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Home: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: News updates for March 19-25, 2011

Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake
and Tsunami
News updates for March 19-25, 2011

This page is a continuation of my main Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami page, reflecting Mar. 19-25, 2011 news updates for the 2nd week after the initial quake. Thanks so much for your concern, and please continue to remember in your thoughts and prayers those 10's of thousands of people who, even 1 year after the disaster, are still suffering right now, many of whom still haven't heard from their over 3000 missing family members.

News Updates for 2nd Week after Japan Earthquake and Tsunami -- Mar. 19-25, 2011 (JST=UT+9 hrs., or CDT+14 hrs., e.g. 8 am in Houston = 10 pm in Tokyo):

Mar. 25, 2011 23:55 (JST):  Is Japan's Bureaucracy Strangling Humanitarian Aid? - After some wrangling, volunteer foreign doctors were told that because they didn't have Japanese medical licenses, they could conduct only the "minimum necessary medical procedures" in the disaster zone. Some medicine donations from overseas haven't reached the many elderly suffering in the earthquake's aftermath because Japanese regulatory agencies have not yet given the drugs approval. Local logistics companies have complained -- off the record, for fear of angering the bureaucrats whom they depend on for future licensing -- of days-long waits for permission from the central government to deliver donated goods. Only when their trucks get the magic pass can they start moving toward Tohoku. Until then, the boxes of relief goods, some of which were donated just hours after the earthquake and tsunami hit, sit in Tokyo warehouses. (Source: 

Mar. 25, 2011 17:50 (JST):  Panasonic to airfreight batteries to Japan from overseas plants - Panasonic Corp. plans to import by air dry-cell batteries, one of the items that consumers rushed to buy and quickly emptied store shelves in Japan following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami earlier this month, company officials said Friday. Manufacturers ship home-use batteries by sea and rarely by air because of their heavy weight, but even doing this produces thin profit margins. Panasonic will shoulder additional costs for airfreight and will not pass them on to retailers, they said. (Source: Kyodo News)

Mar. 25, 2011 9:40 (JST):  Pray for Japan - My Tokyo singer-songwriter friend Greg Irwin recorded the song "The Prayer" with his sister, Sharon Hahn, when he was home in Wisconsin last Xmas. Last night his friend Ken made this video using the song as a tribute to the brave people who suffered through the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami two weeks ago today. Pray for Japan. God Bless.

Click HERE to see the lyrics to this beautiful song, "The Prayer."

Mar. 25, 2011 8:45 (JST):  Excessive radioactivity found in Tokyo spinach
- Japan's health ministry says radiation above the legal limit has been detected in a vegetable grown in Tokyo. This is the first time that radioactive cesium exceeding the legal limit has been found in a Tokyo vegetable. The ministry says the radioactive cesium was detected on Thursday in a leafy vegetable taken from a field in Edogawa ward on Wednesday. The vegetable is called Komatsuna, or Japanese mustard spinach. The radioactive level was 890 becquerels per kilogram, exceeding the legal limit of 500. (Source:

Radioactive Tokyo spinach
Excessive radioactivity found in Tokyo spinach

Mar. 25, 2011 0:30 (JST):  56 patients die in disaster-hit areas
- NHK has found that inadequate medical care following the March 11th earthquake has left at least 56 hospital patients dead. NHK surveyed 255 hospitals with 100 beds or more in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures hit hardest by the massive quake and tsunami. A major hospital in Tagajo City in Miyagi says 13 patients in their 80s died after the tsunami flooded its generator system, shorting out heating and medical equipment. (Source:

Mar. 24, 2011 22:10 (JST):  Foreign airlines to resume flights to and from Narita airport
- German airline Lufthansa said Thursday it will resume regular flights to and from Narita International Airport near Tokyo from Friday following suspension due to anxieties about Japan's worst nuclear accident in northeastern Japan. Italy's Alitalia and Australia's Jetstar also plan to resume flights to and from Narita airport from Friday and Monday, respectively, the Japanese transport ministry said. (Source: Kyodo News)

