IWAKI, Japan -- An explosion shattered a building housing a nuclear reactor Saturday, amid fears of a meltdown, while across wide swaths of northeastern Japan officials searched for thousands of people missing more than a day after a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The confirmed death toll from Friday's twin disasters was 574, but the government's chief spokesman said it could exceed 1,000. Devastation stretched hundreds of miles (kilometers) along the coast, where thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers cut off from rescuers and aid.
The scale of destruction was not yet known, but there were grim signs that the death toll could soar. One report said four whole trains had disappeared Friday and still not been located. Another said 9,500 people in one coastal town were unaccounted for and that at least 200 bodies had washed ashore elsewhere.