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Japan

Fukushima Disaster A Decade Later: This Happened, March 11

One of the most striking photographs of the destruction caused by the tsunami that struck Japan and set off the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Fukushima Disaster A Decade Later: This Happened, March 11

Today marks 10 years since an earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated Fukushima in Japan, killing 18,000 people, destroying towns and triggering the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

At 2:46 pm, the strongest Japanese earthquake ever recorded struck off the northern coast and created monstrous waves up to 16 meters high. On detecting the earthquake, the active reactors automatically shut down, which sparked the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, at the time one of the largest nuclear power plants in the world. The explosions of the reactors released large quantities of radiation that contaminated a vast area of northern Japan.

A decade later, the deep scar left by the disaster is still visible. While the Japanese government has spent about $300 billion to rebuild the region, some areas still remain inaccessible due to radioactivity and some 40,000 people are still displaced. The government is also still working on decommissioning the wrecked plant and decontaminating water and waste — a daunting task which officials say will take another 30 to 40 years.

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The potential sabotage has raised the question of the vulnerabilities of European pipelines

Christian Bueger

Whatever caused the damage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, it appears to be the first major attack on critical “subsea” (underwater) infrastructure in Europe. It’s now widely thoughtnot least by Nato – that the explosions that led to major leaks in the two pipelines were not caused by accidents.

The alliance says they were a deliberate act of sabotage.

The attacks occurred in the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden and demonstrate the risks that Europe’s subsea infrastructures are facing. This raises the question of the vulnerabilities of European pipelines, electricity and internet cables, and other maritime infrastructure. Europe will have to revisit its policies for protecting them.

But it is still unclear how the attacks were carried out. The investigations will probably take months to complete. Still, there are two likely scenarios.

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