Return to Transcripts main page


Battle for Libya; Violence in Syria; Food and Water Warnings in Japan

Aired March 23, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Libya's leader vows to fight on. Moammar Gadhafi says Libyans are laughing at the rockets fired by the coalition.

Violence flares in the southern Syrian city of Daraa.

And people in Japan stock up on bottled water after authorities warn that radiation levels in Tokyo tap water are too high for infants.

Now, coalition forces are going after forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. A U.S. military official says the latest strikes targeted government troops and command sites around Misrata and Ajdabiya. The source says Libyan troops had an intent to harm civilians.

The western port city of Misrata has come over heavy assault over the last five days. A witness says hospitals there are overflowing and people are living in fear. Rebel forces have also tried and so far failed to retake the eastern city of Ajdabiya.

Now, Colonel Gadhafi calls the air strikes a new crusade against Islam. He says coalition forces will, in his words, be "sent to history's dustbin."

Libyan TV showed what is said was a live speech by the Libyan leader. Here's a bit of it.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): We will be good in this fight. We will not give up. They will not terrorize us.

We are making fun of their rockets. The Libyans are laughing at these rockets. We will defeat them in any way by any method.

In the short term we'll defeat them, or in the long term, we'll defeat the. We are prepared for the fight if it is short or long.


STOUT: Now, Libyan TV says Gadhafi made that speech in Tripoli. And hours later, loud blasts were heard in parts of the city.

Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson joins us live from the Libyan capital.

Nic, tell us more about these early morning raids. What happened and what were the targets?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, for the first time since the air strikes began here, we heard what sounded like jet aircraft flying overhead of the city. Not flying that low, but we believe we could distinctly hear the sounds of those jets fly over the city just before dawn this morning. And right around the same time, there were two different sets of blasts coming from -- we don't know where and we don't know what the targets were.

They sounded as if they were coming from the west of the city. There were brief bursts of anti-aircraft gunfire, but nothing sustained as we've seen over previous nights when targets had been closer into the center of the city. So it's not clear at this time what was hit, what damage was done.

But on the western edge of the city -- that's towards the town of Zawiya, and it's also in that direction that are or is a large military base. But at this time, we have no idea if that base was in fact the target -- Kristie.

STOUT: And as these air strikes continue and the no-fly zone is enforced, just how much military might does Colonel Gadhafi have left? What is the status of his air defenses, his ground troops, command and control?

ROBERTSON: Well, according to the coalition, they now effectively enforced the no-fly zone across the country, that they no longer need to fire cruise missiles into, for example, Tripoli, that it's now safe to use aircraft. So that would imply that the air defenses have been defeated or substantially weakened.

The command and control, it's not clear to us how effectively that has been targeted or damaged. And as far as Gadhafi's forces, the government here restricts what we can see.

Yesterday, they took us to see a naval facility in the port here where some missile transporter systems, surface-to-air transporter systems, had been destroyed by strikes. But what other effects have the military strikes had on his military forces? We know that they were heavily damaged outside of Benghazi. We hear that there's still fighting going on in Ajdabiya and Misrata, both built-up urban environments where both the opposition rebels and the government forces are in amongst the buildings of the cities, we understand, there.

So it's not clear how heavily the forces have been degraded, Gadhafi's forces have been degraded there. And certainly the government is not going on the record and giving us a blow-by-blow, or any details about the army, only that they continue to fight on. And that was very much Moammar Gadhafi's message last night, that he will continue to fight, very much snubbing his nose to the international community in the face of all these air strikes -- Kristie.

STOUT: And how real is the operation at this point -- is the possibility, rather -- that the allied operation could be reaching a wall and that the U.S. and its allies will need to send in ground troops to make a real impact on pro-government forces?

ROBERTSON: It's not clear from here. When you look at the rebel forces in the east who would like to come to Tripoli and overthrow Moammar Gadhafi, and you look at Gadhafi's forces -- and from conversations I've had with government officials, for them, a line in the sand, if you will, appears to be the town in the east, the important oil and gas town of Ajdabiya -- that the two sides have completely differing opinions about the future of the country.

How far will coalition forces push back from Ajdabiya, Gadhafi's forces? It's not clear. Would an international force be needed on the ground to intervene between the two sides? Again, that's not clear.

