Japan earthquake and tsunami: Live updates day three
As Japan deals with day three of devastation after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and powerful tsunami, we'll be following along with live updates here.
We've moved. Continue reading live updates from day three and four here.
Reuters spoke with several nuclear experts who have been monitoring the situation in Japan and find a major radiation leak unlikely. According to Professor Richard Wakeford of the Dalton Nuclear Institute at Britain's University of Manchester, Japanese engineers' greatest ally may be time.
"The reactor cores were still hot when the reactor shut down, as time goes on that radioactive decay heat will get less and the problem will get less," he said in a statement.
Robin Grimes, director of the Center for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College London, concurred, saying, "There's no risk of an extensive radiation leak into the surrounding areas ... the structure of the core is probably still intact."
Although it appears that there may have been a partial meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi's unit 1 reactor, a German engineer quoted by Reuters said a partial meltdown is "not a disaster" and a full meltdown is unlikely.
The wind is also lending a hand, blowing nuclear pollution over the ocean.
Chairman of the homeland security committee Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) talks about what the U.S. can learn about nuclear safety from the ruptured nuclear power plant in Japan. WATCH:
The United States has issued a travel warning for Japan, Reuters reported.
The State Department said it requested all non-essential U.S. government personnel to defer travel and urged American citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan. It said that strong aftershocks were likely for weeks.
Noriyuki Shikata, Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations at Japan's prime minister's office, tweeted:
Many people citizens are being misled about how to deal with the fallout of the massive earthquake and powerful tsunami by online chain letters, the Japanese government warned, according to Japan Times.
Over the weekend, an anonymous sender initiated an online alert campaign telling people to carry umbrellas and raincoats because "the explosion at Cosmo Oil refinery (in Chiba Prefecture) has released a poisonous substance into the atmosphere that will come down with rain.
The sender cited his or her brother-in-law as the source and warned people to stay inside unless absolutely necessary.
Cosmo Oil released a statement saying the likelihood of a threat to health from the exploded tanks is "extremely low."
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano warned that such misleading e-mail letters "stir up unnecessary anxiety" and senders should refrain from sending them.
A volcano in southern Japan has resumed eruptions, the Japan's Meteorological Agency said Sunday in a warning. The volcano is spewing ash and rock again after a couple quiet weeks.
The mountain is on an island, 950 miles from the epicenter of Friday's earthquake, and it is unclear if the eruptions were linked to quake.
Watch video that purportedly shows the volcano erupt:
Japan's leading power company announced Sunday that for the first time in history it would conduct rolling blackouts to prevent massive blackouts following the earthquake.
The measure will last through the end of April.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is the largest power provider in Asia and the fourth-largest in the world. TEPCO operates both plants in Fukushima Prefecture that were severely damaged by the quake, Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini. According to TEPCO and government officials, the blackouts will affect traffic signals, hospitals, trains and possibly the water supply.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos is tweeting constant updates on the situation in Japan, with links to news conferences, statements by the prime minister, all in English:
The U.N. has just released its latest report, which says rescue and relief operations have been hampered by aftershocks, tsunami alerts, & fires. Read it here.
Hiromitsu Shinkawa clung to the roof of his home as he was pushed out to sea after a tsunami swept away his wife, the Associated Press reported. For two days, he drifted off Japan's northeastern coast, trying to get the attention of helicopters and ships that passed by - to no avail.
On Sunday, a Japanese military vessel finally spotted the 60-year-old waving a red cloth. He was floating about 10 miles offshore from the earthquake-damaged city of Minamisoma, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Japanese troops used a small boat to pluck him from the ocean.
"I thought today was the last day of my life," Kyodo News quoted him as saying.
Watch more rooftop rescues here.
Japanese automakers, electronics firms and oil refiners shut important factories, emphasizing the challenge facing the government as it tries to limit the earthquake's economic impact, according to Reuters.
Electronics giant Sony Corp has suspended operations at eight factories. Nissan Motor halted output at all four of its domestic assembly factories and said restarting them could depend on whether it can get parts.
There is a long list of companies unsure of how quickly they can get their plants back up and running, and widespread damage to infrastructure and power rationing.
Experts say Japan's economy will suffer only a temporary setback and could bounce back around April when spending on rebuilding efforts starts to take effect.
There are approximately 160,000 American citizens in Japan.
We are not aware of any confirmed reports of American casualties in Japan.
The State Department has received numerous inquiries on the welfare and whereabouts of specific U.S. citizens in Japan. The Embassy and the State Department are working around the clock to determine the whereabouts and well-being of these U.S. citizens.
