Japan begins road to recovery
March 13th, 2011
11:43 PM ET

Japan quake live blog: Explosion at nuclear plant's reactor building

An 8.9-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.

[11:43 p.m. ET Sunday, 12:43 p.m. Monday in Tokyo] Six people were injured after Monday morning's explosion at the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Co. says. Seven people earlier reported as missing have been accounted for, a company official told reporters.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed images of white smoke rising above the facility. Citing the nation's nuclear and industrial agency, NHK said that a wall of one of the reactor's buildings had collapsed.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary said a day earlier that accumulating hydrogen gas "may potentially cause an explosion" in the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Daiichi plant. A similar scenario played out Saturday, when a blast caused by hydrogen buildup blew the roof off a concrete building housing the plant's No. 1 reactor.

[11:33 p.m. ET Sunday, 12:33 p.m. Monday in Tokyo] The official death toll from the earthquake and the tsunami has risen to 1,627, authorities said Monday. This doesn't count the 2,000 bodies that the Kyodo news agency reported were found Monday in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's east coast.

As of 10 a.m., at least 1,720 people were missing and 1,962 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.

[10:59 p.m. ET, 11:59 a.m. Tokyo] An explosion happened late Monday morning at the Fukushima Daiichi's No. 3 nuclear reactor building, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano confirmed to reporters.

The container vessel surrounding the reactor remains intact, Edano said, citing the head of the nuclear plant report.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed images of white smoke rising above the facility, which is in northeastern Japan. Citing the nation's nuclear and industrial agency, NHK said that a wall of one of the reactor's buildings had collapsed.

Residents remaining within 20 kilometers of the plant, despite an earlier evacuation order, have been ordered to stay indoors, according to Edano.  The secretary added that initial reports suggested that radiation levels had increased after the blast, but Edano said he did not believe there was a massive leak, given that water continues to be injected into the reactors and that the pressure inside the reactor is "within a certain range."

Edano said a day earlier that accumulating hydrogen gas "may potentially cause an explosion" in the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Daiichi plant. A similar scenario played out Saturday, when a blast caused by hydrogen buildup blew the roof off a concrete building housing the plant's No. 1 reactor.

[10:38 p.m. ET, 11:38 a.m. Tokyo] Approximately 2,000 bodies were found Monday in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's east coast, the Kyodo news agency reported.

[10:31 p.m. ET, 11:31 a.m. Tokyo] Japan's nuclear safety and industrial agency reported sounds of an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant's No. 3 reactor, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

White smoke could be seen rising from the facility at 11 a.m. Monday.

Workers have been flooding this reactor and the plant's No. 1 reactor with seawater to cool them after the earthquake and tsunami damaged the reactors' cooling systems.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said a day earlier that accumulating hydrogen gas "may potentially cause an explosion" in the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Daiichi plant. A similar scenario played out Saturday, when a blast caused by hydrogen buildup blew the roof off a concrete building housing the plant's No. 1 reactor. The reactor and its containment system were not damaged in the explosion at the No. 1 reactor.

[9:39 p.m. ET, 10:39 a.m. Tokyo] The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami has risen to 1,598, with hundreds more missing, authorities say. At least 1,720 people were missing and 1,923 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.

[9:29 p.m. ET, 10:29 a.m. Tokyo] An aftershock with a magnitude of 5.8 was recorded 27 minutes ago off Japan's east coast, about 140 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

[9:09 p.m. ET, 10:09 a.m. Tokyo] Japan's NHK television network shows the rescue of three senior citizens who had been trapped in a tsunami-swept car for 20 hours.

[8:57 p.m. ET, 9:57 a.m. Tokyo] More information about the 60-year-old Japanese man who was rescued at sea Sunday after he was spotted clinging to the swept-away remains of his house: "I thought today was the last day of my life," Hiromitsu Shinkawa told his rescuers, according to Kyodo News Agency.

