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Read the latest postings here.

Stars and Stripes reporters across Japan and the world are sending disaster dispatches as they gather new facts, updated in real time. All times are local Tokyo time.


Yokosuka naval hospital open

   10:01 p.m. Tokyo time

U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka is currently open for urgent care and emergency services, according to a hospital news release.

The pharmacy is operating around the clock, the release said.
The hospital is capable of providing a 10-day supply of medications for people who are due for a refill or a new prescription.

Per normal procedures, medical records must be picked up in person by their adult owner unless a person has a power of attorney that specifies medical records for another person. Parents and guardians may pick up medical records for their children under 17.

The Maternal Infant Newborn Unit has initiated a telephone muster of all pregnant patients who are beyond 36 weeks in their pregnancy. Those who were not contacted by 9 p.m. Thursday should call DSN: 243-5311, or 046-816-5311.

-- Erik Slavin

U.S. Army Japan commander to hold town hall meetings

9:53 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

The commander of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps will hold town hall meetings with Army personnel in the Tokyo region throughout the day Friday, the Army announced on its Facebook page.

Maj. Gen. Michael Harrison will address soldiers, family members and civilians and answer questions during a series of meetings at the Camp Zama Community Club, the service said.

Meeting with Japanese civilian employees at Zama will begin at 8:30 a.m., a meeting with soldiers and all family members will be at 10 a.m., a meeting with Japanese civilian employees working outside Zama will be at 1:30, and a meeting with U.S. civilian workers will be at 3 p.m.

The 10 a.m. meeting with soldiers and families will be broadcast on the Zama command channel and those who are interested can call in to hear the meeting at 263-3881 or 046-407-3881.

--Travis J. Tritten
 

Update on attempt to cool down Fukushima reactors

9:45 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

From The Associated Press:

Japanese officials suspended army helicopter flights Thursday to dump water on an overheated reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex disabled by last week's tsunami. They are evaluating if the unusual measure worked.
At the same reactor, soldiers sprayed 30 tons of water toward a pool where used fuel is stored, hoping to cool it and keep it from catching fire. Police failed in an earlier attempt to cool the pool with water cannon.

In an encouraging development, crews were finishing laying a new cable to supply more reliable electricity to motors, valves and pumps needed to keep reactors cool.

Atsugi to count evacuees on Friday

9:43 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Naval Air Facility Atsugi is holding two meetings Friday to count people who voluntarily plan to evacuate. The first meeting is at Halsey Gym at 8 a.m. for families with expectant mothers, children 6 years old and younger  and special needs children.

The second meeting is at Cinema 77 at 10 a.m. for all other family members who plan to leave. Families do not need to bring their children and should not bring their pets or luggage to the meetings, according to a command statement.

-- Erik Slavin
 

Atsugi pharmacy to open at 6 a.m. to support travelers

9:41 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

The Atsugi Branch Health Clinic Pharmacy opens at 6 a.m. Friday for families who will be traveling. Only 10-day supplies of prescriptions will be filled, according to a command statement.

-- Erik Slavin
 

Atsugi legal office to close -- they're short on people

9:39 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Contrary to an earlier report that Naval Air Facility Atsugi’s legal office would remain open all night, officials now say it will close at 10:15 p.m. because of personnel limitations. It will reopen at 6 a.m. and plans to be open 24 hours a day afterward, according to a command statement.

-- Erik Slavin
 

Yokosuka: Don't go to rec center just yet

9:37 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Yokosuka Naval Base officials are asking that people not report to the Fleet Recreation Center in anticipation of an evacuation at this time.

-- Erik Slavin
 

Marines from Camp Fuji convoy north to provide relief

8:57 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Marines stationed at Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Japan, left base Thursday bound for Yamagata, Japan, in support of Operation Tomodachi, according to a press release issued by the command.

A convoy, escorted by members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, that includes six 7-ton trucks, 11 Humvees, communications trucks and other tactical vehicles will join the III Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) at Yamagata Airport to establish a Humanitarian Assistance Center (HAC) and provide support to the relief effort, according to the release.

Two KC-130J aircraft from Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF, departed from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.  The aircraft contained pallets of Meals Ready to Eat, cots, and other gear bound for Naval Air Station Atsugi. MCAS Futenma’s proximity to logistics and ground units on Okinawa has been critical to III MEF’s efforts to deliver aid and supplies in support of Operation Tomodachi.

Earlier Thursday, the wing delivered food, water and blankets to MCAS Iwakuni, Yokota Air Base, NAS Atsugi, and Misawa Air Base for distribution to areas requiring assistance, officials said.

