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Radiation contagion fear sees Japan's evacuees turned away

Meanwhile, the IAEA says radiation levels beyond the Fukushima plant evacuation zone are higher than the IAEA’s criteria for evacuation.

The search for bodies continues in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, 29 March 2011.
The search for bodies continues in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, 29 March 2011.
Image: Kyodo/AP/PA

HUNDREDS OF EVACUEES from the stricken Fukushima region are reportedly being turned away by medical institutions and emergency shelters out of fear of “radioactive contagion”.

Evacuees are being asked to provide certificates proving they have not been exposed to radiation before being admitted to hospital or emergency shelters, the Telegraph reports.

Meanwhile, officials say that new readings show radiation levels continue to rise outside the plant and the UN’s atomic agency the IAEA said high levels of radiation were found 25 miles away - outside the exclusion zone.

The IAEA said radiation levels in Iitate village, which has not been evacuated, are higher than its criteria for evaucation.

It said that the latest tests on food show that radiation contamination was either not detected at all or found in very low levels.

Spokesperson for Japan’s nuclear safety agency NISA, Hidehiko Nishiyama, said that officials need more time to assess the situation but they are considering asking people who are within the voluntary exclusion zone (between 12 and 20 miles from the plant)  to leave.

Although officials have told people that seafood is perfectly safe to eat, fresh fish has reportedly been selling poorly as consumers favour frozen fish which may have been caught before the earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima plant earlier this month.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said that the Fukushima plant must be scrapped as soon as possible. However, officials have said there is no timeline for when the crisis might be brought under control.

Over 11,000 bodies have been recovered so far following the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, but police believe thousands more have died and are continuing to search for bodies.

- Additional reporting from the AP

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