Monday, March 14, 2011

Japanese Tsunami: Fukushima No 3 reactor building explosion

An explosion rocked an earthquake-hit nuclear plant Monday, as Japan struggled to avert a catastrophic reactor meltdown caused by a quake and tsunami feared to have killed more than 10,000.

A new tsunami scare triggered evacuations on the devastated northeast coast after a large wave was spotted rolling in to shore, but authorities said they had detected no sign of a tsunami or a quake that would have caused it.

Japan has been battling to control two overheating reactors at the ageing Fukushima plant after the cooling systems were knocked out by Friday's 8.9-magnitude quake and the resulting tsunami that swallowed up whole towns.

Shortly after Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the plant was still in an "alarming" state, a blast at its number-three reactor shook the facility and sent plumes of smoke billowing into the sky.

The plant's operator TEPCO said that nine people were injured in the blast, which authorities said was probably a hydrogen explosion.

The chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said TEPCO reported that the reactor was probably undamaged and there was a low possibility of a major radiation leak at the plant, 250 kilometres (160 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

Another explosion blew apart the building surrounding the plant's number-one reactor on Saturday but the seal around the reactor itself remained intact.

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