Since Friday's earthquake, radioactive air and steam has been released from several reactors at both Fukushima No.1 and No.2 plants in an effort to relieve the huge amount of pressure building up inside. Sea water and boron is being pumped into the site to lower temperatures.
2331: Janie Eudie's husband, a US technician, was inside Fukushima No I when the quake struck. She explained what he experienced: "It was panic, a lot of panic going on. They're used to little quakes while they're on the job there, but this one was different - the ground started shaking and it was intense and everything was moving. And they knew something different and the local people began to get scared, which they took it from there that this is something that's way out of the ordinary. And that's when things started to fall from the ceiling, the glass, all the lights, and he said some of the ceiling and insulation all started falling and the debris was hitting them. And for the safety and all of this, they evacuated and they were just getting out as fast as possible."
Epicentre of a new 4.4 quake: Fukushima.
0030: Nearly 900 people were killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, Japanese national police say.
0058: More on those casualty figures from national police: 642 people are also reported missing, with 1,570 injured. The death toll does not include up to 300 bodies found in Sendai, AFP news agency notes.
0139: Thousands of people have spent another freezing night huddled over heaters in emergency shelters along the north-eastern coast. Aid has just begun to trickle into many areas. "All we have to eat are biscuits and rice balls," said Noboru Uehara, 24, a delivery truck driver who was wrapped in a blanket against the cold at a shelter in Iwake. "I'm worried that we will run out of food."
0144: The government, which took power led by the Democratic Party of Japan for the first time less than two years ago, is already facing criticism. "Crisis management is incoherent," is a headline in the Asahi newspaper.
0155: A strong earthquake occurred off Japan's eastern coast at 0126 GMT today, the US Geological Survey confirms. It was closer to Tokyo than Friday's quake. Buildings swayed in the capital, AP says.
0157: This new quake measured 6.2 and was centred about 179km (111 miles) east of the Japanese capital, at a depth of 24.5km.
0210: Surveying the damage from a road in the north-east, the BBC's Alastair Leithead says the sea is so far away it is out of sight. It just shows how far the tsunami travelled inland, he adds.
0214: The number of people reported missing in Fukushima prefecture is now 1,167, AFP reports, quoting Kyodo.
0221: This is probably the worst earthquake Japan has experienced in 1,000 years, the BBC's Chris Hogg reports from Tokyo.
0235: More than 200 bodies found at Higashimatsushima, police say - AFP. First time I've seen that placename mentioned.
0302: The Japan Times has sobering piece on the sheer force unleashed by the quake, with the claim that the event tilted the Earth's axis by 10cm.
0336: It may seem slightly immaterial given what has followed, but Japanese officials have revised up the strength of Friday's quake from 8.8-magnitude to 9.0. US officials had measured it at 8.9.
0330: With all the focus shifting to the nuclear crisis and the rescue mission, it's worth remembering that Japan is still experiencing powerful aftershocks. Hirofumi Yokoyama from Japan's meteorological agency says: "Aftershocks are following, one after another, and in places that were hit hard by the earthquake, please be careful of aftershocks because there are dangers of further deterioration of the conditions of houses."
0342: The Huffington Post tries to get to the bottom of the geological impact of the quake, quoting seismologist Daniel McNamara as saying the quake caused the land to sink: "You see cities still underwater; the reason is subsidence. The land actually dropped, so when the tsunami came in, [the water is] just staying."
Victims top 2,000 in Japan quake-tsunami, nuclear crisis continues
In the coastal town of Minami-sanriku in Miyagi Prefecture, about 10,000 people have not been in contact. That is more than half the town's population of 17,000. Most of the town's buildings have been washed away by a tsunami, though a hospital and several other concrete structures are still standing.
Japan's Meteorological Agency downgraded its tsunami warnings Sunday morning, but continues to call on people on the Pacific coast to stay on the alert.
0524: Workers are clearing up at an air force base in Miyagi prefecture, after the tsunami coursed through it, smashing up fighter jets and covering buildings and equipment in thick in layers of mud.
NEWS ADVISORY: Man rescued 15 km off Japan's quake-hit coast
Japanese police say they've recovered another 200 bodies in coastal areas - AP
Tokyo, Tohoku electric firms may implement planned power outage: Kaieda (15:25)
Mobilization of Self-Defense Forces in Japan for relief efforts is the largest since World War II - nytimes
BREAKING NEWS: Miyagi police chief estimates over 10,000 deaths in Miyagi: NHK (15:58)
Deaths from #Japan quake, tsunami could top 10,000 - NHK
NEWS ADVISORY: Planned power outage likely to last more than several weeks: energy agency (16:23)
0856: Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are all halting some production at least until Monday. Honda is stopping production in two prefectures because it says it is unable to source the auto parts it needs, Japan's NHK TV reports
0902: The BBC's Nick Ravenscroft in Sendai says fires are still burning in the waterfront neighbourhoods, mud and silt everywhere. But he says people are beginning to start a clean-up operation, distributing water and looking after the elderly. They're also putting up signs up to try to find out about people who are missing.
0907: There is a high risk of severe aftershocks and more tsunamis, Japan's Meteorolgical Agency has warned. Spokesman Takashi Yokota said that for the next few days Japan should brace itself for aftershocks of a magnitude of up to seven and be prepared for tsunami warnings.
0910: Bank of Japan provides 55bn yen ($670m) to 13 banks in quake-hit areas - Kyodo news.
