Quake aftermath main developments


THE FOLLOWING are the main developments after a massive earthquake struck northeast Japan on Friday and set off a tsunami.

Death toll expected to exceed 10,000 from the quake and tsunami, public broadcaster NHK says. About 2,000 bodies found on two shores of Miyagi prefecture, Kyodo news agency reports.

Japan battles to prevent nuclear catastrophe. A hydrogen explosion jolts the No 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 240km (150 miles) north of Tokyo. Operator Tokyo Electric Power Company says 11 people were injured.

Before the blast, officials said 22 people had suffered radiation contamination. Up to 190 may have been exposed.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says nuclear fuel rods at the quake-stricken reactor are exposed again and overheating, raising the risk of them melting.

United States says Japan asked for additional equipment to help cool reactors.

International Atomic Energy Agency says crisis unlikely to turn into another Chernobyl.

Switzerland’s energy minister suspends approvals process for three nuclear power stations so safety standards can be revisited.

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel said that nuclear plants which had been scheduled to close in the next three months, before an extension deal was struck, would not shut down after all.

Authorities have set up a 20km (12-mile) exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant and a 10km (6 mile) zone around Fukushima Daini.

Strong aftershocks persist in the stricken area. An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.1 jolted the Tokyo area at about 5am today, public broadcaster NHK said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage and no tsunami warning was issued.

About 450,000 people evacuated nationwide in addition to 80,000 from the exclusion zone around the nuclear power plants.

Almost 2 million households are without power in the freezing north and about 1.4 million households have no running water.

Reactor operator says rolling blackout to affect 3 million customers, including large factories, buildings and households. Blackouts affected 113,000 households yesterday, it says.

Japan’s Nikkei share index falls more than 6 per cent, dragging European stocks to their lowest in three months.

The Bank of Japan offers to pump a record $85 billion into the banking system.

Credit Suisse estimates the loss at between 14 trillion yen ($171 billion) and 15 trillion yen just to the quake region.