A magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit northern Japan on March 11, 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's aftermath and check out our interactive explainer on Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.
[10:18 p.m. Tuesday ET, 11:18 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] We were unable to update the blog for the past few hours due to technical difficulties. Here's what we missed:
- Several strong earthquakes jolted northeastern Japan on Wednesday morning, among them, one with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 that jolted Fukushima Prefecture, home to the Daiichi nuclear power plant, around 7:15 a.m., Kyodo News reports. The jolts did not damage Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants or hinder reconstruction efforts. No tsunami warnings were issued.
- Japan's megabanks are considering extending loans totaling more than 1 trillion yen to Tokyo Electric Power by the end of March, Kyodo News reports. The move is intended to help the utility raise funds to boost electricity supply following a quake-triggered accident at its nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
- Toyota Motor said it is extending a halt on full vehicle production in Japan through March 26 as it and other major manufacturers try to recover from the effects of this month's earthquake. The nation's three largest automakers, Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Nissan, as well as electronics maker Sony all shut down factories following the earthquake and tsunami that killed at least 9,000 people and left another 13,500 missing.
- In the wake of Japan's nuclear disaster, all milk, milk products, fresh vegetables and fruit from one of four prefectures closest to the quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will be prevented from entering the United States, a spokesperson for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.
All other food products produced or manufactured in one of those prefectures – Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma – will be diverted for testing, the spokesperson said. Food products from other parts of Japan will be tested as resources allow, but the FDA's main focus is food from these four areas, the spokesperson said.
- It was Taylor Anderson's dream come true to be living in Japan. Then, the March 11 earthquake hit. Her parents last heard from her two days before the earthquake, which triggered a massive tsunami that devastated parts of northeast Japan, including the town where Anderson lived.
Her family spread the word of her disappearance on Facebook; her high school, St. Catherine's School, held a prayer vigil in her honor last Thursday. On Monday, her family announced that the wait had ended.
[2:07 p.m. Tuesday ET, 3:07 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] CNN.com posted a blog item earlier Tuesday citing an NHK report on radiation levels in soil 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. A CNN analysis of the data in that report shows that the radiation levels are 100 times normal, considerably less than what was in the NHK report.
[12:41 p.m. Tuesday ET, 1:41 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] "We've certainly erred on the side of caution in terms of women and children, dependents, in terms of offering them the opportunity to leave," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Tuesday. "We're watching it very carefully. We're very concerned about the health of our men and women in uniform. We're also deeply concerned about the well-being of our Japanese allies. So we will do what's best for our men and women in uniform and for our allies."
[12:39 p.m. Tuesday ET, 1:39 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the risk of exposure to radiation and contamination from radioactive materials is believed to be low, especially outside a radius of 80 kilometers (50 miles), John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan, said on Twitter Tuesday. Several countries, including the United States, have urged their citizens living within 80 kilometers of the plant to evacuate or stay indoors.
[11:35 a.m. Tuesday ET, 12:35 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Technicians restored power to the control room of the No. 3 reactor at the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the station's owner reported late Tuesday. Tokyo Electric Power Company said it was able to confirm power by turning the control room's lights on. The next step, the company said, is to get air conditioning in the room so workers can enter and work there.
[11:04 a.m. Tuesday ET, 12:04 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The Japan Ink Makers Association is warning that the ink supply for the nation's newspapers could run dry within a month. Damage to chemical plants in northeastern Japan has left ink producers short of a key chemical to make the ink, broadcaster NHK reports. The ink makers are asking publications to reduce the number of pages they print and the colors they use until supplies normalize, according to the report.
[9:29 a.m. Tuesday ET, 10:29 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Toyota said Tuesday that vehicle production will not resume at its Japanese plants until at least Monday. Production of parts to be sent overseas resumed Monday, the auto maker said.
[9:19 a.m. Tuesday ET, 10:19 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Russia will host this year's World Figure Skating Championship, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, after it was canceled following Japan's massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The championship was initially scheduled to take place Monday through Sunday in Tokyo.
[9:13 a.m. Tuesday ET, 10:13 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Because a shortage of fuel has made cremation difficult, authorities in several Japanese municipalities are burying bodies without cremation, a highly unusual practice in Japan, Kyodo News reports. Coffins were also in short supply and authorities in Higashimatsushima were burying bodies wrapped in sheets, Kyodo reported. Higashimatsushima's government said it is preparing a gravesite for 1,000 burials.
[8:36 a.m. Tuesday ET, 9:36 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Three volcanoes near Tokyo - Mount Fuji, Mount Hakone and Mount Yakidake - show no signs of eruption despite the recent rash of earthquakes in the area, a panel of government scientists said in a Kyodo News report.
"It's true that some volcanoes reacted to the (March 11) quake right afterward," Kyodo quotes Toshitsugu Fujii, chairman of the panel, as saying. "Because the quake measured magnitude 9.0 and moved the crests over 500 kilometers in length, it has possibly activated volcanic activities."
Aftershocks are becoming fewer, he said, so no eruptions are predicted.'
