Small fire at Japan crippled nuclear plant

TOKYO (AFP) - A fire broke out in a rubbish pile at Japan's tsunami-battered Fukushima nuclear complex on Tuesday, the operator said, the latest in a series of incidents at the crippled plant.

Workers discovered flames licking at piles of cardboard boxes placed near an incineration facility shortly before 1pm (12 noon Singapore time), Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said.

The fire damaged an area of about four metres by two metres, but was put out in a hour, it said.

The fire did not affect radiation levels in the plant, and no one was injured, it said.

TEPCO has struggled with a growing catalogue of incidents at the plant including several leaks of radioactive water, more than two years after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation.

More than 18,000 people died when the towering tsunami smashed into Japan's northeast in March 2011, setting off the crisis at Fukushima.

Improvised fixes put in place since the disaster leave it vulnerable to problems and at the mercy of nature, with no immediate end in sight, critics say.

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