Saturday, March 12, 2011
An explosion has been reported at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after its cooling system was damaged by a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit off the North-East coast of Japan on Friday. The explosion occurred at around 3:00pm local time (6:00am UTC). According to the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, four workers were injured in the explosion.
The explosion occurred as workers were attempting to cool a reactor by injecting water into its core. Local media are reporting that the plant’s exterior walls have been destroyed and only a skeleton structure remains.
More than 45,000 residents within a 10-kilometre radius of the plant have been evacuated.
Television reports show white smoke coming from the plant. Local authorities are warning residents in the vicinity of the plant to stay indoors, turn off air-conditioners and not to drink tap water. According to Japan’s nuclear agency, radioactive caesium and iodine has been identified at the plant. Authorities speculate that this indicates that containers holding uranium fuel at the site may have ruptured and are leaking.