Getting out | Bangkok Post: learning

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Getting out

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More and more foreigners, including Thais, are leaving Japan as concerns over a possible nuclear disaster mount. (1 full week of stories now available) 

Describing a major earthquake/tsunami

Our focus has been on Japan since the country was hit by a massive Earthquake and tsunami a week ago. Each day we are looking at some of the coverage and learn some English at the same time. I update the situation periodically, usually once or twice a day. If you have been following this coverage, you will now know most of the important words used to describe the situation. You will see many of them each day and a few new words as well.

massive – very large in size, amount or numberใหญ่โต
periodically
– happening fairly often and regularly  อย่างเป็นช่วงๆ

Friday morning update

Chinese passengers arrive at Beijing Capital International airport from a flight from Tokyo. AFP


Click button to listen to Quake 9 and rightclick to download

Mounting Japan crisis sparks exodus of foreigners

Alarm over Japan's nuclear disaster grew with more foreign governments advising their citizens to flee Tokyo as army helicopters dumped water on an overheating plant at the centre of the crisis.

Six days after a massive earthquake and tsunami plunged Japan into its worst crisis since World War II, the United States and Britain chartered flights for nationals trying to leave and China moved thousands of citizens to Tokyo for evacuation.

Commercial airline tickets were scarce and some companies hired private jets to evacuate staff. In Tokyo the streets were quiet but calm as the Japanese people, though deeply concerned, mostly remained stoic over the emergency.

At the stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant, 250 kilometres from Tokyo, Chinook military helicopters dumped tonnes of water in a desperate bid to cool reactors crippled by the earthquake to prevent a catastrophic meltdown.

Fire engines were put into action to douse fuel rods inside reactors and containment pools submerged under water to stop them from degrading due to exposure to the air and emitting dangerous radioactive material.

The official toll of the dead and missing from the twin disasters, which pulverised the northeast coast, now approached 15,000, police said, as aftershocks continued to rattle a jittery nation.

The number of confirmed dead rose to 5,692, with more than 80,000 buildings damaged and 4,798 destroyed.

But as Japanese and international teams mounted a massive search and relief effort, reports from some battered coastal towns suggested the final death toll could be far higher.

Millions of people have been left without water, electricity, fuel or enough food and hundreds of thousands were homeless, the misery compounded by heavy snowfalls, freezing cold and wet conditions.

A cold snap brought heavy blizzards over the country's northeast overnight, covering the tsunami-razed region in deep snow, all but extinguishing hopes of finding anyone alive in the debris.

Meanwhile, Thailand has ordered officials to prepare to evacuate its citizens from Japan in light of the worsening radiation crisis at a nuclear power plant north of Tokyo.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said yesterday he had instructed officials to contact shipping companies in Japan to prepare for an emergency evacuation.

Thai nationals who are still in Japan will be evacuated to nearby countries such as South Korea, China and Taiwan if the situation deteriorates, he said,

The minister said there were more than 20,000 Thais residing in tsunami-hit areas.

About 15,000 people have contacted the Thai Embassy in Tokyo and Thai people networks in Japan but the remainder of about 5,000 people are unaccounted for.

Mr Kasit said he told the Thai embassy in Tokyo to try to find those missing as they might be having problems contacting officials because communication systems in affected areas were unreliable.

Japanese officials have said almost 9,000 people in the quake-hit areas remain missing.

Mr Kasit said he hoped the 5,000 Thais who had not contacted the embassy were not among the people on the missing list. AFP and Bangkok Post

