Japan quake live blog: Official death toll rises to 3,676
A tsunami survivor shows the family pictures she collected from the rubble of her house in Yamada on Tuesday.
March 15th, 2011
11:30 PM ET

Japan quake live blog: Official death toll rises to 3,676

An 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan early Friday, triggering tsunamis that caused widespread devastation and crippled a nuclear power plant. Are you in an affected area? Send an iReport. Read the full report on the quake, tsunami and the fears surrounding Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

[11:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] A white cloud of smoke or steam rising above Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have been caused by a breach in the containment vessel in reactor No. 3, government officials said.

"There's a probability the vapor is coming out of a broken part of containment vessel. This is a possibility," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Wednesday.

A spokesman for Japan's nuclear safety agency later told reporters that analysts were still trying to determine the cause of fluctuating radiation levels at the plant, but that radiation levels may have increased "because the containment vessel in reactor No. 3 has been damaged."

[11:01 p.m. ET Tuesday, 12:47 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The reported radiation readings near the front gate of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant are fluctuating by the hour, but currently do not pose any health hazard, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Wednesday. The reading spiked once Tuesday night, he said.

Meanwhile, The Japan Times reports that radiation reached around 20 times normal levels in the capital Tuesday morning, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said, while offering the assurance this reading posed no immediate risk to human health and that the public should remain calm.

"I received a report this morning that there was an important change of data," Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said at a news conference. "I heard that it will not immediately cause health problems."

[10:47 p.m. ET Tuesday, 11:47 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Wednesday workers at Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant have suspended their operations and been evacuated.

[9:20 p.m. ET Tuesday, 10:20 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The death toll in Japan has risen to 3,676, authorities said. he number of dead is expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas

At least 7,558 people are missing and 1,990 are injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.

[8:26 p.m. ET Tuesday, 9:26 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Stocks in Japan opened higher Wednesday morning, one day after the island nation's main market index suffered one of its biggest drops on record, CNNMoney's Ben Rooney reports.

The Nikkei 225 index, the most prominent measure of Tokyo market stocks, rose 520 points, or 6%, shortly after the market opened. The rebound comes after intense selling in the previous two sessions. On Tuesday, the index plunged 10.6%, marking the third worst one-day plunge in the Nikkei's history.

[6:42 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5:42 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] U.S. government experts trying to construct a model of radiation plumes emanating from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant are being hampered by a "paucity of good data," a senior administration official said.

[6:24 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5:24 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Some context for the new fire in the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear power plant's Reactor 4 building: This is that building's second fire in two days.

The first fire, discovered Tuesday in a cooling pond used for nuclear fuel, coupled with Tuesday's explosion at the plant's No. 2 reactor, briefly pushed radiation levels at the plant to about 167 times the average annual dose of radiation, according to details released by the International Atomic Energy Agency. This chased all but a handful of workers from the site and raised fears of a far more dangerous radiation threat.

Tuesday's dose would quickly dissipate with distance from the plant, and radiation quickly fell back to levels where it posed no immediate public health threat, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

The effect that Wednesday's fire was having on radiation levels and information about the fire's cause weren't immediately available. About 200,000 people living within a 12.4-mile radius of the plant have long been evacuated.

Three explosions and two fires have now been reported in various reactor buildings in the past five days.

[6 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] A new fire was discovered Wednesday morning in the northeastern corner of Reactor 4 building at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant, an official with Tokyo Electric and Power told reporters.

[4:48 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5:48 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The U.S. military has blocked its own access to a range of websites to free up bandwidth for use in Japan recovery efforts, according to a spokesman for U.S. Strategic Command.

The sites - including YouTube, ESPN, Amazon, eBay and MTV - were chosen not because of their content but because of their popularity among users of military computers, spokesman Rodney Ellison said.

U.S. Pacific Command made the request to free up the bandwidth. The sites, 13 in all, are blocked across the Department of Defense's .mil computer system.

[4:39 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5:39 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The official number of missing people in Japan has risen to 7,558, and 1,990 have been reported injured. The death toll remains at 3,373 but is expected to rise as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

[4:13 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5:13 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The governor of Tokyo has apologized for saying the earthquake and tsunami were God's punishment for Japanese egoism, a Japanese news service reported.

"I will take back (the remark) and offer a deep apology," Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said at a news conference, according to Japan's Kyodo News.

On Monday, Ishihara had told reporters, "I think (the disaster) is tembatsu (divine punishment), although I feel sorry for disaster victims," according to Kyodo News.

