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Posted at 09:01 AM ET, 03/15/2011

Japan nuclear emergency: Live updates day five


(AP - This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility in Japan on Monday, March 14, 2011. Authorities are strugging to prevent the catastrophic release of radiation in the area devastated by a tsunami. )

As Japan deals with day five of devastation after the earthquake and tsunami, and the rising threat of a nuclear disaster, we’ll be following along with live updates here.

JAPAN: 7:02 a.m., Wednesday/ 6:02 p. m., Tuesday

We’re closing up the blog for the night. Come back and visit us tomorrow as we follow closely Japan’s recovery.

JAPAN: 7:02 a.m., Wednesday/ 6:02 p. m., Tuesday

Japan correspondent Chico Harlan is tweeting from the ground:

JAPAN: 6:40 a.m., Wednesday/ 5:40 p. m., Tuesday

Fire breaks out at reactor

Fire breaks out at Fukushima Daiichi No. 4 reactor, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said, Reuters reported.

JAPAN: 6:00 a.m., Wednesday/ 5:00 p. m., Tuesday

Two workers missing at plant, crack in reactor building’s roof

Japan nuclear safety agency says two workers are missing after at the stricken Fukushima nuclear reactor after yesterday’s explosion, Reuters reported.

The employees have not yet been identified, but they are believed to have been in the turbine area of the No.4 reactor when a fire broke out, according to Al Jazeera.

An agency official also said there is now a crack in the roof of the reactor building, where workers are desperately trying to prevent the radioactive cores of the plant's reactors from overheating. If the reactor overheats, dangerous radioactive material could be released into the atmosphere.

JAPAN: 5:15 a.m., Wednesday/ 4:15 p. m., Tuesday

Americans in Japan: We ran for our lives

A pair of Americans who were teaching in Northeastern Japan say they had to run for their lives and then watch as the town they were in filled with water from the tsunami. WATCH:

JAPAN: 4:15 a.m., Wednesday/ 3:15 p. m., Tuesday

Japan PM tells off Tokyo Electric Power Company

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan lost his temper with executives of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, Al Jazeera reported. In a phone call, he reportedly shouted at them:

“The TV reported an explosion. But nothing was said to the premier's office for about an hour ...What the hell is going on?”

JAPAN: 4:15 a.m., Wednesday/ 3:15 p. m., Tuesday

Japan in numbers today

About 140,000 people have been affected by the call to stay indoors
More than 10,000 are now feared killed by the earthquake and tsunami
Japan stocks ended the day down more than 10 percent
The stock market has seen a loss of $ 620 billion in two days
(Via Reuters )


JAPAN: 3:30 a.m., Wednesday/ 2:30 p. m., Tuesday

In India, prayer vigils for Japan, but foodstuffs will be tested

Indian participants pray during a candlelight vigil to pay homage to victims of quake-hit Japan, in Mumbai on March 15, 2011. (PUNIT PARANJPE - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Prayer vigils are being held in India to remember the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Meanwhile, Indian officials announce they will test foodstuffs imported from Japan for radioactivity, Al Jazeera reported.

Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines have already ordered similar tests.

JAPAN: 3:00 a.m., Wednesday/ 2:00 p. m., Tuesday

Japan’s hopes lift as survivors are found

In a rare bit of good news, rescuers found two survivors Tuesday in the rubble left by the tsunami that hit the northeast, including a 70-year-old woman whose house was tossed off its foundation. WATCH:

JAPAN: 2:43 a.m., Wednesday/ 1:43 p. m., Tuesday

Go to sleep, Mount Fuji!

After yesterday’s trending Twitter hashtags #edano_nero, which urged overworked government spokesman Yukio Edano to go to sleep, and #kan_okiro, which told Prime Minister Naoto Kan to wake up, Japanese twitter users have riffed on those hashtags to create another clever one: #fujisan_nero, which means “Go to sleep Mount Fuji”.

The epicenter of the 9.0 magnitude quake was very close to the active volcano Mount Fuji, which has not seen activity since the year 1707.

Here’s a picture users have drawn on Twitter to go with #fujisan_nero:

#fujisan_nero          ┉┉┉┉☀┉┉┉┉┉┉☁☁┉┉┉ ┉☁┉┉┉╱▔▔▔▔╲┉┉┉☁┉ ☁┉┉┉╱╲╱╲╱╲╱╲┉┉┉┉ ┉┉┉╱┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊╲┉┉┉ ┉┉╱┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊╲┉┉ ┉╱┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊┊╲┉less than a minute ago via web

Another volcano in southern Japan resumed eruptions Sunday, Japan's Meteorological Agency said. The volcano started spewing ash and rock again after a couple of quiet weeks. WATCH:  

JAPAN: 2:30 a.m., Wednesday/ 1:30 p. m., Tuesday

Radiation plume could reach Tokyo

A larger radiation plume from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant could reach Tokyo, a U.S. scientists' organization said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The Union of Concerned Scientists also said the cooling system at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant would be hard to maintain if all workers there were evacuated from the facility.

