12th March 2011
There are already more than 300 confirmed deaths after the magnitude 8.9 earthquake and Pacific-wide tsunami hit Japan.
However officials fear death toll could reached 1,000 as they expressed concerns over a possible meltdown at the nuclear power plants in the hardest-hit area in Northeastern Japan, the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2.
Japanese authorities declared a state of emergency as they ordered the evacuation of at least 3,000 residents near the plants.
News agencies said the cooling system had failed, putting the plants at risk for a meltdown and release of radioactive material. It was also reported that military and utility officials now scrambled to tame rising pressure and radioactivity levels and stabilize the systems used to cool the plants’ hot reactor cores. Radiation surged to around 1,000 times the normal level.
Earlier, around 11 of 55 nuclear power plants in Japan were automatically shutdown after the earthquake.