0930: Briton Michael Tonge in Sendai says he has seen queues at petrol stations of up to two miles. "People are still shocked but are just getting on with things. The biggest concerns are finding food and fuel," he said.
1002: Here's a quote from Naoto Takeuchi, head of the Miyagi prefecture police, carried on Kyodo: ''We have no choice but to deal with the situation on the premise that it [the death toll] will undoubtedly be numbered in the ten thousands.''
1006: The BBC's Piers Scholfield tweets: "Near yamagata. Queue 2km long outside only petrol station we've seen open."
1009: Japan's DPJ, LDP parties to discuss tax hike to secure funds for quake relief, Kyodo reports.
1032: Japan's NHK TV shows people at a shelter outside a gymnasium in Nyagi prefecture sitting round wood fires to try to keep warm. There are also people checking memos with lists of names on the wall of the gym. Officials say some 10,000 people are unaccounted for in the area.
1040: A total of some 310,000 have been evacuated to emergency shelters, according to NHK.
1048: Japan's biggest instant noodle maker, Nissin, says it will distribute more than one million packets of noodles to earthquake and tsunami victims in the north-east, AP reports.
1052: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is making an announcement: We have been able to rescue 12,000 people, he says. 1054: Naoto Kan: 50,000 personnel preparing to increase to 100,000. 1056: Naoto Kan: No prospect of restoring lost power supplies over next few days, and there's possibility of large-scale cuts. Authorities will be rotating electricity stoppages which may affect medical facilities and other services. 1057: Naoto Kan: Japan undergoing hardest experience of last 50 years. 1058: Naoto Kan appeals to Japanese people to help create a "new Japan".
1119: Japan's minister of the economy, trade and industry now speaking: Starting from tomorrow a substantial amount of power will be in short supply, he says. Asks for understanding and co-operation. 1121: Full quote from Japanese PM Naoto Kan: "This earthquake and tsunami and also the situation concerning the nuclear power stations are perhaps the hardest hardship that we have experienced after World War Two, within these fifty years. Whether we as Japanese people can overcome these hardships, that is dependent on each of us as Japanese citizens." 1128: Steve McDonald, in Tokyo with Save the Children, says the damage to roads is making it very hard for the charity to reach affected areas. "There is obviously a large number of children who have lost their homes," he told the BBC. "In some cases they've lost family members and the picture is quite grim from what we're seeing. We are focusing very much on trying to address the psychological needs of these children, both in the short term and the long term."
1159: Tokyo Electric says planned power outage to last till end of April, according to Kyodo news.
Along with the 1 million packets of instant noodles Nissin Foods Holdings Co. Ltd. said it will also deliver "kitchen cars." These are vehicles equipped with gas-powered kitchenettes and running water for cooking noodles.
1211: The Wall Street Journal's Daisuke Wakabayashi in Tokyo tweets: "After waiting for eight hours, we were just told that they are done for the night. No more gasoline. Sigh. The silver lining - and it's thin - is that we were told they're getting more tomorrow and we got some priority ticket that means no lining up. I'll believe it when I see. That was crushing - sad to see there are hundreds of cars still in line right now."
1223: Disaster-modeling company AIR Worldwide estimates the insured losses from the Japan eathrquake at between $14.5bn and $34.6bn, Reuters reports.
240: The death toll from Japan's earthquake and tsunami is expected to rise. But Ian Hanson, who is working at the International Commission on Missing Persons, points out that the number of people who are unaccounted for can also drop: "Often with disaster situations numbers of people reported missing is very high initially - but this is often because multiple agencies are collecting information and individual missing people will be reported multiple times."
1227: Noriyuki Shikata of the Japanese prime minister's office tweets: "Healthcare facilities could accept sufferers who are not able to show their health insurance card." 1228: Noriyuki Shikata of the Japanese prime minister's office tweets: "Deadline for final tax return (3/15) will be extended until further notice for tax payers in Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaragi." 1229: Noriyuki Shikata of the Japanese prime minister's office tweets: "Sufferers may withdraw their funds from bank/credit union/securities companies with proper ID but without passbook/personal seal."
1243: Mark Kemp in Fukashima Prefecture writes: "I have been teaching English in Japan for four years. I live in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, which is quite close to the damaged nuclear power station. Myself and three friends left the city last night, to get further away from the reactor. We are now staying with a friend of a friend in Kitakata city. The official line is that there is no danger of radiation exposure, but we have been hearing conflicting things from unofficial sources and we didn't want to take the risk. Daily life was also becoming difficult in Koriyama - we had no water or gas, there was a threatened power strike, and the shops were running out of food. Here in Kitakata there is very little damage from the earthquake, but there are long queues in shops and many things, including petrol, are being rationed. Still, we are very happy to have hot food and showers again!"
"Disaster-modeling company AIR Worldwide estimates the insured losses from the Japan eathrquake at between $14.5bn and $34.6bn, Reuters reports."
