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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Nuclear Plant Explosion; Race Against Time; Disaster in Japan; Disaster Demographics; Libya Civil War; Bahrain Protests; Ivory Coast Violence; Disaster's Impact
Aired March 14, 2011 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULINE CHIOU, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Pauline Chiou. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to our special coverage of the disaster in Japan.
On a day when many Japanese tried to get back to work after Friday's earthquake and tsunami, another blast has wrath an already badly damaged nuclear power plant. That's raising even more fears of a radiation disaster.
But Japan's chief cabinet secretary says there is a low chance of any major leak. The official death toll now is just over 1,600, but another 2,000 bodies have reportedly been found in Miyagi Prefecture indicating that the toll will rise much higher.
Meanwhile, shocking images of the distraction and despair just keep on coming in. For more on the nuclear plant explosion and the immediate precautions, Stan Grant joins us live from Tokyo now with the latest on this crisis.
Stan, are you learning anything more about this new explosion?
STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're getting a bit information coming in. This was an explosion in the third reactor at Daiichi plant in Fukishima. This was expected. They have warned this just yesterday saying that there was buildup of pressure and we should expect an explosion similar to the explosion that took place in the number one reactor and that was a hydrogen explosion.
That's being confirmed by the electric company that runs the reactor and it was indeed a hydrogen explosion. It was not, repeat not in the reactor itself. It was in the outer building housing the reactor. It has damaged the wall of that building as did the explosion in the first reactor just the other day.
Now, there's also been concern about the radiation levels, of course, in the area. At its height, those radiation levels during the weekend got to over 1,000 microseiverts an hour.
Well, listening to the Nuclear Safety Agency, the cabinet secretary saying that's they're now being major at 50 microseiverts per hour that's in the plant itself and when you got that 5 kilometer from the plant, it drops to 1 microsievert per hour. So if we are trying to play down the risk or even more realistic assessment of the harmful risk of the radiation level. Have a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YUKIO EDANO, JAPANESE CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY (through translation): There is -- we believe that there is a low possibility that massive amount of radiation has been leaked, but similar to the time the time when the hydrogen explosion took place in number one reactor.
As in the case of number three, we can see higher level of radiation. So, therefore, there are some small number of people who still remain in the 20 kilometers radius of the nuclear power plant, but we would like to -- we had already instructed these people remaining in the area to be inside buildings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT: Yes, as you can hear there are people who are still within that 20 kilometer, 12 or 13-mile exclusion zone being warned to stay inside their buildings.
Pauline, some people had been exposed to radiation and have been tested over the past couple of days. I can also point out to you going back to that explosion that six people we're hearing from the electricity company have been injured as a result of that.
Now, I think you may have some before and after pictures that we can pull up on the screen for you. These are coming from NHK, our affiliate here showing the power station before the explosion, then you see the explosion, of course, the smoke and everything else coming from it and then the damage as a result of that.
Now, once again repeating a hydrogen explosion, that's been confirmed. Not in the reactor, not in the casing surrounding the reactor, but in the building housing the reactor causing some damage. Pauline --
CHIOU: OK, so now we're learning that this explosion was expected and it's similar to the one we saw in unit number one on Saturday. Stan, what are government officials doing to make sure that the nuclear reactor core itself does not meltdown?
GRANT: Yes, that's a good question because there has been this talk of meltdown. They've been working on the assumption that there is a high possibility of a meltdown within the reactor in number one and the possibility of a meltdown in reactor number three.
What they're doing to try to resolve that situation is to pump seawater into the reactor to help - to cool it. Now we understand they brought stability to reactor number one, but the temperature is cooling and remaining stable at least.
In reactor number three, they're just pumping water in there to keep it cool, but the reactor itself is still exposed so what happens is the water level drops, the reactor is exposed and when that heats the reactor, of course, there is nothing to cool it down. So they're continuing to pump seawater in there to manage that process and try to keep the reactor cool. Pauline -- CHIOU: All right, Stan, thanks so much for the update. Stan Grant has been keeping track of what's going on with the nuclear plant situation there from Tokyo.
