SNAPSHOT-Developments after major Japan earthquake

Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:24am EDT

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TOKYO, March 15 (Reuters) - Following are main developments after a massive earthquake struck northeast Japan on Friday and set off a tsunami.

* Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) operator of the Fukushima power plant damaged in the quake, say one of two blasts blew two holes in the building housing reactor no. 4, meaning spent nuclear fuel was exposed to the atmosphere. It says helicopters may dump water to cool the spent-fuel pool.

* The U.S. Navy says some arriving warships will take position on the west coast of Japan's main island of Honshu because of hazards on the east coast. A growing number of U.S. Forces are being exposed to low levels of radiation, it said.

* U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu says U.S. Equipment will arrive in Japan within hours to help monitor radiation levels. He says the United States will observe developments to see whether safety improvements are needed at U.S. plants.

* Winds are dispersing radioactive material from the crippled power plant over the Pacfic Ocean, away from Japan and other countries, the World Meteorological Organisation says.

- Japanese data indicate that radioactivity levels fell over a six-hour period on Tuesday at the plant, the IAEA says.

- The radiation level in Tokyo was 10 times normal on Tuesday evening, but there was no threat to human health, the city government says.

- Radiation levels in the city of Maebashi, 100 km (60 miles) north of Tokyo were up to 10 times normal, Kyodo news agency said, quoting the city government.

- People within a 30-km radius of the nuclear facility urged to stay indoors.

- Plant operator has pulled out 750 workers, leaving just 50, and 30-km no-fly zone has been imposed around the reactors.

- Kyodo news agency reports Prime Minister Naoto Kan was furious with TEPCO executives for delays in informing his office about the latest explosion at the plant. It also said he asked TEPCO not to withdraw employees from the facility.

- Food and water in short supply in parts of the northeast. hundreds of thousands have been evacuated, shelters are packed.

- Rolling power blackouts will affect 5 million households on Tuesday, TEPCO says.

- Some residents leave the capital. Others stock up on food.

- Death toll is expected to exceed 10,000, and rescue workers are continuing to search coastal cities for survivors.

- Japan's benchmark Nikkei average closes down 10.55 percent and the broader TOPIX index fell 9.47 percent, their largest percentage falls since October 2008. European shares followed, falling to their lowest in 14 weeks.

- Magnitude 6.0 earthquake hits eastern Japan late on Tuesday, public broadcaster NHK says. Witnesses say it shakes buildings in Tokyo. Officials discount any fears of new tsunami.

(Tokyo bureau; Compiled by World Desk Asia)

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