It seems to be at a very early stage for that sort of thing to happen here, but it would certainly play into Moammar Gadhafi's hands if an international force was to be sent with boots on the ground here, because as he has done with the air strikes, he would use that against the international community to show that this is colonialism, to show that it's the international community coming in to take control of the oil, which is the message that he's been sending his people over the past few weeks. This has been the government's analysis and how he's trying to win support here.

So, he would definitely, if that were to happen, try to build stronger support around him. And for some Libyans, that would be a key issue that they would find difficult not to line up behind the leadership. Obviously, many in opposition to him would be very worried about where the military buildup would lead to -- Kristie.

STOUT: OK. Nic Robertson, many thanks indeed.

Nic, joining us live from the Libyan capital.

Now, a U.S. military official says the coalition is shifting away from cruise missiles to strikes by manned aircraft. As of Tuesday, coalition forces have fired a total of 162 Tomahawk cruise missiles in the no-fly operation. More than 120 missiles were fired in the initial onslaught late on Saturday. From Sunday to Monday, at least 12 missiles were launched. Only two more were fired into Tuesday.

This military official says the coalition has not fired any cruise missiles in the last 24 hours. And the official says that that is because the Libyan air defense system is so degraded, that manned aircraft can now take over.

Now, Syria is the latest Arab nation hit with protests, and they have been violent. In the southern city of Daraa, witnesses say security forces opened fire on demonstrators in front of a mosque, killing up to six people.

Stan Grant is following developments from CNN Abu Dhabi. He joins us now.

And Stan, are there more protests today in Syria, and is it spreading beyond Daraa?

STAN GRANT, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More protests planned as well, Kristie, in the coming days. Six days of protests now. Very difficult to get a reason on this because of the nature of Syria, a very closed state, the media control, the Web heavily censored and monitored.

I've been on the phone with some people inside the country, and their reading is this -- what we're seeing here is a localized protest movement with the capacity to go wider. Now, this is a heavily tribalized area, heavily Islamic area. According to the people that I've spoken to, it has a history of this time of unrest which in the past has been dealt with very, very severely by the government.

Now, also, these protests seem to be reacting to events at this point. Initially, it was a protest about the release of people they see as political prisoners. Then, of course, there were deaths last week, over the past few days. The burials of those people has sparked more unrest, more protests, and we've seen these events today.

Now, it's based around a combination of local grievances, plus the wider issues of freedom and democracy, respect for law, respect for human rights. Apparently, people are now watching this within Syria and wondering, how will this play out? Will the government crackdown hard? Will the protests continue? Will the protests gather steam? And then, will other cities throughout the country actually join this?

What we are hearing from people inside the country is this -- fear is being conquered. The people no longer feel afraid. They feel they can go on the streets and express their grievances. And that has the government worried that this may in fact spread -- Kristie.

STOUT: So your sources in Syria are telling you that these, right now, are localized protests, but with the potential to get much, much bigger. What is your thought on this? Could this turn into a revolution like what we've seen in Egypt and Tunisia?

GRANT: Well, certainly if you look at the pattern. What did we see in Tunisia? We saw a local protest. One man, that sparked a wider movement. We saw the protests gathering momentum in Egypt. We've seen the events in Libya.

It seems to follow a pattern of protest that gathers, that becomes much more widespread. You see indications from the government of some sort of concession -- we've also seen that in the likes of Yemen -- and then a hard-line crackdown.

It seems to be following the same pattern. But Syria, of course, is different in that is a very, very closed state. We've seen these types of unrest in past years, in past decades, and it's been cracked down on severely.

So it's not the same as those other countries in that it is a very different state, very, very heavily -- much more heavily controlled. And therefore, there is this concern that the government will be able to stamp it out.

But at the moment, localized. But people are watching it very, very closely to see if this is in fact a spark that could spread much more widely -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Stan Grant, thank you very much indeed for watching events there in Syria for us.

Now, still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, radiation fears hit the Japanese capital. Some residents stormed the supermarkets as officials warned that Tokyo tap water may not be safe for infants.

While Japan's youngest are vulnerable in the wake of the country's double disaster, we'll show you how tough life is proving at the opposite end of the age spectrum.

And taxing times in Britain. We'll tell you what this man has planned for a country that is already taking austerity to the extreme.


