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Crisis in Japan; Woman Accuses Gadhafi Forces of Rape, Abuse; The Reality of Radiation; Japan's Economic Survival; Signs of Japanese Resilience
Aired March 26, 2011 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. And welcome to our viewers around the world. This is a CNN special report on the ongoing crisis in Japan. I'm Don Lemon.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm John Vause, from CNN International.
Over the next hour, an in-depth look at the unbelievable tragedy that unfolded in Japan in recent weeks, from the first tremors to a crushing tsunami, to the brink of a nuclear meltdown.
LEMON: And, John, also the latest fallout from Japan's nuclear disabled plant, and radiation exposure to the public and food supply.
VAUSE: But, first, we have a disturbing story developing out of Libya.
LEMON: There's video of a hysterical woman bursting into a Tripoli hotel filled with journalists.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
LEMON: The woman's name is Iman al-Obeidi and she is screaming a horrifying story, accusing 15 members of Moammar Gadhafi's militia of raping and beating her over a two-day period.
VAUSE: Right away, Libyan security forces moved to shut her up, all the while dragging her away from uncertain fate. They smashed cameras, including ours, trying to destroy the evidence. But we did get this video of it.
Let's get to Nic Robertson who's staying at that hotel for more -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the lady came into the hotel this morning. She was screaming. She was a middle aged woman. She seemed fairly respectable.
And she tried to tell journalists her story. She said she had been taken by government gunmen at a checkpoint east of the city, detained against her will for two days, had her ankles bound. She had been beaten, she said, and raped. The injuries that you can see about her, the rope burns on her wrists, ankles, the bruises on her thighs, bruises on her face seemed to corroborate what she was telling.
But barely beginning to tell her story, then government officials jumped in here in the hotel, one even branding a pistol -- jumped in, pulled her away from the journalists, manhandled her away. And jumped then on the journalists, beating, kicking, punching them -- even taking CNN's camera away. And not just -- it didn't just get broken in the scuffle, CNN's camera was taken away and systematically smashed by a government official in the corner of the restaurant here in the hotel, a video taken away.
The woman later officials put a bag over her head as they tried to take her away and she was led away from the hotel, kicking and screaming.
What this was, and as far as we can see, the government here leads us around this city, takes to us things they want to see, stage-manages the situation, always portraying and showing government supporters. This was the first time someone had been brave enough to try and come on camera and speak against Gadhafi's regime here.
And what we saw was something that we never normally witness here. We see government officials responding to that negative talk about the regime by literally manhandling and moving this woman away and beating the journalists and taking their video and smashing their equipment. This is a side of the government that we don't normally see, that this is a side of the government of position figures talk about a lot -- this brutality by the regime of the people that are opposed to the regime. This was a firsthand account for us to witness that here in the hotel.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Tripoli, Libya.
LEMON: All right. Nic, thank you very much. And Iman al-Obeidi is, of course, just one of the millions of Libyans caught up in this conflict.
The Libyan rebels have seized control of the key eastern city of Ajdabiya. Gadhafi's forces retreated after days of intense fighting. The Libyan foreign ministry says coalition airstrikes were the main factor. Ajdabiya is a gateway to Libya's enormous oil field.
VAUSE: The situation, though, is very different to the west in Misrata. The "Reuters" news agency is reporting French war planes destroyed five Libya military planes and two helicopters at the airbase there. This after Gadhafi's tanks started shelling the city once again according to a doctor at Misrata's main hospital. Rebels are trying to push back but they only have light weapons.
LEMON (voice-over): Tonight, a country rocked.
Entire villages swept away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My wife, my son's family and four grandchildren, I lost them all.
LEMON: Now, an even more catastrophic nuclear threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very frightening situation. We can only hope for the best.
LEMON: From a company with a history of problems.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just as you think you might have gotten control of one, then another one goes.
LEMON: Up next: Japan, when disaster strikes.
LEMON: And we're getting a much better idea tonight about the status of all six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima power plant, John. Right now, fresh water is flowing to most of them, replacing the seawater that's been used during the past two weeks.
VAUSE: Two of the reactors, five and six, are now considered safe. The other four are all believed to have suffered some kind of damage to the reactor cores. For now, they are said to be stable.
LEMON: But the nuclear crisis is far from over.
Let's right to CNN's Martin Savidge who is on the phone for us in Tokyo.
