News / Asia

    New Explosion Heard at Japanese Nuclear Plant

    Upon hearing another tsunami warning, a father tries to flee for safety with his just reunited four-month-old baby girl who was spotted by Japan's Self-Defense Force member in the rubble of tsunami-torn Ishinomaki Monday, March 14, 2011.
    Upon hearing another tsunami warning, a father tries to flee for safety with his just reunited four-month-old baby girl who was spotted by Japan's Self-Defense Force member in the rubble of tsunami-torn Ishinomaki Monday, March 14, 2011.
    Henry Ridgwell

    Latest Update

    A third explosion in four days has rocked an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, sparking fears of major radioactive leak.  The explosion early Tuesday at the Fukushima plant follow similar blasts on Saturday and Monday.

    Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency says the latest explosion may have damaged the reactor's pressure-suppressing system.


    Workers at a nuclear plant in Japan are battling to prevent a meltdown in one of the reactors, following the massive earthquake that struck the north-east part of the country on Friday.  The latest government figures figures put the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami at over 2,000 - but that’s likely to increase dramatically in the coming days.

    Amateur video footage, taken in a coastal town as the tsunami hit, reveals the full power of the tsunami in horrific detail. Residents had just minutes to flee before the wall of water came ashore.

    Listen to Les Carpenter speak with VOA's Steve Herman in Koriyama about the latest developments at the Fukushima nuclear plant

    The town where the video was taken, Miniami Sanriku on the coast of Miyagi prefecture, is now flattened. Authorities say 10,000 of its residents are missing.


    Japan has now dispatched 100,000 troops to the area and rescue teams from the U.S, New Zealand, China and other countries have arrived.

    Aid Sent and Offered to Japan

    • US: 8 warships off coast, 50 rescue workers, US AID sending 72 personnel and equipment
    • Australia: sends dogs, search, rescue teams
    • Afghanistan: provice of Kandahar offers $50,000 in aid
    • Britain, France, Germany offer personnel, equipment, emergency aid
    • Russia: increases energy supplies to Japan
    • China, South Korea, India offer aid

    They are being greeted with scenes of utter devastation. The death toll is rising steadily; it will be weeks before it’s known how many people lie buried here, or how many were swept out to sea.

    Reunions bring relief from the horror, but for many more families the search for loved ones continues.

    The grim rescue efforts are taking place against the backdrop of a threatened nuclear disaster.

    Now, technicians are trying to avoid a meltdown in one of the three reactors by pouring in seawater. They say the fuel rods were almost completely exposed - raising fears of a further catastrophe.

    Raw video of tsunami

    All people within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant are being evacuated to other areas.  The Japanese government is playing down fears of a nuclear disaster - but news reports say that a U.S. aircraft carrier in the area has been redeployed, after recording abnormally high levels of radiation 100 kilometers offshore.

    Social Media: Disaster in Japan


    The Crisis Commons volunteer community has mobilized, and part of the effort is being coordinated by Japanese students at U.S. universities.


    The Red Cross has opened a page on causes.com to raise money for the victims of Friday's disaster in Japan.


    Google has launched a service for people seeking to reconnect with those in the disaster area.


    The State Department tweeted:
    RT @TravelGov: U.S. citizens in #Japan can stay informed about current conditions in the region through #STEP: goo.gl/SdXk #tsunami

    Aftershocks continue to rock much of northern and eastern Japan - including the capital.

    At six pm on a Monday evening, Tokyo's main train station is normally packed, as millions of commuters head to the suburbs.

    It appears many workers have heeded the government’s call for people to stay home, in an effort to conserve energy.

    For those who did venture out, the sense of fear following Friday's massive earthquake is still present. “It’s very scary. I’m scared of more earthquakes,” one person said.

    “I was in my office on the 33rd floor when the earthquake struck on Friday. It swayed from side to side, everyone was so shocked,” said another.

    The danger is not yet over.

    Japan’s Meteorological Agency says there is a 70 percent chance of a magnitude 7 or stronger earthquake striking in the next three days.

    In this huge urban area of 35-million inhabitants, there is a palpable nervousness over what the coming days may bring.

    As Tokyo’s workers head home - it's likely their thoughts are also with the tens of thousands of people further north, whose homes and livelihoods have crumbled or been washed away.

    Images from Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai, Japan (photos by S.L. Herman)

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