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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Special Coverage of Disaster in Japan
Aired March 14, 2011 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REGGIE AQUI, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. It is 3:00 p.m. in Tokyo. I'm Reggie Aqui at CNN Center. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to our special coverage of the disaster in Japan.
And right now, the most important thing to get to are the fears -- fears of radiation disaster in Japan, following yet another explosion at the badly damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima. Now, officials there say that six people were injured in that blast and that seven people who earlier were reported as missing have now been accounted for. Japan's chief cabinet secretary eased fears following that blast by announcing that no massive radiation leakage had been detected.
So, let's get the latest on this explosion and its possible consequences. We're going to go to senior international correspondent Stan Grant. He's been following the developments and joins me now live from Tokyo.
So, Stan, help us understand this. Because we saw an explosion that looked just like this on Saturday in the building for one of these reactors. Now, we see a second explosion. Is this essentially the same thing? Is it mirroring what we saw on Saturday?
STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Reggie. That's precisely it. It's exactly the same thing. It was buildup of hydrogen in the building containing the reactor. Now, this is a result of these reactors that have been continually overheating ever since the heating process was interrupted by the quake some days ago now.
So, what happens is hydrogen builds up and then it explodes. But in both cases, officials here have pointed out that no damage is being done to the reactor itself. This is not a nuclear explosion. It is a hydrogen explosion in the building surrounding the reactors so that they've been pointing that out.
As you say, six people have been injured and we're still awaiting details exactly as to the extent of those injuries.
As for the question of radiation -- well, of course, that has been released -- releasing into the atmosphere over the last few days that nuclear emergency has continued. But the officials here from the nuclear safety agency pointing out that those radiation levels have, in fact, been falling and been falling significantly. Having said that, there is still the 20-kilometer, 12 or 13-mile perimeter that has been set up around the reactor at Daiichi, which is a no-go zone. And people have come in contact with radiation and the examinations have been carried out to see the extent of their contact.
So, at the moment, a hydrogen explosion and the officials here saying that radiation, indeed, has been falling -- Reggie.
AQUI: And, Stan, I mean, just a real simple question, we're looking at the video of the explosion. We see, you know, the before-and-after pictures of a building that's there and then the next moment a building is gone and we hear -- well, you know the reactor is still intact.
You know, just to the novice who' s looking at this, it doesn't seem possible. We see a building disappear and we're still told the reactor is intact. How can that be possible?
GRANT: Well, there is a lot of protection around the reactor and, you know, that's for obvious reasons. What you have here is you have the structure. Inside the structure, you have a casing. And then there is the reactor itself.
So, there are several layers before you actually get to the nuclear reactor. So, this has blown a wall away from the building, the structure, if you like.
Imagine a house, OK? You have a house and a building here, a wall that's blown away, but a dining table can still be untouched.
Essentially that's what you have here. The wall is blown away but the reactor is untouched. Exactly what happened the other day at the number one reactor, Reggie.
AQUI: Yes, it's a good explanation because you see the video and it looks absolutely horrifying and it may well be eventually, you know, perhaps a little worse than we think. But right now, it seems as if those -- those reactors have been protected, despite the fact that these explosions have happened around them. Although there is certainly more information to come, I know.
Stan Grant is live for us in Tokyo. Stan, we appreciate your coverage. Thanks so much. And I should add, you know, the Japanese government says it doesn't know if a full nuclear meltdown has actually occurred and that's because they can't see inside the reactor. At this point, no one can.
But if the core is in fact melting -- as they suspect it might be -- what does that actually mean? Earlier CNN's Anjali Rao spoke put that question, I should say, to James Acton from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES ACTON, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: A nuclear power plant is a little bit like a gigantic electric kettle. Its goal is to turn water into steam and then produce electricity from the state. Just like an electric kettle, when you turn off a nuclear power plant, the element of the nuclear power plant, the radioactive fuel stays hot and you got to cool that radioactive fuel. Unfortunately, in the earthquake that occurred, the power supplies, the external power supplies to drive the pumps, were cut and also the on-site diesel generators were flooded by the tsunami.
So, that caused serious damage to the cooling system to keep the reactor cool. And as a result, all of this heat produced by radioactivity is generated inside of the reactor has been building up and building up. And what they're trying to do at the moment is cool down the core of the reactor to prevent it melting.
ANJALI RAO, CNN ANCHOR: I know that you said that meltdown is not a good word to use. Why so?
ACTON: Well, we're actually dealing here with a spectrum of options -- sorry, a spectrum of outcomes rather. A meltdown is an extreme of one end which is where the entire core melts. Actually, what we've seen at the moment is some partial melting of some of a small part of the core. Now, that's serious because anytime you have melting you increase the possibility of radiation being released into the environment.
