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.
[10:33 p.m. ET Wednesday, 11:33 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Japan's main expressway connecting Tokyo and the quake-stricken northeast, has reopened for the first time since the earthquake struck on March 11, NHK reports. Only emergency vehicles had been allowed to travel on the 300-kilometer section of the Tohoku Expressway between Utsunomiya interchange in Tochigi Prefecture and Ichinoseki interchange in Iwate Prefecture. The ban on regular traffic was lifted at 6:00 a.m. Thursday.
[10:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Bottled water will be distributed throughout Tokyo to households with infants, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Thursday, after government samples taken Tuesday night found 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of water - two times higher than the limit that the government considers safe for infants.
Tokyo's tap water remains safe for adults, according to Edano, urging calm. "Except for infants, the radiation levels will have no effect on people."
[10:28 p.m. ET Wednesday, 11:28 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Colorado and Oregon have joined several other Western states in reporting trace amounts of radioactive particles that have likely drifted about 5,000 miles from a quake and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant in Japan, officials say. But, the Environmental Protection Agency noted Wednesday that these and other readings "show typical fluctuation in background radiation levels" and – thus far – "are far below levels of concern."
[9:39 p.m. ET Wednesday, 10:39 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] A group of Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans living in Kanagawa Prefecture has been providing warm bowls of Bangladesh curry to quake and tsunami survivors in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, The Japan Times reports. Saber Sakura, his wife and 25 friends loaded up two cars, a minivan and a 2-ton truck with supplies, including rice and meat and boxes of diapers, snacks and medication on Saturday. They obtained an emergency permit to use the expressway and drove eight straight hours to Kesennuma, where they've been helping out since Monday.
[8:50 p.m. ET Wednesday, 9:50 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power Co. resumed work Thursday morning to restore power and cooling functions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant a few hours after smoke stopped emitting from its number 3 reactor building, Kyodo News reports.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency confirmed the smoke had stopped as of 4:50 a.m. Thursday. The cause of the black smoke remains unknown; no fire was seen and the radiation level did not climb. TEPCO said it has ensured that it is safe for workers to return, according to Kyodo News.
[8:06 p.m. ET Wednesday, 9:06 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Rescue workers say the search for missing people in Fukushima Prefecture following has been hindered by the nuclear disaster there, Kyodo News reports. Japan's Self-Defense Forces said they may have left bodies behind as they face difficulties entering areas under evacuation orders due to the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Rescue workers in Fukushima have focused on supporting evacuations of residents, including bed-ridden hospital patients, rather than searching for the missing, they said.
[7:40 p.m. ET Wednesday, 8:40 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Toyota Motor Corp. says it will delay the sale of new minivan and wagon versions of the Prius hybrid planned for late April due to disruption of its parts procurement since the March 11 natural disasters, The Japan Times reports. A new date has yet to be determined.
[6:08 p.m. ET Wednesday, 7:08 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has voted to launch a two pronged review of US Nuclear Power plant safety, the government agency said in a statement. The move comes in response to the March 11th Japan earthquake and tsunami which resulted in the crisis at Japanese nuclear power plants.
[6:00 p.m. ET Wednesday, 7:00 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Toyota's U.S. manufacturing arm is preparing for a possible shutdown because of parts shortages from Japan, a Toyota spokesman said. Word has gone out to all 13 of Toyota's factories in the United States, Canada and Mexico. This does not mean that the plants will stop working, Toyota spokesman Mike Goss said, but that they should be ready in case the need arises.
[2:28 p.m. ET Wednesday, 3:28 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Workers who evacuated the Fukushima plant as black smoke billowed above one of the reactors were unable to determine conditions in the control room before evacuating, plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The seven workers had planned to inspect gauges and instrumentation at reactor No. 3 but could not.
[2:23 p.m. ET Wednesday, 3:23 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] The operator of the nuclear reactors and power plants on the northern coast of Japan has a documented history of errors and cover-ups and, according to anti-nuclear activists, a pattern of hiding the truth when things go wrong. Amid the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the exact nature of the stress and damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, even Japan's prime minister was overheard demanding from officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) why the company withheld some information from the government. Those reported comments were unusual because in the past, critics say, there has been close cooperation between the two.