[8:51 p.m. ET, 9:51 a.m. Tokyo] The leading Japanese stock index skidded nearly 5% in the opening minutes Monday, the first full day of trading in Tokyo following last week's earthquake.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange opened as usual at 9 a.m. Japan time. The Nikkei-225 index tumbled 493 points, or 4.8%, to just above 9,700, according to the Nikkei website. It was down even further, almost 600 points, in the first few minutes before rebounding.

[8:32 p.m. ET, 9:32 a.m. Tokyo] In the following video, a victim of the tsunami - rescued by the Japanese military - says water swept her out of her home, and that she clung to a tree and then a mat before she was helped.

[7:50 p.m. ET, 8:50 a.m. Tokyo] About 2.5 million households - just over 4% of the total in Japan - were without electricity Sunday, said Ichiro Fujisaki, the nation's ambassador to the United States. Rolling blackouts are expected in some areas to preserve electricity.

[6:35 p.m. ET, 7:35 a.m. Tokyo] The International Atomic Energy Agency says that - based on information the agency received from officials in Japan - investigators determined that radiation levels have returned to "normal" at one of the power plants previously flagged for concern.

The agency said that authorities have concluded that there were "no emissions of radioactivity" from the three reactors at the Onagawa nuclear plant.

"The current assumption of the Japanese authorities is that the increased level may have been due to a release of radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant" located 135 kilometers (about 85 miles) north of Onagawa, the IAEA said.

Japanese officials still are concerned about the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where workers are flooding two reactors with seawater to keep them cool.

[5:34 p.m. ET, 6:34 a.m. Tokyo] While the full extent of the disaster's aftermath is not yet clear, the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan could be the most expensive quake in history, CNNMoney reports. Losses from the quake, tsunami and fires will total at least $100 billion, including $20 billion in damage to residences and $40 billion in damage to infrastructure such as roads, rail and port facilities, catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat estimated.

[4:56 p.m. ET, 5:56 a.m. Tokyo] Japanese officials said Sunday they will backstop the country's financial system when markets reopen after Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami, CNNMoney's Chris Isidore reports.

The Bank of Japan, in a statement, said it would monitor financial markets and the operation of banks and "stand ready to respond and act as necessary." The aim is to make sure the banks have enough cash on hand to meet demands of panicky investors and cover withdrawal demands of bank customers.

Friday afternoon's earthquake hit just before the close of trading in Japanese markets. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index dropped just over 100 points, or 1%, in the final minutes of trading and ended the day 1.7% lower.

[3:58 p.m. ET, 4:58 a.m. Tokyo] Japan's Kyodo News Agency has reported a dramatic rescue took place off Japan's coast Sunday, when a Japanese destroyer rescued a 60-year-old man at sea, some 15 kilometers (9 miles) off Fukushima prefecture.

The man, identified as Hiromitsu Shinkawa of Minami Soma, was swept away with his house during Friday's tsunami, Kyodo reported. He was spotted floating in the sea, waving a self-made red flag while standing on a piece of his house's roof. Shinkawa was quoted as telling rescuers he had left his home because of the quake, but returned home to grab some belongings with his wife when the tsunami hit. "I was saved by holding onto the roof," he said, "but my wife was swept away

[3:13 p.m. ET, 4:13 a.m. Tokyo] Japanese media report 42 people were rescued Sunday in Minami Sanriku, a northeastern Japanese town where an estimated 9,500 people - more than half the town's 18,000 population - are unaccounted for.

[2:16 p.m. ET, 3:16 a.m. Tokyo] Delta Airlines resumed its full flight schedule to Japan on Sunday.

[1:54 p.m. ET, 2:54 a.m. Tokyo] Numerous U.S. rescue and assistance teams arrived Sunday in Japan and are helping lead a broad international effort to bring relief to areas ravaged by Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

The United States, the United Kingdom, China, and South Korea are among 69 governments that have offered to help, Kyodo News Agency reported, citing the Japanese foreign ministry.

Aid groups such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have sent teams to some of the worst-hit areas, including Sendai, Narita, Asahi and Tokyo. Mercy Corps International teamed with Peace Winds Japan to rush aid to affected regions.

