Japan earthquake and tsunami - latest updates

Last updated 23:57 12/03/2011
Residents return into the restricted area to look at their quake-damaged homes in Miyagi prefecture.
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Residents return into the restricted area to look at their quake-damaged homes in Miyagi prefecture.

Japan quake triggers giant tsunami

Huge refinery fire after quake hits

Tsunami waves close in on Japan

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SUNDAY - 00: 20pm: Japan's Self Defence Forces troops have found 300 to 400 bodies in the coastal city of Rikuzentakata, which was virtually wiped out by a massive tsunami, broadcaster NHK reported.

23.55pm: The Japanese government has expanded the evacuation area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to 20 km.

22.20pm: UN nuclear watchdog urgently seeking information after reports of an explosion at Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant.

21.45pm: Reports of an explosion at Japanese nuclear power plant with images shown on television.

19.45pm: Nearly a quarter of a million people (224,000) residents in Philippines go home after tsunami alert subsides.

18.55pm: An official with Japan's nuclear safety commission says a meltdown at nuclear power plant affected by the quake is possible.

Ryohei Shiomi said officials were checking whether a meltdown had taken place at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.

18.40pm: At least 613 people have been confirmed killed in the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. 

But the government has voiced fears that more than 1000 had died. Media outlets in Japan are reporting 1300 are likely dead.

18.20pm: More than 215,000 people were in emergency shelters in eastern and northern Japan, the National Police Agency said. The number included more than 100,000 people who took refuge in the northern prefecture of Fukushima, including residents ordered to evacuate areas around two nuclear power plants.

17.45pm: New Zealand officials say the tsunami threat here following the Japan quake has passed.

16.59pm: Waves hitting New Zealand from the Japanese quake-generated tsunami have peaked at about one metre.

Civil Defence said the Chatham Islands recorded sea level changes in excess of 1m, while parts of the North Island experienced 70cm surges.

16.17pm: Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan says more than 50,000 rescue staff will be dedicated to response.

16.15pm: Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan says small amount of radiation has been leaked from nuclear plant.

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16.01pm: "We must be prepared for the number [of dead] to rise greatly,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says.

16.00pm: Japanese media reports say death toll from quake and tsunami is at least 1,300.

15.40pm: Expert says electricity is needed to help keep damaged nuclear power plants cool.

15.15pm: A magnitude 6.8 aftershock has been felt off the east coast of Japan near Honshu.

14.55pm: A pregnant New Zealander living near one of the nuclear plants said she fears it could explode.

Jayne Nakata - Jayne Lark until she married a Japanese man - said the Fukushima Nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company, was about 50km from her home.

"If there was a large explosion we would be affected here,'' she said today.

14.51pm: There have been at least 150 aftershocks since yesterday's 8.9 magnitude quake struck Japan.

14.32pm: The Japanese government is currently holding an emergency meeting on the subject of the Fukushima nuclear plants.

14.05pm: Oil prices fall after quake and tsunami shut refineries and other industrial facilities in the world's third-largest oil consumer.

1.23pm: There is no connection between February's Christchurch earthquake and the massive Japanese quake, scientists say.

1.14pm: Japan has declared a state of emergency at another nuclear power plant after a cooling system at its three reactor units failed.

12.59pm: Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand will send six Urban Search and Rescue staff to Japan immediately to help.

The six will travel to Japan tonight and the balance of a team of 48 would probably leave tomorrow, following a request from Japan, he said this afternoon.

12.46pm: Up to 20 New Zealanders are thought to be unaccounted for in quake-stricken areas of Japan, the New Zealand ambassador there says.

12.25pm: A 6.7-magnitude quake has hit Japan's Niigata prefecture northwest of Tokyo, causing landslides and destroying houses.

Kyodo News said there were no immediate reports of casualties and no fresh tsunami alert was issued.

11.40am: Officials say radiation levels inside a nuclear power plant have surged to 1000 times their normal levels.

11.35am: Chile upgrades the tsunami alert for its coastal territories and the remote Easter Islands.

11.15am: Daylight reveals a landslide caused by a magnitude 6.7 quake during the night.

9.15am: Japan trade ministry says pressure inside Fukushima reactor may have risen to 2.1 times designed capacity.

