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US ship crew exposed to radiation

world Updated: Mar 14, 2011 12:47 IST

A US aircraft carrier sailing in the Pacific ocean went through a radioactive cloud from nuclear reactors in Japan that were damaged in a massive earthquake, a media report said.

New York Times quoted government officials as saying on Sunday that aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan travelled through a radioactive cloud from nuclear reactors in Japan. It caused crew members on deck to receive a month’s worth of radiation in about an hour.

American helicopters that were flying about 60 miles north of the damaged reactors were coated with particulate radiation that had to be washed off.

In Japan's Fukushima city, six people were injured Monday after an explosion at a nuclear reactor.

The city is home to 10 reactors at two power plants, and explosions have occurred at two of the reactors since Friday's magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami. One happened on Saturday and the second on Monday after a magnitude-6.2 aftershock.

The toll in the disaster is expected to cross 10,000.

A senior official said that the US had "hypothetical plots" for worst-case plume dispersal.

Annika Thunborg, a spokeswoman for an arm of the UN that monitors increase in radioactivity, said that for now, the winds over Japan were blowing eastward across the Pacific.

"At this point, we have not picked up anything" in detectors midway between Japan and Hawaii.

"We’re talking a couple of days - nothing before Tuesday - in terms of picking something up," NYT quoted Thunborg as saying.

The issue of plume had arisen in 1986 when radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine spread around the globe on winds and reached the US West Coast in 10 days.