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One dead as blast rocks French nuclear plant

An explosion at a nuclear plant in France has left one dead and four more injured, leading to calls by environmentalists for real-time Twitter updates on the accident.

An oven is said to have exploded at the Marcoule nuclear reprocessing facility near Nimes in southern France, which recycles plutonium from nuclear weapons into MOX fuel used by French power company Areva.

The explosion occurred at 11:45am local time (10:45 BST), and local news reports say that one male worker's body had been found "carbonised" at the plant.

The oven in which the accident happened is used to superheat uranium and plutonium pellets to reduce their size for storage.

French atomic energy authorities were keen to allay fears of a radiation leak, however. A statement said that the metallic waste treated in the oven displayed "weak and very weak" radioactivity. A spokesman told journalists: "For the moment, there is nothing coming out."

Despite assurances, though, the French green lobby is demanding up-to-the-minute details on any potential threat. Cécile Duflot, the secretary general of environmentalist party party Europe Ecology, called for "real time" and "transparent" information to be posted on Twitter.