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Nuke plants overheat after earthquake in Japan

12 march 2011, 09:50
0
Quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Japanese town of Futaba ©AFP
Quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in the Japanese town of Futaba ©AFP
Authorities scrambled to prevent meltdown at two nuclear plants Saturday after a monster tsunami devastated a swathe of northeast Japan, AFP reports.

Reactor cooling systems failed after Friday's record 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit, unleashing a terrifying 10-metre (33-foot) high wave that tore through coastal towns and cities and destroying all in its path.

Radiation 1,000 times above normal was detected in the control room of one nuclear plant, although authorities said levels outside the facility's gates were only eight times above normal, spelling "no immediate health hazard".

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from around the plants as Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the facilities, said it had released some radioactive vapor at both locations to relieve building reactor pressure.

"We are not in a situation in which residents face health damage," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters, according to Jiji news agency.

The two nuclear plants affected are the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants, both located about 250 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

The atomic emergency came as the country struggled to assess the full extent of the devastation wrought by the massive tsunami, which was unleashed by the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan off the eastern coast.

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