Asian stock markets slumped on Tuesday, extending a global sell-off as fears grew that the eurozone debt crisis will spread, raising the prospect of a devastating default.
The crisis, which came despite eurozone members agreeing to strengthen a multi-billion-dollar fund to prevent Europe's debt woes engulfing other states, sent the single currency tumbling.
Tokyo fell 1.43 percent, or 143.61 points, to 9,925.92, Sydney was 1.90 percent, or 86.9 points lower at 4,495.4 and Seoul tumbled 2.20 percent, or 2,109.73.
Hong Kong slumped 3.06 percent, or 684.07 points, to 21,663.16 and Shanghai fell 1.72 percent, or 48.11 points, to 2,754.58.
Investors have become increasingly concerned that political leaders and bankers holding Greek debt talks in Brussels remain unable to agree on how to avert an outright default by Athens, sending down European and US shares.
Analysts fear that the Greek crisis might spread to larger economies, such as heavily indebted Italy and Spain -- Europe's third- and fourth-largest economies respectively.
Rome's finances have been called into question due to worries over whether key austerity measures will be approved amid tensions in the cabinet, while some also point out that many cuts will not be introduced soon enough.
The fears sent the long-term cost of borrowing for Italy to the highest level since the creation of the eurozone.
The problems represent "one of the worst moments of the European monetary crisis", said one European analyst -- Jean-Francois Robin, fixed-income strategist at Natixis in Paris.
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde on Monday called the turmoil that has raised fears of an Italian meltdown "essentially market driven".
But she added that while Greece "has done a lot of work" to reduce deficits, "more work needs to be done".
On Monday the region's 17 finance ministers agreed on a range of measures including "enhancing the flexibility and the scope" of the European stability fund set up to buttress troubled members.
The talks were scheduled to finesse a second rescue package for Athens in September, but were unable to shake investor concern that Athens will be unable to pay its debts.
Those fears were reinforced Tuesday when Dutch finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said his eurozone counterparts were open to the possibility of allowing a selective debt default within a new rescue plan for Athens.
"It's not excluded anymore, clearly," he said on arriving for talks aimed at solving the crisis.
Greece last month averted a default after its parliament agreed to a batch of austerity measures but talks on a second bailout for the beleaguered nation have slowed.
Global markets tumbled on Monday. On Wall Street the Dow closed down 1.20 percent, the S&P 500 shed 1.81 percent and the Nasdaq fell two percent.
And European shares on Tuesday extended the previous day's losses in early trade.
Milan dived four percent, while London's FTSE 100 dropped 1.90 percent, Frankfurt's DAX 30 shed 2.69 percent and the Paris CAC 40 slid 2.36 percent.
Madrid's IBEX 35 tumbled 3.75 percent.
In early European trade the euro plummeted to a four-month low of $1.3837 from $1.4029 late Monday in New York and well down from the $1.4188 in Asia on Monday.
It was also at 110.85 yen from 112.51 yen. It fetched 114.59 yen in Asia the previous day.
The dollar fell to 79.63 yen, compared with 80.24 in New York.
"It will take one or two years for the sovereign debt issues in Europe to be resolved," said Masayoshi Yano, a senior market analyst at Meiwa Securities in Tokyo.
"Market sentiment is fickle, switching back and forth between optimism and pessimism," he told Dow Jones Newswires.
Despite the region-wide sell-off, Australia's Macarthur Coal ended up 36.6 percent after Peabody of the United States and European giant ArcelorMittal launched a takeover bid for the firm worth $5 billion.
On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, fell 56 cents to $94.59 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for August shed 62 cents to $116.62 in the afternoon.
Gold closed at $1,546.00-$1,547.00 an ounce in Hong Kong, unchanged from Monday's close.
In other markets:
Singapore fell 1.28 percent, or 40.01 points, to 3,077.36.
CapitaLand dropped 4.0 percent to Sg$2.88 and SingTel eased 0.32 percent to Sg$3.16.
Taipei tumbled 2.02 percent, or 174.84 points, to 8,491.01.
Chunghwa Telecom rose 0.98 percent to Tw$103.0 while smartphone maker HTC was limit-down seven percent at Tw$915.0.
Manila fell 0.59 percent, or 2.77 points, to 4,350.09.
San Miguel fell 2.4 percent to 129 pesos, geothermal power producer Energy Development slid 0.7 percent to 6.88 pesos and Metropolitan Bank & Trust lost 1.4 percent to 71.85 pesos.
Wellington close 0.11 percent, or 3.73 percent, lower at 3,430.37.
Telecom closed 2.0 percent up at NZ$2.50 but ANZ Banking Group ended 1.5 percent lower at NZ$27.29 and Westpac fell 1.7 percent to NZ$27.33.
Kuala Lumpur closed down 0.66 percent, or 10.48 points, at 1,578.10.
Malayan Banking lost 0.9 percent to 8.90 ringgit, gaming operator Berjaya Sports Toto fell 2.0 percent to 4.37 ringgit and budget carrier AirAsia rose 0.6 percent to 3.47 ringgit.
Jakarta fell 1.44 percent, or 57.57 points to 3,938.02.