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Fukui Prefecture held an emergency drill Thursday to prepare for possible simultaneous accidents at local nuclear plants of Kansai Electric Power Co. during the coronavirus pandemic.

This was Japan’s first evacuation drill involving multiple municipalities based on the scenario that a nuclear accident had occurred in an area hit by a coronavirus outbreak, according to the Fukui Prefectural Government.

In the day’s drill, participants acted on the scenario that water injections into the No. 3 reactor at the Oi plant and the No. 4 reactor at the Takahama plant had stopped due to a loss of external power following an earthquake in the Wakasa Bay measuring lower 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale.

Around 50 residents took part in the town of Oi.

About 30 of them evacuated by bus to Tsuruga, also in Fukui Prefecture. They were seated apart inside the bus to keep socially distanced, while Ground Self-Defense Force personnel demonstrated how to prevent droplet infections with plastic bags.

The rest of the participating Oi residents practiced an indoor evacuation within the town.

Participants had their temperatures taken at mock evacuation centers. Partitions were used to create special areas for people who have come into close contact with coronavirus carriers.

“I wonder what will happen if any evacuee is found to have a fever in temperature checks,” said a 31-year-old employee of an organization in Oi who participated in the drill.

Participants sit on a bus in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, on Thursday as part of a drill for evacuation in the event of a nuclear accident during the coronavirus pandemic. | KYODO
Participants sit on a bus in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, on Thursday as part of a drill for evacuation in the event of a nuclear accident during the coronavirus pandemic. | KYODO

“Now I know what it would be like” if a nuclear disaster happens, a 28-year-old local fisherman said, adding he was participating in such a drill for the first time.

Last year’s nuclear disaster drill in the prefecture drew about 1,000 residents and 1,800 members of some 100 organizations, including the prefectural government and the SDF.

The prefecture scaled down the drill this year due to the COVID-19 crisis, with around 50 residents and 300 members of some 40 organizations participating.

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