Bring us up to date, Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Don, right now, as you point out, the fresh water is key here because what has happened over the past couple of days, they've been pouring tons and tons of saltwater, they desperately needed to keep those reactors cool. As you know, saltwater is highly corrosive and especially in a heated involvement, it clogs up all sorts of things that actually can't be clogged if you're trying to run and cool a nuclear power plant.
So, bring in the fresh, flush everything out, especially flush out those crucial pumps. Then hopefully, you stand a chance of being able to turn those on. I know we've been seeing this for over a week. Why they can't turn them on? Why they can't turn them on?
Well, they've been severely damaged. They're trying to replace the parts. But those are really key here. And the company is trying to get that right.
The other concern, high levels of radiation that have shown up in the seawater right off the coast. I'm talking thousands of times of what they should be. The government is saying, look, this radioactive iodine is really -- it's going to have a half life of about eight days. We do not expect it to have any impact on people and they expect it to have a minimal effect on sea life there. But still, you got to wonder where is it coming from? And that's the real question. Where are these leaks coming from? Are they coming from some sort of breach in the core of the reactors? Or are they coming, say, from those fuel pools that maybe overflowing and unleashing radiation? Either way, it's not a good thing at all, Don.
VAUSE: And, Marty, Prime Minister Naoto Kan says they still are a long way from the point of this crisis being resolved. They seem to have stabilized the situation.
But is there a time frame now when they think this crisis may start to come to an end?
SAVIDGE: No, there isn't. And that's the thing that shocked to hear about that statement.
First of all, how grim the assessment was, with the circumstances there at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. After two weeks, you would expect that you'd start to hear some sort of an optimistic talk. It was anything but that. In fact, he almost implied that the worst may not be over just yet -- still, they are stabilizing.
What you find out is that just trying to keep things where they are is a desperate battle. And they've had a number of major setbacks. They've had the three employees that were exposed to radiation. And that appears to have been a simple oversight. They did not really check the radiation levels in the environment these men were working in. They didn't appear to have the proper safety equipment they've been wearing and this raises the issue of, well, just how lax are the safety measures here with a company dealing with a major nuclear disaster?
LEMON: And, Marty, the spokesman for the plant says this hazard could have been avoided if the contaminated water had just been tested days earlier when it was first discovered.
SAVIDGE: Yes. I sense a no-brainer and I'm not in the nuclear industry. But, yes, that does seem like something that you would do, especially when you're going to be sending people, your employees into that environment there.
They were apparently standing in water that was 10,000 times normal levels of radiation, wearing something like galoshes or boots, splashing around in it for 45 minutes. And even though the radiation alert system that they have, the little device they wear was going off, they probably thought it was a false alarm. So, again, this goes back to what kind of training, what are you instilling in your employees, and do they even know for their own safety how to operate?
VAUSE: And, Marty, when they encourage people to leave the area, they've expanded that evacuation area where they say that, you know, if you can leave, you should -- there has been some criticism of that, that leaves behind people who don't have the means to get out or they may be elderly. Is there any word on what they may be doing for those people who are left behind? SAVIDGE: Yes. This has been a quiet expansion of the evacuation. Initially, it was 20 kilometers, about 12 miles. They said anybody within 10 kilometers beyond that, they can stay but you have to stay indoors.
Well, they quickly figured out, you know what, that's a problem because if people have to stay indoors, they don't go to the grocery store. They aren't buying the things they need. So, they're trapped.
And that left the government trying to supply these people in their homes. And we're talking maybe 70,000 people. That became too big a chore.
The government finally said, no, it is probably wise if you all just leave. But just like in the U.S. when you have a hurricane, you cannot force people out. There's no law for that.
So, you tell people, they strongly advise them, they say you'd better register at city hall if you're going to stay. But if they decided top stay, it's a problem for the government. They can't really force them out, John.
VAUSE: Yes, there's also a problem on where all of these people go. Marty Savidge for us on the phone from Tokyo -- thank you, Marty.
LEMON: And we should tell that you CNN is launching a new, high tech way for smartphone users around the world to take immediate action to help disasters victims in Japan. Throughout our special tonight, we will show you this special black and white code which you can see onscreen. There is the code right there.
VAUSE: And this is pretty cool. If you scan the image with your smartphone, it loads our "Impact Your World" Web site automatically. No typing required. There, you'll find links of charities that are helping the disaster victims in Japan.
And keep a close eye because we'll be airing this symbol throughout the program. So, please, keep your smartphones handy.
LEMON: And smartphones are very smart use of technology.
