Japan Braces for Radiation Catastrophe

Post-earthquake explosion is being called the world's most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

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Members of the media prepare for a radiation check. (Sam Yen/Getty Images)

Reuters reports that Japan faces another potential catastrophe today, the result of an explosion at an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant that sent low levels of radiation floating toward Tokyo:

Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged people within 30 km (18 miles) of the facility -- a population of 140,000 -- to remain indoors amid the world's most serious nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.

Officials in Tokyo -- 240 km (150 miles) to the south of the plant -- said only minute levels of radiation had been detected so far in the capital, which were "not a problem."

Radiation levels in the city of Maebashi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Tokyo, and in Chiba prefecture, nearer the city, were up to 10 times normal levels, Kyodo news agency said. Foreign experts disagreed on whether this was harmful or not.

Around eight hours after the explosions, the U.N. weather agency said winds were dispersing radioactive material over the Pacific Ocean, away from Japan and other Asian countries.

... There have been a total of four explosions at the plant since it was damaged in last Friday's massive quake and tsunami. The most recent were blasts at reactors No. 2 and No. 4.

Want to help with aftermath of Friday's earthquake? Read about relief options for Japan.

Read more at Reuters.

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