It's been seven days in hell. Here is the timeline to the crisis caused by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan—constantly updated. It includes all the news and features ordered chronologically, as well as the latest videos and images. Keep reading...

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline

Reactors | Japan raises nuclear alert level to 5, may have to bury reactors in sand and concrete.
Reactors | Think tank says pouring water on reactor 4 may be effective.
Food | Government orders radioactivity tests for all foods.
Reactors | Military helicopters finally dump seawater on over-heating reactors.
Electronics | Earthquake aftermath may cause iPad 2 supply issues.
Internet | US Military bans YouTube, Amazon and 11 other websites to free up bandwidth for Japan crisis.
People | A Japanese student in the U.S. finds out her family is safe via YouTube.
People | How Japanese are explaining the nuclear crisis to kids.

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
14:46-14:51 Japan Standard Time (GMT+9)
15:12 JST

6.8 m (22 ft) Tsunami hits the first Japanese city of Iwate Kamaishi-oki.


15:15 JST
16:45 JST

• Diesel generators supporting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant emergency refrigeration systems shut down after tsunami hits.

19:49 JST

• NHK releases video of a giant whirlpool off the Japanese coast.


20:15 JST

• Japanese government declares first emergency at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

21:34 JST
22:48 JST
23:53 JST

• A fire at the Onagawa nuclear plant is extinguished with no further consequences.

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
00:40 JST

• United States start sending help to Japan. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States has transported coolant to Fukushima.
• As if the tsunami weren't enough, a damn dam breaks in Fukushima prefecture, washing away scores of homes.

09:00 JST
06:45 JST

Radiation spikes to 1,000 times the normal level in the reactor 1 control room.

15:40 JST

First explosion happens at Fukushima Daiichi. The reactor 3 suffers a major blast caused by hydrogen gas injuring four people and blowing the roof of the external containment structure on reactor 1. Radioactive leak reported.
Evacuation zone increases from 10km to 20km (12 miles).
Iodine tablets distribution—to counteract the radiation exposure—begins.

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
03:20 JST

• Three people (selected at random out of 90) test positive for radiation exposure in Fukushima prefecture.

05:15 JST
07:00 JST

• At this point, 185,000 residents have been evacuated from the area surrounding the Fukushima power plant.

21:35 JST

• The radiation levels at the front gate of the power plant were found to be 760 microsieverts at 21:35; 3,130 microsieverts at 21:37; and back to 400 microsieverts by 22:15 as radioactive particles start to dissipate.

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
07:00 JST

Radioactivity now detected as far as Yokosuka, a few kilometers south of Tokyo.

11:15 JST

• A second explosion—felt 25 miles from the Fukushima nuclear plant—destroys the outer building of reactor 3.
• Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says that they think the strong blast hasn't damaged the inner containment vessel but they can't check it out because of the very high temperatures in the building.
• Seven employees are initially missing.
• The Tokyo Power Company later says that six people are injured.

21:00 JST

Fuel rods in reactor 2 are now fully exposed after total loss of water in the inner containment vessel. At this point, they start injecting sea water.

23:20 JST

• Fuel rods are exposed again after water stops flowing because of a human error: Someone accidentally turns off the air flow gauge, which stops the sea water from getting inside the unit.

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
06:00 JST

Fire starts in reactor 4, in the spent fuel pond.

06:14 JST
12:00 JST

• Fire in reactor 4's spent fuel pool is extinguished. According to the IAEA, the fire has released "radioactivity directly into the atmosphere."
• Water in the the reactor 4 fuel pool is boiling.

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
05:45 JST
08:30 JST

70% nuclear rods are damaged on reactor 1; 33% are damaged on reactor 2. Japanese government believes that there has been a partial meltdown in the cores.

10:01 JST
The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
04:00 JST

• United States, Britain and other governments around the world expand the evacuation zone beyond Japan's own: 80km (50 miles) from Fukushima nuclear plant.
• Adding to the alarms sounded by the European Union and the French nuclear agency, US Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Gregory Jaczko expresses deep concern as radiation reaches lethal levels due to the reactor 4's pool.

09:48 JST

Military helicopters begin to spray sea water on the reactors.
• Electronic industry analysts say the disaster will likely affect consumer electronic manufacturing, including the iPad 2.

16:00 JST

Radiation levels begin to drop sightly. Edano says that it is now 1.5 millisieverts per hour at the gate and says smoke is not escaping from the reactor 3's containment vessel but its storage pool.

20:09 JST

• 30 tons of water have been sprayed on reactor 3 using water cannons.

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
04:33 JST

• Reactor number 2 is now connected to the external power grid. This opens the possibility for the Emergency Core Cooling System and Residual Heat Removal pumps to resume operations.

18:40 JST

IAEA raises nuclear event alert level to 5.

The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline
The Definitive Japan Crisis Timeline

Not all donations reach Japan. Here's a list of charities that actually do.