1255: Robert Murphy in Fukashima city writes: "The mood in the town is very good at the moment, - calm and even humorous. People are resilient here, and used to earthquakes. But I have to say that this one, and the tsunami and nuclear incidents, have startled people far more than usual. We are some 50km west of the nuclear power plant, the other side of a tricky mountain range. We've not been told to evacuate here - and anyway I don't think it would be easy as transport has been badly affected by the disaster. Power had gone out in parts of the town, but recently sprang back to life which makes people feel better. Phone lines have also started working recently. There has not been that much damage to Fukushima considering the extent of the earthquake. The concrete buildings have fared well, but I've seen a brick building that has been destroyed. Most shops are closed and shuttered. We have some food, and you can find some convenience stores open if you hunt around. People are getting by, relatives and friends seem to be calling on family and friends thanks to their cars, or on bikes, or on foot. We have power and gas still, so we can be warm. But the water is off. If, and when, water supplies are fully restored and people can shower and bathe, spirits will really lift, especially for those of us who have not lost friends and relatives to the quake, and especially to the tsunami. "
1319: Sumo stablemaster Tamanoi, formerly ozeki Tochiazuma, said Sunday the stable's training complex in Fukushima Prefecture had been washed away by the tsunami caused by Friday's deadly earthquake in northeastern Japan, Kyodo reports. ''This is very, very hard because Soma is a town we've spent considerable time in," he is quoted as saying. "One day I'd like to go with my wrestlers and encourage the people over there."
1404: As the Japanese prime minister said earlier, the earthquake is a disaster the likes of which Japan has not see for decades. But BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson has made the point that the timing of the quake is a big stroke of luck for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is currently trying to crush a rebellion against his rule. The Libyan story was at the top of the international news agenda until Friday, and Libyans opposed to the Gaddafi regime and calling for international intervention will be worried about people forgetting them.
1408: The earthquake in Japan is likely to have caused between $14.5bn and $34.6bn damage to property in the country, a risk analysis firm AIR Worldwide has said. Its estimate did not, however, cover the effects of the subsequent tsunami. There would be a "significant increase in the damage estimate", it added.
1419: The governor of the Bank of Japan has said it will provide 2 trillion ($24bn) to 3 trillion ($37bn) yen of liquidity to the banking system on Monday to keep markets stable in the wake of the disaster and keep short-term borrowing costs down. "We will monitor market conditions and plan to provide markets with a lot of liquidity first thing tomorrow morning," Masaaki Shirakawa said. He added that the bank would also thoroughly consider the economic impact of the earthquake when the board meets for an interest rate review on Monday.
1424: The BBC's Alastair Leithead has been travelling around Miyagi prefecture. He says: "In one cove along the Pacific coast, everything has been destroyed or swept away. I saw the roof of a factory on the roadside. Its girders were bent like coat-hangers. All around here, there is thick mud. There are piles of chopped-up wood that once formed houses. Cars have been crushed as if they were smashed into a wall. The extent of damage is incredible. There is nothing really left here at all."
1501: More than 1,300 people are now confirmed to have been killed by the earthquake and tsunami which hit north-eastern Japan on Friday, state broadcaster NHK says.
1514: Meanwhile, the Shinmoedake volcano in southern Japan has resumed eruptions of ash and rocks after a couple of weeks of inactivity, Japan's meteorological agency has said. It is unclear if the eruptions are linked to Friday's earthquake.
1507: NHK reports that the death toll now stands at 1,351. In Miyagi prefecture, 515 deaths have been confirmed in the cities of Higashimatsushima, Kesennuma and Sendai. The bodies of between 200 and 300 people swept away by the tsunami were discovered on beaches near Sendai. In Minamisanriku, most buildings have been washed away and about 10,000 people remain missing, NHK adds. Police in Miyagi say the death toll is almost certain to exceed 10,000.
1532: Japan's meteorological agency has lifted all tsunami warnings for the country's Pacific coast, NHK television reports. The agency has gradually downgraded its warnings since Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake. However, it is warning residents of Pacific coastal areas to remain alert because of the threat arising from aftershocks.
1534: Byron Kidd in Tokyo tweets: "Can't buy bread anywhere, but we have Mr Donuts lined up for breakfast tomorrow."
1633: The International Skating Union is considering cancelling next week's world figure skating championships in Tokyo, saying the nuclear crisis in Japan is "very worrisome", according to the Associated Press.
1646: Takehiro from the Kanto region of Japan writes: "I am 19, a student and living in Japan. When the earthquake occurred, I was in a building on the 4th floor. We hid under our desks and waited until the shaking stopped. Some girls of the girls were crying and I thought about the earthquake in New Zealand. The sides of the building were shaking, for a minute. Most of the metropolitan trains stopped running, so people had to stay at the station or in office buildings overnight. Now, there are still some tremors in Japan. We are facing food shortages. Many shops are closed and people are rushing to convenience stores. Our town and others in Kanto plain are going to have the power cut tomorrow to save electricity. The nightmare is not over yet." Have Your Say 1643: The Foreign Office says a dedicated crisis unit has been established, and that its travel advice now recommends against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and North East Japan.
1651: The BBC's Rachel Harvey has reached the outskirts of the coastal town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi prefecture. She sent this report: "All day long the sound of helicopters filled the air as they ferried up and down the north-east coast. At ground level, progress was slower. Patches of main road remain impassable. We were aiming for the town of Minamisanriku, one of the areas worst affected by this unfolding disaster. There were bits of wood, twisted wood and car tires littering the road."
1656: Our correspondent adds: "We came across some survivors. Yasuchi Sato saw the massive wave building out at sea. He saw it gather speed and smash through the concrete breakwater that was supposed to protect the town. Then, from the safety of high ground, he watched as a torrent of water washed away his home. 'There were about 150 houses down there,' he said. 'Now there are only two or three left.' Tonight, Mr Sato is one of about 250 evacuees sleeping on the floor of a school sports hall. There is no mains electricity or running water. But a generator is powering portable heaters, and volunteers have provided blankets and food. It is not much, but with powerful aftershocks continuing it is a very welcome refuge."
