The explosion at a nuclear power plant north of Tokyo has added to the crisis in a capital city already under severe stress. From the plane, one of the first to land after the airport reopened, you could see the vast black smoke-cloud that used to be Japan's biggest oil refinery, still burning unstoppably 24 hours after the earthquake hit it.
That was before news of an explosion, and warnings of a possible "meltdown", at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

As the evening turned to night, the world's second-largest metropolis was still waiting to know whether it had been exposed to what would be perhaps the world's worst nuclear disaster. The nuclear safety agency which had spoken of possible "meltdown" now declared Fukushima a "level 4 incident" on the accepted international scale, one with only a limited release of radiation and simply "local consequences." Three Mile Island was a level five, and Chernobyl the highest, a level seven. And past experience of nuclear accidents suggests that the full truth almost never emerges until weeks or months later.

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