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NEWS STREAM

Nigeria's Presidential Election; Fighting in Libya; Severe Storms in Southeast U.S.

Aired April 18, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET

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


ANNA COREN, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

Hello. I'm Anna Coren.

Well, mandate to league. Goodluck Jonathan appears set to win Nigeria's presidential election.

Deadly storms batter southern China, killing 18 people.

And inside the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone in Japan. We follow one man as he returns to his home.

Well, on course for victory, Nigerian incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan appears far ahead of his main election rival after a partial count of the votes from 28 of the country's 36 states and its capital. Well, as we await the official result this Monday, the Independent National Electoral Commission says the president has over 19 million votes so far. Well, that's 10 million more than his main challenger, Muhammadu Buhari.

Well, voting has been largely peaceful. That's in stark contrast to the violence which marred parliamentary elections just one week ago.

Christian Purefoy has been following all the twists and turns of this election campaign and joins us live from the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Christian, bring us up to date.

CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, behind me, the results are being counted. The final results will be announced in an hour or so, but they're already extremely controversial, Anna.

Voting day was peaceful. Nigerians hoped that these elections were going to go smoothly. But yesterday, violence broke out in Northeast of Nigeria, in Adamawa Gombe state and boundary. And today, the two main flash points in the north, Kano City and Kaduna City, we're hearing of the cities being shut down, curfews in some of the cities, as supporters of the opposition leader, Muhammadu Buhari, are taking to the streets to say that he should have won -- Anna.

COREN: As you say, Buhari's supporters are claiming that the election was rigged. What are observers saying?

PUREFOY: Well, it was hoped and promised by the people behind me in the building there that this would be free, fair and credible. And most, the majority of Nigerians, particularly in the south, and also foreign observers, are saying that is dramatically better than elections in the past.

2007 was marred with violence, ballot box theft, and foreign observers called it one of the worst elections they had ever witnessed, Anna. So this is considerably better. But the problem now is the violence in the north.

Goodluck Jonathan -- the results coming out of here, Anna, are showing a split in the country, basically. Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian southerner, has won the majority of the south. And Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim northerner, has won the majority of the north. The fear was that that could set off violent divisions in the country, and unfortunately that seems to be happening.

The military and the (INAUDIBLE) say they are deploying to the cities and they are trying to get it under control. They're hoping this may just blow over in a few days. But if it continues, it could get out of control -- Anna.

COREN: The results certainly have shown a polarized country. What does this mean moving forward?

PUREFOY: Well, it was hoped that a free and fair election would help unite Nigerians. That, you know, through the ballot box, they would be able to express themselves through their vote rather than on the streets. Obviously, though, because of the corrupt elections of the past, Nigerians are disillusioned with the process, they don't trust it. And even though this has been promised to be free and fair, foreign observers and Nigerians are saying that it has been better, there are still problems.

This is still -- excuse the phrase, but it's still a Nigerian election. As we saw under a voter ballot box, there was some ballot box there. Today, the ballot box stopping. And also, inflated numbers, some of the observers saying, particularly in the Niger Delta region, the home of the winner, the now winner, incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan.

And both sides of course are involved in this. This is not a one-side affair in the rigging. In many cases, it's who rigs better. But the problem is, for the young men on the streets, who are now taking to the streets with their clubs, they just don't believe the process is working. They believe that their man, Muhammadu Buhari, should have won -- Anna.

COREN: Christian Purefoy in Abuja.

Thank you for that.

Well, in Syria, security forces have opened fire on protesters and mourners at a funeral in Talbism (ph). At least 11 have died in deadly beatings and sniper shootings, according to an opposition source. Another five people were killed elsewhere.

Well, these YouTube images are said to be from Hom (ph), Syria, on Friday. The protesters there (INAUDIBLE) in violent clashes with security forces. The sources tell us more than 20 people were injured.

Across Syria, the number of those dead or injured in the weekend's unrest is rising. Some demonstrators are demanding reform from the Syrian regime.

Well, in Libya, rebel forces in Misrata and Ajdabiya are being pounded by pro-Gadhafi troops, and rebel leaders are openly questioning NATO's commitment.

(GUNFIRE)

COREN: Well, this is footage of the fighting in Misrata over the weekend. A medical official there tells CNN at least 700 people have died in the besieged in two months of violence. Well, that's as Human Rights Watch reports that loyalist forces are using cluster bombs in Misrata, but the government denies it.

