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Home: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: News updates for March 12-18, 2011

Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake
and Tsunami
News updates for March 12-18, 2011

This page was the original page in my series of 13 Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami pages, reflecting Mar. 12-18, 2011 news updates for the 1st week after the initial quake. Thanks so much for your concern, and please remember in your thoughts and prayers those thousands of people who are suffering right now and who haven't heard from their missing family members.

News Updates for 1st Week after Japan Earthquake and Tsunami -- Mar. 12-18, 2011 (JST=UT+9 hrs., or CDT+14 hrs., e.g. 8 am in Houston = 10 pm in Tokyo):

Mar. 18, 2011 22:30 (JST):  Ichiro donates 100 million yen ($1.23 million) for Japan quake relief - Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has donated 100 million yen to the Japanese Red Cross Society for earthquake relief efforts in the country, his management company BowPlanning told Kyodo News on Friday. While Suzuki declined to comment on his act, BowPlanning President Yoshiki Okada explained the major leaguer made the decision after gathering information on the situation in Japan and careful consideration. (Source: Kyodo News)

Mar. 18, 2011 9:20 (JST): Radiation levels lowered after water injection
- Radiation levels dropped a little on Thursday at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after a water injection by pump trucks. In a news conference early Friday, Tokyo Electric Power Company says the radiation levels at the west gate of the power plant was down by nearly 20 points to 292 microsieverts per hour at 8.40 PM on Thursday. The company says it saw steam billowing from the building after the water injection, which suggests the operation had some success. (Source:

Mar. 18, 2011 1:00 (JST):  Zack Branham, Japan Tsunami Survivor, Walks 20 Hours To Find Girlfriend
- After surviving the devastating 8.9 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, 24-year-old American teacher Zack Branham set out on a 20-hour trek to find his girlfriend in another village. Branham spoke to CNN about his experiences, shared the shocking photos and videos he captured of the disaster, and the happy ending to his amazing love story. Watch video...

Mar. 17, 2011 20:20 (JST):  U.S. State Dept. Arranges Travel to Safehaven Locations in Asia
- The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo informs U.S. citizens in Japan who wish to depart that the Department of State is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Asia. This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law. There will be a limited number of seats available on evacuation flights departing from Narita and Haneda airports on March 17. Persons interested in departing Japan via USG-chartered transportation should proceed to Narita and Haneda airports or contact the US Department of State and Embassy Japan by sending an e-mail to or by calling 1-202-501-4444. More...

Mar. 17, 2011 18:45 (JST):  Radioactive Risk to Tokyo Limited, Even in Worst Case, U.K. Official Says
 - The risks to human health from damage at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-Ichi atomic plant are limited to the area around the facility, according to the U.K.'s Chief Scientific Officer John Beddington. "The 20 kilometer exclusion zone that the Japanese have actually imposed is sensible and proportionate," Beddington said, according to a transcript of a conference call yesterday. "In this reasonable worst case you get an explosion," he said. "Now, that's really serious, but it's serious again for the local area. It's not serious for elsewhere." Assuming that weather patterns drive radioactive material toward Tokyo, there would be "absolutely no issue" for human health, he said. Even following the disaster at Chernobyl, there were no radiation-related problems outside the 30 kilometer (18.6 mile) exclusion zone, the scientist said. More... 

Mar. 17, 2011 12:50 (JST):  Minute-by-minute updates on the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster
- Stars and Stripes reporters across Japan and the world are sending disaster dispatches as they gather new facts, updated in real time. All times are local Tokyo time. I'm still safe, everyone. Just returned from shopping. So now all stocked up with survival supplies, and ready to evacuate if necessary. Damn, they already sold out of gas masks. smiley  Thanks for all your prayers. We need them...  Love, Gary

Mar. 17, 2011 7:50 (JST):  A Message to American Citizens from Ambassador John V. Roos
- The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy and other technical experts in the U.S. Government have reviewed the scientific and technical information they have collected from assets in country, as well as what the Government of Japan has disseminated, in response to the deteriorating situation at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Consistent with the NRC guidelines that apply to such a situation in the United States, we are recommending, as a precaution, that American citizens who live within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant evacuate the area or to take shelter indoors if safe evacuation is not practical. More...