Well, as Stan touched on, some 200,000 people who live within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima plant have been ordered to leave the area. Meanwhile, we've heard talk of a potential meltdown, which Stan just mentioned, the words being used are partial or likely, but that's doing little to calm nervous evacuees. Listen to what they're saying about the situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I want to know exactly what's going on at the nuclear plant. I'm scared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I don't understand this at all, but I'm scared because I can see the radiation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: There are measures people can take to protect themselves against radiation. Our CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains why taking iodine tablets could help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the big concerns is the thyroid gland in particular. It can take up this radioactive iodine. So this is sort of a simple, yet important concept. If you give a stable iodide, in this case, potassium iodide, you're sort of flooding the thyroid gland with this stable component.
And even if there is an exposure to this radioactive element, it doesn't get taken up by the thyroid because the thyroid is all full of normal stable iodine. That's sort of the fury here. It seems to work pretty well. It's just simple iodine tablets, potassium iodide tablets.
Now, that's not going to work after someone has already been exposed. That's not going to necessarily protect people against other effects of radiation poisoning and that is not going to protect them against some of the acute effects the nausea, the vomiting, the skin changes, the effects on the bone marrow.
But again this is something that seems to be pretty effective against one of the most disastrous potential complications due to radiation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: That's Dr. Sanjay Gupta there. For more on what the earthquake has done to Japan's nuclear reactors, you can go to our web site. We've posted answers to a number of your questions and that's all on cnn.com.
Now to the hard-hit city of Sendai, home to about a million people that city has been left in ruins. Rescuers are into their fourth day of picking through the rubble and the images from Sendai are remarkable.
Just take a look at this. Japan's Kyoto news agency is now reporting that about 2,000 bodies have been found on nearby shores. As for rescue operations, hopes of finding survivors are fading right now. Our Kyung Lah is covering that part of the story in Sendai.
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Military helicopters continue to 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 waters, 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. "I have no words." Otomo's mother and uncle are missing and feared dead. They were both home as the tsunami 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, but only briefly and carrying out 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) CHIOU: As the death toll rises and hopes fade for the missing, there has been a small miracle. A 60-year-old man was found alive on Sunday after being swept out to sea. You can see him right there.
Crews say he was found 16 kilometers from the shore. They spotted him clinging to the roof of his home. We know the man is from Fukushima Prefecture and you can see him clinging there -- there he is on his home waving to rescuers. He says that his wife was also with him but, unfortunately, she was lost to sea.
These twin disasters have traumatized millions of Japanese and we'll talk to an expert about the long-term psychological impact on the survivors and how they can get help. That's just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Chiou (voice-over): Screams of horror as this wall of water surges onto land swamping entire neighborhoods. Just black water washing over homes and those vans there. You also see that boat in the river, as well. There's no telling how many people were caught up in this deluge. Rescue crews are now in their fourth day of searching for survivors but hope is beginning to fade.
And right now, Japan's national police say that more than 1,600 people are confirmed dead. But that toll is likely to rise much higher. Two thousand bodies have reportedly just been found in Miyagi Prefecture and we've also heard reports that half a town, some 10,000 people, are still unaccounted for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: Let's go back to the city of Sendai and talk to my colleague Anna Coren. She's been traveling along the coast of the northern coast of Japan. She's back in Sendai right now. Anna, it's past 1:00 in the afternoon there on Monday. What have you been seeing so far today?
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well we're actually in Ishinomaki, which is a city about an hour northeast of Sendai. We were here yesterday, spent much of yesterday here with a police team, a military team that was going from house to house and looking for any survivors.
Now if you can see around me this suburb is absolutely obliterated. Every single house is damaged. Most are completely destroyed. There is just debris strewn about absolutely everywhere. Now about an hour and a half ago there was a tsunami warning issued afternoon there were police cars and sirens going off.