Mar. 24, 2011 17:00 (JST):  Civil engineers must work for quake-hit regions
- Civil engineering experts in Japan say they should not waste time defending past studies by calling the latest earthquake beyond any expectations, and instead focus on working together to rebuild a strong nation. The Japan Society of Civil Engineers, the Japanese Geotechnical Society, and the City Planning Institute of Japan released a joint statement in Tokyo on Wednesday. (Source:

Mar. 24, 2011 12:00 noon (JST):  726 aftershocks since the initial M 9.0 Japan earthquake of Fri. Mar. 11, 2011
- The Mar. 11, 2011 Magnitude 9.0 Japan earthquake and tsunami has been officially named the "Tohoku Chiho Taiheiyo-oki Jishin," translated literally as "Tohoku Region Pacific Ocean Offshore Earthquake." It has been ranked by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center as the 4th strongest earthquake on record, following the M 9.5 May 22, 1960 quake in Chile, the M 9.2 Mar. 28, 1964 quake in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and the M 9.1 Dec. 26, 2004 quake in the Sumatra-Andaman Islands. As shown below, as of 2:39 am JST, Mar. 24, 2011, there have been 726 aftershocks since the intial M 9.0 temblor of Fri. Mar. 11, 2011 @ 2:46 pm. Click map to see the most current interactive Google aftershock map.

(UPDATE:  851 earthquakes, as of 11:42 pm JST, Mar. 31, 2011)

USGS Japan earthquake aftershock map
USGS Japan earthquake aftershock map
(Source: Earthquake Hazards Program)

Mar. 24, 2011 10:40 (JST), Kyodo (WSJ):  Japan nuclear crisis threatens reactor plan in Texas
- NRG Energy Inc. may delay or even cancel its plan to build two reactors at the South Texas nuclear plant in cooperation with Toshiba Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) due to Japan's nuclear crisis. Such a setback would represent the most tangible repercussion so far for the U.S. nuclear industry from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in quake-hit Japan.... Under the project, NRG formed a joint venture with Toshiba, the supplier of the advanced boiling-water reactors chosen for the South Texas plant, and later agreed to bring in a third partner, Tokyo Electric, which pledged to invest $125 million, according to the paper. (Source: Kyodo News)

Mar. 24, 2011 9:31 (JST):  Steam rising from 4 reactors at Fukushima plant
- An NHK helicopter crew has confirmed what appears to be steam rising from No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 reactor buildings at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This is the first time that steam has been seen coming out of the No. 1 reactor. The helicopter crew was filming from a location more than 30 kilometers from the plant shortly before 7:00 AM on Thursday. The Tokyo Electric Power Company says that black smoke seen rising from the No.3 reactor building on Wednesday was no longer visible as of 6:00 AM Thursday. (Source:

Mar. 23, 2011 22:25 (JST):  High levels of iodine in Tokyo tap water
- Radioactive iodine has been detected in Tokyo tap water in levels above the safe limit for infants. The Tokyo Metropolitan government says 210 becquerels of iodine-131 were detected on Tuesday in one liter of water at one of its purification plants in northern Tokyo. A sampling on Wednesday also showed roughly 190 becquerels per liter. These levels are below the 300-becquerel per liter safe limit for adults, but far above the 100-becquerel limit for infants. (Source:

Mar. 23, 2011 14:00 (JST):  Japanese Govt. Extended Reactor's Life, Despite Warning -
TOKYO (N.Y. Times) - Just a month before a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi plant at the center of Japan's nuclear crisis, government regulators approved a 10-year extension for the oldest of the six reactors at the power station despite warnings about its safety..... Several weeks after the extension was granted, the company admitted that it had failed to inspect 33 pieces of equipment related to the cooling systems, including water pumps and diesel generators at the power station's six reactors, according to findings published on the agency's Web site shortly before the earthquake. More...