There are about 600 Marines, sailors, and civilians from III MEF and Marine Corps Bases Japan deployed in support of Operation Tomodachi. Marine KC-130J aircraft have flown 81 sorties to date for continued support to the foreign humanitarian assistance mission.

-- Kevin Baron
 

Yokosuka announces reduced morale activities

8:20 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

From Fleet Activities Yokosuka's Facebook page:

MWR Operations For 18 Mar 2011 by Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm
Benny Decker & Fleet Theaters, Auto Hobby, Wood Hobby, Bowling Center, and all food operations as well as the Community Center and outdoor recreation building will also be closed.

CDC, SAC and Teen programs will operate Friday with the exception of hourly CDC (we are short on staff so this operation is being shut down). The Teen Center, CDC and SAC programs will close at 1830.  If emergency care is needed over the weekend, we will possibly be able to open one in Yokosuka.  Will contact EOC on this Friday.

Liberty Center will be open with a skeleton crew of staff.  We will let anyone in that wants to hang out or use the computers for Internet access. Library will be open, mainly to offer access to the Internet. We will do this again with a skeleton crew.

Fleet Gym and Purdy Fitness will be open with the exception of the pool.

-- Dave Ornauer
 

Tokyo passport services open this weekend

7:42 p.m. Thursday, Tokyo time

From the Embassy website:

The Passport Unit of the American Citizen Services section (Tokyo only) will be open on Saturday March 19, Sunday, March 20, and Monday March 21 in order to issue emergency passports to American Citizens. We will be open each day from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

You do not need to make an appointment for these special weekend hours before coming to the Embassy. We encourage you, however, to please go to our website to make sure you bring all the required documents.

Please note: All applicants under 16 must appear in person accompanied by both parents. For first passports for children born in Japan, you must report the child's birth before a passport can be issued. Here is information on the Consular Report of Birth Abroad.

-- Sam Amrhein
 

School closures for Friday

7:38 p.m. Thursday, Tokyo time

From DODEA Pacific's Facebook page:

DoDEA Pacific

‎Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) EQ & TSUNAMI UPDATE: In addition to all schools at Misawa AB, the following schools are closed tomorrow:

• Arnn ES

• Byrd ES

• Ikego ES

• Kinnick HS

• Lanham ES

• Sullivans ES

• Yokosuka MS

• Zama American MS

• Zama American HS

All employees of these schools are asked to check-in with their school admin or supervisor via phone or e-mail tomorrow.

-- Dave Ornauer
 

Bus seats available from Sendai

5:11 p.m. Thursday, Tokyo time

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has arranged for over 600 seats on buses for transportation from Sendai City Hall to Tokyo. Priority for seats will be given to U.S. citizens and their immediate dependents. No reservation is required. However, passengers will be required to sign a promissory note to reimburse the U.S. Government for the normal bus fare from Sendai to Tokyo.

The first buses will depart at 9:00 a.m. Friday in front of Sendai City Hall. Remaining buses will depart on 9:00 a.m. Saturday, from the same location.

http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-travel20110317-02.html

--Hana Kusumoto 

Navy halts all personnel movement to Japan

7:01 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

The Secretary of the Navy announced that all permanent change of station (PCS) orders to Japan have been stopped, effective immediately, according to a statement provided by Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo.

Personnel with orders to commands in the affected area who have not yet detached from their current command are directed to remain in place at their current command.

Embarked units who will be getting underway and cannot retain a sailor should direct them to report to the beach detachment or transient personnel unit awaiting.

Sailors who have already detached, but have not departed the area of their home port, are also directed to report. Sailors who have already started traveling should report to the nearest Navy installation and contact their detailer.

We are hearing that affects temporary duty people as well.  Hat tip, Stars and Stripes reporters Erik Slavin and Matt Orr.

-- Patrick Dickson
 

Yokota: Closures and cancellations

6:55 p.m. Thursday, Tokyo time.

From Yokota Air Base's Facebook page.

Here's a comprehensive list of closures and cancellations at Yokota: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/notes/yokota-air-base-japan/cancellations-original-dates-of-cancelled-events-noted/208661979146812

-- Dave Ornauer
 

The New Sanno will be closed

6:30 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

From The New Sanno's website and Facebook pages:
The New Sanno Hotel will be closed until further notice.  Please follow our website for future opening date.
-- Dave Ornauer
 

Pet evacuation: Cats and dogs ONLY

6 p.m. Thursday, Tokyo time

Dogs and cats are the only pets that will be allowed on evacuation flights, according to Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

The aircraft will include civilian commercial airliners, after a standing federal agreement with the airlines was approved by the president, Atsugi officials said.

