CHOSEN: End Times Newsletter – Issue 182

The Great Tribulation – Truths & Falsehoods

By Johanna

We are in the midst of the tribulation and even though some don’t want to believe it, we were given the warning long ago in the Word. This warning is to tell us that the time is near and to repair and guard our hearts in preparation for eternal life. This is a warning from the love that Father has for Her children.

“But know this: difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud , blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, , unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of religion but denying it’s power, Avoid these people!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Does it not seem coincidental to you that these things have been prophesied are the exact same signs we are witness to today? That the US Dollar is nearly valueless? That oil prices surge? That layoffs and unemployment are at unprecedented highs? That food, electricity and water are becoming more and more scarce? That Natural Disasters continue to impact not only many lives, but also the economies of many countries – each affecting other countries around the world? That prayer and all signs of Christianity are being forced from public view? That the unnatural marriage between gay men and women socially acceptable. That many have come to the forefront proclaiming to be Messiahs? That Organized Religion around the world is receiving much scrutiny and bad press?

2 Peter 2:3-4 First, be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last days to scoff. following their own lusts, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”

There are a lot of man-made religions that believe that Christ has already returned and that biblical prophecies have already happened when in fact they haven’t. Luke 21:25 says [The Coming of the Son of Man] “Then there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and there will be anguish on the earth among nations bewildered by the roaring sea and waves.”

The Christian preterist believe that the tribulation took place in the past when Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem and its temple in 70 AD, and that it affected the Jewish people rather than all mankind. Does that sound right to you? The Christian preterist views on the tribulation is a falsehood. Have you seen signs that the sun is changing? How about the moon and stars? What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read “nations bewildered by the roaring sea and waves?” The first thing that comes to mind for me is all the hurricanes, monsoons and typhoon’s that has been causing lots of deaths and costing lots of money to clean up.

Luke 21:11 There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven.

In part, this is what’s happening during this tribulation period. Father is gradually reducing the people to reveal what is just ahead for all of mankind if they do not repent and seek Her and Christ in Truth. As the weather and other natural phenomena, as well as insect problems worsen, note that even the news media reporters will be puzzled at what’s coming upon this planet. They will do so by the looks upon their faces and the comments they make in puzzlement of continuous terrors and plagues like those of ancient Egypt. The worst is still ahead. Eventually, the entire planet will be made to know all comes from Father’s anger.

Isaiah 13:3-4 3 I have commanded My chosen ones; I have also called My warriors, who exult in My triumph, to execute My wrath. Listen, a tumult on the mountains, like that of a mighty people! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations being gathered together! The LORD of Hosts is mobilizing an army for war.

At this time, people are experiencing great trouble and are suffering from the bowls of wrath that are given as a sign that the Great Tribulation has arrived. Read Revelation. There things occur but the masses are not repentant. Father is revealing Her great power over nature and Her intervention into world governments affairs, but only those that are perceptive are aware of what’s happening. Each move on the chess board in the tribulation period is designed to fulfill the prophecies Father inspired to the writers of the Word long ago.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, Muslims, most Christians, and followers of other religions will be exterminated. The WTS teaches that only active adults in good standing of the Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive the killing fields. The fate of children and of mentally disadvantaged adults will be up to God. They also believe that the rapture has already happened in an invisible form during 1918-9. There will be no Christians elevated to meet Jesus in the sky at the time of the world’s end.

Why would the Jehovah’s Witnesses be the only ones that won’t be exterminated? What about all the other people who love, worship, has faith in and follows Father’s will in all things. What about the faithful followers of Christ Jesus? The Great Tribulation has begun and Armageddon looms in the very near future. There are a total of TWO things that you need in order to obtain Eternal Life and Man-Made Religion is not one of them. (1) An Acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior. (2) A Good Heart Condition.

Luke 6:45 “A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”

Most people see the present day bowls of anger being poured out in the great tribulation but deny that it comes from Father. They look to mankind for the answer and believe that it’s merely a change in weather patterns they’ve created by altering this planets climate. In truth, they have helped to bring forth their own destruction by carbon emissions and other detrimental acts against the nature of his planet, but Father intends that they know the bowls of anger comes from Her throne. In this, Father will reveal that the sun is going to play a major role in cleansing this planet. This will soon become evident.

John 3:36 “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.”

In addition to preparing yourselves for the Great Tribulation, now is your last chance to make things right with God. Do not believe the falsehoods of Man-Made religious sects out there who preach that you must be baptized in order to receive salvation and that Once Saved is Always Saved or the falsehood of the Trinity which denies Christ of his true glory. They do not represent truth. The lying false shepherds out there who have led people away from the truth and into darkness will be dealt with personally and according to God’s will. It is only through endurance, a belief and acceptance of Christ as our Savior and a Good Heart Condition that we will obtain Eternal Life.

Revelation 7:3 “Don’t harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads.”

Keep count of how many more are perishing by God’s hand, and those dying from Satan’s hand in causing violence throughout this planet, just as he did before the global flood. As time moves on the numbers God executes will be evident by those that are soon to perish by the emptying of more wrath from the bowls. The destruction IS coming from Father. It is a final warning during the tribulation period before the door closes and the cup of wrath is administered.

1 Peter 4:7 Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be clearheaded and disciplined for prayer.

If you believe that it is only nature, only “global warming” that is bringing devastation, then you need also to understand who nature is a part of – God – and who uses it to bring forth Her will – Her holy angels. The bowls of wrath represent nature at its deadliest. The cup of wrath represents execution by holy angelic warriors.

We have been warned it would come and we have been warned what will happen if we fail to heed Her warning. It is not Her wish that Her children should perish but a balancing of the scales must take place. Her name must be vindicated before all of creation. Heed Her warning. Turn to Her with a humble heart and acceptance of Christ Jesus as your savior. It is the only way to escape God’s wrath.

Hinduism believes in the repetitious Transmigration of the Soul. This is the transfer of one’s soul after death into another body. This produces a continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth through their many lifetimes. The Hindus don’t believe in the Great Tribulation. Once we pass over we don’t go into another body. Birth, life, death and rebirth isn’t a continuing cycle according to the bible.

2 Peter 1:20-21 First of all, you should know this: no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man, instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God.

End Times Truths on BlogTalkRadio

With Regina

End Times Truths are now broadcasted on a weekly schedule via BlogTalkRadio. Shows take place Sunday afternoons at 3pm Central.  This week’s episode is:

The Spiritual War: The Sons of Light against The Sons of Darkness

Archived shows are also available on demand and include:

UFOs and The Lions of Zion

Past and Present Judgments

Is Yahweh, Israel?

The Falsehood of the Trinity: Who Christ Jesus Really Is

The Mark of the Beast

The Beast Revealed

God’s Anger & Wrath

UFOs & Crop Circles

The Signs of End Times

The Kingdom Message

Was Jesus Psychic?

The Rapture & End Times Prophecy Explained

The Spirit Realm

The Cherubic Order of Angels

Are You Ready for Truth?

By clicking on any of the above links, you will be routed directly to that show.

Withholding The Warning Message Of Judgment

By Deborah

After the Japan earthquake and tsunami, there were reports of citizens returning to their spiritual traditions. Most Japanese practice a combination of Buddhism and Shito.

According to Buddhist scholar Matteo Pistono, “It is a complete error to read that our karma interacts with natural phenomena. From a Buddhist perspective, one’s personal karma is not affected by weather or ‘acts of God’. There is no divine retribution in Buddhism,” he said. “In Buddhism, there is no idea of sin, no punishing God.We reap what we sow. No outside force can affect that.”

This is what Satan wants people to think. That God will not punish the disobedient and disloyal. We see it not only in Buddhism, but also Christianity. Many Christian Pastors focus only on the message of salvation because it keeps the pews filled and the coffers overflowing. But it is a lie and those that do not warn of the judgment will have blood on their hands in the days to come.

Acts 20:26-27 “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of everyone’s blood, for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.”

The whole plan of God. Not just salvation, but judgment and wrath also.

Ezekiel 3:17-18 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman over the house of Israel. When you hear a word from My mouth, give them a warning from Me. 18 If I say to the wicked person: You will surely die, but you do not warn him—you don’t speak out to warn him about his wicked way in order to save his life—that wicked person will die for his iniquity. Yet I will hold you responsible for his blood.

Christ certainly did not shy away from giving the judgment message.

John 5:24 [ Life and Judgment ] ” I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

We are on the fifth bowl of wrath. The fifth month is significant in that the offer from Yahweh to accept world government surrender expires. There isn’t much time left. This ministry will continue to warn of the coming judgment until the appointed time.

Hebrews 10:29  How much worse punishment, do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

May our glorious God’s will be done. Amen.

We would like to announce the arrival of Book Two, the continuation of Chosen: End Times Truths Revealed.

Book Two starts where the first book left off and includes accounts from ministers Regina, Johanna, Deborah, and Elisha describing their individual journeys and experiences in their service to Yahweh and Christ over the past several years in autobiographical form.

It is available in .pdf form for free via www.chosen.weebly.com and will be updated monthly.

The Journey Continues

Below is a sneak-peek of each of the books included in Chosen, Book Two

Regina

There are many days in which I feel as though I must stop and focus and just try to get through the next 24 hours, some days even just the next hour, and then that day passes and the next arrives and passes, and arrives until all of a sudden a year has passed, and then two and four and now five. It’s odd how time can seem to pass so slowly and quickly at the same time. Many of these days, the good and the not-so-good, I will recount here and many have receded to the deeper recesses of my mind but what I’m able to remember, I share with you here honestly and openly…
Johanna

On October 2nd or 3rd of 2005, I was on this website were there were camera’s placed through out peoples homes who claimed that they were being haunted. I have always liked supernatural things. I believed in ghost, angels and demons. I started talking to this woman and asked her how she see’s the things that she does. I also told her that I believed in spirit guides. She told me that she couldn’t help me with the guides but that she knew of a website where I could find some answers. She sent me the link to a forum by the name of “Beyond This World”. After looking at a few things and noticing that they had psychic exercises I decided to sign up to become a member…

Deborah

Word came to us toward the end of May 2010 that we were to begin documenting our experiences ending where Chosen left off. Each Minister is to produce a “book” of our own that will be incorporated into Chosen. Its a little daunting to say the least. I have not been journaling as Regina has been (it isn’t something I naturally do). Also, I actually do not have a very good memory. But I trust that those things that Father wishes us to recall we will. We have been guided by Michael to read the book of ACTS to guide us. It seems to focus on events that show times of strong guidance from/interactions with Holy Spirit…

 

Elisha

In 2006, I was able to reconnect with a long time friend. I found out she had co-authored a book. Considering how we had grown up together I was interested in the fact that she had written one and wanted to read it myself. She, Regina, sent me the book and some more details about it. I found out it was a lot to take in and did so in baby steps with much prayer and guidance from Father. I was blessed to freely ask any question of Regina and felt comfortable in doing so. I read the book with an open mind and while some of it confirmed my deepest suspicions other information provided was such an eye-opener…

1/17/11 The Statue of Liberty

Joe: Brad Meltzer’s team was on track on the true meaning behind whom the Statue of Liberty represented, and then like the rest of this world whom Satan has attached blinders to, they lost the truth by obscurity in the belief that the betrayer whom was a bearer of light (i.e., Lucifer) could not be the one whom the statue was modeled after.

Satan’s inspiration of the God-like statue in a prominent position in representing his child that mirrors his own rebellion from the Crown of Yahweh, and his lighting his own path with a torch to guide his way through the dankness he chose outside of Yahweh’s enlightenment, and by forming a foundation or fundamental way that is in direct contrast to “the Way” he was previously enlightened to, reveals Satan’s guidance to mankind. In leading his children of mankind to remain in a liberalized state from the Creator, in the New York harbor stands the PROUD symbol of Dawn Lucifer Satan the Devil’s falsely lighted way that ever more leads mankind farther away from the True Light that promises the only harmonious answer for all of creation.

‎”Statue of Liberty National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Located in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of international friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States.”

The symbolism: Liberty …from Yahweh’s Rule was a gift from Satan to Mankind. France’s friendship also symbolizes the friendship Satan and his demons feel towards their adopted human family. The statue represents the lighted way that is a beacon intended for other nations to follow the path of, that being the United States. And this children is why Satan will eventually fulfill prophecy in forming his one world government. It is not because Yahweh will force it, but is because this has been Satan’s intention from the beginning of his own rebellion. His problem over the past 6,000 years has mirrored Yahweh’s own problem in dealing with rebellious factions. Satan has his kingdom, but it has yet to come in line with the model (the United States) he seeks as his foundation for all of mankind. And this is why Yahweh has taken a hand in causing its downfall. Satan will have his short rule under one world power, but it will not be his preferred choice.He must change course and take what crumb of bread Yahweh gives him. When that power also proves futile, Satan will be dethroned by force from his position on the planet.

The copper and other elements of the statue are symbolic to Yahweh.

Ezekiel 22:18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me. All of them are copper, tin, iron, and lead inside the furnace; they are the dross of silver.”Israel (Yahweh’s female name) found Her house (creation) filled with dross:

Dictionary:

“dross >noun 1 rubbish. 2 scum on the surface of molten metal.

-ORIGIN Old English.”

In the past, you have been taught that the demons are considered as mere waste, and those killed are dumped in the garbage pile of the Orange Plane. That action represents the garbage dump. It, like the present earth, is an unclean place. The coming wrath will cleanse the earth. The Orange Plane will eventually be consumed by fire.

