TOKYO, May 11 (UPI) -- Workers at Japan's damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant are making progress towards restoring normal cooling, Tokyo Electric Power said Wednesday.
It has been two months since a massive earthquake and tsunami March 11 knocked out Fukushima's cooling systems, CNN reported.
Huge quantities of radioactive material spewed from the plant, prompting Japan to declare the accident a top-scale event on the international rating system for nuclear disasters.
Early last month Tokyo Electric announced a plan to bring the nuclear crisis to an end by restoring normal cooling systems and fully shutting down the reactors.
The winding down of the crisis comes as thousands of area residents await news about radiation levels.
Nearly 80,000 people who lived in a 12-mile zone around the plant had to be evacuated.
Tens of thousands more are awaiting orders to evacuate towns further away when radiation levels there rise.
A Japanese government spokesman said residents of several cities and towns outside the 12-mile zone were told to be ready to move by mid-May.
In the city of Fukushima, top utility executives got on their hands and knees and begged residents for forgiveness Tuesday.
No deaths have been attributed to the Fukushima accident but the earthquake and tsunami killed nearly 15,000 residents while more than 10,000 are still missing, police said.
Japan is marking the two-month anniversary of the earthquake with a moment of silence.