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. Eamon McCaffery

    Sen. Vitters comments on Piers Morgans show just proved that we have elected 493 of the dumbest americans to protect us from harm

    March 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CaptainAmerica

    @Eamon: You just figured that out? Welcome to the party pal. The R-Ds are slowly destroying this country from within. The people will eventually purge them once things get bad enough.

    March 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rodbiser

    I don't thing there are telling us everthing, I just watch live TV and there is lots of smoke coming from reactor 4.

    March 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fnatxscareme

    Eliot Spitzer is an embarrassment to news media of any kind and a complete tool. So glad Dr Gupta quickly shut his ridiculous sensationalism down tonight and kept his cool while Mr Toolbag tried in vain to use scare tactics (re: radiation poison) to make for interesting interview.. ES just plain s#@%ks.

    March 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lulu

      I soooooo agree with you, they all are alarmists and are not getting their facts right.

      March 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Akiko

    Are people aware that 11 nuclear plants including several that are much closer to the earthquake area shutdown at the same time. There are the 3 plants at Fukushimia Daiichi that has continuing problems to get to a final cold stable state but all other reactors have now achieved that cold stable state. So, this is not an inherent flaw in all nuclear power design or all these plants would be having problems. It seems that the Fukushima Daiichi plants was not designed for the impact of the Tsunami that occured with this Earthquake but that does that make all existing plants bad?

    There is definitely fuel damage that has occured at Fukushima Daiichi but it is not true that the plants cannot be cooled down and the radioactivity level brought down to a harmless level even locally. They need to continue to keep cooling both the reactor and the spent fuel. I believe they will get that done.

    March 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CaptainAmerica

    @fnatxscareme: I agree. Having Client 9 on CNN is less credible than having Mark Furhman as a police "expert" on FOX news. They either think we're stupid or they're right that we are stupid. I'm not sure if MSNBC has anyone who shouldn't be considered a source for unbiased information other than the partisan talking heads we already know about.

    March 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeremy

    My brother is in Tokyo –
    When you hear about some calamity in the news, just imagine if your own dearest loved
    one were close to harm's way...
    If you do that, you will send money to relief efforts and help make the situation better
    instead of sitting on your butt and doing nothing about it

    March 15, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AlienOverlord

    We're the stupids!.. We're the stupids!! Why you hitting yourself? Why you hitting yourself!? Hey anyone know how to kill an earthling ? Give him a knife.. Bahahaha.. Or in this case a nuclear powerplant in an earthquake zone.. Stupid humans. You are not yet ready.

    March 15, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TONY


    March 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Diz

    Is it true that the workers have evacuated the nuclear plants now??? I just heard that on the news.

    March 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nibiru

      Yup, too dangerous. Now what?

      March 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john

    CNN news...all news is soo slow... As of right now, there is White smoke coming from reactor 3, but they do not know what it is from. Furthermore, the smoke started at 0830, but at around 1100 the power company finally relayed the message. They are also trying to cool off again with water. If there was a better way to tell the people giving the news, I'd be happy to get them the info quicker and much clearer.

    March 15, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Rippy

      There is only one way to insure the safe operation of a Nuclear Power Plant, build it where there are no disasters, natural or man made. Where is this possible? There is nowhere on earth that natural disasters don't occur. The safe operation of nuclear power plants was proven impossible with Three Mile Island incident and the proof has occurred over the years, several times. This is just one more incident that proves how unsafe these nuclear plants are.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Bailhe

      Please do a report on the history of nuclear plants during the last 25 years or so. It's a startling record. Most all of the plants leak all the time. Many have had repeated dangerous incidents creating serious environmental damage. There is widespread misinformation that nuclear power can be safe, but in light of the history, that's nothing short of preposterous.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Willie

    I know they were considering using helicopters to fly sea water to the cool / cover the spent nuclear rods in reactor #4.

    One expert said he was “glad” they decided not to do this since dumping the water in could disrupt the spacing between the rods and therefore make a very unstable situation. The problem is he couldn’t think of another way to get the water to the reactors.

    My question is simple:
    Why not use helicopters to get the water to reactor #4, and have a hose or some method to supply the water in a controlled method.

    Something has to be done already!!! Sure I’m missing something but could somebody explain to me why this wouldn’t work?

    March 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Would use of lead around the plant would help?

      March 16, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • GoneToPlaid

      The problem is that the #4 reactor's storage pool contains all of the fuel rods from the #4 reactor. That is a lot of fuel rods located fairly close together in a large storage pool. Tepco believes that the storage pool may be boiling, raising the possibility that exposed rods will reach criticality. Coolant must be added cautiously if the fuel rods are really hot or the resulting steam from flash boiling the water could push the fuel rods closer together, possibly leading to a criticality event. Regardless, cooling off the fuel rods in the storage pool will result in additional radiation releases no matter how carefully it is done. If the fuel rods have started to melt then the following very recent statement from a Tepco representative could very well come true: "The possibility of re-criticality is not zero," a Tepco spokesman said.

      March 16, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
    • danceman

      The helicopter was to put water in to poll near by then it is pumped in. I think it is special water?
      Not sea water

      March 16, 2011 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin

    Can you please tell anderson and his crew to get some radiation detectors, and maybe even some masks wouldnt be a bad thing !

    March 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      They do have detectors. They showed them in an earlier interview.

      March 15, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. wondering

    Cnn said the best thing the hole world could do is start digging holes and hide we are all in danger take cover now

    March 15, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tony Savarese

    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!

    March 15, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoneToPlaid

      It would take nuclear weapons to incinerate a nuclear power plant, and obviously that is not an option.

      March 16, 2011 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
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