[4:02 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5:02 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Iodide pills are being given to sailors as a "precautionary measure only," U.S. Navy spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez said. The U.S. Army's Camp Zama, about 25 miles outside Tokyo, is also taking steps in light of the potential radiation threat.

Messages on the U.S. Army-Japan Facebook page says health officials have been taking "environmental radiation readings every 3 hrs" since Monday and they indicate "absolutely no health risk to our community."

The message added "negligible levels" of radiation require "mitigating measures," including limiting outdoor activities, closing windows and keeping children inside.

Representatives for the Marines and Air Force said they have not seen any reports of their troops testing positive for exposure.

The Navy has three ships en route to Japan to help with disaster relief. They are expected to arrive Thursday. Because of radiation concerns, they will position themselves in the Sea of Japan on the country's west coast rather than the east coast.

[3:35 p.m. ET Tuesday, 4:35 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Regarding the staffers of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, who Kyodo News reported had to abandon the plant control room Tuesday night because of high radiation levels: "Their situation is not great," said David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University.

"It's pretty clear that they will be getting very high doses of radiation," Brenner said. "There's certainly the potential for lethal doses of radiation. They know it, and I think you have to call these people heroes."

[2:24 p.m. ET Tuesday, 3:24 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo]The explosion Tuesday at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has elevated the situation there to a "serious accident" on a level just below Chernobyl, a French nuclear official said, referring to an international scale that rates the severity of such incidents. The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale goes from Level 1 to Level 7.  "It's clear we are at Level 6, that's to say we're at a level in between what happened at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl," Andre-Claude Lacoste, president of France's nuclear safety authority, told reporters Tuesday.

[1:48 p.m. ET Tuesday, 2:48 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The impact of the massive earthquake that struck just off the coast of Japan last week has been felt by tech companies around the world. Dallas-based Texas Instruments said it had suffered "substantial damage" to its production plant in Miho, Japan and slight damage to its Aizu-wakamatsu plant,  CNNMoney reports. Both facilities are north of Tokyo in the areas most affected by the disaster. Austin-based Freescale Semiconductor, which is among the largest microchip makers in the United States, said its facility in Sendai, Japan, was closed.

[1:29 p.m. ET Tuesday, 2:29 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The beleagured crew at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had to abandon the control room Tuesday night because of high radiation levels, Kyodo News reported, citing plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company. They were monitoring data from a remote site, Kyodo reported.

[12:40 p.m. ET Tuesday, 1:40 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Operators at the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and government officials are considering a plan to use helicopters to drop water into the cooling pond through the damaged roof of the reactor building, according to a Kyodo News report.  Concerns about hot radioactive fuel boiling off cooling water and catching on fire continued into Wednesday.

[12:24 p.m. ET Tuesday, 1:24 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Filipino authorities sought to calm panic unleashed among some residents after a hoax text message warned that radiation from Japan may affect the Philippines.  Concerns persist about nuclear reactors in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami. The false text message spread like wildfire on Monday.

[11:54 a.m. ET Tuesday, 12:54 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Oil prices fell more than $3 per barrel, or about 3%,  as investors saw high expectations overshadowed by the impact of the Japanese crisis on the global economy. U.S. stocks also slumped, as Japan's stock market plunged 10.6%. The Dow Jones industrial tumbled 214 points or 1.8%, after being down as much as 297 points earlier. All 30 Dow components were in the red. The S&P 500 fell 23 points, or 1.8%, and the Nasdaq dropped 49 points, or 1.8%.

[10:06 a.m. ET Tuesday, 11:06 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] An aftershock with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 struck Tuesday in the eastern part of Honshu, Japan, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was the latest of dozens of aftershocks following a monster quake with a 9.0 magnitude that hit the area Friday. The aftershock was less than a mile deep and caused shaking that was widely felt.

[9:56 a.m. ET Tuesday, 10:56 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The USGS reports a 5.8 magnitude aftershock off the east coast of Honshu, Japan. CNN crews in Tokyo and Hachinohe felt the tremor, which seemed to last more than 30 seconds, they said.

[9:43 a.m. ET Tuesday, 10:43 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Tuesday morning, "low levels of radioactivity" were detected from the Fukushima plant by instruments on the USS George Washington at Yokosuka, the Navy said.

There was no danger to the public, but U.S. naval forces in Japan recommended measures for personnel and their families in Yokosuka, including limiting outdoor activities and "securing external ventilation systems as practical," the statement said. "These measures are strictly precautionary in nature."

[8:35 a.m. ET Tuesday, 9:35 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The death toll has risen to 3,373 as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday, the national police said Tuesday.

