Workers battling to prevent a nuclear meltdown at Japan's quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant have been temporarily evacuated following fears that the containment vessel around reactor no. 3 may have been damaged. Television images showed white smoke, now thought to be steam from the reactor, drifting from the nuclear plant.
Chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said the containment vessel at reactor no. 3 may be damaged and its fuel pool may have heated and produced the steam as well as radiation.
"It is likely that the steam is evaporating from the broken part of reactor no. 3. We have got advice from experts to spray water from above, but there may be some risks if we pour large amounts of water in a very small time," Edano said.
Radiation levels considered harmful to human health
Photographs: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters
All reactors experiencing problems
All six of the plant's reactors are experiencing problems following last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, in which an estimated 10,000 people have died. At least 750 workers were evacuated on Tuesday morning after an explosion ruptured the inner containment building at reactor no. 2, but 50 workers had stayed behind.
Taking shelter when possible in the reactor's control room, which is heavily shielded from radiation, they had pumped hundreds of gallons of seawater a minute into reactor numbers 1, 2 and 3.