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Another earthquake shakes Japan, Fukushima evacuated: a nuclear timeline

A month after the March 11, a 9.0 earthquake triggered a 30-foot tsunami that damaged several nuclear reactors in northeastern Japan, causing the country's worst crisis since World War II, a 7.4 temblor shook the country again.

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Day 4 – Monday, March 14

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  • An explosion caused by pressure buildup blows away the roof and walls of the building housing the Fukushima Daiichi plant's No. 3 reactor and injured 11 people. The plant's No. 2 reactor loses its cooling capabilities after the explosion. Workers begin injecting seawater and boric acid into that reactor.
  • A fire is extinguished, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says that more radiation was released as a result and that "now we are talking about levels that can damage human health."
  • The US Geological Survey upgrades the earthquake from an 8.9 to a 9.0.

Day 5 – Tuesday, March 15

  • An explosion hits Fukushima Daiichi's No. 2 reactor in the morning. Readings indicate some damage to the No. 2 reactor's suppression pool, a donut-shaped reservoir at the base of the reactor's containment vessel.
  • A fire is ignited in the No. 4 reactor building Tuesday, but is later put out, according to officials.
  • The plant is emitting as much radiation in one hour as it normally would in six months, but government spokesman Yukio Edano says: "The possibility that a large amount of radiation has been released is low."
  • The head of France's Nuclear Safety Authority, upgrades the international alert from a level 4 disaster to a level 6 incident.
  • Foreign companies begin to order evacuations of their employees.

Day 6 - Wednesday, March 16

  • A fire breaks out at the building housing the No. 4 reactor. It's believed to be the same spot where a fire broke out Tuesday.
  • The roof of reactor No. 4 is believed to be cracked.
  • Japan suspends operations at Fukushima after a surge in radiation makes it "too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility."
  • After a brief suspension, workers are allowed back on site.
  • Japan's emperor makes a rare national appearance, officials say it is his first ever TV appearance
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko indicates in remarks to a House committee that the US believed the damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex was even graver than Japanese officials had outlined in public.

Day 7 - Thursday, March 17

  • The US ambassador in Japan issues a statement to American citizens living within 50 miles of Fukushima to evacuate.
  • Workers begin to try to use a water cannon to blast water into the No. 4 building.
  • US authorizes voluntary departure from Japan of family members of diplomatic staff, and later US citizens.
  • Three out of the six reactors at Fukushima are relatively stable, say officials.
  • TEPCO said it has started work to connect outside power cables to the plant and that electricity could be connected soon.
  • Japan nuclear agency says pool for cooling spent nuclear fuel at No. 4 building remains "serious concern."
  • The national Meteorological Agency reports that the highest tsunami wave on March 11 was 15 meters high in Mekawa, Miyagi.
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