March 18th, 2011
11:59 PM ET
March 18th, 2011
11:59 PM ET

ShelterBox mobilizes quickly for Japanese in need

(CNN) - After a deadly earthquake and tsunami struck Japan last Friday, response team members from ShelterBox were on the ground within 24 hours.

The organization, founded by 2008 CNN Hero Tom Henderson, provides emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to families affected by disasters. These essentials come in a large, green box that shares the organization's name.

With an initial 600 ShelterBoxes en route to thousands of survivors in northern Japan, Henderson's group is doing whatever it can to help a country in crisis.

Henderson spoke with CNN's Allie Torgan about nuclear fears and his group's ongoing efforts in Japan.

CNN: How did you mobilize your team into action when you heard about the earthquake?

Tom Henderson: Within minutes, we were moving. We look at our resources, what we've got available, where our teams are around the world and how quickly we can get people on the ground. We're fortunate that we've got boxes positioned in different parts of the world and we've got our response team members around the world. Within an hour, we were looking at our people going, "Go jump on an airplane, group together in Tokyo, and let's get this thing moving."

We had our first people on the ground within 24 hours. There are boxes leaving every day in different numbers. We've got people monitoring our team on the ground minute by minute.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • CNN Heroes
March 18th, 2011
09:50 PM ET

Man Found Alive in Rubble: Join the Live Chat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Breaking News out of Japan. NHK is reporting a young man has been found alive in the rubble, 8 days after the earthquake and tsunami hit. We'll have that and the latest developments out of Libya.

Want more details on what covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog
March 18th, 2011
09:17 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Gadhafi On Notice

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is on notice. Stop attacking civilians or the international community will take military action.

But the fighting goes on, according to eyewitnesses in Libya. The fighting reportedly continues even after the Libyan government said it imposed a ceasefire today.

This morning when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heard press reports of a ceasefire she had a tough message for the Libyan government.

"We are going to be not responsive or impressed by words. We would have to see actions on the ground and that is not yet at all clear," Clinton said.

This afternoon President Obama had his own stern message for the Libyan leader.

"Gadhafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Adebayo, Misrata and Zawiyah and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all area," Obama said. "Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya."

"These terms are not negotiable," Obama declared. If Gadhafi doesn't comply, "the international community will impose consequences."

Tonight on AC360°, you'll hear from opposition fighters who say Gadhafi is not complying with those terms.

These developments come one day after the U.N. Security Council approved “all necessary measures”, including a no-fly zone, to protect the people of Libya.

We'll also have the latest on Japan's nuclear crisis.

The evacuation area around the plant remains at 12 miles (20-kilometer), despite an admission from Japanese officials that the crisis is now on par with 1979 Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania. Today Japan raised the level of seriousness to a five on a scale of zero to seven.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant, issued an apology today.

We'll have that and tell you how efforts are going to restore power to the plant.

And meteorologist Chad Myers is tracking the winds in Japan, with fears radiation could spread to other areas.

Here in the United States, there was a report today that a radiation monitor in Sacramento, California detected a trace of radioactive material from the stricken Japanese nuclear plant. But the Environmental Protection Agency says it "has not detected any radiation levels of concern."

Join us for these stories and much more at 10 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
March 18th, 2011
07:58 PM ET
March 18th, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Opposition: Violence rages despite Libyan claim of cease-fire

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Libya on Friday called for international observers to come and verify a cease-fire that witnesses say has failed to halt deadly fighting.

One day after the approval of a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to protect civilians, U.S. President Barack Obama warned Moammar Gadhafi to pull back from several besieged cities or face military consequences.

But Obama insisted that American troops will not be deployed in Libya.

At least 28 people died and hundreds were wounded as fighting raged in the cities of Mistrata, Ajdabiya and Zintan on Friday, according to Khaled el-Sayeh, military spokesman for the opposition.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
March 18th, 2011
06:07 PM ET

Beat 360° 3/18/11

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, points to a chart during a news conference at the National Press Club, on March 18, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Update: Beat 360° Winners:

Joey Gardner
"The small print of of my New Contract with America."


Danny B., Detroit, MI
"But they let me make substitutions at the Cheesecake Factory by my house!"

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
March 18th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Agency: Japanese nuclear crisis on par with 3 Mile Island

CNN Wire Staff

Tokyo (CNN) - The problems at Japan's earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are more serious than initially thought, the country's nuclear safety agency indicated Friday as it adjusted its assessment of the disaster.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency raised its rating for the most serious issues from 4 to 5 - putting those problems on par with those in the 1979 incident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island.