But the term meltdown is a very emotive term and it's really only appropriate to one extreme scenario. Now, it's -- the situation we're at the moment, it's possible but unlikely I suppose that a full meltdown could happen, but I don't want to unnecessarily worry people by using that term. I think it's more helpful to speak of a core melting line along a spectrum of options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: A simple explanation of how a nuclear power plant works, all that you have to do is logon to our Web site, CNN.com/World. And, of course, there, you can also follow the latest developments on the earthquake and tsunami. Again, CNN.com/World.
Now, we're going to get to the human cost of the disaster, and some grim numbers to consider.
Authorities have now updated us. They say that more than 1,600 people are confirmed dead, more than 1,700 missing. But we can basically assume that that toll is going to soar, as unofficial reports put the number missing at more than 10,000.
And now, Japan's Kyodo news agency reports that 2,000 bodies have turned up on the shores of Miyagi Prefecture. Meanwhile, the prime minister says some 15,000 people have already been rescued.
Our Anna Coren has managed to make her way to northeastern Japan. That's where time is running out in the hunt for survivors. Anna is now with us from Higashi Matsushima.
Anna, I've been watching your reports throughout the day and the evening and I know that earlier, you were with some rescue. They were looking, of course, for people to save. And I know as you were following them, the grim news was there weren't many to save.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Reggie. We were with a military team and they were going from house to house here in a suburb on the outskirts of Ishinomaki. And we were hoping that it would be a search and rescue mission. But it became very apparent very quickly that this was, in fact, a recovery mission. They were finding bodies and the bodies of the elderly. That's what was so tragic.
Those people who were able to get out in time, they got in their cars and they drove to higher guy. But it's the older people, the elderly, that didn't get out of their houses in that half an hour between the time that the quake hit and that giant monster wave just coming through here, this wall of water, 10-meter wall of water.
Now, Reggie, we just want to show you that we're on a street in a suburb, believe it or not. And over here is just debris. You can see cars that have just been you know tossed around as if they were toys.
We believe this was a market. You know, greenhouses, perhaps you know with flowers or vegetables being grown here. But that is just now an absolute mess. And there's just mud everywhere, absolutely everywhere.
Over here there's a house that is still standing. And I think that's testament to Japanese engineering. But you can see the water mark -- it is truly above my head. If you're on the ground level like so many those elderly people who didn't get out, you know, you would have just been swept away. You would have been swallowed by this monster wave.
We're about a kilometer from the coast. The coastline is -- is in that direction. And that is where this wall of water just came straight through here collecting everything in its way.
Further down -- and we're going to try to get down there for you a little bit later on -- there are just houses completely demolished, on their sides. Roofs, you know, strewn across the land. It is absolute mess, as you can see here, Reggie.
So, they are still looking for bodies. That is still continuing, as we speak. But I think the hope of finding any survivors is -- is just so, so slim.
AQUI: Anna, what about the people in the area who did manage to survive, who either outran the waves or far enough away to begin with, that it didn't affect them immediately -- where are they right now? How are they getting water, food -- the basic necessities?
COREN: Well, evacuation centers have been set up and people, we have seen -- you know, they're coming back to the area to gather their belongings or what is left of their belongings. We're seeing people going into their homes and come out with clothing, with bedding, with any food, packaged food that they can find.
But these places are virtually unlivable. You can't live in them. There's just mud and slime absolutely everywhere. Everything has been ruined.
We spoke to one man who managed to cling on his roof while the wave came through. He was heading back to his house to see what he could scavenge.
But for those people who are without homes, they are having to rely on friends and family. And, you know, at the end of the day, this has affected probably, you know, five to eight kilometers from the coast inland.
So, anything after that is fine. It has not been touched. I mean, we know that this area was hit by that 8.9 magnitude quake, but it's not the quake that has hurt this area. It is that tsunami, that monster wave that just ripped through.
And, Reggie, I should mention that it was just a couple of hours ago that there was another tsunami warning and it really was a scene of chaos and panic here. We were set up to do live shots and police came through with their sirens and their loudspeaker just yelling "tsunami warning, get out, move to high ground," and people who were here literally got into their cars and just drove off.
There were certainly that sense of fear and panic that just didn't you know want to relive what happened on Friday -- Reggie.
AQUI: That is just the worst part about it now because after living through something so horrific, they can't even exhale at this point because they know that there's a possibility there could be more quakes, that there could be another tsunami.
Anna, we appreciate your hard work. We really learned a lot from your reports throughout the past couple of days. Thank you so much and we'll be seeing you later on.
