Walls of Nuclear Reactor Explode in Wake of Earthquake, Tsunami

An explosion at a nuclear power station today destroyed a building housing the reactor amid fears that it was close to a disastrous meltdown after being hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

Footage on Japanese TV showed that the walls of the reactor's building had crumbled, leaving only a skeletal metal frame standing. Puffs of smoke were spewing out of the plant in Fukushima, 20 miles from Iwaki.

More than 200,000 people were evacuated as officials imposed a 20km exclusion zone around the power station and a 10km zone surrounding the Fukushima 2 power plant nearby. Officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency they would distribute potassium iodide pills as a precaution against an increased risk of thyroid cancer from radiation.