According to the International Nuclear Events Scale, a level 5 indicates the likelihood of a release of radioactive material, several deaths from radiation and severe damage to a reactor core. Each step on the scale indicates an increase of 10 times the severity of the step below it, the International Atomic Energy Agency says.

The Chernobyl nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union rated a 7, the highest level on the scale, while Japan's other nuclear crisis - a 1999 accident at Tokaimura in which workers died after being exposed to radiation - was rated a 4. The partial meltdown of a reactor core at Three Mile Island was deemed the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history.

But the rating change was not due to new problems at the plant, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy head of the nuclear safety agency.

In fact, the situation at the plant - while still serious - did not worsen for the second consecutive day, according to the IAEA.

The change instead came after engineers reviewed images showing damage to fuel rods and other structures inside the reactor buildings, Nishiyama said.

Despite the more serious assessment, no expansion of the 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) evacuation zone was necessary, Nishiyama said Friday at a briefing.

Earlier evacuation orders took the possibility of greater damage to the plant into account, he said.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano cautioned against reading too much into the raised disaster assessment. He said it's too early to compare the plant's situation to Three Mile Island, and he said the disaster unfolding at Fukushima is not like what happened at Chernobyl.

But Peter Bradford, a member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the Three Mile Island incident occurred, said Fukushima is worse.

"In terms of severity, this accident left Three Mile Island in the rear-view mirror several days ago," he said.

Amano also appeared to defend Japan's evacuation response, saying that IAEA guidelines call for exactly what Japan has ordered - an evacuation radius of 20 kilometers in the event of a reactor meltdown and a suggestion that people 20 kilometers to 30 kilometers stay inside.

U.S. officials have urged Americans to evacuate to a radius of 50 miles.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
March 18th, 2011
04:18 PM ET

Letters to the President: #788 'The best laid plans'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Libya is rapidly taking over the headlines again, but Japan’s war with its nuclear reactors remains an important issue, as I note in today’s letter.

Dear Mr. President,

You hear the words “cautiously optimistic” used by government types whenever something slightly good happens in a very bad situation, especially when they are talking about something wildly unpredictable like a natural disaster. I suppose one could argue that you are either optimistic or not, and when you attach the word “cautiously” you are, by definition, not really being optimistic.

All of that said, I can’t blame anyone for being optimistic over the latest news from those Japanese nuclear reactors. After several days of struggling just to get their feet planted, it appears as if the teams on the ground there are waging a credible battle against impending disaster. Not a small feat under the circumstances.

I’ve always been a big believer in plans. They don’t have to be perfect. They can and often should be adjusted. But proceeding with a plan is simply better than just charging ahead.

March 18th, 2011
03:30 PM ET

Japan's death toll climbs to nearly 7,000

CNN Wire Staff

Tokyo (CNN) - Japan documented more deaths Friday as Prime Minister Naoto Kan sought to reassure a nation reeling from disaster, saying that he is committed to taking firm control of a "grave" situation.

Japanese paused at the one-week mark following the monster earthquake and ensuing tsunami as the death toll continued its steady climb to 6,911, the National Police Agency reported. Another 10,692 people are missing.

Kan said the disaster has been a "great test for all of the people of Japan," but he was confident of the resolve of his people.

Amid a raised crisis level at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from a 4 to 5 - putting it on par with the 1979 incident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island - Kan told his compatriots to bury their pessimism.

"With a tsunami and earthquake we don't have any room to be pessimistic," he said. "We are going to create Japan again from scratch. We should face this challenge together."

Kan acknowledged the situation at the Fukushima plant remains "very grave" and said his government has disclosed all that it knows to both the Japanese people and the international community.

"The police, fire department and self defense forces are all working together, putting their lives on the line, in an attempt to resolve the situation," he said.

Search teams continued Friday to comb through the rubble and residents of decimated towns sifted through twisted metal and broken wood beams, looking for remnants of the lives they lost. Rescuers planted red flags where they found dead bodies.

"I have no words to express my feelings. I lost my mind. We will have to start from zero," Hidemitsu Ichikawa said, taking a break from shoveling mud outside his home.

In Miyagi Prefecture, officials observed a moment of silence Friday to mark the one-week anniversary of the quake.

Schools had become impromptu morgues, with names of the dead posted on the doors, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

Long lines snaked around supermarkets as survivors stocked up on supplies.

In the hardest-hit parts of the country, thousands of people, many of them frail and elderly, settled into shelters not knowing when they might be able to leave.

Japanese media have reported difficult living conditions, including kerosene shortages that make it hard to heat the shelters.

Some 380,000 people are staying at 2,200 facilities, Kyodo News reported.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
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