Now, as crews continue to search for the missing, the stories of those who survived the tsunami are now starting to unfold. Imagine having to swim out of your house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iskawa (ph) says he was pushed into a wave after his house collapsed. And he felt the crush of the water as he was sucked down. He says he managed to swim out of his house from the balcony. Iskawa says he then grabbed ahold of a submerged fishing boat that had been swept away and he was then able to get to the surface and look for something to hold on to.
He then gripped onto the roof of a house. He says he ripped his jacket but still managed to pull himself out onto the roof.
His house began to float away and it approached a nursing home. He says, fortunately, there was still people inside the building. He says the people inside told him to try and break the window. He says he thought of his family members and realized that he has to survive. He says he decided to do everything possible at that point to stay alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: That is an unbelievable story and you can see how stunned he is still and exhausted, no doubt.
We're going to be showing you some more survivor stories as the hour continues.
Well, perhaps, there's been no city as battered -- as severely as Sendai. We've been talking a lot about that town, until Friday, it was home to a million people. And we have shown you horrific scenes of the tremor and the tsunami as it devastated the city.
But this new video you're about to watch is truly frightening.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
AQUI: And Japanese news media report perhaps hundreds of people were swept out to sea as the water roared through, taking everything as you can see along with it.
Now, given the extensive damage across northeastern Japan, it's been virtually impossible for survivors to stock up on food, water, other essentials. New supplies just can't get through.
So, as Kyung Lah told Anderson Cooper told earlier, long lines are now forming at stores in Sendai, but there's little chance that shoppers will actually get what they want.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a store, a grocery store -- it's not even open. They're opening their door trying to just sell 10 items each to all of these people. This is a line that wraps around the block. It is hours long.
And let's go ahead and just show you -- that's not even the end of the line -- let's show you all of what they have to go through. So, these people then have to wait in this line and what they're aiming for is right over there: the grocery store's closed. There's no power. Each of them are going to get the chance to buy 10 items, most of them opting for food and cup of a noodle.
What they're all telling us is that they need items. After they've been evacuated, they don't have power. They don't have rations.
And on this corner, that's this store, there's a store over here. The line has gone down significantly in the last few minutes or so. But there's another store over there, a third store. So, three stores just in this one corner of Sendai.
If you drive through the city, this is a scene that's repeated over and over again. So, this second crisis that the people here in this town are talking about is one of needing food and water, vital supplies, Anderson, that they say if they don't get, they're worried about what's going to happen, if there's going to be a panic among people who do end up getting rescued, and then end up on dry land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: That's our Kyung Lah talking to Anderson Cooper.
And just to give you a sense of the power behind the tsunami, I want to have you take a look at this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Building, there was a bus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: Look at that. The force of the wave somehow flung that big bus. It landed on top of a building and this is all happening in the city of Ishinomaki.
Now, remember, we were just talking to Anna Coren a couple of minutes ago, live, and she's really just down the road from this town. Unbelievable images, again from Ishinomaki.
And say that once more. OK -- and the producer was just pointing out to me that that was a house that we were seeing on top of the a school building. So, that house just swept by those tsunami waves on top of that building. Really stunning.
Now, as the cleanup begins, thought, turning to the future and, of course, what holds for Japan. So coming up we're going to be talking to "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY's" Andrew Stevens about the effect of the quake and the subsequent tsunami have had and will continue to have on Japan's economy.
Stay with us.
Plus, countless quake and tsunami victims are still in need of the basic supplies. We're going to show you where that aid is coming from and how you can help.
AQUI: And you're looking at images from Sendai near the epicenter of the earthquake. That coastal city as we've been telling you took a direct hit from the tsunami. Rescuers are scouring what's left of the coast for any survivors. All this as those living there face even more aftershocks.
Now, the official death toll from the disaster stands at just below 1,600. But we do expect that number will soar in the coming days.
Meanwhile, there's a struggle just to find the basic necessities of food and water. And, now, for more the affect, this colossal earthquake and tsunami could have on the Japanese economy, we're going to go live to Hong Kong and "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY's" Andrew Stevens.
Now, of course, we expect the Nikkei to drop and I know that at last check it seemed to drop fairly significantly. I guess it's a matter of how long this is going to last, right?
ANDREW STEVENS, WORLD BUSINESS TODAY: Yes, that's right, Reggie. And that depends on the uncertainty to do with what's happening with the nuclear powers, the reactors in Fukushima province. We know that there's been another explosion in the number three reactor there. That's in turn affecting the entire energy grid in Japan and Japan being a key manufacturer a scale on corporate earnings.
So, there's really a lot of uncertainty out there at the moment. I just want to take you through the numbers, what's we've seen so far today. The Nikkei is now closed for the day's trading. And that was the end of the day, down 6.2 percent, back below 10,000. And that's a bigger fall than most people had been expecting but it is this uncertainty is that we have been talking about for a long time now.