STOUT: Now, the impact of Japan's nuclear disaster, it just keeps on growing. Government officials in Tokyo are now advising residents not to give tap water to infants after radiation levels were found to be twice the approved limits.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Even the current situation and 23 wars in Tokyo, and, also, as I will touch up on later on, in some of the Tama area in Tokyo, for those of you that are going to use water, tap water for infants, please refrain from doing so. And also, this is the standard set given that water is to be used over long term. And therefore, if there is no replacement water to be procured, then there's no immediate harm to the infant's body if the tap water is used. So this is a new notification by the Health Ministry.


STOUT: Let's just show you where the suspected source of this radiation spike lies in relation to Tokyo. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is about 240 kilometers away from the Japanese capital. Today, at the plant, black smoke was seen rising from the damaged number 3 reactor building.

Now, if we can bring up the picture for you, we'll show you the control room. And with no explanation for the emission, authorities were forced to evacuate workers there once again.

While government officials have urged people to stay calm, there are fears that residents might start to hoard bottled water. Now, all this follows a rash of new food restrictions.

Paula Hancocks joins me live from Tokyo with the latest.

And Paula, the water warning in Tokyo, give us the details and the reaction.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, the Tokyo governor has asked residents to stay calm in Tokyo. That partly fell on deaf ears though, because we do know there has been a run on bottled water. We understand from some supermarkets, some shops, that they've completely sold out after that announcement about 4:30 p.m. local time this afternoon, saying that infants should not be given tap water because it's double the government limit of radioactive iodine.

Now, at this point, we understand the supermarkets say that they will be replenished tomorrow, they will get more water. But some shops, one in particular, is saying that they will only limit the selling of water to one bottle per person, and they have to queue up outside.

So, certainly, this is quite alarming for people in Tokyo. It's quite alarming for those with young children, and infants basically up to the age of 1. They're also being told not to mix baby formula with tap water. So certainly they're concerned at this point that 240 kilometers south of the Fukushima nuclear plant, they're being told not to give infants tap water - - Kristie.

STOUT: Very alarming to hear about this panic-buying taking place there. Also food safety concerns. Have new restrictions been put in place today?

HANCOCKS: Well, we understand that about 11 different vegetables at this point that they have concerns about. They have put restrictions on fruits and vegetables and also, as we know from a couple of days ago, milk as well, from the Fukushima area and also a prefecture close to that area.

So this is really one of the prefectures in Japan. It's one of the top producers of some of these fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. So certainly that's going to hit people very hard in that particular area.

We understand that they have told this particular area that they cannot sell foods, these food goods. They cannot sell the milk, they cannot export it. We understand that the United States is also putting its own restrictions on, saying that they cannot import the goods from these particular areas, as they're concerned about contamination.

STOUT: All right.

Paula Hancocks, joining us live in Tokyo.

Thank you very much indeed.

And we now know that radiation is spreading far beyond its source, but what are the dangers, if any, inherent in that spread?

We're joined in our Atlanta headquarters by CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, who was just in Japan.

And Sanjay, how harmful is the tap water in Tokyo?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for infants, you know, they measure the specific radioactivity in these various units called Becquerel units. What they say is, for infants, that number should not exceed 100. Right now the number is at 210.

For adults, in the case of context, it's about 300. So, below adult safety limit for that guideline, but above infants.

The concern, Kristie, is that we're talking about something known as radioactive iodine, or iodine 131. An infant, a young child's thyroid gland is still developing. In order to develop, it uses a lot of iodine. If radioactive iodine is present, or they're getting it in various sources like tap water, it could be taken up by the thyroid gland and increase someone's chance of developing thyroid problems or even thyroid cancer.

It's because that thyroid gland is still developing in young people that that makes them at greater risk than adults. And it's why infants specifically are being targeted with these new restrictions regarding tap water.

STOUT: Food safety concerns, reports of tainted spinach, raw milk found the nuclear plant, their sale has been banned. But just how dangerous are these food products?

GUPTA: Well, you know, as things stand right now, the amount of radiation in many of these food products is still very, very low. It's higher than normal. It's obviously setting off the alarms in terms of the detectors. But in terms of impact on human health, the limit is pretty small.

You know, you can take a look at some of the specific numbers. We have them. But they say with raw milk, the number is 17 times the limit. With spinach, 27 times the limit. And obviously we just talked about tap water.

