Pressure rising at nuclear plant
Japanese authorities will release slightly radioactive vapour to ease pressure at a nuclear reactor after its cooling system failed following the massive earthquake that has hit the country.
Japan's nuclear safety agency said pressure inside the reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant has risen to 1.5 times the level considered normal.
The agency said the radioactive element in the vapour would not affect the environment or human health.
Japan has issued an evacuation order to about 3,000 residents living near the plant.
The government also issued a state of emergency at the power plant.
The agency said plant workers are scrambling to restore cooling water supply at the plant but there is no prospect for an immediate success.
The quake triggered a power outage and when a backup generator also failed, the cooling system was unable to supply water to cool the reactor. The reactor core remains hot even after a shutdown.
Residents were told to stay at least two miles from the plant and to stay inside buildings.
The plant is just south of the worst-hit Miyagi state, where a fire broke out in a turbine building at one of the Onagawa power plants; smoke could be seen coming out of the building, which is separate from the plant's reactor, Tohoku Electric Power said. It has since been extinguished.
Another plant at Onagawa was experiencing a water leak.