The quake was followed by several tremors off the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan over the next hour. The aftershock came after an explosion at Fukushima nuclear plant in northern Japan, 250km north of Tokyo, destroying the building that housed the reactor and triggering radiation leaks.
"The radiation leak was low after the explosion destroyed the exterior walls of the building, but not the actual metal housing enveloping the reactor," government spokesman Yukio Edano told mediapersons. The explosion which left four persons injured led to a 'nationwide atomic alert'.
The agency said that the combined number of people who have died or are unaccounted for in Friday's double disaster that devastated the country's north-western coast is feared to top 1,700. Local media reports said at least 1,300 may have been killed, while chief government spokesman Yukio Edano put the number to around 1,000.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Naoto Kan inspected areas affected by the earth quake, and said the government will do all it can to save people. He also inspected Fukushima nuclear plant 1 where the radiation has been detected. There were fears that the death toll would rise with Fuji TV reporting that as many as 10,000 people were missing in the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi. One report said that four whole trains had disappeared and still not been located.