The major losses there today: Toshiba Corporation. They are maker of nuclear reactors. So, no surprise there to see, down 16.3 percent.
Tokio Marine, one of the big insurance companies in Japan, also taking a big hit. That was also expected.
The automakers are also in the front line on this one because there has been news from companies like Toyota that they're actually going to stop production, Reggie, completely for three days. Right until the end of Wednesday and then they'll make a decision on what they will do to start production. That's about 40,000 units that won't be made which will, of course, knock onto full year profits, which is what investors are worrying about.
Toyota down 8 percent. Nissan down 9.50 percent. Honda down 6.5 percent.
As you can see the losses are pretty much across the board. I can also tell you that Sony was down by a quite substantial amount as well. That's closing eight factories as well, including six in Miyagi province, which is, of course, the hardest hit one.
The Bank of Japan met today. They took immediate action to try and ease any concerns in the financial system. Basically, what they've done is they've pumped an enormous amount of money, a record amount of money into the financial system, $183 billion. This is to make sure that the banks have the confidence to know that the money's there to lend each other, to keep the financial system working, to keep money to be pumped out into the broader economy which in turn helps confidence as well.
Now, so that's what the BOJ has done immediately to try to ease any concerns about financial system. That, in turn, had a knock on effect to the Japanese yen. What we saw with the yen immediately after the tsunami and the earthquake was the yen moved sharply higher against the U.S. dollar.
I want to say higher -- it means strengthen against the U.S. dollar, getting down into the zone of around 80.50 into the dollar. That's only less than 1 yen against its record highs. As you've seen now, it's come back a bit. Now, it's 82.14. That's because the bank has been pouring in a lot of money, easing concerns so the yen coming back to levels we saw around about the level before all of these events happened.
So that's how it stands at the moment, Reggie. We've got to wait and see tomorrow. But really is this uncertainty, what happens now, how big the final bill is going to be to see where the markets move from here.
AQUI: Yes, and as you mention -- I mean, some these businesses can't open some their factories and they're closed because they've had damage to their buildings. Certainly, that's going to be adding up over the days to come.
And, Andrew, we're going to see you in about a little more than half hour as you continue our coverage here on CNN of the Japan disaster.
Andrew, good to see you. Thank you so much for that.
Now, Japan's prime minister has ordered a Tokyo power company to conduct a widespread power outage. Now, that's all in effort to preserve energy as workers try to repair damaged power plants. Japan's ambassador to the U.S. says that about 2.5 million households were still without power on Sunday and the Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan says further electricity outages could be dangerous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOTO KAN, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We could fall into power outage in a wide area, and sudden power failure could devastate the lives of people as well as to the industry or activities, and this is something that we must avoid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: And very important, especially in Tokyo, many subway lines are still out of action and services have been cut because of those rolling blackouts to conserve power. Tokyo's metro operator says that it is running lines at more than half the normal rates. But Japan's biggest rail company says that it's running train lines at just 20 percent of their normal timetable. As you know, that's a city that relies on public transportation.
Now, right now, Japan's quake shelters are packed with thousands of shell-shocked residents. The United Nations says nearly 600,000 people have been moved out of the earthquake and tsunami-affected areas. Some those evacuees were moved because of radiation fears, according to the IAEA. Nearly all those people are staying in evacuation centers. Some 2,050 are in operation right now.
And help for the victims is pouring in from across the globe. So, let's take a look now at the international relief effort. Japan's foreign ministry now says 69 governments are offering help.
From the United States, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier started rescue and relief operations off of the Japanese coast. Ten U.S. Navy ships are bound for the country.
And from the U.K., the British government is sending a team of search- and-rescue specialists, along with 11 tons of rescue equipment. Also, Australia crews are on the way. Other nations offering help include Canada, Spain, France, and Germany. China has sent equipment, military manpower and medicine.
And I might add that we just heard before we went on the air that New Zealand is sending a team from Christchurch. As you know, it was a few weeks ago that they experienced their own devastating earthquake.
If you would like to get involved to help the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, you can head over to CNN.com/impact. And there you'll find links to organizations that are mobilizing relief efforts right now in Japan. You'll also be able to link to the Google people finder database which is helping survivors reunite with their loved ones.
We've been talking a lot about the aftershocks that continue to rattle Japan and Jill Brown is keeping track of those continuing numbers that keep going up, Jill. And you know some of these numbers are so high as far as the magnitude of the quakes in -- on a normal day, those quakes would be enough to get people scared by themselves.
JILL BROWN, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Right, they would be newsmakers.
AQUI: They would.
BROWN: That's what we're talking about, when is it a newsmaker. and at the moment anything that's in the five is not a newsmaker anymore except that it's amazing that we continue to see these and we think that we've had about 350 or more aftershocks. And we will continue to see those.
