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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Explosion at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant; Discovery of 2,000 Bodies in Northeast Japan
Aired March 13, 2011 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: It is 1:00 p.m. in Tokyo right now. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN Center. We do want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to our special coverage of the disaster in Japan.
And now, let's bring you up-to-date on the very latest developments, which include a new explosion of one of Japan's nuclear reactors and new discovery of at least 2,000 bodies in northeast Japan.
Japanese officials reported moments ago an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant's number three reactor building of the number one plant. I know it sounds confusing but it's very important we make those specifications.
Now, white smoke, we're hearing, could be seen rising from that facility, the same facility officials are working on the assumption of at least one partial meltdown and one of the reactors. Now, Daiichi is a plant where authorities have recorded higher than normal radiation levels and officials are they're trying to contain any potential radioactive leak by flooding any troubled reactors with sea water.
Now, the confirmed death toll, as we mentioned, from Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami off just northeast Japan is about 1,600. But there's just been a report of another 2,000 bodies found in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture. Now, the overall death toll is expected to grow much higher, of course and possibly in the tens of thousands. That is the fear.
Now, because rescuers say they're finding some survivors of the tsunami, that has offered comfort to many people. But the effort is becoming increasingly difficult, of course. And they fear thousands may have been swept away by the giant waves.
Now, for more on this explosion and immediate repercussions, our Stan Grant joins us now from Tokyo with the latest on the crisis.
Stan, there has been a number of conflicting reports on this. We just want to get an idea on exactly what has happened here because a lot of clarifications coming in to exactly what occurred. What are you learning?
STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What exactly has happened is still unsure, Rosemary. But we just had a news conference from the cabinet secretary from the nuclear safety agency and he is assuming that it was the hydrogen that has exploded there in the building housing the reactor. Now, the assumption is based on their projections. This was expected. They've been warning of another potential explosion there for the last couple of days now.
Cast your mind back, there was an earlier explosion in reactor number one. That was also because of the buildup of hydrogen that damaged an outer wall of the building housing the reactor. The same thing is assumed to have happened here -- build-up of hydrogen as a result of the pressure that has come about because of the overheating of the reactor and attempts to cool the reactor. And now, that hydrogen has exploded, damaging the outside of the building.
Now, they're also assuming similar damage to the structure, that some of the wall could have been -- could have been blown away in this explosion. But we're seeing the smoke into the air and the investigation is continuing in that situation. So, we're waiting to get the latest on that before we have full clarification.
You talk there about radiation levels. Of course, there was concern about those levels being higher than normal. They're now reporting that those levels don't appear to be getting any higher. And, of course, officials here have always stressed that those radiation levels have not been to an extent where they can cause harm to people.
We also understand there are still 600 residents within that 20- kilometer exclusion zone; around 200,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, but 600 remaining there for various reasons. They have been told to stay inside within that exclusion zone. But an investigation is under way into the exact cause. But the assumption is that it was a hydrogen explosion in the outer building that houses the reactor -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: And, Stan, as we were talking, I do want to explain the vision we have to the air to right of everybody's screen. This is not live, not live pictures. It comes from NHK television. It was taken about 90 minutes ago and, of course, that camera has been trained on that Fukushima nuclear power plant facility for some time watching exactly what's been going on and we've been watching and monitoring here and in our other bureaus what is being said at NHK TV, how they've been reporting this and trying to relay that to our global audience.
Stan, just going back to these fears, of course, the important clarification, I guess here, is because it's damaged to the outside of the building, rather than the reactor, that is the message that authorities really want to get across to people, isn't it?
GRANT: Yes. It has been the message they're getting out for some days now. When they had the initial explosion in reactor number one, of course, there were concerns because the reactor has been overheating and attempts to try to cool it were failing. There was concern that there could have been damage to the reactor or the structure surrounding the reactor, the casing of the reactor. There have been attempts to refute that saying it is just a hydrogen explosion not related to the reactor but in the outer building that houses the reactor. They're assuming here the same thing again. And those assumptions are based on projections because of the build-up of hydrogen as a result of trying to deal with the heating of the reactor.