A crack in the containment vessel could allow radiation to exit the reactor in case of a core meltdown, the scientists warned. They also said the Japanese government should extend the evacuation zone around the troubled plant.

JAPAN: 2:07 a.m., Wednesday/ 1:07 p. m., Tuesday

Morea than 10,000 people are now reported dead or missing, Russain news site Ria Novosti reported.

JAPAN: 1:40 a.m., Wednesday/ 12:40 p. m., Tuesday

People check the news reports while waiting for the lights at Shibuya crossing on March 15, 2011. Shibuya crossing is one of the busiest crossings in Tokyo but is now very quiet during peak hour.
(Adam Pretty - GETTY IMAGES)

JAPAN: 1:10 a.m., Wednesday/ 12:10 p. m., Tuesday

U.S. radiation monitoring equipment to arrive in Japan soon

The Obama administration’s most vocal advocate for nuclear power, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, says American radiation monitoring equipment will arrive in Japan in two hours, Reuters reported.  

Chu says the Obama administration is still committed to having nuclear power, because the country "needs a diverse supply of energy." Chu also told a House Appropriations subcommittee that America will learn from the crisis in Japan whether safety improvements are needed at U.S. nuclear power plants.  WATCH:


JAPAN: 1:00 a.m., Wednesday/ 12:00 p. m., Tuesday

Oxfam Japan appeals for donations

Oxfam Japan is appealing for public donations for two partner organizations, one that is assisting mothers and babies and the other providing information to non-Japanese speakers living in Japan.

JAPAN: 12:50 a.m., Wednesday/ 11:50 a. m., Tuesday

Radiation soars after Japan nuclear plant fire

Residents within 19 miles of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been ordered indoors when radiation levels soared after an explosion fire. Officials said a fuel storage pond at Unit 4 had been burning. WATCH:

JAPAN: 12:25 a.m., Wednesday/ 11:25 a. m., Tuesday

Google map of evacuation area around Fukushima Daiichi plant

Adrian Heymer, Nuclear Energy Institute's Executive Director of Strategic Programs, will be online at 2 p.m. today to chat with readers about concerns about nuclear power plant meltdowns in Japan. Submit your questions here.

 

JAPAN: 11:25 p.m. / 10:25 a. m., Tuesday

More foreign aid, rescue teams arrive


US rescue workers pour over a map of Ofunato before setting out to begin operations in the devastated city on March 15, 2011. (NICHOLAS KAMM - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The American Red Cross is contributing an initial $10 million to assist earthquake and tsunami survivors, Reuters reported.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan announced today that USAID rescue teams had arrived, and that Japan would accept additional support or rescue teams from the Republic of Korea, the U.K., France, China, Germany, Switzerland, and Singapore.

 

JAPAN: 11:00 p.m. / 10:00 a. m., Tuesday

Google map of evacuation area around Fukushima Daiichi plant

This Google Map shows the evacuation area around the quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The yellow pin represents the Daaichi plant, site of several reactor explosions and partial meltdowns. The yellow circle indicates the 12 mile evacuation area.The largest circle indicates the 18 miles evacuation area.

Between the two perimeters, residents are told to: "Wait indoors, close doors and windows, shut down air ventilators, and dry laundry indoors."


(Screen grab from Google Maps)

See the full map here. (View in Google Chrome to translate to English)

JAPAN: 10:50 p.m. / 9:50 a. m., Tuesday

US navy ships to return to Japanese coast

The U.S. military says that it moved several Navy ships including the carrier USS Ronald Reagan closer to the Japanese coast after pulling them back due to radiation concerns, Al Jazeera reported.

Favorable weather conditions allowed the ships to move closer to Japan's northeast coast, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Japan said. The ships will support Japanese relief and search and rescue operations.

JAPAN: 10:40 p.m. / 9:40 a. m., Tuesday

Magnitude 6.2 quake hits eastern Japan

A magnitude 6.2 quake hit eastern Japan, Reuters reported. The quake shook buildings in Tokyo, witnesses said.

JAPAN: 10:35 p.m. / 9:35 a. m., Tuesday

Japan evacuees describe ‘tipping point’

While waiting on departing flights at Tokyo’s Handea Airport, Students, residents and tourists describe the tipping point that convinced them that it was time to leave Japan. WATCH:

JAPAN: 10:30 p.m. / 9:30 a. m., Tuesday

Wall Street expected to tumble after Japan’s stock average plummets

The Dow Jones has opened down 152.88 points, or 1.27 percent, Reuters reported, tracking global equities sharply lower as fears of a nuclear crisis look as if they could send financial markets into a period of turmoil, Reuters reported.

The damage wrought by the earthquake in Japan has disrupted production of automobiles, computer chips and other goods, Neil Irwin reported.  

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average plummeted 10.6 percent to 8,605.15 Tuesday, after declining as much as 14 percent during the day. Tuesday’s precipitous fall followed a 6 percent drop Monday. 