LEMON: Coming up next here on CNN, a look at how the disaster in Japan unfolded.
VAUSE: And, later, how much radiation affects our daily lives. You may be surprised at the answer.
VAUSE: Hollywood could not have come up with a worse disaster movie than the one playing out right now in Japan, especially at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Despite many layers of safety features, the plant fell victim to a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. LEMON: Yes, and this drama will play out for many years, and it all began two weeks -- on an ordinary Friday, March 11th, and then earth moved.
LEMON (voice-over): Two-forty-six p.m. local time, a massive 9.0 earthquake rattles the core of daily life in Japan, with a sustained shaking many people have never experienced.
But the shaking underground was just the first sign of nature's fury. Within an hour, a 30-foot wall of displaced water smashes into Japan's north eastern coastline, obliterating everything in its path, including emergency power generators at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the coast.
Five hours after the quake, shortly after 8:00 p.m., while the much of the country is still deep in shock over the sheer scale of the tsunami's destruction, the Japanese government declares an emergency at the nuclear plant. No one yet foresees how a bad situation is continuing to spiral downward.
The first hint comes less than three hours later. The plant's cooling systems, absolutely vital to keeping nuclear fuel containable are not working. The Japanese people and the rest of the world are warned to brace for the worst.
Just a few hours later, at 2:00 a.m. Saturday among, radiation levels at reactor number one begin to climb. By dawn, radiation levels at the plant's main gate are eight times higher than normal, a very troubling sign.
Twelve hours later, at 6:22 p.m., the first of three major explosions transformed three of the reactor buildings into charred hulks of concrete. Hydrogen, most likely generated from the melting fuel rods, has built up inside the buildings and then blown up. Officials say no harmful gases were released by the explosion. Nonetheless, two hours later, 200,000 people within 12 miles of the plant are asked to evacuate.
Within days, officials warn that any or all of the reactor cores are at risk of melting into a puddle of super hot radioactive liquid metal. All but 50 of the plant's 800 workers are evacuated. Those who stay behind know they are risking their lives in order to try and save countless others.
Eight-fifty-four a.m. on Tuesday morning, a fire breaks out in the cooling pond of reactor number four. It burns for two hours. A second fire follows the next day.
Shortly before 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, helicopters dumped seawater on reactors number three and four in an effort to keep the fuel rods from melting. But the effort is deemed ineffective. Trace amounts of radiation are found at nearby farms.
Over the weekend, special trucks begin dousing numbers three and four. It seems to be keeping the situation from getting worse. Power is restored to reactors two, five and six.
Five days later, Friday, March 25th, Japanese officials make the announcement no one wants to hear -- reactor number three may be leaking highly radioactive water.
VAUSE: Coming up: Americans are concerned about their safety as many people are around the world because of fear of radiation from Japan. It could be in their food. We'll have a report from Los Angeles, next.
LEMON: Plus, John, we'll talk with a nuclear and radiology expert about the radiation fallout and whether those fears are justified.
LEMON: Back to our coverage of the crisis in Japan. Fears of radiation contaminating food and water supplies have spread far beyond the streets of Tokyo.
VAUSE: Yes, that's right. Thousands of miles away, shoppers at a Japanese market in Los Angeles say Little Tokyo have their own concerns. Our Ted Rowlands has that report.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mei Lee says she's concerned about the possibility that radiation could get into the food she buys from this Japanese grocery store in Los Angeles.
MEI LEE, GROCERY SHOPPER: I really care about the food, actually, from Japan. I want to make sure -- for example, the fish, I'm not going to buy anything. Probably now is OK, but probably two or three months later, I'm not going to buy any fish from Japan.
ROWLANDS (on camera): These noodles are made in Tokyo and there are two concerns right now going on at this Japanese market in Los Angeles. One is the customers are worried they're not going to be able to get their hands on products like that, made in Japan. So, they're coming in and buying a lot of them.
The other concerns revolve around radiation fears -- obviously, fresh fish, vegetables, et cetera. About 30 percent of the fish at this market comes from Japan. And folks here at the store say a lot of customers are concerned about radiation.
GENE IKEDA, NIJIYA MARKET: A good amount of people come in and ask questions, you know, about -- regarding, you know, the products that have radiation or anything like that, but all of our products do come through, you know, the FDA. They're inspected very tightly. So, anything we get is safe.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Despite official assurances that Japan's nuclear plant problems have not affected the U.S., people, especially on the West Coast, don't necessarily believe they're safe. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the experts aren't telling us everything.
