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The 9 at 9 The nine things you need to know by 9am, including the latest on fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan, after an explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Every morning, brings you nine things you really need to know by 9am.

1. #JAPAN: An explosion has occurred at one of the Fukushima nuclear power plants, 250km north of Tokyo, and white smoke had been seen.

Japan’s NHK TV reported that there had been a number of injuries in the explosion, which came as workers tried to avoid a meltdown at the two stations in the city. Some mildly radioactive steam was being emitted from the individual reactors in attempts to cool them and relieve pressure. Radiation levels in the area are now 1,000 times the normal levels, and a six-mile evacuation zone has been put in place.

2. #TSUNAMI: The enormous tidal wave resulting from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake, which has led to the safety fears at the nuclear plants, has been hitting the South American coast this morning, though no major damage is being reported. California and Oregon sustained most of the damage in the US, with damage estimated to be in the region of millions of dollars – though the impact seen was far less severe than that observed in Japan.

3. #BAILOUT: Enda Kenny says he was offered a 1 per cent cut in the interest rate being paid by Ireland in return for its EU bailout – but turned it down, because Eurozone leaders could not agree that a corporate tax increase was not part of the deal. While Kenny told RTÉ News that the reality of a 1 per cent cut had “now been accepted”, there was disagreement over whether tax harmonisation should be part of a plan to encourage Eurozone competitiveness.

4. #MISSING: Gardaí in Co Louth have appealed for assistance in finding four young children who have gone missing from Ardee. Siblings Chloe, Jessica, Jon and Megan Eaton – aged 12, 10, 5 and 1 respectively – were last seen at home in Tullykeel on Thursday; it is thought they are in the company of a 30-year-old man and an adult female.

5. #SEANAD: A number of Fianna Fáil’s outgoing members of the Seanad have submitted nominations for re-election – in spite of party leader Micheál Martin’s wishes that younger candidates be prioritised, the Irish Times reports. 14 of the outgoing 25 senators were among the 80 candidates seeking 43 vocational seats when nominations closed yesterday – but the party is to meet on Monday to nominate another five ‘official’ candidates.

6. #IRISH TIMES: It has been confirmed that the Irish Times’ editor, Geraldine Kennedy, is to step down from the helm of the paper of record this Autumn. Kennedy, who is the paper’s first female editor, took the job in 2002 and yesterday told staff that she wanted to retire when she turned 60 later this year, the paper said.

7. #MRS ROBINSON: Former MP Iris Robison will not face charges over her role in seeking business loans to fund an enterprise run by her young lover, PA reports. Police had investigated Robinson after she helped her lover, Kirk McCambley, secure loans worth £50,000 in order to win a tender.

8. #LIBYA: The foreign ministers of Arab countries are meeting today in Egypt to discuss the prospect of introducing a no-fly zone over Libya. The Arab League meeting comes after forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi yesterday recaptured the city of Az Zawiyah, as well as a number of oil towns, as the tide begins to turn against the foreign-backed rebels.

9. #MALAYSIA: A Malaysian landlord has been shocked to find that his house – yes, his house – was stolen, after visiting to pick up the month’s rent. Zuria Ali told Reuters that his furniture, cutlery and cupboards had all gone missing; a neighbour added that he had seen three men arrive at the house with a trailer last month, but thought they were contracted building workers carrying out renovations in the building.

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