As far as the reactor, so far, Rosemary, they're continuing to pump seawater in there. Now, seawater is seen very much as a last resort in this situation, but that's what was necessary to try to keep the levels to an extent that they can cool the reactor. And they say that has been stabilized the situation, that the sea water has continued to be pumped in there.
So, at least they're able to still get water in there and be able to stabilize the situation. And this outer building being destroyed because of the hydrogen build-up and once again stressing that it was not the reactor itself. But investigations, of course, are still underway and this could always change, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And, Stan, again, as we talk, I do want just to mention these pictures again we're seeing on the right side of our screen -- I wonder if we could make those full-screen, there we go -- just so people can get an idea -- this again on NHK. And you can see that before and after picture. Of course, the building there for reactor three at the bottom of your screen and then at the top, that circled area, you see the damage of the outer structure of that building. But, of course, we're hearing from authorities there that the reactor has not been damaged in that explosion.
Going back to Stan, just wanted to explain those pictures to our global audience, Stan. And just go back to trying to let the people of Japan feel some sense of comfort and presumably that is a message that authorities there in Japan are trying to get out to the people there. Is there good reason to feel that as far as radiation levels go? They are trying to say that they're not a health issue at this point.
GRANT: Yes. They have stressed that all along. They stressed the levels were not at the point they would be harmful but higher than normal.
And I suppose when you hear words like that, when you hear about radiation levels being higher than normal, when you hear about potential meltdown or partial meltdown of the reactor, it creates this sense of uncertainty and even fear when you also see a 20 kilometer exclusion zone set up, 200,000 people evacuated from their homes. These images are all alarming.
But the government has been very quick to respond to things. There's been a constant flow of information and they have been stressing all along that the radiation levels were not at such an extent where they could create harm. In fact, there was one analogy just yesterday saying that the level of the radiation was not all that much higher that you would get from having an X-ray. And that was a level just outside the plant itself -- never mind being outside the 20 kilometer exclusion zone.
So, they had been very, very vigilant about that, and trying to get the message out that the damage wasn't there, the reactor remains intact, there has been no damage to the structure of the reactor and the explosions which add to that sense of uncertainty, hydrogen-based and in the buildings and not the reactor itself. But, yes, your point is a valid, this uncertainty builds when there are so many images and things are moving so quickly, Rosemary.
CHURCH: All right. Thanks so much -- Stan Grant reporting from Tokyo, Japan. Appreciate that.
And, of course, any time there's a crisis involving nuclear power, a lot of ominous words get tossed about. But as James Action from the Carnegie Endowment for Peace points out, words like "meltdown," well, they can be misleading.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES ACTION, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INT'L PEACE: A meltdown is an extreme of one end where the entire core melts. Actually, what we've seen at the moment is some partial melting of some of the small parts of the core. Now, that's serious, because any time you have melting, you increase the possibility of radiation being released into the environment.
But the term "meltdown" is a very emotive term and is really only appropriate to one extreme scenario. Now, it's -- the situation we're in at the moment, it's possible but unlikely 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 about core melting line along a spectrum of options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And, of course, at this hour, we don't know how extreme that outcome will be.
As Japan's nuclear crisis continues to play out, we asked Dr. Ira Helfand what effects radioactive material could have on nearby -- on people nearby. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. IRA HELFAND, PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: After Chernobyl, there were several thousand cases of thyroid cancer in children exposed to radioactive (INAUDIBLE). Strontium and cesium have (INAUDIBLE) isotopes gets into your bones. It stays there for biological half-life of 30 years. It remains radioactive for 600 years and causes bone cancers and leukemia and other malignancies.
Cesium-137 also is very (INAUDIBLE), biological half-life of only about 30 years but remains radioactive about 600 years. The biological half-life is the amount of time it extends in the body before it's excreted. Cesium released (ph) in the entire body and causes a variety of different cancers. Then plutonium is primarily the cause lung cancer, yet it's being just so it can (INAUDIBLE) in the lung.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And for more on what the earthquake has done to Japan's nuclear reactor, you can go to CNN Web site, CNN's Dillon Reynolds has posted answers to a number of your questions. That's at CNN.com.
