Workers at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are working to contain the radiation

Japan faced another difficult day, as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant -- the site of multiple explosions since last week's 8.9-magnitude earthquake -- caught on fire once again.

Fifty employees are reportedly risking their lives to try to get the plant under control, but information about what exactly is going on with the plant's nuclear reactors is scarce and sometimes contradictory.

Residents in Japan are frustrated that they don't know more and haven't been given more instruction on what to do. Many have already left Tokyo to get to areas in the country farther from the danger of radiation exposure, and some companies have evacuated expatriate employees.

Meanwhile, snowy weather is making search and rescue efforts more difficult -- and worsening conditions for those still awaiting rescue from the rubble caused by the devastating quake and tsunami. The Japanese Emperor gave a rare televised speech to express condolences for those affected by the tragedy and encourage the nation not to give up.

Japan Declares Nuclear Emergency After Earthquake, Tsunami

Japan has declared a state of atomic power emergency in the wake of a massive earthquake Friday. Japan has 50 nuclear power reactors nationwide, but Japanese officials say the state of emergency is a precautionary measure. Meanwhile, emergency personnel are gearing up for aftershocks in Tokyo, where tremors caused a roof to collapse, killing at least one person. Rail services have been disrupted, leaving millions stranded, Reuters reports. And over 20,000 have been stranded at two of Japan's major airports. Because of overloaded mobile phone service, many are having trouble returning home or getting in touch with friends and family members.

Nuclear Meltdown Still Possibility After Explosion

A second explosion in three days at a nuclear plant in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami

A second explosion in just three days hit Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan on Monday, and nuclear authorities say a third explosion is likely. Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami knocked out power across the region, causing cooling systems at the power plants to fail. Eleven workers were injured in Monday's explosion, which could be felt 25 miles away from the site. And 100 miles offshore, aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan reportedly moved through cloud of radiation. The crew was exposed to about a month's worth of radiation in an hour, CBS reports. Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 bodies have been discovered near the earthquake's epicenter, and 8,000 are still missing.

Rescue Efforts Continue in Earthquake Ravaged Japan

Nearly half a million victims from Friday's earthquake and tsunami in Japan are in shelters, but tens of thousands have yet to be rescued. Teams from 13 different countries have joined in on relief efforts. Russia, for example, has deployed troops to Japan and has promised to provide extra shipments of liquefied natural gas to help with the country's energy emergency. New Zealand, China, and the U.K. have dispatched doctors and other forms of aide. Japan has doubled it's own self defense forces deploying a record 100,000 troops. Even hundreds of miles away from the quake's epicenter, there have been rolling power outages in the capital city of Tokyo, and businesses and individuals are being asked to conserve power.

Rescues Start in Earthquake and Tsunami Ravaged Japan

A child is hoisted to a helicopter after being rescued from wreckage

One day after an earthquake and tsunami ravaged Japan, rescues are beginning. The 8.9-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that led to one of the worst disasters in Japan's history.

In Sendai, one of the areas worst hit by the tsunami, police said they had found 200 to 300 bodies on the shore. The official death toll stands at 413 but 784 are known to be missing. Many expect the final toll to be more than 1,000 dead.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he is sending 50,000 troops for rescue and recovery. Meanwhile, survivors are lining up outside any grocery stores that are still open to attempt to get basic necessities.

How Should the U.S. Government Respond to Japan's Earthquake?:

An 8.9 magnitude quake and a 30-foot tsunami wreaked havoc in Japan

The morning news was filled with horrific scenes that could have just as easily been out of a Roland Emmerich movie rather than NBC's Today Show. An approximately 30-foot wave crashed into Japan and swept away cars, boats, and other large debris after an 8.9-magnitude quake--the largest in the nation's history--shook the earth just offshore. The quake and tsunami left the nation reeling with devastation, fires, and a nuclear power plant in jeopardy. Nations around the Pacific, including the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii, face tsunami warnings.

President Obama released a statement to offer his condolences. He added:

The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial. The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy.

Obama repeated the pledge in a news conference early this afternoon, saying he has offered Japan "whatever assistance we can." But what should that look like? U.S. Navy ships are already in the area and readying themselves to provide aid as necessary, but it's unclear so far what Japan actually needs.

President Obama is "heartbroken" by the situation in Japan, where an estimated 1,000 people have been killed after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. "Today's events remind us of just how fragile life can be," the president said at a press conference Friday. He added that despite differences in culture and location, "ultimately, humanity is one." Obama said his administration is monitoring the situation "very closely" as the tsunami has already hit Hawaii and is heading toward the California coast. "FEMA is fully activated and is coordinating with state and local officials to support these regions as necessary," Obama said.


Japan Earthquakes Trigger Tsunami Warnings on the West Coast and in Hawaii

The West Coast and Hawaii face a tsunami warning this morning, after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan. An approximately 30-foot wave devastated parts of Japan's coastline and killed at least 60 people. The quake is the largest Japan has ever seen and the fifth largest on record since 1900, and it triggered a large fire at an oil refinery, and the country's prime minister declared a state of emergency for a nuclear power plant that was also affected. Aftershocks have continued to hit the island nation.

Hawaii residents sought high grounds this morning as tsunami alarm sirens wailed in warning, and people on the U.S. West Coast were also put on alert. Scientists explain the tsunami would not be one giant wave but rather a rise in sea level that could impact coastal areas over a period of an hour or so.


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