Japan has ordered Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to pay compensation to families affected by the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
According to the BBC, about 48 000 families who lived within 30km (18 miles) of the Fukushima Daiichi plant will be eligible. The compensation is described as provisional, with more details to be announced later. The plant operator, Tepco, is still trying to stabilize the nuclear facility.
"Tepco is to make an urgent and speedy payment in order to compensate for the losses incurred by evacuation and orders to stay indoors," said chief government spokesman Yukio Edano.
"The basic idea is that one household will receive 1m yen ($12 000). We think that such an amount is necessary as a provisional payment," he said.
The BBC's correspondent in Tokyo, Roland Buerk, says the payments are the first of what is likely to be a massive compensation bill. JP Morgan has estimated Tepco may face claims of up to 2 trn yen by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, work to stabilize the nuclear plant is continuing. Engineers are pumping water into three reactors to cool fuel rods after cooling systems were knocked out by the quake and tsunami.
They have discharged waste water with low levels of radioactivity into the sea to make room to store more highly contaminated waste water on site. Water needs to be removed from the basements of reactors 1, 2, and 3 before vital work on the cooling systems can begin.
On Thursday Tepco said that water levels in the basement of reactor 2 were continuing to rise, even as some was being pumped to storage.
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