1304 GMT: More about the impact of the cold snap in Japan:
Millions in Japan have been left without water, electricity, fuel or enough food
"We're already seeing families huddling around gas fires for warmth. In these sorts of temperatures, young children are vulnerable to chest infections and flu," says Save the Children's Steve McDonald, estimating that the disaster had left 100,000 children homeless.
"Babies are especially vulnerable, as their bodies are smaller and take less time to drop below normal body temperature when exposed to cold weather."
Most of the region's pharmacies have been swept away, adding to the pressure on hospitals, where thousands of people have already been turning up seeking to have routine prescriptions filled.
1258 GMT: "Another aftershock at 1258 GMT. Felt in Tokyo bureau and by reporting team in Ichinoseki in the northeast," AFP's Susan Stimme says.
1254 GMT: Tepco has denied a US claim that the colling pond at reactor No. 4 had dried out, saying it chose instead to target the helicopter drop and the water cannon fire at the No. 3 pool, unit, which vented vapour yesterday, likely to be steam coming from water boiling in the pool, Kyodo News has reported.
Four army helicopters emptied large buckets each holding more than seven tonnes of water each onto the facility damaged by Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami, it said.
The pools should hold 2,000 tonnes of water, a safety official told NHK television.
1251 GMT: "Power cable to the Fukushima nuclear power plant is connected": Tepco Twitter account.
1247 GMT: Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa has said that more military vehicles will be deployed to help with efforts to cool the Fukushima reactors, while pumps supplied by the US armed forces were also being transferred.
The government's nuclear safety agency says the top priority should be pouring water into the fuel-rod pools at reactors No. 3 and 4, which may be boiling and are not fully covered by roofs that would reduce radiation leaks.
1246 GMT: French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he is prepared to go to crisis-hit Japan at the end of March to show solidarity in the name of the G8 and G20 blocs he heads.
1239 GMT: "AFP bureau in Tokyo shaking a bit -- another aftershock, but not a big one," says Susan Stimme, in the AFP office.
1237 GMT: More from AFP's Hugh Griffiths: "Highways in the disaster zone are closed to normal traffic. Emergency services, delivery vehicles and press have been issued special passes in order to use them.
"Cracks are visible along long stretches, but teams of highway workers are repairing them."
1236 GMT: Details just in from AFP's Huw Griffith: "As we drove from the coastal town of Kesennuma inland, snow began falling. Roadside temperatures showed minus 2 degrees Celsius. Rescue workers began pulling out of Kesennuma as night fell."
1232 GMT: Latest details about the stricken Fukushima reactor from Tepco's special Twitter account:
-Water shot from trucks effective in cooling fuel pool as steam rose. 6 minutes ago.
-More seawater from helicopter and trucks to be dropped again tomorrow. 28 minutes ago.
-Radiation level rises after water shot from fire truck cannon at reactor No.3. About one hour ago.
-Blackout averted for now if people continue to conserve power. About one hour ago.
1225 GMT: The United Nations says snow, rain and "extraordinarily cold weather" yesterday and today have deepened Japan's emergency and are complicating relief efforts.
"Concerns are for those who have still not been reached by rescue workers as well as half a million people now living in evacuation centres," the UN said.
"Many do not have protective clothing or blankets and heating is insufficient. The cold weather is expected to last until the end of the week."
1219 GMT: China has asked Japan to release "timely and precise" information on its unfolding nuclear crisis as uncertainty over the situation fuelled panic buying of salt by Chinese fearing radiation.
"We hope the Japanese side will release information, as well as its evaluation and prediction of the situation, to the public in a timely and precise manner," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.
China has suspended construction of any new nuclear plants pending a safety review.
1200 GMT: The latest situation following the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear alert in Japan:
- Military helicopters and trucks have sprayed water over the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant in a bid to restore water levels in cooling ponds where spent fuel rods are stored.
- Plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co says it cannot tell if the spraying was successful but efforts will continue.
- Tepco is attempting to reconnect electricity supplies so that pumps can be restarted in the plant's cooling systems.
- Countries from the United States to Europe and Australia have warned their citizens to get out of Tokyo.
- The number of confirmed dead from last Friday's twin disasters has risen to 5,457 while the official number of missing increased to 9,508, the National Police Agency said in a fresh update.
- Millions remain without water, electricity, fuel or enough food and hundreds of thousands more are homeless, the misery compounded by heavy snowfalls, freezing cold and wet conditions.
- Power cuts have continued and the government asked railway companies to reduce the number of trains to save electricity.
AFPhttp://www.thejakartaglobe.com/afp/japa ... ort/429848