Leviticus 14:41 “He is to have the inside of the house completely scraped, and the plaster that is scraped off must be dumped in an unclean place outside the city.” (Outside Heaven.)

Isaiah 14:19 “But you are thrown out without a grave, like a worthless branch, covered by those slain with the sword and dumped into a rocky pit like a trampled corpse.”

There are no graves in Heaven. “thrown out” into the darkness of eternity after being thrown into the rocky pit of the Orange Plane. Satan’s human children will join him in eternal death outside of Yahweh in the eternal pit of darkness.

Daniel 3:29 “Therefore I issue a decree that anyone of any people, nation, or language who says anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn limb from limb and his house made a garbage dump. For there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”

The earth is becoming a garbage dump, just like the Orange Plane. It is defiled and spoiled. No longer a planet to be applauded by the angelic hosts of Heaven. The prized jewel has faded from its original glory.

Rust and degradation are not part of the spirit ream, but they exist in the fleshly realm. Yahweh seeks a solution:

Ezekiel 24:11 “Set the empty pot on its coals so that it becomes hot and its copper glows. Then its impurity will melt inside it; its rust will be consumed.”

Ezekiel 22:20 ‘Just as one gathers silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin into the furnace to blow fire on them and melt them, so I will gather [you] in My anger and wrath, put you [inside], and melt you.”

Joe: Children, now you will come to understand why they are called Alpha’s Menacing Lance. They work in conjunction with the Cherubs and the LOZ.

Job 39:23 “A quiver rattles at his side, along with a flashing spear and a lance.”

Jeremiah 46:4 “Harness the horses; mount the steeds; take your positions with helmets on! Polish the lances; put on armor!”

1/23/11 Revelation 12:1 “[ The Woman, the Child, and the Dragon ]

Joe: Revelation 12:1 “[ The Woman, the Child, and the Dragon ] A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of 12 stars on her head.” Describing our Mother Yahweh in the “great sign.”

The signs of the “3” are cast throughout the visible creation as a record for all to view. We need only look and see what appears right in front of each one of us.

You’re welcome child. More is written within the record, but the theme remains the same. Yahweh, also named Israel = IS REAL, because without Her, none of us would be within Her reality of existence. She is the only real thing in our existence. Without Her we are as the grass of the field that withers and dies away. We must be nurtured by the LIFE-GIVER and SUSTAINABLY of Her power..

Without being marked:

Cordelia: Hi Joe, you know how sometimes you’re not sure if it’s a good time to talk to someone? I never felt that way when I pray to Mother Yahweh! Nobody else comes close. Isn’t it too amazing that the Life-giver is mindful to a speck of dust? Do you still feel that way?

Joe: Yes child, the feeling never diminishes.


UFO activity on the 14th annivesary of 1997 Phoenix Lights

UFO activity recorded two nights in a row in New Zealand

What is going on in the sky?

UFO Emerged from Sakurajima Volcano two days after massive earthquake

Triangle UFO recorded over South California

U.S. Envoy Rice Says Qaddafi Is Violating Cease-Fire
Egypt Arming Libyan Rebels
Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
Debt Problem: Who In The World Is Going To Buy The Billions Of Dollars Of Debt The U.S. Government Is Constantly Pumping Out Now?
G-7 Sells Yen in First Joint Intervention in More Than Decade

Philly Cops: Elderly Man Stoned to Death for Allegedly Making Unwanted Sexual Advances
Oregon Attorney: 15 Indicted in Pain Drug Ring
Florida Man Pleads No Contest in Alleged Bid to Sell Baby
Theft, Forgery Charges Filed Against Adoptive Parents of Missing Colorado Boys
Michigan Dems charged in fake tea party scandal

The mission of Arks of Safe Haven is to connect via an extensive network and online message board forum, those individuals and families who have been affected by recent economic downfalls and are in need with those individuals who are ready, willing and capable of providing assistance to those in need with employment, shelter, work, food, clothing and other necessities.

Coupled with our primary mission of delivering the Kingdom Message of Salvation, the assistance of Arks of Safe Haven is available to all who are in need. Our purposeful intention is to follow in the footsteps of Christ as our example, by providing hope to the hopeless and answering the prayers of those who have been forced to live outside of society.

How You Can Help?

In order to provide for those whose outcry of prayers have reached our heavenly Father’s ears, Arks of Safe Haven is seeking out those who are able to provide shelter, whether it be an extra bedroom, empty rental property or a work for room and board agreement. Additionally, we also act as a liaison in connecting those with tangible items to donate to those in need like Food, Water, Clothing, & Other Personal Items. We pray that your heart is motivated to make a contribution, no matter how small. Visit www.arksofsafehaven.org and view the many posts from those in need to see if you’re able to help with advice, prayers or goods & services.

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5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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3/14/11 –

5.0 KAMCHATKA PENINSULA, RUSSIA

5.3 TONGA

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.6 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.5 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.2 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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5.2 EASTERN HONSHU, JAPAN

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5.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

3/15/11 –

5.4 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.0 LAKE ALBERT REGION, UGANDA

3/16/11 –

5.2 VALPARAISO, CHILE

5.0 TRINIDAD REGION, TRINIDAD-TOBAGO

5.0 AMURSKAYA OBLAST’, RUSSIA

5.0 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC REGION

5.2 FIJI REGION

5.7 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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5.3 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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5.0 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION

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5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

3/17/11 –

5.6 VANUATU

6.2 VANUATU

5.3 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION

5.1 OFFSHORE VALPARAISO, CHILE

5.0 OFFSHORE VALPARAISO, CHILE

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

5.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.6 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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6.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

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3/18/11-

5.6 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

Quake upgraded – JAPAN’S Meteorological Agency says it has upgraded the magnitude of Friday’s catastrophic earthquake to 9.0.

The quake was already the biggest to hit Japan since record-keeping began in the late 1800s and one of the biggest ever recorded in the world. The US Geological Survey has measured the quake at magnitude 8.9, and that number remained unchanged today.

Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet, shifted Earth’s axis – The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters). Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters).

The temblor, which struck Friday afternoon near the east coast of Japan, killed hundreds of people, caused the formation of 30-foot walls of water that swept across rice fields, engulfed entire towns, dragged houses onto highways, and tossed cars and boats like toys. Some waves reached six miles (10 kilometers) inland in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan’s east coast.

The quake was the most powerful to hit the island nation in recorded history and the tsunami it unleashed traveled across the Pacific Ocean, triggering tsunami warnings and alerts for 50 countries and territories as far away as the western coasts of Canada, the U.S. and Chile. The quake triggered more than 160 aftershocks in the first 24 hours — 141 measuring 5.0-magnitude or more. The quake was “hundreds of times larger” thn the 2010 quake that ravaged Haiti. The Japanese quake was of similar strength to the 2004 earthquake in Indonesia that triggered a tsunami that killed over 200,000 people in more than a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean. “The tsunami that it sent out was roughly comparable in terms of size. [The 2004 tsunami] happened to hit some regions that were not very prepared for tsunamis … we didn’t really have a very sophisticated tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean basin at the time so the damage was significantly worse.”

The Japanese quake comes just weeks after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on February 22, toppling historic buildings and killing more than 150 people. The timeframe of the two quakes have raised questions whether the two incidents are related, but experts say the distance between the two incidents makes that unlikely.

Japan faces a “70 per cent” possibility of a magnitude 7 aftershock following the massive earthquake that struck its northeast coast. “There is a 70 per cent possibility that an aftershock with a magnitude of seven or more will occur” within the next three days, said the director of earthquake prediction and information at the Japan Meteorological Agency on Sunday.

“The possibility is 50 per cent” during the three days from March 16, he added, pointing out that strong aftershocks have continued since Friday’s quake and tsunami. Aftershocks have occurred in an undersea area, 500km long and 200km wide, off the coasts of Miyagi and Ibaraki prefectures in the northeast.

LATEST NEWS –

21:30 – Japan’s Earthquake Research Committee estimates Friday’s devastating earthquake forced the tectonic plate on which Japan sits to spring eastward by about 20m (66 feet). The researchers also say the quake caused some areas, from Iwate to Fukushima prefectures, to sink up to about 75cm.

20:56 – This tsunami was literally a “ONCE-IN-A-MILLENNIUM” EVENT. In 869, according to historical texts, there was an earthquake of this scale in which 1,000 people died. Geological research has revealed evidence of the tsunami 5km inland, but only bits and pieces of what happened are known.

2020 – The rolling, three-hour power outages scheduled to affect prefectures in Kanto and Chubu on Monday – the first in Japan’s history – will take place between 0620 and 2200 local time on Monday. “If we continue [using electricity at the current level], there is the possibility of an all-out blackout in the area. The impact of a sudden, large-scale blackout would be immense and we must prevent it at all costs.”

2011: A former adviser on radiation to the UK government, Dr Christopher Busby, has told the BBC the situation at the nuclear plants is extremely serious. “Particularly concerning is the [Fukushima] number three reactor which I understand is in trouble now, because… it runs on a different sort of fuel; it doesn’t run on uranium, it runs on a mixed uranium plutonium fuel, and plutonium is an extremely serious hazard so if this stuff comes out then it’s going to make what’s happened so far, in terms of the tsunami damage, look a little bit like an entrée to the real course.”

Japan ‘Big One’ may raise quake risk for years, but help end mystery of tectonic plates. The Japanese earthquake which sent a 7-meter (23-foot) tsunami onto land is erasing some of the mystery of the Earth’s crust even as it sparks more temblors in the Pacific for years.

Stress levels changed on the undersea plates extending 500 kilometers to the east and west of the epicenter, likely provoking aftershocks “for a long time.’ Japan’s largest quake on record, which MAY HAVE KNOCKED THE PLANET 3.9 INCHES OFF ITS AXIS as one plate slid beneath another, will “greatly mprove understanding of the risk of these events in other locations around the Pacific and elsewhere.”

Predicting earthquakes with precision eludes scientists, who until recently lacked data to improve forecasts. Japan’s disaster will aid research into how the mosaic of plates around the world can shift and trigger shocks, building on measurements from Indonesia in 2004 and Chile in 2010 that gave geophysicists insight into how the biggest tremors change Earth’s geology. “Before 2004, most geophysicists taught that only limited parts of the Ring of Fire could be capable of generating really giant earthquakes. After the Sumatra event and especially after this last event maybe we should seriously consider THE POSSIBILITY THAT ANY PART OF THE RING OF FIRE COULD GENERATE A 9-PLUS EARTHQUAKE.”

The Sumatran quake in 2004, which generated an Indian Ocean tsunami that left about 220,000 dead or missing in 12 countries, sent aftershocks that continued for years and killed hundreds more. In Japan’s case, the 8.9- magnitude event was generated from the thrusting of the Pacific and North American plates on or near the zone where they meet. Hundreds of aftershocks have occurred already in Japan. Other large quakes may still threaten Japan. The subduction zone, an area where one tectonic plate is forced under another, to the east of Japan still haven’t become active. “Whether this is imminent to happen or will take another 10 years remains to be experienced.”

The earthquake that struck Japan to exact a massive economic toll estimated at up to $34.1 billion, a leading risk analysis firm said

Anxiety in Japan grows as death toll steadily climbs – In a nation already besieged with grief over mounting casualties, fears of possible radiation and the threat of more earthquakes, the nightmare grew for Japanese residents Monday as thousands of bodies reportedly surfaced and a government official confirmed another explosion at a nuclear reactor building.

The official death toll reached 1,647 on Monday. But the numbers did not take into account the 2,000 bodies that Japan’s Kyodo News said had been found in the hard-hit Miyagi Prefecture on Japan’s northeast coast. If confirmed, the discovery would be the largest yet of victims from the epic quake and devastating tsunami that hit Japan four days ago.

In Miyagi Prefecture, rescue workers sifted through mountains of debris as hope for survivors appeared to dim. The town of Minami Sanriku — about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Pacific Ocean — morphed into a massive pile of wood that used to house some 20,000 residents. An eerie silence prevailed as emergency rescue officials said they didn’t think anyone was still alive under the rubble. About half of Minami Sanriku’s population was unaccounted for.

So far, about 15,000 people have been rescued. Japanese troops went door-to-door in the city of Ishinomaki, hoping to find survivors — but found mostly the bodies of elderly residents. In the area of Sendai, where houses and buildings disintegrated into rushing water within seconds, solemn residents waited in lines that stretched blocks for food, water and gas. Despite the devastation surrounding them, the crowds appeared calm and orderly. But more despair may be in store. There’s a high chance of a magnitude-7.0 quake or above in the next three days because of increased tectonic activity, the earthquake prediction department chief for the Japan Meteorological Agency said Sunday. The U.S. Geological Survey reported scores of such aftershocks. More than two dozen were greater than magnitude 6, the size of the quake that severely damaged Christchurch, New Zealand last month. About 2.5 million households, just over 4% of the total in Japan, were without electricity Sunday.

The devastating earthquake and tsunami will rank among the costliest natural disaster on record, experts predict. Japan’s central bank announced plans Monday to inject 15 trillion yen ($186 billion) into the economy to reassure global investors in the stability of Japanese financial markets and banks. Still, Japanese markets dropped sharply on Monday, the first trading day since the disaster. By mid-day local time, the benchmark Nikkei 225 was down more than 6.4%. The drop was the largest single day fall since September 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers during the financial crisis.

