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Japan in Crisis

Aired March 16, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

We're live for the next two hours from Japan from here in Tokyo and up in the north and all points in between, two obviously twin disasters happening at this time.

We will talk about the disaster in the north as it relates to the aftermath of the tsunami trying to get aid to survivors and the conditions there are brutal. And that's not helping.

But the drama of this hour occurring right now Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. I want to show you some recent pictures we got, helicopters -- a helicopter trying to drop water onto one of the reactors at the plant. That is the breaking news, a helicopter spraying water on the crippled nuclear plant. They attempted four helicopter drops. Only one of the drops of water actually hit its mark.

That is nowhere near what is needed. The spent fuel rods as we understand have been exposed now. There's no water covering them whatsoever. That is an extremely dangerous situation, a cloud of radioactive steam preventing earlier efforts to cover those in water.

It could be critical because of a dire warning today about the state of one of the reactors. The warning, though, that warning, that dire warning did not come from Japanese officials; it came from an American official. So the credibility gap between what the Japanese government is saying and what is really happening and what -- seems to be growing. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

Astonishing new images as well, new pictures of the plant showing what appears to be heavy damage to several of the reactors. We will tell you what could be going on inside the wreckage. Remember, this is just one of the disasters unfolding, total destruction from the tsunami up in the north. This is the town of Kesennuma, block after block, remarkable images, small boats, even massive freighters carried inland by the waves, nearly 9,000 people missing, according to the government.

Numbers obviously could rise substantially. Recovery efforts hampered by the shortage of manpower and sheer facts of the tsunamis. A lot of the bodies were carried far from their homes, deposited miles away.

The fact is, though, here in Tokyo, which was not damaged by the tsunami, the focus is on what is happening in that Fukushima Daiichi plant.

I want to bring in our expert from MIT, Jim Walsh. Also going to be bring in CNN's Tom Foreman.

Jim, the word now today that we just got about in the last four or two is that there were attempts by helicopter to pour water onto the plant. Only one of the efforts was actually successful and then those missions have been called off because of radiation levels. What does that tell you about what's going on in that plant?

JIM WALSH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: One, it tells you that we're in a very difficult -- I don't want to use the word desperate, but very difficult situation.

You know, if you're trying to drop water out of the air, and that's not even that much water, right, and you're hoping it hits the target, and if it hits the target, it doesn't splash out or actually make things worse.

And I also read on an IAEA Web site tonight, Anderson, that they were aiming at reactor number three even more than they were at reactor number four. And that tells me that -- that would seem to confirm what the International Atomic Energy Agency said today, which is we have problems not only at reactor four with the waste pond, which is what U.S. officials talked about today, but we have growing problems at another reactor with their waste pond and that would be reactor three.

And, you know, if you have to sort of lob it from the air, you're not in a good -- this is not a good situation.

COOPER: We're expecting a press conference from the Defense Ministry any moment. We're going to bring that -- we're going to monitor it for you.

Jim, one of the most frustrating things here and I want to talk about, this growing credibility gap, because, today, we heard very dire explanations of what's going on, and, frankly, some frank explanations from the U.S. government today.

But it contrasts greatly to what we get out of these kind of press conferences from Japanese officials, and Japanese officials basically are getting their information, it seems, from the private company which is running this plant. And there's a growing credibility gap between what the Japanese officials are saying and then what later seems to happen.

I haven't talked to any Japanese people here in Tokyo who say they believe what the government is telling them. What did you make of what the U.S. government today said is going on, the fact that those fuel pods in one of the reactors had been completely exposed?

WALSH: Well, two things, Anderson.

One, you and I have been talking about this almost from the very beginning, because those press conferences were no-content press conferences early on. And then the story changed. And, you know, and I warned then and we both talked and it, the most precious commodity the government has is credibility. And once that's gone, it's very hard to get it back.

And they need it not for today, not for tomorrow, but every day after. Let's say they get this thing under control. God knows we want that to happen. Then there's the whole issue of decontamination, moving people back. People are going to be fearful. Well, if they don't trust what the government is saying, this government is going to have problems today, next week, next month and next year.

So this is very important. Number two, for the U.S. government to come out in public and show up the Japanese government and say that they're in disagreement, that is a big deal. I cannot exaggerate how important that is. And it certainly puts the government in a very difficult position.

COOPER: The U.S. government today saying they recommend Americans be no more than 50 -- no closer than 50 miles to any of these plants, that anyone closer than 50 miles should leave the area.

The Japanese government all along has had a -- about a 12-mile, a 20-kilometer, about 12-mile evacuation zone, and then an additional 10 kilometers after that, they say, well, you just should stay indoors, not turn on any of your ventilation systems in your houses. The U.S. government saying 50 miles, and U.S. pilots ferrying supplies trying to help with the relief effort up north, they have been told not to go within 50 miles of that nuclear plant, obviously those statements much more forthright than what we're hearing from the Japanese government.

