Prime minister Naoto Kan declared a nuclear emergency as his trade minister admitted that a radiation leak might occur at the Fukushima power plant.
The reactor’s cooling system failed after the 8.9-magnitude tremor hit northern Japan at 2.46pm local time. Pressure in the reactor was continuing to rise after repeated efforts to return power to the cooling systems failed. Radiation inside the plant soared to 1,000 times its normal level, officials said, triggering evacuation orders for about 3,000 residents as the government declared its first-ever state of emergency at a nuclear plant.
Reports were also emerging of a second atomic plant in the earthquake-hit area experiencing reactor cooling problems.
At least 1,000 people were feared dead last night after the “superquake” 81 miles out to sea triggered a tsunami that sent a 30ft wall of water crashing into Japan’s Pacific coast.
Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in Sendai, 150 miles north of Tokyo. Another 151 were confirmed killed elsewhere, with 547 missing. At least 800 people were injured. (read more)