JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images
Officers in radiation protection suits hold a blue sheet over patients who were exposed to radiation at the Fukushima complex as they're taken to the hospital.
Officers in radiation protection suits hold a blue sheet over patients who were exposed to radiation at the Fukushima complex as they're taken to the hospital. JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images
Update at 8:07 a.m. ET: New Aftershocks: The USGS says there've been two earthquakes off Japan's east coast. The most recent tremor had a magnitude of 6.4; there are no warnings posted by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Update at 7:56 a.m. ET: NPR's team in Japan is checking reports of the new Fukushima problems. NPR's Jon Hamilton says a Japanese Nuclear Safety Agency official speculated today the radioactive water in Number Three could have been caused by 'a problem with the reactor'. But Jon warns the official never said the reactor's radioactive core was breached; that's just one possible explanation for the incident.
Our original post: The report in Kyodo puts it so mildly: "The Japanese government has encouraged people living within 20 to 30 kilometers of the troubled nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture to leave voluntarily, with concerns over access to daily necessities rather than resident safety prompting the advice."
That's from Yukio Edano, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary. What's not so encouraging is news of a high radiation leak. NHK World reports the Japanese Nuclear Safety Agency suggests Fukushima Dai-Ichi Reactor Number Three is damaged; the radiation was in water on the floor inside the plant's building and was 10,000 times higher than water inside a normally operating nuclear plant.
Three workers were hurt and were hospitalized; now there's fear the containment structure at Reactor Three is more damaged than believed and could get weaker.
Japan's Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, tweets that he'll make a statement later today.