Tom Foreman, you've been monitoring -- you know, we got six different reactors here. We have problems with each one. Just run through what you're been monitoring. Let's give us an overall sense of exactly what's going on as far as we can tell.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I will tell you, Anderson, one picture is worth a million words here. Look at this. This is the closest image we have had yet really of the battlefield. Come in, Audie (ph), if you can and show us this.

This is the degree to which they have had destruction of the side of the building here. Look at this, this superstructure collapsing over here, pipes down here disconnected and falling apart. Look at all of that and think about what we're talking about in terms of the damage that has occurred in this area.

We think this is reactor number three. But now let's go through a few of them and see what is going on here. Number one over here, here's what we know. Number one had an explosion early on, a hydrogen explosion, did damage over there. Number two, we also had explosions over there, possible containment damage. When we talk about containment, we're talking about that area that holds the active reactor that is so critical.

Here's number three. You were talking about it a minute ago, Anderson. They had explosions there, a possible structure tear. You saw that picture a moment ago. Look at that again. Of course they have had tears there. Look at the damage in this area.

And then we move on to number four, the one that has been such a worry all along here, the question being whether or not the spent fuel rods up in this area have been catching on fire and releasing radiation from that area.

Anderson, I will say something about these helicopter drops that have been going on. As we have looked at this, and we have talked about the fear of explosive radiation beyond this, if you look at what was happening, we talked earlier on, starting yesterday, Jim and I were talking about radiation from this, if it's uncovered, could be fatal from anywhere from 50 to 100 yards.

I was looking at those helicopters earlier, Anderson, and I was doing some estimates based on the fuselage size being about 60 feet, which both those helicopters are. They can carry about seven tons of water. Those helicopters were easily flying somewhere between 60 and 100 yards above their target.

I mean, Anderson, you have been to forest fires. When you're that high in the air, hitting your target is very hard. And certainly to place it on top of something in a cooling way is unbelievably hard.

You combine all of that damage, these dramatic pictures, Anderson, and this is the problem. This is the battlefield. And right now the battlefield is so dangerous, they're having a hard time even getting close to it. So that's really the continuing problem here, Anderson. It's hard to engage the battle if you can't get close to your enemy.


And, again, four helicopter missions were attempted. Only one of those several tons of water -- I believe it holds about 7.5 tons of water in each drop -- they were only able to have one drop actually hit the mark. They would need dozens and dozens, maybe I have read up to as many as 100 drops in order to fill the amount of water that's needed to cover those fuel rods.

NHK is now reporting that 11 water cannons are en route to the area. They have decided to try to use water cannons as opposed to the helicopter drops. But again that means putting more personnel in harm's way. The U.S. military had helped a Japanese crew to learn how to use two water cannons that the U.S. military had. They have donated those.

But, again, it is very difficult. They are trying to pour -- literally just pour water on top of these fuel rods in order to get them covered to cool them down, but at great personal risk to themselves.

I also want to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is here with us as well.

As far as you're concerned, what is the greatest risk for people in the outlying areas? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the greatest risk is that these radiation levels that we have been talking about suddenly start to go up, for all the reasons that you're talking a .

You try to cool down these rods, but that's a continuous process. Are they going to just keep shooting water through these cannons at it? It doesn't make a lot of sense for the longer term. So if the radiation levels go up, if they get higher into the air and can disperse more as a result of that, then these evacuation zones, which you and I have been saying since the beginning are somewhat arbitrary, become even more arbitrary, because you have got a wind pattern that can shift. It can blow radiation further in one direction.

So people over here might be fine, but even further in our direction could be at risk. That's the biggest concern. And I wish we were getting more information.

COOPER: Yes, it's unbelievable that we're not getting more information.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, 20 times normal the level of radiation here in Tokyo, that's what we heard a couple of days ago. You and I are here right now outside on a rooftop. We don't know exactly what the radiation levels are here, you know, over the next several days or even in the days past. So that information I think needs to be forthcoming to people.

COOPER: Yes. It's extraordinary that you look at these Japanese press conferences, you listen to what they are saying, and we have been monitoring this one from defense officials, they're not necessarily giving much in the way of detail.

They clearly want to keep people calm, and that's certainly understandable, but by not saying what is actually going on, that doesn't help people stay calm; that makes people not believe anything they're hearing.

GUPTA: There's no question, and I will tell you just a small example which I think is illustrated as well. We have been talking about these 400 millisieverts being the level of radiation.

Most people have no idea what that means. But when we got the translations, they actually said it was 400 microsieverts. They said that they got it wrong. Now, that's a 1,000-fold difference, Anderson. For people who are worried about this, people whose lives are at risk because of this, 1,000-fold difference from an official source? I mean, that's not acceptable. This is what these people do for a living. They need to get that information out there.

