16 Mar 2011

Japan live blog: nuclear crisis

Crisis at Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan as officials warn radiation levels close to the plant are now high enough to impact human health. Follow our live blog to get the latest.

Japan live blog
Japan live blog

08.00 Channel 4 News Presenter Jon Snow reflects on five days in Japan, where he has seen unimaginable human loss – and the danger of the unseen nuclear threat.

06.30 Smoke is seen rising from the Fukushima nuclear plant overnight and workers are temporarily evacuated as radiation levels spike within the facility.

People in the evacuation zone – around 140,000 – are ordered to remain indoors. Up to 180,000 have already left the area.

Workers across Japan are also continuing the heartbreaking recovery effort from Friday’s tsunami and earthquake.

Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent visits the devastated town of Ofunato. Watch the video below.

Tuesday 15 March

18.05 Herman Van Rompuy, President of EU Council: “An earthquake powerful enough to make the world wobble on its axis, a massive tsunami, an emergency in nuclear power stations. Any one of these would be a tragedy. Thousands of people have died and this has turned this tragedy into a catastrophe.”

17.50 The U.S. Navy have redirected warships to safer waters and told Japan based forces to limit time outdoors. This comes only a day after it was revealed 17 Americans on helicopter missions had been exposed to a months worth of radiation.

17.45 British Airways, Air France, Alitalia, Swiss and KLM amongst the airlines confirming a regular service as scheduled but did encourage travellers to check their flights before leaving for the airport.

17.35 India have joined the list of countries that have ordered food to be checked for radiation that has been imported from Japan.

17.30 500 bone marrow transplant centres put on alert to treat potential radiation victims from Japan.

17.05 The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief says there might be limited core damage at the No. 2 unit of the earthquake-stricken Fukushima power plant.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told a news conference that there was a “possibility of core damage” at unit 2. “The damage is estimated to be less than 5 pct.”

16.00 The radiation plume from a nuclear power plant damaged by Japan’s earthquake and tsunami could reach Tokyo, according to a U.S. scientists group.

They said a “jerry-rigged” cooling system at the plant would be hard to maintain if all workers there were evacuated. Nuclear power and safety experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists said they were “very concerned” that ongoing activities at the plant would become more challenging for on-site workers (Reuters).

15.50 Short video of shaking following Shizuoka aftershock – no danger of tsunami but people warned there could be landslides. Watch below.

15.45 British rescue workers in Japan are optimistic about finding survivors. Read more: British team scrambles to find survivors in Japan.

15.30 China’s quality watchdog said it will monitor radioactivity at entry ports following Japan’s nuclear crisis (Reuters).

Read more: Japan's calm amid desolation. Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson blogs from Ofunato.

14.40 IAEA says Monday’s explosion at Fukushima nuclear plant may have affected integrity of main containment vessel.

14.15 Fujinomiya City, thought to be the epicentre of the most recent earthquake in Japan, has reported a blackout and fires around the station (NHK).

14.00 Chubu Electric Power Co reports that the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station has NOT been damaged by Shindo 6+ Shizuoka quake (NHK).

13.40 Reports of a big aftershock in Shizuoka measuring 6 on the Richter scale.

13.35 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said about 150 people had received monitoring for radiation levels and that measures to “decontaminate” 23 of them had been taken.

Read more In-depth reports from the Channel 4 News team on the ground: Japan - tsunami to nuclear crisis

13.10 Alan Blatchford is co-ordinating the Hampshire fire and rescue team in Japan from the UK. He told Channel 4 News everyone in the team is carrying an electronic device that will alarm if radiation levels start to rise.

He continued: “We’re still optimistic that amongst some of the buildings that we may find survivors.

“The team hasn’t yet found any survivors. But we remain hopeful that we will be able to rescue somebody. There’s been occasions in the past where four, five or even six days later we’ve found survivors.”

12.40 International Red Cross is in Otsuchi – one of the worst affected towns. Charity says it’s as bad as anything it has seen. Watch video below.

12.30 France’s ASN nuclear safety authority said the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant could now be classed as level six out of an international scale of one to seven.

12.00 IAEA says Japanese data suggests falling radioactivity at Fukushima nuclear plant.

11.40 Nuclear power plant operator TEPCO has pulled 750 workers from its earthquake-hit Fukushima plant since Tuesday morning, the firm says.

11.35 Radiation levels in Chiba prefecture neighbouring Tokyo are more than 10 times above normal levels, Kyodo News reports.

11.30 Walt Patterson, a nuclear expert and associate fellow at Chatham House tells Channel 4 News that what is happening at the reactor site at Fukushima now is probably “pretty serious panic as the circumstances in which they are trying to control these reactors gets more and more difficult”.

“And whether they have reliable information from the control room and their dials and gauges – I’m beginning to guess they probably don’t so they have no idea what the condition of the reactor is.

“It’s probably terrifying there right now, they could easily make a mistake. At Three Mile Island, one operator did something which he thought was the right thing but was actually the wrong thing and it nearly triggered a complete meltdown.”

10.45 Rescuers have pulled a man and a woman alive from the rubble four days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Watch video of one of the rescues below.

10.15 UN weather agency says Japan winds dispersing radioactive material over ocean – no danger to Japan at the moment.

Agency warned that although effects have been offshore so far, weather conditions could change and it was closely monitoring satellite and other data.

“At this point, all the meteorological conditions are offshore so there are no implications, for Japan or other countries near Japan,” Maryam Golnaraghi, chief of WMO’s disaster risk reduction division, told a briefing in Geneva.”

09.30 Reports rescuers in Japan have found a 70-year-old woman alive in Iwate prefecture four days after earthquake and tsunami (AP).

Read more: Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson blogs on operating as a journalist in an earthquake zone.

09.00 Britain’s ambassador in Japan, David Warren tells the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Given the scale of the disaster here, while we have no confirmed British casualties as yet, we must be prepared to hear news of them.”

08.38 The World Health Organisation says Japan is taking the right public health measures to protect population from radiation.

08.15 China’s embassy in Japan is organising an evacuation of its nationals from parts of Japan worst affected by the quake and tsunami “owing to the seriousness of and uncertainty surrounding the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant at present”.

Read more: Snowblog - Jon Snow asks what affect the crisis at Japan's Fukushima plant will have on the world's nuclear future.

07.45 Japan has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog that it has extinguished a fire at the spent fuel storage pond of its earthquake-stricken reactor at Fukushima.

06.00 The Japanese government warns radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has reached levels which could be harfull to human health. It follows a third blast at the nuclear site and a fire.