I kind of keeping an eye on the USGS Web site and you can, too. Every time a little red dot pops up, that tells you that we've had an aftershock in the last hour.
Well, something else that we're concerned about, of course, that is the change in the weather that's coming up in the next 24 hours. We've had this southerly wind and very warm temperatures of well above average for this time of year and sunny skies for the last couple of days which has helped with the rescue efforts. But now, cold rain and then snow is coming in with the next storm system that's moving its way really overnight tonight and to tomorrow.
So, as you can see, every time we see this, it seems more and more likely that we're going to get some snow out of this one, most of it to the north of Sendai. But some of it in Sendai, and perhaps even accumulation.
And you can see, here's our little dot. This is what's expected over the next 48 hours, two centimeters of snow. Approximately, some locations perhaps a little bit more and, again, most accumulation to the north of the city.
So, here's Sendai. Here's our before-picture and there's the after- picture. As you can see there's not much shelter left out there and as Reggie was just saying, we have tens of thousands of people in shelters, a lot of those without running water and food and certainly without heat. So, with cold weather on the way, that's going to be a real concern not just for those people out trying to do their rescue, search and rescue, but also for those who are just trying to maintain some shelter.
So, here's what happened. On Tuesday, we probably start off with a little bit of sunshine but then we're going to get some rain. Temperatures start to drop on Wednesday and after a few days of highs around 12, 13, 14, now, we're looking for a high around five.
And rain and snow mix in Thursday. Chances are, it'll stay snow, starting at two degrees below, ending up with a high of only two above, which is considerably cooler than it has been but also colder than it should be for this time of year.
So, rebound hopefully coming within a few days after that.
Reggie, back to you.
AQUI: And I started my day hearing a report of a shelter where they just had one kerosene heater that they were all trying, all of the people who were evacuated, trying to crowd around. So those low temperatures are going to only make things worse. We appreciate it.
BROWN: That's true.
AQUI: Thank you.
With each passing day, things are unfortunately looking worse, weather included. Sendai was among the cities hardest hit. Many are dead. More are missing.
We're going to update conditions as we continue our special coverage here of the disaster in Japan. You're watching CNN.
AQUI: Welcome back.
We want to take a moment to remind you just where the hardest hit cities and towns are in Japan -- take a look at this nap we've put together. Now, as we've mentioned, Sendai is close to the quake's epicenter. Closer still is actually the town of Kesennuma, and we are still waiting to see images from that area.
Also, I want to point out where Fukushima is and that's where two power plants have been damaged. We were talking about that at the top of the hour with Stan Grant. Authorities have released radioactive steam there to relieve pressure in the reactors.
It is three days now since the initial earthquake and tsunami and the true extent of that damage is becoming clearer. Sendai, again, one of the cities closest to the quake's epicenter and there is, as you can see, destruction everywhere, cars on top of roofs. Rescuers hope for a miracle as they are searching for survivors, but with each passing hour, miracles are becoming more unlikely.
And like the Haiti earthquake that we saw happen in January of 2010 and the New Zealand tremor just last month, CNN has sent an army of journalists to cover the quake's aftermath. And among them, you can see there: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Paula Hancocks, Gary Tuchman and our Tokyo-based correspondent Kyung Lah who is in Sendai. She's updating us on the rescue and the recovery effort.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Military helicopters continue the search for the living in the tsunami-ravaged city of Sendai. Two days into the disaster in this one residential area called Futaki, rescuers are still pulling the injured to safety. A silver gurney lifts a survivor.
But, increasingly, the found are the dead. Search crews pull a body from the water, someone who drowned in a car. Another body lies under this tarp. A large number of military and search crews finding more dead and fewer living victims as the hours pass.
"Frightening beyond belief," says Hiroki Otomo (ph). "I have no words." Otomo's mother and uncle are missing and feared dead. They were both home as the tsunami came into Futaki. Otomo and his father now waiting for word.
Witnesses here say the first tsunami wave was as high as the top of this tree line tossing cars like toys into piles, blasting out windows, crushing homes, or sweeping them away completely.
This flooded area once had a row of houses -- now gone.
(on camera): The force of the tsunami flipped this truck completely upside down. It landed here at this elementary school wheels up.
This school is quite a bit inland but you really start to see the signs of this tsunami. You can see how high the water and the debris line here especially against the white wall of the school and the power of the tsunami. The doors of the school are completely blown off. And look down the hallway -- that's a car.
(voice-over): Four hundred and fifty students, teachers and workers were in the school when the tsunami warning came. Many managed to escape. But the Japanese military says they pulled bodies from the school.