Mar. 23, 2011 10:25 (JST):  Radioactive Milk Only A Danger After 58,000 Glasses
- Well, it takes 20 million becquerels to yield a Sievert's worth of exposure; remember, that's what it takes to increase a lifetime cancer risk by 4 percent. That translates to 820 pounds of spinach – more than two pounds a day for a year. Well, nobody eats spinach every day. But many people drink milk every day. To reach the radiation dose limit for a power plant worker, you'd need to drink 2,922 eight-ounce glasses of milk. To raise your lifetime cancer risk by 4 percent, you'd have to drain more than 58,000 glasses of milk. That would take you 160 years, if you drank one 8-ounce glass a day. More...

Mar. 23, 2011 9:40 (JST):  Lights restored at Japan nuclear reactor
- Lighting has been restored in the control room of one of the most badly-damaged reactors at Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, officials say. It is hoped the development will speed up work to restore cooling systems vital for stabilising the reactor. Meanwhile, the UN's nuclear watchdog says radiation is still leaking from the quake-hit plant, but scientists are unsure exactly where it is coming from. The lights came back on in the control centre of reactor 3, hours after power cables were connected to all six reactors for the first time. More...

Mar. 22, 2011 17:00 (JST):  TEPCO Electricity Demand Forecast

Rolling blackouts planned from 9:20 to 22:00
Mar. 22, 2011

TEPCO Electric Power Demand Graph for Mar. 22
Mar. 22's Maximum Capacity: 3,700 10 thousand kW (37 gigawatts)
(Click TEPCO link above to see most current graph, updated hourly)

Taylor Anderson's body found in Japan Mar. 22, 2011 13:30 (JST):  Missing Virginia English teacher's body located in Japan - RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The body of a 24-year-old English teacher from Virginia has been discovered in the wreckage of the Japan tsunami, who had been teaching with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Taylor Anderson could be the first known American victim in the Japan disaster as authorities continue the daunting task of finding and identifying almost 13,000 people believed to be missing. Anderson's family said in a statement that the U.S. Embassy in Japan called them Monday to tell them she was found in Ishinomaki, a city about 240 miles (390 kilometers) north of Tokyo. (More, including video) (original Mar. 21 post about Taylor is below)

Mar. 22, 2011 11:00 (JST):  U.S., British teachers help evacuees in tsunami-hit Iwate shelter
- (TANOHATA, Japan, March 21, Kyodo) Three teachers of English from the United States and Britain have earned the thanks of evacuees at a shelter in tsunami-ravaged Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan after deciding to stay in the area to offer their help. The three men's relatives in their own countries suggested they leave Japan home but they chose to work at a shelter in the village of Tanohata, helping to move things and cook meals for several hundred evacuees, because they like the community. (Source: Kyodo News)

Mar. 22, 2011 9:08 (JST):  No immediate health risk in contaminated food
- Short-term exposure to food contaminated by radiation from Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant poses no immediate health risk, a spokesman for the World Health Organization said Monday. The United Nations organization initially said the food safety situation was "more serious" than originally thought. But spokesman Peter Cordingley said Monday that the assessment was based not on the levels of contamination but on the fact that radioactivity was found in food beyond the 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) evacuation zone. "It's new and something we're watching," Cordingley said. (Source:

Mar. 21, 2011 17:25 (JST):  Tough Week in Japan: Earthquake Timelapse March 11-17, 2011
- Map timelapse looks at the hundreds of earthquakes that hit Japan after the big Magnitude 9.0 quake on March 11, 2011. Rather than looking simply at the epicenter and magnitude, this graphic was created using data from thousands of accelerometers around the country, to accurately represent the level of movement someone standing on the ground in each location would actually feel. One second of video represents 1 hour of real time: each day takes 24 seconds of video. Created at 1080x720, so it's best to view fullscreen at 720p.