Mar. 17, 2011 1:25 (JST):  California student from Japan finds family alive on YouTube
- Riverside, California (CNN) -- Akiko Kosaka, a student from Japan attending the University of California at Riverside, had lost all hope for her family in Minami Sanriku, the fishing village where more than half of the 17,000 residents are missing and feared dead in the aftermath of last week's tsunami. For three days, she scoured the Internet. She received one e-mail that her youngest sister, Yukako, 13, was likely safe in her middle school's shelter. But what about her parents, paternal grandparents and older sister, who all lived under the same roof? More...

Mar. 16, 2011 22:06 (JST): Japan calls on foreign countries to remain calm
- Japan's Foreign Ministry has urged calm as some foreign governments have issued warnings against travel to Japan, or advised citizens already in the country to leave. The moves come amid the threat of seismic aftershocks and continuing leaks from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. (Source:

Mar. 16, 2011 17:20 (JST):  American assistant teacher unaccounted for in earthquake-hit Iwate - An American man working as an assistant English language teacher in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, is unaccounted for after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, the Japanese Consulate General in New York said Tuesday. The safety of all the other 283 American participants in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program living in the earthquake-hit Tohoku region has been confirmed, the consulate general said in a statement. (Source: Kyodo News)

Mar. 16, 2011 16:50 (JST):  New York Times photos of Japan earthquake and tsunami
- Depressing, and yet somehow strangely heartwarming to see how survivors are sticking together and doing all they can to help others in need.

Mar. 16, 2011 13:22 (JST):  NRC recognizes appropriateness of Japan's 20-km evacuation order
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday it recognizes the appropriateness of Japan's order for residents within a 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to evacuate following the continuing accidents there induced by the catastrophic earthquake. The NRC said the order is almost identical to an evacuation order which the U.S. government would issue to its citizens in the event that people were exposed to radiation of above 10 millisievert in a nuclear accident. (Source: Kyodo News)

Mar. 16, 2011 10:00 (JST):  Before/After Japan earthquake and tsunami photos - (courtesy of Australian Broadcasting Corp. News)

Mar. 16, 2011 9:20 (JST):  A Message to American Citizens from Ambassador John V. Roos
- Today our hearts remain with our Japanese friends who, after suffering this devastating tragedy just four days ago, have to undertake recovery and reconstruction and address the ongoing nuclear emergency.......Let me also address reports of very low levels of radiation outside the evacuation area detected by U.S. and Japanese sensitive instrumentation. This bears very careful monitoring, which we are doing. If we assess that the radiation poses a threat to public health, we will share that information and provide relevant guidance immediately. More...

Mar. 15, 2011 23:55 (JST):  Microsoft Pledges $2 Million to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Victims
- To contribute to the ongoing worldwide relief efforts for the victims of Japan's 8.9 Earthquake and 13-foot tsunami that struck the Northeast region of the country on Friday, March 11, software giant Microsoft is taking a number of steps to relieve the country, including an initial commitment of $2 million. This includes $250,000 in cash and $1.75 million in software and services to help those hit by the natural tragedy. More...

Mar. 15, 2011 21:20 (JST):  Radiation exposure info

Decontamination procedures (from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences)
"Remove your clothes and shoes and place them in a plastic bag. Wipe yourself down with cloth or a wet tissue (afterwards place the cloth or wipe in the plastic bag and throw the bag and its contents away)."
Nuclear Meltdown in Japan: What's the Risk of Radiation? (from WebMD)
"Contamination from fallout comes from touching a contaminated surface, from it falling, from inhaling it, or ingesting it," Williams says. "So in case of an event, be sure to drink bottled water and eat only sealed food that has not been outside."

Mar. 15, 2011 16:00 (JST):  Fishing port Minami-Sanriku in Miyagi destroyed by killer Japan tsunami -
After 95 percent of the town was destroyed by the March 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, only the tallest buildings remain and an estimated 9,500 people are still missing, roughly half the population. (map)

View truly stunning video here, posted in April 2011.

