Reactors unsafe: newspaper
Regulators have found inadequate fireproofing at more than one-fifth of the nuclear reactors that went offline after the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi crisis, a major daily said yesterday. The finding could delay their restart by several years in some cases, the Mainichi Shimbun said. More than 10 of the nation’s 50 reactors, excluding those at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, have flaws in fireproofing, the paper quoted sources at the industry ministry and the Nuclear Regulation Authority as saying.
Population in decline
The nation’s population logged a record drop last year, health ministry estimates showed yesterday, highlighting concerns that an ever-dwindling pool of workers is having to pay for a growing number of pensioners. A record low 1,033,000 babies were born last year, against 1,245,000 deaths, resulting in a net drop of 212,000 in the nation’s population of about 126 million, ministry figures showed. The decline is sharper than in 2011 when the annual decline topped 200,000 for the first time as 19,000 people lost their lives in a 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami that followed.
Shark scares swimmers
Thousands of bathers enjoying the hot New Year’s Day weather on Bondi Beach fled the water yesterday after a shark alert was sounded. The crowded sea was cleared in a matter of minutes after authorities raised the alarm when a surf patrol boat said it had seen what it thought could have been a large shark. A helicopter was called in to scour the water, but found no sign of the animal and the beach was reopened 25 minutes later. Westpac Life Saver helicopter service later tweeted: “Offshore Rescue Boat has cleared Bondi Beach of any sharks following sighting at 4:15pm. Lifeguards have opened beach.”
Measle cases surge: WHO
The WHO says measles cases surged in the south of the country last year, with hundreds of children dying of the disease. The WHO did not give a reason for the increase in deaths, but a provincial health official said that the disease hit areas where poor families do not vaccinate their children. A spokesperson for the WHO said yesterday that 306 children died nationwide of measles last year, compared to 64 the year before. She said the jump was most pronounced in southern Sindh Province, where measles killed 210 children last year. Provincial health minister Saghir Ahmed said 100 children died in Sindh Province last month alone, mostly areas where many go unvaccinated.
Alleged bomb plotter caught
Police yesterday arrested a man who was allegedly trying to plant a crude bomb near the home of one of the accused in the New Delhi gang-rape and murder case. The 37-year-old man was arrested in a slum in southwest Delhi where four of the six accused lived, an officer said. The low-grade device was filled with explosives usually used in firecrackers, he said. Two of the other accused come from outside Delhi, police said. The incident reflects growing anger across the country since the 23-year-old medical student was repeatedly assaulted and violated with an iron bar while being driven around in a bus on the night of Dec. 16. The victim died of her grievous injuries in a Singapore hospital on Saturday.
Two held for bomb attempt
Two men were being held in custody in Northern Ireland yesterday after being arrested over the attempted murder of a police officer. The men, aged 34 and 25, were arrested on Monday in the Belfast area, a spokeswoman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. The targeted officer found the viable device underneath his car in east Belfast on Sunday. Army bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion. A group calling itself the “New IRA,” or Irish Republican Army, claimed responsibility for the attack. Senior officers have said the attack could have killed the off-duty policeman and his family.