mounting – increasing ที่เพิ่มขึ้น
crisis – a situation that has reached and extremely difficult or dangerous point ช่วงวิกฤต
spark – to make something happen ก่อให้เกิด
exodus – a situation in which a lot of people leave a place or activity at the same time การจากไปของผู้คนเป็นจำนวนมาก
alarm – fear and anxiety that somebody feels when something dangerous or unpleasant might happen ความกลัว
disaster – something very bad that happens and causes a lot of damage or kills a lot of people  ความหายนะ  ภัยพิบัติ
advise – to tell somebody what you think they should do in a particular situation แนะนำ, แจ้ง
citizen – someone who has the right to live permanently in a particular country พลเมือง
flee – to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger หนี อพยพ
massive – very large in size, amount or numberใหญ่โต
plunge into crisis – to suddenly have a serious problem ตกอยู่ด้านในสภาวะยากลำบาก
charter – to hire, especially for the use of a particular group เช่าเหมาลำ
national – a citizen of a particular country  ประชาชน
evacuation – moving people from a place of danger to a safer place การอพยพ
commercial – for business purposes เกี่ยวกับการค้า
scarce – not easy to find or get ขาดแคลน, ไม่เพียงพอ, หายาก
hire – to pay someone to work for you, especially for a short time จ้าง
concerned – worried about something   มีความกังวล
stoic – able to suffer pain or trouble without complaining or showing what you are feeling อดกลั้น,ปลงตก
emergency – an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary เหตุฉุกเฉิน
stricken – affected by serious problems ได้รับผลกระทบจากปัญหาหนักหน่วง
desperate – in an extreme or worried way อย่างเต็มที่
bid – an attempt to do something ความพยายาม
(nuclear) reactor – a large structure used for the controlled production of nuclear energy เครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
crippled – damaged and prevented from working properly ที่พัง ที่ใช้การไม่ได้
catastrophic – extremely damaging เหตุร้ายกาจม ความหายนะม ให้ผลหายนะอย่างใหญ่หลวง
meltdown – a serious accident in which the central part of a nuclear reactor melts, causing harmful radiation to escape วิกฤตเครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
douse – to make a fire stop burning or to prevent something overheating by pouring water over it สาดน้ำหรือของเหลว, จุ่มในของ
fuel rod – a long, slender, metal tube containing small pieces of radioactive material, which provide fuel for nuclear reactors แท่งเชื้อเพลิงสำหรับเครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
containment – the process of controlling a situation or substance that could become harmful or dangerous การควบคุมไว้
submerge – to cause to be under water  ทำให้จมน้ำ ทำให้อยู่ใต้น้ำ
degrade – to make something become worse, especially in quality ทำให้ด้อยค่า, ทำให้ลดคุณค่า, ทำให้ต่ำต้อย
exposure – in an open, uncovered or unprotected state เปิดออก
emit – to send something out into the air ปล่อยออกมา, แพร่กระจาย
radioactive – sending out harmful radiation caused when the nuclei (= central parts) of atoms are broken up เกี่ยวกับกัมมันตภาพรังสี
toll – the number of deaths and injuries caused by a disaster, accident, disease, etc. การสูญเสีย
twin – forming a pair (two) of two similar things เป็นคู่กัน
pulverize – to crush something into a fine powder; to defeat or destroy somebody/something completely โขลก, บด
aftershock – a sudden movement of the Earth's surface which often follows an earthquake and which is less violent than the first main movement แผ่นดินไหวเล็กน้อยที่เกิดหลังจากแผ่นดินไหวรุนแรง
rattle – to make somebody nervous or frightened ทำให้วุ่น
jittery – feeling nervous and upset, and sometimes being unable to keep still because of this ที่กระวนกระวายใจ, ว้าวุ่นใจ, กังวลใจ
mount – to organise and begin an activity or event  เริ่มปฏิบัติการ
relief – help; assistance การช่วยให้พ้นภัย
battered – badly damaged ที่ถูกทำลายยับเยิน
fuel – any material that produces heat or power, usually when it is burnt เชื้อเพลิง
misery – great suffering of the mind or body; very poor living conditions ความทุกข์ยาก, ความยากแค้น, ความเดือดร้อน
compound – to make a problem or difficult situation worse เพิ่ม
cold snap – a sudden short period of very cold weather
blizzard – a snowstorm with very strong winds  พายุหิมะ
raze – to completely destroy a building, town, etc. so that nothing is left ทำลายจนราบ
extinguish – to destroy or get rid of something ดับ, ทำให้หมดไป
debris – broken pieces that are left when something large has been destroyed  เศษ ซากปรักหักพัง  ซากสิ่งของที่ถูกทำลาย
meanwhile – at the same time ในเวลาเดียวกัน
radiation – powerful and very dangerous rays that are sent out from radioactive substances รังสี, พลังงานจากรังสี
deteriorate – to become worse เลวร้ายลง
reside – to live in a particular place อยู่อาศัย
network – a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
remainder – the part of something that is left after that rest have been considered, left, finished, etc. ส่วนที่เหลืออยู่
unaccounted for – a person or thing that cannot be found and people do not know what has happened to them or it ซึ่งหายไป
embassy – a group of officials who represent their government in a foreign country สถานทูต
unreliable – not able to work without problems  ไม่มั่นคง