Mar. 15, 2011 12:00 noon (JST) - Morning shopping in my neighborhood

darkened convenience store to save electricity
Darkened convenience store to save electricity
customers line up to enter Matsu-Kiyo drug store
Customers line up to enter Matsu Kiyo drug store
waiting line to buy gasoline
Waiting line to buy gasoline
No regular gasoline available, plus station closed @ 10 am
No regular gasoline available, plus station closed @ 10 am

Mar. 15, 2011 8:18 (JST) (Kyodo):  AT&T, Verizon offer free int'l calling, text messages to Japan
- AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless Inc. said Monday they have started offering free international calling and texting to Japan from the United States as part of support efforts following last week's tragic earthquake and tsunami. Retroactively to Friday, when the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, AT&T wireless postpaid customers will not be charged for international calls and text messages to Japan through March 31 and Verizon will offer similar free services through April 10. AT&T's free offer includes calls from U.S. landlines for up to 60 minutes.

Tues. Mar. 15, 2011 8:05 (JST):
 Still ok here in Tokyo, in spite of the 3-hr rolling blackouts, limited food, H20, & fuel, and a very meager train schedule. But being the eternal optimist, I hope we'll all be back to some semblance of normalcy within a week. My many students & friends still have relatives missing in the earthquake and tsunami-hit regions, especially the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture (map). Pls. remember them in your prayers. Also, pls. consider giving a few coins to all the suffering people at one of the donation links toward the bottom of this page. I think the easiest way is to the Japanese Red Cross on this page thru Google Checkout. Thanks again for all your heartfelt wishes...

Mar. 14, 2011 20:42 (JST):  Japan Economy 'to rebound' after short-term pain
- Friday's earthquake and tsunami have left parts of Japan's economy "frozen", but analysts forecast that it will bounce back later this year. Some of the country's leading producers, including the world's biggest carmaker, Toyota, have closed all of their plants in the country. More...

Mar. 14, 2011 14:10 (JST):  Some 2,000 bodies found on coasts of earthquake and tsunami-hit Miyagi - As Japan continues to struggle to grasp the full extent of the disaster, these findings will significantly increase the death toll from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, with police having so far confirmed 1,647 deaths and 1,720 people missing across the affected areas in northeastern and eastern Japan. (Source: Kyodo News)

Mar. 14, 2011 10:02 (JST):  Magnitude 6.2 earthquake hits off the coast in Ibaraki Prefecture - For the first time since 11:35 pm Sat., an Intensity 5 (M6.2) earthquake has been reported about 150 km (93 mi.) NE of Tokyo. No tsunami warnings have been issued.

Magnitude 6.2 quake in Ibaraki Prefecture
Source: Weathernews, Inc.

Mar. 13, 2011 21:40 (JST):  Confirmed deaths top 1,500
- More than 1,500 people are confirmed dead from the devastating earthquake and tsunami which hit northeastern Japan on Friday. Miyagi Prefecture has confirmed 643 deaths in Higashi-matsushima, Kesen-numa and Sendai cities. In Arahama, Wakabayashi ward in Sendai city, 200 to 300 bodies were discovered on the beaches. (Source:

Mar. 13, 2011:  Japan Travel Alert
- The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the situation in Japan in the aftermath of the powerful magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan on March 11. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Japan at this time. 

Mar. 14, 2011 8:10 (JST):  Rolling Power Outages
- Starting today (Mon.), the Tokyo area is under a new three-hour rolling blackout plan, which I understand may last for at least a month. My particular area has been told to expect power outages for three hours each day, not consecutively, during the hours of 9:20-13:00 & 18:20-22:00. As long as I have power, I'll try to continue posting here. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers.

Mar. 13, 2011 18:53 (JST):  Man saved at sea 3 days after tsunami - Japan's Defense Ministry says one of its naval vessels rescued a man swept away by tsunami waves off Fukushima Prefecture. The Maritime Self-Defense Force's destroyer Chokai rescued the man on Sunday, three days after the tsunami, while searching for survivors about 15 kilometers off Futaba Town. (Source:

60-yr-old tsunami victim rescued at sea
Source: Sky News

Mar. 13, 2011 18:54 (JST):  Planned outages considered
- Japan's trade and industry minister has proposed planned power outages to deal with severe electricity shortages as major power companies struggle to cope with the aftermath of Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami. Trade and industry minister Banri Kaieda, at an emergency news conference on Sunday, asked the industrial sector to reduce power consumption as much as possible during operations and for heating. He also requested that Japanese citizens limit their electricity use to only what is necessary. (Source:

