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6.5-magnitude quake off Japan's coast prompts tsunami alert

March 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A magnitude-6.5 earthquake shook Japan's eastern coast Monday morning, prompting the country to issue a tsunami alert. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries

The tsunami alert was localized to Japan. The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no wave was expected in Hawaii or on the U.S. west coast.

Damage left by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 continues to be a concern.

Operators of Japan's crippled nuclear plant say a huge spike in radioactivity that forced workers to flee one of the overheating reactors was a mistake.

Earlier, officials said leaked water in Unit 2 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was 10 million times higher than the radioactivity level when the reactor is operating normally.

A spokesperson said Sunday that while the water was contaminated with radiation, the extremely high number was inaccurate.

"The number is not credible," said Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita. "We are very sorry."

Kurita said officials were taking another sample to get accurate levels, but did not know when the results would be announced.

The situation came as officials acknowledged there was radioactive water in all four of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex's most troubled reactors, and as airborne radiation in Unit 2 measured 1,000 millisieverts per hour - four times the limit deemed safe by the government, Kurita said.

Officials say they still don't know where the radioactive water is coming from, though some authorities said some of it may be seeping from a cracked reactor core in one of the units.

The magnitude-9 earthquake off Japan's northeast coast triggered a tsunami that barreled onshore and disabled the Fukushima plant, complicating an immense humanitarian disaster.

The death toll from the twin disasters stood at 10,668 Sunday, with more than 16,574 people missing, police said. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless.

Meantime, rising fears about radiation contamination have led to demonstrations in Japan.

More than 500 protesters gathered in central Tokyo Sunday to call for an end to nuclear power.

They marched in front of the headquarters of the Fukushima plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company.

The protest was peaceful.

Radiation has been found in food, seawater and even tap water supplies in Tokyo. However, levels have fallen steadily since peaking Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.