European stocks fall on Japan quake

BRUSSELS, March 14 (UPI) -- European stocks fell Monday because of the disaster in Japan, with many European companies flying out their employees from the country hit a triple blow of an earthquake, a tsunami and severe nuclear accidents.

European shares dropped Monday for a fourth consecutive day, with insurers, for example Germany's Allianz, and re-insurers, such as Munich Re, also from Germany, hardest hit.


Eon and RWE, two German utilities operating nuclear power plants in Asia also lost share value in German and European trading after several countries announced they would re-evaluate their stance on nuclear power.

Japanese authorities estimate that around 10,000 people may have been killed after the earthquake and a following tsunami. The United States, several European nations and China are amount countries that have offered humanitarian assistance and in some instances sent search-and-rescue teams and radiation experts to Japan. Many citizens from European countries are missing, although they may have relocated further south, away from the regions affected worst, officials have said.

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Three nuclear reactors were damaged by the natural disasters and have seen explosions and breakdowns of their cooling systems in the days since. There are fears of a nuclear meltdown and a release of radiation.


The Japanese government has evacuated hundreds of thousands of people from the region and Western authorities are following suit.

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and two other U.S. ships have been ordered farther away from the affected nuclear power plants after low levels of radiation were detected, U.S. Navy officials said Monday.

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Several large corporations, including German car maker BMW, have evacuated their employees in Japan. This comes after Japan's Toyota, the world's largest car maker, said it would close its Japanese plants until at least Wednesday.

Japan's central bank Monday decided to pump some $220 billion in cash into the market to help calm the Japanese economy, the world's third-largest, which is expected to take a dive in the near future -- not least because the power supply in the northeast has been disrupted by the accidents.

Security experts have called on Western nations to invest more in safety of their own energy infrastructure to prevent outages and possible human harm.

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Germany on Monday suspended for three months a decision to prolong the lifetime of its 17 reactors in favor of a thorough safety check and risk analysis.

While Germany, just as most of the rest of Europe, doesn't usually see much seismic activity, authorities have pointed to the danger of extremist attacks that could disrupt or even destroy reactors.


Merkel on Monday indicated that such events would be tackled in the new risk analysis.

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"There will be no taboos," she said.

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