Thursday morning update

Policemen wear gas masks and patrol near the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. AFP


Click button to listen to Quake 8 and rightclick to download

Workers try to restore power at Japan nuclear plant

SENDAI, Japan (AFP) - Japanese engineers were Thursday focusing their efforts on restoring the power supply to a quake-damaged nuclear plant in an attempt to reactivate its cooling system and avert a meltdown.

Last Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami knocked out the power supply and back-up generators at the Fukushima No. 1 plant on the Pacific coast, some 250 kilometres northeast of Tokyo.

The lack of power has sent temperatures soaring in reactors with fuel rods being exposed as the cooling water evaporated and emitting hydrogen gas and possibly radioactive material, triggering fears of a meltdown.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said it was preparing to restore outside power lines and connect its damaged transmission system to unaffected lines.

"At the moment, we are concentrating our efforts on this work," spokesman Naohiro Omura told AFP.

"If the restoration work is completed, we will be able to activate various electric pumps and pour water into reactors and pools for spent nuclear fuel."

The Japanese crews grappling with the world's worst nuclear incident since Chernobyl in 1986 were briefly evacuated Wednesday after a spike in radiation levels at the plant.

Earlier they contended with a new fire and feared damage to the vessel containing one of the plant's six reactor cores.

There are also major fears about pools holding spent fuel rods at the plant, which need water to keep them cool. Unlike the reactors, they have no containment vessels.

Some 70 workers have been using low-capacity fire pumps to pour seawater to cool reactors at the plant, according to media reports. They are using electricity from borrowed power supply cars.

A Japanese army helicopter Wednesday aborted its mission to dump water onto the fuel rods due to the high level of radiation above the reactors.

The workers at the plant, which has been hit by four explosions and two fires, have been hailed as heroes.

"Please don't forget that there are people who are working to protect everyone's lives in exchange for their own lives," said one post on Japanese social networking site Mixi.

The government has warned people 10 kilometres beyond the 20-kilometre exclusion zone around the plant to stay indoors. More than 200,000 people have already been evacuated from the zone.

Japan's chief government spokesman Yukio Edano however said radiation levels from the plant posed no immediate health threat outside the 20-kilometre exclusion zone.

But as crews battled to prevent a nuclear meltdown, the European Union's energy chief said the situation had spun out of control.

"The site is effectively out of control," energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger told a European Parliament committee, one day after he said Japan was facing "apocalypse."