Well, more than 3,000 people have been rescued so far in this disaster. Numerous U.S. rescue and assistance teams arrived in Japan Sunday.
The Japanese prime minister says this is his country's worst crisis since World War II.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOTO KAN, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Please, I ask each one of you, please have such determination and to 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Japan's prime minister speaking there. And we have been seeing images from northeast Japan for a number of days now. But we continue receiving new video from different perspectives and it continues to shock us. Japanese media say hundreds of people were swept out to sea in Sendai.
I want you to take a look at these remarkable images as the alarm sounded and the tsunami hit.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
CHURCH: Simply terrifying moments for those people on the ground there.
And amid the devastation, an incredible story of survival and tragedy. Rescuers spotted this 60-year-old man signaling for help 15 kilometers offshore. He was actually clinging to the roof of his home two days after the tsunami carried him out to sea. And the man says he and his wife fled their house during the earthquake. He returned to get some belongings when the tsunami struck. His wife was lost at sea.
Well, Sendai was near the epicenter of the earthquake, as you know. And it took a direct hit from the tsunami.
Martin Savidge is there and as he shows us, while rescuers continue searching for survivors, shell-shocked residents have been dealing with frequent tremors and new tsunami warnings.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How do you begin to search what looks like the end of the world? In the seaside city of Sendai, emergency teams carefully pick their way through the devastation. Dwarfed by the size of the tsunami's impact, often the teams are trailed by anxious civilians looking for any signs of missing loved ones.
I wanted to ask this man who he was looking for, but I never got the chance.
(on camera): So, we were starting to follow this what appears to be a search crew. But now, the problem is that apparently there's been another tsunami warning. So, the crew and everyone else here is being told to get away -- which is what they're doing.
(voice-over): It's hard to tell how real the threat may be. Nerves in Sendai are very much still on edge.
Officials shout their warnings, load up, and head for higher ground.
We go in the opposite direction, heading toward the coast, and the closer we get, the more unreal the scenery. The tidal surge rushed inland in some places six miles. Getting around is difficult. Many roads here are impassable.
Adding to the apocalyptic scenes, huge fires continue to burn unchecked. Thick black smoke and flames boiled from a refinery.
As we videoed the scene, we notice something else.
(on camera): Up until now, we've heard the sirens, we've heard the announcements another tsunami coming, but nobody really seemed to be that anxious. Then, all of a sudden, we notice the water here -- it's racing out. We're leaving.
(voice-over): Fortunately, the threat never materializes, which is a good thing because Sendai has already seen more than its share of hell and high water.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Sendai, Japan.
CHURCH: And, of course, the magnitude of Japan's human disaster is simply enormous. But there's also a massive financial impact. The Tokyo Stock Exchange has been quite volatile on this first trading day since Friday's quake and tsunami. Leading Japanese stock index has now recovered a little after skidding nearly 6 percent in early trading.
A bit later, we're going to get the very latest on the financial from our Manisha Tank in Hong Kong.
Well, as we've been noting, whole towns have been washed away by the tsunami that followed the massive quake. When we return: the story of one such unfortunate town.
Do stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back to our global audience and those of you who have joined us in the United States. We want to bring your up-to-date now on the very latest developments.
And Japanese officials report an explosion in the building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant number three reactor. That is a hydrogen explosion. We do have to emphasize that.
And he, of course, you can see this before and after picture. We hope to bring that up. Do we have that before and after? There we go.
You see the building at the bottom there? That's the before and then you see at the top just the total devastation of that building. But we do get word and we have had word from authorities that number three reactor inside that building has not been damaged.
Now, the confirmed death toll from Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami is about 1,600. But there's just been a report of another 2,000 bodies found in the Miyagi Prefecture. The overall death toll is expected to grow much higher, possibly in the tens of thousands.
