Japanese earthquake: Timeline

Share this article

5:46am (GMT): Japan hit by 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami about 250 miles north of Tokyo at a depth of 20 miles.

8:00am Initial reports show cars, ships and buildings being swept in by the tsunami that struck the north-eastern coast.

8:15am Prime Minister Naoto Kan informs his people that damage has been inflicted over a wide area, and that while some nuclear power plants have shut down, there is no information about potential radioactive leaks.

8:30am Experts are predicting that the tsunami will cause damage as far away as Chile.

09:13 The Red Cross warns that the tsunami could submerge some Pacific islands.

10am Official death toll reaches 26.

10:35am The nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, confirms that the four nuclear power plants closest to the quake's epicentre have been shut down safely.

11am Coastal areas of Hawaii are evacuated.

11:13am Japan declares a state of emergency because of the failure of the cooling system at one nuclear power plant.

11:36am Reports emerge that a ship carrying 100 people has been swept away by the tsunami.

12:30pm Police urge 3,000 residents living within a 2km radius of Fukushima nuclear plant to evacuate.

1:26pm A passenger train is unaccounted for in a tsunami-hit coastal area.

1:30pm Reports that between 200 and 300 bodies have been found on beach near the city of Sendai.

1:40pm Large aftershocks of 5.2 and 5.6 magnitude.

2:45pm A large waterfront area at Sendai is on fire.

3:10pm Japanese military readies 300 planes and 40 ships to assist in the rescue operation.

3.44pm A dam in Fukushima breaks, sending a torrent of water through residential areas.

4.20pm Official deathtoll is given 137 with 531 missing.

4.58pm Japanese defence officials say that 1,800 homes in the Fukushima prefecture have been destroyed.

5pm A Japanese news agency say the death toll is expected to exceed 1,000.

5.17pm A second train has been reported missing. 6.40pm Situation at nuclear reactor worsening, as Japanese authorities set to release radioactive vapour to ease pressure.

7.08pm A magnitude 6.6 quake hits central Japan, causing Tokyo buildings to sway.

8pm Emergency power supply cars are brought to the malfunctioning nuclear reactor.

8.51pm Official death toll rises to 184.

Japanese earthquake coverage in full

• They knew it would hit one day, but it was still a shock

• '140 people are on the roof - they have nowhere to go'

• The Tsunami on video

• In pictures

• 'I thought all the buildings were going to fall down. It was a terrifying experience'

• Alarm bells for nuclear power plants

• Biggest quakes

• 'The inevitable aftershocks may last many months or even years'

• Boxing Day 2004: The disaster that took 230,000 lives

• Japanese earthquake shakes confidence in stock markets