COOPER: Jim Walsh, I have just been given information that in the number five unit, reactor number five, which frankly we haven't heard much about, water is lowering and pressure is rising. That would obviously be yet another potential disaster there.

WALSH: That is correct. You know, at this point, I'm losing count of the days, but it was something like two days ago that the International Atomic Energy Agency identified not only reactor number four, which, remember, Anderson, four, five and six were cool. They had been shut down. Unlike reactors one, two and three, which were still hot, these reactors had been taken offline before the earthquake and before the tsunami.

But there was this issue of the nuclear waste being stored there. Well, the International Atomic Energy Agency said whatever number of days ago it was that they were concerned about the fuel that was being -- the waste that was being stored at four, five and six.

Four became the focus; obviously, it's the focus today with what the American officials have said about no water there. But five and six continue to have water evaporating. If you go on the IAEA Web site today, and I just checked it two minutes ago, they actually put numbers. They say there was this much water three days ago. There was less water yesterday, and there is less water today.

So that trend line points to problems for the future unless they're somehow redressed for both those reactors, five and six, as well as three and four.

COOPER: You know, people like to think that you hear about the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and you would like to think they're on the ground here kind of overseeing this. They're not.

The head of the IAEA has talked about perhaps flying in today, though he said he would only stay for one night, I believe.

Jim, one question is, why aren't they on the ground? Who is really in control of this? Who is really -- or at least -- I should say not in control, but in charge of this? Because if the Japanese government is getting all their information from this private company which is running this plant, that's a situation which would worry a lot of people in the United States if that was happening in the United States.

So who's really in charge here? And of all the problems with the different reactors, what is the one that concerns you the most and why?

WALSH: Yes. So number one, who's in charge? It is the public -- it is the private utility that's in charge. And I think that's been one of the problems from the very beginning. The government has deferred to the utility, and the IAEA has deferred to the government.

And I understand that, right? The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization. It's made up of member states. It defers to the member states, and I get that. But, nevertheless, that agency could call on the United States, France, Russia, Sweden, countries with nuclear programs, and could have gotten ready, could have pulled resources together. It could come out in public and say, OK, Japan, if you need us, we can send people there. That would have put pressure on Japan to have said, yes, we will take some people here and maybe we will look at this differently.

But by sort of taking a hands-off approach, deferring to the Japanese government, and with the Japanese government deferring to the utility, we have one, two, three, four, five days pass, and maybe to a point where it's now very difficult to manage. That is precious time that we are not going to get back.

As for what I worry about, I worry about a situation in which this nuclear waste and the spent rods that are being stored on site at reactors four, five and six, and three, I worry that that becomes so radioactive that it's impossible for the workers to be able to manage the problems at the other reactors.

We had this happen -- you and I and Sanjay went through this last night, where the reactor -- where we got word that the workers were pulled back. And we're all asking ourselves, if they're pulled back, who's going to take care of the reactors one, two and three? Well, that -- how many times is that going to happen in the future if that spent fuel, if that nuclear waste becomes so radioactive no one can be on site?


Tom Foreman, the killing zone around one of those reactors in terms of just radiation or the zone in which there are lethal doses, it -- doesn't it actually extend to some of the other reactors?

FOREMAN: If our measurements are right here, if we have a ballpark, it's certainly within the range. You're talking about sort of like this area. You're getting very close to certainly limiting movement around here.

The other thing, Anderson, that you really have to pay attention to here is that everybody I'm talking to says we're making it up at this point. That's part of the problem. What's happening here was not foreseen. And because it was not foreseen, they're talking about bringing in power lines today.

You talked about the water cannons earlier on dropping from helicopters. And even people who study this, people like Jim who know this very well, have said one of the problems is if you start talking about a full-on meltdown situation, where these rods are so hot that nobody can get anywhere near here, and you can't do anything about it, frankly, nobody really knows what's going to happen, especially in one like number three, where, Jim, as you know, they have uranium and plutonium.

Some people are talking about temperatures in the bottom of the cauldron of this thing pushing 10,000 degrees. And they have no idea what that will do to the zirconium that's left in there and everything else. What else will that do and what will the result be? Nobody knows. They're making it up right now, Anderson. COOPER: And again, right -- in terms of making it up, again, we're trying to verify also as much information as we can about what is actually happening on site.

But, again, all this information is being filtered through this private company, who has a track record of misleading the public. So that is certainly not a good situation.

We're going to take a quick break. We're going to be right back. When we do, we're going to talk about conditions for those workers. It used to be 50 workers. And they now say it's up to 180 workers rotating through, trying to fight any fires that break out, trying to deal with the radiation, and trying to pour water on those fuel rods at great risk, in some cases maybe suicide missions. We will talk about what they're facing ahead.