A massive emergency response operation is underway in northern Japan, with world governments and international aid groups coming together to bring relief to the beleaguered island nation. Sixty-nine governments have offered to help with search and rescue. Friday’s quake is the strongest in recorded history to hit Japan, according to USGS records that date to 1900. The world’s largest recorded quake took place in Chile on May 22, 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5.

Japanese authorities have said there is a “possibility” that a meltdown has occurred in the damaged reactors, but said that there were no indications of dangerously high radiation levels in the atmosphere. Still, the government evacuated more than 200,000 residents from homes close to the plant and tested 160 people for radiation exposure on Sunday.

LATEST NEWS –

06:48 – The Bank of Japan is pumping billions of dollars into the financial system. The bank made two cash injections on Tuesday, totalling $98 billion (£61bn). This follows a record intervention yesterday, worth more than $180 billion.

04:37 – The eastern fishing town of Otsuchi “is possibly the worst-affected town along the coastline, it was very close to the epicentre of the quake. People had very little time to escape the tsunami and half of the population possibly out of 17,000 people are unaccounted for still. People here are being incredibly stoic. It’s hard to say what’s going through their minds, when you talk to people they’re very reserved, it’s four days into this disaster and they are still in a state of shock.

04:02 – Higher than normal radiation levels are detected in Tokyo, the city government is saying. However, a Tokyo government officials says the radiation levels in the city are not seen as harmful to human health.

03:55 – Japan’s nuclear safety agency says it suspects an explosion may have damaged the vessel that holds the number two reactor. That would make it a more serious incident than the two previous explosions at Fukushima that were thought just to have damaged the buildings that housed the reactors.

The 1707 Hōei earthquake was the largest in Japanese history until the 2011 Sendai earthquake surpassed it. The 8.6 earthquake and the resulting destructive tsunami caused more than 5,000 casualties in 1707. This event ruptured ALL of the segments of the Nankai megathrust simultaneously, the only earthquake known to have done this. It may also have triggered the last eruption of Mount Fuji some 49 days later.

The Nankai megathrust has five distinct segments that can rupture independently. Megathrust earthquakes on this structure TEND TO OCCUR IN PAIRS, with a RELATIVELY SHORT TIME GAP between them. In addition to two events in 1854, there were similar earthquakes in 1944 and 1946. In each case, the NORTHEASTERN SEGMENT RUPTURED BEFORE the southwestern segment. In the 1707 event, the earthquakes were either simultaneous, or close enough in time, to not be distinguished by historical sources.

Wednesday morning- A 6.0 magnitude earthquake has struck in the Pacific just off Japan’s Chiba prefecture with the force strong enough to sway buildings in Tokyo. No tsunami warning has been immediately issued but the Japan Meteorological Agency has warned of a possible change in sea levels.

LATEST JAPAN NEWS –

06:23 – Workers at the Fukushima plant have returned after being evacuated.

04:56 – Evacuation of French nationals from Japan will begin on Thursday. Two French planes are already on their way to Japan.

03:20 – Staff were evacuated from Fukushima because of a spike in radiation levels.

02:21 – Authorities are still looking for the cause of white smoke billowing from reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The radiation reading at the plant is fluctuating by the hour.

01:31 – “China announces it will start radiation checks on Japanese goods arriving at ports and airports.”

01:17 – Live Japanese television pictures appear to show white smoke still billowing in the area of the building housing the No.4 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, despite reports that a new fire there was under control.

01:03 – “120 maguro tuna at an experimental fish farm in Wakayama mysteriously died suddenly yesterday. Experts suspect it was related to the tsunami.”

00:56 – Japan’s central bank has injected a further $43bn (£26.75bn) into the money markets to ease the impact of quake.

00:08 – The Japanese authorities are still struggling to cope with the humanitarian aftermath of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. More than 500,000 people are living in temporary shelters, which are short of water, food and fuel – while more freezing weather and snow is predicted for the days ahead. Nearly 3,500 people are now known to have died and many more remain unaccounted for.

JAPAN – The official toll of the dead and missing following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan’s northeast coast has topped 11,000, with 3,676 confirmed dead.

Aviation regulators in London have issued a formal warning over the possible radioactive hazard from Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant. London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, the world’s focal point for notifying the aviation industry of International Atomic Energy Agency warnings on the release of radioactive material, issued a message covering 10 regions. The open-ended warning, issued at 2pm AEDT on Wednesday, applies to airspace zones in Japan, Russia, China, the United States and South Korea.

Most carriers are still flying to Tokyo, but German airline Lufthansa Tuesday diverted flights from the capital to other Japanese airports.

AUSTRALIA’S food safety authority is investigating the possible risk that products imported from Japan could become contaminated with radiation. Food Standards Australia New Zealand said a probe now underway will assess a narrow band of imported products including seaweed, wasabi and soy sauce. The results of the probe will be handed to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to assist them in determining what additional border action is needed if any.

European centres set to take radiation victims – More than 500 bone marrow transplant centres in Europe have been asked to receive victims of the nuclear accident in Japan if necessary. “We’re working to the model that we might be required to take 200 or more people” suffering the effects of radiation, “but I think it is remote that that would happen,” said the head of the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation ‘s Nuclear Accident Committee. Tthe EBMT today asked all of its 536 centres by email if they would be able to treat some patients, who had suffered radiation exposure from the quake-hit Fukushima No.1 plant in Japan. “You will be aware there is real concern about the possibility that a significant number of workers attempting to control the damaged nuclear power station” in Japan might receive “doses or whole body radiation over the next week or so. In the unlikely event that many Japanese power station workers are irradiated (but not contaminated), we would like to evaluate the capacity to provide humanitarian treatment in EU countries if Japanese medical resources are overwhelmed.”

The workers at the plant would not suffer any effects of radiation for another three days, “so that’s why we put this in place three days in advance”. Not all the victims would have to undergo bone marrow transplants, and many would merely need antibiotics or blood transfusions. “If it really does evolve into a major radiation problem and there are several hundred victims, then I think that the humanitarian response on a worldwide basis will be huge.” The NAC had been “practising training and education and selecting centres of excellence in Europe that could respond to a general emergency in Europe or the world, such as could potentially happen in Japan”.

Germany on Tuesday became the first European country to shut nuclear plants in the wake of the crisis in Japan as the European Union made plans to test all 143 nuclear power plants in its 27 countries. Germany shut down 7 plants.

VOLCANOES –

JAPAN – Shinmoedake volcano in southwestern Japan has erupted after nearly two weeks of relative silence, sending ash and rocks up to four kilometres into the air. It was not immediately clear if the eruption was a direct result of the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked northern areas on Friday, unleashing a fierce tsunami and sparking fears that more than 10,000 may have been killed. Shinmoedake volcano in the Kirishima range saw its first major eruption for 52 years in January. There had not been any major activity at the site since March 1. Authorities have maintained a volcano warning at a level of three out of five, restricting access to the entire mountain.

HAWAII – The Big Island had more than 20 small earthquakes on Thursday and another two on Friday. The activity was related to Kilauea Volcano, which seems to be otherwise taking a breather. There was no active lava visible yesterday at Kilauea. On the east rift zone, the March 5 Kamoamoa fissure eruption remained paused. At the summit, the bottom of the deep vent set within the east wall of Halemaumau Crater was covered with rubble and lava was no longer visible. A gas plume at the summit was moving to the southwest, and sulfur dioxide emissions remained high. There were 22 earthquakes near the Big Island on Thursday, most of them in the Kalapana area. There were five that registered magnitude 3.0 or above, the largest at magnitude 4.6, which occurred at 10:58 p.m. Quakes of magnitude 3.0 and 2.6 hit on Friday. All were seven to 17 miles south or southwest of Leilani Estates.

The USGS said the cluster was not related to Japan’s quake or the tsunami. Most earthquakes in the Kalapana area and along the lower south flank of Kilauea Volcano are caused by motion of the volcano’s south flank southeast over the ocean floor as a result of magma injected into the rift zone.

INDONESIA – One of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, Mount KARANGETANG, erupted Friday, sending lava and searing gas clouds down its slopes. Authorities were still trying to evacuate residents living near the slopes of Mount Karangetang. There have not been immediate reports of injuries or damages. It last erupted in August, killing four people. The eruption occurred hours after the devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan. In November 2010, Indonesia’s most dangerous volcano, Mount Merapi, erupted and killed at least 58 people and injured dozens.

Mount BROMO in Probolinggo, East Java, has seen a rise in volcanic activity in the past few days as consecutive eruptions spew thick grey plumes into the air. The authorities have set Mount Bromo’s status at ‘standby’, not allowing people to get any closer than about a mile. The Mount Bromo explosion in 2004 killed two people, and injured five others. Indonesia has about 500 volcanoes, nearly 130 of them active and 68 classified as dangerous.

Japan Earthquake Triggered Volcano Eruption In Russia? – The major earthquake that hit Japan Friday may have just triggered some volcanoes in Russia as well. While reports are still vague on the incident, there is a strong correlation between the two occurrences. In Russia, there are reports that explosions were accompanied by minor earthquakes.

According to Russian media reports, the first cloud of dust covered the city of Ust-Kamczatsk. Over five thousand people are forced to stay at home. The authorities have recommended the strict ban on opening windows. The population, however, was not evacuated, and experts say that the dust does not constitute a great danger. Despite this, from Thursday, all offices of state institutions and organizations have suspended work – except in cases of emergency. For some time, roads were also closed in the region. While this eruption does not seem to be a significant threat to the people in Russia, the fact that an earthquake in Japan could have triggered a volcano eruption in Russia does have some significance. (photos)

The monster that still menaces Tokyo – As massive as it was, this quake is not Japan’s worst case scenario. Whether it’s from typhoon, tsunami, earthquake or volcano, or some combination of those, the history of Japan is replete with cycles of building, flourishing, destruction and eventual rebirth. There is a monster sleeping near Tokyo: Mt. Fuji, the strikingly beautiful 12,000 foot volcano just 60 miles from the city. Fuji-san last erupted in 1707. Speculation of an eruption first spread in 2000 and 2001, when scientists were shocked to detect swarms of low-frequency earthquakes beneath Mount Fuji. The announcement sent Japanese media into a frenzy and forced government bureaucrats to dust off disaster management plans. The episode also prompted the formation of a national committee to assess the current danger of the volcano and create a detailed hazard map of the potentially affected areas, including the town of Fujinomiya.

Tokyo has been destroyed and rebuilt twice in living memory: By a massive earthquake in 1923, and during World War II. Today Tokyo is home to about 30 million people, with many more scattered within range of massive Mt. Fuji. Several US military bases lie within range of the volcano’s likely ash and debris field. A major eruption of Mt. Fuji would severely threaten if not destroy one of the world’s largest and most advanced and important cities, and likely cripple the global economy for years. Based on its history of erupting about once every 30 years prior to that last eruption, Fuji’s reawakening is long overdue.

Mud volcano erupts in Azerbaijan – A mud volcano erupted in Gobustan region of Azerbaijan on March 13. Witnesses heard an explosion before the eruption, mud breccia erupted and then fire blazed up in the territory of Shikhzayirli mud volcano. The fire had an altitude above 50 m. Experts and rescuers of the Ministry of Emergency Situations immediately arrived at the site to prevent any emergency situation. The fire altitude in the Shikhzayirli mud volcano lowered currently and 1-2 m fire is seen in two centers. Its activation decreased and mud flow is seen in some bald peaks. Deep grikes were created around the crater. The mud volcano is not threatening the nearby villages.

Three running quakes have hit Shirvan city of Azerbaijan. One quake hit an area in 40 km north-east of Shirvan city at 11.52 on March 14. The magnitude of the quake in its epicenter was 3.5 on 12-magnitude scale. A 3-magnitude quake occurred in Shirvan and Hajigabul and 2-magnitude in Sabirabad. No casualties and devastation were reported. A second 3.5-magnitude quake occurred in 35 km north of Shirvan at 12.14 and aftershocks with same magnitudes in Hajigabul and Sabirabad. No casualties were reported.

Activity of mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan increased sharply – Azerbaijanhas observed serious activity at two more mud volcanoes, in addition to the one in Gobustan region which erupted on 13 March. The Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources of Azerbaijan reports of current grave activity of mud volcanoes in Dashgil and Ayrantoken located in Alat township of Garadagh district of Baku.

Gobustan-based mud volcano Shihzyayirli mud volcano that erupted yesterday continues erupting and the height of its fire has increased from yesterday’s level of 30 cm up to 2 m which caused natural anxiety of the population of the nearby village Shihzyayirli located at distance of 600-700 m from the volcano. At present, noisy release of gas is observed in different parts of the volcano. As a result of volcano explosion, the height of the fire reached up to 60-70 m, the heat from it was felt at a distance of 3 km, and cracks with width of 40-50 cm appeared on the ground. Shihzyayirli volcano erupts every 6-7 years, and the last time erupted in 2005, but this year’s eruption was much more intense. According to experts, eruption of volcanoes is not a signal about a possible earthquake.

HAWAII – Authorities say lava from a volcano eruption in Hawaii has sparked a wildfire in Volcanoes National Park. The blaze has burned at least 75 acres since Sunday. The lava is from the Kamoamoa eruption. The fire is creeping through Ohia forest in an area that has been burned at least twice due to lava flows. Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been in constant eruption since Jan. 3, 1983. Firefighters plan to fly over the area Tuesday to assess the situation.