Mar. 21, 2011 14:10 (JST):  American English teacher still missing after Japan earthquake and tsunami
- Japan's Foreign Ministry has received urgent inquiries about roughly 500 foreign nationals who remain unaccounted for. Their families are reaching out for help and information. NHK World's Paige Ferrari has the details. In Richmond, Virginia, Jean and Andy Anderson are searching for any clues to their daughter Taylor's whereabouts. For the past 2 and a half years, Taylor worked as an English teacher as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program at elementary and junior high schools in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi prefecture, a hard-hit part of the region. (Source:

American English teacher still missing in Japan
Taylor Anderson
(image credit: NHK World)

Major US military bases in Japan Mar. 21, 2011 11:30 (JST):  Nearly 8,000 military family members signed up to evacuate Japan - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan - There were no flights scheduled to carry U.S. military family members out of Japan on Sunday, although thousands were still hoping to flee the country's ongoing nuclear crisis. According to estimates provided by the military and compiled by Stars and Stripes, more than 7,900 residents at bases in central and northern Japan want to flee on flights sponsored by the U.S. military. (Source:

Mar. 21, 2011 9:50 (JST):  IAEA Update on Japan Earthquake - Summary of conditions at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant -
  • On 19 March, the Unit 1 containment vessel pressure indication was restored.
  • As of 19 March, 11:30 UTC, officials could no longer confirm seeing white smoke coming from the Unit 2 building. Smoke had been observed emerging from the reactor earlier. On 20 March, workers began pumping 40 tonnes of seawater into the Unit 2 spent fuel pool. Off-site electrical power has been connected to an auxiliary transformer and distribution panels at Unit 2. Work continues toward energizing specific equipment within Unit 2. 
  • White smoke has been seen emerging from the Unit 3 reactor, but on 19 March it appeared to be less intense than in previous days. 
  • Japanese Self Defence Forces began spraying water into the Unit 4 building on 20 March. 
  • Both Units 5 & 6 reactors achieved cold shutdown on 20 March. The reactors are now in a safe mode, with cooling systems stable and under control, and with low temperature and pressure within the reactor. As of 20 March, temperatures in both Units 5 & 6 spent fuel pools had decreased significantly.
  • According to the Nuclear Safety Division, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) analysis for Iodine-131 and Cesium-137 in tap water from 46 locations yielded the majority of samples as non-detects. Only six out of 46 exhibited any iodine-131, though the concentration was reported to be below levels allowed by the Japanese food hygiene law for emergency monitoring criteria for drinking water. More...
Mar. 21, 2011 8:30 (JST):  Number of dead, missing from Japan earthquake and tsunami tops 21,000 - Japanese police say the number of dead and missing from the massive quake and tsunami on March 11th has exceeded 21,000. The National Police Agency says that as of Sunday night, more than 8,400 people had been confirmed dead and nearly 13,000 were reported missing. In Miyagi Prefecture, 5,053 deaths have been confirmed, and 3,413 people are missing. Many coastal areas in the prefecture were devastated by the quake and tsunami. Local police say hundreds of bodies have been found on the beaches of Oshika Peninsula. (Source:

Mar. 20, 2011 19:05 (JST):  Two Japan earthquake and tsunami survivors rescued in Ishinomaki - Police rescued 2 people from under debris in Ishinomaki City on Sunday, 9 days after the initial earthquake and tsunami on March 11th. Police in Miyagi Prefecture say the 2 are a woman who is about 80 years old and a 16-year-old boy. Rescue workers say the boy has a low body temperature, but is conscious. An NHK video shows two people being pulled up by rope to a police helicopter that headed for a Red Cross hospital in Ishinomaki City. The 2 were found in an area about one kilometer upstream of the mouth of a river. Houses in the area were swept away by the tsunami. (Source:

Mar. 20, 2011 12:15 (JST):  New footage of the Mar. 11, 2011 Japan tsunami's waves has been released by Japan's coast guard - Filmed 5 km (3 mi.) off the coast of Matsushima, Miyagi, a beautiful pine tree covered group of islands and one of Japan's "3 most famous views" (Nihon Sankei), and also the site of Zuigan-ji, one of the most famous Zen temples in Japan's Tohoku region. The coast guard captain steers the boat directly into the waves and the ship crests the enormous swell. (The YouTube video previously embedded here is now private.)