COOPER: The quake as it hit here in Tokyo from CNN's iReport. Again, we're still getting new images both of the quake and the tsunami, trying to show you them. They're just extraordinary, the power of it.

Of course, all that, right now, it feels overshadowed, especially here in Tokyo where there hasn't been tsunami damage, people really focused on this nuclear emergency, this catastrophe which is occurring in real time right before our eyes. U.S. officials today coming forward and saying the situation is not good and it is more severe in their estimation than we have been led on.

Also, we heard from the secretary of energy today, who said that the communication, that the information -- they're not getting basically information -- they're not getting good enough information fast enough from Japanese officials. That's obviously a great concern. And it seems like Japanese officials getting that, their information from this private company which is running this plant. And as I said before, this private company has a history of misleading the public.

It is all obviously of great concern. Also, the video that we have been showing of the water drops that were attempted, four water drops attempted.

The last several days, really on the front line of this battle has been 50 workers, 50 workers who have been risking their lives and in some cases sacrificing their lives likely in order to try to stop this disaster from getting worse. We heard from the -- we don't know the names of these workers. That has not been released by this company.

But we heard from one of the wives of the workers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My husband is in the midst of things. There's a lot happening and is prepared for the possibility of radiation exposure. All of us, his family is supporting him. We accept things to some extent and want him to do his best.

There was an e-mail reply, and the content was rather intense. "Live fully. I will not be able to come back for a while," was what it said.


COOPER: I can only imagine what it is like for those workers.

I want to talk about that with our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as well as Jim Walsh and CNN's Anna Coren as well, who has been covering this disaster from the earlier days.

Sanjay, you actually have some equipment here. We understand these workers are wearing suits similar to this. Some of them may have breathing devices.

GUPTA: That's right.

COOPER: And there were 50 workers. Some of them were withdrawn. And now we're told there are about 180 workers working in rotating shifts.

GUPTA: Right. So, rotating them around goes back to this whole idea of decreasing your time of exposure, I believe.

This is a -- sort of not quite what they're wearing. I'm sure the type of suit that they're wearing is more of a permanent thing. This is temporary suit. But it's essentially designed to reduce the amount of radiation that's absorbed. And specifically the type of radiation that we're talking about is gamma, the gamma rays.

Those are the ones that they're particularly concerned about. This is a type of breathing apparatus. And, Anderson, you and I were talking about the fact that it's probably dark inside. They're probably using flashlights and then having to breathe through something like this. It's trying to basically eliminate the amount of air that has these gamma rays circulating and breathing it in. So, that's why they're wearing this as well, not the most comfortable thing.

COOPER: We just got these.

GUPTA: We just -- yes, we just have these now.

COOPER: Very exciting.

GUPTA: Yes. And then this is a counter. So you have seen these. Basically you wave it over a particular area and you can get an idea of how much radiation is in the area.

They show them waving over people's bodies, which I don't know how that really does anything, because I'm not sure what that tells you. But if you put it in an area and measure it -- so, right now, it's saying 11 micro-rads per hour. That's a very low dose here. And then of course we have our own. You and I have both have our own dosimeters, which...


COOPER: Which I have been wearing. I don't know even how to read mine. My says 0.002.

GUPTA: So, what that means is .002 millisieverts which you've received since you started wearing that. My says .004, just a little higher.

COOPER: We just got -- we started wearing these basically 24 hours ago.

GUPTA: That's right. And so this is pretty reflective of what we're seeing here in Tokyo. It's about 20 times normal in terms of radiation levels. And that's what we're seeing here is we're actually getting radiation. That's about 20 times faster than we got it if we weren't in an area that had radiation.

COOPER: Anna Coren, when you think about what these men and women must be going through, you know, usually, this plant has hundreds of employees. It's down to 50. It's been down to 50 for the last several days now. Now they say they're rotating through 180.

But in some cases, these people are sacrificing their future health, if not their immediate health.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. They're making the ultimate sacrifice, because they are risking their lives, as you say, 180 workers who are rotating through these plants.

They are working 24/7, trying to contain this situation, so that it doesn't become a nuclear disaster. Now, we contacted the power company, TEPCO, that runs this plant. And we asked for information about these workers. They said they were not going to disclose anything.

But a family of one of these workers spoke to the local media up in Fukushima. And they said that it was their 59-year-old father who had volunteered to be among these workers. He is only just six months away from retiring, which is -- it's just amazing when you think about these people who are willing to take these risks.

From what we understand, they are asking older men, older men to actually do this job. And the reason being is that they are more likely to die from old age than they are from cancer brought on by radiation. It's such a morbid and disturbing thought, but that is the reality of the situation. These men are risking their lives.

COOPER: And we're told that there are members of the Japanese defense forces amongst the workers. It's not clear how many of them now at this point are military personnel.