The best information we have is that there are approximately 1,300 American citizens in the Japanese prefectures that were most affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
The Embassy is working to send consular officers to these affected prefectures today (March 13) to assist American citizens in those areas. At this time, we do not have information on how many of these American citizens may have left the area.
The State Department has advised U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Japan.
Japanese government officials have said a partial nuclear meltdown caused by a massive earthquake is likely underway in the second of three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear complex. WATCH:
The wind over troubled Fukushima nuclear complex will remain blowing from the west during the night on Sunday, pushing any radioactivity toward the ocean, an official at Japan's Meteorological Agency said, Reuters reported.
Japan's massive earthquake has had little effect on the culture's impeccable manners, L.A. Times reported Sunday.
Reporter Laura King writes:
The Japanese language is full of ritual apologies, uttered so often as to become almost meaningless: Iam about to make a nuisance of myself -- please excuse me! Some of this is a matter of mere formality. But at a time of crisis, such politesse can be the glue that holds the country together.
King recounts a story of a woman named Hiroko Yamashita who was pinned down and had her ankle shattered by a bookshelf after the quake. When paramedics reached her, she did what any "normal" person would do and apologized for the inconvenience, asking if there weren't others they should be attending to first.
There are other examples. Shop owners and hotel clerks won't let the customers see their anxiety. On departing planes, passengers ask about one another's well-being but don't mention if they have a relative is missing so as not to burden the other person. When trains started running after hours of being shut down, there was an orderly line to get onboard.
And when a passenger departs the train, the rest call out: Kiotsukete! -- Be careful!
CNN has released footage which shows the ground slowly cracking open during the Japanese earthquake. WATCH:
- Google person finder.
- Scheduled blackouts and blackout zone map by area from popular Japanese blogger Michael Gakuran.
- Satellite imagery of the devastation across Japan, via Google.
- Protecting yourself from nuclear radiation, from Japan Subculture Research Center.
- Who can and cannot donate blood in Japan, outlined by popular Japanese blog Mutantfrog.
- How you can help, from Timeout Japan and the Japan Subculture Research Center.
- Japanese translator, from Electronic Dictionary Research and Development Group.
The 40-year-old nuclear reactor facing a possible meltdown at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi power plant was originally scheduled to go out of commission in February but had its operating license extended another 10 years, Reuters reported.
The reactor was originally scheduled to operate for just 40 years, but Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency approved the extension.
The reactor also is also the utility's oldest atomic core.
Officials are working desperately at the plant to stop fuel rods in two damaged reactors from overheating. If the fuel rods don't cool, they could melt the container that houses the core, or explode and release radioactive material, according to officials.
The government has said there may have already been a partial meltdown of the fuel rods at the No. 1 reactor, and engineers are pumping in seawater to prevent the same happening at the No. 3 reactor.
Footage came in Sunday that showed incredible rooftop helicopter rescues in Japan. WATCH:
- 2000 people dead or unaccounted for, that number may reach 10,000, according to Kyodo News.
- The magnitude of the quake has been revised from 8.9 to 9.0 magnitude, according to AP.
- More than 450,000 have evacuated from the area around the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to Kyodo News.
- 12-mile radius evacuation area around the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, revised from 6-miles, according to Kyodo News.
- 19 people exposed to radiation near the plant, according to the prefectural government, Kyodo News reported.
- More than 12,000 rescued so far, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, according to BBC.
- 20,820 buildings have been fully or partially damaged, according to Kyodo News.
- 100,000 Self-Defense Force personnel sent to help, one of the largest operations ever for SDF, according to Kyodo News.
- 11,400 base stations of major cellphone operators not operating, according to Kyodo News.
- 879,500 subscribed phone lines remain out of service, according to Kyodo News.
- 5,000 houses in Iwate Prefecture alone submerged in water, according to Kyodo News.
- 1,167 residents unable to be contacted in Fukushima by the prefectural government, according to Kyodo News.
- 4,400 people remained isolated in the tsunami-swamped town of Onagawa, according to Kyodo News.
- In Miyago, about 10,000 people unnaccounted for in the town Minamisanriku, half the town's population, according to Kyodo News.
- 70 percent chance of a level 7 quake in the next three days, according to Japanese television station NHK.
Washington Post reporter Chico Harlan is on the ground in Japan and live-tweeting.
Here's what people are saying right now on Twitter:
Elizabeth Flock and Aaron Wiener
| March 13, 2011; 10:52 AM ET
Categories: The Daily Catch
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