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Japan Hit by 7.3 Magnitude Earthquake; Educating Afghan Girls For Free; Europe Has Big Plans For Space; Searching for Missing Bopha Victims

Aired December 7, 2012 - 12:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL": Shaking ground and ratted nerves in Japan, a powerful earthquake rocked the country today. It was centered in the Pacific Ocean off the northeast coast.

But the 7.3 magnitude quake shook buildings in Tokyo. Also set off a small tsunami. So far there are no reports of major damage, but 10 people suffered minor injuries.

In the Philippines, the death toll from Typhoon Bopha now stands at 400. Nearly as many people are still missing. Add to that a quarter million people who have lost their homes to strong winds, flash floods, and mudslides.

Our Liz Niesloss visited the village where the search for survivors continues. I want to warn you. Some of the video might be a bit disturbing.


LIZ NIESLOSS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The aftermath of a super typhoon, raging winds barreled through here leaving destruction and chaos.

The grim tally of death continues to rise. Survivors must identify bodies covered in mud after flashfloods. Many roads are impassable, hampering the search and any rescue.

Outside of Davao City, the flooding has swamped this neighborhood. Forty-five families made their way through waist-high water to get to the highway and wait for help.

The water was slowly rising to the roof, this man says.

Mercidita (ph) and her husband, Reggie (ph) have cobbled together shelter from bits of wood and plastic. They have six children to feed, the oldest, 13, the youngest, just 6. A tree fell on their flooded house, they say.

In the devastated province of Compostela Valley, bags of rice and basic foods are readied for distribution. Officials call this immediate assistance. There's need for much more. CAMILO CASCOLAN, SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT, COMPOSTELA VALLEY: There are a lot of right now missing persons. We also have a lot of injured persons.

What we lack -- what the government lacks here right now is medical and, basically, maybe people would be able to help out in the trauma of the people who have been victimized.

NIESLOSS: This area is usually spared the annual typhoon when it hit the country, so even with warnings, many people here didn't belief that such a powerful and destructive force would land here.

This is what's left of Rasal Bacani's (ph) home and kitchen. She and her four children were terrified. They had never experienced a typhoon before.

The wind destroyed my house. We ran away. The roof top was flying, she says.

Her 17-year-old daughter Jane has salvaged her school year book and separates the water-logged pages.

Tens of thousands fill evacuation centers in this area. Many of the centers are community gyms like this one, where there was no organized aid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My house is already like that. We don't have house anymore.

NIESLOSS: The need here is enormous for help and hope.

Liz Niesloss, CNN, Compostela Valley, Philippines.


MALVEAUX: Two thousand miles in negative-130 degree weather. That is real. It is considered the coldest expedition ever attempted, so why is Sir Ranulph Fiennes attempting to cross the Antarctic by foot? We're going to hear from him next.


MALVEAUX: It's being called the world's coldest journey. British explorer Ranulph Fiennes set sail today. It is the ceremonial start to his 2,000-mile trek across the Antarctica.

Fiennes is hoping to become the first man to cross the bottom of Antarctic in the winter when temperatures drop to minus-130 degrees.

Becky Anderson is live in London. Wow, Becky, this is unbelievable.

You know, I've never heard of anything like this. I mean, how is this guy supposed to survive? How does he do this?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that's what they're going to learn, whether they can survive for six months in the dark, Suzanne. Let's remember that it's winter between March and September in Antarctica, so it will be dark for most of the time.

And as you say, the temperatures will be below 90 degrees centigrade, or 130 degrees Fahrenheit. That is something else.

As with all these expeditions worth their salt, they'll be carrying out some scientific experiments. They'll also be raising some $15 million for Seeing Is Believing, which is a global charity to prevent blindness.

So, there's lots of good reasons why they're doing this, but if you are arguably the greatest living British explorer, there is more to it than that.

There are two words that I think come to mind when you talk to explorers. That's ego and this great sense of competition.

Have a listen to what he said about that.


SIR RANULPH FIENNES, EXPLORER: Well, I suppose the fact that it hasn't been done. The people that have wanted these records as much as we do are mainly the Norwegians and we realize this. They realize that.

For the last 40 years, it's been, you know, back and forth, and they call it "polar hula," meaning it's like a drug. It's like an addiction. Once you're bitten by polar records, you keep going for it.