Meanwhile, in Tripoli, hundreds showed their support for leader Moammar Gadhafi on Saturday. Crowds gathered just hours after reports of thundering NATO air strikes in the capital.

Well, CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Tripoli and joins us live.

Fred, tell us what's happening there.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in Tripoli today, it's pretty much business as usual. Of course, what everyone here is looking at right now is the situation in Misrata, where, of course, the government here is painting a very different picture than what we're hearing from the rebel side of the equation.

Obviously, the government is saying that the military is taking great care to prevent civilian casualties in Misrata. What we're hearing, of course, on the ground in Misrata is that shelling is continuing in that city, that there's been mortar and artillery attacks today, that 21 people were killed in the fighting yesterday, and also several dozen were wounded.

And one of the big things that's of course great concern to the people there on the ground, and to the international community, of course, is that, apparently, some of the larger aid ships are having a lot of trouble getting into the port of Misrata because it's too dangerous when these artillery strikes are going on. It's especially larger aid ships that take more time to maneuver, that are, of course, also larger targets. And these are the kind of ships that bring in a lot of food and medical supplies to the people there, and also are used to ferry causalities out of Misrata. So that, of course, is a very, very big concern there -- Anna.

COREN: Fred, Gadhafi's forces have been pounding these two cities for days. Can the rebels hold on?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's a very good question. I mean, we've been hearing reports that Gadhafi's forces are about to overrun Misrata for the past couple of weeks, and so far that hasn't happened. So far, the rebels are still able to hold out.

You know, it's a very fluid situation there in Misrata. If you go to the downtown area and you walk around there, at one point you'll be inside the sort of rebel-controlled territory, everything will be fine. But you go into the wrong street, you don't really know that you've crossed any sort of boundary or anything, and all of a sudden, you're under fire from the Gadhafi forces. So it's still a very fluid situation.

It appears as though the rebels are able to hold on to their parts of the city. They say -- or some of them say -- that they're actually making progress. Others are saying that the Gadhafi forces are making progress. Very difficult to ascertain which side is actually on the move.

The big issue, of course, is the fact that the port is still getting shelled by artillery and by mortar, apparently, and that is going on pretty much every day. And so that's pretty much the biggest concern right now, because that's a lifeline for the people in Misrata, but also for thousands of migrant workers that are still stuck there. But is a situation where you have a very fluid situation, but at the same time, there doesn't seem to be any -- very much movement in either direction that is substantial, where you could say one or the other side is about to take this town -- Anna.

COREN: There has been a great deal of criticism towards these NATO air strikes. Some rebels on the ground calling them an absolute disaster.

How effective are these strikes?

PLEITGEN: Well, the strikes when they happen seem to be quite effective. I mean, we saw a radar station here in Tripoli that was taken out, and it seemed as though that strike was pretty accurate. Also, the strikes that have happened so far in the eastern part of the country seem to be fairly accurate.

And you're absolutely right, the criticism is there that there's not enough air strikes going on. There was one source within the rebels who said today that NATO, in the past four days, has not flown any air strikes, has not dropped any bombs, that they're seeing the planes overhead in Misrata circling, but that then these planes leave without dropping any ordnance.

Obviously, NATO is very, very concerned about civilian casualties. And it is a very difficult situation in Misrata simply because the combat is going on in a very dense urban area. Obviously, Gadhafi's forces are trying to hide their tanks, their vehicles, and they're using civilian vehicles. They're also using civilian buildings because that's all there is in that urban area.

So it is a very difficult task for these fighters to try and pick out which targets to choose. And also, of course, something like a direct hit on a civilian target that then does turn out to have civilian casualties would be an absolute disaster for the coalition. So that certainly appears to be something where they are taking great care not to let that happen in the town of Misrata -- Anna.

COREN: Frederik Pleitgen in Tripoli.

Thank you for that.

Well, as the shelling continues, UNICEF says children are trapped in Libya's war zones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES ELDER, UNICEF SPOKESMAN: We have tens of thousands of children who are still caught -- I mean, these hostilities, hostilities which seem to be increasing. As you've mentioned these reports, and these reports of Human Rights Watch, these children have been living in a war zone for almost two months now. And we know what impact this has on children on their safety, their health, their psychological state.

The time really has passed for this siege to stop. But, unfortunately, we know that if the fighting continues, and is continuing, and if people are not able to leave this conflict zone, then we face the intolerable inevitability of seeing many more children killed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Well, the deputy chairman of Libya's Transnational Council says 1.5 million Libyans face attack in the civil war every day.