1728: In a remarkable tale of survival, the Japanese defence ministry has said a 60-year old man has been rescued, clinging to the roof of his house. It had been carried 15km out to sea by Friday's tsunami, which swept away the man's wife.
1801: Our correspondent adds: "Strong aftershocks across the country are adding to the risks those tasked with rescuing survivors face. Swathes of the country are without power. From Monday, the government will start rationing it. Prime Minister Naoto Kan says Japan is facing its worst crisis in 60 years. The country's meteorological agency is warning there is a strong chance there will be second quake within the next three days. No-one can be certain where or when, but the prediction is worrying people here. They have survived the worst quake in living memory and they do not want to go through it all again."
1808: The BBC's Damian Grammaticus in the north-eastern city of Sendai, says: "In the city centre, things look pretty normal. The earthquake did not do the damage that the tsunami did. Around here, everything looks pretty much intact. But what you find is that during the day time, there were huge queues of people outside the few shops which were open. Food and drinking water are in short supply. However, when you go down to the seashore, you see the devastation. Every community located in a zone a couple of miles deep along the coast has been obliterated by the tsunami. One woman who goes to the area every week told me that she did not know where she was now."
1813: Our correspondent adds: "In the tiny village of Hikashiro, we found every house smashed, trees rammed through buildings, and debris everywhere. One old man told us that the faster people ran, the more chance they had of surviving. Thirty people were still missing, he said. The whole area is a sea of mud. To flee the tsunami, people fled in their cars. Some did not make it. I watched as search teams found a body in a mini-van the waves had dumped in a flooded field. In another field, I counted 50 cars. The local police chief says 10,000 may have died in his area alone. Often, there are new tsunami alerts caused by new tremors and everyone has to evacuate. The natural order of things has been shaken here, and nobody knows when it will settle down again."
1821: The official death toll has risen to 1,596, Japanese state broadcaster NHK says. Miyagi prefecture has now confirmed 643 deaths in the cities of Higashimatsushima, Kesennuma and Sendai. The number of people whose whereabouts are unknown exceeds 10,000.
1827: In a sign of the seriousness of the disaster, NHK did not air its period drama, Go, on Sunday night for the first time since January 1989, when Emperor Hirohito passed away. The broadcaster instead opted for rolling news coverage, the Kyodo news agency reports.
1832: The Kyodo news agency has spoken to survivors of the tsunami in the town of Minamisanriku. Akio Sato, a 60 year old who is staying at an emergency shelter, said: ''It's like a hell. I can't think about what to do tomorrow. Right now, all I can do is think about how to make it through the day." Emerita Chiba, a 42-year-old Philippines national who is married to a Japanese fisherman said: "The whole experience is horrifying. I don't have anything, I don't have work, and my house is gone."
1900: Rescuers are struggling to get to thousands of people who remain stranded in the north-eastern Japanese region of Tohoku. NHK television reports that in Miyagi prefecture, there are more than 3,400 people waiting for help in the city of Kesennuma, 2,300 in Minamisanriku, and 3,800 in Ishinomaki. In Souma city, Fukushima prefecture, rescuers have still not been able to reach residents trapped in their homes because of flooded roads.
1907: Toyota, the world's top carmaker, Nissan and Honda are all suspending production at all their plants in Japan, starting Monday. When production will resume is uncertain. Toyota has 12 factories in the country, while Nissan has three. Honda said the decision would halt its production of 4,000 vehicles a day.
1918: The triple blow of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident is set to damage the world's third largest economy possibly more deeply and for longer than initially expected, analysts have said. Following the 1995 Kobe earthquake, Japan's economy shrank by 2%, followed by a V-shaped recovery. But if the power supply is affected nationwide for a long period , it could lead to a sharp contraction of production. Oil prices are also significantly higher than after Kobe, the Yen is stronger, and the public finances are weaker. The last factor could lead to emergency tax hikes.
OTHER AREAS AFFECTED:
0448: No change has been detected in radiation levels in the Russian far east, which borders Japan, the country's top health inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, tells Interfax news agency. The situation is being monitored around the clock, with experts who tracked the Chernobyl disaster on stand-by if the situation deteriorates.
1016: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking after a large anti-nuclear demonstration, has said safety at all the country's nuclear plants will be reviewed in the light of problems with the reactors in Japan. 1018: Germany, clearly, does not have the same concerns as Japan because it is not prone to earthquakes. But she faces strong opposition from the Green party, and the BBC's Stephen Evans reports from Berlin that this is the first indication of the way in which the whole nuclear debate may be re-framed in many countries.
1209: Britain's ambassador to Japan, Richard Warren, is in the city of Sendai. "There are some cases of British nationals who are unaccounted for," he says. "We've clarified that some British language teachers on a local government sponsored language training programme run by the prefecture are safe and also a similar programme run by Sendai city are safe... So far, none of the community organisations that we have been in touch with have reported any British casualties."
1349: British regulators will be studying closely the nuclear crisis in Japan to "learn any lessons" for power stations in the UK, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has said.
1710: The crisis has renewed concern in other countries about the safety of atomic power. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said it represented a turning point for the world. She said that safety standards at her own country's nuclear power stations would now be reviewed. In the United States, Senator Joe Lieberman said Washington needed to put the brakes on the development of nuclear power plants until lessons were learned from what had happened in Japan.