Jim Walsh, I guess they're rotating them through, trying to -- even though it means more people being exposed, they try to have them exposed for shorter periods of time.

WALSH: Yes, that's right.

And let me say at the outset, and you probably noticed this last night, this is a very difficult subject for me. I get emotional and angry when I think about the situation that they're in, that they are left to deal with all of this on their own, and under tremendous difficulties, wearing the suits, hard, physical labor.

They're fighting fires; they're turning valves. They're dealing with what's happening on the ground. They're not sitting behind a computer, and they have been doing it day after day. They have to rotate people in. One of my concerns here, my heart goes out to them, but one of the challenges here is if you put human beings under these conditions for an extended period of time, then not only do you have to face the challenge of the event itself, but inevitably there's going to be human error.

I'm making -- after five, six days of this, I'm making mistakes. When you go back and look at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, a lot of that, if not the primary cause of that, was human error. So you have a big, complex problem that changes every day, and then you have got people who are working 24/7 under emotional stress, physical stress, and the worst possible circumstances. Someone is going to make a mistake.

And so that's why I get sort of angry, I got angry last night, because I can't believe that they're alone. That's why I want to know, where is the rest of the international community? Why don't we have more people on the ground helping them? Why do we have to wait for water cannons to be delivered later today? Why weren't they there earlier? This is just very frustrating for me.

COOPER: Yes, it's certainly frustrating for anybody here.

And in terms of -- it's a discussion we're having; it's a discussion everybody in Tokyo is having and probably everybody near these plants is having, is, where is it safe? And a lot of it does depend on wind conditions. But is there really an answer to that question?

GUPTA: Well, part of it depends on how you define safe. There are certain standards that are established.

COOPER: That's never -- when you...


COOPER: ... say something like that, that's never good.


GUPTA: Let me give you an example.

If you were to smoke a pack of cigarettes, that's not good for your health. COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: Is it going to kill you? No. Is it going to cause cancer? Probably not just one pack of cigarettes.

So that's part of the issue. Cigarettes are not safe, but in that low a dose, it's probably not going to be a problem here. And I think this is part of the issue when you go back and forth is trying to figure out exactly how much radiation is going to have a documented effect on human health.

Tom brought this up. This is a little bit of uncharted territory -- 25 years ago, there was Chernobyl. It was a totally different situation. We don't knowingly expose people to radiation so that we can study them. So some of this is just theoretical information at this point.

COOPER: We're going to have a lot more. We're in a live two- hour edition of 360 tonight, so we will be going all the way through live into the next hour as well, bringing you all the latest.

Just want to show you coming up some of the -- the other things that we're -- we're going to be following, obviously the situation in Libya and Bahrain. Also, the situation up north where some of these hardest hit areas, a number of people still, hundreds of thousands of people, about 450,000 people in homeless shelters who are homeless still today. In some cases short on food, short on water.

Also animals in amongst the debris. Two videos we saw of a dog not wanting to leave another dog that was wounded. We'll tell you what happened to them ahead, as well.


COOPER: We continue to monitor the press conference by Japanese defense officials. They -- it is Japanese soldiers who are actually now going to be driving these water cannons, we've just learned, toward the -- to try to pour water onto these exposed fuel rods. Eleven fuel -- 11 trucks, water cannons being manned by Japanese soldiers apparently en route. We don't have -- know exactly what time.

We've also gotten word that they are attempting to restore electricity at the nuclear plant. Remember, the electricity was knocked out, which is what started all of this, because they could no longer use electricity to cool -- to keep water pumping and to cool the fuel rods. And that's why the fuel rods were able to heat up, and that's what led to -- to all these problems. So they're attempting to restore electricity. They're hoping, they say, to do that today.

Again, all this information coming from this private Japanese company, TEPCO. No way to know how accurate it is or whether they're just being optimistic in their -- in their pronouncements, whether or not they're really going to be able to restore that electricity.

We've also been following efforts up in the northeast in order to help those who are -- who are homeless now, more than 450,000 people homeless, staying in shelters. A lot of these shelters don't have electricity, don't have heat. It is very cold out at night. Snow has been hampering efforts to -- to find those who are missing, and those who are known to have died as is the thickness of these debris fields.

There's several Americans who are still missing at this point. I want to show you pictures of some of them. We know of Young American teachers who are still missing. At least two. There's 24-year-old woman named Taylor Anderson from Virginia.

I talked to her parents the other day. She's been teaching English in Japan for three years. Her parents, Jean and Andy, haven't spoken to her since last Wednesday. They don't know where she was when the quake hit. Her parents want to go -- want to go look for her themselves. Obviously, I talked to her dad, Andy. He said he would like to come here and look, but he's being told by the U.S. government not to because of the obstacles that they would face.


