[6:20 a.m. Tuesday ET, 7:20 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 struck off the east coast of Honshu, Japan, on Tuesday evening, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It was the third strong earthquake to hit within the last 2 1/2 hours near the epicenter of a 9.0 earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11, the agency said. The other two quakes had preliminary magnitudes of 6.6 and 6.4, making them among the strongest of several quakes that have shaken that part of Japan since the 9.0 quake.
Weariness and anxiety percolated Tuesday among people who left their homes near Japan’s radiation-shedding nuclear complex as workers tried urgently to cool an overheated storage pool and methodically to reconnect critical cooling systems.
In another day of progress and setbacks, a pool holding spent nuclear fuel heated up to around the boiling point, a nuclear safety official said. With water bubbling away, there is a risk that more radioactive steam could spew out. “We cannot leave this alone and we must take care of it as quickly as possible,” said the official, Hidehiko Nishiyama.