Developments after major Japan earthquake

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2011 11:40 AM
Developments after major Japan earthquake

TOKYO (Reuters) - Following are main developments after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake that 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. Strong aftershocks persisting in the stricken area.

- Kyodo reports 10,000 people in one town unreachable.

- Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, have risen above the safety limit but says this posed no "immediate threat" to human health. An explosion blew the roof off at reactor No. 1.

- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says there is the risk of an explosion at another building housing the No. 3 reactor, although this is unlikely to affect the reactor's core container. He said fuel rods may have been partially deformed but a meltdown is unlikely to have occurred.

* TEPCO is preparing to put sea water into the No.2 reactor at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Jiji news agency says. TEPCO, Japan's largest electric utility, is already injecting sea water into the No.1 and No.3 units at the plant to cool them down and reduce pressure inside reactor container vessels.

- Authorities have set up a 20-km (12-mile) exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant and a 10 km (6 miles) zone around another nuclear facility close by. Around 140,000 people have been moved from the area, while authorities prepared to distribute iodine to protect people from radioactive exposure.

- About 300,000 people evacuated nationwide and almost two million households without power in the freezing north, domestic media say.

- Prime Minister Naoto Kan approves power outage plan by TEPCO that begins on Monday to address power shortage. TEPCO says the rollover blackout to affect three million customers, including large factories of all industries, buildings, households.

- Meteorologists say the wind will keep blowing from the south, which could affect residents north of the power plant.

- France recommends its citizens leave the Kanto region that includes Tokyo and six other prefectures in its vicinity, citing the risk of further earthquakes and uncertainty about the situation at its damaged nuclear plants.

- A Japanese official said there were 190 people within a 10-km radius of the nuclear plant when radiation levels rose and 22 people have been confirmed to have suffered contamination.

- Nuclear safety agency rates the incident a 4 on the 1 to 7 International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, less serious than Three Mile Island, which was a 5, and Chernobyl at 7.

- Quake triggered tsunami up to 10 meters (30 feet). Waves swept away homes, crops, vehicles and submerged farmland.

- Bank of Japan to hold policy meeting on Monday. It has extended a total of 55 billion yen to 13 financial institutions in the quake-struck northeast of Japan since Saturday.

- Japan's ruling and opposition parties to discuss temporary tax rise to fund quake relief, Kyodo news agency says.

- Toyota Motor Co to suspend operations at all 12 factories on Monday.

- Total insured loss could be up to $15 billion, equity analysts covering the industry say. Disaster-modeling company AIR Worldwide estimates the insured losses from the Japan earthquake at between $14.5 billion and $34.6 billion.

- Tokyo Stock Exchange to trade as normal on Monday.

- Disaster has sent oil, metals, and grain prices sliding on fears over its impact on demand, deepening their biggest decline in months; yen rose broadly on risk aversion by Japanese investors and expectations of repatriations by Japan's insurance companies; oil prices slide more than $3 a barrel.