Officials initially warned the plant *”could be experiencing nuclear meltdown”*, but this was later toned down.
Radiation emissions from the Fukushima plant reached 1,015 microsieverts on the premises — an amount equivalent to the dose an ordinary person would receive in one year, writes the Japan Times. It reported radiation levels were decreasing and the reactor containment vessel wasn’t damaged in the blast.
A state of emergency is in place in Japan as pressure and radioactivity levels rise at five nuclear reactors. It came as the country struggled to assess the full extent of the devastation wreaked by the massive tsunami, which was unleashed by the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan off the eastern coast.
The 8.9-magnitude earthquake unleashed a 10-metre high wave that tore through coastal towns and cities, destroying all in its path and leaving many, possibly more than a thousand, dead.
The towering wall of water pulverized the northeastern city of Sendai, where police reportedly said 200-300 bodies had been found on the coast. More than 215,000 people are in emergency shelters.
Some 50,000 military and other rescue personnel are in action to spearhead the Herculean rescue and recovery effort with hundreds of ships, aircraft and vehicles headed to the Pacific coast area.
**Japan was prepared**
More than eight million homes lost power, mobile and landlines phone systems broke down and gas was cut to more than 300,000 homes, meaning many Japanese could not heat their dark homes during a tense, cold night. Millions were left stranded in the evening after the earthquake shut down the city’s vast subway system.
But with small quakes felt every day somewhere in Japan, the country is one of the best prepared to deal with the aftermath of such a calamity.
Japan sits on the *”Pacific Ring of Fire”* and Tokyo is in one of its most dangerous areas, where three continental plates are slowly grinding against each other, building up enormous seismic pressure.
The government has long warned of the likelihood that a devastating magnitude-eight quake will strike within the next 30 years in the Kanto plains, home to Tokyo’s vast urban sprawl.