Now, the quake and tsunami obliterated parts of Japan. A rushing wall of water raged through a town of Minami Sanriku.
And as Paula Hancock tells us, when the water receded, the town was gone.
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.
CHURCH: Well, the misfortune in Japan can bring out the best in people living far away. Just ahead: we will tell you how you can help.
CHURCH: Screams of horror as a wall of water surges on the ledge. You see it there, horrifying, terrifying for anybody on the ground, even for those of us watching from above and this would a couple days later left a neighborhood under water and washed away homes and cars, as you see there.
Now, rescue crews have begun their fourth day of searching for survivors of Japan's worst ever earthquake and tsunami in recorded history. Japan's prime minister told the battered nation he is confident the Japanese people can be united and work together.
Well, our correspondents on the ground say many of the survivors they speak to are still in a state of shock even though the threat of a big earthquake was something many of them had lived with all their lives. Now, that has happened, those who lived through it are struggling to pick up the pieces.
Our Anna Coren reports from one town where grim reality has found a home amid the rubble.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We just arrived on the outskirts of Ishinomaki, which is about an hour north of Sendai. We teamed up with the Japanese military and they are going through this neighborhood to see if they can find any survivors.
(voice-over): But it quickly became apparent this wasn't a search and rescue operation. They were here to recover bodies.
This neighborhood, just 500 meters from the coast, caught the full force of the devastating tsunami. Every single home was damaged by the 10-meter wall of water, most beyond repair.
This man scrambled on top of his house, holding onto the roof to dear life.
(on camera): You are very lucky to be alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm lucky, very lucky.
COREN (voice-over): There was less than 30 minutes between the quake hitting and the monster wave devouring the coast.
(on camera): This is your house.
(voice-over): Jiro Chibu (ph) managed to drive out just in time but says his neighbors weren't so lucky.
(on camera): This is a scene of complete and utter devastation. The power of the tsunami -- it just speaks for itself. The wall of water that roared through here within seconds collected everything in its path.
And from the rescue workers that we have spoken to, the bodies that they're retrieving are those of the elderly who could not get out in time.
Now, for survivors who are returning to see what is left of their home, when you stand here and witness the devastation, you have to wonder where these people start to rebuild their lives.
Anna Coren, CNN, Ishinomaki, Japan.
CHURCH: I want to take a quick break now. We have a lot to cover, lot of clarifications to bring to you and a lot of conflicting reports. I want to clarify some of those points.
Do stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NHK)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Suddenly, there was activity on the roof.
Someone shouts there is still another person. They ask self-defense force troops to help.
There were survivors in the car.
An elderly person had been stuck in this car. The person was rescued safely 10 minutes later. It turned out there were three elderly people.
The car had been covered in mud and debris and they could not get out, and for 20 hours, they were trapped in the car. This woman says that she was washed away by the waves and that she was afraid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Watching from there from NHK television, an incredible story from an eyewitness rescue operation there that was successful and we continue to hope that there will be more of those.
I do want to take the time to bring you up-to-date on the very latest developments that are coming into us.
Japanese officials report a hydrogen explosion in a building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant number 3 reactor. Six people are reported to be injured.
I want you to take a look here at the before and after picture of that building. And you can see there on the bottom, that's the before and then destruction, almost total destruction of that building. You can see that encircled area. But we are getting word that reactor three has now been damaged.
Now, the confirmed death toll from Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami has risen above 1,600 but there's just been a report of another 2,000 bodies found in Miyagi Prefecture. The overall death toll is expected to get much higher, that is the word we are getting, possibly in the tens of thousands.
Now, we will have much more on Japan shortly. But we do want to bring you up-to-date on other stories we're covering.
Protests and violent clashes in Bahrain this weekend and you're looking at video now to bring that up of what appears to be tear gas being used to disperse anti-government demonstrators. Now, CNN cannot confirm the video's authenticity but clashes also broke out at Bahrain University between protesters and supporters of the Gulf kingdom's rulers. A number of injuries are reported.