ROWLANDS (on camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't want to cause panic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government has a vested interest in saying no, and who knows? They're finding it in the food over there. They're finding it in the water. They're finding it in some people.
So, obviously, it has some -- there's some problem with it. But whether it's going to come here or not, who knows?
ROBERT DEMAYO, PSYCHOLOGIST, PEPPERDINE UNIV.: The fear touches a very basic part of our brain that fear is the unseen danger. The advisories touch that part of our brain which is intellectual. The fear trumps that part of our brain that can intellectually process what the doctors are telling us.
LEE: And this one, soba noodles from Japan.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Experts say Mei Lee and others who buy Japanese products in the U.S. don't need to worry right now. But that doesn't mean they won't.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
VAUSE: So, fears of contaminated food are now spreading across the Pacific.
LEMON: That's right. And here to shed some light on it on the subject is Farzad Rahnema. He's the chair of nuclear and radiological engineering program at Georgia Tech.
So, Farzad, thank you so much.
Are these fears really -- before the last time here in the United States, people in Los Angeles, are these fears really concerning? Is it relevant?
FARZAD RAHNEMA, PROFESSOR, GEORGIA TECH: Not at all. I mean, we're too far from Japan to be concerned for any kind of radiation at all.
VAUSE: OK. Let me pull put this to you. I'm hearing from "The Insider" magazine that the levels of cesium and iodine coming out of Fukushima are approaching the same levels as Chernobyl. And there is now some concern that when you look at what happened in Chernobyl, some scientists believe that was responsible for thousands of cancers across Europe. Why is this different?
RAHNEMA: Well, the levels are nowhere close to what it was in Chernobyl. In Chernobyl, the reactor was totally different. It was an explosion that spread out the whole core. Right now, the core is completely contained.
VAUSE: It's the iodine and the cesium that people should be worried about, yes?
RAHNEMA: This iodine and cesium that are volatile and they can get into the air. That's what I would worry about.
VAUSE: So, the concern is that if we're looking -- this is being detected by the meteorological service in Austria which is set up to detect clandestine nuclear explosions. So, they're picking up these particles over Western Europe and in the United States. So, why shouldn't we be concerned about that?
RAHNEMA: Because they're extremely low. Much, much lower than what you get just walking around in the background, radiation. There is a whole lot more you get from radon in the air. Just, you know, living in your surroundings.
VAUSE: I want to read this. This is just in. That's why I'm looking at the computer, if we can put up this. This is an animation and I'm being told by producers -- animation of a reactor to -- in the yellow.
Look at this thing. Look at this. There it is.
OK. So, the core is in yellow, and the containment flashing green to go along with the stories that we have. That's a containment thing there that is flashing green, OK?
LEMON: The men are working near number three reactor. They step into the water, 10,000 times the amount of radiation typical of a nuclear plant. So, this is what it looks like inside of that core. Again, the reactor is in yellow, the reactor core. And the containment is flashing in green.
So, is this typical? As we look at this animation -- and you may not be an expert on this particular facility there. Is this typical of a facility here in the United States, facilities all over the world? Are they made like this? And if so, is there a particular concern about the way this one is made, the structure?
RAHNEMA: No. There is no concern about the way this is made. This is how boiling water reactors are made.
RAHNEMA: Let me add to your description a little bit. There's also that yellow -- the green part are the fuel rods. The yellow part is a very thick stainless steel pressure vessel.
LEMON: The green part at the bottom.
LEMON: The little piping at the bottom. RAHNEMA: Well, from the top.
RAHNEMA: From the top, the whole cylindrical shape is the reactor core.
RAHNEMA: That's actually the pressure vessel, very think. That contains the whole reactor. The core is relatively small compared to that pressure vessel which is very big.
Actually, all the reactors are built this way. Now, these are boiling water reactors. And there are about 40 of those, but they're much newer than this. And then there's also pressurized water reactors that are different because they don't boil the water inside the core. They boil it in the secondary route.
LEMON: OK. And we just -- again, we just put that up there. I didn't mean to catch you off guard. But just we again, as we said, once and for all -- I've gotten e-mails, I've gotten questions about -- people in the textile industry asking about yarns and threads and what-have-you and products. They want to know -- is it like lead? Does a contamination stay inside whatever it is? And will it be harmful possibly?
RAHNEMA: No, it wouldn't be harmful. You know, I'm sure anything that coming out of Japan before it gets to the U.S. are going to be scanned.
