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11-03-2011  - 13-03-2011 - 15-03-2011 - Gallery

JAPAN -  11-03-2011




A massive earthquake has hit the north-east of Japan, triggering a tsunami and a huge whirlpool.

The tsunami warning was extended to the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Pacific coast of Russia and Hawaii.

Dramatic footage of the whirlpool was taken by a helicopter, as the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley explains.



Radiation levels have fallen at Japan's earthquake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the government says.

Radiation levels had spiked to harmful levels after a fire and a third explosion at the site.

Weather reports say winds are blowing radiation from the plant, on Japan's north-east coast, over the Pacific.

Friday's 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami devastated Japan's north-east coast, with more than 3,000 confirmed dead and thousands missing.

Officials have warned people within 20-30km of the nuclear plant to either leave the area or stay indoors.

Japan has also announced a 30-km no-fly zone around the site to prevent planes spreading the radiation further afield.

ut thousands of people are missing and it is feared at least 10,000 may have been killed.

More than 500,000 people have been made homeless.

The government has deployed 100,000 troops to lead the aid effort.


The crisis at the Fukushima plant - which contains six nuclear reactors - has mounted since the earthquake knocked out the cooling systems.

Explosions rocked the buildings housing reactors one and three on Saturday and Monday.

On Tuesday morning a third blast hit reactor two's building. A fire also broke out at a spent fuel storage pond at the power plant's reactor four.

'People are worried'

That reactor had been shut down before the quake for maintenance, but its spent nuclear fuel rods were still stored on the site.

Officials said the explosions were caused by a buildup of hydrogen.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said they were closely watching the remaining two reactors at the plant, five and six, as they had begun overheating slightly.

He said cooling seawater was being pumped into reactors one and three - which were returning to normal - and into reactor two, which remained unstable.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said earlier it suspected the blast may have damaged reactor two's suppression chamber, which would have allowed radioactive steam to escape.

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says that would make it a more serious incident than the previous explosions, which were thought just to have damaged the buildings housing the reactors