Mar. 13, 2011 16:35 (JST):  Evacuation advised for 80,000 near nuclear plants
- Fukushima prefectural government says on Sunday 70,000 to 80,000 people living near the Fukushima No.1 and No.2 Nuclear Plants are subject to an evacuation advisory. They live in 10 cities and towns near the nuclear plants including Minamisouma-city, Tamura-city, and 8 towns. (Source:

Mar. 13, 2011 11:58 (JST):  Over 10,000 unaccounted for in northeast Japan - In Friday's major earthquake and tsunami, 689 people have been confirmed dead in eastern Japan. The death toll will exceed 1,000, as hundreds of bodies are still unidentified in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. On top of that, more than 10,000 people in several prefectures have not been in contact with anyone. (Source:

Mar. 13, 2011 12:35 (JST):  Live TBS news feed (in Japanese) -

Mar. 13, 2011 11:25 (JST):  Aftershock update
- As of 11:25 am Sun. Mar. 13, since the BIG one on Fri. 3/11 at 2:46 pm, there have been 10 additional earthquakes of Intensity 5 or greater (books fall off shelves and furniture moves) and 53 additional earthquakes of Intensity 4 or greater (hanging objects swing considerably and dishes in a cupboard rattle). For a map of locations & intensities of the latest earthquakes, click here. Although it's in Japanese, you can easily figure it out...just click on the date and then the time.

Mar. 13, 2011 02:00 (JST):  All 6 units of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have been shut down - 
The Unit 1 Reactor has been shut down. However, the unit is under inspection due to the explosive sound and white smoke that was confirmed after the big earthquake occurred at 3:36PM. We have been injecting sea water and boric acid which absorbs neutron into the reactor core. More...

Mar. 13, 2011 07:09 (JST):  False claims circulating by e-mail
- In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, chain e-mails and misinformation are circulating on the Internet. E-mails warn that a massive fire at an oil refinery in Chiba triggered by the earthquake and tsunami could contaminate rainfall with toxic substances. They advise people to use umbrellas and raincoats for protection. The oil company that operates the refinery says that what the message suggests is not true. (Source:

Mar. 13, 2011 06:56 (JST): Earthquake and tsunami victims stranded at over 30 locations - NHK has learned that as of 11 PM on Saturday people remain isolated at more than 30 locations in northeastern Japan after Friday's huge earthquake and tsunami. In Miyagi Prefecture, people are stranded in many, mainly coastal, places. In Minamisanriku Town, more than 2,100 people are isolated. About 800 residents are stranded at a gymnasium while around 170 people are at a welfare facility for the elderly. (Source:

Mar. 13, 2011 06:56 (JST):  US Navy to join MSDF in search for missing
- US Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier, will join vessels from Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force in the search for the missing off the coast of Japan's earthquake and tsunami-hit northeast. Following the earthquake and tsunami, the MSDF sent 25 ships to waters off the region. The vessels are looking for those who may have been swept into the sea by tsunami waves triggered by the temblor. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 22:06 pm (JST):  Cablevision, AT&T U-verse, Verizon's FiOS Offer TV Japan Feed - With Japanese Americans, tourists and others eager for news from the earthquake and tsunami-devastated country, Cablevision said Friday it would make the Japanese-language TV Japan channel available to digital cable service customers at no charge, joining other operators taking the channel up on its offer of an open feed during the crisis. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 20:14 (JST): Evacuation area expanded to 20km radius - The prefectural government of Fukushima has expanded the evacuation area around Fukushima Number 1 Power Station from an earlier established 10-kilometer radius to a 20-kilometer radius. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 18:08 (JST):  Explosion heard at earthquake-hit reactor
- The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is trying to confirm a report that an explosion occurred at a nuclear power station in earthquake and tsunami-hit Fukushima Prefecture. ... The power station operator Tokyo Electric Power Company told the agency that 4 people were injured. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 16:28 (JST):  Death toll may exceed 1000
- Almost 600 people have been confirmed dead in Friday's earthquake and tsunami that severely hit wide areas of northeastern Japan. An additional 400 to 500 bodies found in Miyagi Prefecture are likely to bring the death toll to more than 1,000. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 15:26 (JST):  Uranium fuel may be melting at reactor
- The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says 2 radioactive substances, cesium and radioactive iodine, have been detected near the Number One reactor at the Fukushima Number One nuclear power station. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 ~14:00 (JST):  This afternoon's grocery store shopping near my home