-- Erik Slavin

Safe haven locations

6:04 p.m. Tokyo time

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo informs U.S. citizens in Japan who wish to depart that the Department of State is making arrangements to provide transportation to safe-haven locations in Asia. This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law. U.S. citizens who travel on U.S. government-arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from the safehaven location. Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Japan on Thursday, March 17. There will be a limited number of seats available on evacuation flights departing from Narita and Haneda airports on March 17. Priority will be given to persons with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions.

Persons interested in departing Japan via USG-chartered transportation should proceed to Narita and Haneda airports or contact the Department of State and Embassy Japan by sending an e-mail to: JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444. Please provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Place of birth
  • U.S. passport number, and
  • Any special medical needs.

Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the safehaven country and/or U.S., if that is your final destination.

Read full message here: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-warden20110317-02.html

-- Dave Ornauer
 

Atsugi official: Yokota to help with evac flights

5:41 p.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

Flights out of Japan will also include Yokota Air Base, according to Atsugi base commander Capt. Eric Gardner.

Ombudsmen assembly tonight at Atsugi at 6 in the Little Theater will continue as scheduled. Anyone with questions can continue to submit questions to their unit ombudsmen, Atsugi base commander Capt. Eric Gardner said.

“Again the order of departure: Women and children first, nonessential person second, essential personnel third, and then me,” Gardner said.

School has been canceled at Yokosuka and Atsugi.

“Carrier Air Wing-5 will also leave but they are going north…to continue the humanitarian assistance that they are doing,” Gardner said during a taped speech broadcast on Youtube and the base command channel.

-- Erik Slavin
 

Yokota schools will be open Friday

5:30 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

From Yokota Air Base's Facebook page:

All Yokota AB DODDS Schools will remain open as scheduled. Yokota High principal Darrell Mood tells me schools will be open Friday for sure. Beyond that, it's not known.

-- Dave Ornauer
 

Yokosuka lays out evacuation kit items

5:20 p.m. Thursday, Tokyo time

From Fleet Activities Yokosuka's Facebook page:

NEO requirements: DOD ID card, passport, DoD 2585 Form, DoD 1337 (military), 2461 (civilians), household goods inventory and record and copy of vehicle registration form.

-- Dave Ornauer
 

Misawa joins list of bases authorizing family evacuations

5:25 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Col. Michael Rothstein, commander of the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan, announced during a live broadcast Thursday evening that family members on the base are going to be allowed to voluntarily evacuate from Japan. He said he learned of the opportunity at about 4 p.m., and that many questions remained unanswered about the administrative process of the evacuations. He promised that his staff was working the issue. He also stressed that he still believes base personnel face no immediate danger because of the situation at the nuclear plants in Fukushima.

-- T.D. Flack

Atsugi: Women and children first

5:21 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Atsugi base command Capt. Eric Gardner broadcast the following on the base command channel and Youtube just before 5 p.m.

“The President of the United States has authorized a military assisted voluntary departure of dependents from Japan … within the next 24 hours, there will be Air Force cargo, Air Force passenger planes landing here at Atsugi, and taking first, women and children out of here, most likely over to Korea for one or two days and then for further transfer to some other place. Whether that’s the United States has not come through with the plan yet.”

The full message is available at:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG2h4AVpo70&feature=autofb

-- Erik Slavin
 

 Yokosuka folks can check out medical records

5:15 p.m.

Any U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka beneficiaries departing Japan can check out their health records at the hospital medical records department, base officials announced Thursday afternoon.

-- Erik Slavin
 

State Department trying to connect loved ones

5:13 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

The automatic response from e-mailing

japanemergencyujapanemergencyusc@state.gov:sc@state.gov:

U.S. Forces Japan reports that all personnel have been accounted for, and there are no reports of injuries. The Department of Defense instructs that family members of Department of Defense personnel may call 1-800-342-9647 or email MOSDRT@Militaryonesource.com for more specific information about persons affiliated with the military.

In case we have any questions, please ensure that you provided your:

  • Full name
  • Phone numbers (day, evening, and mobile phone numbers)
  • Email address
  • Relationship to the person you are inquiring about

So that we may properly pursue your inquiry, we will need information about the person in Japan who may need assistance.  For each person, please be sure you sent us his/her:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth

As much information as possible regarding your/his/her
physical location (address, hotel name, etc.) and contact information (home phone, cell phone, email address, etc.) within Japan.