Well, meanwhile, there's been more bloodshed in Afghanistan. Nine members of Afghanistan's security forces were killed Monday in two separate attacks.

There was a roadside bomb explosion in the country's Ghazni province which killed seven officers. And then another attack at the Defense Ministry compound in Kabul. It killed two national army staff members. Well, they were shot to death in a botched suicide bomb attempt before a meeting with France's defense minister. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for that attack.

Well, deadly storms in southern China. Hundreds evacuate their homes as fierce winds cause death and destruction.

And in the U.S., a slew of tornadoes slam the South.

We'll bring you the latest on those crippling storm systems.

And another air traffic controller caught sleeping on the job. U.S. regulators are sounding the alarm. We'll tell you how they're fighting fatigue. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COREN: Well, powerful storms battered China's southern Guangdong province on Sunday, killing 18 people and injuring more than 100. Authorities say fierce winds knocked down walls and buildings, causing most of the deaths. More than 3,000 people were said to be affected, with hundreds forced to evacuate from their homes. Damage is estimated as high as $14 million.

Well, in the U.S., emergency crews are still working to restore power to hundreds of thousands of people in six U.S. states. Well, violent storms slammed the Southeast over the past few days, leaving 45 people dead. Well, nearly half those killed were in the state of North Carolina.

Well, this is the scene in Cumberland County. A state of emergency is in effect in that state, as well as Virginia.

Well, in just three days, there were reports of some 230 tornadoes across the South. The storms destroyed buildings and knocked out power in six states.

Well, CNN's David Mattingly is in Colerain, North Carolina, and joins us live.

And certainly North Carolina has bore the brunt of this storm.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And it's a storm that they very rarely see, this type of intensity in this part of the country.

In the northeastern section of North Carolina is where we're standing right now. Eleven people lost their lives in this one rural county. It is very sparsely populated, so the numbers of fatalities behind this storm is truly shocking and truly tells us just how powerful and widespread this storm was as it roared through the countryside here.

You can see behind me that every bit of wood from the homes that were here has been splintered. Every bit of metal has been bent. It's very difficult to look through this rubble and to recognize that there was anything that actually was part of a home at one time. And officials say that once they started getting out to where there was this destruction as they started looking for people who might need help, they were remarking that even though the death toll is high, it was remarkable that more people were not hurt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: First responders tell me that when they saw the damage in so many of these places across the county, that they were wondering how there could be not more people hurt by this.

ZEE LAMB, BERTIE COUNTY MANAGER: Yes.

MATTINGLY: Are you getting the same impression?

LAMB: Sure. As you said, it's a sparsely-populated county where 700 square miles, 21,000 people, very, very rural county. So if it had hit a more populated area, I would suspect that there would have been more deaths, but 11 deaths are a whole lot of deaths. I don't want to minimize that.

You know, we've never seen anything like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: And part of the problem here in this rural section of North Carolina is that this land is very flat, very low. It's very close to sea level. So most people do not have basements or storm cellars where they could take refuge. They just had to huddle inside their homes and just hope as the storm was bearing down on them that they would have some luck and be able to get through this. But as you can see this destruction all around me, people who were caught in its path really had no place to go, no place to hide from this destruction -- Anna.

COREN: It would have been absolutely terrifying.

David, tell us about some of those lucky survivors. How are they holding up?

MATTINGLY: What we saw in this particular county, there were dozens of people who went to the hospital. They had -- some have broken bones, cuts, bruises, things like that. Most people coming out of this, counting their blessings, because every bit of damage here just tells us how powerful this storm truly was.

I mean, look. This was a wooden deck on the back of someone's house at one time. The wood, these substantial pieces of wood, were just snapped off like pencils broken in a child's hand. They were pulled out -- the cement pulled out of the ground.

So you can see just how strong this storm was. And now everyone talking about possibly rebuilding, going back into these areas that were hit. But there's so much to clean up, so much to collect, and so much to do between now and any sort of a future plan before that can take place. Everyone counting their blessings that there weren't more people hurt and that these storms did leave this county and allow people now to get their lives back together.

COREN: As you say, David, some very lucky people there.

David Mattingly, in Colerain, North Carolina.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COREN: Well, a debate is raging over a "New York Times" bestseller. The question is, is it an inspirational story or a tale too good to be true?