RAHNEMA: So, I wouldn't worry at all. That's a very, very remote possibility, what you mentioned.
VAUSE: Professor, thanks so much. We appreciate it. Thank you for clarifying a few issues for us.
LEMON: Again -- all right. But yet, we can never be too sure. Thank you, sir. We appreciate it.
VAUSE: Yes. I think the problem is we're dealing with possibilities here.
LEMON: Yes, that we don't know.
LEMON: All right. Coming up, how much radiation do you think you're exposed to on a daily basis?
VAUSE: We'll go through that. And a list of everyday items that you're likely using around the house and we'll discuss the danger levels. That's coming up next.
VAUSE: Across Japan, there is increasing concern about high levels of radiation because of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima plant.
LEMON: And, John, but we live with radiation levels all the time. They're around us every single day. So, what's safe? What isn't?
Dr. Walter Curran is here. He's from Emory University.
Thank you so much for joining us.
I'm going to move around here and we're going to look at some of the thing we have on the table. And, of course, the biggest concern when you talk about radiation -- a lot of people John, and, Doctor, they think of the microwave.
DR. WALTER CURRAN, RADIATION ONCOLOGIST, EMORY UNIV.: Sure.
LEMON: It emits radiation all the time. But should we be concerned about what comes from this?
CURRAN: So, Don, a microwave does not emit ionizing radiation as we're concerned about in Japan. There are many forms of radiation, visible light, ultraviolent light, infrared, microwave and ionizing radiation.
Right now, our microwave tools, we've diminished the emission. But microwave is really used to move molecules and move atoms quickly to heat them up.
LEMON: So, it's not the same kind that we've been talking about.
CURRAN: Not the same kind. It has some risked but our tools right now really much less emission than they used to.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I think the problem a lot of people have, there is a lot of information out there right now. And we're hearing that there is no safe level of exposure to radiation. Is that right?
CURRAN: So I think, John, they're really talking about ionizing radiation.
VAUSE: Which is what these are.
CURRAN: And these dose monitors monitor that in the medical setting.
CURRAN: And most of the things that we have in our homes and we have in our office have negligible emission of ionizing radiation.
LEMON: So the laptop, an iPad, cell phone, (INAUDIBLE) and even when you think about certain types of granite and marble -
CURRAN: No. So you actually would probably find the greatest amount of ionizing radiation in certain types of bedrock around the world. For example, uranium or which is one of the first natural radioactive elements in radium are in natural ores in the world. So if we had a very sensitive dose monitor, this would be the one that might show but not at the level that would be medically meaningful.
LEMON: The answer to your question, you said is there any acceptable levels?
CURRAN: So the principle in radiation safety is with the acronym ALARA, as low as reasonably acceptable.
VAUSE: Right. And the problem is when you consumed (INAUDIBLE) exposed to radioactivity, like the cesium that we're hearing about (INAUDIBLE) because once it is inside you, you've got trouble.
CURRAN: And again, the people that I think we're most concerned about are the nuclear reactor workers and the people in the immediate vicinity. What needs to be monitored over the next months and years is where is this radioactivity getting into the food chain. I think particularly in the large bony fish offshore in the Eastern Pacific oceans is where the greatest risk is because that's high on the food chain. We hear that the clouds of radioactivity are drifting offshore more than onshore.
But clearly milk, water, and all those, we're in a situation where we have a country very committed to control. We hear that the nuclear power plants are coming under control. So our hope is that this will not continue to be the worst possible scenario.
LEMON: But again, radiation emitted out of lots of household things including your television. All these monitors we have. It is around us all the time -
LEMON: But they're acceptable levels and not the kind that would be emitted from a nuclear power plant.
CURRAN: That's correct.
LEMON: Thank you, doctor. We really appreciate it.
CURRAN: Thank you.
LEMON: And coming up here on CNN, compelling personal stories of survival in the wake of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
VAUSE: Also, we have the latest developments on the war in Libya. That's coming up next.
LEMON: Our special on the crisis in Japan continues. But first, here's a look at other stories making headlines right now.
Libyan rebels have seized the key eastern city of Ajdabiya. Gadhafi's forces retreated after days of intense fighting. The Libyan foreign minister said coalition air strikes were the main factor. And a different story to the west in Misrata. Reuters is reporting French war planes destroyed five Libyan military planes and two helicopters at the airbase there. This after Gadhafi's tanks started shelling the city once again. It's according to a doctor at Misrata's main hospital. Rebels are trying to push back but they only have light weapons.