Erupting volcano adds to Japan’s woes – Sunday’s eruption, which was THE BIGGEST VOLCANIC ACTIVITY IN 52 YEARS at Shinmoedake, caused widespread destruction and panic. The Shinmoedake volcano resumed activity after lying dormant for a couple of weeks. The volcano, on Kyushu island is about 950 miles from the epicenter of Friday’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which devastated much of the country’s northeastern coast. It’s not yet known if the eruptions were linked to quake, officials said. Japan lies on the “ring of fire,” a seismically active zone where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.

The volcano erupted January 19 after remaining dormant for two years. Volcanologists had warned that a “lava dome” was growing inside the volcano’s crater, although it was uncertain when or if the volcano would erupt. The blast could be heard for miles, and shattered windows four miles away. Hundreds of people fled the area as the volcano spewed debris, including hot ash and rocks, more than 6,000 feet in the air.

TAIWAN – Underwater volcanoes pose risk to nuclear plant, activists say. The earthquake that hit Japan on Friday last week has provided additional ammunition to environmental activists who are worried that one of Taiwan’s nuclear power plants lies within an area known for its underwater volcanoes. As many as 70 underwater volcanoes are located within an 80km radius of the soon-to-be-operational Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao Distric, New Taipei City. Up to 11 of those volcanoes are active.

Although atomic regulatory officials dismissed the risks, activists said the authorities should take another look in light of the nuclear incidents in Japan. The volcanoes, which are the highest concentration near a nuclear plant in the world, could lead to “a serious disaster” in the event of an earthquake or tsunami on the scale of that that struck Japan last week. The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant — also known as the Longmen plant — is expected to come online this year or next year.

“The findings support … the view that a natural disaster off Taiwan would have even more serious consequences than [what is happening] at Fukushima.”

“The reactors in the nuclear plant would be more unstable in the event of an earthquake. There are active volcanoes all around it.” Responding to the concerns, nuclear regulatory officials said the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is safe, pointing to its location on stable bedrock and multiple backup systems, which officials say exceed those Japan had in place. “We believe that [construction of] the fourth nuclear plant can continue as planned.”

The Scariest Earthquake Is Yet to Come – The tsunami that struck Japan was the third in a series of events that now put California at risk. We all now know, and have for 50 years, that geography is the ultimate reason behind the disaster. Japan is at the junction of a web of tectonic-plate boundaries that make it more peculiarly vulnerable to ground-shaking episodes than almost anywhere else. But geography is not the only factor in this particular and acutely dreadful event. Topography played an especially tragic role in the story, too – for it is an axiom known to all those who dwell by high-tsunami-risk coastlines that when the sea sucks back, you run: you run inland and, if at all possible, you run uphill. But in this corner of northeast Japan, with its wide plains of rice meadows and ideal factory sites and conveniently flat airport locations, there may well be a great deal of inland – but there is almost no uphill.

Even more worrisome than geography and topography, though, is geological history. For this event cannot be viewed in isolation. There was a horrifically destructive Pacific earthquake in New Zealand on Feb. 22, and an even more violent magnitude-8.8 event in Chile almost exactly a year before. All three phenomena involved more or less the same family of circum-Pacific fault lines and plate boundaries – and though there is still no hard scientific evidence to explain why, there is little doubt now that earthquakes do tend to occur in clusters: a significant event on one side of a major tectonic plate is often – not invariably, but often enough to be noticeable – followed some weeks or months later by another on the plate’s far side. It is as though the earth becomes like a great brass bell, which when struck by an enormous hammer blow on one side sets to vibrating and ringing from all over.

Now there have been catastrophic events at three corners of the Pacific Plate – one in the northwest, on Friday; one in the southwest, last month; one in the southeast, last year.

That leaves just one corner unaffected – the northeast. And the fault line in the northeast of the Pacific Plate is the San Andreas Fault, underpinning the city of San Francisco. All of which makes the geological community very apprehensive. All know that the San Andreas Fault is due to rupture one day – it last did so in 1906, and strains have built beneath it to a barely tolerable level. To rupture again, with unimaginable consequences for the millions who live above it, some triggering event has to occur. Now three events have occurred that might all be regarded as triggering events. There are in consequence a lot of thoughtful people in the American West who are very nervous indeed. [The last really big quake that occurred on the northeastern rim of the ring of fire occurred in Alaska. That mega-thrust 9.2 earthquake hit at 5:36 P.M. Alaska Standard Time on Good Friday, March 27, 1964, on the day of the full moon. The ground split open, highways buckled, entire buildings collapsed and several tsunamis were generated.]

LATEST JAPAN NEWS –

08:18 -: About 850,000 households in the north are still without electricity in near-freezing weather and at least 1.5 million households lack running water. Heavy snow is also affecting parts of the north-east and hampering rescue efforts.

06:41 – The number of partially or completely destroyed buildings has reached more than 100,000.

04:55 – Japanese government to release salt stockpiles.

04:54 – Radiation level unchanged despite choppers dousing reactor.

04:44 – Salt sold in China is mostly iodised as part of a national policy to prevent iodine deficiency disorders. AFP is reporting a run on the product in shops, partly because shoppers believe it could help ward off the effects of potential radioactivity from Japan’s reactors. All the salt was reportedly snapped up within 30 minutes of stores opening today by anxious shoppers. Many customers reported salt prices at shops in the city had risen as much as six-fold. Meanwhile, the Chinese government says the country faces no imminent health threat from the Japanese disaster.

04:01 – Ceiling of Reactor 4 reduced to frame.

03:58 – The US is chartering aircraft to Tokyo help Americans leave Japan

03:55 – Pressure is rising again at Reactor 3. That reactor includes plutonium and uranium in its fuel mix.

03:52 – The temperature of Reactor 5 is now a growing cause for concern, a Japanese official reports. “The level of water in the reactor is lowering and the pressure is rising.”

Fires still spreading from Hawaii volcano – Authorities say lava-ignited fires from the Kilauea volcano eruption in Hawaii continue to spread across Volcanoes National Park. Park firefighters said Wednesday that the blaze has now burned more than 1,166 acres since Sunday. They say the fire was sparked from the Kamoamoa eruption. The wind-driven fire is flowing through Ohia forest in an area that has been burned at least twice due to lava flows. Firefighting resources have been ordered from California and are expected to arrive by Friday. Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been in constant eruption since Jan. 3, 1983.

TSUNAMI / FREAK WAVES / ABNORMAL TIDES / RISING SEA LEVELS –

JAPAN faces nervous aftershock wait, with ’70 per cent’ chance of tsunami returning. A magnitude-7 quake is capable of destroying buildings and triggering tsunamis. Japan’s Prime Minister said his people were facing its WORST CRISIS IN 65 YEARS since the end of World War II.

A Japanese man who was swept 15km out to sea by Japan’s deadly tsunami was plucked to safety today after being spotted clinging to a piece of wreckage. A Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer rescued the 60-year-old after discovering him floating on a piece of roof in waters off Fukushima Prefecture, two days after the disaster struck. The man, from the city of Minamisoma which has been virtually obliterated, was swept out along with his house after the massive tsunami tore into Japan’s northeast following the 9-magnitude earthquake on Friday. He is conscious and in “good condition” after his rescue which took place around 12.40pm local time. “I ran away after learning that the tsunami was coming. But I turned back to pick up something at home, when I was washed away. I was rescued while I was hanging to the roof from my house.”

The government has said that at least 1,000 people are believed to have lost their lives in the disaster, and police estimate more than 215,000 people are huddled in emergency shelters. However, the police chief of badly-hit Miyagi prefecture, which lies north of Fukushima, said that the death toll was certain to exceed 10,000 in his district alone.

New tsunami warning for Japan cancelled – After initial reports of a three metre tsunami off the coast, the Meteorological Agency says there is no current risk of another deadly wave hitting Japan’s northeastern coast. Soldiers and officials along a stretch of Japan’s northeastern coast had warned residents that the area could be hit by another tsunami, ordering them to higher ground. Farther south along the coast, helicopters flew over coastal communities warning residents to head to higher ground. In Sendai, the biggest city in the area, police announced warnings on a public address system.

Earlier, Jiji news agency reported that A LARGE WAVE WAS SPOTTED OFF THE COAST by a helicopter, but the meteorological agency says it had detected no sign of a new tsunami or a major quake that would have triggered it. Authorities had issued evacuation orders in some parts of the devastated coastline after the initial report and as SEAWATER WAS SEEN RETREATING off Iwate and Aomori prefectures – a phenomenon that occurs before tsunamis. The crew of a fire department helicopter had spotted the three-metre high tsunami off Fukushima prefecture, saying it was expected to hit shortly after 1.30pm AEDT. By 2pm AEDT no tsunami was reported to have hit.

A meteorological agency official said: “When we detect an earthquake, the agency issues either a tsunami warning or an alert, but there was no quake monitored”. He added, as a note of caution, that some of the agency’s offshore monitoring systems had been broken by last Friday’s disaster. An offshore quake had struck 140 kilometres northeast of Tokyo earlier today, shaking tall buildings in Tokyo, but authorities did not then issue a tsunami alert. The quake off coastal Ibaraki prefecture – one of many aftershocks since Friday’s massive 9 quake – had a 5.8-magnitude.

Boats aren’t being allowed to travel through California’s Santa Cruz Harbor as crews work on hauling up sunken boats and removing debris after Friday’s tsunami. A U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said Sunday that 18 boats sunk in the harbor, while approximately 100 were damaged.

Southern Oregon Tsunami Damage – an ongoing collection of images documenting the effect of Japan’s 8.9 earthquake generated tsunami that struck the Oregon coast. (26 total photos)

MYSTERY BOOMS / SKYQUAKES –

SOUTH CAROLINA – 314/11 – Booms revive an old mystery. The first boom sounded like thunder. The second shook windows. The third shook an entire house. Then they quieted, mysteriously. The series of booms were reported Monday afternoon by people on Kiawah and Johns islands and Isle of Palms. At least three booms, each more intense than the last, occurred within 15 minutes starting about 3:30 p.m. “There’s another one. The third one, just now. It’s like thunder getting closer to us, only there’s no rumble, just a blast. Have you ever been around dynamite? A pretty good charge when they’re blowing up stumps, that’s what it’s like.”

Seismographs at the College of Charleston did not report any earthquakes. A public affairs officer for the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort said no F-18s were flying in the area at that time. A public affairs officer for the Charleston Air Force Base said C-17s were operating, but not fast enough to cause sonic booms.

That likely leaves the strange phenomenon of the Seneca Guns, the unexplained booms that have been reported along coasts around the world almost as long as people have lived there. The sound is so close to the blast of a cannon that folk legend in the East says it’s made by the guns of Seneca Indians, fired to get revenge on the settlers who displaced them.

The booms have been blamed on gases released from the sea floor, undersea landslides along the Continental Shelf, the echoed sound of distant thunder, lightning-like electrical discharges that don’t cause lightning, even meteors crashing into the atmosphere at angles. But so far, nobody has been able to say for sure what causes them.

TROPICAL STORMS –

Tropics get Active in the… South Atlantic! – Every once in a while, a storm forms in the south Atlantic and that is what happened yesterday. The storm, classified as Sub-Tropical Storm Arani, formed off the East Coast of Brazil. Arani is only the third such system to form since Cyclone Catarina formed in the same area back in 2004. Catarina is the ONLY Cyclone to have formed in the South Atlantic. Sub-Tropical Storm Arani has already weakened and will continue to do so as it moves away from the coast of Brazil.

Sub-Tropical storms are different from typical Tropical Storms. Sub-Tropical storms have some characteristics of tropical storms, while having other characteristics of the low pressure systems we deal with in winter. Tropical systems can’t form as easily in the South Atlantic as they can in the North Atlantic, with the primary reason being wind shear. Wind shear is defined as winds moving one way at one level of the atmosphere while higher up the winds are moving in a completely different direction. If there is high wind shear, then thunderstorms are not able to congregate around the center of low pressure and thus no tropical system is able to form. Another reason tropical systems cannot form as easily is because the water temperatures generally aren’t warm enough, between 70 & 75F, while the threshold is usually 80F. (satellite photo)

Arani had the appearance of a tropical cyclone but has been classified as a subtropical cyclone. Subtropical cyclones are low pressure areas that develop with a cold core and transition to a warm core in the mid-levels of the troposphere, resembling a tropical cyclone. They more typically form outside of hurricane season (which is June 1 to Nov. 30 in the Northern Atlantic, for example). They also have broad wind patterns and that means that their maximum sustained winds are usually located farther from the center than a tropical cyclone. They also have no weather fronts linked to them, such as a typical low pressure area that brings summertime storms with an associated cold front. Subtropical cyclones can sometimes become tropical cyclones, and occasionally, tropical cyclones can become subtropical.

Tropical cyclones are very rare in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. In 2004 a cyclone called Catarina formed in the South Atlantic and caused some controversy when it was classified as a hurricane by the United States’ National Hurricane Center. Arani is over the open waters of the Southern Atlantic and continues to move east-southeast and farther away from Brazil.

