TOKYO — A massive tsunami that crippled a nuclear power plant also killed two workers there, the Japanese operator announced Sunday, confirming the first deaths at the complex.
The two workers – a 21-year-old and a 24-year-old – had been missing since a massive March 11 earthquake spawned the wave, but their bodies were discovered only last week. Engineers have been scrambling to restore power to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in order to restart cooling systems and stabilize dangerously overheating reactors.
"It pains me that these two young workers were trying to protect the power plant while being hit by the earthquake and tsunami," Tokyo Electric Power Co. Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said in a statement.
The announcement of the death was delayed out of consideration for the families, said Naoki Tsunoda, a spokesman for TEPCO.
The men sustained multiple external injuries and are believed to have died from blood loss, Tsunoda said. Their bodies had to be decontaminated because radiation has been spewing from the plant over the past three weeks.
On Saturday, authorities said a source of at least some of the radiation was determined when a crack in a maintenance pit was found. Water was still spilling into the Pacific from the crack on Sunday after attempts to seal it with concrete failed.