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Japan Nuclear Plant Crisis; Health Risks Associated With Radiation; Half of Japanese Town's Residents Still Unaccounted For

Aired March 15, 2011 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: An amazing rescue 96 hours after the biggest earthquake on record in Japan, but moments like these are few and far between. Emergency workers have also found more bodies as they search for thousands of missing people, and weather conditions are expected to get worse. Survivors are facing freezing temperatures and the threat of mudslides.

At the same time, problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have deepened. Now radiation briefly reached dangerous levels and the plant's owner says that may have been called by a fire at the number four reactor building. It was not in use, but it did contain spent fuel rods.

Now, officials have imposed a no-fly zone within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant, and people in that same area have been told to stay inside.

The prime minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, once again ordered people living within 30 kilometers to leave the area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAOTO KAN, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): For reactor number 1 and reactor number 3, hydrogen came out and caused a hydrogen explosion. We've also seen fire at reactor number 4. Radiation has spread from these reactors and the reading of the level seems very high. There's still a very high risk of further radioactive material coming out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, 50 workers are trying to contain the situation despite potential danger to their own health. Now, they are desperately trying to cool three of the reactors.

The Japanese broadcaster NHK explains what went wrong at the facility.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first explosion blew out the top part of a reactor containment building at the Fukushima number 1 nuclear power plant. This footage inside the building was taken during a regular inspection. The nuclear reactor is housed behind this robust wall.

This is what a nuclear reactor looks like. The uranium inside the fuel rod inside the reactor undergoes nuclear fission. The rods emit heat, generating energy.

Usually water cools them to maintain their temperature at 270 degrees Celsius, but if the cooling fails, the temperature could rise to over 1,200 degrees. This temperature is hot enough to melt the fuel rods.

When the earthquake hit, the first safety system to prevent a meltdown was activated. Control rods rose into the reactor to stop the nuclear fission. As planned, the reactor stopped operating, but the fuel rods were still hot. Water should have been circulated to cool them down. However, this didn't happen because of a power outage right after the quake.

So the second safety system turned on. The emergency diesel power generator began spraying the rods with coolant, but an hour later, something unexpected happened. Without warning, the emergency generator stopped.

Around this time, the tsunami, possibly as high as 10 meters, hit the power plant. Experts thing this is what caused the generator to fail.

Now the third safety system started operating. It converts steam, traveling through the pipes into water. It cools the rods, but the water level went down and the temperature continued to rise. All three safety measures had failed.

Professor Akira Omoto of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission was involved in construction of the Fukushima plants. He thinks the cooling water somehow leaked from the reactor.

PROF. AKIRA OMOTO, JAPAN ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION (through translator): The reactors' coolants must have leaked somewhere in the building. We thought we had taken adequate precautions for a tsunami, but what happened was beyond our expectations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To forcibly cool the reactor, seawater had to be pumped into it and the containment vessel. Similar failures and a huge explosion also hit another reactor at the plant on Monday. Once again, nature has challenged man's best efforts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, the World Health Organization says Japanese officials are taking appropriate protective measures. Now, the effects of radiation depend on exposure, and the weather plays a big role in that.

(WEATHER REPORT)

STOUT: Now, let's find out more about the health risks associated with radiation. David Brenner is the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University. He joins us live from CNN New York.

And the first question, the news of the day, did that third explosion and the fire today at the nuclear plant, did that allow dangerous levels of radioactive material to escape from the reactor?

DAVID BRENNER, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR RADIOLOGICAL RESEARCH, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: It certainly allowed some levels of radioactivity to escape. Whether it was dangerous levels, I think we don't really know. I think the evidence is probably against that at this point.

I think what we're seeing is a whole series of measurements that are fluctuating up and down quite sharply, and that relates to the various releases which are happening at the different plants. But I don't think we have any evidence of sustained high levels of radiation exposure in the populated areas at this moment.

STOUT: OK. But if dangerous radioactive material was released, could it reach Tokyo, and could it cross borders and reach other countries, like South Korea?

