Japan live blog: Death toll tops 10,000
A woman hangs clothes she found among wreckage, in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, on Thursday.
March 24th, 2011
01:50 AM ET

Japan live blog: Death toll tops 10,000

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.

[10:49 p.m. ET Thursday, 11:49 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] The death toll from this month's earthquake and subsequent tsunami has now topped 10,000 people, Japan's National Police Agency said.

The agency said that 10,035 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the March 11 disaster, as of 11 a.m. Friday. Some 17,443 are still considered missing.

[9:56 p.m. ET Thursday, 10:56 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] The water that three men were recently exposed to while working at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had 10,000 times the amount of typical radiation for that location, an official with Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency said Friday.

The high reading indicates that the fuel inside the No. 3 reactor "is damaged," Hidehiko Nitsayama said. At least two of the workers were hospitalized after stepping in the water Thursday while laying cable in the turbine building of the No. 3 reactor.

Nitsayama explained that the water in this place is typically boiled and has very low levels of radiation. He said that government officials have contacted authorities with the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which manages the plant, to urge the company to "improve its radiation management measures."

[9:51 p.m. ET Thursday, 10:51 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Japan's health ministry says radiation above the legal limit has been detected in a vegetable grown in Tokyo, NHK reports. Radioactive cesium was found Thursday in a leafy vegetable taken from a field in Edogawa ward. The vegetable, called Komatsuna, or Japanese mustard spinach, contained 890 becquerels per kilogram, exceeding the legal limit of 500. This is the first time that radioactive cesium exceeding the legal limit has been found in a Tokyo vegetable.

[8:20 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:20 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Nissan Motor Co. said it is considering shipping engines made in the United States to Japan to replace lost production at its quake-hit plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Kyodo News reports. Production at the Iwaki engine plant has been suspended due to the effects of the March 11 earthquake. The automaker said it is looking into whether its engine plant in Tennessee can supply V-6 engines to Japan.

[8:04 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:04 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Tohoku Electric Power Co., which covers areas hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunamis, says it will forgo rolling blackouts through April 3 after being able to secure enough electricity partly through conservation efforts, Kyodo News reports. Tokyo Electric Power Co. started its own blackouts in some service areas, including Tokyo, from March 14. The unprecedented measure will continue at least through April.

[3:44 p.m. ET Thursday, 4:44 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] The outlook is generally good for two workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, who were hospitalized after they stepped in contaminated water, experts said Thursday, provided they were promptly decontaminated.

Three workers were laying cables Wednesday in the basement of the turbine building for reactor No. 3 when they stepped into the water, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters. It seeped into the ankle-height boots of two of the men, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant. Those two men, one in his 30s and a second in his 20s, were taken to Fukushima Medical University Hospital, officials said. The third was not hospitalized, because his boots were higher and covered his skin, avoiding contact, according to Tokyo Electric.

[1:51 p.m. ET Thursday, 2:51 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Low radiation levels have reached as far as Sweden, according to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. Leif Moberg, head of research for the authority, said there have been readings of radioactive iodine in Sweden, as expected, but the amount is "very low and it does not pose any health risk at all for humans or the environment."

[11:40 a.m. ET Thursday, 12:40 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Forty-three people have died in hospitals because of inadequate medical care since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, according to a survey by public broadcaster NHK. Power outages and lack of heat and medical supplies are cited as reasons for the deaths. NHK surveyed 255 hospitals in the hard-hit prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi.

[11:08 a.m. ET Thursday, 12:08 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] The number of foreigners arriving at Narita International Airport near Tokyo has plummeted 60% since the March 11 quake and tsunami, Kyodo News reports, citing Japanese Immigration Bureau officials. At Kansai International Airport near Osaka, foreign arrivals were off more than 50%.

[10:08 a.m. ET Thursday, 11:08 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Japan's National Police Agency says 9,811 people are confirmed dead, 17, 541 are missing as of 9 p.m. Thursday, according to an NHK report.

[9:40 a.m. ET Thursday, 10:40 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] The mother ship of Japan's whaling fleet will be delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims this weekend, Kyodo News reports. The Nisshin Maru will leave from Tokyo Friday to deliver supplies including kerosene, charcoal and instant ramen to survivors at a yet-to-be-determined port in northeast Japan, according to Kyodo.

[7:12 a.m. ET Thursday, 8:12 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Toyota announced Thursday that it will resume production of its Prius and Lexus CT 250h and HS 250h hybrids in Japan on Monday. Priuses will be built at Toyota's Tsutsumi plant and the Lexus models at Toyota's Kyushu plant, the company said in a statement.

[6:46 a.m. ET Thursday, 7:46 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Russian authorities have banned imports of all food products from six regions of Japan, according to a news release posted on the website on the consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. On Wednesday, Hong Kong said that it was restricting food and milk imports from certain prefectures over the radiation concerns. The United States had previously announced import alerts covering milk, milk products, fresh vegetables and fruit from prefectures near the reactors.