Those declines occurred despite an infusion of yen Monday and Tuesday by the Bank of Japan to try to prop up the nation’s financial system. Analysts estimated that the damage will cost about $180 billion.

JAPAN: 10:15 p.m. / 9:15 a. m., Tuesday

A baby is tested for radiation in Fukushima Prefecture:


(KYODO/REUTERS - A baby is tested for radiation in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture in northern Japan, March 15, 2011. Panic swept Tokyo on Tuesday after a rise in radioactive levels around an earthquake-hit nuclear power plant north of the city, causing some to leave the capital or stock up on food and supplies.)

JAPAN: 10:10 p.m. / 9:10 a. m., Tuesday

Local media relentless at Tepco press conference

Residents and press have been frustrated by vague statements from Tokyo Electric Power Co. about the troubled Fukushima Daiichi power plant and assurances about the levels of radiation around the plant. At a press conference Tuesday, the Japanese media was relentless. Journalists and bloggers tweeted the event:

TEPCO tries to end presser. Journalists fight back "だめ!だめ!" and the questions continue...less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

TEPCO are doing a better job this time. Journalists looking like dogs grilling themless than a minute ago via web

Unbelievable, the TEPCO guy has just discovered how easy it's to say "I don't know" when "he doesn't know"less than a minute ago via web

JAPAN: 10:06 p.m. / 9:06 a. m., Tuesday

Water may be poured through holes in reactor building

Japan reactor operator says workers may pour water through holes in the reactor building into a spent fuel pool, Reuters reported.

Conditions had deteriorated further earlier Tuesday at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant when a Japanese nuclear safety official said that the water inside the waste fuel storage pool for a damaged reactor may be boiling.Boiling water could evaporate, exposing the rods, and increasing the likelihood a nuclear meltdown could occur.

JAPAN: 9:38 p.m. / 8:38 a. m., Tuesday

Radiation risks for plant workers and Tokyo residents


(Gregory Bull/AP - Officials wearing clothing to protect against radiation work in a center to scan residents who have been within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant damaged by Friday's earthquake Tuesday, March 15, 2011, (AP Photo/Gregory Bull))

After fire broke out at a reactor Tuesday, there were fears that emergency crews faced 'very acute' radiation levels. After the rest of the 1,400 employees evacuated the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 50 workers remained in a desperate effort to keep the cores of three stricken reactors cooled.

But radiation levels at the reactor have now become too high for normal work in the control room, Reuters reported.

Outside the plant, radiation levels have risen around Tokyo, with readings up at least nine times higher than normal 15 miles from the capital, Kyodo News reported. Tokyo metropolitan government said it had detected a small amount of radioactive materials in the air, and some residents have fled the capital.  Government spokesman Yukio Edano said the radiation readings had fallen significantly by the evening.

IAEA says Japan has monitored 150 people for radiation levels, and carried out decontamination measures on 23, according to BBC.

JAPAN: 9:06 p.m. / 8:06 a. m., Tuesday

Number dead or unaccounted for exceeds 6000

The number of those confirmed dead or who remain unaccounted has exceeded 6,000, a police tally showed Tuesday, Kyodo News reported.

The National Police Agency said 2,475 people were confirmed dead while 3,611 were missing as of noon.

The agency has identified 1,060 bodies so far. 420 of those have been returned to their families.

Thousands of survivors are believed to have taken refuge at places difficult to locate, including 1,300 found stranded on the island of Oshima, Miyagi prefecture, according to local authorities.

Some 7,000 to 8,000 who that have taken shelter at schools have been unable to receive relief goods, they said.

JAPAN: 9:00 p.m. / 8:00 a. m., Tuesday

Explosion and fire at plant raise risk of nuclear disaster

Japan’s nuclear emergency became more dire Tuesday after the third explosion in four days hit the troubled Fukushima Daiichi complex, Steven Mufson and Chico Harlan reported. Fire briefly raged in a storage facility for spent fuel rods at a fourth, previously unaffected reactor.

Three hours after the explosion, the radiation level at the plant measured 11,930 micro sieverts per hour. That level is several times the amount a person can safely be exposed to in one year.

But radiation levels shrank dramatically within the next six hours, to 496 micro sieverts per hour. Government spokesman Yukio Edano called it “much higher than the normal level ... but one that causes no harm to human health.”

Tokyo Electric, which over the weekend said it had 1,400 people workingat the complex, evacuated all but 50 workers after the explosion, who remained in a desperate effort to keep the cores of three stricken reactors cooled.

WATCH:

Read more on the explosion and radiation levels here.

Conditions deteriorated further Tuesday when a Japanese nuclear safety official said that the water inside the waste fuel storage pool for a damaged reactor may be boiling.

Boiling water could evaporate, exposing the rods. The fuel rods are encased in safety containers meant to prevent them from resuming nuclear reactions, nuclear officials said, who downplayed the risk of that happening.

But officials acknowledged that there could have been damage to the containers and confirmed that the walls of the storage pool building were damaged.  

We’ll update you as soon as we have more information.

By  |  09:01 AM ET, 03/15/2011

 
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