Another 6,746 people are missing, according to the latest figures, a sharp increase from the 3,743 people who were previously listed as missing by the police.

[8:10 a.m. ET Tuesday, 9:10 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Radiation level readings have decreased at the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday afternoon.

"The level has come down to the level to cause no harm to human health, according to the report I have received," Edano said.

[8:01 a.m. ET Tuesday, 9:01 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] South Korea said it will tighten radiation inspections of meat and fisheries imported from Japan in the wake of explosions at the Fukushima power plant, Yonhap news agency reported.

[7:38 a.m. ET Tuesday, 8:38 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Tohoku Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it would begin electricity rationing starting Wednesday, according to the Kyodo news agency.

The move, which comes one day after Tokyo Electric Power Co. implemented outages for quake-affected areas, will affect around 45 million people  in TEPCO"s service area, the agency reported.

[7:11 a.m. ET Tuesday, 8:11 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] In areas decimated by the earthquake and tsunami, temperatures were forecast to drop below freezing by Wednesday.

[6:47 a.m. ET Tuesday, 7:47 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The death toll in Japan from Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami has risen to  2,734, authorities said Tuesday.

As of 6:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. ET), at least 3,743 people were missing and 1,897 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.

[5:45 a.m. ET Tuesday, 6:45 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power Company says spent fuel rods may have burned in Tuesday's fire in the building housing reactor No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing the increase in radiation levels at the facility.

[5:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The protective measures the Japanese government has taken in dealing with the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant  are "appropriate," the World Health Organization said Tuesday. "The actions proposed by the Government of Japan are in line with the existing  recommendations based on public health expertise," the agency said.

[4:39 a.m. ET Tuesday, 5:39 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo]
Hawaii's Governor Neil Abercrombie said the tsunami has caused tens of millions of dollars in damage and he plans to visit some of the damaged areas Tuesday.

The tsunami that devastated Japan brought powerful waves to the Hawaii islands last week.

Abercrombie has signed a "state of disaster proclamation" because of the damage.  The proclamation will allow the state to get federal funds.

[4:28 a.m. ET Tuesday, 5:28 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto at a G-8 meeting in Paris on Tuesday as Japan struggles with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

Matsumoto thanked the U.S. government for its assistance and encouragement.  Clinton offered her counterpart America's condolences and solidarity with the Japanese people.

[4:10 a.m. ET Tuesday, 5:10 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo]
The death toll in Japan from Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami has risen to 2,722, authorities said Tuesday.

As of 3:30 p.m. (2:30 a.m. ET), at least 3,742 people were missing and 1,892 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.

[3:34 a.m. ET Tuesday, 4:34 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Radiation level readings have decreased at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi  nuclear plant, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary said Tuesday.

[3:15 a.m. ET Tuesday, 4:15 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo]
An escalating crisis at a nuclear power plant compounded the human devastation in Japan Tuesday.

As the death toll from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the resulting tsunami steadily ascended, residents waited with anxiety about radiation exposure.

The confirmed number of dead reached 2,478 on Tuesday. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

[2:31 a.m. ET Tuesday, 3:31 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Japan's government has imposed a no-fly zone over the 30-kilometer radius surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant "because of detected radiation after explosions" there, the country's transportation ministry said Tuesday. "Normally there are no restrictions for planes to fly over nuclear facilities," the ministry's statement said.

[2:20 a.m. ET Tuesday, 3:20 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Japanese stocks closed down 10.55 percent, recovering from deeper losses earlier in the session, as the nation grappled with a crisis at an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant and the aftermath of last week's earthquake and tsunami.

[2:13 a.m. ET Tuesday, 3:13 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The death toll in Japan from Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami has risen to 2,478, authorities said Tuesday.

As of 2 p.m. (1 a.m. Tuesday ET), at least 3,611 people were missing and 1,892 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.

The number of dead is expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

[1:42 a.m. ET Tuesday, 2:42 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] A fire at the No. 4 reactor at the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi  nuclear  plant has been extinguished, Japanese officials said Tuesday. The fire broke out earlier  Tuesday. So far, the plant has seen three explosions and a fire.

[1:41 a.m. ET Tuesday, 2:41 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The death toll in Japan from Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and  subsequent tsunami has risen to 2,475, authorities said Tuesday.  As of  10 a.m. (9 p.m. Monday ET), at least 3,118 people were missing and  1,889 injured, the National Police Agency said. The number of dead is  expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

soundoff (231 Responses)
  1. Tony Savarese

    Sorry if duplicate:
    In a "Worst Case Scenario" as in Chernobyl... Could the military incinerate the plant before it gets to a Chernobyl scenario? Can conventional weapons burn hot enough, or would they need nuclear and therefore defeating the purpose?

