UNITED NATIONS, New York (CBS) -- In Japan fears of a meltdown at a nuclear power plant are growing. The U.S. government is telling Americans near the reactor to evacuate.
A cloud of white smoke pouring out of the Fukushima nuclear plant may have been a burst of radiation, according to the Japanese government. The U.S. is now telling American citizens living within 50 miles of the power plant to leave the area.
Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Gregory Jaczko says, "We believe that radiation levels are extremely high which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures."
But workers at the plant are confident they can avoid a meltdown. They say they've almost restored electricity to the reactor. That would power up the electric water pumps that are used to keep the nuclear fuel rods cool. Radiation levels have risen in nearby towns and very slight increases can be detected as far away as Tokyo.
Officials say it is not enough to be dangerous but many people are avoiding the city. Streets that are normally crowded are now almost empty.
At the United Nations the Security Council held a moment of silence to honor the victims in Japan. The UN is helping coordinate disaster relief efforts, sending in aid and rescue crews from around the world.
In the town of Ofunato, British and American rescue crews are searching for survivors.
Steve Davies with UK Search and Rescue says, "We're trying to access underneath but obviously as you can see it's very, very difficult conditions. Chances of survivors are small."
Crews continue to recover bodies from the wreckage. Many family members are there to mourn their loved ones. The U.S. government says military pilots cannot go within 50 miles of the reactor. Pilots flying within 70 miles are taking potassium iodide tablets.
(Source: CBS Newspath)