You know, people have returned to these suburbs to go through their homes and find whatever remains they can and when the sirens went off, when police came through and with loud speakers saying get out, tsunami, move to higher ground. People literally jumped in their cars and just drove away. It was a real scene of panic here for a good half hour and we actually followed some people to higher ground. These are people who on Friday witnessed, you know, the worst natural disaster they've ever seen in their lives.
It's absolutely totaled their homes, their neighborhoods so when they knew the warning had been issued. They certainly got to higher ground. Thankfully it was a false alarm, but as I said, Pauline, this is definitely a city on edge.
CHIOU: Absolutely, especially with the aftershocks and several tsunami warnings happening throughout the past couple of days. Anna, can you talk about the residents you've been speaking with?
They're such nature and it's really impressive when you see them queuing up at the stores for just the basics. That there's such an orderly dignified way of carrying themselves after such destruction.
That's the impression I'm getting through the images we're seeing on TV. Can you explain a little bit more about what you're seeing with the individual residents that you're meeting?
COREN: I think you're absolutely right, Pauline. I mean, that's the Japanese. They're such a courteous race of people. You drive past those long, long queues trying to get gas and it goes for kilometers. There's to beeping. There's no angst.
These people are just waiting in line and they are waiting for hours - sorry, Pauline, a car has just driven past and it's gone and caught some electricity wires. That's just above us so we need to be a little bit careful here.
As I said there are things in real short supply, food, water, and power. Here we are in Ishinomaki and people are returning to their suburb to try and see what's left of their homes. We witnessed people walk into their homes and walk out with bags of clothing and bedding, whatever they can find.
You know, we've walked through these homes and it's just covered in mud. One of the amazing stories that we heard yesterday was a man who was returning to his house. I said where were you when the tsunami hit?
And he said, I was standing on the roof. I was clinging to the roof for dear life. He didn't get time to get away like so many others did, but I must say, Pauline, he was one of the lucky ones because so many people in the suburb have perished.
I mentioned a little earlier we teamed up with this military team and they were just going from door to door hoping to find survivors, but in actual fact they were here to retrieve bodies and bodies, it so happens, of the elderly.
CHIOU: There's so much work still ahead. Anna, are you still seeing evidence of some of the international search and rescue crews arriving because a lot of these locations are difficult to get to and as you mentioned the basics are nowhere to be found, food, water, gas. Are you seeing some international help arriving?
COREN: I haven't seen any international helpers yet, but in saying that, Pauline, I have been here in Ishinomaki, there are lots of Japanese military and lots of Japanese police crews. They are the ones that are working this area seeing if anybody needs help. Seeing, you know, if the they're stranded, need to be rescued.
A lot of these homes still haven't -- they haven't had people going to them to check on them. There are thousands of homes on this coast. You know, we are only 500 meters, one kilometer from the coastline so when that wall of water came through, it collected absolutely everything in its path.
So we are talking about, you know, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of homes that have been affected and just, you know, where I am here, so there is a huge job for those teams that need to go from door to door to see if there was anybody inside the houses on the ground floor.
You can probably see from the house standing next to me. It is still standing. That is so amazing. That is also the beauty of Japanese architecture and also just the engineering these days. They are used to earthquakes and they build these structures so that they are quake proof.
But it was a ten-meter wall of water that raced through here and at the end of the day, Pauline, there is nothing that can protect you against that even if a building is still standing, if you are on the ground floor, if you are standing where I am you just would have been swept away.
CHIOU: Right, you make a good point, Anna, that the tsunami reached several kilometers inland from the coast. Anna Coren in Ishinomaki. Thank you very much for the update.
Well, dozens of countries have volunteered to send aid in the wake of this disaster. Several search and rescue teams from the U.S. just arrived early Monday morning. Brian Todd is traveling with one of them and here's his report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just landed at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan with the Fairfax County and L.A. County search and rescue teams. This is the Fairfax County group. You see them preparing their gear. They're waiting for the orders as to where to deploy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: Looks like we just lost Brian's story there, but Brian does join us on the phone right now. Brian, we just lost access to the video of your story. Tell us who you're with and what the plan is now that you're on the ground?
