A strong earthquake has hit northwestern Japan leaving as many as seven dead and 800 injured.
The quake sparked a fire in an electrical transformer at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant in the Niigata prefecture.
A company spokesperson said that water containing radioactive materials had leaked from the reactor but no further details on damage to people or the environment were immediately available.
The quake cut gas services to about 35,000 homes and disrupted the water supply to the whole of Kashiwazaki, a city of some 95,000 inhabitants.
The country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cut short his electionering to visit the site and promised extra troops and emergency teams.
The quake also hit the transport system with roads damaged and bullet train services stopped. One train was toppled from its tracks but no one was injured.
The evacuated and homeless are being housed in schools and gymnasiums.
Japan is one of the worlds most earthquake-prone countries, with a tremor occurring at least every five minutes.
Just hours after the first tremor a second sizeable shock hit the archipelago, again causing some damage, although this time claiming no lives.