Japan expands nuclear evacuation zone to 20 km

April 21, 2011 09:34

TOKYO - Japan said on Thursday it would ban people entering the 20-km (12-mile) evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant north of Tokyo, weeks after the tsunami-wrecked facility began leaking radiation.

Tens of thousands of people left the zone after the March 11 quake smashed the power station, operated by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), but some have since returned to their homes to collect belongings as the utility struggles to contain the world's most serious nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference that as of midnight on Thursday, people will only be allowed into the zone under government supervision.

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