"We are making progress … (but) we shouldn’t be too optimistic," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy-general at Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency.
Technicians attached a power cable to the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, hoping to restore electricity later in the day prior to an attempt to switch the pumps on.
They aim to reach No. 3 and 4 soon after that.
If successful, that could be a turning point in a crisis rated as bad as America’s 1979 Three Mile Island accident.
If not, drastic measures may be required such as burying the plant in sand and concrete, as happened at Chernobyl in 1986, though experts warn that could take many months and the fuel had to be cooled first.
On the negative side, evidence has begun emerging of radiation leaks from the plant, including into food and water.
Police said they believed more than 15,000 people had been killed by the double disaster in Miyagi prefecture, one of four that took the brunt of the tsunami damage. In total, almost 12,000 people are missing in the northeast, where the confirmed death toll stood at more than 7,600.
Read the rest of the story: Japan makes progress in nuclear crisis; quake toll rises.