Mar. 19, 2011 23:00 (JST):  IAEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Emergency - Radiation levels in major Japanese cities have not changed significantly since yesterday. The IAEA radiation monitoring team took measurements at seven different locations in Tokyo and in the Kanagawa and Chiba Prefectures. Dose rates were well below those which are dangerous to human health. The monitoring team are now on their way to Aizu Wakamatsu City, which is 97 km west of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. They have just provided initial measurements from three additional locations. More...

Mar. 19, 2011 22:20 (JST):  The latest on U.S. Navy support to Japan - U.S. 7th Fleet has 12,750 personnel, 20 ships, and 140 aircraft participating in Operation Tomodachi. Seventh Fleet forces have delivered 81 tons of relief supplies to date. USS Tortuga is in the vicinity of Hachinohe where she will serve as an afloat forward service base for helicopter operations. CH-53 Sea Stallion aircraft from attached to Tortuga delivered 13 tons of humanitarian aid cargo on Friday, including 5,000 pounds of water and 5,000 MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat), to Yamada Station, 80 miles south of Misawa. The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) Carrier Strike Group, to include the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, the destroyer USS Preble and the combat support ship USNS Bridge, the guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald, USS John S. McCain, USS McCampbell, USS Mustin and USS Curtis Wilbur continue relief operations off the east coast of Iwate prefecture. (Source:

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) Carrier Strike Group
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) Carrier Strike Group

Mar. 19, 2011 21:35 (JST):  U.S. Government Response to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami - The U.S. Government is working aggressively in a whole of government approach: the Departments of State, Defense and Energy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are working around the clock to provide necessary assistance to our great friend and ally, Japan. To date, we've flown hundreds of missions to support the recovery efforts, and distributed thousands of pounds of food and water to the Japanese people. We've also deployed some of our leading experts to help contain the damage at Japan's nuclear reactors. We're sharing with them expertise, equipment, and technology so that the courageous responders on the scene have the benefit of American teamwork and support. (Source: U.S. Embassy Tokyo)

Mar. 19, 2011 19:15 (JST):  IAEA summary of conditions at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant - The International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report and summary table of reactor units 1-6, as of 13:30 (JST) (color-coded summary table is at bottom of that page).

Mar. 19, 2011 14:00 (JST):  No sign of harmful radiation in Tokyo, WHO official says
- WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl made the remarks at a regular news conference in Geneva. He said the amount of radiation being reported outside of the evacuation zone continues to be below the levels considered a public health risk. Some countries are encouraging their citizens to leave Japan or are moving their embassies from Tokyo to Osaka, but Hartl said WHO finds no public health reason to recommend that foreign nationals leave the country or avoid travel to Japan, except to the affected areas. (Source: Environment News Service)

Mar. 19, 2011 12:35 (JST):  American man in Tokyo sets the record straight: "STOP listening to the sensationalist western media!"

Kevin hits it outta the park. I couldn't have said it any better.

Mar. 19, 2011 7:35 (JST):  Why Fukushima Daiichi won't be another Chernobyl
- Six days after the earthquake that rocked Japan and left thousands dead, the nation is now struggling to avert disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Events have moved fast and risks are hard to assess. The worst nuclear accident in history was the Chernobyl explosion of 1986 in what is now Ukraine. Nuclear experts have repeatedly stated that the Japanese situation cannot get as bad as Chernobyl. New Scientist explains why. More...

First week updates continued here: Strongest Ever Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, News updates for Mar. 12-18, 2011

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)  

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