Japan ordered thousands of residents near a nuclear power plant to evacuate on Friday following a massive earthquake that caused a problem in the plant’s cooling system.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the Fukushima No. 1 power plant was not leaking radiation. The plant is in Onahama city, about 270 km northeast of Tokyo.
Japan’s nuclear safety agency ordered more than 2,800 people in the area to evacuate following the government’s declaration of a state of emergency at the plant.
The quake triggered a power failure and when a backup generator also failed, the cooling system was unable to supply water to cool the reactor. The reactor core remains hot even after a shutdown.
The agency said plant workers were scrambling to restore the water supply. There was no prospect for an immediate success.
The plant is just south of the worst-hit Miyagi Prefecture, where a fire broke out at another nuclear plant. The blaze was in a turbine building at one of the Onagawa power plants; smoke could be seen coming out of the building, which is separate from the plant’s reactor, Tohoku Electric Power said. It has since been extinguished.
Another plant at Onagawa is experiencing a water leak.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the 2.46 p.m. (11.46 a.m. IST) quake was a magnitude 8.9, the biggest earthquake to hit Japan since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s.
A tsunami warning was issued for a number of Pacific, Southeast Asian and Latin American nations.