8.50am: The UN says Japan has now requested a limited number of rescue teams. Earlier today, some 68 search and rescue teams from 45 countries were on standby. 

7.58am: Japanese authorities will release slightly radioactive vapour to ease pressure at nuclear reactor whose cooling system failed.

Japan's nuclear safety agency says pressure inside one of six boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant had risen to 1.5 times the level considered normal.

The agency said the radioactive element in the vapour that will be released would not affect the environment or human health.

7.48am:  US President Barack Obama has ordered a number of US military ships to move toward Japan, preparing to render aid and take supplies.

Obama said his administration would ''continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward'' and he directed emergency services to mobilise. 

Obama's chief of staff Bill Daley notified the president about the earthquake in Japan at 4am Washington time. Obama said the US is ready to support the Japanese people ''in this time of great trial.'' 

''The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable,'' he said, ``and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy.'' 

''Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis,'' Obama's statement said.  

7.25am: Hawaii has escaped tsunami damage while people flee their homes in parts of northern California as the earthquake-triggered tsunami begins to hit the West Coast there.

6.34am: The quake which devastated Japan overnight was nearly 8000 times stronger than that which hit Christchurch last month.

Scientists also said the Japan quake ranked as the fifth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900.

"The energy radiated by this quake is nearly equal to one month's worth of energy consumption" in the United States, US Geological Survey Scientist Brian Atwater said.

6.21am: Offers of emergency help for Japan has been swift in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Russian emergency services agency ERMACOM has offered 40 people with three sniffer dogs, Singapore had civil defence forces on standby, Poland has offered firefighters, China, Switzerland and the United States also offered rescue teams while Britain, France and others said they were ready to offer whatever help was required.

China also said it was ready to provide any assistance Japan required.

5.36am: The United States has transported coolant to a Japanese nuclear plant affected by a massive earthquake.

"We just had our Air Force assets in Japan transport some really important coolant to one of the nuclear plants," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a meeting of the President's Export Council.

"You know Japan is very reliant on nuclear power and they have very high engineering standards but one of their plants came under a lot of stress with the earthquake and didn't have enough coolant," Clinton said.

5.34am: Tsunami waves swamped Hawaii beaches and brushed the US western coast but haven't immediately cause major damage.

Kauai was the first of the Hawaiian islands hit by the tsunami, which was caused by a massive earthquake in Japan, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said. Water rushed ashore in Honolulu, covering the beach in Waikiki and surging over a break wall in the world-famous resort but stopping short of the area's high-rise hotels.

Waves about two metres high were recorded on Maui, and one metre in Oahu and Kauai. Officials warned that the waves would continue and could become larger, and a scientist at the tsunami warning centre said there was likely some damage to mooring facilities and piers.

4.51am: A hydro dam is reportedly leaking and washing away houses following Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

News agency AFP said the damaged dam was in the north-eastern area of the country which has taken the brunt of the massive 8.9 quake and 10-metre tsunami.

4.45am: Japan's massive earthquake and deadly tsunami pounded commodity and equity markets worldwide and lifted the yen on expectations Tokyo will repatriate funds to pay for repairs.

Oil prices slid more than US$3 a barrel, with US crude falling below US$100, while MSCI's all-country world index of global stocks fell to a five-week low after the biggest earthquake on record hit northeast Japan.

The Nikkei 225 index in Japan slid 1.7 per cent.

Metals prices skidded on worries about the quake's impact on the world's third-largest consumer of commodities, as well as on Chinese inflation data, which fuelled concerns over demand from the world's top consumer of metals.

Chinese February inflation topped expectations at 4.9 per cent and looked set to climb further in coming months, adding to pressure for another dose of monetary tightening.

North Sea Brent fell 1.5 per cent to US$113.77, while US light sweet crude was off 2.2 per cent to US$100.50.

4.23am: Kauai has been the first of the Hawaiian islands hit by the tsunami triggered by an 8.9 earthquake near Japan.

Water rushed ashore in Honolulu, swamping the beach in Waikiki and surging over the break wall in the world-famous resort but stopping short of the area's high-rise hotels.

Waves about two metres high were recorded on Maui, and one metre in Oahu and Kauai. Officials warned that the waves would continue and could become larger, but a scientist at the tsunami warning centre said it didn't appear that they would cause major damage in Hawaii.

