Nuclear threat lingers in aftermath of Japan quake, tsunami

By: Charlie D'Agata, CBS News
By: Charlie D'Agata, CBS News

Monday, March 14, 2011

TOKYO---Japan's Prime Minister is calling it the country's worst crisis since World War II. Days after a monster earthquake and tsunami ravaged the region, the death toll continues to climb as officials race to prevent another disaster, this time at a nuclear power plant.

Smoke poured out of a nuclear power plant following the second hydrogen explosion in three days.

Authorities say the blast didn't cause a massive radiation leak. Still, US warships and planes helping with relief efforts moved away from the area after detecting low levels of radiation.

Japanese officials have been desperately trying to avoid a nuclear meltdown at the facility since it was damaged in Friday's earthquake.

But just this morning, a third reactor lost its cooling system.

More than 180,000 nearby residents have been evacuated as a precaution.

Across the northeast coast, more than 10,000 people are believed to be dead from the magnitude 9 quake and tsunami.

Dramatic new video captured violent waves that slammed ashore... wiping out entire villages.

More than three days after the massive quake, aftershocks continue to rattle the region, an average of 12 to 15 per hour--some more than 6.0 in magnitude.

But there are stories of survival. Crews rescued a 60-year old man who was clinging to what was left of his roof.

Another man also made it out alive. "I thought I was dying when I was pushed into the water," he said, "but with thoughts of my family, I decided to make every effort to survive."

But for some, surviving the initial disaster is only half the battle. In some of the hardest hit areas, millions are now trying to get by on little food, no running water, and no electricity.

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