Please also send us any other information you feel is important for us to know, such as any pre-existing medical conditions, or whether you or your loved one is either elderly or a child in Japan without his/her parent(s).  If you have an existing case with the Office of Children's Issues, please contact your case officer directly.

-- Charlie Reed
 

Web site highlighting Japan departures

5:08 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

On their front page, Militaryfares.com seems to be emphasizing flights back to the States from Japan.  Stars and Stripes does not endorse or recommend individual Web sites for commercial air travel. http://www.militaryfares.com/
 

Yokosuka legal office posts late hours

4:55 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

The Navy Legal Service Office at Yokosuka Naval Base will remain open to provide powers of attorney until 10 p.m. Thursday, according to a command statement. The office is located on the second floor of the Personnel Support Detachment Building 1555.

Naval Air Facility Atsugi has also announced it will keep its legal office open “around the clock” to provide power of attorney statements.

Such statements can allow others to make different contractually binding decisions on their behalf, depending on the type of power of attorney granted.

-- Erik Slavin
 

Japanese official pleads for Tokyo conservation

4:45 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda on Thursday called for residents in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area to save more power as demand for power could become well over the supply during the night peak hours.

Kaieda released a statement stating that the power demand in the Kanto area has increased sharply due to the cold weather. During the morning peak hours on Thursday was 32.92 million kilowatts while the supply was 33.5 million kilowatts.

He said that if the situation continues, demand will far exceed supply during the night peak hours.

"There is a possibility of unpredictable large-scale power outage," Kaieda said.

The ministry requested train companies to reduce the amount of trains running, according to NHK.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, which supplies power to the Kanto area, has been conducting rolling blackouts since Tuesday.

-- Hana Kusumoto
 

Reminder: Misawa wing commander radio address

4:33 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

The Commander of the 35th Fighter Wing, Col. Mike Rothstein, will be addressing Misawa Air Base at 5:05 p.m. today on AFN Misawa AM 1575. The address will be simulcast on AFN channel 8.
-- Matt Orr
 

Yokosuka Facebook posting updates:

4:20 p.m. Thursday, Tokyo time.

Here's a link to Fleet Activities Yokosuka's Facebook page. Updates being posted frequently regarding evacuation situation. http://www.facebook.com/#!/cfayokosuka

-- Dave Ornauer
 

Yokosuka starts to work evacuation plans

4:17 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Navy officials plan to go door-to-door to hand out bar-coded bracelets which would automatically manifest families, according to command officials involved in the emergency meetings.

All children at Yokosuka Naval Base and Naval Air Facility Atsugi schools were dismissed early Thursday afternoon following command meetings with teachers. Schools had already shown a dramatic rise in absences this week.

-- Erik Slavin

Space-A flights offered for dependents seeking to leave Japan

4:10 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Currently the Yokota Air Base terminal is offering Space-Available flights. Dependents can fly on their own and will be placed in category four (4) and is based on normal Space-A rules. Travelers/passengers will need to fill out the USAPACOM FORM 505/3 EF (02-10).  Please Google this form on the web, you can bring it up and fill out. Unit commanders, executive officers and first sergeants or equivalent rank are authorized to sign block 19. There is a flight for tomorrow headed for Alaska and then Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Additionally, you will need your passports and CAC/ID cards to board the aircraft along with your Environmental & Morale Leave form.

For additional flight information you can view: http://www.amc.af.mil/amctravel/index.asp

This process is entirely up to the sponsor to execute and please keep in mind that this is Space-A only and there may or may not be seats available.

-- Dave Ornauer

Yokosuka wants families to have NEO (evacuation) packets ready

4:10 p.m. Tokyo time

From Yokosuka's Facebook page:

All - the order to evacuate for Yokosuka-based organizations has not been made. We will provide you information as it is received. Your required actions for now is to ensure your NEO packet is complete and ready and you have a bag on standby. Stay tuned and at your residences until the notification is made.

-- Erik Slavin

Space-A offered for dependents seeking to leave Japan

4:10 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time.

Currently the Yokota Air Base terminal is offering Space-A flights. Dependents can fly on their own and will be placed in category four (4) and is based on normal Space-A rules. Travelers/passengers will need to fill out the USAPACOM FORM 505/3 EF (02-10).