HEAVY RAINS / FLOODING / LANDSLIDES / UNUSUAL & OUT-OF-SEASON WEATHER –

AUSTRALIA – More homes are under threat from rising water levels in Western Australia’s Kimberley region after the town of Warnum was inundated yesterday. People in Wyndham, Kununurra and Halls Creek, including outlying communities in the Ord and Fitzroy River catchments, have been told to remain vigilant after significant flooding at Warnum in East Kimberley over the weekend. Water levels are rising quickly in local rivers and streams, and creeks are also expected to be fast-flowing. Warnum was hit by flood waters when up to 400mm of rain fell, causing flooding and major structural damage. The town has is uninhabitable and remains without power. The sewerage system has also broken and the air strip is no longer accessible. Up to 300 people have been evacuated to the Warmun Roadhouse. Further rainfall with moderate to heavy falls up to 100mm and isolated heavier falls are forecast for the Ord River catchment until tomorrow morning, the bureau has warned.

U.S. Major flooding continued along the Passaic River in northern New Jersey on Sunday after the river crested at Little Falls nearly 5 feet above flood stage late on Saturday.

BRAZIL – Floods in southern and southeastern Brazil have forced about 31,000 people to evacuate their homes. More than 14,000 people have been affected in Santa Catarina state, while about 10,000 have left flooded homes in neighbouring Parana state.

Three people died on landslides triggered by the rains. One person remains missing. Heavy rain has been hitting the southern region since Friday, and it has also caused problems in the southeast state of Espirito Santo, where more than 6000 people have been driven from their homes.

AUSTRALIA – More than 100 people have been evacuated from a severely flooded town in Western Australia’s east Kimberley region, where 45 homes have been destroyed and another 20 remain uninhabitable.

INDONESIA – Extreme Weather Causes Havoc in Jakarta. Extreme weather in the capital on Wednesday saw hail falling from the sky, trees uprooted, widespread surface flooding and damage to the exclusive Senayan City in South Jakarta. Hail falls on RARE occasions in Jakarta during the transition between the wet and dry seasons. “It is also triggered by extreme weather like we are experiencing now.” Trees had also blown over throughout the capital. Heavy winds also caused panels from the outside of Senayan City mall to peel away from the building. The ceiling to the Brewhouse cafe on the ground floor also collapsed. There were a number of shocked customers but no injuries.The hailstorm caused damage to buildings in the Senopati area in South Jakarta. The thumb-sized hail broke windows. The hailstorm lasted for about 15 minutes. And was followed by strong winds that lasted for 10 minutes.

Nearly half of the United States is threatened with flooding this spring – The areas most at risk for major or RECORD-BREAKING flooding include the Upper Midwest down into parts of western Illinois and eastern Iowa, as well as portions of the Northeast. “For THE THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR, the stage is set for potential widespread, record flooding in the North Central United States.” For example, in St. Paul, Minnesota, there is a 95% chance of major flooding, as well as a 50% chance of record-breaking flooding.

Forecasters are most concerned about communities such as Fargo, North Dakota and St. Paul, where severe flooding has occurred in recent years and the combination of an UNUSUALLY deep snowpack and above average precipitation in the coming weeks is likely to bring yet another major flooding event. The water content in some parts of the North Central states is currently ranked AMONG THE HIGHEST IN THE LAST 60 YEARS.

The rivers that forecasters say are most prone to flooding include the Red River, which comprises the border between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, the Milk River in eastern Montana, the Minnesota River, and the upper Mississippi River basin from Minneapolis southward to St. Louis, among others. “Many metropolitan areas have a greater than 95 percent chance of major flooding, including Fargo, Grand Forks, St. Paul, Davenport, Rock Island, Sioux Falls and Huron. The NOAA gives an 80 percent chance that Devils Lake in North Dakota will reach two feet above last year’s record level of 1452.1 feet.

How quickly temperatures warm during the spring, along with the amounts of any additional precipitation that may fall from storm systems, will help determine the magnitude, timing and extent of any flooding. NOAA’s spring outlook for April through June shows higher odds of above-average temperatures and below average precipitation across the southern U.S., and below average temperatures from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Plains. The drier than average conditions from Florida, along the Gulf Coast, and westward to the Southwestern states is projected to exacerbate existing drought conditions that have contributed to a recent spate of wildfires. “From the Southwest, across the South and northward to the mid-Atlantic, drought has been spreading and deepening since the winter and is forecast to persist in spring. Wildfires will be an increasing threat, especially when humidity is low and when winds are high.”

The spring outlook takes into account the weakening of La Niña conditions in the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean. La Niña, which is characterized by cooler than average water temperatures in this region, tends to have the most influence on winter weather, bringing wetter than average conditions to the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley, and drier and milder winters in the South. La Niña peaked in December and January, and is projected to be gone within the next month or two. However, its effects will linger in some places, particularly in the Pacific Northwest where a cool early spring can be anticipated.

FOOD SUPPLY-

Japanese survivors worry about dwindling supplies, food – One day after the earthquake and tsunami, entire towns in Japan areimpossible to reach. But search-and-rescue teams are fanning out in what will be a lengthy and complex endeavor.

Japan sends 50,000 rescuers to quake area as death toll mounts – Miyagi prefecture said 10000 residents, MORE THAN HALF THE POPULATION of the town of Minami-Sanriku, couldn’t be located since the March 11 quake. An estimated 4000 people were stranded in evacuation centers in Sendai.

SINGAPORE today said it was testing food imported from Japan for radiation as another explosion rocked an earthquake-hit atomic plant and raised fears of a radioactive catastrophe. “Samples will be taken for testing for radiation. Fresh produce will have priority. AVA will continue to closely monitor the situation and its developments.” The bulk of Japanese imports arrive by sea, but high-end Japanese restaurants in Singapore routinely use air freight to fly in produce such as raw fish – integral to sushi and sashimi – to ensure its freshness and quality. The city-state has a large concentration of restaurants serving Japanese cuisine, which is very popular among Singaporeans.

An explosion was seen on Monday at the ageing Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant 250 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, after an earlier blast on Saturday. The plant’s operator TEPCO said that nine people were injured in the blast in what authorities said was probably a hydrogen explosion which apparently did not damage the reactor. Saturday’s explosion released radioactive vapours into the surrounding area, but the Japanese government said radiation levels released at that time were not high enough to affect human health.

SPACE NEWS-

This week marks the 22nd anniversary of the Quebec Blackout. On March 13, 1989, a geomagnetic storm brought down Hydro-Québec’s power grid and blacked out the entire province. Brownouts and other power irregularities were experienced across much of North America. Today’s “smart power grids” are even more vulnerable because they are interconnected by high voltage lines spanning thousands of miles. In good times, this arrangement allows ultilities to guide power wherever it might be needed. During geomagnetic storms, however, it spreads the danger of a blackout far and wide. What we need is a Solar Shield.

The geomagnetic storms of March 10th and 11th are subsiding. Earth’s magnetic field began shaking on March 10th in response to a CME impact; the reverberations continued for more than 24 hours. In Sweden the auroras were so bright, they competed with campfires. Auroras could appear again, soon. A new solar wind stream was buffeting Earth’s magnetic field Sunday, and NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% chance of severe geomagnetic storms.

HEALTH THREATS –

Japanese authorities are battling the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns at FOUR nuclear power plants. After an explosion on Saturday and reports of partial nuclear meltdowns at the Fukishima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant and the nearby Fukushima No.2 plant, authorities today reported emergencies at two more nuclear facilities.

At the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant, which is only 120km north of Tokyo, the cooling pump stopped working, while at the Onagawa nuclear power plant, in the Miyagi Prefecture, a state of emergency was declared because of excessive radiation levels. The incidents underlined the precipitous situation at the country’s nuclear plants and particularly at the crippled Fukishima facility, where government officials admitted they feared meltdowns occurred within three of the site’s reactors at the No. 1 plant and confirmed that radiation had leaked out.

They are attempting to stop fuel rods deep within the Fukishima reactors from overheating. There were fears that if the rods overheated, they could melt the container housing the core or explode, sending radioactive material into the atmosphere. The Fukishima No. 2 plant could also be in trouble with temperatures in three of its four reactors getting extremely high. A spokesman for the Tokai plant, which suffered a nuclear accident in 1999, said that although a cooling pump had failed, a back-up pump was working and cooling the reactor.

At Fukushima, officials scrambled to prevent the reactors from overheating by pumping in water and releasing steam to depressurize them, and it was later confirmed that seawater was being poured into a third reactor to release a dangerous buildup of pressure. Pumping seawater into a reactor is seen as a last-ditch effort to stop a meltdown because although the water acts as an effective coolant, the corrosive properties of the water mean that the reactor will never function again. 200,000 people have been evacuated from a 12-mile (19-kilometer) zone around the two Fukushima plants that house a total of 10 reactors.

Four people were injured in a huge blast at the Fukushima No. 1 site Saturday and one person was killed and four injured in a crane accident at the other plant nearby. In all, 22 people were hospitalized after being exposed to radioactivity, although it was not immediately clear to what degree they were exposed and what their condition was. Local media said that up to 190 people might have been affected by radiation. In the city of Fukushima, people lined up at a market where shop assistants wore surgical masks. “People are nervous. People are not panicked but nuclear plants are scary. The bottom line is I will pray that the nuclear plant doesn’t explode.”

“There is radiation leaking out, and since the possibility is high, it’s quite scary” – Before news of the problem with reactor No. 3, the nuclear safety agency said the plant accident was less serious than both America’s Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union. An official at the agency said it had rated the first incident a 4 according to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

Three Mile Island was rated 5 while Chernobyl was rated 7 on the 1 to 7 scale.

However, one of Britain’s leading nuclear experts warned: “The exclusion zone keeps being raised. First it was three kilometres, then 10, now 20, so the radioactive wave is spreading widely. It is in the lap of the gods where it ends up.”

When Ukraine’s Chernobyl power plant went into meltdown 25 years ago, vast areas of Europe were coated in radioactive dust, putting farms out of business and leaving millions ¬fearing long-term health issues. Even British farms felt the effects of the radioactive particles. Yesterday’s winds were blowing away from Japan’s most heavily populated areas but contaminated dust could be swept by the high-altitude jet stream across the Pacific towards the United States.

There are fears that billions of dollars worth of crops will have to be destroyed IF A ‘POISON CLOUD’ HITS AMERICA’S WEST COAST. The jet stream could carry any contamination into the prairie wheat fields that cover more than 50 million acres.

The Fukushima plant has been criticised for its safety procedures. Tepco has a chequered record with breaches of the most basic safety guidelines. In 2002, the president and four senior executives were forced to resign after allegations that safety records had been falsified on 29 occasions.

“It’s not clear what has exploded. If the pressure vessel, the thing that actually holds all the nuclear fuel, were to explode, this is basically what happened at Chernobyl. Then you get an enormous release of radioactive material.”

“As long as that steel inner vessel remains intact then the vast majority of the radiation will be contained. This plant has gone through all the steps that occurred at Three Mile Island, and that led to total meltdown. The inner box has failed completely and it seems that they have let some radiation out into the outer dome. When that exceeded design pressure, they then let some radioactivity out to release the pressure. Clearly they don’t know if the concrete dome has been damaged by the earthquake or not. The combination of water and steam will likely have led to a zirconium steel explosion, and ultimately hydrogen being released. This is the most likely cause of the dramatic explosion you saw. It looks like the reactors automatically shut down following the earthquake, causing a massive collapse of power to the grid. It needed their generators to start them up again but they didn’t count on the tsunami then knocking the generators out. Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to envisage that? Tsunamis do follow earthquakes at sea.”

Radioactive Releases in Japan Could Last Months, Experts Say – As the scale of Japan’s nuclear crisis begins to come to light, experts in Japan and the United States say the country is now facing a cascade of accumulating problems that suggest that radioactive releases of steam from the crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months.

So far, Japanese officials have said the melting of the nuclear cores in the two plants is assumed to be “partial,” and the amount of radioactivity measured outside the plants, though twice the level Japan considers safe, has been relatively modest. But Pentagon officials reported Sunday that helicopters flying 60 miles from the plant picked up small amounts of radioactive particulates — still being analyzed, but presumed to include cesium-137 and iodine-121 — suggesting WIDENING ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION. In a country where memories of a nuclear horror of a different sort in the last days of World War II weigh heavily on the national psyche and national politics, the impact of continued venting of long-lasting radioactivity from the plants is hard to overstate.

Japanese reactor operators now have little choice but to periodically release radioactive steam as part of an emergency cooling process for the fuel of the stricken reactors that may continue for a year or more even after fission has stopped. The plant’s operator must constantly try to flood the reactors with seawater, then release the resulting radioactive steam into the atmosphere. That suggests that the tens of thousands of people who have been evacuated may not be able to return to their homes for a considerable period, and that shifts in the wind could blow radioactive materials toward Japanese cities rather than out to sea.

Re-establishing normal cooling of the reactors would require restoring electric power — which was cut in the earthquake and tsunami — and now may require plant technicians working in areas that have become highly contaminated with radioactivity. More steam releases also mean that the plume headed across the Pacific could continue to grow. On Sunday evening, the White House sought to tamp down concerns, saying that modeling done by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had concluded that “Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.” But all weekend, after a series of intense interchanges between Tokyo and Washington and the arrival of the first American nuclear experts in Japan, officials said they were beginning to get a clearer picture of what went wrong over the past three days. And as one senior official put it, “UNDER THE BEST SCENARIOS, THIS ISN’T GOING TO END ANYTIME SOON.”