In Libya, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's government is denouncing the Arab League for recommending a no-fly zone over the country to protect its civilian population. The league's general secretary says he'll ask the U.N. Security Council for the no-fly zone, but it's up to that body to enforce it.
Well, in the meantime, Libya's rebels have suffered another apparent defeat as the Gadhafi government says it has retaken the opposition- held town of al Brega. The rebels admit they have been forced to retreat.
Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson got a government-led tour of another town that is also under Gadhafi's control.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Driving east, the detritus of war -- mile upon mile of rocketed vehicles, discarded weapons and ammunition, littering the roadside -- evidence of a rapid rebel retreat, outgunned and outsmarted by government forces advancing from the west.
The first stop on this government-organized trip: Bin Jawad.
(on camera): This is Bin Jawad police station. It's not clear exactly what happened here. But it's the first signs of any real battle that we've seen. As we've been driving on the highway coming along from the west, we've seen occasional checkpoints manned by two, three, four, sometimes a dozen or so soldiers or policemen.
And in a town here, we've seen most of the stores closed. Some signs of looting. But this police station here is the real first sign of battle we've come across.
Inside is pretty smashed up as well. The windows are here, the front reinforced glass all destroyed, blown out -- pretty blown up. Shots are being fired outside, celebratory shots being fired by soldiers there. They've just been coming back from what appears to be the direction of the front line, some sort of impromptu celebration just for the cameras here.
Just a few days ago, this town was still in rebel hands. You can get an idea of the ferocity of the battle for it. This looks like the tail fins from a Katyusha rocket buried in the front of this house here, underneath children's shoes.
(voice-over): Few houses hit, most by rockets fired from the west, in advancing government forces.
Driving on eastwards, another 40 miles, the sky fills with dense black smoke. As we get closer, unmistakably clear, an oil storage tank at a Ras Lanuf refinery burning out of control. Officials are blaming it on rebels.
(on camera): Exactly how far government forces have advanced beyond the oil fire, exactly where the front line is, remains unclear. But what is clear is that the government is on a roll -- and the rebels are recoiling, retreating, it seems, almost as fast as they can.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Ras Lanuf, Libya.
CHURCH: Well, on Sunday, in a nationwide televised funeral, Israel's former chief rabbi called the killers of an Israeli family "monsters." Police say a mother, father and their three children, including 4- month-old baby girl were killed inside this home in the West Bank territory. Israel's government called the slayings a terror attack and quickly approved the construction of several hundred settlement homes inside the West Bank.
Well, still no end in sight for the power struggle that's gripped Ivory Coast since November's disputed election. "Agence France Presse" reports at least eight people were killed when forces loyal to the self-declared president, Laurent Gbagbo, attacked a suburb of Abidjan on Sunday. Meanwhile, rebels who support the internationally- recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, say they have taken over another town.
Well, some were saying this could be Japan's most expensive disaster in history. And looking at all the damage, it certainly easy to believe that. Just ahead: a closer look at the financial impact.
CHURCH: Well, people all across the world are reaching out to help any way they can the people in Japan.
Our Reggie Aqui shows how the Internet is providing support to those in need.
REGGIE AQUI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This hash tag, "Pray for Japan." It's all over Twitter right now. And what we have been watching over the past few hours or so, a lot of people not necessarily talking about the news in Japan but talking about how people across the world can contribute to the Red Cross and other organizations. They are asking people to use their phones to text message so that they can instantly donate a few bucks to these charities that are trying to help folks in Japan.
And something that I thought was really interesting, someone decided to take the time and translate some of the Japanese tweets coming out into English -- so we can see what the people in the affected areas are thinking.
This one I thought was particularly noteworthy. It says, "My 2-year- old was putting his shoes on himself saying, 'I'm going to arrest the earthquake.' I realized that inside a tiny body, there's a lot of courage and justice. Everyone, let's stand strong and get through this."
I also want to show you something that is on our Web site right now. And this is just -- it's really very simple. It's just images, just still images taken from the areas that have been affected.
