Japanese agency: Explosion heard at nuclear plant


SOMA, Japan (AP) — A third explosion in four days rocked the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northeast Japan early Tuesday, the country's nuclear safety agency said.

The blast at Dai-ichi Unit 2 followed two hydrogen explosions at the plant — the latest today — as authorities struggle to prevent the catastrophic release of radiation in the area devastated by a tsunami.

The troubles at the Dai-ichi complex began when Friday's massive quake and tsunami in Japan's northeast knocked out power, crippling cooling systems needed to keep nuclear fuel from melting down.

The latest explosion was heard at 6:10 a.m. Tuesday (2110 GMT Monday), a spokesman for the Nuclear Safety Agency said at a news conference. The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the explosion occurred near the suppression pool in the reactor's containment vessel. The pool was later found to have a defect.

International scientists have said there are serious dangers but not at the level of the 1986 blast in Chernobyl.

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