Tokyo: The walls of a building at nuclear power station crumbled on Saturday as smoke poured out and Japanese officials said they feared the reactor could meltdown following the failure of its cooling system in a powerful earthquake and tsunami.
It was not clear if the damaged building housed the reactor. An official said the utility that runs the Fukushima Daiichi plant was reporting that several workers may have been injured.
Fukushima Prefecture official Masato Abe said the cause of the rattling and smoke was unclear, declining to say whether an explosion had occurred.
Footage on Japanese TV showed that the walls of one building had crumbled, leaving only a skeletal metal frame block standing. Puffs of smoke were spewing out of the plant.
Pressure has been building up in the reactor - it's now twice the normal level and Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told reporters Saturday that it was venting radioactive vapors to relieve that pressure. Officials said they were measuring radiation levels in the area.
The reactor in trouble has already leaked radiation: Operators at the Fukushima Daiichi plant's Unit 1 detected eight times the normal radiation levels outside the facility and 1,000 times normal inside Unit 1's control room.