Reports of an explosion at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are circulating, suggesting that four workers on the ground were injured. Workers are “continuing efforts to cool fuel rods at the plant after a small amount of radioactive material escaped into the air, CNN reports.” According to BBC News, “the outer structure of one of four buildings at the plant had collapsed” and that a meltdown of one of the plant’s reactors may have occurred. Australia’s ABC News says “the plant’s exterior walls are gone and only the skeleton structure remains.”
It’s unclear what caused the explosion, and analysts say “a meltdown would not necessarily lead to a major disaster because light-water reactors would not explode even if they overheated.” Radioactive caesium and iodine were detected on Friday near one of the plant’s reactors, and “local media reports say radioactivity at the plant is now 20 times the normal level,” according to ABC.
More than 45,000 nearby residents have now been evacuated and those in the area are being urged to stay indoors.