BRENNER: Well, that depends entirely on how much material is released from the reactors and, of course, which direction the wind is blowing. The chances are against that at the moment. I don't think, of course, we know, and within the next 24, 48 hours, we'll really have a much better handle on that. But at this point, I think the chances of sustained radiation exposure at long distances from the plant are still low.

STOUT: OK. Now, the chief cabinet secretary of Japan, he said earlier today that he could not rule out the possibility of a meltdown. What does that mean? What happens when there's a nuclear meltdown?

BRENNER: Well, a meltdown can mean almost anything. A meltdown can mean that just for a few seconds, the core is uncovered. It could mean that for a long period of time, a lot of the core is uncovered. So, I mean, we've had meltdown situations already in these Japanese reactors, and the core has clearly been uncovered for some period of time. The question is, how much and for how long?

So, meltdown can mean almost anything.

STOUT: So we have the Japanese government warning of a possible meltdown. Isn't meltdown the worst-case scenario?

BRENNER: Well, a complete meltdown and an inability to recover the reactor fuel is indeed the worst possible scenario. I don't think there's evidence at the moment -- well, we know that that hasn't happened at this point.

Again, what will happen in the next 48 hours time will tell. But it's still fair to point out that even in the worst possible scenario, we're not at all in a situation like the Chernobyl reactor accident in the old Soviet Union. And even in the worst possible scenario, I think we're not talking about significant radiation exposures a long way from the current reactor plants.

STOUT: So we're nowhere near Chernobyl, but we've had three explosions in four days at this nuclear power plant. What is the best-case scenario here?

BRENNER: Well, as you were discussing earlier, the best-case scenario probably relates to wind patterns. If the wind really blows off shore consistently in the next couple of days, the radiation exposure to the general population will be very limited.

If the plants continue to emit radiation, and the wind changes direction, then we'd certainly be concerned locally about the population. I still think there's little evidence that folks as far away as Tokyo, for example, are likely to have significant radiation exposures.

STOUT: OK. David Brenner from Columbia University.

You wanted to add one more thing. Go ahead, David.

BRENNER: One thing we still have to worry about is those folks inside the nuclear plant. There is absolutely no doubt at all that they are getting very high and potentially lethal doses of radiation. We are very concerned about those folks.

STOUT: That's right. Nonessential workers have been evacuated, but over a dozen workers remain at that power plant. Thank you for reminding us of that.

David Brenner of Columbia University, joining us live from New York.

Thank you.

Now, up next here on NEWS STREAM, an entire town destroyed.

And coming up next, we will have the harrowing tales of the survivors and the latest updates on the rescue missions in a town where thousands are still missing.

And Dr. Sanjay Gupta returns to tell us what hospitals are doing to treat the massive numbers of injured survivors coming through their doors.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Now, in some parts of Japan's disaster zone, entire towns have been destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. One of those towns is Minamisanriku. It was a town situated between two rivers.

And as Japanese broadcaster Enesh Kay (ph) reports, half of the town's residents -- half of them -- are still unaccounted for.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENESH KAY (ph), JAPANESE BROADCASTER (voice-over): Half of the town's 18,000 residents lived in an area within three kilometers from the shore and between two rivers. The train station at a hospital, as well as homes, were between the rivers. Today, hardly anything is left standing.

This hospital is still recognizable. Water rushed in, engulfing four of the five floors. A boat washed up onto the second floor. When the tsunami hit, about 100 patients were in the hospital, but the staff could only rescue those on the fourth floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We could help less than half, maybe one third of our patients. There was no time to save the rest, and we don't know where they are.

KAY: The school sits on a hill. It's now serving as a shelter for the townspeople. Among them are the surviving hospital patients.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): People were in bed covered in blankets. I think they were all patients. Before anyone can do anything, the huge wave came gushing in, then another swirling wave. Everyone was being carried away right in front of me, and then they were gone.

