Fukushima underwater drone hunts for missing nuclear fuel (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Fukushima underwater drone hunts for missing nuclear fuel (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Energy company Tepco has published photos and video from an underwater drone sent into the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant to locate the melted fuel debris from inside its No.3 reactor, one of those which melted down during the 2011 disaster.

The facility is located 10 meters (33ft) above sea level with the water inside reactor 3 still high enough (6.4 meters) to warrant the use of an underwater drone. The remote-controlled robot entered the facility through a pipe at approximately 6:30am Wednesday morning. 

(Video courtesy of Tokyo Electric Power Company/International Decommissioning Research and Development Organization (IRID))

Radiation levels remain extraordinarily high inside the reactor and both the condition and location of the nuclear fuel remain unknown.

Depending on the data collected from Wednesday's expedition, another mission with the drone, dubbed ‘Little Sunfish,’ will be launched Friday to delve even deeper into the containment vessel, reports Japan Today.  

Repeated attempts to ascertain the whereabouts of melted fuel debris in reactors one and two from January to March of this year were unsuccessful and have hampered the already decades-long mission to decontaminate the plant.

On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit the six-reactor plant causing units 1-3 to melt down in the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis.

Up to 40,000 people fled Fukushima after the meltdown and 123,168 remain displaced, according to the latest figures for the National Police Agency, as cited by Xinhua.