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The 5 at 5 5 stories, 5 minutes, 5 o’clock.

EVERY AFTERNOON, brings you the five things you really need to know at 5 o’clock.

1. #JAPAN EARTHQUAKE: The death toll is still rising from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that shook Japan this morning – and from the 10-metre high tsunami that ensued. The last official figures said at least 137 people are confirmed dead, 539 were injured and 351 officially listed as missing. However, official Japanese news agency Kyodo said the toll will exceed at least 1,000 as there are few casualty counts from the worst-hit areas.

Meanwhile, the atomic emergency which had been declared after a fire broke out at one Japanese nuclear power plant and a cooling system failed in another had been downgraded this afternoon as both situations were brought “under control”. However, Kyodo is just now reporting that the radiation levels is rising in Fukushima’s No. 1 nuclear plant turbine building. The is the plant where the cooling system had earlier failed.

2. #TSUNAMI: The knock-on effect of the Japanese disaster (in pictures, here) threw states and islands on the rest of the Pacific rim into panic as they braced themselves to be battered by the tsunami. Mercifully, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines appear to have escaped without damage. An volcano has erupted in Indonesia however. The west coast of the US had issued a tsunami alert but in the last hour said it appeared they too would suffer little damage. Hawaii has been hit by a number of slow-moving but aggressive waves and experts there are still warning of possible flooding.

3. #EUROZONE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she might back lower rates on the Irish bailout loan – but in return for privatisations and a common corporate tax rate in eurozone countries. New Taoiseach Enda Kenny is in Brussels today for talks on the European debt crisis.

4. #MADAM EDITOR: Geraldine Kennedy is widely reported today to be resigning from her role as editor of The Irish Times. She will apparently be staying on until her successor is appointed.

5. #CHILDREN: The new coalition Government has made two announcements that will influence the future of Ireland’s children. The new Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said that she is planning to hold the long-awaited referendum on children’s rights. And Ruairi Quinn, the Education Minister, is to hold a forum to investigate how schools might be transferred from Catholic Church patronage to “create greater diversity and choice” in education.

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