[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/03/16/t1larg.japan.woman.afp.gi.jpg caption="A woman makes her way through earthquake and tsunami rubble Wednesday in Kamaishi, Japan." width=300 height=169]
Editor's note: Tune in to AC360° tonight beginning at 10pm ET to get the latest from Anderson Cooper and CNN's team of correspondents and producers on the ground in Japan.
A dire warning on the Japanese nuclear crisis is not coming from Tokyo, instead from Washington. Spent fuel rods in the No. 4 reactor of Japan's Fukuskima Daiichi nuclear plant have been exposed, leading to "very high radiation levels" near the facility, the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.
"What we believe at this time is that there has been a hydrogen explosion in this unit due to an uncovering of the fuel in the fuel pool," Gregory Jackzo told a House committee today.
But the Japanese government said radiation levels detected in the surrounding neighborhoods don't pose an immediate health risk. Only residents within 12 miles of the plant were evacuated as precaution. The U.S. is taking a more cautious approach, recommending Americans living within 50 miles to evacuate or stay indoors.
Just moments ago, a helicopter dumped water on one of the reactors, as crews try to lower the temperatures at the site. The rare tactic was aborted today when a chopper would have had to fly into steam rising from the plant.
Meanwhile, a freezing temperatures and snow are hampering search efforts in northeast Japan, where thousands remain missing.
For the survivors, in some areas, the food is running out. The U.S. military is helping the hungry by delivering more than 7,000 pounds of food and water in the disaster zone.
So far, $25 million has been donated to nonprofit organizations in Japan, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. To see how you can help the Japan go to our Impact Your World web page.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with