patrol – to move regularly around a place in order to prevent trouble or crime ลาดตระเวน
restore – to bring back to good condition ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
plant – a factory that produces power or processes chemicals, etc. โรงงาน
focus – to give attention, effort, etc. to one particular subject, situation or person rather than another เพ่งความสนใจ
reactivate – to make something start working or happening again after a period of time เปิดใช้งานใหม่
avert – to prevent something bad or harmful from happening ป้องกันไม่ให้เกิด
meltdown – a serious accident in which the central part of a nuclear reactor melts, causing harmful radiation to escape วิกฤตเครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
massive - very large in size, amount or numberใหญ่โต
back-up – people or equipment that can be used when extra help is needed สำรอง
generator – a machine that produces electricity  เครื่องกำเนิดไฟฟ้า
lack of – when there is not enough of something  ขาด
temperature – a measurement of how hot or how cold a place or object is อุณหภูมิ
soar – to rise very quickly to a high level มีความหวังสูง,พุ่งพรวดขึ้น
(nuclear) reactor – a large structure used for the controlled production of nuclear energy เครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
fuel rod – a long, slender, metal tube containing small pieces of radioactive material, which provide fuel for nuclear reactors แท่งเชื้อเพลิงสำหรับเครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
exposed – not protected from something ได้รับ  ได้สัมผัส (แดด หรือสารพิษ เป็นต้น)
evaporate – to cause a liquid to change to a gas ทำให้กลายเป็นไอ
emit – to send something out into the air ปล่อยออกมา, แพร่กระจาย
radioactive – sending out harmful radiation caused when the nuclei (= central parts) of atoms are broken up เกี่ยวกับกัมมันตภาพรังสี
trigger – to cause กระตุ้น
operator – a person or company that runs a business ผู้ดำเนินกิจการทางธุรกิจ, ผู้ประกอบธุรกิจ
transmission – the act or process of passing something from one place, person or thing to another การส่งผ่าน,การส่งต่อ
concentrate – to give most of your attention to one aim or activity  เพ่งความสนใจไปยัง  มุ่งไปที่
spent – used ที่ใช้ไป
fuel – any material that produces heat or power, usually when it is burnt เชื้อเพลิง
crew – a group of people who work together to do a job กลุ่มคนที่ทำงานร่วมกัน
grapple – to try hard to find a solution to a problem ต่อสู้ดิ้นรนกับ
incident – something that happens, usually something bad เหตุการณ์
evacuate – to cause to leave a place because it is not safe เคลื่อนย้ายออกจาก
spike – a sudden increase
radiation – powerful and very dangerous rays that are sent out from radioactive substances รังสี, พลังงานจากรังสี
contend with – to have to deal with a problem or with a difficult situation or person ดิ้นรนต่อสู้กับ
vessel – a container for liquids ภาชนะใส่ของเหลว
reactor core – the part of a nuclear reactor containing the nuclear fuel where the nuclear reactions take place แกนเครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
containment – the process of controlling a situation or substance that could become harmful or dangerous การควบคุมไว้
capacity – the amount of something that can be kept in a place, building, container, etc. ความจุ
media – newspapers, television, radio, etc. สื่อ
aborted – to stop before finishing  ยกเลิก
mission – an important job, especially a military one, that someone is sent somewhere to do ภาระกิจ, หน้าที่, งาน
hail – to describe somebody/something as being very good or special, especially in newspapers, etc  ยกย่อง, ชมเชย
hero – a person, especially a man, who is admired by many people for doing something brave or good วีรบุรุษ
post – to send information, in this case, to a website
exclusion zone – an area where people are not allowed to enter เขตห้ามเข้า
evacuate – to cause to leave a place because it is not safe เคลื่อนย้ายออกจาก
level – the amount of something that exists in a particular situation at a particular time  ระดับ
pose – cause something, especially a problem or difficulty เป็นเหตุให้
immediate – existing now and needing urgent attention ปัจจุบัน, โดยตรง
threat – a danger อันตราย
battle – to try very hard to achieve something difficult or to deal with something unpleasant or dangerous ดิ้นรนต่อสู้, มุ่งมั่นฝ่าฟัน
site – a place where something is located  สถานที่
effectively – in reality ตามความเป็นจริง
apocalypse – a situation causing very serious damage and destruction; the destruction of the world

Wednesday morning update

10:30 am Bad news. Workers have been partially (not completely) evacuated from the Fukushima plant because of the growing danger. "We're now in uncharted territory," says CNN analyst Jim Walsh.

uncharted terriitory
– something that has not been visited or investigated before; not familiar ม่คุ้นเคย, ไม่เคยเห็น

A person believed to be have been contaminated with radiation is wrapped with a blanket and carried to an ambulance at a radiation treatment centre in Nihonmatsu city in Fukushima prefecture, yesterday. AFP


Click button to listen to Quake 7 and rightclick to download

Japan races to contain nuclear crisis

TOKYO – Japanese crews battled early Wednesday to avert a nuclear disaster and said they may pour water from helicopters to stop fuel rods from being exposed to the air and releasing even more radioactivity.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan  warned people living up to 10 kilometres beyond a 20 km exclusion zone around the nuclear plant to stay indoors.

"I would like to ask the nation, although this incident is of great concern, I ask you to react very calmly," he said.

Radiation near the quake-hit Fukushima No.1 plant has reached levels harmful to health and was high overnight, officials said, advising thousands of people to stay indoors after two explosions and a fire at the facility Tuesday.