1713: The BBC's Stephen Evens in Berlin says: "There was already a strong movement in Germany opposed to the extension of the lives of the country's 17 nuclear power stations. It held a previously arranged anti-nuclear demonstration on Saturday which drew tens of thousands of people. Germany, clearly, does not have the same concerns as Japan because it is not prone to earthquakes. But this is the first indication of the way in which the whole nuclear debate may be re-framed in many countries. Chancellor Merkel's party faces a big electoral test in two weeks time in precisely the region where the protest took place. The Greens were already doing well in the polls, and it's hard to see how out-of-control reactors in Japan can do anything but strengthen their political position - at Mrs Merkel's expense."
1851: Austrian Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich has said he will call for a pan-European "stress test" to see if nuclear power stations are earthquake proof and how they perform in terms of containment and cooling.
NUCLEAR REACTOR PROBLEMS: NOTE: Please release that we don't have all the information about this. There is a lot of information pouring in from all sides and a lot of it is conflicting and we're doing the best we can to compile it all and make sense of it but the truth is we really don't know just what's happening right now. Please be patient with us.
[5:48 p.m. ET, 7:48 a.m. Tokyo] A meltdown may be under way at one of Fukushima Daiichi's nuclear power reactors, an official with Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency told CNN Sunday.
A meltdown is a catastrophic failure of the reactor core, with a potential for widespread radiation release. However, Toshiro Bannai, director of the agency's international affairs office, expressed confidence that efforts to control the crisis would prove successful.
Meanwhile, a second reactor at the same facility failed shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said, according to TV Asahi. The power company said it was having difficulty cooling the reactor and may need to release radioactive steam in order to relieve pressure.
2318: US nuclear experts warn that pumping sea water to cool a quake-hit Japanese nuclear reactor is an "act of desperation" that may foreshadow a Chernobyl-like disaster, AFP reports. "The situation has become desperate enough that they apparently don't have the capability to deliver fresh water or plain water to cool the reactor and stabilise it, and now, in an act of desperation, are having to resort to diverting and using sea water," said Robert Alvarez, who works on nuclear disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies.
2326: The Japanese cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, has been speaking on state TV. He said the third reactor at the Fukushima No. I plant was in danger but attempts were under way for a controlled release of air.
NHK just posted an update: they indeed can't pump water normally into reactor 3, so they're hoping the steam release works. They're also trying to fix the pumps right now. They believe things are still under control.
0046: A reminder of the situation at the Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant. The operator has said it is preparing to vent some steam to relieve pressure in the No 3 reactor. Earlier, there was an explosion and leak from the plant's No 1 reactor.
0106: The director general of the UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, says he hopes the actions taken by the Japanese authorities at the power plant will be successful: "The IAEA was informed by the Japanese authorities that the explosion occurred outside the primary containment vessel at unit one and the integrity of that vessel is confirmed. The IAEA has been informed that sea water with boron is being injected into the vessel as a counter-measure to prevent possible damage to the core. I hope that the sea water will be injected successfully and that the safety of unit one will be established as soon as possible."
0115: Reporting live from Tokyo, the BBC's Chris Hogg says nuclear safety has always been a sensitive issue in a country so prone to earthquakes and the government is anxious not to cause unnecessary panic.
0147: The legal limit for radioactivity has been passed at the Fukushima plant, AFP says, quoting Japan's Kyodo news agency.
0202: More on the higher radioactivity level at the nuclear plant. The Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has informed the government of an "emergency situation" but this does not mean an immediate threat to human health, the company adds. A similar rise in radiation levels occurred after the company released radioactive steam from another reactor to let go of pressure. On that occasion too, the company was obliged to inform the government of an "emergency situation".
0217: The latest from Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan: "We've been working overnight to try to recover from the situation. I'm about to board a helicopter to go to the affected areas, in particular the area around affected nuclear facilities. At the moment we have ordered a 10km exclusion zone around the facility. I'm going there with experts from the industry to talk with the people responsible on the ground, and to grasp how the situation is. On this basis we will make the necessary decisions."
0225: The unsafe level of radioactivity at the Fukushima plant is being created by the plant's No 3 reactor, AFP says, quoting the Japanese government.
0228: Just a reminder: cooling systems failed at the No 3 reactor hours after the explosion at the No 1 reactor.
0232: The plant operator says the top of the fuel rods is 3 metres above water - AFP, quoting Kyodo.
0314: Tepco, which runs the stricken nuclear power plans, is updating its website regularly with technical briefings on the status of the reactors.
0352: The news coming from Japan remains bleak. Government spokesman Yukio Edano: "We do believe that there is a possibility that meltdown has occurred - it is inside the reactor, we can't see. However, we are acting, assuming that a meltdown has occurred and with reactor number 3 we are also assuming the possibility of a meltdown as we carry out measures."
More on reactors: At least 210,000 told to evacuate area around quake-stricken nuclear plants - nytimes
0411: Shaun Bernie, from lobby group Greenpeace, tells the BBC that using plutonium as fuel increases the risk that something could go wrong because plutonium-fuelled plants operate at a higher level. He also says plutonium is far more dangerous if it's released into the environment.
0406: More on the specific dangers of Fukushima 1 plant's reactor 3: The BBC's Chris Hogg in Toky says the reactor is fuelled with uranium and plutonium, meaning the consequences of a meltdown are much more severe than at the other reactors.
