"The latest explosion was heard at 6:10 a.m. Tuesday (2110 GMT Monday), a spokesman for the Nuclear Safety Agency said at a news conference," reports the Associated Press
. "Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), said the explosion occurred near the suppression pool in the reactor's containment vessel. The pool was later found to have a defect."
CNN television is reporting that TEPCO has evacuated all non-essential workers and operators from the nuclear facility following the blast.
"A senior nuclear industry executive, speaking to the the New York Times, said that Japanese nuclear industry managers are "basically in a full-scale panic. They're in total disarray, they don't know what to do," according to AOL News
"International scientists have said there are serious dangers but not at the level of the 1986 blast in Chernobyl. Japanese authorities were injecting seawater as a coolant of last resort, and advising nearby residents to stay inside to avoid contamination," reports the AP.
TEPCO had announced today that there was a high probability that the fuel rods in the Number Two reactor at its Fukushima Number One nuclear power plant were exposed," according to the NHK World
The radioactivity level around the compound rose to a highest ever 3,130 microsieverts at 9:37 PM on Monday, six times higher than the permissible level. The company said the valve to vent steam and reduce pressure in the Number Two reactor shut at 11 PM. This increased pressure inside, making it impossible to pump water in to cool the reactor. This caused the level of water to drop sharply at the reactor, possibly fully exposing the fuel rods for more then two hours.
"Japanese authorities said there have been no large-scale radiation releases, but they have detected temporary elevations in levels, and have evacuated tens of thousands of people from around the affected reactors," reports the AP.
With the death toll rising in the Japan, food, water and gasoline shortages are being reported by news media throughout the country. Search and rescue missions are slowly becoming search and recover missions with more bodies being discovered each hour.
Fears of a catastrophic nuclear crises has Japanese citizens deeply concerned for their safety as the possibility of a meltdown continues to be discussed. The United States Navy reported the radioactive contamination
of at least 17 helicopter crew members today which was blamed on the plume of radioactive material emitting from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility.
Yukio Edano, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, said
"he could not rule out the possibility of a meltdown at all three troubled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan."
"It cannot necessarily be called a stable situation," Edano said.