Four of the six reactors at the crippled facility, 250 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, have now overheated and sparked explosions since Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami knocked out their cooling systems.

The blasts at the seaside plant have shattered buildings housing the reactors but have apparently not penetrated the steel and concrete containers surrounding the fuel rods, reducing the risk of massive contamination.

Workers have used fire-fighting equipment to pump seawater into the reactors — and fears have spiked sharply after separate containment pools holding spent fuel rods at reactor number four started to heat up, threatening to run dry.

If the water in the deep pools evaporates, this would expose the fuel rods to the air, destroying them and sending radioactive materials into the air.

"We have no options other than to pour water from a helicopter, or to spray water from the ground," a spokesman for operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said on television.

"We have to take action tomorrow or the day after."

Worsening levels of radiation on Tuesday forced the company to pull out most of its hundreds of workers who have been battling the emergency.

They later evacuated the plant's central control room and were now monitoring the site remotely, Kyodo reported.

Tens of thousands have already been evacuated from within a radius of 20 kilometres of the 40-year-old plant, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged people living within 10 kilometres of that zone to stay indoors.

"There is no doubt that unlike in the past, the (radiation) figures are at the level at which human health can be affected," chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said Tuesday.

There was a danger of further leakage, Kan said.

"Please stay indoors, close windows and make your homes airtight," Edano urged residents during a press briefing. "Don't turn on ventilators. Please hang your laundry indoors."

Explosions hit the buildings housing reactors one and three Saturday and Monday. On Tuesday, a blast hit reactor two at the crippled plant and there was also an explosion at reactor four that started a fire.

TEPCO said the blaze was extinguished later in the morning with US help.

Higher than normal radiation was detected in Tokyo on Tuesday, prompting many people to flee, but a city official said it was not considered at a level harmful to human health and the level fell later in the day. AFP

