After Japan’s quake and tsunami, freezing weather threatens relief efforts. Many of those hit by the disaster lack blankets, food and fuel, raising fears of a quiet but deadly humanitarian crisis

The worst nuclearaccident since the Chernobyl explosion in 1986 is unfolding in northern Japan at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.  Three reactors have been critically damaged and one  caught fire.  Photo: New York Times

Freezing winds, hail storms and thick snow are the latest threats to 430,000 beleaguered survivors of northern Japan’s week-long cascade of disasters. After a massive earthquake, devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis, many people made homeless are now facing icy weather, with temperatures forecast to plunge to –5C (23F).