The essential problem is the definition of “off” in a nuclear reactor. When the nuclear chain reaction is stopped and the reactor shuts down, the fuel is still producing about 6 percent as much heat as it did when it was running, caused by continuing radioactivity, the release of subatomic particles and of gamma rays. Usually when a reactor is first shut down, an electric pump pulls heated water from the vessel to a heat exchanger, and cool water from a river or ocean is brought in to draw off that heat. But at the Japanese reactors, after losing electric power, that system could not be used. Instead the operators are dumping seawater into the vessel and letting it cool the fuel by boiling. But as it boils, pressure rises too high to pump in more water, so they have to vent the vessel to the atmosphere, and feed in more water, a procedure known as “feed and bleed.”

When the fuel was intact, the steam they were releasing had only modest amounts of radioactive material, in a nontroublesome form. With damaged fuel, that steam is getting dirtier.

Another potential concern is that some Japanese reactors (as well as some in France and Germany) run on a mixed fuel known as mox, or mixed oxide, that includes reclaimed plutonium. It is not clear whether the stricken reactors are among those, but if they are, the steam they release could be more toxic.

The central problem arises from a series of failures that began after the tsunami. It easily overcame the sea walls surrounding the Fukushima plant. It swamped the diesel generators, which were placed in a low-lying area, apparently because of misplaced confidence that the sea walls would protect them. At 3:41 p.m. Friday, roughly an hour after the quake and just around the time the region would have been struck by the giant waves, the generators shut down. The plant switched to an emergency cooling system that operates on batteries, but these were soon depleted.

Inside the plant, there was deep concern that spent nuclear fuel that was kept in a “cooling pond” inside one of the plants had been exposed and begun letting off potentially deadly gamma radiation. Then water levels inside the reactor cores began to fall. While estimates vary, the top four to nine feet of the nuclear fuel in the core and control rods appear to have been exposed to the air – a condition that that can quickly lead to melting, and ultimately to full meltdown.

At 8 p.m., just as Americans were waking up to news of the earthquake, the government declared an emergency, contradicting its earlier reassurances that there were no major problems. There had been no radiation leak. But one was coming: Workers inside the reactors saw that levels of coolant water were dropping. They did not know how severely. “The gauges that measure the water level don’t appear to be giving accurate readings.” What the workers knew by Saturday morning was that cooling systems at a nearby power plant, Fukushima Daini, were also starting to fail, for many of the same reasons. And the pressure in the No. 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi was rising so fast that engineers knew they would have to relieve it by letting steam escape.

Shortly before 4 p.m., camera crews near the Daiichi plant captured what appears to have been an explosion at the No. 1 reactor – apparently caused by a buildup of hydrogen. It was dramatic television but not especially dangerous – except to the workers injured by the force of the blast.

The explosion was in the outer container, leaving the main reactor vessel unharmed. (The walls of the outer building blew apart, as they are designed to do, rather than allow a buildup of pressure that could damage the reactor vessel.)

But the dramatic blast was also a warning sign of what could happen inside the reactor vessel if the core was not cooled. “As a countermeasure to limit damage to the reactor core,” Tokyo Electric proposed injecting seawater mixed with boron — which can choke off a nuclear reaction — and it began to do that at 10:20 p.m. Saturday. It was a desperation move: The corrosive seawater will essentially disable the 40-year-old plant; the decision to flood the core amounted to a decision to abandon the facility. But even that operation has not been easy.

To pump in the water, the Japanese have apparently tried used firefighting equipment — hardly the usual procedure. But forcing the seawater inside the containment vessel has been difficult because the pressure in the vessel has become so great. One American official likened the process to “trying to pour water into an inflated balloon,” and said that on Sunday it was “not clear how much water they are getting in, or whether they are covering the cores.” The problem was compounded because gauges in the reactor seemed to have been damaged in the earthquake or tsunami, making it impossible to know just how much water is in the core. And workers at the pumping operation are presumed to be exposed to radiation; several workers, according to Japanese reports, have been treated for radiation poisoning. It is not clear how severe their exposure was.

LATEST NEWS –

09:38 – The BBC’s risk assessment team on the ground in Japan warns that at approximately 0400 local time on Tuesday, the wind is set to change direction, blowing any hazardous material inland.

09:45 – Local media is reporting that water levels have fallen far enough to partly expose the fuel rods at Fukushima’s Number 2 reactor – increasing the likelihood of overheating.

09:43 – “Some of the nuclear fuel may have partially melted down in the overheating. But crucially the primary steel nuclear containment vessels are said to be intact. The authorities report no significant radiation leak, although some Japanese people may be disinclined to trust the authorities who have lied to them about previous nuclear accidents. It looks at the moment as though catastrophe may well be avoided, but the crisis is far from over.”

06:50 – Japan’s government is insisting that radiation levels across the country are safe, says the BBC in Tokyo, but a German businessman says that some foreign firms are starting to move their expatriate staff south – or out of the country altogether – because they don’t have confidence in what the government is saying any more.

06:36 – Cooling functions have stopped and water levels are falling in Reactor 2 at the Fukushima 1 nuclear plant. This morning, there was a huge explosion at Reactor 3, and there was a blast at Reactor 1 on Saturday. But both of those reactors are said to be intact..

06:17 – “The areas which are still under water are very difficult to reach. There are areas which are still cut off, so there are big logistical difficulties. There will be ongoing needs for food and water and sanitation facilities over the next few days and obviously we will have to work very hard to meet the challenge of providing that assistance to those people, very large numbers of people who are in need. It is quite an extensive area along the coast of northeastern Japan and THERE IS AN AREA IN WHICH THE TSUNAMI ALERT WAS ONLY LIFTED RELATIVELY RECENTLY so prior to that humanitarian aid workers were not able to get into that whole area. So whole new vistas of devastation and humanitarian disaster, if you like, are being uncovered in those areas.”

05:42 – Resident in Kobe, tweets: “We seriously need more help. The real is MUCH WORSE THAN REPORTED.

04:41 – In the devastated port of Minamisanriku, where up to 10,000 people are unaccounted for, a strong wind has been blowing, making the effort to find survivors and retrieve bodies from the rubble hazardous.

Japan nuke plant rocked by second blast Monday, now from the number 3 reactor – A second explosion has rocked an earthquake-hit nuclear plant, as Japan struggles to avert a catastrophic reactor meltdown. A new tsunami scare triggered evacuations on the devastated northeast coast after a large wave was spotted rolling in to shore, but authorities said they had detected no sign of a tsunami or a quake that would have caused it.

Japan has been battling to control two overheating reactors at the ageing Fukushima plant after the cooling systems were knocked out by Friday’s 9-magnitude quake and the resulting tsunami that swallowed up whole towns. Shortly after Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the plant was still in an “alarming” state, a blast at its number-3 reactor shook the facility and sent plumes of smoke billowing into the sky. The plant’s operator TEPCO said that nine people were injured in the blast, which authorities said was probably a hydrogen explosion. The chief government spokesman said TEPCO reported that the reactor was probably undamaged and there was a low possibility of a major radiation leak at the plant, 250 kilometres northeast of Tokyo. Another explosion blew apart the building surrounding the plant’s number-one reactor on Saturday but the seal around the reactor itself remained intact. It was likely a partial meltdown had occurred at the Fukushima No.1 reactor.

A meltdown occurs when a reactor core overheats and causes damage to the facility, potentially unleashing radiation into the environment. France’s Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety said “VERY LARGE” AMOUNTS OF RADIOACTIVITY WERE “PRODUCED simultaneously with the explosion” at Fukushima on Saturday.

With ports, airports, highways and manufacturing plants shut down, the government has predicted “considerable impact on a wide range of our country’s economic activities”. Tokyo’s stock market plunged more than six per cent in afternoon trade as investors absorbed the impact, including power outages and plant shutdowns, after the biggest quake in Japan’s history. The yen surged to a four-month high after the central bank pumped a RECORD AMOUNT OF MONEY [$185 BILLION] into financial markets while shares in auto makers were hammered more than 10 per cent after they were forced to close factories. Rolling power outages were due to start later on Monday. Millions of people have already been without electricity since the disaster hit on Friday, forcing the shutdown of nuclear plants in the affected areas. Japan relies on nuclear energy for about a third of its power needs.

The United Nations said a total of 590,000 people had been evacuated in the quake and tsunami disaster, including 210,000 living near the two Fukushima nuclear plants. The colossal 9 magnitude tremor sent waves of churning mud and debris racing over towns and farmland in Japan’s northeast, destroying everything in its path and reducing swathes of countryside to a swampy wasteland. In the Miyagi port town of Minamisanriku alone some 10,000 people were unaccounted for – more than half the population. The national police agency said the confirmed death toll now stood at 1,597, but groups of hundreds of bodies were being found along the shattered coastline.

Many survivors were left without water, electricity, fuel or enough food, as authorities appeared overwhelmed by the monumental scale of the disaster. Japan committed 100,000 troops – about 40% of its armed forces – to help earthquake and tsunami survivors as the world rallied behind the disaster-stricken nation and a US aircraft carrier began ferrying in food. The immense force of Friday’s quake has moved Honshu – the main Japanese island – by 2.4 metres.

Meltdown threat minor – The impact of any meltdown in Japanese nuclear reactors will be small compared to the devastation caused by the quake and tsunami, Australia’s best-known nuclear power expert says. He says a significant build-up of radiation is unlikely. “The contribution, if any, to this (disaster) from the nuclear fleet, I expect even under worst case scenarios is going to be small,. That’s not to deny that people are always concerned and justly concerned about the integrity of the nuclear reactor network. The Japanese reactors are probably as good as you can find around the world, but this magnitude 9 earthquake may well have tested the limits of their design.”

Nonetheless, the nuclear situation in Japan was obviously very serious, ranking with the Three Mile Island disaster in the US in 1979 where a reactor was destroyed after the core melted. “The Japanese reactors are not quite at that point. But there are obviously serious concerns about ensuring that the core of one of these reactors where the cooling isn’t working remains under control and does not melt and does not create radiation leaks.” Describing this as the worst case scenario, he said the melting would effectively destroy the core of the reactor. “It could then over time just settle in and the reactor would be irreversibly damaged, or if there was an explosion – and it would be a chemical explosion, nuclear reactors can’t have atomic explosions – then there would be both physical damage and the release of radiation.”

The risk of an uncontrolled loss of containment of the core, releasing large amounts of radiation, was very, very small, and the radiation would probably not spread very far. Noting that people had been evacuated from a 20km exclusion zone around the reactors, he said, “I would think that the possibility that there would be significant build-up of radiation outside the zone would still remain low.”

Japan radiation ‘unlikely to reach US’ – Radiation from nuclear plants damaged in Japan’s earthquake is unlikely to reach US territory in harmful amounts, US nuclear officials say. “Given the thousands of miles between the two countries, Hawaii, Alaska, the US Territories and the US west coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity. All the available information indicates weather conditions have taken the small releases from the Fukushima reactors out to sea away from the population.”

The NRC is coordinating with the US Department of Energy and other federal agencies in providing “whatever assistance the Japanese government requests” as they respond to conditions at several nuclear power plant sites following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Radiation levels at a Japanese quake-stricken nuclear plant have reached levels high enough to affect human health, a top official warns. (quake map)

Another explosion at Fukushima nuclear reactor as Japan admits meltdown ‘likely’ – A fire is burning at the No.4 nuclear reactor at Japan’s troubled Fukushima’s No. 1 power plant, officials have confirmed. “Every possible method has been used to cool the reactor.” The possibility of a nuclear meltdown is increasing. A MELTDOWN IS “HIGHLY LIKELY” AT THREE REACTORS – meaning a CATASTROPHIC FAILURE of the reactor core that could lead to dangerous radiation leaks.

The fire comes after an explosion at the troubled plant early this morning and damage to part of a reactor container. The radiation level shot up to 8217 micro sievert per hour temporarily this morning after the blast – more than eight times the 1000 micro sievert level to which people are usually exposed in one year.

Earlier, the suppression pool of the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima No.1 plant appeared to have been damaged. The pool forms the base of the container vessel which seals the fuel rods. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) “said it believes the container vessel has not sustained damage such as a hole, judging from the fact that the radiation level has not jumped”. A huge explosion hit the building housing the number-2 reactor, the third blast at the plant since Saturday – hydrogen explosions at Unit 1 and Unit 3.

Japan is working desperately to avert a nuclear meltdown after Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami cut power to the ageing plant and knocked out cooling systems. Workers meanwhile have been evacuated from the number-2 reactor plant. Workers near the reactor No.2, excluding those who are pumping water to cool the reactor, have been evacuated. Part of one reactor’s container appears to be damaged, according to the Japanese government. It did not specify which reactor was involved.

Prior to this morning’s blast at the No.2 reactor, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said it was possible one of the earlier blasts had knocked out the cooling system in the previously stable reactor, leaving its fuel rods fully exposed at one point and vulnerable to serious damage. That emergency was compounded when a fire pump ran out of fuel as it was trying to pour seawater into the reactor to cool it down. The water level was eventually restored to 30cm to cover the lower parts of the rods.

