As we went to press on Wednesday afternoon, we heard differing accounts of the continuing horrific events in Japan – and all were deeply troubling.

The New York Times reported that two reactor units “at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan may have ruptured and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam.”

Also on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg News, Guenther Oettinger, the European Union energy commissioner, “testified to an EU Parliament committee” that “[w]e are somewhere between a disaster and a major disaster.”

Elsewhere he was quoted as saying, “In the coming hours there could be further catastrophic events, which could pose a threat to the lives of people on the island” and “[t]here is as yet no panic, but Tokyo with 35 million people, is the largest metropolis in the world.”

While his spokesperson denied that those statements were based on privileged information, they were undeniably chilling. Whatever the world may be like on Friday, when this page is read, Japan has been gravely harmed – thousands dead, cities and villages destroyed, and the threat of dangerous radiation. That last seems increasingly likely – and surely doubly frightening for a people who have already lived through nuclear horror.

We grieve for the people of Japan, the victims and the survivors, and remind our readers that if ever there was a time to share their wealth with those in need, it is now. For ways to give, see page 23.