Well, the book, "Three Cups of Tea," has sold more than three million copies and has raised tens of millions of dollars to pay for school building projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Well, author, Greg Mortenson, tells of getting lost while climbing -- aiming to climb K2, the world's second highest peak. Well, he says he was rescued by Pakistani villagers, and their kindness inspired him to return to the region to provide a place for local girls to learn.

But author Jon Krakauer isn't so sure that's the way it played out and spoke out on CBS' "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON KRAKAUER, AUTHOR: It's a beautiful story and it's a lie. If you go back and read the first few chapters of that book, you realize, I'm being taken for a ride here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Well, Greg Mortenson has not responded on camera, but says he stands by the information conveyed in the book. Amongst his claims, that he was captured and held by the Taliban.

Well, Peter Bergen is a CNN security analyst. He says Mortenson has done a lot of good, but that not all of his stories add up when you dig into the details.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER BERGEN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: By the way, that fails all sorts of commonsense tests. When Mortenson says he was kidnapped by the Taliban in '96 in this area of Pakistan, the Taliban wasn't present.

The Taliban ban photography. We got a picture of the supposed kidnappers. "60 Minutes" also showed a picture of Mortenson carrying a gun with his supposed kidnappers.

It's pretty unusual for a group of kidnappers to be, A, photographed with their faces clearly seen, and, B, for their supposed victims to then pose with them with a gun. I mean, it fails all sorts of commonsense tests, and this really goes to the heart of some of the claims that Mortenson has made in his two books.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Well, CNN security analyst there, Peter Bergen.

Ahead on NEWS STREAM, a wakeup call for air traffic controllers. U.S. authorities are cracking down after more reports of on-the-job napping. We'll tell you what they have planned.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COREN: Well, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is giving a wakeup call to air traffic controllers found snoozing on the job while they're beginning a cross-country tours of facilities this Monday.

A controller was suspended for sleeping whilst on duty in Miami on Saturday. Well, that's the seventh reported case this year. According to a preliminary review of air traffic tapes, the controller didn't miss any calls from aircraft, and the FAA says there was no operational impact.

Well, it could easily have been much worse. Sandra Endo now reports on the new rules the FAA is rolling out to keep its controllers awake and alert on duty.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When planes come in for a landing, the communication shouldn't be like this of a pilot trying to get in touch with an air traffic controller.

TRACON: They're not answering the phone line either.

PILOT: We're going to need to land.

TRACON: Landing will be at your own risk.

ENDO: But it reportedly happened at least seven times at airports across the country since the start of the year because of controllers falling asleep on the job. But now, the FAA and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood are making immediate changes to the schedules for controllers.

RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We will not allow controllers to sleep on the job. We simply will not.

ENDO: Under the new guidelines, controllers will now have a minimum of nine hours off between shifts instead of eight. They'll no longer be able to swap shifts unless they get nine hours off in between. Controllers will not be able to work an unscheduled midnight shift following a day off, and there will be more FAA managers covering the early morning and late night hours.

The problem of fatigue has been around for years. Back in 2007, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended the schedules of air traffic controllers be revised to address the issue. Which begs the question, why wasn't more done sooner?

LAHOOD: I was not the secretary in 2007. I'm the secretary today. As soon as I learned about this, these controllers were suspended.

ENDO: Congress holds the purse strings for funding the FAA and a key lawmaker says the issue is not the number of controllers employed, but how they're used.

REP. JOHN MICA (R), FLORIDA: Air traffic controllers, who make on average $163,000 apiece, are professionals, but even the best professionals need some recurrent training and with the changes in technology and procedures and we think it's important that we revisit that.

ENDO (on camera): What do you say to the flying public? Should they have confidence in this system?

LAHOOD: Absolutely. I believe that the airline industry in America is the safest in the world, but we can do better, and we will do better.

ENDO: FAA officials and the Air Traffic Controllers Union are starting a nationwide tour in Atlanta to talk to controllers to hear their concerns, but to also hammer home the issue of safety.

Sandra Endo, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Ahead on NEWS STREAM, dealing with disaster. One man risks radiation exposure to return to his home near Japan's troubled Fukushima nuclear plant. We're there for his journey.

And the sad images of a once vibrant city. We'll take you back to Chernobyl, 25 years on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COREN: I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. And you're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.

In Libya, rebel forces in Misrata and Ajdabiya are being pounded by pro- Gadhafi troops. A medical official in Misrata tells CNN that at least 700 people have died in the two months of fighting there. Human Rights Watch reports that forces are using cluster bombs in Misrata. The government denies that.