4.18am: Up to 300 bodies have been found in the coastal city of Sendai after an 8.9 earthquake hit Japan, media said.

NHK television said the victims appeared to have drowned.

Another 88 were confirmed killed and at least 349 were missing. The death toll was likely to continue climbing given the scale of the disaster.

2.56am: A passenger train with an unknown number of people aboard was unaccounted for in a tsunami-hit part of coastal Japan.

2.36am: Tsunami waves have hit Hawaii, but no information was available on the size or impact of the waves.

2.29am: An evacuation order has been issued to more than 2800 people living near a nuclear power plant in Fukushima after its cooling system failed.

2.12am: At least 60 people were killed and 56 missing after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunamis that hit Japan on Friday.

The National Police Agency said 241 others were injured.

1.54am: More than 300 houses collapsed or were washed away in the city of Ofunate - an indication of the vast destruction along the coast.

1.12am: At least 44 people had been killed in the quake and tsunami.

12.40am: A ship carrying 100 people was swept away by the tsunami, Kyodo news agency reported.

12.40am: A state of emergency has been declared at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima after its cooling system failed.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says the plant developed a mechanical failure in the system needed to cool the reactor after it was shut down in Friday's earthquake.

He said the measure was a precaution and there was no radiation leak at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. He said the facility was not in immediate danger.

12.39am: Chile's president has called on the country to remain calm and go about business as usual despite a tsunami alert that applies to the entire Pacific coast of the Americas.

12.32am: Hawaii and other parts of the Pacific brace for a destructive tsunami early Friday after a massive earthquake struck in Japan.

Tsunami sirens were sounded and coastal areas were being evacuated in Hawaii, where the first waves were expected to hit about 6am PST (0300 NZT) Friday.

12.01am: A 4.5-magnitude earthquake has struck Hawaii as residents brace for a tsunami after a massive earthquake in Japan.

11.53pm: Japanese nuclear officials are working to cool down reactor at nuclear plant following quake and tsunami.

11.48pm: At least 32 people are now feared dead after a huge quake and tsunami hit Japan.

11.32pm: Taiwan's weather bureau says minor tsunamis generated by Japanese quake have reached coastline without causing damage.

11.31pm: At least 29 people are now feared dead after a huge quake and tsunami hit Japan.

11.19pm: At least 26 people are now feared dead after a huge quake and tsunami hit Japan.

11.13pm: The four nuclear plants closest to quake in Japan have been safely shut down, International Atomic Energy Agency says.

11.00pm: Foreign Minister Murray McCully expresses deep concern and sympathy to the people of Japan following earthquake and tsunami.

"All New Zealanders are concerned to learn of this major quake which has caused extensive damage. Our thoughts are with the people of Japan at this moment as they endeavour to respond to this disaster," McCully said.

"Japan has stood by our side in our time of need in the weeks following our tragedy in Christchurch. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan."

10.39pm: New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade sets up hotline following the Japan quake for people seeking information on family.

Anyone seeking information should call 0800 432 111 or 04 439 8000.

10.23pm: Tsunami warning has been extended to entire US and Canada's west coast.

10.08pm: New Zealand officials say main part of tsunami wave appears to be headed away from South Pacific.

9.58pm: New Zealand Civil Defence spokesman says people should stay away from beaches here from 5am tomorrow morning.

9.57pm: International Red cross says main worry is that tsunami is higher than some Pacific Islands.

9.45pm: New Zealand Civil Defence officials say small tsunami will hit country after 6am tomorrow, and warns boaties to shift vessels.

9.40pm: Nearly 70,000 people were inside Tokyo Disneyland when quake struck.

9.29pm: Warning sirens have been sounded in Hawaii.

9.24pm: Firefighters report more than 44 blazes have broken out across northern Japan.

9.23pm: Japan's prime minister says the 8.9-magnitude quake caused "major damage'' in northeastern Japan.

But Naoto Kan said nuclear power facilities in the area were not damaged and there was no radiation leakage.

9.22pm: 3500 Kiwis are registered as living in Japan.

9.20pm: At least eight people have been confirmed dead following magnitude 8.8 earthquake and tsunami in Japan this evening.

Stuff, with AP and REUTERS

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