(SCREAMING)

KAY: This footage was taken on higher ground by an evacuee near the school. Powerful waves as high as 10 meters came rushing in. Anyone unlucky enough to be in the way was no match for the waves.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, the Japanese broadcaster NHK reports that rescue crews are on the ground in that ravaged town.

Reporter Yonggi Kang has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YONGGI KANG, REPORTER, NHK: Here, in Minamisanriku, more and more volunteers are coming in, including an international aid group. A team of Doctors Without Borders have arrived in this town to offer help to the elderly and those who became injured by the earthquake. We also have learned that 2,000 people have been confirmed safe.

This town has a population of about 18,000, and out of that, 7,500 people have already evacuated. And on top of that we have 2,000 more people confirmed safe.

Now, I got a chance to speak to one of the staff at this junior high school, and he was saying that the things they need most include gasoline and daily necessities, including toilet paper.

Now, I also got a chance to speak to one of the evacuees. This, a 26- year-old mother of one child, was telling me that right after the earthquake struck, she rushed to her son's kindergarten to escape to somewhere safe, and they did manage to survive. However, she lost her home because her home got completely washed away by the massive tsunami, and now she has no place to go back to. And on top of that, she was also saying that she does not know whether her grandmother is still alive or not.

It is getting much colder here in Minamisanriku. People have to endure the cold weather this evening and tonight. And the volunteer staff were calling for donations of things such as candles and flashlights.

Now, we will continue to keep you updated on the developments here in Minamisanriku.

That is all for me, Yonggi Kang, reporting from Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, markets across Asia are falling. And coming up, we'll look at what happened in the Asian markets today, and we'll see which stocks were the day's big losers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Japanese government officials say that radiation levels have dropped at a crippled nuclear plant after an earlier spike followed a fire in one reactor building and an explosion in another. Now, the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says spent fuel rods may have burned in the fire.

Now, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yuku Odono (ph), says radiation levels are back to a level that won't harm human health.

And we have this just into us. The death toll from the disaster has climbed. The official number just in to 3,373 people. It is expected to climb further still. Thousands of people are reported missing across Japan, and now the focus turns to helping survivors.

Now, Sanjay Gupta is on the ground in Akita, Japan. He joins us now live.

And Sanjay, you're now out of the disaster zone, but what did you see when you were in Sendai?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think any health care system in the world, Kristie, would have a hard time preparing for something like this, although here in Japan they do it as well as anyone. You know, getting the sense of preparedness, getting the staff together in one of these big hospitals, and trying to prepare for the large volume of patients.

We wanted to see that for ourselves through the eyes of one particular patient. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): The images are tough to watch. But as I learned, the stories are even harder to hear.

You see those cars being tossed around like toys? Well, this man, Iobashi (ph), was in one of them. And he lived to tell about it.

(on camera): So you were looking out your windshield and you saw the water coming?

(voice-over): He tried to escape, but it was too late. "Over and over I was hit," he said. And then his car flooded. He was slowly drowning, and so he tried to smash the window with his right hand.

Finally, he got the car to open, but the water pinned the door back on his hips and his leg. Mr. Iobashi (ph) doesn't know how he was saved. The next thing he remembered was pulling up in the ambulance to Saka Hospital.

(on camera): Well, as you might imagine, triage is a big deal at a place like this. Here at Saka Hospital, they basically categorize patients into four categories immediately: green, if it was a relatively minor injury; yellow, if it was more serious; red, if it was very serious; and black, if the patient had died. When Mr. Iobashi (ph) came in, he was considered a red.

(voice-over): Critically injured, his life was now in the hands of Dr. Takanori Sasaki (ph).

(on camera): So it's important to point out Dr. Sasaki (ph) has been here since Friday. He never left the hospital since the earthquake occurred and has been taking care of these patients as head of the emergency room.

(voice-over): Day after day, Saka Hospital stayed open with Dr. Sasaki (ph) in charge, taking care of hundreds of patients. In Japan, near drownings and cardiac arrest are the most common serious injuries seen, followed by head and crush injuries.