Well, Nigeria's incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan looks like he's on course to win the presidential election. A partial vote count shows he has more than 19 million votes, 10 million ahead of his main challenger, Mohammed Buhari. While voting has been largely peaceful this time around, parliamentary elections held just a week ago were marred by violence.

In Afghanistan, a gunmen dressed in a military uniform has shot dead two people inside Kabul's Defense Ministry. The Taliban says it carried out the attack. But they say it was supposed to France's visiting defense minister. But France insists Gerard Longuet wasn't inside the building at the time.

At least 18 people have been killed in slums (ph) in southern China. More than 155 people were injured when strong winds and hail storms struck Guangdong Province. Authorities say 380 people have had to leave their homes.

Well it's been more than a month since Japan's northeastern coast was hit by that powerful 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. But the devastation continues as the bodies of more victims are found. Well the death toll now stands at 13,843. And police say there are still at least 14,000 people missing.

Well Tokyo Electric Power, the company in charge of the nuclear cleanup, has been pulling out all the stops to try and contain dangerous radioactive leaks at its Fukushima Daiich plant. And on Sunday they got a bit more help from these guys. Well they are two new robots from the United States. TEPCO is using them to monitor conditions at reactors one and three since radiation levels inside the reactor buildings are still too high for humans to enter.

Well, people living near the troubled power plant were told to pack up and leave after the disaster struck and radiation levels began to rise. Well now one man has returned to check on his belongings. Now Paula Hancocks follows his journey back to the town of Tomioka.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kasahiro Shirato (ph) hasn't been home since the great earthquake of March 11th. Driving past signs saying forbidden entry, gaining access to Japan's evacuation zone, 20 kilometers or 12 miles from the Fukushima nuclear plant, is surprisingly easy.

Accompanied by a Japanese journalist and cameraman and a radiation monitor, Shirato (ph) is traveling to see the damage in his hometown of Tomioka just 8 kilometers from the plant.

The radiation monitor beeps constantly to warn of rising levels.

Damage to the roads is clear.

Japan's famous spring cherry blossom looks eerie on a street with no people.

Shirato (ph) tells me there was nobody there, so I finally understood everyone had really left But I could also see dogs and cows belonging to my neighbor. I was surprised cows could get so skinny after just one month.

Earthquake damage in this town is untouched since March 11th. Shirato stops first at his mother's house, closing windows and blinds that have been wide open for more than a month.

Next door is the family business, a funeral parlor. Flowers ready for funerals that never took place here litter the floor.

Arriving at his own house, he has to pick his way carefully through his belongings all over the floor. He says he came back to pick up his ID, his bank records, and his personal seal. He stops for a cursory cleanup, picking his DVD collection up off the floor and unplugging electricity.

He tells me he frustrated and angry with the nuclear plant owner TEPCO for convincing him from a young age that the plant was completely safe.

He says, "two weeks ago I thought I would be back home within six months, but the situation got worse and worse. Now I doubt I'll ever be able to go back."

Now in government housing in Tokyo, a 5.8 magnitude hits as he watches television. His concern is clear.

He says, "that's the biggest one I felt since I've been here."

Driving towards the coast, damage left by the deadly tsunami is clear. As the sun sets, they drive closer to the Fukushima power plant. The monitor alarm sounds to warn them of higher radiation exposure. Shirato (ph) is in the evacuation zone for just a few hours and does not believe there was any damage to his health in that short time.

As they approach the power plant a bus full of TEPCO employees pass by clocking in for a night shift all dressed in radioactive gear, all aware an entire nation is relying on them to avert a nuclear disaster.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Well, last week Japan raised the severity level of its nuclear crisis to a 7, the highest possible rating on an international scale. Well, that puts it on par with Chernobyl, previously the worst nuclear disaster in history. When one of Chernobyl's nuclear reactors blew up in 1986, it displaced hundreds of thousands of people. And even 25 years on, the area is still highly radioactive.

Well our Matthew Chance takes us back to Chernobyl for a rare look at the continuing devastation there decades after the accident.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These school corridors and classrooms are for me, they're the most poignant part of the disaster zone in Chernobyl. It's the floor of this corridor here covered in books. I shouldn't pick them up, should I, but this one is (inaudible). It's Russian language. These are the text books that the children of Pripyat used to study.

