They are known as the "Fukushima 50."

In what some experts are calling a "suicide mission," the 50 are the brave workers at Japan's crippled nuclear power plant who have stayed behind in an attempt to avoid a complete meltdown.

There are actually 180 workers remaining at the plant. They got their name because workers are rotated into the contaminated area 50 at a time.

Their main task is to stop the reactors from over-heating, which could cause spent fuel rods to spew radiation into the air. The workers have already been exposed to radiation, which if it doesn't kill them, could leave them with serious health problems for the rest of their lives, says a report in London's Daily Mail.

By all accounts, the unidentified workers understand their fate.

An email from the daughter of one worker was read on Japan's national television, saying, "My father is still working at the plant ... they are running out of food...we think conditions are really tough. He says he has accepted his fate much like a death sentence."

The wife of another worker said her husband knows he is being bombarded with radiation. He sent her an email saying, "Please continue to live well, I cannot be home for a while."

Another email: "'My dad went to the nuclear plant, I've never seen my mother cry so hard. People at the plant are struggling, sacrificing themselves to protect you. Please dad come back alive."

One piece of good news on Thursday -- the Associated Press reports that a power line that would restore electricity to the plant is nearly complete. That would revive the power pumps which cool the rods, thus avoiding a meltdown.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said the line is almost complete. Officials plan to try it "as soon as possible" but he could not say when.