Associated Press:Facing an unprecedented nuclear crisis, Japan struggled hard to avert multiple meltdowns at two of its reactors damaged by the devastating earthquake and tsunami as it braced for a fresh explosion at Fukushima plant amid fears that the toll may exceed 10,000 in the ravaged northeastern coast.

In southwestern Japan, the 1,421-metre Shinmoedake volcano erupted today ringing alarm bells as ash and rocks shot up into the sky but it was not immediately clear if it was a fallout of the massive earthquake.

In a televised statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Japan is experiencing its biggest crisis since World War II as it tackled the aftermath of Friday's massive earthquake with a magnitude of 9, the ferocious tsunami and the worrying nuclear crisis.

Japanese authorities scrambled to control overheating reactors and fresh radiation threats at the quake-hit Fukushima nuke reactor as the risk of a second explosion grew.
Fukushima shut down three reactors after the tsunami.

A day after the first explosion, Kan said the situation at the plant, 240 km north of capital Tokyo, remained "grave". The explosion had blown off the roof and walls around the reactor.

The reactor faced serious troubles after its emergency cooling system failed, triggering a fresh radiation threat.

The Fukushima power plant's operator said pressure was rising inside reactor No.3 after it lost its cooling system.

"We cannot rule out the possibility of another explosion," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. But he dismissed concerns about it having any significant impact on human health.

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