TODD (via telephone): Paula, we're with the U.S.-based Los Angeles County and Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue teams and we're also joined by a British search and rescue team. And we're all actually on the load now in a convoy heading toward the city of Okifunata, which is a city northeast of Sendai on the coast that was hard hit by the earthquake and the tsunami.
It's been kind of a frustrating wait for everybody on these teams. It took longer than anyone wanted it to, but it was just because it's such a massive logistical haul and we had to pick up one team at Dulles Airport near Washington fly to Los Angeles, pick up another then go to Alaska then go to Japan and meet up with the British teams and we're all kind of together now in this convoy heading toward the area and expect to be there in a couple of hours.
CHIOU: Now, it's not just an earthquake, but a tsunami that hit these areas. What kind of special training or special equipment do the crews have to try to search the debris that you're going to encounter?
TODD: Well, they have some very unique training and capabilities. Each member of this team has to basically train on his or her own, on their own time and take several different courses in several different specialties to get that certification to be on the urban search and rescue team.
So it's a real commitment and these people are very, very good at what they do. I mean they've been through disaster zones in Haiti, New Zealand, Turkey, the Fairfax County team responded to the Pentagon after 9/11. These are people who are very, very good at getting into areas that have collapsed and getting to victims inside the rubble.
We witnessed some of their work in Haiti. It was extraordinary. What they've got at their disposal are -- what's really interesting is they don't have a lot of really large equipment. They don't have tractors, bulldozers, cranes, they don't have those things but what they have are jack hammers, heavy saws, they have listening device, cameras that they lower into the rubble.
They have canine teams. They're really fascinating to watch. The dogs swarm over the rubble and they are very highly trained to detect the scent of a living human being. That's how the teams can get alerted that somebody is down in there then they start to lower the cameras and listening devices in and go from there.
CHIOU: Brian, thanks so much for the update. Brian Todd is traveling with two U.S. search and rescue teams from Los Angeles and Fairfax, Virginia. Travel safely and we look forward to updates from you. Thanks so much, Brian.
Well, the twin disasters in Japan have left millions of Japanese physically and emotionally scarred in the past couple of days. Countless survivors will also have to deal with the psychological trauma for weeks, months and perhaps even years to come.
I want to bring in Dr. Adam Sheck. He is a clinical psychologist and joins me via Skype from Los Angeles. Dr. Sheck, thanks so much for being with us. After a disaster like this, this isn't just one disaster but two, the earthquake and the tsunami. What are your main concerns for the survivors?
DR. ADAM SHECK, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, it's a horrible disaster as you said, thousands and thousands of lives have been lost at this count and millions of people are impacted. So really when a disaster like this occurs we're concerned about acute stress disorder as well as posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
And that's really a severe reaction to a life-threatening event or the perception of a life-threatening event and it's just full of horrible symptoms that I'm sure many people are beginning to experience. It would include flashbacks where they're experiencing the event, trauma, hyper vigilance, very sensitive to any similar reactions.
There's avoidance of anything that may bear resemblance to the action that happened, to the horror. There's anger, sleep disorder so really from at least our statistics 10 percent of people exposed to these kind of traumas will develop those symptoms.
CHIOU: And we're seeing survivors who are very young, children who when you see their faces in some of the images, they just look horrified and shocked along with their parents and also many elderly. Do you treat different people differently depending on their age, for example, how would you treat a child for acute stress or posttraumatic trauma?
SHECK: Well, the research indicates that children and adolescents can really benefit from spending time with similar-aged peer, so really for them to hang out with other kids and adolescents is the best treatment for them.
They really can feel more comfortable, safer with them. Connecting with their family and friends who perhaps experienced similar events in this really is the best. It's different. Kids aren't going to benefit from conventional therapy in the same way adults might.