Please google this form on the Web, you can bring it up and fill out. Unit commanders, executive officers and first sergeants or equivalent rank are authorized to sign block 19.  There is a flight for tomorrow headed for Alaska and then Travis. Additionally, you will need your passports and CAC/ID cards to board the aircraft along with your Environmental & Morale Leave form.


For additional flight information you can view: http://www.amc.af.mil/amctravel/index.asp

This process is entirely up to the sponsor to execute and please keep in mind that this is Space-A only and there may or may not be seats available.

-- Dave Ornauer

Misawa schools to remain closed

4:05 p.m. Tokyo time

Department of Defense Dependents Schools officials in the Pacific announced that schools at Misawa Air Base, Japan, will remain closed. The schools at the base have been closed since the earthquake hit on Friday.

--Sam Amrhein

Navy to start voluntary evacuation of civilians in Yokosuka and Atsugi

3:27 p.m. Tokyo time

Stars and Stripes reporter Erik Slavin reporting:
Navy bases in the Tokyo area will begin voluntary evacuations of family members as early as tonight, Navy officials said Thursday afternoon.

Families of emergency first responders and deployed sailors will be the first to evacuate to South Korea, according to command officials involved in the emergency meetings. As of Thursday afternoon, the plan was to evacuate families on buses, then transfer them to planes at Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Narita International Airport.

Full story coming in minutes.

-- Patrick Dickson
 

Standing up at Sendai

   3:15 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

See photo gallery of Yakota Air Base relief efforts here.

 

Rumor control videos posted by AFN Tokyo

   3:09 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

See videos posted to Vimeo by AFN covering rumors and information on the situation in Japan here.

Naval Air Facility Atsugi’s Facebook Page Posts Gas Rationing on NAF Atsugi changes

   3:01 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Due to the current increase in available gas at the NEX Autoport the Command of NAFA has increased the gasoline ration effective immediately to 8 gallons per authorized vehicle with no restriction on the vehicle tank level.

In addition, as the situation for available gas off-base and intermittent public transportation, it has been authorized for NAF Atsugi Local National employees to purchase gasoline at the NEX Autoport under the same ration. NAF Atsugi local national employees may only purchase gas for the personal vehicles. Their NAF Atsugi base pass and NAF Atusgi vehicle pass must be verified by Autoport personnel before they are allowed to dispense gas. Credit cards and cash will be accepted. US dollars are preferred however Yen will be accepted at the current *peg rate of 82 and change will be given in US dollars.

This will cause congestion at the Autoport. Please be patient and understanding of this situation. The Autoport will cease dispensing gas at 1630 Thursday 3/17 due to power outage and will not re-open until Friday 3/18 1030.

* Only 1 gallon is authorized in approved containers.

* There is no ration on Diesel at this time.

* Peg rate is subject to change

— Matt Orr

 

Japan warned over nuclear plants, WikiLeaks cables show

   2:13 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

From The Telegraph:

Japan was warned more than two years ago by the international nuclear watchdog that its nuclear power plants were not capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes, leaked diplomatic cables reveal.

Read more here.

 

Helicopters stopped dumping water on reactors in Japan

   1:53 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

From NHK:

Self-Defense Forces helicopters completed dumping about 30 tons of water on unit 3 reactor of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Thursday morning, Tokyo Electric Power Company officials said.

Two SDF helicopters scooped and dumped 7.5 tons of sea water four times on the reactor, officials said. 

They will attempt to water the reactors from the ground using police high pressure water cannon trucks and 11 SDF trucks as soon as they are ready, NHK reported. TEPCO saw no change in the amount of radiation measured near the reactor, NHK said.

— Hana Kusumoto

 

U.S. starts evacuating some Americans out of Japan

   1:32 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

From The Associated Press:

The United States on Wednesday authorized the first evacuations of Americans out of Japan, taking a tougher stand on the deepening nuclear crisis and warning U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to any part of the country as unpredictable weather and wind conditions risked spreading radioactive contamination.

Read more here.

 

Useful links for updated information from DODEA Pacific's Facebook page

   1:10 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time.

EQ & TSUNAMI UPDATE: Always turn first to your local commander for official information (AFN, social media, giant voice, web sites, etc.). These are some helpful resources for additional information:

NHK (in English)

BBC

U.S. Embassy of Japan

IAEA

—Dave Ornauer

 

The Japan Meteorological Agency Early Warning System

   1 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time. 

