BBC News

What the papers say


Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at what is making the headlines in Wednesday's newspapers.

"Exodus from Tokyo", says the main headline in the Sun. "A nation in the grip of nuclear panic", says the Daily Mail, while the Irish Times says Japan's leaders are struggling to allay fears of meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The Guardian says panic is spreading, while the Times reports that technicians are putting together what it calls "a desperate-sounding plan" to douse the reactor with water from aircraft. In a graphic illustration of the wider effects, it says the appearance of an ashen-faced Prime Minister on television wiped trillions of Yen from the Tokyo stock market.

The paper claims the authorities have repeatedly underestimated the dangers of a radioactive leak.

The News Letter has a front page picture of Yoriko Marshall, who lives in Carrickfergus, wiping away tears as she looks at photographs taken recently when she visited her family in Japan.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with the words of local man Damien Okado Gough, who lives in an area of southern Japan which contains 55 nuclear reactors. He says he may return to Northern Ireland if the nuclear threat gets any worse.

The Times reports from Minami Sanriku, a town which the paper's correspondent says now exists only on the sat-nav system in his car. Until last Friday, he says this was a contented and unambitious port, with paddy fields on the outskirts and a thick local accent. But all of that is gone forever. It is hard to believe, he says, that anywhere could be worse affected by the tsunami.

The Independent reports on the stoicism of the survivors. There are no hysterical outbursts, it says, just an endless stream of quiet, desperate grief.

The Daily Mirror says whole areas of the country have been returned to the dark ages. It adds that young and old alike are sick with fear waiting for nature's next move. In much of Tokyo, only the beggars remain on the streets because they have no other choice.

The Irish Independent and the Irish News are the only two papers without a mention of the tragedy on their front pages. The Irish Independent reports on a meeting between the new finance minister in the Republic, Michael Noonan, and the head of the International Monetary Fund. The paper describes it as a crunch meeting as the government tries to re-negotiate the terms of Ireland's financial bailout.

The Irish News leads instead with efforts to introduce healthier eating in schools. It says that despite a radical drive to improve the diets of pupils, the majority of schools are ignoring the guildelines and continuing to sell crisps and sweets in tuck shops.

The Daily Mail reports on the dog who's having difficulty adapting to a new culture. Henri, the black labrador who's just moved to Yorkshire from France.

His owner, Craig Burton, tells the newspaper that not only does the dog not understand English, but French commands have to be delivered in a particular accent if he is to obey them. He says he recently left Henri with his father while he was on a business trip, and the dog ignored him the whole time, despite the use of a French phrase book.