ANDY ANDERSON, FATHER OF TAYLOR: I did ask the consulate if I could go and -- with them and at this point, they said no, I shouldn't. Because they -- even their people have trouble getting in. But that is what we -- we would like to go there and try and find Taylor.

JEAN ANDERSON, MOTHER OF TAYLOR: We're staying positive. We've got a lot of hope. We've got a lot of support from our friends and family. We'll just keep on going and thinking positive about our Taylor. We just want her home.


COOPER: I also want to show you another picture of another missing American teacher. His name is Edward Clemens. Want to put that picture up. He has been teaching English here in Japan for about two years. His mother, Cynthia Young, is in Chicago.

Edward sent a Facebook message saying that he did survive the earthquake, but he hasn't been heard of since the tsunami. He was last known to be in the area in Karakuwa (ph).

I also spoke to -- there's also another missing American, a woman named Jessica Beseeker (ph). She's an English teacher in Katsunuma (ph). Besecker (ph), I should say. She posted on Facebook and Twitter after the quake. She hasn't been seen or heard from since then. So she posted after the quake but not after the tsunami.

Her mother, Karen, is in Dover, Delaware. I spoke to her earlier on the phone.


COOPER: Karen, when was the last time you heard from your daughter? KAREN NAGYISKI, MOTHER OF JESSICA (via phone): The last time I heard from her, we were instant messaging on Thursday morning, my time, which would have been late that evening. She was telling me she was getting ready for graduation...

COOPER: That was before the earthquake?

NAGYISKI: Yes, it was. And she was getting ready for a graduation ceremony that was supposed to happen this past weekend.

COOPER: Have you gotten any word from her after the earthquake but before the tsunami?

NAGYISKI: The only thing we've had is a Facebook and a Twitter posting right after the earthquake happened. And that's the last contact we have actually seen posted or heard from her.

COOPER: So you know she was OK after the earthquake. But you just have not heard from her since the tsunami?

NAGYISKI: That is correct.

COOPER: She was teaching English. School must have been in session, so obviously, she was probably concerned about her students. Do you have any word about -- about any of the students in the school?

NAGYISKI: She was teaching at the Matsuo (ph) junior high school in Tusemana (ph) City. And the only thing -- information we've been able to gather is that it's being used as a shelter.

COOPER: If it's being used as a shelter, as you know, that's probably at least a good piece of information. It means the building is in tact enough for people to be sheltering in it. And I know -- you know -- I understand the building is on slightly higher ground, so that's obviously good news, as well.


COOPER: What have you been doing to try to -- to try to find her?

NAGYISKI: We have been searching the Internet left and right. We have sources going out, calling Japan. We started at the Japanese embassy here in Washington, D.C., who patched us through to Tokyo to the police department, who patched us through to the local Miyagi government.

We actually did get a hold of the local Japanese English Teaching program coordinator on Monday evening that said they were trying to still locate some of the language teachers in her area.

We've been thankful that CNN has found some of her other friends that she sees and deals with on a, you know, personal basis and a working basis.

COOPER: How are you holding up? NAGYISKI: We're trying to keep a positive attitude. I know my daughter. She's a very strong person. And she's very resourceful. And I know that she's probably thinking of the safety of her children that she was teaching, because she has a very close bond with them. And also helping the people within the community.

So she would tell me stories that she couldn't go to McDonald's without somebody running up to her and saying hello and wanting to know how she was.

COOPER: Karen, obviously, this is -- you know, we're seeing throughout Japan, if there's any message you want to pass, feel free to do that.

NAGYISKI: Well, we just want to pass on our love and that we are thinking about her. And we just want to make sure that she's safe and that everybody that, you know, she works with on a daily basis is safe. And just if she can get in touch with us as soon as possible, you know, that would really alleviate a lot of the tension that we feel and the anxiety.

COOPER: And obviously, we're putting her picture up so anyone who's involved in any kind of search-and-rescue operations or -- might be -- if they happen to be able to run into her, certainly, they would be aware and go up to her and pass along that information.

Karen, we'll continue to check in with you, and stay strong.

NAGYISKI: OK. Thank you very much.


COOPER: Jessica Beshecker (ph) -- I think I mispronounced her last name -- Jessica Beshecker (ph) is the young American who is missing. So obviously, anyone with information should contact authorities. Her mom, Karen, wants to -- wants to get an update on her.

We -- our coverage continues with the latest on this nuclear catastrophe which is occurring. We have seen efforts to pour water today from helicopters. We now understand that 11 water cannons are on their way, being -- going to be manned by Japanese soldiers to try to -- to try to pour some water on these spent fuel rods in some of the reactors.

Also tonight, the latest on the efforts to find those who are missing and to recover those who are dead being hampered now by freezing temperatures and snow on the ground, which makes it all the more difficult for searchers, several of whom are from the United States. We'll have a report on their efforts ahead.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in the town of Kamayishi in Northeastern Japan. Got here this afternoon to find this scene here. Pretty much tells the story. Complete devastation in this neighborhood. These teams have to comb through all this rubble. It's very heavily concentrated.

