Concerns have been raised of a potential meltdown may be taking place in Japan at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, just 24 hours after the country was devastated by an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale and an ensuing tsunami.
With more than 600 people thought to have already been killed as a result of yesterday’s tsunami, the BBC reported today that a “massive” explosion had taken place at one of two nuclear plants in Fukushima, situated 250 miles northeast of Tokyo. The incident has raised fears of a meltdown, despite claims from Japanese officials that both sites’ container housing had not been damaged.
An earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale hit Japan yesterday, prompting a tsunami warning to be issued for nations in the Pacific Ocean. Media reports today have speculated that the total number of fatalities in Japan alone from the quake and tsunami could stretch into the thousands.
The first earthquake occurred 382 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, reported the US Geological Survey.
According to today’s BBC report, a state of emergency has been put in place at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini power plants by the country’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, with engineers now working to clarify if any of the reactors have gone into meltdown after shutdowns had automatically occurred following the earthquake.
Television pictures from Japan have since shown what news sources claim to be the collapse of one of four buildings at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant as a result of the explosion, though no information has been officially confirmed on what part of the site had exploded or the cause behind it.
However, the government representing the Fukushima prefecture in which the plants are based confirmed that radiation levels at the plant during one hour were equal to the normal annual allowable expenditure at the site, the BBC said.
Meanwhile, the Agence France Presse (AFP) news organisation has reported that the Japanese prime minister’s deputy, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, has sent a “hyper rescue team” to the plant site as part of government contingency measures including collecting iodine, which can used in trying to combat radiation sickness.
Following yesterday’s earthquake, tsunami warnings were immediately issued for Japan, Taiwan, Russia and the Mariana Islands, while Guam, the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Micronesia and Hawaii were placed at a lower warning level.
Hussein Waheed from the Maldives Department of Meteorology confirmed that a tsunami warning was issued for the Pacific Ocean a minute after the earthquake had struck. No warning had been issued for the Indian Ocean region, he said yesterday.