0419: Possible fusion in two reactors - AFP, quoting government
0421: If you've just joined us, here are a few pointers about the nuclear crisis now unfolding as a result of Friday's earthquake. The problem centres on one of two nuclear power plants in Fukushima prefecture, which stand 11.5km (7.1 miles) apart. The plant, Fukushima 1, has six reactors. On Saturday afternoon local time, a hydrogen explosion reportedly hit the building housing the No 1 reactor but the container of the reactor remained intact. Early today local time, it was reported that the emergency cooling system of Reactor 3 had failed. The reactor's fuel rods were reportedly exposed and a partial meltdown was believed to be under way.
0426: Japanese government spokesman Yukio Edano says radioactive meltdowns may have occurred in two reactors at the plant - AFP.
@REOlistic The simple atmospheric models they use for predicting exposure are only good to 20-50 miles. Sufficient for emergency planning. .@REOlistic From Japan to the US is like predicting the weather - very undercertain. But its likely to diffuse rapidly over the ocean
ALERT: #Japan spokesman says 'partial meltdown' underway at nuclear plant
Fukushima nuclear plant was tested to withstand 7.9 quake, not 8.9
NEWS ADVISORY: Kan discusses nuclear plant disorder with Tokyo Electric head (14:14) NEWS ADVISORY: Radioactive monitor set up in Ibaraki Pref., no abnormal reading so far (14:10)
Second nuclear meltdown likely under way in Japan, official says
NEWS ADVISORY: Radioactivity 400 times normal level observed in Miyagi: Tohoku Electric (14:57)
FLASH: #Japan chief cabinet secretary says risk of explosion at building housing #Fukushima Daiichi No. 3 reactor
BREAKING NEWS: No. 3 reactor can resist possible explosion: Edano (15:37)
NEWS ADVISORY: No new serious problem at nuclear plant: Edano (15:39)
NEWS ADVISORY: No need for new evacuation steps over nuke plant problems: Edano (15:45)
BREAKING NEWS: Part of No. 3 reactor could be deformed, but not meltdown: Edano (15:43)
NEWS ADVISORY: No info on problems in other reactors in Fukushima: Edano (16:03)
BREAKING NEWS: Restoration of reactors 1, 3 difficult due to sea water inflow: Edano (16:09)
0948: Authorities say they think that there wasn't a meltdown at the no 3 reactor - as previously thought - only at the no 1 reactor. See an explainer of meltdown here. In any case, officials are insisting that there is no significant risk to human health at present.
1043: Jackie in Tokyo writes: "The problem I see is confusion about nuclear meltdowns. The media is scaring people, and causing some panic. There's about 50 plus articles, with each and every one of them contradicting one another. If you're not educated about nuclear facilities and meltdowns, please do not make uneducated guesses. The problem here is the people who need to be rescued and the deaths following the quake. I'm 100% positive Japan is doing all they can to stop the meltdown. It's scary yes, but nonetheless we need to stay focused and calm."
1110: Govt spokesman: There's a failure of the valve at the No 3 reactor at Fukushima 1 power station. Not clear if this is cause of effect of the fact that gauge isn't showing rising water level. 1008: Govt spokesman: Trying to lower pressure at No 3 reactor at Fukushima 1 power station. Confirms risk of explosion. 1107: Govt spokesman: Currently radiation monitor hasn't show any change. 1105: Yukio Edano, the government spokesman, is speaking now. He says authorities have begun injecting seawater at the No 3 reactor at Fukushima 1 power station. He said the water level is thought to be rising, but the gauge, which seems to be broken, is not showing this. 1111: Govt spokesman: Rising pressure at No 3 reactor isn't an immediate risk but could get worse.
1259: Noriyuki Shikata of the Japanese prime minister's office has told the BBC World Service: "I don't think there is any need for people, for example living in Tokyo or in Kanto area to be worried about the possible impacts from the reactor. If you look at the Japanese people there are no such movements." 1304: A reminder that Japan's nuclear safety agency rates the incident at level 4 on a scale of 1-7. The accident at Three Mile Island was 5, Chernobyl was 7. 1309: Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co (tepco) is preparing to put sea water into the No 2 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi, or Fukushima 1, power station, Reuters reports. It has already been pouring water into reactors No 1 and 3 to try to cool them.
1353: A state of emergency has been declared at a second nuclear power plant in Japan, the International Atomic Energy Agency has said. "Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that the first, or lowest, state of emergency at the Onagawa nuclear power plant has been reported by Tohoku Electric Power Company," a statement said, according to the AFP news agency. The alert was declared "as a consequence of radioactivity readings exceeding allowed levels in the area surrounding the plant". "Japanese authorities are investigating the source of radiation," it added. 1358: The Onagawa nuclear power plant is located near the town of Onagawa and the city of Ishinomaki city, in Miyagi prefecture, which was the region hardest hit by the earthquake. A fire broke out in the turbine building of one the reactors at Onagawa on Friday, but was put out. A water leak was also reported at another reactor on the site.
1400: Kendra Barua in Yokohama writes:"We are more than 275 kms south of Fukushima but the panic has already started to happen. Gas stations are out of gas, stores are running out of food, emergency supplies have virtually run out and people are evacuating to the south. Aftershocks still continue and the meteorological center still sends strong earthquake warnings to our cell phones. They have also said there is more than 70 percent chance of a magnitude 7 earthquake happening in the next three days. Addition to that, the nuclear fallout is very serious. The PM was almost in tears and we could see fear in his eyes. We aren't even sure if the gov is telling all the truth about the radiation extent. Power cuts will start tomorrow until the end of April in most central Japan. Anywhere from 3-6 hours per day is expected. People are in need of true information and the steps they should take without causing panic. Since the Japanese government does not seem to be capable of making critical decisions, foreign help is critical in the decision making process as well.