This one happened to strike me. You can see what is happening as night falls in Japan. People who are living in these shelters now, neighbor helping neighbor. And there's obviously a big concern for those who are sick and those who are senior citizens.
And these folks are in Tamura (ph). This is after they were evacuated from the area near the nuclear plant in Fukushima where we still aren't not sure what the fate will finally be there, people who are trying to be safe and to get out of harm's way.
I also want to let you know that there is a special part of our Web site called "Impact Your World." This is a section where you can go and find out how to make a contribution to help the folks who have been affected by the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. It's also the place where we have links to Google and their person finder.
And, when I was talking to you yesterday, I think that we were at about 68,000 or so records, people either looking for someone who or having information about someone. Look at this number now -- 124,000 individual records of people trying to find other people that they are concerned about.
I'm going to leave you with this last tweet -- again, translated from Japanese into English for us on Twitter.
And it says, "Walked for four hours just to get home. Everyone was walking home silently, diligently. People working at the shops were doing their job. The Internet managed to hold, despite of the enormous overflow. Emergency shelters are opened and trains were quickly restored. What a tough country."
And I think that we can all agree that Japan is doing a phenomenal job trying to put the pieces back together.
CHURCH: It certainly is. Thanks so much for that.
And once again, we do want to remind our viewers, if you'd like to help the victims of the Japan disaster, you can find out more information on CNN.com/impact. Our "Impact your World" team is collecting links to organizations that are mobilizing relief efforts in Japan and on that page, you also find a link to Google's people finder, a database that aims to reunite those separated in the chaos.
Well, on this first trading day since Friday's earthquake and tsunami, Japanese markets took a tumble in early trade. Manisha Tank is following that part of the story and she joins us now with more on the cost of the Japan's disaster.
It's just enormous, isn't it?
MANISHA TANK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's definitely what we're hearing, Rosemary. And the Japanese stock market in particular will a gauge for us as to how investors view the government and the central bank's economic efforts in the aftermath of this quake.
We can actually look at the numbers, and you mentioned that a strong sell-off at the outset. That's very much what we expected. The Nikkei down almost 6 percent now, extending the losses as the morning goes on. Insurance companies, of course, have been especially hard hit. There's still a lot of unknowns.
However, we do have this nuclear crisis that's unfolding which could really spook investors, depending on the outcome. We'll be watching it very closely.
Now, the Bank of Japan took the unprecedented move of pumping 12 trillion yen. That is about U.S.$146 billion into the market in one go. Now, pumping this kind of cash has -- into the market, has a number of effects. It means money will be readily available to facilitate purchases and transactions. The perhaps greater short term in fact is to boost the confidence in the stock market and stem any huge loses. Psychologically, that's really important right now.
Now, meanwhile, in the currency markets, we've seen some initial strengths in the yen. Talk is that firms looking to repatriate funds in preparation to the rebuilding effort have been selling U.S. dollars now the currency, and buying yen. However, the Japanese currency has pulled off those earlier highs. And some of that may be to do with the fact that we've seen this strong cash injection by the Bank of Japan, they're clearly taking measures to stabilize the currency in what is a very volatile period for this market.
This is an export-led economy we're talking about. Some of the country's biggest exporters, familiar names like Toyota and Nissan, currently have some 20 factories or so out of action in the affected areas. So, it is important the firms get access to the cash that they need to resurrect their operations quickly and efficiently, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Thanks so much, Manisha. A very important part of this story as well. Appreciate that.
Well, cold weather is affecting rescuers and those stranded by the devastation.
Jill Brown is at the international weather center with that look of that. So, what sort of temperatures are we looking at here?
JILL BROWN, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Well, Rosemary, they have been dealing with dry and above-average temperatures. And as we go to the next couple of days, those temperatures will be dropping cold enough that we think we'll be getting some snow.
So, definitely, the worst thing we could imagine through here really, any kind of weather in this situation is bad news. You don't want rain. You don't want snow. We don't want drop in temperatures. But that's about what you're going to get.
