Journalists sent to Japan freaked out by radiation

KTLA's Frank Buckley wasn't the only visiting foreign journalist to parachute into Japan after the earthquake then want to quickly get out once the story became about nuclear radiation. From Hannah Beech of Time, posted today:

One by one, they cracked. One European journalist abandoned his fuel-empty rental car in Fukushima, panicking at the prospect of staying a minute longer in the capital of the prefecture where the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was leaking radiation into the air. Another swathed himself in a raincoat and duct tape before fleeing the area a few hours later. Still another just started hurtling West in a car, even as the other journalists in the vehicle pleaded for him to stop and let them off so they could continue reporting. A couple hours later, he finally halted the car; by then, they were in another prefecture....

Many of the foreign reporters covering the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami had seen plenty of death and destruction before coming to Japan. But what has so unnerved many journalists this time is an enemy that is odorless, colorless and tasteless....The rumors blew wild and unsubstantiated, especially in an area where phone and Internet services were limited by the natural disaster. A wire photographer, we heard, had been near the crippled plant area and was found with abnormal levels of radiation on his body. But was it three times or 30 times the normal amount? And what did that mean, anyway?

Soon, news organizations and photo agencies began pulling their staff out of the area around Sendai, the earthquake and tsunami zone's biggest city that is around 100 km from the damaged reactor site. The evacuation of one media group catalyzed the next, emptying out hotels once so packed that journalists were sleeping in the lobby.

While some journalists have left, Beech wrItes, others are sticking it out.

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