CHIOU: In fact, we spoke with a person from Save the Children a couple of hours ago and he said that when their team arrives to some of these zones they just want to have kids play with each other and he even said that one child said that she just wanted to go back to school and play with her peers.
So it's I guess afternoon effort to bring some sort of normalcy back to these children's lives. Dr. Sheck, I also want to ask you about the culture in Japan. This is a very dignified culture. Very orderly and in some ways when you look at the pictures, it really strikes me at how quiet in a sense the grieving seems to be.
Do you think that this is a society that may not be compelled to ask for help and if so how do you give help to someone who is not asking for it?
SHECK: Well, it's really good question because the Asian cultures really are more known to somaticize and internalize their mental distress. They take it into their bodies whether it's through headaches, stomachache, gastrointestinal kind of issues, ulcers, those kinds of things. So while in the west -- the western world we psychologize things, they somaticize things so again, the best thing to do is to open up and it doesn't have to be with a profession though, of course, the doctor or crisis counselor, I know the Red Cross will be on the mark here and many other groups, a spiritual adviser.
But really in this culture perhaps more a spouse, a partner, a trusted family member, an elder, really would be the one to connect to and you can start by talking about practical things not necessarily the trauma but just I'm OK, I'm worried about my house. This is going on. I'm worried about my kids and just let people know that you may need to talk with them.
And sometimes just being with them is really tremendously healing. Just having a connection whether we speak and verbalize or not and there's really some interesting research. I just dug up about an hour ago in studying posttraumatic stress disorder from the Vietnam War back in the '60s, one of the preventive factors for developing PTSD seems to be if the ethnicity of the soldiers, the ethnicity of the soldiers is Japanese-American.
So it could be and again I haven't done any extensive look into this, but it could be that the culture may have protective factors in itself because they don't take on the stress in the way that we would in the west.
CHIOU: Dr. Sheck, thanks so much for your analysis. We really appreciate it. Dr. Adam Sheck, clinical psychologist from Los Angeles.
Well, coming up on WORLD REPORT. Long lines and empty shelf, the impact of the disaster on Japan's economy is enormous. We'll look at that in our business wrap after the break.
CHIOU: Hello, I'm Pauline Chiou. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to our special coverage of the disaster in Japan. Here is a quick update.
The official death toll has topped 1,600, but Japan's Kyoto news agency reports that about 2,000 bodies have just been found on the shores of Miyagi Prefecture so that toll, that death toll is expected to climb even higher.
The critically damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has suffered a second explosion. It was apparently a hydrogen blast in reactor number three, which is similar to the one in reactor number one on Saturday.
Officials say Monday's blast was expected and collapsed a wall, but left the core intact. Japan's chief cabinet secretary says there is only a low chance of any major radiation leak. As incredible as the pictures we've been getting have been, they don't tell the whole story. Hundreds of thousands have been moved away from devastated areas and from nuclear power plants. What we can't tell is what they've been through. Escaping the monster quake and the terrifying tsunami that followed perhaps losing loved ones, or unable to locate them and then having to be removed from their homes to shelters.
The U.N. says 600,000 people are in this predicament and no one knows how long they'll be forced to live in the shelters. Well, Japan's prime minister calls the disaster unprecedented in the country's history. Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked his countrymen to prepare to make sacrifices during the long painful recovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOTO KAN, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translation): In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan. Please I ask each one of you, please have such determination.
And deepen your bond with your family members, neighbors and the people in your community to overcome this crisis so that Japan can be a better place. We can build together. This is the message I'd like to emphasize to the Japanese people and this is also my request to the people. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: So far crews have rescued some 15,000 people since last Friday. One survivor told Japanese state broadcaster NHK how she managed to stay alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A woman was rescued by self-defense force personnel. She thanks the self-defense troop and says she is all right. The woman said she had been waiting for help all night outside. The woman says 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 on to 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 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)
CHIOU: And that is one woman's story of surviving. Well, sometimes words just can't tell the entire story the way pictures do and in this video from Miyagi Prefecture, you don't hear much of anything except helicopter and some birds and it's rather eerie so we're going to let you listen in now.