ANDERSON: Now, Suzanne, the British and the Norwegians have been locked in this sort of polar war for the last 40 years, and, quite frankly, the Norwegians keep beating the British. So, this is really important to Ranulph Fiennes who, remember, is 68-years old.

With respect, I did ask him why he still goes on, but he said it is all about the ego and the competition. I mean, it is a phenomenal challenge. It is the last, as you said, great polar challenge. Remarkable stuff, let's hope he does it.

MALVEAUX: Let's talk a little bit about what he has to do here because we just saw briefly pictures here. Obviously, you have to have some pretty good cold-weather gear and we saw him kind of crawling across the snow and the plains there.

What kind of conditions is he facing?

ANDERSON: Well, I mean, just about the worst that you could possibly imagine.

The equipment that they are taking with them hasn't been tested at these extreme temperatures. They will be effectively skiing across these 2,000 miles or 3,200 kilometers. They've got Cat gear with them, Caterpillar gear with them, the sort of thing you would see on the side of the road as they were building. It's these great yellow machines that will help them drag their equipment.

But ultimately, at the end of the day, it's Ranulph Fiennes and five others who have to survive together. He told me that one of the great expeditions that he had done was 52,000 miles around the world. They were about 52 or 53 people. He says that there had been 17 weddings as a result of that expedition.

These guys have got to live really, really closely together.

I said, how do you cope with these extreme conditions? He's lost five fingers already to frostbite. He said it is about dealing with each other and just keeping each other going.

He does expect to come back, although many will say, you know, he's absolutely mad to do it.

He said, you know, the one thing he misses is a great war bath, and he says there's a smell towards the end of these trips because all of you are smelling. You sort of smell together.

I mean, the sort of conditions are so extreme. Neither you or I could really get our heads around it.

Yesterday, it was zero degrees in London. That is 90 times warmer than it will be for him, and I was absolutely freezing doing the interview with him. It's something else.

MALVEAUX: I guess we're wimps compared to him. We don't have that bug, that addiction that he caught.

But, well, best of luck to him and he is raising money for charity and, hopefully, he'll be successful.

Becky, we're going to check back in with you to see how he is doing with all this. Thanks again.


MALVEAUX: Well, she is trying to save the lives and change lives of girls in Afghanistan. We're going to talk to one of our CNN Hero honorees. Up next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's like a fire that will grow. Every year my hope becomes more. I think I can see the future.



MALVEAUX: In Afghanistan, girls are often treated more like property than people. Razia Jan wants to change that. So after 40 years in the U.S., she headed halfway around the world to try to help Afghan girls help themselves. But for her work, she was honored as CNN's -- one of CNN's heroes. And here is her story.


RAZIA JAN, CNN HERO: In Afghanistan, most of the girls have no voice. They are used as property of a family.

The picture is very grim. My name is Razia Jan. And I'm the founder of a girls school in Afghanistan.

When we opened the school in 2008, 90 percent of them could not write their name. Today, 100 percent of them are educated. They can read. They can write.

I lived in U.S. for over 38 years, but I was really affected by 9/11. I really wanted to prove that Muslims are not terrorists. I came back here in 2002.

Girls have been the most oppressed, and I thought, I have to do something. It was a struggle in the beginning. I would sit with these men, and I would tell them, don't marry them when they're 14 years old. They want to learn.

How do you write your father's name?


JAN: After five years now, the men, they are proud of their girls when they themselves can write their name. Still, we have to take these precautions. Some people are so much against girls getting educated. We provide free education to over 350 girls. I think it's like a fire. It will grow. Every year my hope becomes more, I think, I can see the future.


MALVEAUX: I'm happy to be joined now from Boston by Razia Jan.

And really an incredible project. Congratulations for all of your -- the work that you have done. Really quite incredible.

One of the things that struck me when I went into Afghanistan last year was the women on the street. And it's not just the head scarf or the arabia (ph), but it's the mesh. Literally a screen over their eyes and they're invisible. They're essentially invisible. What do these girls need? How do you change a culture that makes its girls and women invisible?

JAN: I think my best -- I think my -- the -- my best hope and what I'm really working at, because, as you know, that the culture is so strict for girls when they become of age that they cannot go out without a -- that blue or white or green or red, this mesh that is in there. All they can see is with their two eyes and they can't breathe and they have to walk miles in it. And I see that. And, unfortunately, I have some of my students that are in that position. But my great hope is -- and what I encourage them that, yes, you are wearing this cover. You are like an object. You are walking. You -- nobody can recognize you, but then when you enter my school, you have eight hours of great pleasure, great learning that otherwise you will not have. And I have persuaded these girls, which I have now eight or nine girls, that, please, don't stop coming to school because you are forced to wear this mesh on your face.