contaminated – made dirty, polluted or poisonous by the addition of a chemical, waste or infection ปนเปื้อน  
radiation – powerful and very dangerous rays that are sent out from radioactive substances รังสี, พลังงานจากรังสี
ambulance – a vehicle for taking people to hospital รถพยาบาล
contain – to prevent from spreading; to keep within limits จำกัด,ควบคุมไว้
crew – a group of people who work together to do a job กลุ่มคนที่ทำงานร่วมกัน
battle – a fight; serious disagreement, strong competition, etc.  การต่อสู้
avert – to prevent something bad or harmful from happening ป้องกันไม่ให้เกิด
disaster –an unexpected event, such as a very bad accident, a flood or a fire, that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage ความหายนะ ความล่มจม ความโชคร้าย
radioactive – sending out harmful radiation caused when the nuclei (= central parts) of atoms are broken up เกี่ยวกับกัมมันตภาพรังสี
fuel rod – a long, slender, metal tube containing small pieces of radioactive material, which provide fuel for nuclear reactors แท่งเชื้อเพลิงสำหรับเครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
exposed – open, uncovered or unprotected ซึ่งเปิดออก
release – to allow a substance to flow out from somewhere ปล่อย
warn – to make someone conscious of a possible problem or danger เตือน
exclusion zone – an area where people are not allowed to enter เขตห้ามเข้า
incident – something that happens, usually something bad เหตุการณ์
concern – a worry ความกังวล
react – to behave in a particular way because of something that is happening around you or something that someone is doing to you ตอบสนอง, เกิดปฏิกิริยา
calmly – in a relaxed way without anxiety อย่างใจเย็น, อย่างไม่ตื่นเต้น, อย่างสงบ
harmful – causing damage or injury to somebody/something, especially to a person's health or to the environment เป็นอันตราย,เป็นภัย
advise – to tell somebody what you think they should do in a particular situation แนะนำ, แจ้ง
facility – a building used for a particular purpose โรงงาน, สถานบริการ, สิ่งก่อสร้าง, สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก
(nuclear) reactor – a large structure used for the controlled production of nuclear energy เครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
crippled – damaged and prevented from working properly ที่พัง ที่ใช้การไม่ได้
spark – to make something happen, especially something bad ก่อให้เกิด
massive - very large in size, amount or numberใหญ่โต
blast – an explosion การระเบิด
plant – a factory that produces power or processes chemicals, etc. โรงงาน
shatter – to break into many pieces แตกกระจาย
apparently – based only on what you have heard or think, not on what you are certain is true; seemingly ตามที่ได้รู้มา
penetrate – to go into or through something ทะลุ, ทะลวงเข้าไป, แทรกซึม
container – something used for storing or holding things หีบบรรจุ
surrounding – all around a place  บริเวณรอบๆ
reduce – to make something smaller or less in amount, size, importance etc ลดลง
risk – the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen ความเสี่ยง
contamination – the process of making something dirty, polluted, or poisonous by adding a chemical, waste, or infection การปนเปื้อน
spike – to suddenly increase พุ่งพรวดขึ้น
sharply – suddenly and by a large amount อย่างเร็ว
spent – used ที่ใช้ไป
threaten – to be likely to harm or destroy something เป็นลางร้าย
evaporate – to cause a liquid to change to a gas ทำให้กลายเป็นไอ
option – a choice; something that you can choose in a particular situation ทางเลือก
emergency – an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary เหตุฉุกเฉิน
evacuate – to cause to leave a place because it is not safe เคลื่อนย้ายออกจาก
monitor – to regularly check something or watch someone in order to find out what is happening  เฝ้าดู  จับตาดู
site – a place where something is located  สถานที่
remote - far away in distance ห่างไกล
radius – a particular distance in all directions from a central point รัศมี
urge – to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
figure – a number representing a particular amount, especially one given in official information ตัวเลข, จำนวนเลข
level – the amount of something that exists in a particular situation at a particular time  ระดับ
leak (noun form leakage) – (of a liquid or gas) to flow out of a hole or crack รั่ว
residents – people who live in a particular area ประชาชนที่อาศัยในท้องที่
press – newspapers and magazines, and those parts of television and radio which broadcast news, or reporters and photographers who work for them สื่อมวลชน
briefing – a meeting in which people receive information or instruction คำแถลงการณ์สั้น,สรุปแบบสั้นๆ
airtight – not allowing air to get in or out ที่ผนึกแน่นไม่ให้อากาศเข้า
ventilator –   machine which cause the movement of fresh air around a room or building, or a system that allows this to happen เครื่องระบายลม
laundry – clothes that are being washed เสื้อผ้าที่จะซัก
blaze – a fire เพลิง
extinguish – to put out a fire ดับไฟ
detect – to find or prove that something is present using scientific methods พบ
prompt – to cause someone to take action กระตุ้น
flee – to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger หนี อพยพ

Tuesday morning update

A new explosion this morning at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is just the latest in a series of setbacks to efforts to bring Japan's crisis under control.


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Second blast rocks Japan nuclear plant

SENDAI - A new explosion at a stricken nuclear power plant hit Japan Monday as it raced to avert a reactor meltdown after a quake-tsunami disaster that is feared to have killed more than 10,000 people.

Searchers found 2,000 bodies just in the northeastern region of Miyagi, while millions were left without water, electricity, fuel or enough food. Hundreds of thousands more were homeless after the tsunami drowned whole towns.

Panic selling saw stocks close more than six percent lower on the Tokyo bourse on fears for the world's third-biggest economy, as power shortages prompted rolling blackouts and factory shutdowns in quake-hit areas.

The police chief in Miyagi prefecture, which took the full force of Friday's massive tsunami following the biggest quake ever to hit Japan, said the death toll was certain to exceed 10,000 in his region.

At least 1.4 million people in Japan were temporarily without running water and more than 500,000 people were taking shelter in evacuation centres, said the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

But it was the fear of a nuclear disaster looming on top of the quake and tsunami that gripped the embattled nation as it struggled with a crisis described by Prime Minister Naoto Kan as the worst since World War II.

Explosions have rocked two overheating reactors at the ageing Fukushima plant, located 250 kilometres  northeast of Tokyo, after the cooling systems were knocked out by Friday's 8.9-magnitude quake.

A first explosion blew apart the building surrounding the plant's number-one reactor on Saturday but the seal around the reactor itself remained intact, officials said.