VAUSE: Hundreds of thousands of people marched in protest in London today. Demonstrators are trying to stop proposed belt tightening by the British government. 157 people were arrested and several dozen were hurt including some officers when police stepped in. They think about 500 people were responsible for most of the trouble.
Welcome back to CNN's special report on the crisis in Japan. First the latest on the crippled nuclear power plant. Workers today began pumping fresh water into several of the reactor cores that should flush out sea water that was used in the immediate emergency after the tsunami.
LEMON: At least that's what they're hoping. Because two of the reactors, numbers five and six, are the least damage and said to be safe. The other four still in some stage of critical condition. All are believed to have damage to their reactor cores. But for now, they're not getting any worse which gives plant officials confidence to say reactors one, two, three, and four are stable right now.
Here are the numbers alone offer a clear picture of the suffering in Japan. At the latest down, 27,478 people are dead or missing after the earthquake and tsunami, John.
VAUSE: Yes, behind those numbers, there is this new reality which is emerging. Funerals (INAUDIBLE) and clean-up crews are in tears as they work.
CNN's Kyung Lah has the story.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the new normal of Japan's tsunami zone, there is no time to grieve. 16-year-old Hiroki Sugawara is underneath this blanket. His parents and two brothers drove his body to the emergency shelter for the best farewell they could offer in the wake of the tsunami. Don't give up hope, Hiroki's father tells his friends. Keep living for my son.
This car side tribute to a life stolen young ends in minutes. His father covered his teenage son and said goodbye.
The disaster's toll is measured not just in damage but in human suffering. 93-year-old Matsio Iwahana (ph) barely escaped the tsunami but is sick and getting worse by the day in the evacuation center.
EMIKO SATO, TSUNAMI VICTIM (through translator): I don't know what to do, says her granddaughter, Emiko Sato. I'm just trying to take this day by day.
LAH: That's all any victim can do, says Keiko Naganuma.
KEIKO NAGANUMA, TSUNAMI VICTIM (through translator): Seven or eight of my family is missing, she says, including her oldest son, eight- year-old Koto, presumed dead. His body washed away from the school by the tsunami. Of the 108 students at Ishinomaki Okawa Elementary, 77 are dead or missing. The school gutted by the tsunami.
Backpack after backpack sits for parents to retrieve, along with a picture of the school little league, the bats they used, art bags filled with crayons.
NAGANUMA (through translator): I'm not OK, she says, of course, I'm not. But I have another son. I can see he is pretending to be happy so we don't worry about him. So mother joins and pretends for her son and for herself. But pretending is not an option for city crews. Victims themselves who cry as they work.
DAIJI MURAI, KAMAISHI CITY SPOKESMAN (through translator): I don't want to lose my home town. I want it to come back. We won't give up, he says.
LAH: A fighting spirit that keeps this region from crumbling.
The son who won't leave the wreckage of his home until he can find his parents' bodies. The home town boy who pledges to rebuild despite that nearly every part of his town is leveled. And the newborn babies, Yuma and Yukia (ph), just days old. Small signs, say their homeless mothers, the next chapter in the rebirth of a region can be written.
Kyung Lah, CNN, in northern Japan's tsunami zone.
VAUSE: As we mentioned earlier, CNN has new high-tech tools for smart phone users around the world who want to help the disaster victims in Japan. Here it is.
LEMON: Here's how it works. You scan this special black and white code that you see on your screen now. It will load CNN's "Impact Your World" web site automatically on. No typing needed. All you have to do is scan it. And there you will find links to charities that are helping disaster victims in Japan. It's all there for you.
VAUSE: As easy as possible.
LEMON: Absolutely. The stories of devastation have overwhelmed us.
VAUSE: But just as impressive, the stories of survival. Coming up, the heroes emerging out of the destruction in Japan.
VAUSE: In times like these the true heroes do come out. People who have nothing to gain and a lot to lose have gone to Japan to do what they can. LEMON: And CNN's Martin Savidge shares some of their stories.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In northern Japan, people began helping almost the moment the earth stopped moving. On foot, on water, the first heroes struggled to rescue anyone they could. Eventually, a second wave of rescuers arrived from around the world including two firefighters from Virginia, CNN's Brian Todd found.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tom Carver and Brad Haywood have to move fast. Someone could be waiting. They sledgehammer, kick, shoulder their way into every available opening.
TODD (on camera): You look like you like to break things.