MALVEAUX: Tell us about one of the things that you do. It seems like you really have to work with the men, with the fathers of these young students, before they can learn. They've got to get the buy-in (ph) from the family. How do you convince them that this is good for their daughters?

JAN: I think I'm lucky. I think, again, first of all, to be old, I think that's one privilege. And then second is that I am from that culture. And when they see me without a mesh, when they see me that I can say no to them, but still I respect them. And seeing me, you know, doing all these things, I think I have that kind of upper hand for them or at least they can listen to me. I think that makes the difference.

MALVEAUX: You're very convincing. Tell us a little bit about your school and the changes that have come about since you've been named a CNN Hero.

JAN: I think it's just such an amazing privilege, award, recognition. You know, there are thousands of people in the world that are doing good, great things, and then to be chosen to be one of 10, it's just amazing. I think it's a God's blessing. And for me to be recognized and go forward, because in Afghanistan it's not just giving education to the kids or making it a place for them, but it's just -- they are so -- you know, these women, or these girls, have no place in society. And to bring that out and to make them -- give them that sense of respect, I think, under all these circumstances is so great.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Well, congratulations, again, and on the good work that you do. And we certainly wish the very best for those young girls that you have taken under your wing. Thank you.

The unemployment rate falling to 7.7 percent. That is the lowest since December of 2008. We're going to break down the numbers at the top of the hour.


MALVEAUX: Today is the anniversary of the day that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said will live in infamy. December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombers launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That was 71 years ago today. Moments ago, at almost the exact minute it happened Hawaiian time, military veterans, active duty service members and Americans of all ages held a moment of silence at Pearl Harbor Memorial to remember the 2,400 men and women who lost their lives that day.

Help for the disabled. A cleaner environment. Safer world. You want all that, right? Well, the European space agency says it's got the answer, and it's in space. CNN's Ayesha Durgahee reports from London.


AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The power of space technology to improve life here on earth. Like an audio GPS for the blind and visually impaired. The faster it ticks, you're on the right track.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you turn to the right side, it's the wrong way. If you go now (ph) to the left side, it's the wrong way. So you find in the middle we have this very loud. There you have to go.

DURGAHEE: Satellites are used by different industries, like aviation, making landings more accurate in bad weather for planes and helicopters.

HANS DE WITH, GLOBAL NAVIGATION SATELLITE SYSTEMS: The new aviation paradigm is going to be satellite navigation to be sure that aircrafts are going to be better using their airspace. That there's optimization in the use of landing and that there's more safe landings available at airports that don't have a lot of traffic.

DURGAHEE: This is the European Space Expo. A traveling exhibition dome showing off space applications and the flagship projects of the European Space Program. For Antonio Tajani , vice president of the European Commission, space is at the center of the E.U. strategy.

ANTONIO TAJANI, EUROPEAN COMMISSION VICE PRESIDENT: Space Expo (ph) is crucial for our economy. It's the future. It's the heart of the third industrial revolution. We want to (INAUDIBLE) for growth and jobs. (INAUDIBLE) to work in transport sector, (INAUDIBLE) sector, against this ability, agriculture, fisheries. Very, very important for Europe, also for our industrial (INAUDIBLE).

DURGAHEE: The E.U. hopes that the space sector will account for 20 percent of its GDP by the year 2020. The U.K. space agency has secured almost $2 billion to invest in the European Space Agency's space programs. The space industry already contributes 9.1 billion pounds or $14 billion to the U.K. economy. For Europe, investing in space is investing in the future.

Ayesha Durgahee, CNN, London.


MALVEAUX: Medical marijuana is already legal in several states in the United States. Well, now voters in Washington state and Colorado have OK'd the recreational use of pot. So, is it time to end the war on drugs. Billionaire businessman Richard Branson says yes.


RICHARD BRANSON: What we've simply proposed with the harder drugs is do what Portugal has done, and that is, you know, let the state set up clinics throughout America that, you know, if you have a drug problem, you go to that clinic and, you know, give them the methadone until they're ready to come off. And when they're ready to come off, use a drug clinic which costs a third of the price of a prison in order to get them, you know, back into society.


MALVEAUX: Visit to read Sir Branson's opinion piece about ending the war on drugs.