[12:36 p.m. ET, 1:36 a.m. Tokyo] The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan late last week rose to 1,597, with hundreds more missing, authorities said early Monday.

As of 12:01 a.m. (11:01 a.m. ET), at least 1,481 people were missing and 1,923 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.

[11:00 a.m. ET, 12:00 a.m. Tokyo] The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday rose to 1,353, with hundreds more missing, authorities said Sunday.

As of 9:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m. ET), at least 1,085 people were missing and 1,743 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.

[10:39 a.m. ET, 11:39 p.m. Tokyo] A state of emergency has been declared at a nuclear power plant in Onagawa, Japan, where excessive radiation levels have been recorded following Friday's massive earthquake, the United Nations' atomic watchdog agency said Sunday.

Authorities have told the agency that the three reactor units at the Onagawa plant "are under control."

[10:21 a.m. ET, 11:21 p.m. Tokyo] As international aid began to flow into Japan on Sunday, China's Red Cross said it would donate around $152,000 dollars in emergency aid to its Japanese counterpart, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

[9:48 a.m. ET, 10:48 p.m. Tokyo] South Korea planned to send a 102-member rescue team to Japan on Sunday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korea has also arranged for shipments of liquified natural gas to be sent to Japan, the agency said.

[9:10 a.m. ET, 10:10 p.m. Tokyo] Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called on his country Sunday to prepare for sacrifice and to work together in overcoming the effects of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

"We Japanese had a lot of difficulties in the past, but we were able to overcome those difficulties to reach this peaceful and prosperous society we have been able to build. So with regard to the earthquake and tsunami, I am confident that the Japanese people can be united to work together. ...  I ask each one of you, please have such determination, and deepen your bond with your family members, your neighbors, and the people in your community to overcome this crisis so that Japan can be a better place. We can do it together."

[8:07 a.m. ET, 9:07 p.m. Tokyo] The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday rose to 1,217, with hundreds more missing, authorities said Sunday.

As of 7:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m. ET), at least 1,086 people were missing and 1,741 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.

[7:57 a.m. ET, 8:57 p.m. Tokyo] Some 12,000 people have been rescued from the ruins of Friday's massive earthquake in Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said late Sunday.

[7:30 a.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. Tokyo] The USS Ronald Reagan has started delivering aid in the coastal regions of Japan's Miyagi prefecture. Crew members, in conjunction with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces, have conducted 20 sorties delivering aid pallets using eight U.S. and Japanese helicopters, according to Sgt. Maj. Stephen Valley of U.S. Forces Japan.

The Kyodo news agency reported that the team hopes to deliver 30,000 portions of emergency food rations in this initial operation.

[7:08 a.m. ET, 8:08 p.m. Tokyo] Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has ordered a Tokyo power company to conduct a widespread power outage in an effort to preserve energy as workers try to repair power plants damaged in Friday's devastating earthquake.

[6:45 a.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. Tokyo] There is a 70% likelihood that Japan will experience an earthquake of 7.0 or above in the next three days, the country's meteorological agency said.

Takashi Yokota, director the Earthquake Prediction Information Division of the agency said he based his prediction on increased tectonic activity.

[5:37 a.m. ET, 6:37 p.m. Tokyo] Japan Meteorological Agency has canceled all tsunami advisories. Meanwhile, the death toll from the quake rose on Sunday to 977 dead. At least 739 people are missing and 1,683 are injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.

[4:47 a.m. ET, 5:47 p.m. Tokyo] A round of sirens urged people to go to higher ground in Sendai, a city affected days earlier by a tsunami. The tsunami advisories by local officials were prompted by aftershocks following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck last week.