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) provides residents in Japan with earthquake early warnings. These are new rapid earthquake alerts to be issued immediately after the occurrence of early tremors, in order to secure time to protect yourself before strong tremors arrive. Please note that these warnings, when accurate, may just give you a couple of seconds advance notice. Preparation is of the utmost importance. The JMA started providing earthquake early warnings through several means such as TV and radio on 1 October 2007. For more details please go to:

www.jma.go.jp/jma/en/Activities/eew.html (ENGLISH)

www.seisvol.kishou.go.jp/eq/EEW/kaisetsu/index.html (JAPANESE)

— Dave Ornauer

 

Death toll rises

   12:50 a.m. Thursday Tokyo time

TOKYO - Japanese Police Agency said more than 13,000 people are dead or missing, as of Thursday. The agency confirmed 5,178 dead and 8,606 missing. They also announced that 2,285 are injured and 389,217 are evacuated to shelters in eight prefectures. Miyagi prefecture has the highest death tolls with 2,896 are confirmed dead, according to Miyagi Prefectural Police. About 8,000 people are missing in Minamisanriku town and about 5,000 are missing in Onagawa town in Miyagi prefecture, NHK reported.

— Hana Kusumoto

 

A message to American citizens from Ambassador John V. Roos

   12:47 Thursday Tokyo time

From Yokota Air Base's Facebook page:

Posted 3/16/2011   Updated 3/16/2011
from Ambassador John V. Roos
U.S. Embassy - Tokyo, Japan

3/16/2011 - TOKYO, Japan -- Today, our hearts remain with our Japanese friends who, after suffering this devastating tragedy just four days ago, have to undertake recovery and reconstruction and address the ongoing nuclear emergency.

We understand that many of you are anxious and have questions in the shadow of the Fukushima emergency, since we are in the midst of a complex, constantly changing, and unpredictable situation. In this fluid situation, our commitment to our citizens is to accumulate accurate information and assess it sufficiently in order to make important judgments.

Read the entire text here.

— Dave Ornauer

 

NAF Atsugi Reports No Radiation Over Base

   12:35 p.m. Thursday Tokyo time

Naval Air Facility Atsugi’s website posts that no radiation has been detected over the base.

— Matt Orr

 

Death toll rises

   12:20 a.m. Thursday Tokyo time

TOKYO - The Japanese Police Agency said more than 12,000 people are dead or missing, as of Thursday morning. The agency reported 4,314 dead and 8,606 missing. It also said that there 2,285 injured, 416,119 evacuated and about 16,150 are isolated waiting to be rescued.

— Hana Kusumoto

 

E-mail down at DoDEA Pacific area office on Okinawa

   12:15 p.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

From DODEA Pacific Facebook Page: E-mail is down at the DoDEA Pacific area office in Okinawa. IT is aware and working to restore ASAP. District offices and schools (other than Misawa AB schools which remain closed) are unaffected by this outage.

— Matt Orr
 

Reporter's notebook: After disasters comes the exodus from Tokyo

   12:10 p.m. Thursday local Tokyo time.

From Kyung Lah of CNN on Wednesday:

Tokyo (CNN) -- Mid-March is not a high travel season for Japan, but as the nuclear emergency at Fukushima nuclear plant persists, the airports are growing clogged with passengers. They're primarily traveling one way: out of Tokyo.

Lines at Tokyo's Haneda Airport weave back and forth across the departure terminal. Families fill the seats, awaiting flights to Japan's southern and northern islands.
It's a similar scene at Tokyo's largest airport, Narita International, but with bigger crowds, numbering into the thousands.

It is an unprecedented, albeit orderly, mass exodus out of one of the world's most populated cities amid the growing nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant.

Read more here.

— Dave Ornauer

 

U.S. radiation experts try to decipher reports from Japan

   11:35 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

From USA Today:

Radiation experts in the U.S. are trying to understand the breadth of the situation in Japan, but say the lack of sufficient data from the nuclear plants there makes it impossible to accurately assess the situation.

Read more here.

 

Tokyo English Life Line offers portal for Japanese disaster information

   11:05 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

Tokyo English Life Line is a community-service organization offering a wide array of services on their website including: News updates, blackout schedules, message boards and donation and relief effort information.

Visit TELL here.

 

Helicopters dumping water on reactor

   9:48 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

From Yomiuru Shimbun:

Self-Defense Forces helicopters Thursday morning began pouring water over the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, where white smoke was coming out of a pool that is used to store expended fuel, according to Japanese media reports.

The helicopters began watering unit 3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, media reported. The self-defense forces gave up on the operation Wednesday due to strong radiation above the power plant, according to Yomiuri Shimbun.

