Japanese Official: Nuclear reactor not affected by explosion

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant

TOKYO (AP) - Japan's government spokesman says there's been no increase in radiation around a nuclear power plant after a building housing a reactor was destroyed by an explosion.

The official says the metal container sheltering the reactor was not affected. The spokesman says the radiation and pressure are actually decreasing. Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami caused the reactor to lose its cooling system and raised fears of a meltdown.

Yesterday's double disaster pulverized Japan's northeastern coast and has left hundreds dead or missing. More than 24 hours after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake, authorities are still trying to assess the full scale of the destruction. With aftershocks still being felt, local media reports say the death toll is at least 1,300 people, while official figures put the number of missing at close to 600. One report says four trains disappeared yesterday and still have not been located.

A massive, military-led rescue operation is underway. Prime Minister Naoto Kan says he is sending 50,000 troops to the worst hit area.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)