[3:46 a.m. ET, 4:46 p.m. Tokyo] A second explosion could occur at an earthquake-struck nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, a government official told reporters Sunday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said an explosion could occur in the buliding housing the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

[3:12 a.m. ET, 4:12 p.m. Tokyo] At least 160 people are being tested for radiation exposure after tens of thousands of residents were evacuated in the wake of an explosion at a nuclear reactor damaged by Friday's massive quake and tsunami. FULL STORY

[1:55 a.m. ET, 3:55 p.m. Tokyo] According to Japan's Kyodo News, the magnitude of the devastating quake was revised upward on Sunday from 8.8 to 9.0, making it one of the largest in history, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

[12:21 a.m. ET, 2:21 p.m. Tokyo]The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan late last week rose to 801, with hundreds more missing, authorities said Sunday. At least 733 are missing, 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.

[12:21 a.m. ET, 2:21 p.m. Tokyo] Sgt. Major Stephen Valley, spokesman for U.S.  Forces on Japan, tells CNN that the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan has arrived off the waters of northern Honshu and is operational, preparing for relief efforts.

soundoff (231 Responses)
  1. Trent Tanaka

    Yukio Edano did not say a second explosion could happen. He said an explosion similar to reactor 1's could have happened but reactor 3 working ventilation system got rid of the hydrogen.

    March 13, 2011 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
    • myklds

      The bad news is, it happened already.

      March 14, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. Drew

    The soviets did this same thing after Chernobyl happened. It wasn't until it became clear that the reactors would continue to burn endlessly without any containment.

    March 13, 2011 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. tim siler

    Having trained on similar reactor, I am certain that the dire situation @ daiichi will be contained but has anyone verified fuelpool and used fuel storage.-T.S.

    March 13, 2011 at 5:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. Fred Madden

    I haven't heard a word about the nuclear "cooling ponds" in which they store used and unused fuel rods... and are literally just pools of water that can be seen via Google Earth. Did the quakes or tsunami effect these ponds in any way?

    March 13, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. thomas2305

    @Trent...Situation is over huh you really are an idiot.

    March 13, 2011 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. S. Miller

    The reactors at Fukishima were at the end of their life. The plant and design for this reactor are over 40 years old. It was never designed for a one-two punch of a earthquake followed by a tsunami. The earthquake knocked out the power and the tsunami flooded all the backup generators. No power means no water circulation which means no cooling. Yesterday they used fire trucks to pump sea-water to cool the reactor.

    March 13, 2011 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Marsha

      My heart reaches out to the People affected by this deaster. As hard as this may seem, I pray we will stand united in prayer for these people. The Lord Jesus Christ can heal broken situations. I know my God even in our darkest hour He willl deliver us if we trust him. In everything give thanks. Let us be thankful that things are not worse. Let us lean on the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us take this opportunity to Love each other because in second things can take a turn for the worse. Let us find treasures in ourselves to be happy about, to be giving to others (even just a kind word), to pray for each other and recognise that we are all here for a purpose and should not think that we are in charge. Lets live in love.

      March 13, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. tomtom

    They should be destributing full face masks and filters to people, this is much worse than chernobyl.

    March 13, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred Madden

      Worst case scenario with this type of reactor couldn't even compare to Chernobyl. Chernobyl was not built with a containment vessel in case of a catastrophic failure. So, assuming the containment walls are not breached, which they appear not to be or else pressure could not build up, this reactor can completely meltdown and be completely contained. While allowing it to be cooled to stop the reaction. The only radiation "leaked" so far has been from them purposely venting the pressure from inside the reactor.

      The only way these reactors could cause a disaster worse than Chernobyl is if they removed the containment walls and then just let the cores overheat. Which they obviously aren't going to do.

      IMO, not too many things can stand up to a 8.9 earthquake and a large tsunami. Just a tad more tweaking, and there wouldn't have even been an issue with these power plants at all. These were build 40 years ago. Who would have guessed that a large tsunami would wash the backup generators away? If they were based on the latest designs, they'd still be up and running.

      March 13, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Nuclear Engineer

      Tom; Chernobyl was built without a containment building and second the they designed it with a positive fuel coefficient. Among other major differences between these two events, it is impossible for this situation to be worse than Chernobyl. There are many false statements on this blog and even a few guests on CNN that do not know what they are talking about. I am not down playing that this is a serious situation but rather concerned that much discussion is either taken out of context or exaggerated.