Let me give you this context, Kristie. This spinach, for example, has these big leaves. The radioactive particles can fall on the leaves. That's how it's becoming contaminated.

Two things to keep in mind. First of all, with regard to iodine specifically, the half-life is about eight days. So if these radioactive particles stop, then at some point you should be able to make the spinach less radioactive, or not radioactive.

But, also, even if you ate the spinach every day for a year, let's say, you just ate the same spinach every day for a year, the amount of radiation that you would get would be about equivalent to getting one CT scan. By no means negligible, but as far as impact on human health, also not likely -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes. And thank you for that context there. Obviously, the Japanese government being very conservative with these food bans.

Tell us about concern outside of Japan, about the safety of eating food imported from the country. What are your thoughts on that?

GUPTA: Well, you know, there's a gap, obviously, between anxiety and science. And that's understandable. That's not a criticism. I mean, people are anxious about this, in part because we don't know a lot about radiation.

There haven't been scientific studies where you actually give radiation to some people and not to others to study it. That study has never been done and won't be done. But there is anxiety.

And I'm back in the states now and you feel it here. The message originally was, look, the FDA already inspects a lot of food in terms of radiation, so not to worry. Then the second message was, we're going to inspect all the food coming from food now, so not to worry. And by the way, only four percent of food imports come from Japan. And now, as you were just talking about, there's going to be a ban on several different fruits, vegetables, milk from Japan.

I think the big question, Kristie, is how long is that going to continue? And will anxiety and science, will that gap start to diminish and you'll start to have a clear answer as to how long a ban like that should continue and for what reasons is it in place. But right now, I think the reflex has been let's just ban many of these foods coming from Japan until we can get a better handle on things.

STOUT: Well, Sanjay, thank you very much indeed for answering my questions. And also hopefully to ease any anxiety out there with science and with fact.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joining us live from CNN Center there.

GUPTA: Thanks, Kristie.

STOUT: Up next here on NEWS STREAM, it is budget day in the U.K. So what is in the finance minister's special red briefcase? Well, we can show it to you right now.

Coming up, we'll look at the latest plans to rein in the deficit as inflation soars in the U.K.


STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you re back watching NEWS STREAM.

After being closed for nearly two months, the Egyptian stock market opened on Wednesday, only to close again within minutes of trading. Almost instantly, the market fell about 10 percent. That triggered an automatic 30-minute suspension in trade.

Now, the EGX 30 -- it's the worst performing index this year -- is down just under nine percent on the day right now.

Now, it is Budget Day in the U.K., and any minute now the U.K.'s finance minister will unveil his plans for the upcoming year. The numbers on Tuesday show inflation hit a 28-month high in Britain last month, but that isn't expected to deter plans for aggressive spending cuts. Finance Minister George Osborne has talked about an austerity plan to nearly wipe out the U.K.'s deficit by the year 2015.

So, what is inside the finance minister's red leather briefcase?

CNN's Jim Boulden is outside of parliament in Westminster, London. He joins us now.

And Jim, this announcement will happen soon. What should we expect?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're going to expect from George Osborne is that he won't change his mind. There won't be a Plan B. He won't listen to the opposition and to the public sector workers who are protesting against these massive budget cuts for the next four years.

This budget will not change anything to do with the austerity plan that he set out last year, in 2010, after the conservatives took power. So what we'll hear today will be what the budget will look like for the next year, starting in April, when it comes to public sector borrowing -- i.e. debt -- when it comes to little bits of tweaks in the tax rate maybe for companies, maybe some tax differences for bankers, and also some relief for some taxpayers. Just a little bit to make things seem not so bad.

But as you said, Kristie, we have inflation here at 4.4 percent. So a lot of people think interest rates will rise.

The U.K. had negative growth in the fourth quarter of 2010. Now they're talking about growth here, maybe 1.8 percent for 2011. Not a lot of growth there. So, if this austerity plan were to push Britain back into a recession, it would only make it harder for him to cut the budget by 2015 - - Kristie.

STOUT: Now, Jim, Britain and the EU, what are the wider implications of the British budget on the health of the Eurozone economy?

BOULDEN: Well, of course, Britain is not in the Eurozone specifically. It still uses the British pound.