Some 200,000 residents within 19km of the two Fukushima plants have been evacuated although some 746 people – mainly patients, elderly people and care workers at three hospitals and nursing homes – were still within the 19km zone yesterday. With new crises daily, it was difficult to gauge where the Fukushima disaster would rate on a scale of nuclear crises, but perhaps “worse than Three Mile Island but not as great as Chernobyl”. Japan’s nuclear safety agency had rated the damaged nuclear plant at four on an International Nuclear Event Scale of zero to seven. “We have the feeling that we are at least more than level five and probably at level six. I say this after speaking to my Japanese counterparts.”

Meanwhile, CNN reported that tests detected low levels of radioactivity on 17 US Navy helicopter crew members from the USS Ronald Reagan after they returned from disaster relief missions to Japan. After washing with soap and water, no further contamination was detected. In addition, the Navy repositioned its ships and planes away from the power plant. The New York Times reported that the Pentagon was expected to announce that crew on deck received a month’s worth of radiation in about an hour. However, there was no indication that any of the military personnel were experiencing side effects from the exposure. Three US helicopters flying missions about 60 miles north of the damaged reactors also became coated with particulate radiation that had to be washed off.

There were also concerns about the situation at other plants in the region. Earthquake-prone Japan uses nuclear power to generate a third of its electricity, though 11 of the country’s roughly 50 reactors – those located in the worst-affected areas – were shut down after the earthquake.

As the search and rescue operation continued, officials announced the discovery of 2000 bodies in Miyagi prefecture. About 1000 bodies were found coming ashore on the Ojika Peninsula and another 1000 were spotted in the town of Minamisanriku, where up to 10,000 residents were unaccounted for. The UN estimated that nearly 600,000 people were evacuated nationwide.

Shredded nerves were further strained yesterday when another strong offshore tremor struck, shaking tall buildings in the capital Tokyo. The 5.8-magnitude quake struck off coastal Ibaraki Prefecture just after 10:00am local time, some 90 miles northeast of Tokyo. The quake and tsunami also damaged or forced the closure of key ports, although airports such as Tokyo’s Narita reopened.

[ The explosion followed an early-morning acknowledgment from Tokyo Electric Power that, BECAUSE OF HUMAN ERROR, the fuel rods inside the Unit 2 reactor had been at least partly exposed to air for more than two hours during two separate incidents the previous evening, allowing them to heat up and causing a buildup of explosive hydrogen gas. Independent experts said it was a grave development that heightened the risk of an uncontrolled release of radiation into the environment. Engineers had begun using fire hoses to pump seawater into the Unit 2 reactor – the third at the plant to receive the last-ditch treatment – after the emergency cooling system failed. Company officials said workers were not paying sufficient attention to the process, however, and let the pump stall [ran out of gas!], allowing the fuel rods to become partially exposed to the air. Once the pump was restarted and water flow was restored, another worker inadvertently closed a valve that was designed to vent steam from the containment vessel. As pressure built up inside the vessel, the pumps could no longer force water into it and the fuel rods were once again exposed.

Another serious risk involves the more than 200 tons of spent nuclear fuel that is stored in pools adjacent to the reactors. Those cooling pools depend on continually circulating water to keep the fuel rods from catching fire. Without power to circulate the water, it heats up and potentially boils away, leaving the fuel rods exposed to air.

An aerial image of the Fukushima plant shows the loss of high-capacity cranes needed to move equipment to service the reactor. The photo also appears to show that the spent fuel pool is steaming hot, which may indicate the water is boiling off. U.S. nuclear experts said they were particularly concerned about the Unit 3 reactor because it is fueled in part with plutonium, an element used in hydrogen bombs that can be more difficult to control than the enriched uranium normally used to fuel nuclear power plants.

In the best-case scenario, the situation at the damaged reactors will take weeks, if not months, to stabilize, U.S. nuclear experts said. “They do not have the situation under control.” The company’s acknowledgement that a “suppression pool” at the bottom of Unit 2, designed to serve as a last line of defense against a meltdown, was believed to have been breached could represent a major escalation of the crisis. “If that is true, then there is a path to the control room, the workers and the outside environment.”

03:37 – A low level RADIOACTIVE WIND COULD REACH TOKYO IN 10 HOURS, the French embassy in the Japanese capital as saying.

03:34 – “It is difficult to make rational decisions when we aren’t getting honest and accurate information from the Japanese officials or news stations.”

03:09 – Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary says: “Now we are talking about levels that can impact human health. I would like all of you to embrace this information calmly. These are readings taken near the area where we believe that the release of radioactive substances is occurring. The further away you get from the power plant or reactor the value should go down”.

03:06 – Winds over the stricken nuclear plant are blowing slowly towards the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo.

03:03 – RADIATION IS 400 TIMES THE ANNUAL LEGAL LIMIT near Fukushima’s reactor 3.

00:52 – Radiation levels after the blast at Fukushima’s reactor 2 at 0610 local time (2110 GMT Monday) – Tokyo Electric officials say that one hour of exposure at the nuclear plant would be equivalent to eight times at what a person might experience naturally during the year.

A radioactive plume spreading from stricken nuclear reactors in Japan could hit southern California on Saturday, according to a United Nations forecast – however there is expected to be little health risk. The projection, which is based on current wind patterns, says the plume will move across the Pacific from Japan before touching the Aleutian Islands tomorrow and then heading towards the US.

Radiation levels will dilute as the plume travels and experts have stressed that it would have extremely minor health consequences in the US. The direction could also change with shifting weather patterns. The forecast gave no information about actual radiation levels in the plume.

The model contrasts with advice from officials in California, Oregon and Washington, who have said that radiation from Japanese nuclear reactors is not expected to reach their shores. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said it expects no harmful levels of Japanese radiation to reach the US, with Tokyo and San Francisco roughly 8000km apart.

Japan disaster: Fears death toll could exceed 20,000 as nuke crisis looms. Japanese authorities are using helicopters to dump water on stricken reactors at a nuclear power plant as they battle to avert a nuclear catastrophe. Two loads of seawater were dumped on the plant’s damaged No. 3 reactor, with the third load dropped on the No. 4 reactor. The helicopters have the capacity to dump 6.8 tonnes of water, but it was unknown how much water they were carrying. Eleven water cannon trucks were also en route to the plant to spray water from the ground onto the No. 3 reactor. Construction may start as soon today on a new power line to connect to the Fukushima plant’s water pumps so that workers will be able to cool fuel rods by sending seawater into reactor pressure vessels, containment vessels and storage pools of spent fuel.

Japanese police today lifted the official number of dead and missing from the disaster to nearly 13,000, but there are fears it could top 20,000. The number of confirmed dead stands at 4314, while the official number of missing hit 8606. A total of 2282 people were injured in the disaster. In the coastal town of Ishinomaki the number of missing there was likely to hit 10,000. Around 10,000 people were unaccounted for in the port town of Minamisanriku in the same prefecture. Amid a mass rescue effort there were grim updates indicating severe loss of life along the battered east coast of Honshu island, where the monster waves destroyed or damaged more than 55,380 homes and other buildings.

Australians stranded in Japan are pleading for help to leave the devastated country amid growing fears of a nuclear catastrophe. There are 55 Australians still officially missing, but scores are stranded in areas where radiation levels have soared as the crisis unfolds at Fukushima nuclear power plant. “The infrastructure in that part of Japan now is severely under pressure in terms of electricity, power supply as well as a whole range of other things. Because of these pressures on public infrastructure, we’re recommending that Australians should consider departing from Tokyo and those eight affected prefectures.” Thousands of Australians in TOKYO – where reports put RADIATION AT 20 TIMES THE NORMAL LEVEL – have been urged to consider leaving the Japanese capital. Tokyo was in gridlock with reports thousands were trying to flee amid fears the wind would bring downpours of nuclear rain. Australians in the zone hardest hit by Friday’s tsunami have said they are being urged to get out. Without petrol, food and water, many have no chance.

They claim the Australian Government has failed to provide adequate assistance.

US alarm and surprise over Japan atomic crisis – Over the days of the Fukushima crisis, attention has switched from reactor building 1 to 3, to 2, back to 3 – and now, to 4. Reactors 4, 5 and 6 were shut down at the time of Friday’s earthquake, with some or all of their fuel rods extracted and left in the cooling ponds that each reactor building has under its roof. Once a reactor is turned off, radioactivity and heat generation in the rods die away quickly; down to 7% of the original power within a second of switch-off, 5% within a minute, 0.5% within a day. Transferred to the cooling pond, allowing technicians to do routine maintenance on the reactor, the rods are supposed to sit quietly until the time comes for their re-insertion or their journey towards disposal. The tops of the rods are supposed to be about 5m (16ft) below the water surface. The water keeps them cool and also blocks radiation.

Over the last few days there have been reports suggesting water levels were low and the water “boiling”; and now the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has a team of 11 experts advising in Japan, says the pool is completely dry. This means the fuel rods are exposed to the air. Without water, they will get much hotter, allowing radioactive material to escape. More remarkably, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which owns the power station, has warned: “The possibility of re-criticality is not zero”.

If you are in any doubt as to what this means, it is that in the company’s view, it is possible that enough fissile uranium is present in the cooling pond in enough density to form a critical mass – meaning that A NUCLEAR FISSION CHAIN REACTION COULD START. The pool lies outside the containment chamber. So if a chain reaction happens, it would lead to the enhanced and sustained release of radioactive materials – though not to a nuclear explosion – with nothing to stop the radioactive particles escaping.

The first event in this chain appears to be that the level of water in the pond fell. Why that should happen is not entirely clear. Was the fuel so hot that it caused an unanticipated amount of evaporation? Did the earthquake somehow crack the building’s structure, allowing water to leak out? Did the two fires in the building have an impact? Visually, the building housing reactor 4 is the most damaged on the site – suggesting that reports of the two fires being relatively minor were wide of the mark. Or, did technicians at some point take water from the pond for use in reactor 4’s cooling system? There is nothing to say they did; but during the chaos of the weekend, with power systems and options disappearing before their eyes, it might have seemed like a good idea.

Whatever the reason, the rods became hot enough that steam reacted with the zirconium cladding around the fuel rods, generating hydrogen and causing an explosion. The same thing happened earlier in reactor buildings 1, 2 and 3 – except that in building 4, the rods were in the fuel pond, not in a reactor.

The government ordered Tepco to put water back in the pool. But either because of high radiation levels or broken pumps or some other reason, they could not. Wednesday’s plan to drop water in from a helicopter – a technique that is used to fight forest fires – had to be scrapped because of concerns about radiation affecting the pilots. Without the water, gamma-rays travel straight up into the air. There are reports that the authorities have asked US military personnel to bring in a water cannon, which would presumably be fired from the ground, aiming to shoot the water in through the broken roof. [ A Japanese military helicopter HAS dumped water from a huge bucket onto the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant.]

The NRC says that in the current dry state, radiation levels from the pond are probably “extremely high”, creating a danger to workers at the plant. Still, in principle this should not raise any possibility of resumed criticality. It could depend on how the rods are arranged in the water. The incident has sparked fears of radioactivity in other Asian countries “In some fuel ponds, they dose the water with boric acid at low levels. In some systems they’ve re-racked the fuel assembly making it possible to put more rods in the pond than it was originally designed for, and then you might put extra sheets of boron in between.” Boron and boric acid mop up neutrons, the particles that sustain the chain reaction. In this sort of reactor, water is a crucial component of the fission process. It acts as a moderator – it reduces the speed of the neutrons, meaning they can be captured by uranium nuclei in the fuel rods, inducing them to split. Without water, the neutrons travel too fast, and are not captured.

A scenario that may be unfolding in the cooling pond in building 4: It is just a possibility, because information is scanty; but here it is. If the fuel rods are dry and hot, there could be damage to the cladding and the release of light radioactive nuclei. To prevent that, you would want to inject water. But water on its own is a neutron moderator and would enhance the chances, however small, of criticality. “You’re caught between a rock and a hard place.”

Now, Tepco is also talking about putting boric acid into the cooling pond of number 4 building.

How closely the rods were packed, whether any boron sheets were in place and if so whether they were damaged by one of the two fires in the building; these are among the many unanswered questions. Meanwhile, the most important task remains to get enough water flowing into reactors 1, 2 and 3 to cool the cores.

Following Tuesday’s apparent cracking of the suppression chamber in reactor 2 – a likely cause of the radioactivity spike then seen – there were concerns that the same thing might have occured on Wednesday in reactor 3. However, the latest reports from Japanese news sources suggest reactor 3’s containment system is intact. If that proves to be the case, the source of Wednesday’s radiation spike remains a mystery. It seems to have been big enough to force technicians to leave the plant.

Clearly, their presence is crucial to stabilising the reactors – and to control the situation in the dry pool in building 4. If they were forced away for long periods, the chances of containing the crisis would fall. “If water is continuously pumped, they could stabilise the position, because the moment when fuel rods are covered with water, the situation is basically stabilised.” Tepco sounded a rare optimistic note by saying engineers would soon restore an electrical connection from the national grid – which should allow them to re-start water pumps, provided they have not been damaged by the tsunami or the hydrogen explosions.

While this work continues, so do the questions over the building 4 fuel pond. Re-criticality seems an EXTRAORDINARY THING to contemplate; but if it is not a real possibility, why was such an idea floated by the company itself? The bigger picture, though, is still one of a serious local incident, with minor impacts outside the plant. The US Energy Secretary, however, suggested Fukushima was now more serious than the 1979 Three Mile Island incident in the US – and if contamination does spread outside the immediate area, that will prove to be the case.

