WASHINGTON - The US embassy in Tokyo alerted US citizens in Japan Saturday of an evacuation order around a stricken nuclear power plant, the State Department said.
The embassy's message warned Americans living or traveling to Fukushima Prefecture that Japan's Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency "has recommended that people who live within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Okumacho evacuate the area immediately."
The message urged Americans to try to monitor the embassy's website, and encouraged them to report their location and condition by email to
Smoke was seen billowing from the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant about 250 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Tokyo after an explosion at the site.
Kyodo News agency said radioactive caesium had been detected near the ageing facility, citing the nuclear safety agency.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan's top spokesman, Yukio Edano, said however that the Fukushima plant's operator had reported the reactor container was not damaged and that radiation levels near it had fallen after the blast.