But one of its major trading partners, of course, is Ireland. So Britain, if it doesn't grow fast enough, it will hurt he economies around it, especially an economy like Ireland, which is so desperate to get at its own budget problems. And it needs to see growth. It needs to see exports to the U.K.

So, countries like France and Germany, that export into the U.K., will want to see growth here as well. And so a lot of countries will be watching to see if Mr. Osborne can pull off this amazing trick, which is cut the budget deficit, slow spending, slash public sector workers. And also, at the same time, keep the economy growing. It's going to be a heck of a trick, and it will take four years for us to figure out whether he's pulled this off.

STOUT: Jim Boulden, joining us live in London.

Thank you.

And Jim will be back with much more on the budget in the next hour right here on CNN. He'll be joining Pauline Chu, Maggie Lake and Nina Dos Santos for "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY." That starts about 30 minutes from now.

Well, still ahead on NEWS STREAM, as fighting in Libya continues, what is the end game for the United States? And how will the Arab League's take on the intervention of Libya affect the mission?

And in Japan, Tokyo's tap water may be dangerous for infants. A look at how the nuclear crisis is affecting the young. And we'll show you how tough the disaster has been on Japan's elderly.


STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.

Smoke has been rising again from a damaged reactor building at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant. Officials say they don't know what is causing it, but they have evacuated some emergency workers. The Japanese government is warning Tokyo residents not to give tap water to infants, because of elevated radiation levels and it has also slapped tougher restrictions on the sale of food grown near the plant.

Now human rights groups say that security forces opened fire on protesters in southern Syria earlier on Wednesday. Witnesses say at least six people were killed in the shooting in the city of Daraa. It happened outside a mosque which was acting as a makeshift hospital for people injured in recent clashes.

Now coalition forces are shifting tactics as they enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. The U.S. military official says manned aircraft instead of cruise missiles strikes are targeting Moammar Gadhafi's defense sites. The Libyan leader has vowed victory.

Now the operation in Libya has entered day five, but many questions about the mission remain. And joining us now is CNN senior political analyst David Gergen. And David, what is Barack Obama's endgame in this fight? Will he be satisfied with an end of violence or with Colonel Gadhafi completely out of the picture?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: His endgame is to see Gadhafi gone. How he gets there is the really hard question. The president and his team so far have drown a narrow definition of the United Nations resolution saying it is only for humanitarian purposes. It's to stop Gadhafi from brutalizing his people and to stop his forces from taking some of these cities, indeed to move back from some of the cities. But it is not to go on offense. They have said they're not trying to knock Gadhafi out.

But the president says separately that it remains U.S. policy to knock him out. So they're -- it's in effect two tracks and there's a lot of grayness.

STOUT: Now Barack Obama has promised that the United States will step back, but given the shakiness of the coalition who will take charge in this ongoing operation?

GERGEN: Isn't that a wonderful question? I don't think anybody knows. And yesterday Secretary of Defense Bob Gates made an interesting statement. He said, it's hard to do these things when you're working, quote, "on the fly." On the fly. And there has been this improvisational quality to the making of policy. I do think we're going to see a coalition come together that's going to look a lot like what's going on in Afghanistan, and that is NATO is centrally involved, but it's not a NATO operation per se. There are other nations beyond NATO involved. And of course there's a heavy effort to get other Arab nations in involved beyond Qatar.

Now I must tell you that the longer this fighting goes on, the longer force is used by the coalition forces, the more resistance we're going to see elsewhere in the world, China and Russia for example, Turkey may have great qualms as things go on. But we're also seeing wavering among the Arab nations. So this is tricky stuff.

STOUT: More the wavering of Arab nations, the Arab League criticized the operation. As you just mentioned, Qatar is the only Arab country to commit forces. Is this undercutting the mission?

GERGEN: Well, the Arab League did vote and urged this mission, called for a no-fly zone. So I think that was the foundation of all of this. If the Arab League were to reverse itself and reverse its vote, yes, that would undercut the mission. But I mean, one or two nations being reluctant -- we have the example of the United Arab Emirates for example, they're the -- there was some hope that the UAE would provide military aircraft, military assets for this mission, but they -- you know, as we all know they have a lot of heartburn about what's going on in Bahrain right now. And they're not particularly anxious to join the coalition that seems to be supporting protesters in Bahrain.

