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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 November, 2014

Second explosion at Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant

Two days after the first explosion, a second hydrogen blast strikes the nuclear plant – as 2,000 bodies are found in Miyagi.

A hostess at China's National People's Congress, in Beijing, passes a TV screen showing the damage to the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima, home to the stricken Fukushima I nuclear plant.
A hostess at China's National People's Congress, in Beijing, passes a TV screen showing the damage to the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima, home to the stricken Fukushima I nuclear plant.
Image: Andy Wong/AP

A SECOND EXPLOSION has occurred at the Fukushima I nuclear power plant north of Tokyo, with the containment building around the number 3 reactor being destroyed in the blast.

The explosion, which occurred just after 2am Irish time, saw the concrete containment building around the number 3 reactor – with walls and a ceiling of over a metre in thickness – blown apart, causing plumes of white and grey smoke to soar into the air overhead.

It came just as authorities in the Miyagi prefecture confirmed the recovery of 2,000 bodies – including 1,000 people from the coastal town of Minamisanriku where over half of the population is missing.

The manner of this morning’s Fukushima explosion was almost identical to the one that occurred on Saturday, at the number 1 reactor, with authorities insisting that the containment building had become unable to contain the volume of hydrogen building up inside.

Japan’s nuclear authorities, and plant operator TEPCO, have insisted that the nuclear core reactor was not damaged in this morning’s explosion – just as with the number 1 reactor – and that a radiation leak is equally unlikely.

There are fears that the blast could still have significant ill-effects, however, given that authorities believe the radiation dispersed from the first explosion is the cause of unusually high readings outside the Onagawa nuclear plant around 120km away, where a precautionary state of emergency was declared yesterday.

TEPCO had previously been pumping a mixture of seawater and boron into the nuclear 3 reactor in attempts to ease its pressure, following the failure of the backup cooling systems in the aftermath of Friday’s earthquake.

Authorities have confirmed, meanwhile, that the water level in the number 2 reactor is unusually low, but remains steady. A third plant, Tokai II, is also under surveillance due to a failure of the cooling systems.

Bodies recovered

News of the second explosion came as the authorities in the Miyagi prefecture – the province most damaged by the series of tsunamis in the aftermath of the 9-magnitude earthquake of Friday – confirmed that they had recovered 2,000 bodies from the coastline.

1,000 bodies were found on the Ojika peninsula, and another 1,000 in the town of Minamisanriku – which had reported as many as 9,500 people missing in the aftermath of the devastating tsunamis.

With the death toll now into the thousands, authorities fear that the overall death toll could stretch above 10,000 – as defence forces slowly begin the horrendous task of trying to repair the billions of euro in damages caused by Friday’s twin disasters.

Gallery: Japan’s horrific tsunami – before and after >

Japanese PM: Crisis is worst to face Japan since WW2 >

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