The residents of Futaki started returning home and carried what they could to evacuation centers. They face challenges on dry land -- little gas, long lines wrapped around the few stations opened and even longer lines of people several blocks long at food and water distribution centers, a waiting game on multiple fronts for these tsunami survivors.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Sendai, Japan.
(END VIDEOTAPE) AQUI: Some of the hardest hit areas in Japan, of course, are the coastal towns. In many places, there's simply nothing left. Gary Tuchman managed to reach one small town that was virtually destroyed by last Friday's disaster.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Minami Sanriku, Japan, about three miles from the Pacific Ocean. Never in my career of covering natural disasters have I seen a town so utterly pulverized, just completely mowed down. But this is not from the earthquake, this is from the tsunami. And we know that because this is where the water stopped on its way from the ocean.
If you go just a half a mile away from here, a half a mile to the west, there is absolutely no damage whatsoever in the nearby neighborhoods. But here, there's nothing left -- we see cars, we see trucks, we see motor homes, trees, personal belongings of people all over the place. And they come from all over this town of 20,000 people.
Now, there are still thousands of people unaccounted for. That doesn't mean they are all dead, doesn't mean they are all hurt. It's hard to keep track of people.
But the fact is, there are still many bodies under this rubble. Throughout the day today and yesterday, ambulances were coming in and out. They heard people screaming. They took them out.
Right now, we hear no more voices. We're being told by emergency rescue officials they don't believe there's anyone still alive in the rubble. But as we said, there are still people who perished in this earthquake and the tsunami.
I think what's really unusual about the situation is we drove across the country from the west coast of Japan to here on the east coast and we saw virtually no damage whatsoever until we got to this spot three miles away from the Pacific Ocean.
We're still feeling aftershocks here that causes a lot of anxiety in Japan as it did in Haiti last year after January 12th earthquake there. The aftershock continued for a long time. Many people to this day refuse to go in their homes in Haiti scared that those homes will collapse from the aftershocks.
And that's the situation here in Japan -- a lot of anxiety after the 8.9 earthquake and tsunami which has killed so many people.
This is Gary Tuchman in the earthquake zone in Japan.
AQUI: Let's stay in that same town, Minami Sanriku. That is where we are hearing now reaction from the people who ran away from these waves.
Our Paula Hancocks is there and she got these survivor stories.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the tsunami alert sounds, everyone sprints to higher ground.
Police abandon their cars. Rescue workers rush people to safety. One man shouts at us, "It's your life, run." Everyone does, including us. Running far higher than any tsunami could ever reach.
Not surprising when you see what the last tsunami did.
This was the town of Minamisanriku, there's little left. House, shops and offices reduced to mangled rubble. The loss of life here thought to be among the worst along the east coast of Japan.
(on camera): At this point, officials have no idea how many people exactly died. In just this one town, there were 18,000 residents here. Some of those residents that did survive the tsunami say that they ran when they heard the warning. But some of their neighbors didn't.
(voice-over): Choushi Takahashi was working as a civil servant in an office near the water. He says the earthquake knocked him off his feet and then came the tsunami warning.
He tells me, "Most people ran away. But some had to leave the elderly or disabled behind on the second floor. I think a lot of those left behind probably died."
This woman says, "I saw the bottom of the sea when the tidal wave withdrew and houses and people were being washed away. I couldn't watch anymore."
This resident tells us there was no time to think about anything. The tsunami just came too quickly.
Local reports say more than 40 people were found alive Sunday morning. And ambulances rushing the injured out of the disaster zone.
Elsewhere, the elderly are carried out to be evacuated by helicopter. This boat was carried more than three kilometers or two miles to the edge of town. The tsunami spared little in its path. Memories of life before the wave litter the sodden ground.
Residents start the seemingly impossible task of clearing up.
This is still a search-and-rescue operation for now. Emergency teams know that window of survival is closing.
Paula Hancock, CNN, Minami Sanriku, northeast Japan.
AQUI: So, you hear from Gary Tuchman and Paula Hancocks. And now, we are going to go to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He is surveying the damage in Shigogama City.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You can hear those sires on the background just north of Sendai, you immediately get a scope of the damage that was done by the earthquake and the tsunami and also just how logical it is in some ways as well. For example, on this street, you can see a relatively normal-appearing building on one side. And then over here, you see a car that's obviously been destroyed by the tsunami, and another normal-appearing building.
But here's where it gets very strange. All of a sudden in the middle of the street, seemingly coming out of nowhere, you had this house. It just seems dumped right here in the middle of the street and if you go over here and start to get a look inside, you get a sense of remembrances of what this life was like for the people who get here -- kids' books on the ground scattered, a jigsaw puzzle over here, some kids' toys as well. If you look inside you see the clothes and drawers still. You see little mementos on the walls such as a Donald duck, a Ping-Pong paddle.
