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Japanese earthquake threatens nuclear plants

A fire has erupted in a Japanese nuclear power plant after the country was hit by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake. However, the UN nuclear watchdog has given reassurances that nuclear plants have been safely shut down.

tsunami in japan

Japan's nuclear plants could be in danger

A fire has broken out in a Japanese nuclear plant after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami hit the island nation early Friday, Kyodo News has reported.

The fire occurred in the turbine building of the Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas worst hit by the natural disaster. The plant is operated by Tohoku Electric Power.

Earlier in the day, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the four nuclear power plants closest to the epicenter of the earthquake had been safely shut down.

"The agency is liaising with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to confirm further details of the situation," the IAEA said in statement. "The four Japanese plants closest to the earthquake have been safely shut down."

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said no radiation leaks had been detected in the country's nuclear plants subsequent to the earthquake.

However, the Japanese media reported that the government had decided to issue a nuclear power emergency, which typically occurs only if there is confirmation of a radiation leak or a cooling system has shut down.

Author: Spencer Kimball (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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