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Japan earthquake: Officials say nuclear catastrophe averted

Fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan have subsided after a reactor that was damaged in Friday’s devastating earthquake reportedly emerged intact from an explosion.

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Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant in Koriyama, Saturday March 12. Fears of a nuclear meltdown subsided after a reactor that was damaged in Friday’s devastating earthquake reportedly emerged intact from an explosion.

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

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Fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan have subsided after a reactor that was damaged in Friday’s devastating earthquake reportedly emerged intact from an explosion.

A day after the country was thrown into chaos by a fierce tsunami triggered by the largest earthquake in Japan’s history, the country was, for a few terrifying hours, bracing itself for a possible nuclear catastrophe.

Television cameras captured the moment that smoke poured from what at first appeared to be one of four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, located 150 miles north of Tokyo.

IN PICTURES: Japan's 8.9 earthquake

After a few nerve-wracking hours, however, the government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said the damage had been confined to the walls and roof surrounding the reactor, sparing its metal casing.

The chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, told a televised press conference that radiation around the plant had, in fact, started to decrease.

A “tiny” amount of radiation had leaked earlier in the day when officials attempted to relieve pressure inside the reactor.

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