BRAD HAYWOOD, FAIRFAX COUNTRY SEARCH RESCUE: Yes. He is that type a personality.
TODD (voice-over): They're called technical rescue specialists with the Fairfax County, Virginia team. But they're more like storm troopers. These guys have to barrel into the most dangerous structures after an earthquake or tsunami and look for survivors. They lower their way into unknown danger, contort into every possible opening. And ascend taller building that's seem to be on the verge of collapse. It is one of the most treacherous jobs you can imagine.
SAVIDGE: Getting aid to the survivors quickly became crucial. American helicopters began delivering food, water and medicine. But those choppers wouldn't have known where to land, were it not for one special sailor as I found out when I flew along.
Once in the air, the chopper's crew reports to a dispatcher who then directs them to a village based on need. Soon we're crossing the coast, passing over the rubble of another decimated community. Landings here can be very treacherous, often in tight spaces. Complicated by debris, steep terrain, as well as constantly changing wind and weather. On the ground in the village of Toni, we speak to the middle school English teacher. One of her students was among the dead.
AKIE MIURA, TONI MIDDLE SCHOOL: This is so helpful for us. Thank you very much.
SAVIDGE: Tom Allen is one of those disaster dispatchers, directing the choppers to villages like Toni.
LT. CMDR. TOM ALLEN, U.S. NAVY: It is the most rewarding job I've done in the Navy yet. It is helping the Japanese.
SAVIDGE: As a new disaster became known, new heroes emerged. The employees of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, CNN's Anna Coren reported on the scramble to prevent a nightmare.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 600 workers are rotating in shifts, staying just a few hundred meters from the reactors. They're working in harsh conditions, constantly putting themselves at risk.
(on camera): As this crisis enters its third week, TEPCO have confirmed there are at least 17 workers who have exceed their radiation exposure limit. But continue to work day after day regardless of the potentially grave consequences.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): When Eri Okubo heard of the earthquake, she ran. What else would you do when you're a Japanese marathon superstar? CNN's Casey Wian caught up with her at the Los Angeles marathon.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She decided she could best represent her beloved country by running. So Eri flew to California.
ERI OKUBO, JAPANESE MARATHON RUNNER (through translator): As an athlete I want to run in order to give hope. Even if it is only a little bit that I can give right now. On race day, the people in the U.S. and around the world will think about Japan if they see me. I want the Japanese to know that everyone is watching over us.
SAVIDGE: On the big day, the sky opened up, drenching runners to the bone. But Eri didn't let that stop her.
OKUBO (through translator): I don't know if I was my best today. I didn't win but it made me so, so happy to hear people around me cheering. Go, Japan. Go, Japan.
SAVIDGE: Finally, one last group of heroes. The ones who have suffered unimaginable loss, almost unbearable heartbreak. And who still struggle with the fallout of three back to back disasters. The people of Japan.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Tokyo.
VAUSE: And coming up, analysts say the Japanese economy survive this disaster but it won't be easy.
LEMON: And when we come right back, we'll tell you why the disaster could not have come at a worse time.
LEMON: 's disasters have done more than just destroy parts of the country's vital infrastructure, they put a dent in the entire Japanese economy.
VAUSE: Now, the question is can Japan's economy survive this crisis. Here's Stephanie Elam.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The devastation in Japan seems to be never ending. The number of people dead or missing continues to grow. Aftershocks are still jolting the nation, and many roads, bridges and ports are wiped out. Analysts say the Japanese economy will survive, but it's not going to be easy. The fact of the matter is that the timing of this couldn't be worse. Japan just emerged from a recession. And even though it's the world's third largest economy, the country used to be number two until China bumped Japan last year.
But one analyst sees an upside, he says the effect of the earthquake and tsunami will be contained.
GUS FAUCHER, MOODY'S ANALYST: I think the Japanese economy will take a substantial blow, no question about that. And it will recover, but it's going to take a year and a half or so. I think in terms of the impact outside of Japan, it's going to be minor and it's going to be particularly small in the United States.
ELAM: But many countries will feel the effects when it comes to goods exported from Japan. Several companies have been forced to temporarily stop production at some point since the crisis began and they're well-known companies like Sony, Toshiba, Texas Instruments, Canon, Toyota and Honda all impacted by Japan's severely damaged infrastructure. That's disrupting the supply chain, and it means some items could be in short supply like the iPad 2.
Ford is even warning that it's having a hard time getting one ingredient from Japan that's used to make black and red paint. All of this is a problem for a nation whose growth is dependent upon exports. The World Bank says exports make up 12 percent of Japan's GDP.
