Japan Nuclear Accident Latest

A second hydrogen explosion occurred at an earthquake-damaged nuclear reactor north of Toyko Monday. The blast is said to have been caused by a build-up of gas at Fukushima's station's No. 3 reactor.

Japanese government officals have said, however, that there was no large release of radiation, and that the reactors themselves were not breached. They continue to monitor the situation.

In the meantime, Japanese government officials are now estimating the death toll from latest week's earthquake and tsunami could be as high as 10,000, although the official toll is 1,627 dead, 1,720 injured and 1,962 missing. Over 350,000 people are believed to be living in emergency shelters. There are reports from the Kyodo news agency that 2,000 bodies have been recovered on the shores of Miyagi prefecture, where the tsunami hit on Friday.

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Monday: 'Our country faces its worst crisis since the end of the war 65 years ago. (But) I'm convinced that the Japanese people, working together, can overcome this'.

In the meantime, The Bank of Japan has pumped $183bn into the money markets in order to provide financial stability. Governor Masaaki Shirakawa said: 'We are providing as much funds as needed to dispel anxiety in financial markets. We will continue to add ample funds to stabilize financial markets'.

 It is now thought that the insurance bill for the earthquake alone will come to around $35bn, and that the combined bill for the earthquake and tsunami will wipe out insurers' profits for the year.

Toyko's Nikkei average 225 stock index closed 6.18% down Monday, its lowest level for over 2 years.

Sources - Bloomberg, MarketWatch, Reuters

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