So there is -- this is extremely complicated. And again as Bob Gates said, because it's being done on the fly it's complicated. And there's so many questions that have not been resolved.

We're going to see in the next few days the rebels try to arm themselves and try to go on offense. Are we going to help them if they go on offense? The U.S. military has said no, that's not their mission under the U.N. Hillary Clinton, secretary of State said a few days ago that of course we would have to help them. So there are those kind of conflicts.

I also think the president himself on CNN yesterday implied that if the rebels could get their act together that the U.S. government would consider recognizing the rebels. That could give them some help as well it could conceivably, as Fouad Ajami has argued on these airwaves, it could conceivably give them access to the money that the United States has locked up, the Libyan government money some $30 billion. Might that go to the rebels? Interesting question. Nobody knows the answer to that.

STOUT: I'd like to wrap our discussion with just some feedback on the reaction there in the United States. Yesterday, an American F-15 crashed in Libya. It was all over CNN International, pictures no doubt all over U.S. media. Even though no one was hurt it is in a way a reminder of the potential cost of the mission. So how is the mission being viewed there in the U.S.?

GERGEN : There has been what we call a rally around the flag effect. And that is that when the president of the United States takes military action there's usually -- the public quickly around him, but it's very, very fragile kind of support. I think the overall feeling is in the country people are uncertain what it is we're trying to do. They're very wary about getting into yet another war in a Muslim country. They really don't want to do that. And I think they are looking to the president for much more clarity about where all this goes.

So the pressure is rising on President Obama when he comes back from Latin America to gather his own men and women together, look at the entire chess board to see what the United States is trying to go throughout the Middle East, to bring in congressional leaders and try to build a consensus for a strategy that includes not only Libya but places like Saudi Arabia and Yemen and Bahrain which are so much more in our strategic interest. And then, very importantly, go to the American people, indeed to the world, with a statement from the Oval Office about where he's going and what he hopes to accomplish and try to help people try to understand what this is all about and where it's likely to end up, where he would like it to end up.

STOUT: All right. David Gergen, you're insight always very much appreciated here on NEWS STREAM. Thank you.

GERGEN: Thank you.

STOUT: And you can read more of David Gergen's analysis on our web site. It's part of our complete coverage of the unrest in the Arab world.

Now, let's return to Japan. It's a country where traditional custom gives the elderly special reverence and respect. But as Kyung Lah shows as disaster on the scale of the recent earthquake and tsunami has put social norms to the test.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 93-year-old Matsuo Iwahana (ph) only moans when her granddaughter talks to her. She's been this way since they barely escaped the tsunami. And things are getting worse by the day.

"I don't know what to do," says Inaeko Sato (ph). "I'm just trying to take this day by day." To think beyond that overwhelms her.

Sato (ph) is the sole caretaker of her 73-year-old father, a stroke victim and her sick grandmother. Their home and possessions gone. They're now living in a school gym needing constant medical care that just isn't there.

It is a cruel truth about this disaster, say emergency health workers treating the elderly across the tsunami zone. In this region, 30 percent of the population is over the age of 65.

This 81-year-old man has a high fever, says the Red Cross, making door to door stops to the elderly who can't walk out. No power or water for more than a week means this sick man is at grave risk.

Doctor Takahito Naruko (ph) is part of an emergency team from Osaka.

What is the particular challenge for the elderly in Japan?

"There are so many of them, particularly in this area," says Doctor Naruko (ph). "The number of young people has been falling for years."

Doctors say the immediate risk to the elderly is that they're more susceptible to disease in the evacuation centers. The longer-term problem is this, how at age 70, 80 and 90 do they rebuild all of this? And who will take care of them?

The Kowasakis (ph) are relying on each other for now. A 79-year-old Rokudo Kawasaki (ph) has prostate cancer and his wife doesn't know what she can do unless she gets him his medicine lost in the tsunami.

"We're just doing our best to help each other," she says.

"It's really difficult," says Inaeko Sato (ph). "When I look around this room it's the same for everybody."

And that's the hard part, say relief workers, so many elderly to treat and not enough help to save them all.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Kamaishi, Japan.