[6:27 a.m. ET Thursday, 7:27 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Germany's Lufthansa and Italy's Alitalia airlines will resume flights to Narita Airport outside Tokyo on Friday, Japanese broadcaster NHK reports.

[6:04 a.m. ET Thursday, 7:04 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Pregnant women and nursing mothers in Japan should not stop drinking tap water that contains the current limited amounts of radioactive iodine, the nation's leading obstetrics and gynecological organization said Thursday. The group said that women should not hesitate to drink tap water if measurements indicate 500 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive iodine, saying the harm to the mother and child is greater if the woman gets too dehydrated.

[5:51 a.m. ET Thursday, 6:51 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 struck off the east coast of Japan's main island of Honshu at 5:21 p.m. Thursday. The quake was centered about 90 miles northeast of Sendai.

[5:39 a.m. ET Thursday, 6:39 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Honda announced Thursday it will not resume vehicle production at auto plants in Saitama and Mie until at least April 4, adding a week on to its previous estimates for a resumption of production at those plants.

[5:17 a.m. ET Thursday, 6:17 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Japan's National Police Agency said Thursday afternoon that 9,737 people are confirmed dead from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, at least 16,501 are missing and 2,766 are injured.

[5:13 a.m. ET Thursday, 6:13 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary YukioEdano indicated Thursday that the government was prepared to compensate farmers and others whose income was threatened by the effects of the radiation spikes. He said that it wasn't yet clear how that might happen, whether it was buying up the existing crops or some other form.

[3:26 a.m. ET Thursday, 4:26 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Two people working at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were sent to a hospital after being exposed to high levels of radioactive material in surrounding water, according to Japanese officials. A third worker was also exposed, but was not taken to the hospital.

The workers were laying cables Wednesday in the basement of the turbine building for reactor No. 3 when they stepped into water that was contaminated, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Thursday. Their skin was exposed to it - which is different than the airborne exposure that has afflicted most of the affected workers thus far.

[1:46 a.m. ET Thursday, 2:46 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] The amount of radioactive iodine in Tokyo's tap water dropped considerably in a test Thursday morning, down to a level that would be considered safe for infants to drink, the city's government said.

Tests from 6 a.m. Thursday at the Kanamichi Water Purification Plant, which provides water to 23 wards in Tokyo as well as five other cities, showed 79 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of water. A becquerel is a measurement of  radioactive intensity by weight. This is below the 100 becquerel level, the maximum that could be considered safe for infants ages 1 and younger.

And it is well below the 210 becquerel reading that was measured Tuesday night.

[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."

soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. Iowa

    If the company that designed the Fukushima reactors engaged in conduct that is delaying disaster mitigation that would be very serious...

    March 25, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Iowa

    The main concern today is to bring all available resources to bear to solve the problem as soon as possible !!!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Iowa

    If reactor three (or other fuel sources) burns out of control then large amounts of dust-like radioactive particles, such as Caesium-137 will be released directly into the atmosphere. This is what happened at Chernobyl.

    Small amounts of Caesium-137 are toxic, and experiments with dogs show that a single dose of 44 micrograms per kilo of body weight (44 μg/kg) is lethal within three weeks.

    Here is the link to an important article that appeared in the New York Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16contain.html

    Here is the first paragraph of that article:

    "The warnings were stark and issued repeatedly as far back as 1972: If the cooling systems ever failed at a “Mark 1” nuclear reactor, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would probably burst as the fuel rods inside overheated. Dangerous radiation would spew into the environment."

    We must take all available steps to prevent the release of dust-like particles of Plutonium into the atmosphere.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Amygadalus communis

    To the German:BBARC and AMY are in agrement.

    Boy are you in trouble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    March 27, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. TWTan

    Boric acid is the coolant for LWR reactor, but BWR don't use boric acid and they don't have it dry ais and liquid nitrogen will cause explosion when contact with water.

    March 28, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. healing

    http://www.healwithmedia.com
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    March 29, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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    March 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Michele In Wyoming

    I have a huge question for all?????

    April 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Michele In Wyoming

    I was listening to the special nuclear committee people addressing Congress in the Us. It told of tens of thousands of used /spent nuclear rods in the same flimsy containers they were in from the 80's. Obama stopped a bill that would move all to a secure central place sealed in layers and layers of concrete. I am not a terrorist, just a home grown country girl...but if I were a terrorist and angry at the US..I wonder where I would send my people to wreak havoc. Since Obama nixed that protective nuclear plan...where would u think would do alot of damage to US citizens? Perhaps those spent fuel rods? hhhmmmm

    April 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Houston

    Ok one dumb idea I got floating, if they are having a "problem" getting the ocean to it, then why not take it to the ocean. if they drill and plant directive explosives around it and under it (in the ground that is) to generate a land slide would it not submerge it self? they all ready have a handy confinement "area" to let it sink in to which was the break wall to the east of the plant.

    April 2, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Yvette

    Saporro beer contaminated? No wonder it was on sale! I just bought a six pack at Ralphs.
    "Can't find any info on how safe imported beer is, someone please advise"

    April 2, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
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