Read more here.

 

U.S. fears worsening Japan crisis

   9:45 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

From Financial Times:

A top US nuclear safety official said late on Wednesday that the situation in Japan was worse than officials there had suggested. Gregory Jaczko, head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said his organisation believed one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima plant – number four – had run dry and was emitting “extremely high” radiation levels.

Read more here.

 

New power line at nuke plant could restore cooling system

   9:20 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

From Los Angeles Times:

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant's operator says it is nearing completion on a new power line to the complex that would revive electric-powered pumps, allowing officials to maintain a steady water supply to troubled reactors and spent fuel pools. Meanwhile, the U.S. urges its citizens in Japan to stay at least 50 miles away from the complex.

Read more here.


Expert: Ultimate sacrifice may be required

    Thursday, 7:52 a.m. local Tokyo time

Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former official with the Department of Energy, told CNN that the situation at the nuclear plant is "very, very serious." He said the next solution may involve nuclear plant workers having to take heroic acts. Asked to be more specific, he said, "This is a situation where people may be called in to sacrifice their lives. ... It's very difficult for me to contemplate that but it's, it may have reached that point."

Read the story here
 

Red Cross website links Japan-based troops to home

   9:20 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

From Navy News Service: In the wake of Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami March 11, Red Cross officials are encouraging U.S. service members and families posted there to register with an online resource intended to keep family and friends back home informed of their welfare.

Military members and their families overseas can relay their status and pass on messages to loved ones through the American Red Cross-sponsored "Safe and Well" website at http://redcross.org.

Read more at http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=59118

—Chris Carlson
 

Hope and loss in Japan's search for 8,000 missing

   6:30 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

 

 

   5:03 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said there is no water left in one of the spent fuel pools at Fukushima, according to the Associated Press. Japanese officials denied that claim, but if he is right, there is nothing to stop the spent fuel rods from melting down

- Jeff Schogol


All U.S. citizens living within 50 miles of nuclear power plant advised to leave

   3 a.m. local Tokyo time

Citing the “deteriorating situation” at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has advised all U.S. citizens living within 50 miles of the plant to evacuate or take shelter indoors if they can’t leave.

U.S. Forces Japan had already issued a mandatory 50-mile evacuation zone around the plant

- Jeff Schogol
 

Operational update of U.S. assets involved in Japan response

   2:45 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

Offshore, the USS Essex amphibious ready group now has arrived, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said, bringing the U.S. ship total responding in Japan to 14 vessels. The USS Tortuga has loaded Japanese forces in Hokkaido and the command ship USS Blue Ridge is expected at the main island Thursday morning. Essex will remain on the west side of Japan to avoid the tsunami debris field in the water and stay upwind from any radioactive clouds.

--Kevin Baron 


U.S. military imposes 50-mile evacuation zone, far beyond Japan recommendation

   2:27 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

U.S. Forces-Japan has enacted a self-imposed 50 mile mandatory evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said, which is wider than the zone the Japanese government has ordered on residents.

-- Kevin Baron
 

Potassium iodide ordered for U.S. air crews flying near nuclear plant:

   2:03 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

In a new precautionary development, military doctors are advising U.S. air crews flying from Atsugi to within 70 nautical miles of the Fukushima nuclear plant to take potassium iodide tablets, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.
 
“It’s situational based,” Col. David Lapan said, and not intended for everybody in the force, he stressed. He did not know how many people or tablets the new requirement would affect.

On Tuesday, two members of an air crew who had returned to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier had to take the tablets, which are used to treat internal radiation exposure. Previously, 17 helicopter crew members had to be surface decontaminated.
 
Lapan said the Pentagon believes there is enough supply of those tablets already on hand for the entire U.S. military community in Japan ,and larger supplies are not being moved forward.  “Right now, they say that they have enough on hand to be able to use if necessary.” 

-- Kevin Baron
 

Italy to screen Japanese fish, caviar, seaweed, tea

   1:23 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

Italy plans to restrict and screen Japanese fish, caviar, seaweed, soy sauce and green tea amid radiation fears from quake-stricken nuclear reactors in Japan, Italian news agency ANSA quoted Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio.

Both the fish and the products of vegetable origin represent only 0.1 percent of [Italy’s] imports [from Japan] in those categories," Fazio said. Random tests on the products would last for "several weeks," the minister added.

—Kent Harris
 

U.S. to fly spy plane over Fukushima nuclear plant for closer look

   1:10 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

The U.S. military is planning to fly Thursday an unmanned Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft over the stricken nuclear power plant in Fukushima to take a closer look at its troubled reactors, a Japanese government source told Kyodo News.