On Monday, shortly after Kan said the plant was still in an "alarming" state, a blast at its number-three reactor shook the facility, injuring 11 people and sending plumes of smoke billowing into the sky.

Plant operator TEPCO said a fuel rod meltdown in the number-two reactor could not be ruled out after water levels dropped sharply, Jiji Press reported.

Japan's top government spokesman said however that a major explosion was unlikely at the reactor, and that seawater was being pumped in to stabilise it, Kyodo reported.

Engineers have been injecting sea water into the stricken reactors to replace lost coolant – a procedure considered a last-ditch measure because it will render the 40-year-old plant unusable.

Authorities have declared an exclusion zone within a 20-kilometre (12-mile) radius of the plant and evacuated 210,000 people.

Kaori Ohashi, a 39-year-old mother of two who works in a facility for the elderly with severe dementia near Sendai, spent two nights trapped in the building after its first floor was submerged by the torrent on Friday.

"Snow started to fall and it became dark. We lost power. I thought 'This is a nightmare'," Ohashi said on Monday after she was saved by rescuers.

"I was so glad to see my son and daughter. I didn't have words to tell them. I was so glad," she said.

Rolling blackouts began across the nation in a bid to save power, with the heavily nuclear-dependent nation rocked by the crisis at Fukushima as well as an oil refinery fire.

The UN said power and gas supplies were critical, with the Japanese winter bringing sub-zero temperatures overnight and snow and rain forecast for coming days.

Japan sits on the "Pacific Ring of Fire", and Tokyo is in one of its most dangerous areas, where three continental plates are slowly grinding against each other, building up enormous seismic pressure.