1456: Radiation levels at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi prefecture are about 700 times higher than normal but are still low, the Tohoku Electric Power Company has said, according to the Maichi Shinbum website. Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency dismissed the possibility that the Onagawa plant was to blame, saying it was likely caused by the radioactive substances that scattered when a hydrogen explosion hit the troubled Fukushima plant on Saturday.
1458: Meanwhile, Japan's meteorological agency has said the wind that is blowing over the Fukushima-Daiichi plant will blow from the west during Sunday night, pushing any radioactivity towards the Pacific Ocean, the Reuters news agency reports. Earlier, the wind was blowing from the south, raising concerns radioactivity could affect residential areas.
1609: The 1,100MW Tokai plant, about 120km (75 miles) north of Tokyo, was automatically shut down after Friday's earthquake. 1606: A pump within the cooling system of one of the reactors at the Tokai nuclear power plant has stopped working, according to the Kyodo news agency. The plant is located in the Naka district of the central prefecture of Ibaraki, and is operated by the Japan Atomic Power Company. 1600: At the same time, Malcolm Crick, the secretary of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, has told the Reuters news agency: "This is not a serious public health issue at the moment. It won't be anything like Chernobyl. There the reactor was operating at full power when it exploded and it had no containment."
1541: A former nuclear power plant designer has said Japan is facing an extremely grave crisis and called on the government to release more information, which he said was being suppressed. Masashi Goto told a news conference in Tokyo that one of the reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant was "highly unstable", and that if there was a meltdown the "consequences would be tremendous". He said such an event might be very likely indeed. So far, the government has said a meltdown would not lead to a sizeable leak of radioactive materials. 1548: Mr Goto said the reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant were suffering pressure build-ups way beyond that for which they were designed. There was a severe risk of an explosion, with radioactive material being strewn over a very wide area - beyond the 20km evacuation zone set up by the authorities - he added. Mr Goto calculated that because Reactor No 3 at Fukushima-Daiichi - where pressure is rising and there is a risk of an explosion - used a type of fuel known as Mox, a mixture of plutonium oxide and uranium oxide, the radioactive fallout from any meltdown might be twice as bad. 1553: He accused the government of deliberately withholding vital information that would allow outside experts help solve the problems. "For example, there has not been enough information about the hydrogen being vented. We don't know how much was vented and how radioactive it was." He also described the use of sea water to cool the cores of the reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi as highly unusual and dangerous. 1558: He described the worst-case scenario: "It is difficult to say, but that would be a core meltdown. If the rods fall and mix with water, the result would be an explosion of solid material like a volcano spreading radioactive material. Steam or a hydrogen explosion caused by the mix would spread radioactive waste more than 50km. Also, this would be multiplied. There are many reactors in the area so there would be many Chernobyls."
1702: The Japan Atomic Power Company has said the cooling system of a reactor at its Tokai nuclear power plant is working, although two of the three diesel power generators used for cooling are out of order, the Reuters news agency reports. The plant, about 120km (75 miles) north of Tokyo in Ibaraki prefecture, was automatically shut down after Friday's earthquake.
1706: The news about Tokai comes as the authorities battle to prevent a meltdown at the stricken Fukushima-Daiichi complex. Sea water is being pumped into three overheating reactors there. The plant was rocked by an explosion on Saturday, which blew off the roof of one reactor building. Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared at a second nuclear site. The International Atomic Energy Agency said increased levels of radiation had been detected at Onagawa, close to the area worst hit by the tsunami.
1721: More on the Tokai nuclear power plant: A report submitted to the Ibaraki prefectural government by the Japan Atomic Power Company said that one of the two pumps being used to cool the water of a suppression pool for the plant's nuclear reactor had stopped working, according to the Kyodo news agency. However, the other pump was still working and there was no problem with cooling the reactor, the prefectural government said. All control rods were set in completely at the reactor, it added.
1749: A spokesman for the Japan Atomic Power Company has explained that one of the cooling system pumps at its Tokai nuclear power plant failed because of the tsunami. "We then manually stopped one of our cooling systems," Masao Nakano told the AFP news agency. "But the other cooling systems and other pumps are working well, and temperatures of the reactor have continued to fall smoothly."
1800: The BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says: "Hundreds of thousands of people here are being checked for exposure to radiation. They have been ordered to leave their homes in a wide area around the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. Technicians there are struggling to make safe reactors damaged by the quake and wall of water that swept through the complex. For a time, leaks of radiation were detected that exceeded safety limits. Officials say the levels have since declined. Fukushima is not the only plant with problems, though. Another, further north, has been damaged too."
1839: World Nuclear News has more information on the situation at the Onagawa nuclear power plant: It says a "technical emergency" was declared at 1250 after radiation levels at the site reached 21 microSieverts per hour. Within just 10 minutes, however, the level had dropped to 10 microSieverts per hour, WNN adds. The plant's three reactors remain in a safe shutdown condition at below 100C and the Tohoku Electric Power Company has reported no other issues.
1842: WNN says the area around the Onagawa nuclear plant was hit very hard by the tsunami and about 200 survivors are sheltering in the power plant's administration building. Radiation levels there are said to be normal.
