TIMELINE: Japan's nuclear crisis

Tokyo - Japan is under global scrutiny over the handling of its nuclear crisis after a huge earthquake crippled several reactors at a nuclear power complex, raising fears of an uncontrolled radiation leak.

Below is a timeline of statements made by Japanese authorities and the complex's owner, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) , after the quake struck on Friday, the strongest tremor ever recorded in Japan.

(Times are Japan time, which is GMT +9, unless stated)

Wednesday, March 16

16:05
- The temperature stabilised and pressure dropped at the No 2 reactor, the plant operator said.

13:27
- Japan's nuclear safety agency says operators of the damaged nuclear plant plan to bulldoze an emergency route to the facility to allow access for fire trucks.

11:38 - Japan may seek direct US military help to end the crisis at the plant, the chief government spokesman says.

11:30 - It is not realistic to think that the No 4 reactor at the plant will "reach criticality", the chief government spokesperson says.

11:19
- The radiation reading at the main gate of the plant rose sharply just after 01:00 GMT on Friday and started to fall almost an hour later, the government says.

11:10
- A fuel pool at the No 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant may have heated and produced steam, TEPCO says. Media images earlier showed white smoke drifting from the plant.

11:38 - Japan may seek direct US military help to end the crisis at the plant, the chief government spokesman says.

Tuesday, March 15

20:54
- Radiation levels at the No 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant has become too high to conduct normal work from its control room, Kyodo news agency says. Workers cannot stay long and are going in and out of the control room as well as monitoring from a different place.

20:50
- The radiation level in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, is 10 times normal, but there is no threat to human health, the city government says.

19:09
- Winds are now dispersing radioactive material from the Japanese nuclear crisis over the Pacific Ocean, away from Japan and other Asian countries, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says.

18:20 - Japan's nuclear safety agency says there are two holes of 8-metres square in a wall of the outer building of the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi No.4 reactor after a blast in the morning.

18:06 - Radiation levels in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo, are more than 10 times above normal levels, Kyodo reports.

18:01
- TEPCO has pulled out 750 workers from the plant since Tuesday, and 50 remain, it says.

17:48
- A pool containing spent fuel at the No.4 reactor may be boiling and the water level may be falling, Kyodo news agency quoted an official at the reactor's operator as saying.

17:31
- Japan has told the UN Agency radioactivity was being released "directly" into the atmosphere, the IAEA says.

17:28
- Radiation levels fall at the plant, the government says. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says the radiation level at the main gate of the Fukushima Daiichi complex is 596.4 microsieverts per hour as of 0630 GMT, down from 11,930 microsieverts at 00:00 GMT.

16:44
- Japan has told the United Nations nuclear watchdog (IAEA) that it has extinguished a fire at the spent fuel storage pond at the power plant, the Vienna-based agency says.

14:46
- Radiation levels in the city of Maebashi, 100km north of Tokyo, are up to 10 times normal, Kyodo says, quoting the city government.

14:07
- A no-fly zone is established for a 30-km radius around the plant, Jiji news agency says, quoting the transport ministry.

14:03
- Prime Minister Kan sends a text message to cellphone users across the country, asking them to conserve power.

14:00 - Radiation levels in Tokyo are "not a problem", the city government says.

12:37
- Minute levels of radiation have been detected in Tokyo, Kyodo says, quoting local government.

12:03 - Winds over the plant are blowing in a southwesterly direction that includes Tokyo, but will shift later on Tuesday, the weather agency says.

11:57
- Japan's science minister has asked local governments to make more frequent radiation checks, Kyodo news agency says. The agency also says there has been one explosion at the No 4 reactor at a stricken plant.

11:08 - Risk of a nuclear leakage is rising, Prime Minister Naoto Kan says, and warns people within a 30-km radius to stay indoors.

11:41 - Radiation levels in Kanagawa prefecture, west of Tokyo, are up to nine times the normal level briefly on Tuesday, Kyodo news agency says, quoting the prefecture government.

11:08
- Risk of a nuclear leakage is rising, Prime Minister Naoto Kan says, and warns people within a 30-km radius to stay indoors.

10:03
- The nuclear safety agency says it is unsure if the explosion at the reactor has damaged one of its reactor containment vessels. If the containment vessel were to break and fuel rods within it to melt, it could cause a major radiation leak.

09:01 - Radiation levels in the air surrounding the plant have risen fourfold after the explosion, plant operator TEPCO says.

08:45
- The roof above overheating No. 2 reactor is damaged and steam in rising from the complex, Jiji news agency reports.

07:57 - Fresh explosion heard at the plant, Japan's nuclear safety agency says.

06:45 - Some damage has been detected at Fukushima Daiichi No 2 reactor, but no sharp increase in radiation levels has been seen, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says.

Monday, March 14

20:10 - Water levels inside the Fukushima Daiichi complex's No. 2 reactor are almost empty, TEPCO says. Jiji news agency says the operator of the plant has started injecting sea water to the reactor in the hope of cooling it down.

19:52 - Jiji quotes TEPCO as saying nuclear fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi complex's No 2 reactor, where levels of water coolant around the reactor core had been reported as falling earlier in the day, are now fully exposed. Jiji says a meltdown of the fuel rods cannot be ruled out.

17:23
- Jiji news agency says Japanese authorities have safely cooled down two nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, close to another nuclear complex where they are still struggling to cool three overheating reactors.

16:17 - Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano confirms water levels at the Fukushima Daiichi plant No 2 reactor are falling and its cooling functions have stopped.

15:26 - The IAEA says Japan has told the UN nuclear watchdog the hydrogen explosion at the No.3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi did not damage the primary containment vessel.

15:17 - Jiji news agency reports that there has been an explosion at a fuel oil tank at a thermal power plant in Fukushima and that the tank is on fire. It is not immediately clear which company the thermal power plant belonged to.

12:43 - Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says a large-scale radiation leakage is unlikely from the Fukushima Daiichi plant's No 3 reactor hit by an explosion after cooling problems.

11:40
- Jiji quotes TEPCO as saying a fresh explosion that rocked Fukushima Daiichi has not damaged the plant's No 3 reactor vessel.

11:20
- Japan's nuclear safety agency confirms a new explosion rocked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex, sending a plume of smoke into the air. But it says it cannot confirm whether or not the hydrogen explosion at the plant's No 3 reactor has led to an uncontrolled leak of radioactivity.

11:11 - Domestic media image shows smoke rising from the No 3 reactor at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Japanese TV says there was a hydrogen explosion at the plant.

07:29
- TEPCO says it has reported a rise in radiation levels at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the government.

01:43 - Japan Atomic
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