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4th n-reactor on fire in Japan, PM tells people to leave area

By The Assam Tribune

TOKYO, March 15 (IANS) - A fire broke out at a fourth reactor in Japan's Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant Tuesday, hours after a blast ripped its third reactor. As the government said that radiation released by the damaged reactors was high enough to harm human health, Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned that further leaks were possible.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan called on citizens residing within a 20 km radius around the reactor to immediately leave the place and those living beyond that distance to stay in their houses, but to shut windows and doors, RIA Novosti reported.

"I sincerely ask all citizens within the 20 km distance from the reactor to leave this zone," he said in a televised address Tuesday.

The prime minister also warned that further leaks are possible, Xinhua reported.

More than 2,400 deaths have been confirmed so far due to the magnitude-9 earthquake that rattled the country's northeast Friday.

The tremor was followed by tsunami and meltdown of nuclear fuel at one of Japan's main power plants in Fukushima, about 240 km north from Tokyo, leading to fears of massive radiation poisoning in the area.

Tuesday's fire at reactor number 4 followed an explosion in the reactor number 2 at the troubled plant which houses six nuclear reactors.

Two earlier blasts already hit the reactors 1 and 3.

Radioactivity around the damaged nuclear reactors have reached dangerous levels, DPA reported quoting the government spokesman Yukio Edano.

"We are talking now about radiation levels that can endanger human health," the chief cabinet secretary was quoted as saying.

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