In Japan, attention is focusing in two places: First, search and rescue operations and the massive recovery ahead in the large sections of the northeastern coast devastated by Friday's earthquake and tsunamis. The other increasingly critical concern: the condition of damaged nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture.
Saturday afternoon, an explosion was seen at the No. 1 Reactor of Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The links:
- Daily Yomiuri Online: Reactor Meltdown Feared
- New York Times: Explosion Heard at Damaged Japan Nuclear Plant
- NPR: 'Last-Ditch Effort' To Prevent Meltdown
- Los Angeles Times: Japan's fears mount with nuclear plant blast
Yomiuri includes this ominous description of the incident:
An explosion was heard from the No. 1 plant at about 3:36 p.m. [10:36 p.m. Friday night PST] and white smoke was witnessed about 10 minutes later, Tokyo Electric Power Co officials said, adding that four workers were injured. However, the cause of the blast remained unknown.
TV footage showed that the No. 1 reactor appeared to have been destroyed, with its outer walls seemingly collapsed.
Click the image below for video from Nippon TV's News 24 service, which shows the blast.