STOUT: And as the oldest victims of this disaster struggle with the shock, the youngest struggle just to understand what has happened. Kyung Lah has spoken to many effected families in recent days. She joins me now live. And Kyung, describe the devastation and the need on the ground.

LAH: Well, the best way to describe it, Kristie, would just be to simply tell you one of the stories that I came across. Here in Ishinomaki, this is one of the cities in the tsunami zone. We heard about a school, an elementary school where there are 108 students. And on the day that the tsunami hit, remember there was an earthquake first, well those children evacuated out of the school as is the drill. They were standing outside. They had no idea a tsunami was coming. Out of those 108 students, 77 are presumed dead or missing.

So that's just a glimmer into what kind of devastation and trauma these children are looking at. The children who have survived, and we have spoken to a couple of them, it's simply incomprehensible. They don't know how to talk about it. They don't know where to go. They don't know simply how to deal and what to do next.

For the parents of these missing children, they also -- it's really remarkable, many of them are simply stoic, because they have to pretend -- they simply have to put one foot in front of the other, because they cannot comprehend the loss of so many children at once. It is simply devastation up and down this coast when we talk about the lives of young children here.

STOUT: Yeah, the emotional trauma is just so massive. And Kyung, you've been traveling with the aid group Save the Children. How much aid have they delivered? And how long do they plan to stay there in the disaster zone?

It's a little different than other disasters where I've seen Save the Children. The difference here is that the infrastructure is in place. So we've seen the Japanese military with boots on the ground immediately paving the roads, trying to clear out the debris. We've also seen emergency crews very rapidly coming in with relief supplies. So what we've seen aid organizations, the non-profits do like Save the Children, is that they're trying to deal with these children emotionally.

So what we saw Save the Children do today, and which they're doing all up and down the northern coast of Japan is they're setting up child friendly spaces. And it sounds very simple, a place where children can get together. They can draw. They can color. They can skip rope and play.

And it seems so simple that in these evacuation centers, these children are living in small, itty bitty squares like just a couple of meters large with their families, with their grandparents just bored is one child put it to me. So to have that moment, that one place where they can play is crucial to them starting to get a sense of normalcy and starting to recover from this emotionally.

STOUT: All right, Kyung. Well, thank you so much for being there live in Ishinomaki reporting on the recovery on the rebuilding that needs to take place now. Kyung Lah joining us live from the disaster zone.

And still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, after wind and snow in Japan now aid workers are dealing with rain.

And dramatic images of the darkness that engulfs stricken areas after the quake and tsunami.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan observed from space. Now Mari Ramos joins us with some incredible before and after satellite images of the power outages there -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kristie, when this thing first happened I kept thinking of that iconic images that we have from space where it kind of shows where all of the light is everywhere. And then you see these huge areas of light all over the world. This picture is similar to that in the sense that it was captured first last year. And it showed where all of the light was across Japan.

Well, what NASA did in this case, it actually took a comparison of an image taken back in 2010 and then an image taken the night when the earthquake hit, the night -- that first night on March 12 after the tsunami had hit these areas. So it compared both images together. What you're going to see is the areas where the power is still on in yellow and where the power is already off in red. So let me go ahead and show you what we're talking about.

Notice here in Tokyo you see a lot of yellow. So this is -- both images on top of each other. If it's in yellow, it means the power was still on. And you can see a lot of yellow trailing all the way back over here as we head into the western parts of Honshu. But as we head north, and even just right over here just north of Tokyo you can see areas already where there's red. This is an indication that this is an area where the power immediately after the quake and the tsunami hit, these areas were blacked out completely.

You can see it continuing to move farther to the north over here. And there have been some cloud cover. You can see it along the coast a little bit of red. Right into there you see all that. And then in Sendai, a city of about a million people, you can see right there a lot of red. This is an indication of how much power was actually taken out across this entire region. You're going to think that there's millions and millions of people that live in those areas and how significant this was.

In talking about the power outages, there may be rolling blackouts even as we head into the summer months across Japan.

As we head into the spring and the temperatures begin to warm up a bit compared to what we had in the winter, that need for heating will be, of course, lessened, but as we head into the summer, especially if intend to have a hot summer across parts of Japan and the need for cooling begins and another energy demand will start to happen. So a lot of factors playing into all of this.

As I can tell you right now, we still have a lot of cloud cover here across the central parts of Honshu, but a little bit clearer skies as we head farther to the north.