And 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 map. As we've mentioned Sendai is close to the quake's epicenter. Closer still is to the epicenter is Kesennuma, but we've yet to see the scenes of devastation from there.
Also worth noting here is Fukushima, that's where those nuclear power plants have been damaged and then there's the tourist town of Minamisanriku.
It was one of the first places hit by the sheer power of the tsunami waves. It sits about eight kilometers from the quake's epicenter or at least it did and now there's not much left. Gary Tuchman gives us a look.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Minamisanriku, Japan about three miles from the Pacific Ocean. Never in my career of covering natural disasters have I seen a town so utterly pulverized and just completely mowed down. This is not from the earthquake, this is from the tsunami.
And we know that because this is where the water stops on its way from the ocean. If you go 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 home, 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. Doesn't mean they're all dead or doesn't mean they're all hurt hard to keep track of people. But the fact is there are still many bodies under this rubble. Throughout the day today and yesterday we heard people screaming and they took them out.
Right now, we hear no more voices. We're being told by emergency rescue officials they don't believe there is anyone still alive in the rubble, but as we said there are still people who perished in this earthquake and the tsunami.
The thing that'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 cause a lot of anxiety in Japan as it did in Haiti last year after the January 12th earthquake there.
The aftershock continued for a long time. Many to this day still refuse to go in their homes in Haiti scared they will collapse from the aftershocks and that is situation in Japan and the earthquake and tsunami that killed so many people. This is Gary Tuchman in the earthquake zone in Japan. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CHIOU: Rebuilding after such an incredible disaster is a daunting task especially for the elderly who make up a significant part of this region's population. We'll have a closer look just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): My son might have been engulfed by the tsunami. I hope he's taking shelter somewhere. I'm struggling to locate him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): My husband hasn't come here yet. He left the home a little later than me. Our house was swept away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): I'm looking for my son's wife. I have no idea what shelter she is in.
CHIOU: Every hour seems more poignant images come out of Japan and this scene was shot on Friday in the northeaster coastal city of Miyako. As you can see the sea wall was no match for the tsunami there.
A wall of water swept up cars, ships, buildings and really anything in its way. About 100 kilometers south of Miyako wreckage remains where the town of Minamisanriku once stood. A tsunami swept in and took the town with it and the death toll from Friday's quake and tsunami is over 1,600, but thousands more are still missing.
And this man has been taken offer the missing list. On Sunday rescuers found him clinging to the wreckage of his roof. You can see him there. He had been swept out to sea by the tsunami. His wife had been with him.
He said sadly she had been lost at sea, but he was rescued by that crew there. That man is said to be 60 years old and he illustrates one factor compounding this crisis, many villages hardest hit are believed to be a disproportion national number of older residents.
For them getting out of harm's way was even more difficult and for a closer look at that, our John Vause spoke to Alexandra Harney who's an associate fellow at The Asia Society.
ALEXANDRA HARNEY, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, THE ASIA SOCIETY: In many of the worst hit cities the percentage of older people that's people over the age of 65 there's about 30 percent. That's even higher than the national average in Japan.
When you think about it, we know Japan is an aging country, but a lot of those older people live in rural areas and these are not necessarily wealthy people. A lot of the poor people in Japan are actually elderly.
So if you think about the scale of the rebuilding and the difficulties that these towns will face, a lot of it centers around this demographic issue.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: So if you look back in 1995, the Kobe earthquake, Kobe was a major financial hub and even that city really hasn't regained the position it held after that earthquake. So when we look at some of these smaller communities that are populated by these older residents, could we see entire communities never return?
HARNEY: Well, I'm sure the Japanese government is going to try its best to rebuild these communities, but it does make you wonder what is going to be the driving force for economic growth in these towns. A lot of these towns have some industry. You know, there's some auto components being made in nearby areas.