[1:59 p.m. ET Wednesday, 2:59 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Despite being urged not to hoard bottled water, residents of Japan's capital snapped it up after tests showed radioactive iodine in tap water at levels unsafe for infants. The city's water agency said the spike was likely caused by problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, located 240 kilometers (150 miles) away. Tokyo officials earlier advised against giving tap water to infants. Grocery store owner Seiji Sasaki said he noted a sudden increase of customers. He had 40 cases of water in his store, but they were gone quickly.
[1:05 p.m. ET Wednesday, 2:05 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Hong Kong has suspended food and milk imports from five prefectures in Japan after radiation was detected in vegetable imports at the city's international airport. The government banned products that include milk, milk powder, vegetables and fruits produced and harvested from Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma and Fukushima prefectures, according to the Hong Kong Food and Health Department. Japanese meats and seafood imports have also been suspended "unless there is official evidence stating that these products are in compliance with safety rules," the department said. The move comes on the heels of a similar decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday.
[11:58 a.m. ET Wednesday, 12:58 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that operates Japan's damaged nuclear reactors, expects to continue rolling blackouts in the Kanto region for at least a year, a senior company official told the Asahi news agency.
[11:41 a.m. ET Wednesday, 12:41 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Japanese officials say 9,452 people have been confirmed killed in the earthquake and tsunami, and 14,671 are listed as missing.
[11:19 a.m. ET Wednesday, 12:19 a.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Japan's welfare ministry says it will try to determine how many children were orphaned in the disaster and send caseworkers to the devastated areas, Kyodo News reported. About 400 workers have volunteered for the job, it said.
[9:26 a.m. ET Wednesday, 10:26 p.m. in Tokyo] Twenty-five countries' embassies have either closed down or moved operations to cities south of Tokyo since the crisis began March 11, Japan's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
[8:16 a.m. ET Wednesday, 9:16 p.m. in Tokyo] Despite qualms from some quarters, Japan's 83rd National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament opened as scheduled Wednesday at Hanshin Koshien Stadium near Osaka, the Mainichi Daily news reported. The tournament includes teams from the disaster area, and organizers want the event to lift the nation's spirits, according to the paper.
"What we can do at Koshien is to run and play with all our might. We want to cheer up as many people as possible," said a player with Tohoku High School in quake-stricken Miyagi Prefecture.
[7:46 a.m. ET Wednesday, 8:46 p.m. in Tokyo] The U.S. government's 50-mile recommended exclusion zone around the damaged nuclear plants may have been an overreaction, an American doctor told Japan Times. Hematologist Robert Gale, who treated Chernobyl victims in 1986, called Japan's 12.4-mile zone "conservative." "There is no solid reason for the U.S. government to suggest a wider evacuation," he said.
[7:10 a.m. ET Wednesday, 8:10 p.m. in Tokyo] Japan's government estimates the destruction of infrastructure, housing and business facilities could cost up to 25 trillion yen ($309 billion), CNNMoney reports. The country's economy could be suppressed by 0.5 percent, Kyodo News said. However, reconstruction spending could cushion the blow, the Cabinet Office said, according to CNNMoney.
[4:32 a.m. ET Wednesday, 5:32 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] A top Japanese official urged residents of the nation's capital not to hoard bottled water Wednesday after Tokyo's government said that radioactive material exceeding legal limits for infants was detected in tap water.
"We have to consider Miyagi and Iwate and other disaster-hit areas," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters. "I'd like to again urge consumers not to purchase more bottled water than they need."
[3:36 a.m. ET Wednesday, 4:36 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Black smoke can be seen rising from the third reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company said. The cause of the smoke is not known. Workers are being evacuated.
[3:33 a.m. ET Wednesday, 4:33 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] The death toll from the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami is now at 9,408, Japan's National Police Agency said. In addition, 14,716 are confirmed missing.
[1:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Tokyo government officials said Wednesday that radioactive material exceeding legal limits for infants was detected in tap water.
Tap water tests revealed higher levels of radioactive iodine than government standards, officials told reporters. They advised residents living in the area to stop giving tap water to infants.
They said they did not know what had caused the increase, but assumed it was connected to problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, located 240 kilometers (150 miles) away.
[1:20 a.m. ET Wednesday, 2:20 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] 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.