setback – something that happens which delays or prevents a process from advancing การหยุดยั้งการก้าวหน้า,ความล้มเหลว,การถอยหลัง
crisis - a situation that has reached and extremely difficult or dangerous point ช่วงวิกฤต
blast – an explosion การระเบิด
rock – to shock, surprise, or frighten someone ทำให้ตกใจ, ทำให้สั่นสะเทือน
plant – a factory that produces power or processes chemicals, etc. โรงงาน
stricken – affected by serious problems ได้รับผลกระทบจากปัญหาหนักหน่วง
avert – to prevent something bad or harmful from happening ป้องกันไม่ให้เกิด
(nuclear) reactor – a large structure used for the controlled production of nuclear energy เครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
meltdown – a serious accident in which the central part of a nuclear reactor melts, causing harmful radiation to escape วิกฤตเครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
disaster – something very bad that happens and causes a lot of damage  ความหายนะ
fuel – any material that produces heat or power, usually when it is burnt เชื้อเพลิง
drown – to cause to sink under water จมน้ำ
panic – a sudden strong feeling of fear or worry that causes you to be unable to think clearly or calmly ความตื่นตกใจ
bourse – a stock exchange where shares in companies are bought and sold ตลาดหลักทรัพย์
shortage – when there is not enough of something การขาดแคลน
prompted – caused ก่อให้เกิด
temporary – done or used for only a limited period of time ชั่วคราว
blackout – a sudden loss of electrical power ไฟดับ
rolling blackouts – planned, temporary power cuts moving from one area to another
massive – very large in size, amount or numberใหญ่โต
death toll – the number of people killed ยอดผู้เสียชีวิต
exceed – to be more than something; to go beyond a limit  เกินกว่าที่กำหนด
shelter – a place where people are protected from danger or bad weather; a temporary place to stay ที่หลบภัย  ที่พักชั่วคราว
evacuation – moving people from a place of danger to a safer place การอพยพ
coordination – the act of making all the people involved in a plan or activity work together in an organised way การประสานกัน
looming – seeming likely to happen soon  ที่เห็นลางๆ
grip – to have a strong affect on something ยึด,ไมีผลกระทบ
embattled – experiencing a lot of problems ที่ถูกโจมตี
struggle – to try hard to do something that you find very difficult พยายาม
ageing – growing old สูงวัยขึ้น
located – where something is ตั้งอยู่
magnitude – size or strength  ขนาด ความรุนแรง
blow apart – to explode ระเบิด
surrounding – all around a place  บริเวณรอบๆ
seal – a substance, strip of material, etc. used to fill a crack so that air, liquid, etc. cannot get in or out เครื่องกันรั่ว
intact – not harmed, damaged, or lacking any parts as a results of something that has happened  สมบูรณ์ ไม่บุบสลาย
alarming – worrying or frightening ซึ่งน่าตกใจ
state – condition สภาพ
shake (past: shook) – to move or make somebody/something move with short quick movements from side to side or up and down ขย่า,  สั่น, ทำให้สั่น, สั่นสะเทือน
injure – to hurt or cause physical harm to a person or animal ทำให้บาดเจ็บ, ทำร้าย
facility – a building used for a particular purpose สิ่งก่อสร้าง
plume – a tall, thin mass of smoke, dust or similar substance, that rises up into the air
billow – to spread over a large area ทำให้พอง
operator – a person or company that runs a business ผู้ดำเนินกิจการทางธุรกิจ, ผู้ประกอบธุรกิจ
fuel rod – a long, slender, metal tube containing small pieces of radioactive material, which provide fuel for nuclear reactors แท่งเชื้อเพลิงสำหรับเครื่องปฏิกรณ์นิวเคลียร์
rule out – to stop considering something as a possibility ประกาศว่าเป็นสิ่งที่เป็นไปไม่ได้
sharply – suddenly and by a large amount อย่างเร็ว
major – very large or important สำคัญมาก
unlikely – not expected to happen; probably won’t happen ที่ไม่น่าจะเกิดขึ้น
stabilise – to reach a state where there are no longer any major changes or problems  ทำให้มีเสถียรภาพ
inject – to force something into something ฉีด
replace – to put something new in place of something old  นำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน
procedure – a way of doing something  ขั้นตอนการดำเนินการ
last-ditch – an effort or attempt which is made at the end of a series of failures to solve a problem, and is not expected to succeed ที่สุดท้าย, ที่ทำครั้งสุดท้าย
measure – an action that is intended to achieve or deal with something มาตราการ
render – make or cause to be ทำให้
authorities – people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
declare – to announce officially that something is true or happening ประกาศ
zone – an area that has an important or typical feature; an area where a particular activity is allowed or not allowed พื้นที่, บริเวณ, เขต
exclusion zone – an area where people are not allowed to enter เขตห้ามเข้า
radius – a particular distance in all directions from a central point รัศมี
elderly – (of people) old สูงวัย, อาวุโส, อายุมาก
severe – very serious and unpleasant รุนแรง
dementia – a serious mental disorder caused by brain disease or injury, that affects the ability to think, remember and behave normally  ภาวะสมองเสื่อม
trapped – to be in a dangerous or unpleasant situation from which it is difficult or impossible to escape ถูกกับดัก
submerge – to cause to be under water  ทำให้จมน้ำ ทำให้อยู่ใต้น้ำ
torrent – large amounts of liquid flowing rapidly and violently กระแสน้ำเชี่ยว,การไหลพุ่
nightmare – an extremely unpleasant event or experience or possible event or experience; a very upsetting or frightening dream ฝันร้าย
rescuer – a person who save someone from a dangerous or unpleasant situation ผู้ช่วยชีวิต
bid – an attempt to do something ความพยายาม
dependent – needing somebody/something in order to survive or be successful ที่ต้องพึ่งพิง
refinery – a factory where a substance such as oil is refined (= made pure)  โรงกลั่น
critical – extremely important because a future situation will be affected by it สำคัญยิ่ง
forecast – a statement about what will happen in the future based on information available now พยากรณ์
Pacific Ring of Fire – an area around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanoes happen often
continental plate – one of the large surfaces making up the earth's surface that has broken apart form other surfaces, which is made of rock and move very slowly แผ่นเปลือกโลก
grind – to break or crush something into very small pieces between two hard surfaces บด, ขยี้   
enormous – extremely large มหาศาล
seismic – connected with or caused by earthquakes เกี่ยวกับแผ่นดินไหว
pressure – a force pressing against you  ความกดดัน

Monday evening update

A soldier pulls a rubber boat carrying evacuated people at Ishinomaki city in Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011. AFP


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