Photographs taken by the plane, equipped with infrared sensors, could provide a useful clue as to what is happening inside the reactor buildings. Officials have detected high level radiations at the plant.

The planned mission comes as the Japanese government appears unable to contain the crisis, days after the coastal nuclear plant was struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, Kyodo reports

The flight represents a deepening of Japanese-U.S. cooperation in managing the escalating crisis. The U.S. military already has provided logistical transportation, search and rescue efforts, and supplies in the wake of Friday’s disaster.

—Sandra Jontz

AccuWeather: Winds direct leaked radiation off shore

   12:52 Thursday local Tokyo time

From a press release:

AccuWeather reports winds at the ill-fated Fukushima nuclear power plant will remain essentially off shore through at least Friday, thereby steering any leaked radioactive matter out to sea and away from populated areas. Winds at the eastward-facing coastal site will blow from the northwest at 15 to 30 mph through Thursday, local time, then from the west at 10 to 20 mph on Friday.

Unusual cold and snow flurries will linger through Thursday. West to southwest winds will likely hold sway on Saturday, then southeasterly, or on shore, winds will be possible on Sunday. Unusual cold and snow flurries will linger through Thursday followed by a substantial warming trend through Sunday.

Reports say that the Fukushima site has leaked significant radioactive matter into the lower atmosphere with detectable rising in radiation levels southward to greater Tokyo.

Low-level winds are key to tracking any major release of radioactive matter. Winds at the ill-fated Fukushima nuclear power plant will remain essentially off shore through at least Friday, thereby steering any leaked radioactive matter out to sea and away from populated areas. Winds at the eastward-facing coastal site will blow from the northwest at 15 to 30 mph through Thursday, local time, then from the west at 10 to 20 mph on Friday.
 

More governments advising citizens to leave

   12:10 a.m. Thursday local Tokyo time

Australia advised its citizens in Japan on Wednesday to consider leaving Tokyo and earthquake-affected areas, joining a growing number of governments and businesses telling their people it may be safer elsewhere.

Among them:

Germany: The German Department of Foreign Affairs advised all Germans who are still in Tokyo to leave the city. The government had previously only recommended that Germans consider whether they really needed to stay in Tokyo. According to the new warnings, Germans are advised to go to Osaka or leave the country. Some German embassy personnel were moved to Osaka.

France: Urged its citizens with no reason to stay in Tokyo return to France or head to southern Japan. The government has asked Air France to mobilize aircraft in Asia to assist with departures.

China: More than 3,000 Chinese have already been evacuated from Japan's northeast to Niigata on Japan's western coast, according to Xinhua News Agency.

U.K.: The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against all nonessential travel to Tokyo and northeastern Japan. It urges British citizens in the country to observe Japanese authorities' advice.

Philippines: The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo told its citizens to follow advisories issued by Japanese authorities. It added, however, that Filipinos who are concerned about possible radiation exposure "may wish to voluntary relocate to areas further away, or depart voluntarily from the country using their own means."

Read an AP story here.

—Marcus Klöckner and Joe Gromelski
 

First fixed-wing aircraft since quake lands at Sendai Airport

   11:15 p.m. Wednesday local Tokyo time

A U.S. Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II landed at Sendai Airport on Wednesday, the first fixed-wing aircraft to land at the airport since an earthquake and tsunami crippled much of the Japanese eastern seaboard Friday.

A team of specialists from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron out of Kadena Air Base, along with Japanese emergency management organizations, cleared a section of the runway and re-established the control tower to direct flights in and out of the airfield.

Read more and see images at: http://tinyurl.com/65zd2xx

—Dave Ornauer
 

Col. Michael Rothstein's radio address

   11:15 p.m. Wednesday local Tokyo time

Posted on Misawa Air Base on Facebook:

3/MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Col. Michael Rothstein, 35th Fighter Wing commander, made a radio broadcast Mar.15 at the American Forces Network Studio. Read the full transcript here: http://www.misawa.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123246960
 
—Dave Ornauer

Read previous postings here.

 

 

Line after line, a list on the wall of city hall reveals the dead. Some are named. Others are identified only by a short description. Five days after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, the official death toll is more than 4,300. More than 8,000 people are still missing, and hundreds of national and international rescue teams are looking for them.

Read the entire story about the sad search for the missing here.
 

NRC: No water left to cool spent fuel at Fukushima

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