Japan quake live blog: Death toll rises as scattered reconstruction efforts begin
A shopper looks over nearly empty shelves Saturday at a grocery store in Senmaya, Japan.
March 19th, 2011
10:45 PM ET

Japan quake live blog: Death toll rises as scattered reconstruction efforts begin

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.

[10:45 p.m. Saturday, 11:45 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Construction of temporary housing for displaced people began this weekend with 200 units destined for the devastated coastal city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, The Japan Times reported. The prefabricated houses can accommodate two to three people and will be built on the grounds of a junior high school.

[10:40 p.m. Saturday, 11:40 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo] The death toll has reached 7,700, according to Japan National Police. At least 11,651 are missing and 2,612 are injured.

[9:00 p.m. Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Water spraying at Fukushima's number 4 reactor has ended, Kyodo News reports.

[8:25 p.m. Saturday, 9:25 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Self-defense forces have begun water spraying at Fukushima's number 4 reactor, Kyodo News reports.

[7:18 p.m. Saturday, 8:18 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo] As Japan starts its day Sunday, concerns remain on the impact of radiation after trace amounts were found in spinach and milk near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Meanwhile, searches continue for nearly 12,000 missing, and more than 7,600 people have been confirmed dead.

[5:24 p.m. Saturday, 6:34 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo] The water temperature is dropping in the spent fuel rod pool of the number 5 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, NHK reports. Tokyo Electric Power Company restored a power generator at the number 6 reactor on Saturday morning. One of the two generators at the number 6 reactor has been used since the quake to cool the spent fuel rod pools of the number 5 and number 6 reactors.

[2:24 p.m. Saturday, 3:34 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Six members of the emergency crew at the plant have been exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation per hour, the equivalent of getting 10 chest x-rays per hour, plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company said. The utility said the workers were exposed when trying to restore electricity to the stricken reactors in hopes of using the cooling systems again.

[11:22 a.m. ET Saturday, 12:22 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo] The March 11 earthquake shifted Japan's Oshika Peninsula near the epicenter by 17 feet and dropped it by 4 feet, the Geospatial Information Authority in Tsukuba, Japan, reported Saturday. Those two land mass movements are records for Japan, according to government figures.

[10:19 a.m. Saturday, 11:19 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] The Japanese government halted the sale of all food from farms near a tsunami-affected nuclear plant Saturday after abnormally high levels of radiation were found in milk and spinach.

[6:48 a.m. ET Saturday, 7:48 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Japan's National Police Agency said Saturday evening that 7,348 people are confirmed dead, 10,947 have been reported missing and 2,603 were injured.

[6 a.m. ET Saturday, 7 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] CNN crews in Tokyo report feeling strong aftershocks.

[5:50 a.m. ET Saturday, 6:50 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Japan's National Police Agency said Saturday afternoon that 7,320 people are confirmed dead and 11,370 have been reported missing following last week's earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The agency also  said 2,618 people have been injured.

[3:41 a.m. ET Saturday, 4:41 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Abnormally high levels of radiation have been detected in samples of spinach and milk from Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters Saturday afternoon.

The recorded levels in the milk and spinach, both of which came from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima and Ibaraki, were over the limit stipulated in Japan's food safety law, according to Edano.

However, he stressed the levels were not extremely high: A person who consumed these products continuously for a year, Edano said, would take in the same amount of radiation as that of a single CT scan.

[1:53 a.m. ET Saturday, 2:53 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Tokyo's fire department is spraying seawater in and around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's No. 3 unit using a self-operating, long-running new system, authorities said Saturday.

The unmanned system, which began working for the first time around 2 p.m. Saturday, can spray seawater for up to seven hours at a time to aid the ongoing effort to cool the reactor's spent nuclear pool.

Previously, firefighters, soldiers and power company workers have made several missions - in abbreviated intervals to guard against individuals' prolonged exposure to radiation - for this same purpose.

[1:32 a.m. ET Saturday, 2:32 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Workers at the embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant can be exposed to up to 250 millisieverts of radiation before they'd have to leave the facility, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. official told CNN on Saturday afternoon, more than double the allowed reading in place earlier day.

An individual in a developed country is naturally exposed to about 3 millisieverts of radiation a year.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends no more than 50 millisieverts exposure in a given year for nuclear rescue and recovery workers. It offers no restriction in a crisis when "the benefit to others clearly outweighs the rescuer's risk."

Tokyo Electric had originally set a maximum radiation exposure threshold of 100 millisieverts before raising that level to 150 millisieverts, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

[1:10 a.m. ET Saturday, 2:10 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Workers have drilled three holes apiece in the ceilings of the Nos. 5 and 6 nuclear reactors at the embattled Fukushima Daiichi power plant in order to alleviate pressure, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. official said.

This was done to release hydrogen gas and steam, whose buildup contributed to explosions at the plants Nos. 1, 2 and 3 units. Experts say the emission of hydrogen gas may be an indication of a partial nuclear meltdown, which may happen when nuclear fuel rods inside are not fully covered by water.

There have been no such explosions at the plant's Nos. 5 and 6 units.

