The so-called "Fukushima 50" -- a group of about 300 technicians, soldiers and firemen who have been working in shifts of 50 at Japan's troubled plant -- are being viewed globally as heroes, preventing the world's second-worst nuclear calamity from escalating into a full-blown meltdown.
Although the Japanese government has tried to keep the identities and details of Fukushima's workers under wraps, a series of e-mail threads has emerged which sheds new, albeit dismal, light onto the anonymous pack, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
"I just wanted people to understand that there are many people fighting under harsh circumstances in the nuclear plants," one anonymous Tokyo Electric Power worker writes. "Crying is useless. If we're in hell now all we can do is to crawl up towards heaven."
Another worker spoke of the devastating working conditions, and said he was still unsure of his parents' whereabouts in the wake of the tsunami:
"I myself have had to stay in the disaster measurement headquarters the entire time ever since the earthquake occurred, and have been fighting alongside my colleagues without any sleep or rest," he writes.
"Everyone is away from their hometown and does not know when they can return. We don't know who to turn to and direct our concern and anger...everyone has lost everything -- their home, their job, their school, their friends, their families. Who could stand this reality?"
Communication with the workers inside the nuclear plant has been nearly impossible, though as CBS reported, officials say the workers -- who have been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation -- are not afraid to die.
Other survivors face another sobering reality: radiation within 12 miles of the leaking nuclear plant has prevented the recovery of about 1,000 victims, Kyodo News reports. Yet even after the bodies are handed over to the victims' families, interment remains another problem, as cremation could spread plumes containing radioactive materials, while burying the victims could contaminate the soil around them.