On the day when the disaster took place -- and of course hundreds of children, thousands of them were in their classrooms studying when the explosion was having an impact on the city. Soviet authorities didn't tell anyone that they were being contaminated. They wanted to avoid panic, which is why hundreds of children came to classrooms like this on an ordinary school day and sat through what must have been an extremely contaminating experience.

This is a classroom, some kind of science laboratory. And think you look at the blackboard. Some of the original lessons from those days back in 1986 are still inscribed on the board.

I think, you know for me, it shows that this place was a living place where people went to work, where people taught, and where people came to school. And it also shows that that life came to an end with that Chernobyl nuclear disaster so very suddenly.

OK, save the worst really for last, because this is a memorial that was built to -- what it says, "for the heroes and the professionals who protected the world from nuclear disaster." It's referring to the workers, some of whom lost their lives, building that. It's steel and lead and concrete sarcophagus, which has been placed over reactor number four, the exact place where the world's worst nuclear accident took place. It's -- inside of it, the still, those burning fuel rods, they're still molten, there still emitting huge amounts of radiation. But that sarcophagus is protecting the rest of us from that.

It's possible, some kind of similar structure will also be employed in Fukushima to shield t he population from the effects of that nuclear disaster as well.

There's another similarity I want to bring up that both Fukushima and Chernobyl are long-term problems. Nuclear disasters of this magnitude simply do not operate on a human time-line. Experts say it will be hundreds of years before here at Chernobyl it's safe for people to live in again.

Matthew Chance, CNN, in the heart of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Well, the situation in Japan has captured the world's attention, but especially that of nuclear power companies trying to stave off similar disasters in the future.

Well, I visited one of Taiwan's nuclear plants for a first-hand look at their proactive approach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: A large earthquake has just hit and the workers at this nuclear power plant are dealing with a crisis. They've lost power and the back-up diesel generators. Then the unimaginable happens -- a tsunami surges into the plant. It's called the Fukushima scenario, an emergency training drill inside simulators at all three of Taiwan's nuclear plants, recreating those terrifying events on March 11th.

HWAI-CHIUNG HSU, VICE PRESIDENT, TAIPOWER: I think no one ever anticipated that situation happen, but now it happened, so we'll have to learn from it.

COREN: Taiwan experiences hundreds of earthquakes every year. A 6.8 magnitude quake in 2002 sent this crane plummeting from Taiwan's tallest building under construction.

Despite this seismic activity, Taiwan is dependent on nuclear power. Its three plants, with a fourth being built, supply almost 20 percent of Taiwan's energy. But in the wake of Fukushima, many believe the nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan could just as easily happen here. And the fallout would be catastrophic.

GLORIA HUS, TAIWAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION UNION: In the north in Taiwan, we've seen 80 kilometer radius, it contributes to 70 to 80 percent of Taiwan's total economy. So if it happens, the nuclear accident happens, Taiwan will be ruined.

COREN: After years of supporting Taiwan's nuclear industry, people are now scared. Thousands took to the streets calling for an end to nuclear power. A much larger rally is being planned for the end of the month.

With anti-nuclear sentiment growing, government run Taipower has announced it will carry out safety reviews and upgrades at all reactors. And will delay the opening of the fourth plant.

DER-JHY SHIEH, DEPUTY MINISTER, ATOMIC ENERGY COUNCIL: There have to be (inaudible) about people really scared about this Fukushima accident. To think a lot of people safety first (inaudible) reactor first.

COREN: CNN was given a rare tour of the Kuosheng nuclear plant, an hour's drive from the capital.

It detect radiation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

COREN: We were escorted by police into the restricted area that houses the spent fuel rod pool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE; Spent fuel. (inaudible) reactor core.

COREN: Almost 4,500 spent fuel rods are kept under the water. The pool is currently at 85 percent capacity. And every 18 months, 180 rods are removed and sent to a reprocessing plant.

CHING HO LEE, DEPUTY PLANT GENERAL MANAGER, TAIPOWER: The spent fuel will pool until maybe 1 to 3 years to really cool down, OK. It takes time. A long time.

COREN: It was these pools at Fukushima that ran out of water exposing the rods and releasing radioactive material.

Taipower believes that wouldn't happen here as they have extra diesel generators, gas turbines and mobile energy sources that could provide power to the reactor's vital cooling systems during a station blackout.

One of the key differences here in Taiwan is that all their nuclear power plants have reservoirs. Well this means in an emergency, they can flood the core reactor with water effectively abandoning the plant and avoiding a disaster like Fukushima.