Japanese authorities have said that a diesel generator is now powering a cooling system for those two reactors.

soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. SSTVelu

    The reactor can be de-activated by encapsulating it in concrete.
    Read the solution at:


    March 19, 2011 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      The recent quake proves that it isn't just the reactors that are hot; the bottom of the reactors need to be sealed to prevent heavy fuel from tunneling downward.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Christophe Abadie

    Radioactivity touche USA (Alaska) link to simulation done by expert. The situation is really critical : http://www.escorbit.fr

    March 19, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    If it were an oil refinery damaged by an earthquake, would you claim refining oil is too dangerous? The idea that nuclear powerplants are too dangerous is laughable. Burning coal and oil damages us and our environment a lot more than any nuclear disaster ever did.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Kathryn

      A damaged oil refinery does not pose nearly such a threat to human health as the prospect of not one but FOUR potential nuclear meltdowns! Yes, oil causes a lot of pollution, and yes, we should get away from oil and coal, but even a big oil or coal disaster does not have such far-reaching effects as the radiation from even one nuclear meltdown. You need to read up on the long-term consequences of Chernobyl. This catastrophe, which involved one reactor rather than four, increased the rates of mental retardation in Swedish children, 1000 miles away from the site of the disaster. And that was far from the only consequence – look up pictures of the horribly deformed children in Belarus. Oil spills kill pelicans, and coal accidents can greatly pollute local water supplies, but neither do that kind of serious widespread damage to human life.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Hilo, HI

      Phil, Where have you been? Ask Any One from the Gulf of Mexico whether or not they think drilling is too dangerous. The answer is a resounding YES. That carnage? -the Gulf is a Dead Zone for a thousand years, 80% of the nations seafood pau. Hope no one was anticipating the Pacific to pick up That slack.
      Human survived half a million years w/out these modern technologies, 'advances' we seem incapable of surviving much longer. We've been on the Moon, the threat that safe, clean energy is impossible is bull.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Good to see someone can think...........I have never seen such outrageous news reporting (CNN) with
      lack of facts and lack of credibility.......

      March 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan

      Then you've never seen any nuclear disaster, right?

      March 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Philip is right. If coal fired plants were subject to the radiation emission laws applicable to nuclear plants, they would all have to shut down immediately. They release FAR more radiation than allowed for nuclear plants. Thousand of times more.

      You don't need a Health Physics degree to know this. Google "radiation coal fired plants" and read one of the more than half a million responses.

      March 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    And no, we don't burn coal and oil because we have to. It's a choice our leaders made. We could run VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING off of clean-burning natural gas, even just our own, but our leaders choose not to.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Kathryn

      Natural gas is *far* from a clean fuel alternative. Regardless of whether it burns clean, its current production methods lead to irreparable harm to the environment, particularly in terms of water pollution. Go watch Gasland.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:56 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      Have you ever seen a pic of the US at night? The cities are all lit up, the rest black? We could fill much of that black part up with windmills and solar panels... But some people think it's ugly in the daylight..

      March 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. K

    Different and alternate solution is to understand that Fukushima Daiichi is our daughter, she doesn't need to be buried with sand as she is already a shamed with those helicopters...


    March 19, 2011 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    @Kathryn...you are correct about natural gas being far from safe for the environment. It need not be that way. To obtain NG, we drill. Due to greed, most wells are drilled with heavy toxic mud that ruins our environment. But there is another way, and it was developed back in the late 50s and early 60s, but seldom used. Drilling with areated fluid, stable foam, air-mist drilling do NOT damage the environment, and are oftentimes more cost effective than traditional drilling methods. But the entire industry is ran by men who have been blinded by greed. They bend over to pick up a penny even if it means a twenty-dollar bill squirts out their own ass.(pardon the graphics) We truly could safely run everything off of NG. But if we did that, where would you get petroleum jelly (a by-product of refining oil into gasoline) to rub on your baby's behind? (a curious practice that results in irreperairable liver damage, and subjects the child to a life dependant upon our healthcare system)

    March 19, 2011 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    Aerated fluid rather.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    Irrepairable? he he...where's a schoolmarm when you need one.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    And Kathryn...these same greedy men not only damage our environment unnecessarily, their greed leads to revolutions. They bribe the leaders of foreign nations having huge natural resources. For a few billion dollars, an African leader will give up his own peoples oil reserves. These people watch as their precious resources are consumed by others. As their children starve they see those who consume these resources struggling with obesity. They are rising up out of desperate need, NOT out of choice. It is being portrayed in the media as a people wanting American style freedoms. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Phil

    What is the Roentgen equivalent to a Sievert?

    March 19, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. George Kasica

    Phil – Its a straight 1:1 conversion REM is the US unit Sievert is the International Unit value – nice explanation below with a chart


    March 19, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. Robby

    Please read again.

    1 Sv = 100 REM

    Wiki entry is correct, literally states "conversion is straightforward, as 1 Sv = 100 rem:"
    The internet is our friend.

    March 19, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |

    radiation isnt bad... eating right is more important.. milk and eggs are high in fat..

    March 19, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. Gene

    Could the technology about sub-zero applicances be used to cool the water surrounding the reactors?

    March 19, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    What about Mount Fugi? Doesn't it usually erupt shortly after a large quake?

    March 19, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      We've already got the trifecta, please knock on wood...

      March 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      If you read about the giant earthquake in 1811, in the middle of the U.S. (the "New Madrid" fault system), sand erupted in geysers from deep underground. Pillars of stone can also erupt, solid magma pushing up. This is because the giant quakes, unlike the little tremblers, involve molten magma in a large area. The reactors need more than water because of any possibility of something worse there.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
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