2352: The US navy's 7th Fleet is assisting with the rescue operation off the coast. A spokesman, Commander Jeff Davies, outlined the fleet's grim task for the BBC: "We have three destroyers that have joined the other two ships in (USS) Ronald Reagan's battle group and are conducting at-sea searches of the debris field. A tremendous amount of debris was washed out to sea following the tsunami and they're going to go through it very carefully and very methodically to make sure that if there are any survivors out there they are rescued, and likewise if there are any human remains that those are recovered."
USS Tortuga just arrived in the Sea of Japan, being the first US navy support vessel to arrive with aid.
0109: Japan has doubled the number of soldiers being deployed to cope with the disaster to 100,00 - AFP
0120: There are three US warships off the Japanese coast helping with the Japanese government's search and rescue effort, US 7th Fleet spokesman Lt Anthony Falvo says. One of their tasks is to search debris washed out to sea by the tsunami.
0123: AFP has updated its story about the Japanese military deployment being doubled. It was quoting a government official on condition of anonymity. So that's not official yet.
Canadian aid groups are accepting donations via text message for relief efforts in Japan. Making a micro-donation to help the response to the massive earthquake and tsunami is as simple as pulling out your mobile phone and doing the following: • Texting “ASIA” to 30333 to donate $5 to the Canadian Red Cross. • Texting “QUAKE” to 45678 to donate $10 to the Salvation Army. • Texting “GIVE” to 45678 to donate $5 to the UNICEF. According to the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada, this service is available to Bell, Fido, Koodo, Rogers, Telus, Solo, and Virgin Mobile customers. To make your donation count, you must reply to a confirmation message. Donations show up as one-time charges on your next cellphone bill.</a>
0323: Patrick Fuller from Red Cross tells the BBC: "The priority is to get medical help to people, but also to continue the flow of relief materials."
0325: Mr Fuller adds: "You simply can't get into many of these places. It's still early days in judging the scope of this disaster. Every day we're hearing reports of many people still missing. Based on past experience of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, this doesn't bode well."
0335: China says it has carried out checks on its nuclear facilities in the wake of Japan's troubles, the environment ministry saying: "Our ministry is paying a great deal of attention to this huge earthquake in Japan, and has already confirmed that it has had no impact at all on our nuclear plants' safety."
1245: The UK International Search and Rescue (UK-ISAR) team has arrived in Japan.
1411: The BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says the rescue operation in north-east Japan is proving difficult. "Some of the worst affected areas are hard to reach. In some villages and towns, many of the buildings appear have been washed away," he says. "The earthquake was the largest anyone here can remember but it was the giant wave of water that followed that caused so much of the devastation. The prime minister has told his people they need to pull together if they are to survive the biggest challenge Japan's faced since the end of World War II."
1437: Patrick Fuller of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who is Ishinomaki, one of the worst affected cities, tells the BBC: "I'm at the hospital in Ishinomaki and the situation is dire. This is a town of about 130,000 people. Half the town was engulfed by the tsunami and the scene of devastation is absolute. There are pockets of people who are still stranded. There are others limping into the hospital as I speak. Just five minutes ago I witnessed an elderly lady die before she could get through the doors. The Red Cross is doing an incredible job here. They have had volunteers coming in from all over the country."
1527: Daniel Millichip, a British student in Tokyo, tells the BBC that supplies are running low in the capital. "Yesterday there were problems with water. There were also problems with getting hold of basic essentials like bread and that's continuing today. I haven't seen any bread in any shops. I've been in about 10 or 15. People are stocking up. They about worried about the nuclear problems, the power shortages. They believe the shops will be closed." 1521: The US state department is now urging all non-essential government personnel to defer travel to Japan. It also says Americans should avoid tourism and other unnecessary visits to Japan for now.
1627: A British search-and-rescue team has arrived in Japan to help find survivors. Peter Crook of the International Search and Rescue Centre told the BBC that the aftermath of a tsunami presented a different challenge to that an earthquake. "Anything that has already been underwater is not going to be survivable, so we will be looking really for the structures on the edge of that damage," he said. "That's a significant difference for us. The tsunami damage is massively widespread as well, so covering those wide areas is also going to be a challenge."
1640: The UK Foreign Office says the British ambassador and a team of consular staff are in Sendai, the city closest to the epicentre, to assess the level of damage and to help locate British nationals. They are currently visiting evacuation centres and hospitals. Forty-five additional consular staff are also being deployed to Japan, a statement says. More teams are on standby. "We are working with the Japanese authorities to establish whether any British nationals have been involved," the statement adds.
1742: Meanwhile, offers of help to the Japanese government have been pouring in from across the world. Even the poor southern Afghan city of Kandahar is chipping in - its mayor has said it is donating $50,000 to the "brothers and sisters" of Japan. "I know $50,000 is not a lot of money for a country like Japan, but it is a show of appreciation from the Kandahar people," Ghulam Haidar Hamidi told the Reuters news agency.
1754: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has spoken with his Japanese counterpart to "discuss the latest situation and co-ordination with our embassy in Tokyo," the Foreign Office has said. "He expressed concern about the explosion... at Fukushima nuclear power station and offered UK help and expertise to the Japanese authorities if needed," it added.
For those of you who are short on money but still want to help out, Free Rice is a game where for every right answer you get, they'll donate rice to people in need in Japan.
FIRST JAPAN POST SECOND JAPAN POST THIRD JAPAN POST PLEASE READ ALL OF THE PREVIOUS POSTS FIRST. I cannot keep reposting the same information over and over again, there's simply too much of it and it can't all fit into one post. This post is going to be dedicated to the most recent news and updating as it happens, so for information on what has already transpired, look to the previous posts. Please.