They're working against every conceivable obstacle over here, tons of mud, debris all over the place. You've got downed power lines, and the weather obviously has turned very, very bad and risky for these crews.


COOPER: Yes, the weather not only for search-and-rescue crews, some of whom are from the United States, from Fairfax in Virginia, also Los Angeles, but also for survivors, people who are huddled in shelters that don't have electricity, that don't have heat. It is a very difficult situation.

And the focus, because there's so much understandable focus on this nuclear catastrophe, the situation up north, at least for people around Tokyo, they're not paying as much attention to it as they are right now to the nuclear issue.

On the nuclear front, a lot of what happens over the next 12 to 24 hours, and how many people are affected by it, will depend on what way the wind is blowing. That's what it basically comes down to. The United States has actually deployed a radiation-detecting plane which I think we have some pictures of. I want to show you.

But they've deployed that plane. It can apparently detect radioactive clouds in real time. It's been used to track emissions from North Korean nuclear tests, as well, as from the Chernobyl disaster. I want to bring in our own Chad Myers, who's been monitoring weather conditions from Atlanta.

Chad, I guess the crucial question is, which way is the wind blowing right now?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's blowing offshore, blowing away from Japan. This is a computer model that will model the atmosphere for the next five days. We'll let it stop, because it is still moving right now to Monday. And when it starts again, you'll notice that from right now, the wind will be blowing offshore. There's Japan right there.

Follow it around this giant low pressure center, possibly going over the Alaska islands there, the Aleutians, but then really back almost into eastern Russia. And then again, around again, possibly as it moves in. Now that's a theoretical particle, almost like a balloon that won't go up and down. Does radiation act like that? No. But that's how the wind would blow it around. Obviously, it's going to get dispersed, as well.

And a lot of the radiation just evaporates or goes away, because the isotopes become non-radioactive eventually before it even hits the earth (ph) or even before it hits the United States.

COOPER: And do you know how long wind conditions are going to be like that?

MYERS: A good five days. No question the winds are going to blow offshore for three days in Japan. But what I'm a little bit concerned about, let's say five days from now, a little particle does come off. Later in the period, not right now, but about maybe, let's say Thursday. This piece could be picked up and sent into the central part of the Pacific Ocean, and that would be a shorter trip to the U.S.

Now, remember, Chernobyl went around the world, the radiation from Chernobyl went around the world many, many times. And we still here in America, even though it went over us a number of times, still had less than 1/10th of a chest X-ray from that big disaster.

COOPER: Chad, appreciate that update. We'll continue to check in with you. We're live all the way through the next hour. I also want to bring in our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's here with me in Tokyo.

And in New York, I want to bring in Professor David Brenner, director of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research.

Professor, thanks for being on the program. As you watch this, what are the main things you are looking for?

DAVID BRENNER, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR RADIOLOGICAL RESEARCH, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, it's very hard to really judge what the radiation doses are going to be, based on what we know about the helicopters dropping the water and the cracks in the containment vessel.

So what we're really looking for is some measurements of radiation doses, both at the edge of the evacuation zone and all the way to Tokyo. We really don't have those data yet. And that's really going to tell us what we need to know about the health risks. Simply measuring the radiation doses on the ground, and there haven't been enough of those measurements yet.

COOPER: Sanjay, we've seen pictures of Japanese officials running a Geiger counter over people. You have a Geiger counter with you. How does that work? Is that really effective? Does that really tell you anything?

GUPTA: I don't -- I don't think this tells you a lot as far as running it over a person's body like that. It's sort of giving a static image in time saying, you know, right here, this part, we're not detecting radioactivity. What you really want to know is how much exposure have you had. That's the real question. So...

COOPER: A machine like this doesn't tell you how much exposure you've had three days ago?

GUPTA: No. So it's just more sort of -- think of it like a camera, getting a static picture in time. You can hear it sort of clicking off as it's -- as it's giving readings here, and the readings here, I would say, are all low. I mean, they're significantly low as compared to anything that would trigger an alarm.

That also measures alpha, beta and gamma rays. This here just measures gamma rays, which are the most concerning thing. And this is just measuring the air constantly around us, Anderson. This is 13 microrads per hour, and that's, again, a very -- a very low number.

COOPER: So Professor, how does radiation spread, I mean, over distance? If you are -- you know, the U.S. government, the Obama administration has come forward and said that Americans should be no closer than 50 miles to this nuclear plant. That's a greater distance than the Japanese government has come out and that they've been using over the last several days.

Does 50 miles make sense to you? And how does radiation spread over farther distances?

BRENNER: Well, the radioactivity is actually attached to dust particles, and it's just the movement of the dust particles that tells you how the radioactivity moves.

