Though Japanese military helicopters have been dumping water on an overheating nuclear plant on Thursday, the United States has expressed growing alarm about leaking radiation and said it was sending aircraft to help Americans leave the country, and there are increasingly gloomy predictions of the longer-term effects of the ‘quake on Japanese automakers’ operations overseas, at least Mitsubishi plans to build cars in three plants on day shift Friday.

According to Reuters, engineers at the Daiichi plant in Fukushima tried to run power from the main grid to start water pumps needed to cool two reactors and spent fuel rods considered to pose the biggest risk of spewing radioactivity into the atmosphere as Tokyo faced possible widespread powercuts.

Toyota Electric Power Board officials this morning at a press conference explained the problems they were facing to restore electric power supply and get sufficient water into the plant.

“This is a very severe situation,” they said through an interpreter. Cooling the fuel and keeping containment vessels “sound” were the top priorities.

Reuters’ full report is here.

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