(on camera): Now, Dr. Sasaki (ph) has been here since Friday. And I want to give you an idea of just how busy the busiest hospital has been after the earthquake and tsunami. Six hundred patients seen here over the last several days. Seventy-nine patients remain, 13 patients have died.

(voice-over): Watching Iobashi (ph) closely, it is clear he is haunted by what happened to him. The tsunami robbed him of just about everything. In fact, you're looking at all he has left. But then, a rare smile, and he tells me, almost in disbelief, "I am still alive."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: You know, mentally and emotionally, you can see just how difficult it is in this particular area. A lot of people may not realize, Kristie, it was a lot of retirement communities up and down the coast there. So a lot of people who were affected by this were elderly, like Mr. Iobashi (ph) there.

He's going to recover physically, but it's about the rest of his life. Where does he go from here? His home is gone. His car, gone.

It's challenging. And this is where a lot of the focus is going to be over the next several weeks and months -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes. And a question about the overall relief effort, what you experienced and what you witnessed firsthand when you were in Sendai. What more is needed before the relief effort matches the need on the ground?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting, because it is a very well- coordinated relief effort, everything from people knowing where to go to evacuate, you know, up to higher ground, specific buildings, to supermarkets, for example, immediately starting to donate food to evacuation centers. But the question now, Kristie, is how long can that continue?

For example, many of the supermarkets have run out of food. So many of these evacuation centers housing hundreds and hundreds of people are relying on the good will of people to make donations from all over the country and all over the world. How long does that system continue, and how do people get back in their homes that have been so damaged by the tsunami? Some of their homes are nonexistent, but even the ones that just have significant flood damage, that process is going to take a while.

So this is not going to be over by any means soon. And the whole displacement and the whole relocation process is going to take a long time.

STOUT: All right. Sanjay Gupta, joining us live from Akita, Japan, in northern Japan.

Thank you very much indeed.

You're watching NEWS STREAM.

And just to remind you of the breaking news, official figures just into us as of 8:00 p.m. local time there in Japan. Japanese authorities now saying that the death toll has surpassed 3,000 to 3,373. That number, most surely, will rise as scores of people remain missing.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: The disaster and anxiety surrounding what might happen next at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is sending shock waves not just through Japanese financial markets, but across global markets this hour.

Now, it began with another big sell-off today in Japan. Our Andrew Stevens joins us now to break it all down for us -- Andrew.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, it was a very big sell-off. It was a panic style, as we were talking about, in Japan today.

We saw that 6.2 percent fall, which is a massive fall for a huge market like Japan yesterday. Today was substantially more, 10.5 percent. And consider at one stage the Nikkei was down 14.5 percent. You've got to go back to 1987, Black Friday, the October crash of 1987, to see these sorts of numbers.

And it was selling right across the board. This is the Nikkei 225. There are 225 stocks listed on that. Not one was in the green. They were all being sold off. And this was this trigger, really, to start getting the sell-off around the region.

I just want to show you first, before we get to that, this is the Nikkei trading today. You'll see there was a sell-off off the back of the six percent sale yesterday, Kristie. We had the lunch break here, but during the lunch break, that was when Naoto Kan spoke about the increased risks of more radiation. And that really was the trigger to another big down -- right down to that 14 percent fall for the day. It did come back a bit since then, but certainly the Nikkei is showing some significant falls because of that panic selling.

This is what the effect was around the rest of the region. You see there, Hong Kong, down three percent. And that's because people can get their money out quite easy in Hong Kong. It's a liquid market. But across the region, you're seeing this sell-off.

But what is interesting now, this is the European markets. They're trading at the moment. You're seeing some big falls there.

The Xetra DAX in Germany down -- obviously, it's a nuclear -- there's a lot of nuclear energy there. There are nuclear --

STOUT: They just ordered the shutdown.

STEVENS: They've ordered the shutdown.

In London, there's commodities because people are worrying now about a fall. Commodity prices have been falling. They're looking for safe havens now. So, right across the world we're seeing this sort of -- this knock-on effect. U.S. futures currently showing about a 2 percent fall when they open about two hours or so from now.