      March 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Richard

    That is why gravity based water cooling is best. Store a large amount of water up high, and in emergency can simply open the tap. no pump or power required. I believe newer power stations include systems like these.

    March 13, 2011 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
    • roadkill

      Because after an 8.8 quake your water tower would be laying flat just like everything else...

      March 13, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      Right Roadkill. Because man cannot build structures to withstand earthquakes. Perhaps you didn't notice the pictures of the plant that show the towers near the reactor still standing...after the earthquake.

      March 13, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. acei

    Wierd how a few decades ago we were trying to kill them all. Now we're supposed to send them aid by paypal. Crazy humans.

    March 13, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • cathxoxo

      u speak as if you aren't human yourself would u want them to help you if you were in their shoes?

      March 13, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      A nuclear melt down can not only ruins a day...it ruins a planet. Acei needs to light another joint and join Charlie Sheen and enjoy the bottom which is coming up for us all. Welcome to the Evolution of 2012, if you think things are getting dicey...wait until the planet really gets upset.

      March 13, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. Al -memani

    The world needs to unite as we will be suffering more major events in the near future and make things easier we need one world one economy one currency to get us out of the credit crunch and then we can concentrate on major events like earthquakes and tsunami

    March 13, 2011 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Al -memani

      Credit-crunch.synthasite.com

      March 13, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      One world economy?! One world currency?! Your talkin the end of the world there buddy.

      March 13, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. Al -memani

    These signs are as mentioned in the scriptures in the end times

    March 13, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Al -memani

      Al-memani world banking windows

      March 13, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike Sorrentino

      Thank You for that Comment Nobody understands these puzzles are in place this Earth has to be cleaned what has happened centuries ago it happened before its going to happen again think about it the Vicious greed , the human race values has gone in shame respect violence and filth poverty due to the rich wanting more to let the poor Die. Technogly hidden in medicine that have Cures not to be expose due to greed and money letting Love ones die because of money this is a vicious world that has to be cleansed once again and its begining to Happen its just that the Media do not want to cause a Panic. This will get even worse that anyone can imagine as it gets close to 2012

      March 13, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Wooooh!
      Too dumb to understand it; attribute it to magic or an imaginary friend in the sky.

      March 13, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Grow up

      These things were happening way, way before the scriptures were even written. You're just another religious person waiting for any excuse to say, "I told you so" to non-believers. Retreating into the black hole of religion is not helpful in situations like these. Let's stick with the reality on the ground. If a person fell onto the ground and began to have a heart attack, should you pray for this person or attempt CPR?

      March 13, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. becness

    Store water! Especially west coast people.

    March 13, 2011 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      ... and buy sugar. Loads of it.
      Also identify oureselves to each other by wrapping our heads in aluminum foil when out side

      March 13, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. JB

    w

    March 13, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. H

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=beware-the-fear-of-nuclearfear-2011-03-12

    This article provides a real perspective. CNN's coverage has been reprehensible and sensationalist. It diverts attention from the real disaster. The worst case accident pales in comparison to the quake and tsunami.

    March 13, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. keith darter sr

    would it be possible to set up some temporary solor panels to help genorate enough power to run their generators to charge the batterys to cool things down. i dont me to sound crazy just an ideal i guess
    thanks keith darter sr

    March 13, 2011 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • john

      Solar panels get far too much credit for how much power they can produce. There is no way they would be able to get enough of them installed to run the generators in time.

      March 13, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred Madden

      If you have generators, you don't need solar panels. Solar panels aren't used to run generators, gas/diesel is. And to top it off, solar panels don't work at night, or if they are being covered in snow, which looks like a possibility in a day or so.

      People need to stop listening to Obama and realize that solar power is not the answer. Jimmy Carter was saying the same thing 35 years ago, yet solar energy is still a very non-practical way to get power. The biggest improvement in 35 years with solar power has been the lithium battery. Gee, not much of an improvement. Yet, scientist have been working on solar energy non-stop... with and without government funding.

      March 13, 2011 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
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