There's some electrical machinery, but there's also a lot of fishing. There's a lot of agriculture and so the question is what is going to be the pillar of economic growth going forward and I do think there is a risk that some of these communities may never see the kind of growth that they saw not until not recently, but certainly back decades ago.
VAUSE: I want to talk about the national demeanor, if you like, right now. A lot has been made about this stoic calm, which has descended over Japan. As we see the death toll rise and as we head to a time of national mourning, when will this calm give way to grief?
HARNEY: Well, I think speaking to many of my friends in Japan there is already a grief that's begun. If you look at some of the interviews with survivors, there are so many people still unaccounted for.
And I think speaking to friends in China they're very impressed with how orderly the cleanup effort and the rescue effort has been so far, but I think all of Japan is already dealing with the grief of such an enormous tragedy. This is the biggest national emergency in Japan since World War II.
VAUSE: And on that note it really seemed when you watch what's going on that a sense of crisis, calm crisis, if you like, has descended over the country almost like it's -- almost a national -- as if they're at war where they are now essentially contemplating what they have to get through, not just over the next couple of hour, the next couple of days but maybe months and even the next few year as head.
HARNEY: I mean, it's been pointed out in your coverage and elsewhere that this is a nation accustomed to earthquakes, a nation where training is regular for natural disasters, but it's very clear that this has exceeded anyone's expectations, the size of the earthquake, the length of the earthquake.
If you looked at the length of the Kobe earthquake back in 1995, the really severe shock lasted only 15 seconds. This earthquake, the earthquake that triggered the tsunami lasted 20 minutes, 15 minute, I mean a much longer earthquake. And the tsunami was much larger than anything anyone had ever expected. So I think it's fair to say that it will be years before these regions that are most affected and before Japan is able to really move on completely from what's happened in the last few days.
VAUSE: Having said that, though, it seems to me that there is almost this sense that it is a national duty for the country to maybe not return to normal but normalcy.
HARNEY: Yes, it's been extremely impressive to see people returning to their homes so quickly already starting the rebuilding process trying to sort it out. You know, one man I saw interviewed said, listen, no one else is going to do this job.
It's up to me, all of us to get the cleanup going so I think that is something about the Japanese spirit that there's much to be admired in that, but it's a giant operation under way.
CHIOU: That was Alexandra Harney from The Asia Society. Let's take a look now at the weather in Japan and go to Jill Brown in the International Weather Center.
Jill, judging from the live shots we had earlier in the newscast, it looks like the weather is pretty clear and sunny. Will it stay that way for the rescue crews?
JILL BROWN, INTERNATIONAL WEATHER CENTER: It has been. Temperatures have been above normal. It's been sunny, but things are about to change. We think that's going to happen by tomorrow.
So the typical high this time of year is about 9 and we had temperatures in the teens the last couple of days so considerably warmer than average. For Tuesday, rain comes in, it may start off with a little bit of sun in the morning, but then the clouds and the rain, the forecast high is just 6, gets colder after that.
It's not unusual to get some snow in March so we probably will see some snow showers although it may be a rain/snow mix on Wednesday and then Thursday all snow as it will be a cold day only 2 degrees for high to 2 below.
And it's look like some accumulating snow, but mainly to the north of Sendai. So here's a look at the latest satellite and did have an area of low pressure come across northern Japan. Out it goes. No big weather event there.
The next one is with these clouds coming to the south. Area of low pressure will come up the coastline. As that happens, first we have the southerly winds so there is your warmer weather, but when it goes past, here comes the low.
We're going to see the colder winds come it from the north that will bring temperatures down, rain showers and snow showers, of course. As we've been watching it through the day, the forecast has been coming together more, more the prediction is for snow and perhaps some accumulating although what you see here is maybe two centimeters, a few locations may get up to four centimeters, not a huge snow event, but obviously some problems.