So really what we are now seeing is a global sell-off. And I've been talking to people what will happen in the NIKKEI tomorrow, it really depends on where we go from here on the nuclear crisis. But at the moment it is just about fear and uncertainty. And there's certainly no end of sight for that at the moment.

LU STOUT: It's incredible isn't it? A panic selling taking place in Japan turning into a global sell off. And you'll be back at the top of the hour.

STEVENS: We will.

LU STOUT: Andrew Stevens there thank you very much indeed.

Now the nearest major city to the quake was Sendai. Now both the quake and the tsunami caused plenty of damage in a city of about 1 million people. And for an idea of the structural damage to that city Kit Miyamoto joins us now live from Sendai in Japan. Now he is the president and CEO of the structural engineering firm Miyamoto International.

Thank you for joining us here on CNN. And please tell us what is your overall damage assessment there in Sendai.

KIT MIYAMOTO, PRESIDENT, MIYAMOTO INTERNATIONAL: Well, the Sendai city itself for downtown district that that is pretty minimum. I didn't see much of a structural damage by the earthquake itself, but once going close to the port closer to the ocean there is extensive damage by the tsunami. It was just amazing just the many smaller houses being destroyed and commercial buildings still standing but the ground floor is totally destroyed by the force of the tsunami.

LU STOUT: You know, it's extraordinary, so most of the damage was caused by the tsunami, not by the 9.0 quake.

Now the rescue effort is still under way. It will soon sadly become a recovery mission. And then comes the rebuilding. But when will the rebuilding begin? And how long will it take?

MIYAMOTO: You know, it's definitely -- this is the -- we're probably going to lose about 10,000 people here it seems like. But damage is really widespread over the 300, 400 kilometer along the coastline and many cities and many towns destroyed by tsunami. And just an incredible amount of debris needs to be removed first. And also same time the shelters need to be provided to the people who lost their homes. I'm sure there are several hundred thousand people like that. And a food supply and so on.

So this is going to incredible the recovery and reconstruction effort. We've been engaged with the Haitian government and United Nations and NGO's that Haiti for past year, but this is going to be I think even more difficult operation here in Japan.

But I believe if any nation can really overcome this it would be Japan. You know, they went through this so many times, so many disasters in the past, and this is one of these disasters I'm sure we can -- they can definitely come back.

But this is incredible stuff. It's really changing how the Japanese, the society is that even Tokyo we have this four hours of the blackout now. And, you know, it's really more in the Sendai than Tokyo area. And even food is somewhat hard to get here. And just the -- it's almost this whole society, whole civilization kind of stop in a sense. It just makes me wonder how fragile is the -- our civilization is. It's just incredible isn't it?

LU STOUT: Is it. It's such a tragedy. And just making this worse is now this nuclear fear. Now you're talking to us via broadband from Sendai in the disaster zone, very close to the nuclear evacuation zone, what precautions are you and your teams doing or undergoing to protect yourselves from radiation exposure. And I have to ask even if the rebuilding takes place, because of these nuclear concerns, could there be a possibility that people won't be returning to their homes for long, long, long time?

MIYAMOTO: Well, the Sendai is about 100 kilometer from the actual nuclear plants. So this area, and actually the whole Miyagi Province, has not been affected by the nuclear -- or radiation affect at all. So we're still in the safe zone. But obviously we'll definitely keep eyes on it, exactly how much radiation come out and how it's affecting each way the wind is blowing. But we definitely need to do this job. This is our job as the structural engineer to really understand the damage, understand this disaster so the proper reconstruction, recovery effort could be made as soon as possible.

LU STOUT: Well, Kit Miyamoto, you're going some very, very important work for your country. Thank you very much for joining us here on CNN. Kit Miyamoto, structural engineer and CEO joining us live from Sendai.

Now Japan is closely monitoring radiation readings at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. And authorities say they have now fallen after earlier reaching levels that were dangerous to human health. Those spent fuel rods may have burned in a morning fire at the facility releasing radioactive material. And workers are still trying to cool three reactors with sea water.