Now the wind near the Fukushima power plant are going to be generally light, they're going to be variable, but they're generally going to be offshore. And that's something that we've been looking for over the last couple of days. Generally offshore flow, that should hopefully help push those pollutants away from those populated areas.

But the cold air has made a return across much of the northern half of Japan as this area of low pressure moves away. Kristie, the chance for snow is lessened in those hard-hit tsunami areas, but it will remain chilly, temperatures slightly below the average, but definitely feeling a lot more like spring unlike winter now. Back to you.

STOUT: That's good hear. Mari Ramos joining us live there. Thank you very much indeed, Mari.

Now our sports update is straight ahead with a thrilling game from the NBA triple over-time in Los Angeles. And more twists and turns than a Hollywood blockbuster.


STOUT: Welcome back.

And there was no surprise about the teams that qualified for the quarterfinals of the Cricket World Cup, but there have been some eyebrows raised during the first of those matches.

Alex Thomas in London can explain -- Alex.


Just eight countries still in the hunt for cricket's biggest prize. The eyebrows are being raised because the first of those quarterfinals just so one-sided at the world cup. Pakistan 43 without loss after just six of their 50 overs a short time ago seemingly heading for the semifinals, the first nation to get there ahead of the West Indies who won the coin toss, decided to bat first in Mirpur, but they crumbled in the face of some impressive Pakistan bowling.

Captain Shahid Afridi taking four wickets as their Caribbean opponents lost five for 13 in just four overs and despite to 44 not out from Shipner (ph) (inaudible). The West Indies bowled out with just 112 with more than six overs unused. And as I said Pakistan absolutely cantering towards victory.

Now one of the three co-hosts, Bangladesh, were knocked out earlier in the tournament, but the country is still making world cup news. Police in Dhaka arrested seven people after raiding a restaurant which supplied food to 105 officers on security duty for the tournament. The problem was the policemen started vomiting after eating the food. And the Bangladeshi government say they are taking the matter very seriously.

Now, a basketball thriller from Tuesday night. And the highest scoring match in the NBA this season. It was between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers. Both sides in good form going into this one. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers looking for their seventh straight victory at home. The Suns on two wins in a row.

When Kobe made this long jumper late in the fourth, the Lakers were up by six. So truly game over? No. The Suns didn't give up. Grant Hill hits the three to tie the game with 32 seconds remaining.

And in the dying moments teammate Vince Carter misses the three sending the game into over-time. Again, the Lakers going again, but Channing Frye is fouled and makes all three of the resulting free throws again leveling the scores.

Lamar Odom fails to get away the jumper with less than two seconds on the clock. And we have a second overtime on our hands.

The Lakers take the lead once more, up by one, until Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat's combine to set up Frye for the three and the lead. And with seven seconds left Bryant drives and passes to Pau Gasol who's fouled. And his free throws tie the score setting up the first third overtime period at home for L.A. for more than half a century.

So here is Ron Artest stealing the ball from Nash, the fast break dunk puts L.A. up by three. Then Artest again with the jumper increasing the Lakers' lead to five, although that's down to two before L.A. finally put the game away with Kobe Bryant's runner part of 42 points on the night for him, a huge final score of 139-137.

So the Lakers, Kristie -- I'm out of breath -- but Don Riddell will be back with a full world sport go in just over two-and-a-half hours' time. Back to you.

STOUT: All right, Alex, take a breather. Take care there.

Now let's go over and out there with not one, but two incredible tales of animal escapology. Now the first involves a reptilian pyromaniac. An African spur tortoise, quite like this one, going by the distinctly Italian name of Giovanni. And with an apparent desire to keep the home fires burning Giovanni escaped from his tank, knocked over a heat lamp, and gutted an entire New York apartment. And while he was rescued, a second tortoise tragically lost his life. And Giovanni has been left shell shocked.

Now let's move up the coast now to Massachusetts from where we bring you happier news of a later day phoenix rising from the ashes. Now this is Lola who survived almost a month inside a condemned building that was gutted by flames in February. Now she was found by her owner alive and well on Monday. The icy New England winter clearly prevented her from turning into a hot dog.

Now that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY " with Pauline Chiu, Nina Dos Santos and Maggie Lake, hopefully pun free, is next.