This is a life just immediately abandoned, immediately left as a result of this devastation. And this is just how strange, how weird it is to look at the aftermath.
AQUI: And again, that was Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting.
Now, the worst of the quake damage, like you just saw, is in the northeastern part of Japan's main island, Honshu. Now, many kilometers not south in the greater Tokyo area, lives may not have been torn apart but greatly changed at least for the moment.
So, here's one of our iReporters, Gabriel Rodriguez, just trying to go grocery shopping in Yokohama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ, IREPORTER: This is 48 hours after the earthquake hit Japan. And we're in the grocery store. And you can see a lot of these aisles are empty. All empty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: Now, to prevent the same type of problem at the gas pumps, Rodriguez says the military base where he lives is rationing gasoline to just 10 gallons per customer.
But finding bread and water is a whole other story. Sarah Feinerman lives in a small town, Ishioka, that's north of Tokyo. It's the first time in her life that she's truly wondered where her next meal or fresh water would be coming from. In fact, the only source right now for that water is at the end of the long line at city hall.
Feinerman says people -- there you see the line there -- brought water jugs. They even brought trash cans to carry the water. She also shows us right there to the inside of the convenient store on the right-hand side. You can see office supplies on the left hand where the food is supposed to be and cashiers say they don't know when they're going to receive the food again.
I spoke to Feinerman on the phone earlier today. She's is remaining somehow upbeat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH FEINERMAN, ENGLISH TEACHER (via telephone): In the late evening of the second day, they had actually this system where they had like trays and tables from inside the store. They didn't let people go in. So, they brought in -- they brought the food out to them and they would hand out baskets, and people would go down and take what they offered. But it was like tea and noodles were basically their option. Everyone around was absolutely wonderful and I could use water but other than that, I can't really complain. At least I got a house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: Such a good spirit there.
Well, when I first saw the next video, I really thought there was something strange going on with the camera movement and I thought that the iReporter was doing that. In fact, it's the ground moving. You'll see what I mean when you look at this iReport from Chiba City, which is by the way on reclaimed land that used to be part of Tokyo Bay. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENT KOOI, IREPORTER: The crack is just moving. There is water. I don't know if water lines are broken, but this water was not there a minute ago. It's coming up, different places. Here, it's coming up through the sidewalk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: Those are just a couple of the iReports that we've been getting in over the past couple of days. We want to thank those who are submitting those pictures and video.
Still to come here, we're going to bring you all of the latest from Japan as the search for survivors continues. And we'll also be in Libya at a military training camp where rebels are undergoing fast track basic training as they continue their fight against Moammar Gadhafi and his forces.
We'll be right back.
AQUI: Some of the heartbreaking images.
Welcome back. I'm Reggie Aqui. Our special coverage continues now of the Japan disaster.
A second blast has rocked an already badly damaged nuclear power plant. And that's raising even more fears of a radiation disaster but Japan's chief cabinet secretary says that there is a low chance of any major leak.
Officials now put the overall death toll at more than 1,600 lives lost. But we have to tell you, another 2,000 bodies have reportedly been found in Miyagi Prefecture, indicating that the toll could rise much higher.
Of course, we're going to continue to monitor the situation in Japan. We also want to check on some other stories that we're following this hour.
We'll start in Bahrain where protests and violent clashes have once again erupted there this weekend. You're looking at video of what appears to be tear gas being used to disperse anti-government demonstrators. CNN cannot confirm the video's authenticity. Clashes also broke out at Bahrain University between protesters and supporters of the Gulf kingdom's rulers. A number of injuries are reported.
And now to Libya where forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi are have reclaimed control of al-Brega. Opposition forces say they left al- Brega in a tactical retreat. The rebel's defeat at al-Brega comes after days after heavy fighting and after similar setbacks in like Bin Jawad and Ras Lanuf.
There are all markers on the road for Gadhafi's force's march eastward, to where the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The Arab League voted Saturday to back a no-fly zone to protect Libyan citizens. That's a move promptly denounced by Gadhafi's government.
And as Gadhafi's forces appear to be regaining the upper hand, the lack of military know-how of the rebels has been exposed.
But as Arwa Damon reports, the defiant troops are organizing themselves and running basic training courses for those ordinary civilians taking up arms against their leader.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are teachers, bankers, grocers, ordinary civilians like Ashif Hadad (ph), an Internet technology student.
He peers down the site of a weapon he only saw for the first time a few days ago. It won't be long before he will be expected to handle it in battle.
"it's because I love my country," he stresses.
Spurred by decades of suppressed rage and desire to bring down Gadhafi, countless opposition forces charge into battle gaining key territories. But the momentum shifted as they came under heavy air and naval bombardment and were forced to beat a hefty retreat. Outgunned and pitted against Gadhafi's well-trained army, the opposition's lack of military experience and discipline became painfully obvious.