Now some critics have accused Japan's main nuclear plant operator of cover-ups in the past. Now international security analyst James Walsh explains.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: There is a history here with this utility and with nuclear accidents in Japan with companies having in the past falsified their statements, not having been worth coming only to find out later that things were worse than they were the case.

Now, you hope that because of those incidents, things were improved, but I've been watching these press conferences from the beginning and they are tight lipped, they are begrudging. You don't learn stuff. Questions are asked and not answered. You get conflicting statements, positive statements that are then reversed within an hour.

Now, you know, let's cut them a break here. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. These are fast moving events. And events themselves change, the reality changes. But they are not helping by not being fully forthcoming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: As you heard, these are fast moving events. And let's get the very latest now from Stan Grant in Tokyo. And Stan, the nuclear crisis. What is the latest on the reactors and the radiation levels at the nuclear plant?

STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie. A lot of focus today has really shifted to the number two reactor and the number four reactor. Now the number two reactor, there was an explosion today. And there was concern that what may have happened here, it may have ruptured the containment vessel to some degree. Now the container vessel acts as a last line of defense if you'd like to try to take the nasty material, the worst of the radioactive material in the extent of a meltdown. If that's ruptured, it would raise the possibility of that radiation going into the atmosphere.

Then there was a fire at the number four reactor. Now, what we're hearing from the electricity company is that what appears to have happened here, this wasn't actually functioning at the time, this reactor, but there was such a buildup of heat that the spent fuel rods that were sitting in a pool, the water had evaporated causing those fuel rods to actually catch fire. That's what caused that fire.

And that's what led to this alarming jump in the radiation reading. It reached levels that we have not seen at all throughout this crisis, a level that was very harmful to humans. But it was actually contained within the perimeter of the reactor plant itself.

At the same time, the prime minister has been warning here of the possibility of more radiation to come. They've had this 20 kilometer exclusion zone. People have been moved from their homes. They're now saying people within a 30 kilometer zone must stay inside, keep the doors locked, keep the windows down. So this is raising a lot of anxiety. And we're hearing from people here that whether they can trust the word of the government, the veracity of the government, whether they have this under control, particularly when they're battling on so many fronts -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, officials are saying that the radiation levels had dropped. But again as you just mentioned earlier they said those alarming words -- they were at levels that could impact human health. So is the immediate danger over or did a hazardous, dangerous amount of radioactivity escape the plant?

GRANT: A hazardous amount of radioactivity escaped -- was kept within that plant. Now it rose to a level that was going to be damaging outside the perimeter, outside the fence there, the levels have dropped. Now the government has been saying that those levels no longer pose a risk, that those levels have dropped.

You can't say the danger has passed. This has been an ongoing situation that has fluctuated almost hourly. When you had talked about meltdowns or partial meltdowns, when you have fuel rods exposed, when you have explosions, when you have fires, when you have these sharp peaks in radiation levels, that creates a lot of concern. You know this is not going to change until they are able to get in there and actually have a look and survey the damage and actually work out how much damage had been done to the core of these reactors and how much of that radioactive material may, in fact, seep out through these containment vessels and into the atmosphere, Kristie. And those questions are a long way from being answered.

LU STOUT: Three explosions in four days. Japan's chief cabinet secretary saying he could not rule out the possibility of a meltdown. How likely is it?

GRANT: How likely is a meltdown or a full meltdown? Well, really this depends on the ability to keep these reactors under control or stabilized. What they're telling us now is that they've been able to pump enough water in to stabilize one and three and also working to stabilize number two as well. Now that's keeping it at a level that is manageable.

What they really need to do is cool these reactors down to the point that they are able to get in and survey this damage. They need to find out how much of the core of these reactors have disintegrated. They need to check the containment vessels for any rupture there.

Now you talk about a full meltdown, of course that is always possible. But in that event, there are several safety procedures. And what they would hope is that any radioactive material would be kept within those containment vessels. If they ruptured and it gets out then that's a whole other story. And people looking at this and they're wondering if they're getting the full story, they're wondering if the government is really across all of this if they're actually getting the full picture.