Again, as you were alluding to earlier in your show, it's the wind. The two big factors that are going to control what happens are how much radioactivity is released and which way the wind is blowing. And it really is good news that we're continuing to have offshore winds, because really, the radiation is going to get disbursed when it goes over the ocean. And very little will actually reach land again.

So we could really escape from this with minimal public health consequences if the winds remain in the offshore direction. But that's a big if, of course.

COOPER: It's, of course, unsettling -- and it's unsettling, of course, to have everything rely on, you know, the chance of what way the wind is blowing.

BRENNER: It's extremely unsettling, yes.

COOPER: Obviously, a lot of people in the United States -- yes. A lot of people in the United States and on the western coast of the United States are concerned. Should they be, you know, how far could something -- if something, you know, catastrophic did occur at this plant, how far could it reach?

BRENNER: It's inconceivable that there could be biologically significant radiation doses on the West Coast of the USA. Simply physically can't happen.

COOPER: Inconceivable?

BRENNER: Absolutely so. So I don't think there are any issues for the U.S. population. The issues are much more -- much more locally in the 50, 100 miles near the reactors themselves. And, again, the issues relate to which way the wind will blow.

COOPER: And Professor, there's certainly a lot of people in Tokyo, I mean, a huge population here, many of whom are leaving, thinking about leaving. The train stations, the airports are crowded now, long lines. Would you stay in Tokyo if you were -- if you were here?

BRENNER: I think I would. I think there's no real likelihood of a significant radiation exposure to Tokyo. It's 150 miles away, roughly. And the amount of disbursal of the radioactive cloud you're going to get in that distance is really going to make the doses very low indeed.

That being said, as I alluded to, we really need to monitor the doses in a more scientific way than we're doing right now. It's been done in a very ad hoc manner. Something systematic needs to be done to map (ph) the doses on the ground. Not in the air. The air doses is relevant, but it's not relevant to human exposure. We need to know the doses on the ground.

COOPER: And that information so far hasn't been released. Professor...

BRENNER: I'm not even sure...

COOPER: ... tonight. Thank you so much for being with us. Sorry, go ahead.

BRENNER: Yes. I'm not even sure if those measurements have actually been taken, still less released.

COOPER: I'm going to be speaking to a person from the prime minister shortly. I'll try to ask him that very question. Appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

And Sanjay, we'll have more coming up. Our coverage continues. We'll be right back.


COOPER: In addition to the human survivors of this quake we've been following, there are a lot of animals, as well. This video was taken by Japanese TV. It shows -- it was shot by a crew in northeastern Japan. Two dogs stranded among the debris, one of them apparently injured, lying down. The other dog refusing to leave the hurt dog's side, appearing to try to protect the weaker dog.

According to a Facebook posting, both dogs were rescued. One small bit of good news.

But the situation up in northeastern Japan for animals and for humans, as well, is just extraordinarily difficult. Right now, a shortage of food, a shortage of water. There are shelters, and hundreds of thousands are in shelters. But again, their conditions are miserable, really. And with no clear idea of where they're going to be, how long they're going to have to stay in these shelters and how quickly it's going to take to try to rebuild because these debris fields, the damage up there is just so massive.

We'll have more of that in our next hour, which we're live for, as well. Isha Sesay is following some other stories with the "360 News & Business Bulletin." Isha, what are you following?

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the disaster in Japan continues to unnerve investors on Wall Street. Stocks tumbled again today. The Dow lost 242 points, 2 percent of its value. The NASDAQ and the S&P also lost a lot of ground.

There is fighting in Libya between forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and those seeking his ouster. They're battling for control of key cities, including Ajdabiya. The U.N. Security Council met today to discuss a no-fly zone but was unable to agree to a resolution. One diplomat told CNN that air strikes are a possible option, as well.

Also, four reporters for "The New York Times" have disappeared. We'll have a full report on the situation in Libya in our next hour.

And there's growing violence in Bahrain. Security forces fired tear gas to disburse anti-government demonstrators from a main square in the capital, where they've been protesting Bahrain's autocratic government for a month now. An overnight curfew has been imposed, and a state of emergency is in effect -- Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, extraordinary situation both in Libya and Bahrain, which we're going to be covering a lot in our next hour, which we're live for.

But I also want to show you this other video that we're going to show you fully in the next hour from Bahrain. I want to warn you, we're not going to show you the most graphic part of it, but an unarmed protester walking toward riot police or soldiers, getting shot point blank by what looks like a gun that fires rubber bullets, but shot at such a close distance that -- that it's hard to tell what has actually happened to this person. We haven't been able to confirm it.

We'll have the full video of that ahead. All the latest from Bahrain and Libya.

And, of course, leading off the broadcast, the latest on the nuclear catastrophe, the nuclear situation happening right now, in real time, north of here. We'll be right back.