At undisclosed locations, intense training programs are under way. The instructors, retired army veterans covering the bear basics.
"The youth are eager. If we let them, they'd go rushing to the front line without any training," Suleiman El Farjany tells us. We say, "No. At least we can give them basic training. They're learning in days what a soldier learns in months."
Training lasts anywhere from a week to 10 days, but as Gadhafi's forces gain ground, there is an increasing sense of anxiety.
(on camera): When we were talking, you were saying that you feel as if there's very little time left.
ABD-EL-MALIK EL RAMLY, VOLUNTEER FIGHTER: Yes. We've got no time actually. We have to attack. We're not going to stay staple because so many innocents (INAUDIBLE). And we're expecting anything from him to do, even a genocide.
DAMON: And you're not scared. You're really not scared.
EL RAMLY: Yes, I'm not scared because there is no time to be scared of. Nothing to be scared of, because everything has been done by him. So, we've got to bear down, we're going to attack, we're not going to stay.
DAMON (voice-over): As ready and willing as they may be, the sense is that without international help, especially a no-fly zone, Gadhafi will eventually have his way with the opposition.
"They don't have any body armor. Their armor is their faith in God," Farjany e says.
It is faith and passion that carried them this far. But it cannot carry them all the way. Gadhafi's forces are drawing closer. Arms outstretched to the heavens. Faces damp with tears. The masses pray.
That international help comes before it's too late.
DAMON: A gut-wrenching plea from people who know that if they don't win, they could all die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No-fly zone, United Nations.
DAMON: Arwa Damon, CNN, Benghazi, Libya.
AQUI: And just ahead, we're going to bring you the latest developments from the disaster zone in Japan. We're going to hear people tell us how they survived the destruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tis woman says that she was washed away by the waves, and that she was afraid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: Of the people who barely survived, the Japan earthquake and tsunami, too many of their stories sound a lot like this one -- a story of survival and then incredible loss.
Japanese state broadcaster NHK brings us this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NHK)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A woman was rescued by self-defense force personnel. This woman thanks the self-defense force troop and says she is all right.
The woman said she had been waiting for help all night, outside.
The woman said she had been washed away by the wave. Asked if she was outside, she says that the moment she opened the door of her house, the water flooded in. She says that there happened to be a tree nearby, so she struggled and grabbed the tree to prevent herself from sinking under the water. She hung onto the tree with the water all around her.
She says she hung on for dear life, and then a Tatami floor mat drifted near her, so she got on the Tatami floor mat and floated around and round in the water, completely helpless. She drifted around the houses and found herself washed near the school. She says her daughter was washed away with her but has not been found.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AQUI: I just think that is the most heartbreaking story that I think that I've seen so far. To lose a young daughter like that and to survive it yourself and to watch it all happen, unbelievable.
Well, on the northern edge of Sendai, the city of Ushiami was also battered by Friday's tsunami. In fact, our Soledad O'Brien is there. She's going to walk you through and give us a tour of all that devastation..
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the thing that never ceases to amaze you is really the power of a natural disaster like a tsunami. I mean, take a look at this. This building here, the white one, that's an apartment building and actually standing pretty well.
But look at this one here -- this is a house that's completely collapsed. And, remarkably, this house actually wasn't here before the tsunami hit. It came out of this big open space back here and actually just floated up with the force of the water. I mean, it's amazing.
Most of the people who live here are fishermen and rice farmers, some of them elderly. And now they say with the destruction, they really don't know what they're going to do, because as you can see, even a house like this inside, even though structurally, a real testament to the Japanese architecture with the mind to earthquakes -- structurally, it's held up very well. Inside, it's a complete and total loss.
So, the farmers that we have spoken to say that -- well, some are insured. They're not really sure at this point what exactly they can do. They said that when the earthquake happened, it was so severe on the hands and knees it was shaking so hard. Then an alarm went off, which is an indication that a tsunami was on the way. So, they high tailed it over to an elementary school and went up on the roof. Several hundred people, and then at that point, they basically are waiting, and within 30 minutes, the tsunami had come through.
And you can see -- and, John (ph), if you pan out that way, you can just see the complete and total loss that just goes on and on as far as you can see. What will happen to this community -- it's really unclear. But certainly for the homes here, most of it is just gone.
AQUI: Soledad O'Brien in one of those towns that has just been decimated by this disaster.
Thank you for watching. I'm Reggie Aqui at CNN Center. This has been a special edition of WORLD REPORT.
Don't go anywhere. Our coverage continues on this catastrophe in Japan. Andrew Stevens is going to be taking over for another full hour of WORLD REPORT. I hope that you have a good day.