And what we're hearing from the prime minister is, he's telling people to stay calm, but you're asking people to stay calm when you're talking about hundreds of thousands of people who have been moved from their homes and see this situation fluctuating almost hour by hour -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Stan Grant on the story live in Tokyo. Thank you, Stan.

One of the biggest concerns for survivors is also a shortage of supplies. Just getting the basics like bread and water is very difficult in places like Sendai. Many people are having to wait in food lines like this one for hours at a time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was really worried that my baby would get dehydrated. I'm relieved that finally I could buy from them (inaudible) right away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now Tokyo escaped the kind of damage meted out to the northeast, but it has not escaped the shortages. People in the capital are queuing up for food. There are also lines outside of fuel stations.

Now Japan says six international organizations and 91 countries have offered to help. And despite recent tension China is one of them. Now here is a Chinese rescue team searching for survivors. Now two U.S. search teams are also in the town of Ofunato. CNN's Brian Todd followed them on a hunt for survivors.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're here in the town of Ofunato which was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. You see some of the rescue workers there going into that very unstable house. These guy are very courageous. They go into these structures all the time knowing that they could come down at any minute. The devastation here is really kind of hard to put into words, but you can see just endless whole blocks of nothing but rubble. And this is what these guys have to come and try to sift through to find people alive.

I'm going to show you one stark contrast, you can see up that hill, that's what high ground down in a tsunami, it can save those structures, save the people in them. But of course, down here they just almost didn't have a chance.

Just on the other side of these buildings is an inlet that comes in from the ocean so it kind of funneled the tsunami waters in here. And rescue workers tell us that it made the waters even stronger, just incredible force that game through that funnel, through that inlet and just swept over this entire area.

I'm here with Chief Chris Schaff of Virginia Task Force One. Chris, when you come upon a scene like this how do you guys even get started. How do you not get overwhelmed with all of this?

CHIEF CHRIS SCHAFF, VIRGINIA TASK FORCE ONE: You know, if you look at it in the big picture, it is easy to get overwhelmed the way that we break it out by sticking with search teams, group and breaking it down into small coordinates and small grids it makes it easier for the guys and girls to focus on their jobs while they're here so we can move from grid to grid instead of city to city, that would be too much and too much to process.

TODD: And you have other teams here helping you. And you're kind of cordoning off parts of the city, right?

SCHAFF: We do. It's been cordoned off this particular location between us, L.A. And the UK are here. We've divided into coordinates or seven quadrants. And we're working in the lower three here. And then we've broken that down further by search groups and rescue teams that are working here.

TODD: All right, well chief good luck. Thanks for doing this. Thank you.

Well, Karen and Christine (ph), one thing that Chief Schaff has told us is that what they count on in a lot of these situations not only for the canine teams that are just over there -- they're swarming around here also by the way. The dog teams are very impressive. They can find people alive in the rubble, but they also count on friends, relatives, kind of waving at them, pointing to people who may be inside these structures, maybe under these rubble piles.

But Chief Schaff told me something that was pretty daunting a moment ago. In a situation like this, he said, there may be whole families that have gone missing. So of course no one is looking for them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Brian Todd there.

Now troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE are in Bahrain. They're helping the government deal with unrest and protest. But the international reaction has been mixed. We go live to Abu Dhabi after the break.

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LU STOUT: Now the United States has offered condolences to the people of Japan as it deals with the aftermath of last week's earthquake and tsunami. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Japan's foreign minister at the G8 meeting in Paris. And Clinton expressed solidarity with the Japanese people. Japan's foreign minister thanked the U.S. for its assistance and messages of support.

Now we want to turn now to Bahrain and some news just into CNN, the King has declared a state of national safety. Now that comes just one day after troops from Saudi Arabia and the UAE enter the kingdom in an effort to help put down calls for political change. Now CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom joins us live from Abu Dhabi with his perspective.

