China finds two Japanese entering with high radiation

China finds two Japanese entering with high radiation

China's customs body said the pair had medical treatment for radiation levels "seriously" over the limit, but they did not present a risk to others after flying to Wuxi in the east.

Until now no one in Japan except workers at the stricken plant has been found with seriously elevated radiation levels, and Japan's foreign ministry noted that as of March 18 the International Civil Aviation Association had declared that screening of airline passengers from Japan was not necessary.

The first case of contaminated Japanese traveling abroad came after injuries to workers slowed the battle to control the Fukushima complex 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

Some 700 engineers have been working around the clock to stabilize the six-reactor plant since the multiple disaster on March 11 that also left more than 27,000 people dead or missing.

But they had to pull out of some parts of the complex when three workers replacing a cable at one reactor were exposed to high contamination by standing in radioactive water on Thursday, officials said.

Two were taken to hospital with possible radiation burns after the water seeped over their boots.

"We should try to avoid delays as much as possible, but we also need to ensure that the people working there are safe," said Japanese nuclear agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama.

Safety fears at the plant and beyond -- radiation particles have been found as far away as Iceland -- are compounding Japan's worst crisis since World War Two.

As well as causing the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, the magnitude 9.0 quake and ensuing wall of water that tore in from the Pacific killed 9,811 people and left 17,541 more missing, according to latest police figures.

Kyodo news agency said the death toll had topped 10,000.

Despite increased radiation reports, fears of a catastrophic meltdown at the Fukushima plant are receding.

Two of the reactors are now regarded as safe in what is called a cold shutdown. Four remain volatile, emitting steam and smoke periodically, but work is advancing to restart water pumps needed to cool fuel rods inside those reactors.

"It's much more hopeful," said Tony Roulstone, a nuclear energy expert at Cambridge University.

The United States has been offering aid to its ally Japan, and two of its barges will together provide 525,000 gallons (2.0 million liters) of water for cooling the reactors.

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