LEE: In case there's something similar to Fukushima Daiichi accident, then I think we can handle that.

COREN: But for the people who live nearby, those reassurances offer little comfort.

"We are to find an alternative source of energy," says Kwung Cheng Choon (ph). "If what happened in Japan happened here, people would not be able to escape."

As their colleagues in Japan work tirelessly to contain the nuclear fallout, these men back in the control room know only too well the huge responsibility resting on their shoulders.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: And a huge responsibility it is, one that Japan's Tokyo Electric Power knows all too well following weeks of struggle to cool its troubled nuclear reactors.

Well, the company said on Sunday that it expects to stabilize and shut down the Fukushima Daiichi reactors within six to nine months.

Well, just ahead on NEWS STREAM, more wild weather. Hail stones like these caused havoc in China over the weekend. We'll get the full forecast. Please stay with us.

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COREN: Well, as reported earlier, southern China was hit by deadly storms. For more, let's go to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri -- Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Thanks, Anna.

The conditions out there, of course, we know 18 people lost their lives. We had severe storms that rolled through bringing in hail stones and winds about 160 or so kilometers per hour. And that front that pushed through actually producing a few thunderstorms over the past few hours around Hunan (ph) out there. And that's really pretty much it.

Behind this feature high pressure going to establish itself from Guizhou out towards Guangdong. And again, we're going to see conditions stabilize through at least Wednesday and Thursday and then perhaps a few more showers possible towards the middle portion of the week.

But look at these current temperatures, ranging from 23 in Chongqing, to about 25 in Hong Kong. And work your way a little farther north, it's cooled off to about 15 degrees in Beijing. But overall the temperature trend fairly uniform from Islamabad all the way across towards Hong Kong temperatures about the same range. Beijing by Tuesday warms up to 23 degrees. Even Taipai sitting in at 23 degrees.

So again, shows you the uniform temperature trend, pretty typical there of the spring season as the conditions begin to moderate back out, the way we like it. And really, the warm air mass locked over China here. We're going to begin to see it warm up just a couple of degrees the next few days with the coolest air right over Japan.

Now the folks out in Japan, they have dealt with a few storm systems over the past month or so. And yet another one developing right now over the Sea of Japan. And there it goes, a very, very symmetrical storm system that's going to gradually push across there. Areas within central and northern Japan bringing rain showers, a times heavy again, towards areas of Tokyo and over towards Sendai. And notice we'll get a few brief pockets of heavy rainfall by Tuesday afternoon across portions of Sendai with the snow showers remaining right across the Japanese Alps. And really the winds going to remain offshore. So better news coming out of Japan as far as the wind pattern is concerned.

But take a look what's happening across Europe. We had the London marathon take place yesterday, conditions as nice as they come for this time of year, mostly sunny skies, temperatures about 18 or so degrees and very, very broad feature, broad high pressure developing overhead here that's deflected every single storm system to the north. And you think William and Kate are watching this carefully? Absolutely. Because conditions out there, the weather pattern about 10 days away or so. Hoping for conditions to remain nice out there as the week progresses and into next week.

But the current conditions in London sitting at 16 degrees. And again, warm air mass across Berlin and Warsaw at about 16 degrees for this time of year as the high remains in place. And going to remain that way for a few days.

Springtime pattern typically brings rain showers for the folks out across northern Europe, but certainly it's been a little different this time around, an enjoyable season for them after what they dealt with across into December. Hopefully it's enjoyable for you, too.

Let's take a look at your forecast.

All right. Jump on that CNN 747. We're going to spin that globe to go to one of my favorite places in the world there, the island of the Philippines for you. And you take a look. We've had 21 volcanic quakes on the island of Taal out there over the past 24 to 36 hours.

And this is the volcanic island there Taal, the city of Taal has experienced volcanoes in the past. The last major one was back in 1977. And again, the 21 quakes -- geologists out there and also folks working with volcanologist reporting that it's a sign of the magmas beginning to move around a little bit. And again, they've raised the level, a 1 to 5 scale, they've raised it to a 2. And again, you can see those photographs here of that area, very, very beautiful part of the world, but it's something their watching very carefully as that magma begins to come up towards the surface. And they've seen a very dangerous scenarios where we know 7,000 people live close to this part of the world. So it could be dangerous. But right now it's sitting on the level 2 scale that goes up to 5. But it's something worth watching the next couple weeks out there, Anna.

COREN: Yeah. We'll certainly be doing that. Pedram, good to see you. Thank you.

