, TOKYO, March 12 – A Japanese nuclear power plant exploded Saturday, television footage showed, a day after a massive earthquake damaged the facility\’s cooling system, as nearby residents were warned to stay indoors.
Nuclear authorities had earlier warned that the Fukushima No. 1 plant, located about 250 kilometres (160 miles) northeast of Tokyo, an urban area of 30 million people, "may be experiencing a nuclear meltdown".
The plant\’s cooling system was damaged in the quake that hit Friday, leaving the government scrambling to fix the problem and evacuate more than 45,000 residents within a 10-kilometre (six-mile) radius.
Public broadcaster NHK Saturday reported that a blast had been heard at about 3:30 pm (0630 GMT) and showed delayed footage of smoke billowing from the site, also reporting that the reactor building had been destroyed.
TV channels warned nearby residents to stay indoors, turn off air-conditioners and not to drink tap water. People going outside were also told to aviod exposing their skin and to cover their faces with masks and wet towels.