    Thank You and keep up the great work!
    Tony

    March 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Claire Kenders

    PLEASE get our CNN reporters home & away from that danger....who knows what will happen next? They do not deserve to be exposed to this nuclear radiation! Bring Anderson Cooper & Dr. Gupta home now please...Why compromise anyone else from USA? It is all so very sad but we need to think about our own people, too...esp our military & our CNN reporters...

    March 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Renee

    How frustrating for all of you about the lack of information in reference to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant . Can you ask Jim: If the small group of workers have left, and one of the reactors exploded, would it set off a chain reaction because of the heat?

    March 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Polly

    Could they dump tons of concrete into those reactor pools to entomb the rods?

    March 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. T-Roq Bonachique

    Anderson Cooper has to be the worst reporter and bigges sissy covering this whole event. There's one hilarious clip posted on CNN a couple days ago where he's way beyond the so-called "danger zone" and he keeps asking his cameraman if they're safe or not and the poor guy is trying to explain to him the situation and Cooper is basically whining about "flunking science class" and not understanding a word being told to him – LOL! That's professionalism!

    March 15, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rob

    John Walsh need to stop speculating and start REPORTING...He's a Reporter, thats it...CNN Breaking New's is at Par at the most.
    Given the facts that this country was hit by a 9.0 mag earthquake and a MASSIVE tsunami what do you really expect...Come on people... 50 people left, fighting to stop something thats going to happen regardless...give homage to them working their ass off to make the best of a VERY bad situation. Quite wasting time showing useless info and start reporting the reality...dissection of the situation is just useless info, it's happening and its going to happen....How is the situation going to be sealed off and protected...that's the questions...
    Quite breaking down the past problems and focus on the present.
    CNN you are really not making my life any easier as far as a new production company...i cant rely on you for facts, just to dig into issues. leave the past issues alone and focus on the present of once!

    March 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Noel S Benoit

    Do we know that the two reactor buildings that exploded DID NOT have spent fuel rods stored in them?

    March 15, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nibiru

    All workers have been evacuated!!! Now what? Just sit back and watch the fireworks?

    March 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Grace G

    I haven't heard anything about how sea life was affected or what would happens if something happens with nuclear plant?

    March 15, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark, near 3 mile island

    it just bothers me that the government and the company that operates these ticking time bombs just come in and build these things like their building a shopping center or something in heavely populated areas, they lied to all of us in 1979 about what was really happening and now it seems like allot of people around 3 mile island are dying of cancer, we do have rivers in the U.S. so how about more hydro plants (water powered turbines) that at least won't kill people and the environment from such a disaster. my heart goes out to all the people in harms way

    March 15, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Claire Kenders

    How can anyone make such negative statements about reporters at a time like this due to their own personal hatred or issues? I say we need to take care of our own Americans including our military & all reporters taking risks...
    They need to get as far away as possible immediately...
    What country would be here risking their lives if the USA was in this predicament? And, we never know...
    Can't we all pull together ever anymore on behalf of all Americans?

    March 15, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Theresa

    I have a daughter and grandson in Okinawa and trying to decide if I need to be buying them a ticket back to the usa.

    March 15, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott Chin

      get them out of there asap!

      March 16, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      No. Okinawa is so far away. Don't worry. But if you want them home with you... you could get them a ticket.

      March 16, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. just wondering--west coast

    The news has not stopped developing-cnn is running a replay--of earlier brodcast--is it only reporting to the east coast time zone-I thought it was world wide news-come on--cnn-U can do better

    This is a huge story--You should be live on your coverage.............untill this is over

    March 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      NHK seems more up to date. They even reported another earthquake in Chiba a few minutes ago.

      March 16, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. Portia

    1000 words – http://www.flickr.com/photos/karmenrose/5524679583/

    March 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Geraldine Lowey

    Uranium is so dangerous, that is why it is buried so deep and it should stay there NEVER can anyone ever say it is safe ,the earth is not a stable planet as in earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves etc and anyone who says anything different is a money grubbing idiot. I hope the directors and pro nuclear energy idiots are the first to volanteer to help on site, but i bet they are hiding away in safe houses letting the brave humanitarians risk their all to help their fellow men. Ban it now before they blow us all to kingdom come or slowly poison us to death.

    March 16, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
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