Waiting line to enter grocery store
       Waiting line to enter store
empty bread shelves
             Oops, no bread !
sold out bottled water & tea
     Sold out bottled water & tea
long check-out line
            Long check-out line

Mar. 12, 2011 11:09 (JST):  Fires reported in 206 locations after earthquake and tsunami - Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency says fires have been reported in 206 locations in 12 prefectures following Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami. Miyagi Prefecture is hard-hit by fire in many locations. In Kesennuma City, fires are continuing in 2 areas facing the bay. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 10:36 (JST):  Medical teams treating injured in earthquake and tsunami-hit areas -
The health ministry says medical teams from hospitals and other facilities across Japan are treating the injured in earthquake and tsunami-stricken areas in the eastern part of the country. As of 5 AM on Saturday, a total of 52 medical groups consisting of 3 to 5 doctors and nurses are working in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, and Ibaraki prefectures. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 09:07 (JST):  More than 442 believed dead in Japan earthquake and tsunami - The scale of the death and destruction following the Japan earthquake and tsunami is growing worse by the hour. 256 people have been confirmed dead and at least 200 others are believed to be dead. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 07:54 (JST):  Strong earthquake in Nagano
- A strong earthquake jolted the prefectures of Nagano and Nigata in central Japan on Saturday. Tremors with intensities of 6-plus on the Japanese scale of 0 to 7 were registered in northern Nagano at around 3:59AM local time. Jolts with intensities of 6-minus were recorded in Nigata prefecture. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 07:28 (JST):  Evacuation advisory expansion - The Japanese government has expanded the evacuation area around a nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture because of a radiation leak. It increased the radius to ten-kilometers from three. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 06:35 (JST):  Tokyo trains to resume service a day after earthquake - A large part of the train network in Metropolitan Tokyo is expected to resume service on Saturday, after a massive earthquake on Friday brought the system to a standstill. (Source:

Mar. 12, 2011 04:27 (JST):  Many take shelter in Tokyo - The earthquake caused train service to be suspended across Tokyo. Many people had to seek shelter in various facilities, including schools, community halls and sports centers. (Source:

Initial TV news coverage of Mar. 11, 2011 BIG Japan tsunami

BBC News - Japan hit by tsunami after massive earthquake

Mar. 11, 2011 Japan Quake & Tsunami Location & Intensities
Mar. 11, 2011,2:46 PM, Magnitude 8.8 Japan Earthquake &
Tsunami Location & Intensities
(Japan seismic intensity scale is from 0 to 7)
(Click here for locations & intensities of latest earthquakes)

Update: As of 11:25 am Sun. Mar. 13, since the BIG one yesterday at 2:46 pm, there have been 10 additional earthquakes of Intensity 5 or greater (books fall off shelves and furniture moves) and 53 additional earthquakes of Intensity 4 or greater (hanging objects swing considerably and dishes in a cupboard rattle).

Area affected by Japan earthquake of Mar. 11, 2011 
The Japan earthquake epicenter was about 100 mi. (160 km) east
of Sendai, which is about 200 mi. (320 km) NNE of Tokyo

More Japan quake/tsunami news updates...
News updates for Mar. 19-25, 2011 (2nd week)
News updates for Mar. 12-18, 2011 (original page - 1st week 
after Mar. 11, 2011 quake)  

Tokyo Weather/Sky
Click for Tokyo, Japan Forecast
Click for Tokyo, Japan Forecast

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake -- All revenue from the purchase of "Quakebook" will be used to help the earthquake victims through the American Red Cross.


Star-studded album benefits Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami relief. The artists, music labels, and music publishers have waived their royalties and proceeds to ensure that the Japanese Red Cross receives as much support as possible from this initiative.

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