Well, the NBA playoffs are up and running, but the defending champions are stumbling out of the gate. Alex Thomas will have all the lowlights for the fans of the Lakers.

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COREN: Well, just 16 teams still in the hunt to be crowned NBA champions. And while there's a long way to go, the playoffs began with a few surprises.

Well, Alex Thomas is in London and can certainly tell us more. Hello, Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anna. Defeat for the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers who are, of course, the defending NBA champions and heavily fancied to go all the way again this year. They were taking on the New Orleans Hornets in game one of their best of seven series.

Chris Paul and the Hornets having lost to the Lakers four times during the regular season. How would they fare this time? Well, they were trailing by 11 at the end of the second quarter until this buzzer beating three from Ron Artest. Although some missed it, because they were still watching Kobe Bryant flat out on his back at the other end, or face down on the floor.

Paul gets the steal on Bryant later on, makes the quick 3-pointer.

The New Orleans lead is down to just four points at that stage. Kobe recovering from his earlier knock to the head to show some of his usual sublime skills, making the circus shot for the lay-in and keeping L.A. Within touching distance to the Hornets.

However, Chris Paul refused to let the Lakers back into the game, nailing this jumper over Pau Gasol, racking up a game high 33 points and a shock 109-100 win for New Orleans over L.A.

Closer contest in Oklahoma where the Thunder hosted the Denver Nuggets.

Onto the third quarter action, the Thunder's Kevin Durant absolutely on fire, knocking down this 3.

Later lays it in and draws the foul.

The NBA's scoring leader doing it in the playoffs as well. 14 of his career playoff high 41 points came in the third.

The Thunder up by one with under 30 seconds left when Russell Westbrook knocks down the jumper, increasing their advantage. He finished with a career playoff high 31 points.

There was still time for Denver to tie it again, but Raymond Felton's attempted 3 misses the mark.

The Thunder hold on beating the Nuggets 107-103.

Now no question which club has dominated Germany's Bundisliga this season. And Borussia Dortmund took another huge step towards clinching the title by beating Freiburg on Sunday. Dortmund without top scorer Lucas Barrios, but that didn't slow them down. After 23 minutes, Mario Gotze put them ahead with an impressive left footed strike.

Dortmund doubling their advantage before half-time. Polish international Robert Lewandowski take advantage of the defensive error by Freiburg, does well to stay on his feet and scores.

And a 3-nil victory was sealed in the second half when Gotze crosses to Kevin Grosskreutz to tap the ball home.

Dortmund, an 8 point lead at the top of the Bundisliga.

Disaster helped by Andries Jonker who was leading Bayern Munich as it turn out a victory over second place Bayer Leverkusen. Jonker's first match in charge, he saw Thomas Muller put Bayern two up after an earlier goal from Mario Gomez.

And minutes later, they 3-nil after Muller squared the ball for Gomez to score his second of the match. And the German striker completed a first half hat trick when Bastian Schweinsteiger set him up for a strong right footed finish.

Bayern going on to seal a 5-1 thrashing of Leverkusen, Munich's Champion's League qualification hopes back on track.

Now we end on the clay courts of the ATP tennis tour where one player is yet again looking in unbeatable form. Raphael Nadal's seventh successive victory at the Monte Carlo Rolex Master's left his opponent David Ferrer calling his fellow Spaniard simply the best player on clay in history.

When these players met at the Australian Open earlier in the year it was Ferrer who came out on top. But Nadal is, of course, a completely different proposition on these red dusty surfaces. The world number one showing his speed to reach that drop shot, playing one of his own, taking a 4-2 lead in the opening set and showing off another major weapon on the clay, that booming forehand as he clinched the first set by 6 games to 4.

Stastically not a huge gap in class between these two Spaniards in this match, but Rafa came up with the right shots at the right time. Ferrer has almost no answer. Although the world number six is enjoying a great season. And he was aggressive on some, like this one, taking the bout to a tiebreak almost in the second set. But Rafa stepped up a gear when it mattered. He didn't want to be taken to a third set after his marathon semifinal against Britain's Andy Murray.

And this time he closed out the match in straight sets. A fearsome backhand cross court forcing the error from Ferrer, clinching victory 6-4, 7-5. Nadal's famed king of tennis reigns in Monte Carlo yet again.

That's all your sport for now, Anna. Back to you in Hong Kong.

COREN: Nadal, one very happy man. Alex, good to see you. Thank you.

Well that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues here at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is coming up next.

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