But there's another concern for the Japanese economy, tourism. Delta is temporarily cutting flights to Japan because the demand just isn't there. The airline says bookings to Japan have dropped significantly since the earthquake and tsunami. And the ripple effect is huge. From airlines to hotel chains to the local stores, restaurants and other businesses that count on tourism, the lack of visitors is costly.
MARK MURPHY, TRAVEL EXPERT: Seven percent of their GDP is tied to travel and tourism. It's a significant amount of money, and a lot of that is going to go away because of what we're seeing, people will not travel to Japan at this point in time, until the radiation issue is sorted through, and people understand what the real threat is today. I think once that gets handled, you're going to see a fairly quick recovery.
ELAM: But much of that quick recovery in tourism is going to depend on the nuclear situation. This isn't like other disasters where we're just talking about physical damage. In this case, the fear or radiation will keep tourists away.
MURPHY: It's the fear of the unknown and the fear of the unseen. If I can see a building that's fallen over, I see it, I get it, I know what happened. But if there's something floating around in the air, and I don't know what that is, I may be concerned.
ELAM: But long term, the outlook for Japan is good. Eventually the country will rebuild, and that will help fuel an economic recovery. Analysts point out that Japan has the money to fund those efforts, it's also a technologically advance and well educated country. So while a recovery may be a very hard thing to imagine at this point, the consensus is that Japan will come back from this eventually.
Stephanie Elam, CNN, New York.
LEMON: Well, you know, John, it's hard to imagine how Japan can pick up the pieces from such widespread death and destruction, but it certainly will.
VAUSE: Yes. We hope so. And when we come back, a look at Japan's future one year from now.
VAUSE: Hard to believe, it's only been two weeks since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of Japan.
LEMON: And we've shown you unbelievable cities of debris but we also want to show you the fast turnaround. Some parts of the nation are already seeing. Take a look at this, on the left is what the (INAUDIBLE) expressway looked like the day of the earthquake, and on the right, the same section, just six days later, they're working pretty fast. Signs of resiliency Japan will need as its people recover, John.
VAUSE: Yes, our guest tonight is Kerry Smith. He is an associate professor at Brown University, the author of a lot of books on this subject. Thanks for being with us.
LEMON: Professor, how does this disaster compare with something like rebuilding after World War II? Can you compare the two?
KERRY SMITH, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, BROWN UNIVERSITY: Well, it's an interesting comparison, because the level of destruction in many of the photographs we're seeing in northeastern Japan do remind people in Japan of the fire bombings of Tokyo, and the way in which many cities in Japan were left completely devastated at the end of World War II.
That said, I think there is the sense, in part because of Japan's history with natural disasters that there certainly is the possibility of a quick recovery and a sustained recovery emerging out of this.
VAUSE: But there's also the problem we're looking at an aging population. We're also looking at a country that's hugely indebt already. 200 percent of GDP. It's the highest debt in the developed world. So will Japan get back to where it was?
SMITH: Well, I think that what we were seeing in the last couple of years with Japan economically was a slow recovery, a growing awareness of the many difficulties that Japan faces. As you mentioned, the aging population, and some economic issues that they've been dealing with. But no sense that somehow Japan was at the end of its possibilities.
I do think that within the younger generations, and within the up and coming leadership in Japan. There's this growing sense that Japan is about to embark on something quite new and something quite interesting.
LEMON: Yes and you bring up something, you know, if there was one industry that you can look to that may be helping to save Japan. Some people are talking about the pop culture there. As you said, the younger generation, the movie, culture, music and all of that, it could be helping in the recovery of Japan, which industry would you look to for that?
SMITH: Well, I'm not sure that there's only one that we would point to and identify, because part of what we see happening in Japan, both in recent decades and I think going-forward, is an increasing interdependency or collection of industries that are working together to bring new forms of media, new forms of cultural production in what political scientists these days call soft power, projecting those images of Japan's present and increasing confidence about Japans' future as well.
VAUSE: OK. Kerry Smith with us from Brown University with what is ahead for the Japanese, how much work they have to do. Thank you for joining us.
LEMON: Very interesting conversation.
SMITH: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: Thank you. We appreciate it.
An interesting hour here, you know, it's still going on in Japan as we've been discussing so much that's happening in Libya but Japan is there as well and they're trying to recover.
I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause, CNN presents "STALKER: THE REAGAN SHOOTING" is next.