Mohammed, what more do we know about this state of national safety?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Kristie, this is just coming in to us, the king of Bahrain issued a royal decree declaring a state of national safety on all parts of the Kingdom effective today, Tuesday March 15. It lasts for three months. And this is light of escalating security issues that the country is experiencing now. In that statement, the king also adds that the forces there will do whatever is necessary in order to try to make sure that the country stays safe.

This is a very big development. Yesterday, a lot of concern because Saudi and UAE troops entered with a GCC force into Bahrain. That was at the request of the Bahrainis. A lot of opposition figures there saw that as almost a declaration of war against them and their cause. We spoke to many Bahrainis today, said they were confused by this. They were wondering if this was only going to escalate sectarian tensions that already existed there. Today we hear that there are other clashes that have been going on since about 11:00 pm last night.

We hear from some journalists on the ground there and also some eye witnesses. They've told us that in the village of Sitra, that's a Shiite village. It's very close to Manama. That there were troops, Bahraini security forces shooting tear gas at protesters there. And that there are at least 50 injuries , that's according to some human rights activists in Bahrain. A lot of those injured have been transferred to hospitals.

So a very worrying situation in Bahrain right now. People on the ground there are very concerned that this could escalate. That it could escalate sectarian tensions. And the fact that there are foreign troops there right now. But we've heard that the foreign troops are in the southern part of the country. That's only making people in Bahrain worry more -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: These anti-government protests have been ongoing in Bahrain for about a month now. Now they took a very violent turn over the weekend on Sunday. What sparked that?

JAMJOOM: These were protesters that were continuing to come out. They were demanding the reform. You know, the opposition, you have the hardliners there that want regime change, but you also have the moderates that are calling just for more constitutional reform. So there is divisiveness even among the ranks of the opposition.

We heard that they were out at pro round about. That's where most of the protests happened in the past month . And it took a violent turn. And that the security forces started firing on the protesters. That's according to all the eye witnesses there. There were more (inaudible) yesterday. There were about 100 protesters in the streets who were blocking off access to the financial district in Manama.

So again, a very worrying development with these foreign troops in there now. And a state of national state of safety that's been declared. We'll be monitoring the situation for you more -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Mohammed thank you very much indeed. Mohammed Jamjoom joining us live from Abu Dhabi. We were able to get the full report from him, but unfortunately I have to apologize for that little bit of a technical glitch there with the connection.

Now getting back to Japan, earthquake and tsunami survivors there are taking to the streets. They are searching for loved ones lost. We have their stories next.

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LU STOUT: A woman in grief, a city in ruins -- absolutely gut wrenching to watch that. Your back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now the death toll in Japan has officially climbed above 3,000. That number just coming into us within this hour. And the police there have nearly doubled the number of people that they count as missing. It is now close to 7,000 people. And crews meanwhile they are working against the clock and in very cold temperatures to try to find and try to pull more people to safety.

Now here's a look at what they are doing in one coastal town.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are we getting her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She needs water. There's not a lot of people --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: With transportation links slowed, phone lines unreliable people in Japan are going to extraordinary links to reconnect with loved ones, friends, employees and others. Here's a report from the Japanese broadcaster NHK about the measures some people are resorting to.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The name of a woman is pasted on a bicycle. This is the bicycle's owner.

He says he's looking for his wife on his bike. He cycles around looking for his missing wife. He's carrying her photo. He says he's showing the photo to ask if anyone has seen her.

The city of in Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture was devastated. Hidoweko Kono (ph) is the president of a Sake maker. When the massive quake occurred he told his employees to decide if they wanted to evacuate to shelters or go back to their families.

Tsunami hit Rikuzentakata, Kono's (ph) company can be seen at the front. He says he regrets more about the company's history being cut off than losing his assets.

Of his 50 employees, Kono (ph) could reach only 22 up to yesterday. He is visiting public shelters and other places every day searching for the remaining employees. And he found one.

Today, Kono (ph) could locate three more employees. Kono (ph) says he hopes to restart his business somehow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Our coverage of the situation in Japan continues. WORLD BUSINESS TODAY is next.

END