Friday, April 8, 2011

AP: 75-Year-Old Farmer Stranded in Empty Minami Soma in Evacuation Zone Since March 11 Tsunami

Why had no one come for him? Nobody knows. And the man is glad to see the AP reporters and offers to pay for whatever food that they may have.

From AP (4/8/2011):

MINAMI SOMA, Japan (AP) — The farmhouse sits at the end of a mud-caked, one-lane road strewn with toppled trees, the decaying carcasses of dead pigs and large debris deposited by the March 11 tsunami.

Stranded alone inside the unheated, dark home is 75-year-old Kunio Shiga. He cannot walk very far and doesn't know what happened to his wife.

His neighbors have all left because the area is 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant — just within the zone where authorities have told everyone to get out because of concerns about leaking radiation.

No rescuer ever came for him.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Tokyo News Editor Eric Talmadge, along with photographers David Guttenfelder and Hiro Komae, were reporting from the evacuation zone of Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan.


When a reporter and two photographers from The Associated Press arrived at Shiga's doorstep Friday, the scared and disoriented farmer said: "You are the first people I have spoken to" since the earthquake and tsunami.

"Do you have any food?" he asked. "I will pay you."

Shiga gratefully accepted the one-liter bottle of water and sack of 15-20 energy bars given to him by the AP, which later notified local police of his situation.

He said he has been running out of supplies and was unable to cook his rice for lack of electricity and running water. His traditional, two-story house is intact, although it is a mess of fallen objects, including a toppled Buddhist shrine. Temperatures at night in the region have been cold, but above freezing.

The Odaka neighborhood where he lives is a ghost town. Neighboring fields are still inundated from the tsunami. The smell of the sea is everywhere. The only noise comes from the pigs foraging for food.

Local police acknowledged they have not been able to check many neighborhoods because of radiation concerns.

As radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant has fallen in recent days, however, the police have fanned out inside the evacuation zone to cover more areas.

On Friday, they were busy searching for bodies two miles (three kilometers) from Shiga's farmhouse.

Hundreds of police, many mobilized from Tokyo and wearing white radiation suits, pulled four bodies in an hour from one small area in Minami Soma. They had found only five bodies the previous day.

The AP crew, which had been watching the police search, later broke away to see if it could find any residents living inside the evacuation zone. Some construction workers directed them to a part of town where some houses were intact.

The farmhouse where Shiga's family has grown vegetables for generations is at the end of a long mud- and rubble-covered road blocked by fallen trees and dead and decaying animals.

The journalists spotted the relatively undamaged house about 500 meters (yards) away. Unable to drive on the road because of the debris, they navigated the rest of the way on foot, sometimes crawling over large branches.

Shiga was seen wandering in front of his house but went inside. The journalists went to greet him.

He said he spent his lonely days since the disaster sitting in bed in his dark home and listening to a battery-powered radio. A scruffy beard covered his face.

"The tsunami came right up to my doorstep," he said. "I don't know what happened to my wife. She was here, but now she's gone."

Shiga said he was aware of the evacuation order but could do nothing about it, since he is barely able to walk past the front gate of his house. His car is stuck in mud and won't start.

The AP journalists asked Shiga for permission to tell the authorities about him. He agreed, and they went to a police station to tell them about the stranded farmer. The police said they would check on him as soon as they could.

Even if authorities can make it to him, Shiga said he might rather stay.

"I'm old and I don't know if I could leave here. Who would take care of me?" he said, staring blankly through his sliding glass doors at the mess in his yard. "I don't want to go anywhere. But I don't have water and I'm running out of food."


Anonymous said...

Isn't that the same region where the poor mayor was pleading for help from anybody, anywhere a few days ago? I can respect the farmers wish to stay in his home but I hope it doesn't encourage others to return to the area prematurely.

The only good thing I can say is radiation isn't as much an issue for older people because they've led a long life so if they develop cancer in 5, 10 or even 20 years it isn't as devastating as having a young child doing the same. Children are at a much greater risks because they are growing fast so they can incorporate contamination into their smaller bodies faster that adults.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

It is exactly the same city.

As for the children, their government is doing their upmost best to keep up the appearance by making them attend schools in Fukushima, with radioactive materials falling on them every single day.

Anonymous said...

Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans help doctors detect everything from cancer to kidney stones. But some physicians are raising concerns about the safety of such procedures — most notably, an increase in cancer risk. A CT scan packs a mega-dose of radiation — as much as 500 times that of a conventional X-ray. If your doctor orders a CT scan for you or your child, should you think twice?

Absolutely, say researchers behind two recent studies that sound the alarm about the increased cancer risk associated with multiple CT scans.The results of the study, presented in May at the annual conference of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, were disturbing: the average patient had received 45 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation. (The typical chest X-ray dispatches 0.02 mSv of radiation.) And 12% of patients had gotten more than twice that amount — 100 mSv or more. "Our focus is to bring awareness to the fact that people are getting large doses of radiation and it's not innocuous," says Timothy Bullard, the study's lead author and chief medical officer at Orlando Regional Medical Center. "We want people to use the technology appropriately."

Compared with adults, children are more sensitive to radiation because they have longer life expectancies and because their cells divide more rapidly, making their DNA more vulnerable to damage. A child's risk of developing a fatal cancer from one CT scan is as high as 1 in 500. Although newer machines can be adjusted to deliver up to 50% less radiation for children and small adults, a 2001 study published in the American Journal of Radiation showed that radiologic technologists (RT) rarely make those adjustments. "Changing technical factors is very easy. It just requires a little thought and a few extra seconds," says Michele Scoglietti, a spokesperson for the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. "But I think there are many RTs who are either not trained to vary the technique, don't know how, are in a hurry or are just lazy.",8599,1818520,00.html

So much for "safe" medical radiation dose comparisons.

The Unborn Suffer The Most:

"He also points out that radiation is a particular threat to unborn children. The young embryos, especially in the first three months of pregnancy, are the most susceptible to radiation damage, much more than born children or adults, he says. "An embryo grows very fast and it means that cells are dividing all the time," he explains further. "These cells are more sensitive to the effects of radiation than older cells.",,6475627,00.html

Don't feel bad it seems everybody unknowingly nukes their kids for their own good.,0,4283029.htmlstory

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