Sept. 5 (UPI) — The Japanese government reported Wednesday the first official death attributed to the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant seven years ago.
The accident occurred at the plant after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in March 2011. Workers at the plant had previously been sickened, but Wednesday’s announcement specified the first related death.
The announcement was made by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Officials said the worker died from radiation poisoning. He was in his 50s and had worked at Japanese nuclear plants for decades. He was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago.
The Fukushima meltdown is considered the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in the then-Soviet Union in April 1986.
About 18,500 people were killed by the quake and its resulting tsunami, and over 160,000 were forced from their homes. Dozens died after they were forced to evacuate to another hospital.
A year ago, three former executives of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operated the Fukushima plant, were charged with professional negligence in connection with the hospital evacuation. Their trial has not reached a conclusion.
In March, a Japanese court ordered the government to pay $1 million in damages for disaster, ruling it chould have predicted and avoided the meltdown.