So, one low has kind of pass by the northern part of Japan and out it goes does not really affect the Sendai area. This next come from the south and it will shift the winds around if they come in from the northeast now, that's going to bring the temperatures down. It will probably start off with some rain and then it will change over to snow. Most of the precipitation will be to the north of Sendai. But we think we're going to come through here, and definitely the colder temperatures.
Now, as we've been watching this through the day today, the forecast has been kind of bolstering here and each time we see this coming -- and this is a forecast for the next 48 hours -- there's a little more white on it. So, it looks like we're more and more likely to get that snow.
But, again, how much will it be? Well, here's our little dot (ph) for the next 48 hours. That takes to maybe two centimeters. Maybe a couple of locations getting four and most of it north of Sendai.
So, the forecast then looks like for Tuesday, we'll probably start off with some sun, end up with some rain showers. By Wednesday, temperature drops down, the overnight lows will be below zero, we think, during the day, a little bit above freezing, but cold enough that we'll keep some snow showers in the forecast through Thursday. So, not the best of news.
The other thing that we will, of course, be watching with the storm coming through is the direction of the wind. So, what you're looking at here is upper level winds, and they have all been from west to east. And that's good, keeping that wind offshore, and that is not expected to change in the next 48 hours.
What will change as the storm comes through is the surface winds. They start out from the southwest today but they'll shift in the next 48 hours. And onshore lift (ph), briefly, before the storm goes through and they go offshore.
Why is that important? Well, of course, because of the danger of radiation, that everyone is watching. If we keep an offshore wind, that's definitely better. But we think that, briefly, they will turn onshore, at least at the surface until the storm goes by and then they will be offshore again, but with much colder weather.
Rosemary, back to you.
CHURCH: Jill, thanks so much for explaining that to us. Appreciate it.
You know, we did want to tell you about a harrowing account of survival, a woman's remarkable rescue brought to us by Japanese broadcaster NHK.
(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)
CHURCH: Heartbreaking story there of that remarkable woman and her story brought to you by NHK television.
Well, the disaster affected millions of people, of course. And up next, some of them recorded the moments the earth first shook. We will bring you those.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.
Let's go over the latest developments that we have so far coming out of Japan. Japanese officials report a hydrogen explosion in a building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants number three reactor. We are emphasizing here it was a hydrogen blast. Six people, we understand, have been reported to be injured.
And we're showing you before and after pictures of the building you can see at the top. There's not much left but we are hearing from authorities that the number three reactor has not been damaged.
Now, the confirmed death toll from Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami has risen above 1,600, but there's been a recent report of another 2,000 bodies found in northern Japan's Miyagi Prefecture. Now, the overall death toll is expected to grow much higher, of course. That's what we're hearing these fears and concerns of that possibly into the tens of thousands.
Well, the tourist town of Minami Sanriku in northern Japan was one of the first places to experience the sheer power of these tsunami waves. It sits about 80 kilometers from the quick's epicenter or at least it did. Now, there's not very much left of it.
Gary Tuchman takes a look.
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.
CHURCH: Now, one way we are finding out what it was like to be in Japan when that earthquake struck was through iReports that are coming into us.
And Scott Goldener was in the Narita airport and he turned his camera on himself and described the situation inside that terminal. I want you to take a listen now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT GOLDENER, WITNESS: During the quake I was just got my gate and was getting ready, just sitting down, waiting my flight, when the quake started.
GOLDENER: I thought it would be a small quake like we had the last few days. Then it just kept going and going, and stronger and stronger, and that's when we knew it was a serious earthquake.
We had quite a few strong aftershocks. And then after about half hour, they evacuated us to the tarmac where we stayed a half hour, 45 minutes before bringing us back in.
Delta agents have been here all night long giving people information, blankets, food, snacks, water. Other than that, the airport authorities had everything under control and kept everything pretty orderly. Everybody is working together and working with the situation that we have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And we do have news of Scott Goldener. He was able to get on a plane and has since landed safely in the United States.
I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back in an hour. But do stay with us for more coverage on the catastrophe in Japan with another full hour of "WORLD REPORT" with our Pauline Chiou.