As Tokyo resorted to increasingly desperate measures to cool overheated reactors at the stricken Fukushima No.1 plant, the embattled Japanese company that operates the facility said today ITS MAIN PRIORITY WAS TO RESTORE POWER at the complex. “We cannot tell when, but we want to restore the power source as soon as possible.”

Construction was to start as soon as today on a new power line to connect to the Fukushima plant’s water pumps so that workers will be able to cool fuel rods by sending seawater into reactor pressure vessels, containment vessels and storage pools of spent fuel. The power system – and its emergency diesel-fueled generators – failed when the tsunami hit, about an hour after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Japan.

Since then, overheating has caused four hydrogen explosions and two fires at the plant as well as a partial meltdown at the No.1, No.2 and No.3 reactors of the six-reactor facility, located about 155 miles (250km) north-east of Tokyo. “Damage to the cores of the three units – units 1, 2 and 3 – has been confirmed. The cores remain uncovered by one or two metres. Japanese authorities had also reported concerns about the spent nuclear fuel pools of reactors No.3 and No.4. Shortly after, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman said that the fuel pool at reactor No.4 had run dry, resulting in “extremely high” radiation levels. “What we believe at this time is there has been a hydrogen explosion in this unit due to an uncovering of the fuel in the spent fuel pool,” noting the explosion happened several days ago but its effects were cause for concern. “We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.”

The deep pools contain used fuel rods which are extremely radioactive and normally kept immersed in cooling water. Unlike the fuel rods that are used in the reactor vessel, the spent rods are not surrounded by a steel-and-concrete containment vessel. If water in the tanks evaporated, the spent rods would be exposed to the air and radioactive material would be released into the atmosphere. The IAEA said that temperatures in spent fuel pools are typically kept below 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25C), but by yesterday, the temperature in the No.4 reactor’s tank had risen to 183F (84C). Data was not available for today’s temperature. Temperatures in the spent fuel pools at the No.5 and No.6 reactors, which also had not been operating at the time of the twin disasters, had reached at least 140F (60C) by yesterday.

Yesterday, following the cancellation of a helicopter mission to pour water on No.3 reactor due to high radiation levels, a water cannon normally used by riot police arrived at the plant to pump water into the spent fuel pool of No. 4 reactor. Japanese officials planned to use the cannon today.

The US military said it had delivered high-pressure water pumps to Japan to help with the operation at Fukushima and the military was also set to fly one of its drones equipped with infrared sensors over the plant to take pictures so that experts might assess damage.

US soldiers – and now citizens – are not allowed within 50 miles (80km) of the complex based on guidelines issued by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Pentagon also confirmed some military flight crews were issued with potassium iodide tablets to combat the possible effects of radiation. The Japanese government has thus far only imposed a 12.4-mile (20km) evacuation zone, outside of which Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary said radiation levels posed no immediate health threat.

Meanwhile, panic spread on the ground as millions have been left without water, electricity, fuel or enough food. Hundreds of thousands more were left homeless by the devastation and were dealing with freezing cold and wet weather in the northeast region of Japan. Expatriates and foreigners have been leaving Japan amid the crises – some with encouragement from their employers and embassies. Australia, France, Germany, the UK and other nations have told their citizens to consider leaving the greater Tokyo area, while companies such as BMW and Ikea have helped evacuate their employees out of the capital to either their homelands or to other parts of Japan.

Japan’s devastating earthquake and deepening nuclear crisis could result in losses of up to $200 billion for the world’s third largest economy but the global impact remains hard to gauge .

Engineers at Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant have managed to lay a cable to reactor 2. Restoring power should enable engineers to restart the pumps which send coolant over the reactor. For a while now it has appeared that delivering electrical power to Fukushima Daiichi power station offered the best hope of stabilising things. Provided that the station’s electrical systems are intact and its pumps are still functional, it should become possible to pump water back into the fuel storage ponds in reactor buildings 3 and 4, and to improve the flow into the damaged reactors themselves. But it is also possible that the earthquake, tsunami, fires and explosions have knocked out some of this equipment. Provided power can be restored across the complex, it appears possible that Fukushima Daiichi COULD BE BACK UNDER CONTROL WITHIN A FEW DAYS.

The cable had reached the site by 1730 local time (0830 GMT) on Thursday, and engineers planned to reconnect power to the reactor once workers have finished spraying seawater over reactor 3. The process of reconnecting power could take up to 15 hours. Helicopters and water cannon have been dumping seawater over the Fukushima reactors, to try to prevent fuel rods melting. Video footage had suggested most of the water had been falling outside the target buildings, but a Tepco spokesman said it appeared the operation had had some success. “When we poured water, we monitored steam rising from the facility. By pouring water, we believe the water turned down the heat. We believe that there was a certain effect.” Another spokesman said on Thursday that aerial observations of reactor 4 indicated it did contain some water. “We have not confirmed how much water was left inside but we have not had information that spent fuel rods are exposed.” Earlier, a senior IAEA official said the situation at Fukushima had not deteriorated, but could yet do so. He described the situation at “reasonably stable”.

Japan has imposed a 20-km (12-mile) exclusion zone around Fukushima and has urged people living up to 30km away to stay indoors. Some countries have advised their nationals in Japan to stay up to 50km away. Tens of thousands of people are still struggling with the after effects of last Friday’s massive quake and tsunami. In areas of the north-east badly hit by the tsunami, bitter winter weather has added to the misery of survivors, though more supplies are now reported to be reaching them. The number of people now known to have died in the twin disaster stands at 5,692 with 9,506 people listed as missing. But the official toll is based on names registered with police, and the true figure could be in the tens of thousands. About 380,000 people are currently still in temporary shelters, many sleeping on the floor of school gymnasiums. Many foreign countries are evacuating their nationals from northeast Japan, or advising them to leave the country entirely.

The crisis has also continued to affect the markets – the benchmark Nikkei index fell 3.6% in early Thursday trading in Tokyo, shortly after the yen briefly hit the highest level against the US dollar since World War II. (map & photos)

LATEST JAPAN NEWS –

05:46 – It is now exactly one week since the earthquake struck at 0246 local time (0546 GMT).

05:12 – Japanese fire engines have now resumed spraying water on the Fukushima plant.

05:06 – Fukushima’s operator TEPCO has said that it would not be impossible to encase the plant’s reactors in concrete, though cooling them down is the priority,

04:28 – “If I’m doing math right the people in Fukushima city absorbing equiv. of 1.75 chest x-rays daily at current rate.”

04:25 – Japanese engineers are still trying to restore power at Fukushima by laying an electricity cable – there is no news yet of what they have managed to do by now. The issue is how they are going to attach the cable. It’s not just high radiation levels they are facing, but the problem is that the plant’s buildings have been badly damaged

04:03 – About 80 miles away from Fukushima, “there is panic-buying and lines at petrol stations and a lack of petrol and a lack of certain supplies. In general people seem to be pretty calm but it is sort of a facade. Underneath you can tell everyone is really anxious.”

03:54 – “As several others have noted, Tokyo is far from the panic-stricken city portrayed by certain tabloids. I have just returned from lunch in the business district where every restaurant was open and selling piles of lunch boxes. Things are sold out because of panic buying – not through a lack of supply. Food always comes in the mornings – it just gets bought up by people caught up in things. I just hope the supply situation is better in the North as there is enough food in Tokyo to feed a great many people. The sooner general volunteers can help out up there the better, the professionals will be exhausted after their commendable and titanic efforts.”

03:20 – More than 285,000 people are now taking refuge in the quake- and tsunami-hit areas in north-eastern Japan.

03:17 – US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman says that it is likely to take SEVERAL WEEKS TO COOL DOWN THE TROUBLED NUCLEAR REACTORS at Fukushima.

0253: Tokyo Electric Power Company says it hopes to active the cooling system at reactor 2 as early as Friday night.

02:36 – The Miyagi government is to ask quake victims to leave the prefecture due to housing shortages.

02:24 -The official death toll as of Friday morning: 6,405 dead and 10,259 missing.

02:18 – Japan’s nuclear safety agency says smoke has been seen rising from reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. A spokesman says the agency does not know the cause, but an explosion occurred in the building earlier in the week.

01:49 – Radiation readings at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant have been falling on Friday morning. Measurements taken about a kilometre from the plant were 279.4 microsieverts per hour, against 292.2 microsieverts per hour on Thursday evening.

00:57 – The restoration of electricity at Fukushima’s reactors 3 and 4 is expected on Sunday.

A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across the Pacific, and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting Southern California late today. Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, even if hints of it are ultimately detectable. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule.

The forecast, calculated Tuesday, is based on patterns of Pacific winds at that time and the predicted path is likely to change as weather patterns shift. On Sunday, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it expected that no “harmful levels of radioactivity” would travel from Japan to the United States “given the thousands of miles between the two countries.” The test ban treaty group routinely does radiation projections in an effort to understand which of its global stations to activate for monitoring the worldwide ban on nuclear arms testing. It has more than 60 stations that sniff the air for radiation spikes and uses weather forecasts and powerful computers to model the transport of radiation on the winds.

On Wednesday, the agency declined to release its Japanese forecast, which The New York Times obtained from other sources. The forecast was distributed widely to the agency’s member states.

But in interviews, the technical specialists of the agency did address how and why the forecast had been drawn up. “It’s simply an indication. We have global coverage. So when something happens, it’s important for us to know which station can pick up the event.” The Japan forecast shows that the radioactive plume will probably miss the agency’s monitoring stations at Midway and in the Hawaiian Islands but is likely to be detected in the Aleutians and at a monitoring station in Sacramento.

The forecast assumes that radioactivity in Japan is released continuously and forms a rising plume. It ends with the plume heading into Southern California and the American Southwest, including Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The plume projection would have continued eastward if the United Nations scientists had run the projection forward. Earlier this week, the leading edge of the tangible plume was detected by the Navy’s Seventh Fleet when it was operating about 100 miles northeast of the Japanese reactor complex. On Monday, the Navy said it had repositioned its ships and aircraft off Japan “as a precautionary measure.” The United Nations agency has also detected radiation from the stricken reactor complex at its detector station in Gunma, Japan, which lies about 130 miles to the southwest.

Would the meltdown of a core of one of the reactors increase the chance of harmful radiation reaching Hawaii or the West Coast? “I don’t want to speculate on various scenarios. But based on the design and the distances involved, it is very unlikely that there would be any harmful impacts.”

The likely path of the main Japanese plume across the Pacific has also caught the attention of Europeans, many of whom recall how the much closer Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine began spewing radiation. In Germany on Wednesday, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection held a news conference that described the threat from the Japanese plume as trifling and said there was no need for people to take iodine tablets. The pills can prevent poisoning from the atmospheric release of iodine-131, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear plants. The United States is also carefully monitoring and forecasting the plume’s movements. The agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy.

With Quest to Cool Fuel Rods Stumbling, U.S. Sees ‘Weeks’ of Struggle – The Japanese efforts focused on a different part of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station from the reactor — No. 4 — depicted in Washington on Wednesday as presenting a far bleaker threat than the Japanese government had offered. The decision to focus on the No. 3 reactor appeared to suggest that Japanese officials believe it is a greater threat, since it is the only one at the site loaded with a mixed fuel known as mox, for mixed oxide, which includes reclaimed plutonium. Western nuclear engineers have said that the release of mox into the atmosphere would produce a more dangerous radioactive plume than the dispersal of uranium fuel rods at the site. The Japanese authorities also expressed concern on Wednesday that the pressure in the No. 3 reactor had plunged and that either gauges were malfunctioning or a rupture had already occurred. The reactor typically needs 50 tons of water, or about 12,000 gallons, a day to keep from overheating.

Radiation of about 250 millisievert an hour had been detected 100 feet above the plant. In the United States, the once-in-a-lifetime exposure limit for police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers engaged in life-saving activity is equal to being exposed to 250 millisieverts for a full hour.

While radiation levels at the plant have varied tremendously, the peak levels reported there “would be lethal within a fairly short period of time.”

While maps of the plume of radiation being given off by the plant show that an elongated cloud will stretch across the Pacific, American officials said it would be so dissipated by the time it reached the West Coast of the United States that it would not pose a health threat. Close to the site, however, “we would recommend an evacuation to a much larger radius than has currently been provided by Japan.” That assessment seems bound to embarrass, if not anger, Japanese officials, suggesting they have miscalculated the danger or deliberately played down the risks.

American officials who have been dealing with their Japanese counterparts report that the country’s political and bureaucratic leadership has appeared frozen in place, unwilling to communicate clearly about the problem’s scope and, in some cases, unwilling to accept outside assistance. Two American officials said they believed that the Japanese government itself was not getting a clear picture from Tokyo Electric.

RECALLS & ALERTS:

-Pierre Foods is voluntarily recalling one lot of PierreTM pb jamwich, crustless peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

-NE World Enterprises, LLC is recalling O.N.E. Coconut Water, due to the potential oxidation of the product that may permit the growth of mold.

-Vitalabs, Inc., Jonesboro, GA is voluntarily recalling four specific lot numbers of Whey-26 Protein Powder due to concerns over potential Salmonella contamination.

-The Oak Farms Dairy plant in Waco is voluntarily recalling half gallon plastic bottles of whole chocolate milk, half pint paper cartons of whole chocolate milk, and half pint paper cartons of 1% chocolate milk due to the presence of Alkaline Phosphatase found in samples during routine testing.

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