacuation if conditions worsen and said centers already housing people moved from nearby the plant do not have enough hot meals and basic necessities.
The nuclear crisis has triggered international alarm and partly overshadowed the human tragedy caused by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, a blast of black seawater that pulverized Japan’s northeastern coastline. The quake was one of the strongest recorded in history.
Millions of people struggled for a fifth day with little food, water or heat, and already chilly temperatures turned to snow in many areas. Police say more than 452,000 people are staying in temporary shelters, often sleeping on the floor in school gymnasiums.