[7:58 a.m. Tuesday ET, 8:58 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Tsunami evacuees at one elementary school in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture, are staying in their cars overnight because the shelter is too crowded, the Mainichi Daily News reports. Evacuees stay around campfires outside the school until around midnight, then run their car heaters for a half-hour and try to get sleep, according to the report, but the vehicles are running short on gas. Lunch rations for the 300 people at the school are one rice ball and a bottle of barley tea.
[7:36 a.m. Tuesday ET, 8:36 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Soil 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had radiation 430 times normal levels when tested Monday, Japan's Science Ministry reported, according to broadcaster NHK.
[7:23 a.m. Tuesday ET, 8:23 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power Company Executive Vice President Norio Tsuzumi on Tuesday went to Fukushima prefecture to apologize in person to residents who have been evacuated from their homes after TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant sustained damage in the earthquake and tsunami, Kyodo News reported.
[6:58 a.m. Tuesday ET, 7:58 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Reactors 1 and 2 at Japan's earthquake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered more damage from seawater than originally believed, the plant's owner said Tuesday. The tsunami that followed the March 11 earthquake damaged electrical components and coolant pumps in units 1 and 2, two of the three now believed to have suffered damage to their reactor cores, said Sakae Muto, vice president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company. Reactor No. 2 suffered more damage than No. 1, and the earliest those parts can be replaced is Wednesday, Muto said.
[6:52 a.m. Tuesday ET, 7:52 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] As of 6 p.m. Tuesday in Japan (5 a.m. ET Monday), the death toll from the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami was 9,080, Japan's National Police Agency said. In addition to the deaths, 13,561 are confirmed missing and 2,675 are injured.
[6:45 a.m. Tuesday ET, 7:45 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Prices for cars could soon be heading up because of the earthquake in Japan, CNNMoney reports. The quake has closed some assembly plants. Other assembly plants, including at least one in the United States, have stopped production because parts plants in Japan have been affected.
[6:20 a.m. Tuesday ET, 7:20 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 struck off the east coast of Honshu, Japan, on Tuesday evening, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It was the third strong earthquake to hit within the last 2 1/2 hours near the epicenter of a 9.0 earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11, the agency said. The other two quakes had preliminary magnitudes of 6.6 and 6.4, making them among the strongest of several quakes that have shaken that part of Japan since the 9.0 quake.
[5:46 a.m. Tuesday ET, 6:46 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Honda announced Tuesday that it is suspending production at production at car plants in Saitama and Mie and a motorcycle plant in Kumamoto until at least Sunday. It had previously said production at those plants would resume Wednesday.
[5:30 a.m. Tuesday ET, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Tests on Tuesday detected radiation in ocean water off the coast of Japan. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that high levels of radioactive substances were found in seawater near the plant, but said that the results did not represent a threat to human health.
"There should be no immediate health impact. If this situation continues for a long period of time, some impact can occur," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.
The impact such radiation could have on marine life was unclear.
[2:28 a.m. Tuesday ET, 3:28 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Firefighters resumed spraying water at the building housing the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant's No. 3 reactor Tuesday afternoon, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
The company said it was planning to use concrete pumpers to pour water on the No. 4 reactor building for a three-hour period, but that work had not yet started.
[2:22 a.m. Tuesday ET, 3:22 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] White smoke rose Tuesday over the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as workers continued efforts to restore power at the facility - a key step that officials hope will allow them to bring cooling systems back online.
Japan's nuclear safety agency said it was not immediately clear why smoke was rising from the plant's No. 2 and No. 3 reactors. Tokyo Electric Power Company said in a statement that the smoke was decreasing.
[12:57 a.m. Tuesday ET, 1:57 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Toshiba has sent more than 100 engineers to help resolve the crisis at nuclear plants in northeastern Japan, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
The company said more than 100 engineers were "providing vital support and resources" at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini plants after requests from the power company and the Japanese government.
"Toshiba will reinforce these resources as required," the company said, noting that 700 engineers at other facilities were also analyzing the the Fukushima Daiichi plant's situation. Toshiba supplied four of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, according to the World Nuclear Association.
[12:08 a.m. Tuesday ET, 1:08 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The death toll from the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami was 9,079, Japan's National Police Agency said. In addition to the deaths, 12,645 are confirmed missing and 2,633 are injured.
[9:30 p.m. Monday ET, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] High levels of radioactive substances have been found in seawater near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday.
Levels of iodine-131 in the seawater were 126.7 times higher than government-set standards, the electric company said on its website. Its monitors detected caesium-134, which has a half-life of about two years, about 24.8 times higher than the government standards. Cesium-137 was found to be 16.5 times higher than the standard.
The electric company detected these levels in seawater 100 meters (328 feet) south of the nuclear power plant Monday afternoon. Radioactive particles disperse in the ocean, and the farther away from the shore a sample is taken, the less concentrated the contamination should be. Because of the huge amount of dilution that happens in the ocean, there's not much chance of deep-water fish being tainted, said Murray McBride, a professor at Cornell University, who studies crop and soil sciences.