by Karin Zeitvogel – 28 mins ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) – 2320 GMT: Latest toll estimates, according to Japan’s Kyodo and Jiji news agencies, suggest more than 1,000 people have died. At least 400 deaths have already been confirmed by officials.
2259 GMT: Japan’s nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power says a second of its atomic plants in an earthquake-hit area is experiencing reactor cooling problems, Kyodo News reports.
2242 GMT: The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says there are problems with two reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, where Kyodo news has reported radiation levels 1,000 times greater than normal.
“Officials are working to restore power to the cooling systems of the Unit 2 reactor…Japanese officials have also reported that pressure is increasing inside the Unit 1 reactor?s containment,” the IAEA statement says.
2237 GMT: With first light in Japan come the first dramatic television pictures from Japanese broadcasters. High rise buildings well inland lie marooned by tsunami flood waters that have left whole communities cut off. Desperate survivors on roof tops wave umbrellas and makeshift flags to get the attention of rescuers. One woman writes out the word HELP in English in giant letters.
2227 GMT : Pop diva and esoteric fashion icon Lady Gaga is selling $5 Japan Earthquake Relief wristbands in her official merchandise store. All proceeds from sales of the white wristbands with red Japanese and English lettering that says “We Pray for Japan” will go directly to Japan relief efforts, Gaga says on her website.
2200 GMT: People living in coastal zones in Chile are being evacuated as tsunami waves triggered by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan thunder towards the South American country that was itself hit by a monster quake around one year ago.
Most of the 524 people who died in the 2010 Chile quake, which measured 8.8 on the Richter scale, were killed by massive tsunami waves that swept away coastal hamlets and pummeled cities like Constitucion and Concepcion.
2155 GMT: The Google “Person Finder” set up earlier Friday to help people find someone they’ve lost contact with in Japan after Friday’s massive quake is already tracking around 7,200 records.
2152 GMT: Radiation outside the damaged nuclear plant near where the monster quake hit Japan earlier Friday is 1,000 times above normal, Kyodo news agency says.
2140 GMT: Japan’s Jiji Press news agency is reporting that radioactivity outside the Fukushima nuclear plant that was damaged in the quake is eight times above normal. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has ordered people living within 10 kilometres (six miles) of the plant to evacuate.
2134 GMT: It’s daybreak in Japan, and images being shown on CNN show fires still burning, cars piled on top of each other, buckled roads, utter destruction.
2128 GMT: The Bank of Japan says it will do its “utmost” to provide market liquidity and ensure the stability of financial markets in the aftermath of the quake, which has forced several major Japanese manufacturers to temporarily suspend production.
2113 GMT: “It was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt. I thought I would die,” said Sayaka Umezawa, a 22-year-old college student who was visiting the port of Hakodate, which was hit by a two-metre (seven-foot) wave after the 8.9-magnitude quake struck off the coast of Japan at 14:46 local time (0546 GMT).
2105 GMT: The first tsunami waves triggered by the massive quake in Japan are expected to reach Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands at around 2230 GMT and Ecuador’s Pacific coast two hours later, according to the Ecuadoran navy’s oceanographic institute.
Ecuador’s state oil company has suspended crude oil exports because of risks posed by a Pacific-wide tsunami unleashed by the 8.9-magnitude quake in Japan..
2052 GMT: The US Coast Guard is searching for a man who was swept out to sea near the northern California town of Crescent City as he tried to take photos of tsunami waves caused by the quake in Japan as they crashed ashore on the US west coast.
A Crescent City councilman earlier said that at least 35 boats were crushed and thrown on top of one another in the town’s harbour, which he said sustained “major damage” from the tsunami.
2048 GMT: Japan’s Jiji Press news agency is citing police and other data that show more than 1,000 people have been reported dead or missing in the quake and tsunami that hit Sendai.
2037 GMT: Rescue workers from the Los Angeles County Fire Department are preparing to head to Japan to help in search and rescue operations. The 72 personnel and their life-saving sniffer dogs just got back Thursday from New Zealand after helping with the relief effort there following the Christchurch earthquake, which is believed to have killed more than 200.
2015 GMT: Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, says it has suspended production at four sites operated by subsidiaries in the northeast prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate and on the northern island of Hokkaido after the powerful quake. Another carmaker, Nissan, says it has also halted operations at four plants, and told AFP that small fires had broken out at facilities in tsunami-hit Fukushima and Kawachi County, but were put out..
2011 GMT: Major Japanese manufacturers including Toyota and Sony suspend production at some sites following the earthquake and tsunami.
2008 GMT: Pope Benedict XVI says he is “deeply saddened by the brutal and tragic consequences of the severe earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern coastal regions” of Japan.
2003 GMT: Japanese army helicopters were mobilized to rescue hundreds of people stranded in an elementary school in the town of Watari as the military mounted a massive search and rescue operation after the historic quake near the northeastern city of Sendai.
Watari is around 10 miles (16 kilometres) from Sendai airport, where people had to take cover on the roof of the terminal as a wall of water from a tsunami that swept away boats, cars, trucks and buildings as it swept through Sendai after the quake.
1944 GMT: The World Bank has written to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to formally offer help with the post-quake recovery effort. Japan, as one of the world’s richest nations, has not been eligible for aid from the World Bank since the 1960s,
1937 GMT: Teen pop idol Justin Bieber has sent a tweet of solidarity with Japan to his eight million Twitter followers. It says: “Japan is one of my favorite places on earth… it’s an incredible culture with amazing people. My prayers go out to them. We all need to help.”
1920 GMT: A 6.6-magnitude quake hits another region of Japan, hundreds of kilometres from the northeastern city of Sedai, which was struck by a powerful quake and killer tsunami waves earlier Friday.
1915 GMT: The American Red Cross launches a text message service to help victims of the quake and tsunami disaster in Japan.Texting REDCROSS to 90999 sends $10 to the Red Cross’s Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief fund.