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Explosion heard at Fukushima No2. reactor

Posted by arnon_k On March - 15 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says an explosion was heard early Tuesday morning at the No.2 reactor of the disaster-hit Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant.

Agency officials told reporters that the blast was heard at 6:10 AM local time on Tuesday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano earlier told a news conference that a reactor facility, called the suppression pool, has been damaged.

But agency officials said they have no detailed information yet about the report.

They said that depending on where the damage is done, either liquid or air could leak out of the suppression pool.

The suppression pool is linked to the reactor containment vessel and is designed to prevent radioactive material from leaking outside.

Experts say a breach to this crucial facility has raised the possibility of a radioactive leak.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency also said that nuclear fuel rods inside the No.2 reactor are exposed above water by about 2.7 meters. That’s about half the length of the fuel rods.

Agency officials said that radiation levels around the nuclear power plant reached 965.5 microsieverts following the explosive sound.

They say the figure later dropped slightly to 882 microsieverts.

The officials said they believe the rise in radiation level is due to the breach in the suppression pool, but that they cannot say for sure. They said they are monitoring the situation closely.

The officials added that the monitored level of radiation would not immediately pose a health threat.

Tokyo Electric Power Company that operates the power station briefly evacuated workers from the facility following the sound of the blast.

Analysts foresee minimal impact on SET

Posted by arnon_k On March - 14 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Thai stocks are expected to see little impact from Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, according to local analysts.

While a full damage assessment remains weeks away, casualties are expected to rise into the thousands, with property damage reaching tens of billions of dollars.

The SET index on Friday fell 14 points or 1.19% to close at 1,007.06, in trade worth 28.55 billion baht.

Warut Siwasariyanon, deputy managing director of Finansia Syrus Securities, said sentiment would continue to be poor because of several negative factors. The worst are the disaster in Japan, civil war in Libya and political unrest in the Middle East.

“The market is waiting to see how the US president will eventually react toward Libya’s leader,” he said.

Other negative factors include renewed worries about European debt, following the downgrade by Moodys Investors Services of Spain’s credit rating.

Mr Warut expects the SET index to drop this week to trade within a range of 980 and 990 points.

“There should be a decline in the stock market as investors are likely to cut their risks for the short term,” he said.

On Friday, shares of Thai Airways International dropped by 4.22% to close at 39.75 baht, in trade worth 276.06 million baht. All flights to Japan were temporarily cancelled.

Pichai Lertsupongkit, vice-president of Thanachart Securities, said the impact of events in Japan on the SET should be limited as Japanese investors were not large players on the Thai bourse.

However, he said the impact on direct investment could be huge given the number of Japanese companies and plants in Thailand.

Some of their production could be delayed for a short period if they rely on parts from Japan.

Longer-term, some Japanese manufacturers may be considering new locations for plants outside their own country in order to reduce the risk of exposure to natural disasters.

“However, it is too early to say how much impact this sad incident will have on Japan’s economy,” said Mr Pichai. “However, looking back at the huge quake in Kobe in 1995, the Japanese took almost a decade to restore the destroyed industrial district.”

Sectors that are likely to temporarily benefit from demand for basic goods following the quake include coal and food.

Parin Kitjathornpitak, research manager at Fareast Securities, also believes the SET index should not be strongly affected by the Japanese disaster as Japanese investors has a limited presence in Thai equities.

“The SET had already discounted the disaster last Friday,” he said.

“If there is no big damage, the SET should rebound to 1,030 points, while the support level is around 1,000 points,” he added.

Japan quake may be world’s costliest disaster

Posted by arnon_k On March - 14 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

(CNN) — The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan will rank among the costliest natural disasters on record, experts predict.

Japan’s central bank announced plans Monday to inject a record 15 trillion yen ($183 billion) into the economy to reassure global investors in the stability of Japanese financial markets and banks. The Bank of Japan also earmarked an additional 5 trillion yen ($61 billion) in aid for risky assets in an effort to bolster market confidence shaken by the disaster.

Still, Japanese markets dropped sharply on Monday, the first trading day since the disaster. The benchmark Nikkei 225 was down more than 6.2%.

The drop was the largest single day fall since December 2008 during the financial crisis.

The disaster comes at a difficult time for the fragile Japanese economy, which slipped to the world’s third largest behind China in 2010. Japan’s export-driven business was hit by the financial crisis and a strong yen, which hurt profits from sales abroad.
The rebuilding from the quake also will add to Japan’s towering load of public debt; it is nearly twice the size of its total GDP and the highest in the developed world. S&P downgraded Japan’s long-term credit ratings in January, citing its high fiscal deficits.

The TOPIX futures index halted trading around 9 a.m. for 15 minutes as trading quickly spiralled down. “The stoppage was a result of a circuit breaker mechanism, triggered “if shares fall beyond a specific range,” said Andrew Wong of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Losses from the disaster will total at least $100 billion, including $20 billion in damage to residences and $40 billion in damage to infrastructure such as roads, rail and port facilities, catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat estimated, according to CNNMoney.
Another firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated that losses covered by insurance could reach between $15 billion and $35 billion from the earthquake alone, CNNMoney said. It did not estimate losses from the tsunami or the damage to the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan.

“If claims come in at the middle of that range, the cost of the disaster would surpass all other natural disasters besides 2005’s Hurricane Katrina,” according to a Barclay’s Capital research note released Monday. “Katrina losses cost the insurance industry around US$45 billion.”
Stocks from automotive giant Toyota fell more than 8%, while Nissan fell 9% and Honda dropped more than 6%.

Toyota shut production at manufacturing plants and affiliated suppliers nationwide until end of day Wednesday.

“We are placing priority on making sure that we are supporting the relief efforts in the region affected and ensuring the safety of all our employees,” said Dion Corbett, Toyota spokesperson.

Toshiba Corp., maker of nuclear power plants, fell more than 16% as concerns escalated at several nuclear power plants in the aftermath of Japan’s largest quake on record and powerful tsunami.

Tokio Marine Holdings, the insurer, fell more than 12%.

Miyagi Prefecture, the area hardest hit by the earthquake, makes up about 1.7% of the population of Japan and accounts roughly for the same amount of the nation’s total economic output, said Richard Jerram, an analyst at Macquarie Research. By contrast, the area struck by the 1994 Kobe earthquake “made up almost 4.0% of (Japan’s) GDP and the importance of its port and its geographic position between Osaka and Western Japan meant that the disruption was significant,” Jerram said.

Still, the rolling power blackouts, looming nuclear problems and damage to infrastructure add uncertainty to predicting the total impact to one of the world’s largest economies. “It’s very hard to make a forward-looking assessment, because you just don’t know,” Jerram said.

Cabinet approves B200m aid for Japan

Posted by arnon_k On March - 14 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

The cabinet approved a 200 million baht budget for providing assistance to victims of the earthquake and subsequent tsunamis that have devastated northeast Japan, and will send a medical team and supplies to help rescue efforts.

The cabinet met on Monday to approve a budget for relief and rescue assistance in Japan.

The 200 million baht is for “administrative costs”.

It resolved to send 10,000 tonnes of Jasmine rice and 5,000 tonnes of glutinous rice to Japan, a team of medical personnel and medical supplies.

Before the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said a proposal to send cooked food to help tsunami victims in Japan would also be discussed during the meeting.

Mr Suthep said the south of Thailand, hit by a tsunami on Dec 26, 2004, now had a good warning system. Tsunami warning towers had been installed along the beaches.

However, evacuation drills need to be held regularly in the region, he added.