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A live camera from Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows black smoke billowing from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. in northeastern Japan on Wednesday. (AP)

Live Blog: Japan Developments On Wednesday

Mar 23, 2011

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Today's news on the crisis in Japan:

Update at 1 p.m. ET. 'Anxiety Levels Soaring':

The latest Associated Press report begins with this: "Radiation leaking from Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant has caused Tokyo's tap water to exceed safety standards for infants to drink, officials said Wednesday, sending anxiety levels soaring over the nation's food and water supply."

And as NPR's Larry Abramson reports:

"Concerns about radiation levels led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the import of all fruit, vegetable and milk products from the four prefectures in Japan that are closest to the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The FDA says it will also be testing all food and feed shipments from those areas. The ban is not expected to have a large impact, as only 4 percent of U.S. food imports come from Japan.

"Meanwhile, workers at the nuclear plant are still struggling to bring all of the reactors under control. Black smoke rose briefly from the No. 3 reactor Wednesday afternoon. That interrupted recovery efforts, as some workers had to be evacuated from around the unit. Officials also report that temperatures at two of the reactors are much higher than they are designed to withstand for prolonged periods."

Since it's now Thursday in Japan and the news has slowed, we're going to close up this post now. You can follow NPR's ongoing coverage here. And we'll be back with more tomorrow — or sooner if major news breaks.

But before we go, here's one more link: "Tsunami Was More Than 77 Feet High At Its Peak."

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET. Most Expensive Disaster On Record?

"The crisis is emerging as the world's most expensive natural disaster on record," The Associated Press writes, and is "likely to cost up to $309 billion, according to a new government estimate."

Update at 8:25 a.m. ET: Status Of Reactors: The IAEA says most of the reactors have been connected to power but cooling systems are damaged in four of them. Workers are trying to restore internal power. The IAEA warns "Restoring external power to the power plant does not mean the reactors will immediately resume normal safety function." The agency cautions no one knows when that will happen.

Our original post:

Japanese government officials advise babies should not drink tap water in Tokyo because radiation levels are double the safe level. There's radiation in vegetables, milk and seawater.

Kyodo reports smoke billowed from Reactor Number Three again today, so workers withdrew from the plant. Radiation levels did not change. But the surface temperature has risen, and at Reactor One also.

Kyodo also reports the death toll rose to 9,199 in 12 prefectures. The number of missing people is 13,786 in six prefectures.

There've been powerful aftershocks over the past 24 hours in northeastern Japan. The USGS reports the latest two had magnitudes of 5.3 and 5 and jolted eastern Honshu island.

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