Nearly two weeks of rolling blackouts, distribution problems and contamination fears prompted by a leaking, tsunami-damaged nuclear plant have left shelves stripped bare of some basic necessities in stores across Tokyo. Some people are even turning to the city’s ubiquitous vending machines to find increasingly scarce bottles of water.
At the source of the anxiety – the overheated, radiation-leaking nuclear plant – there was yet another setback Thursday as two workers were injured when they stepped into radiation-contaminated water. The two were treated at a hospital.
Supplies of bottled water grew scarce in Tokyo, one day after city officials warned that the level of radioactive iodine in the tap water was more than twice what is considered safe for babies to drink. Tests conducted Thursday showed the levels in the city’s water fell to acceptable limits for infants, but they were up in neighboring regions.
Frightened Tokyo residents hoping to stock up on bottled water and other goods flocked to shops across the city, some of which tried to prevent hoarding by imposing buying limits.
“The first thought was that I need to buy bottles of water,” said Reiko Matsumoto, a real estate agent and mother of a 5-year-old, who rushed to a nearby store to stock up on supplies. “I also don’t know whether I can let her take a bath.”
The shortages were mainly limited to basic staples, such as rice, instant noodles and milk. Vegetables, meat and tofu, meanwhile, were readily available in most places.