Japan earthquake: latest developments

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The Independent Online

Following are main developments in the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck northeast Japan yesterday.

- Death toll expected to exceed 1,300, domestic media say, with most people appeared to have drowned.



- Chief Cabiet Secretary Yukio Edano says there was an explosion and radiation leak at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima nuclear power plant on today.



- Fukushima prefecture says the ceiling of the reactor has collapsed. NHK says the outer structure of the building that houses the reactor appeared to have blown off.



- Tepco says four people working at the reactor site were taken to hospital after explosion, but they do not have life-threatening injuries, Jiji reports.



- Earlier, Japan warned of a meltdown at the nuclear reactor damaged after the quake, but said the risk of radiation contamination was small.



- Authorities moved tens of thousands of residents from area near two nuclear plants in Fukushima prefecture, some 150 miles north of Tokyo, as they try to reduce pressure in the reactors.



* The government says it has expanded the evacuation area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to a 20 km radius from 10 km.



- Tepco, which operates the plants, quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying fuel may have been damaged by falling water levels at Daiichi nuclear plant.



- Friday's earthquake triggered tsunami of up to 30 feet, with waves sweeping away homes, crops, vehicles and submerging farmland. Scores of locations on fire, including a large waterfront area in northern Sendai city.



- Bank of Japan will hold policy meeting on Monday and announce decision on same day. The central bank vows to do utmost to ensure financial market stability.



* Toyota Motor Co says it will suspend operations at all 12 factories on Monday.



- Total insured loss could be up to $15 billion (£9bn), equity analysts covering the industry say.



- Disaster sends oil, metals, and grain prices sliding on fears over its impact on demand, deepening their biggest decline in months; yen rises broadly on risk aversion by Japanese investors and expectations of repatriations by Japan's insurance companies; oil prices slides more than $3 a barrel.



- Tokyo Stock Exchange plans to open for trading as normal on Monday.

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