All right, one last quick look, I want to show you the USGS site and you can do this from your own computer. What we've seen here since Friday is all of these aftershocks, one after another and every once in a while we'll see one pop up.
And within the last hour, we've had an aftershock and we've seen some in the past hour here, but so you can see where the initial earthquake was and all of these hundreds of them, more than 300, about 350 aftershocks have been reported so some of these just really every half hour or so we'll hear of an aftershock.
So none of those nearly as strong, but we've had a number of them up around the magnitude of 5 to even 6 so we'll keep an eye on that and if we get any recent one, of course, we'll let you know about that. Pauline, back to you.
CHIOU: And, of course, each aftershock makes the residents there still even more anxious. Jill, thanks so much for the forecast and the update.
Well, in other news now, Libya's rebels suffer another apparent defeat as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi say that they have retaken the opposition held town of Al Brega and rebels admit they have been forced to retreat. Pro-Gadhafi fighters have been trying to recapture towns from the rebels since the uprising began last month.
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CHIOU (voice-over): There have been protests and violent clashes in Bahrain, as well, this weekend. You're looking at video of what appears to be tear gas being used to disperse anti-government demonstrators.
CNN cannot confirm this video's authenticity, however. Clashes also broke out at Bahrain University between protesters and supporters of the Gulf kingdom's rulers. A number of injuries were reported.
And clashes between supporters of Ivory Coast two presidential rivals have forced more from their homes. Rebels who support the internationally recognized President Whatara say they've taken over another town. His backers managed to push back forces to the self- declared President Gbagbo on Saturday when Gbagbo loyalists attacked a suburb of Abidjan.
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CHIOU: We at CNN have several teams deployed across the quake zone in Japan, but we also have an army of I-Reporters who were showing the extent of the destruction. We have some examples of their work just after this break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHIOU: Well, Asian financial markets are reeling from the disaster. Take a look at this. The Tokyo Stock Exchange has been quite volatile on this first trading day since Friday's quake and tsunami.
The leading Japanese stock index has now recovered just a little bit after slumping more than 6 percent in early trading. Actually now it's back down to more than 6 percent. There was a little bit better earlier.
The Kospi is up fractionally. The main (inaudible) benchmark is down as well as the New Zealand top 50. So the tsunami and the earthquake certainly having a ripple effect on this Monday morning.
Well, help for the victims are pouring in from across the globe. 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 the Japanese coast.
Ten U.S. Navy ships are committed to this effort as well. From the U.K., the British government is sending 11 tons of rescue equipment. Teams from Australia are also on the way. Other nations offering help include Canada, Spain, France and Germany.
China has already sent equipment, military manpower and medicine to Japan. If you would like to help the victims of the Japanese earthquake, you can find out more information at cnn.com/impact.
Our impact your world team is collecting links to organizations that are mobilizing all the relief efforts in Japan. On that page, you'll also find the link to Google's people finder database, which aims to reunite people who were separated during this chaos.
At times like this, we benefit from the incredible images sent to CNN by our I-Reporters. In Japan, some of them captured the first terrible moments of the earthquake and their photos and videos keep coming in even as conditions deteriorate. And we leave you this hour with some of their work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the biggest earthquake to date.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an earthquake and it's actually moving. Do you see the crack moving? The crack is just moving. There's water. I don't know if water lines are broken. but this water was not there a moment ago.
NAOTO KAN, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: We will do our best to rescue everyone because every minute counts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The blast at the Fukushima number one nuclear power plant occurred 3:30 p.m. Saturday and the two pictures you're seeing at the moment are of the plant before the blast and after the blast and in the lower one, circled you can see that some of the outer wall has fallen down. YUKIO EDANO, JAPANESE CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY: I will repeat again this was not caused by the nuclear reactor and there was no harmful gas emitted by this explosion. And the radiation level has not changed since the explosion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest problem we have right now is there's no food anywhere. All the convenience stores are closed. The grocery stores are closed. So everyone is on the road trying to find something open and it's just gridlock everywhere.