Before and after photos of the earthquake and tsunami disaster area. It's like an atomic bomb went off.
They're talking about tens of thousands of dead now. Thousands of bodies have already washed ashore. At least 200,000 people are homeless, their homes too damaged to return to, or simply not existing anymore.
Meanwhile, some nuclear reactors are threatening to melt down. Indeed, probably already have partially melted, thanks to incompetence on the part of its operators, Curly-san, Larry-san, and Moe-san, who, for example, let the diesel engines on their fire suppression system (what they were using to cool the reactors down) run out of fuel because, apparently, it didn't occur to them that the engines needed fuel (doh!). Just one example of the incompetence of the plant operators (letting hydrogen build up in the containment buildings so that they could explode was another one). The good news there is that these reactors have killed no (zero) people, and are unlikely to do so -- every passing hour they're that much cooler, as the more intense radioisotopes decay leaving less intense ones behind. The reactors are scrammed -- their control rods are in place, stopping the U-235 from actively fissioning -- what you're seeing now is residual heat that will eventually all be dissipated.
Which makes me wonder why there's such a focus on these reactors -- which have killed nobody, remember. I guess it's because of that word "nuclear" scares the crap out of people, because they think of explosions, mushroom clouds, that kind of thing. But in this case there's not going to be any explosion -- the uranium inside these reactors is not capable of exploding. It's only 5% enriched at most, which won't even fizzle. What you could get out of these reactors *if* they completely melted down would be radioactive steam (with short-lived isotopes from the radiation interacting with H20) as the melted control rods fell down onto the concrete floor of the containment building... because they were light-water reactors rather than graphite-moderated reactors like Chernobyl, you won't get the plume of heavier longer-lived radioactive carbon compounds that Chernobyl generated.
Back in the real world, on the other hand, some people in the far north of Japan are still cut off and rescuers haven't gotten there yet and are in *real* danger. Let's hope for their safety. This is winter in Japan, and Japan is pretty far north, in case you haven't noticed...
-- Badtux the Disaster Penguin