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Sunday
Mar132011

Aerial View: Christiane Amanpour Flies Over Japan Destruction

JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty ImagesREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK
by CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC News

(TOKYO) -- We flew from Tokyo an hour up what looked like an unscathed country to the city of Sendai, through mountainous terrain where we saw little traffic but also no evidence of this massive earthquake.

When we first flew over Sendai, we saw a surprisingly composed city, with traffic heavy, we're told because of long lines for gas in town.

But just five minutes east of the city by chopper, the extent of the devastation becomes painfully clear. Huge swaths of land all along the coast remain under water. There are also huge plumes of smoke billowing from various points, including a huge fire at a refinery, with oil visibly spilling into the water.

Along the coast, acres of trees flattened in neat rows, showing where the wall of water roared over them. Just beyond that, you see all that's left of what were once houses -- now just the foundations left standing in watery inlets. Boats are smashed and piled on top of each other; cars floating with just their roofs showing above water. A few houses do still stand, but they are among debris that packs roads and waterways.

We flew over the airport, where we saw at least six military transport helicopters, presumably part of the rescue effort. The main runway is cut in two by debris, and part of it is covered by sand and silt left behind by the wave of water.

The Sendai fire station looks badly damaged, with vehicles crushed and lots of debris. Some roads look drivable, with others heavily damaged.

We saw red vehicles, presumably from the fire department, along one stretch of road, and out at sea, many more ships lining the coast, we assume there to help the rescue effort.

As severe as the damage was, we could see the dividing line where the water ended, leaving the rest of Sendai remarkably intact.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar132011

Pakistan: Four Militants Killed in Drone Attack

George Doyle/Thinkstock(NORTH WAZIRISTAN, Pakistan) -- Six missiles were fired at a car in the Isha village of Pakistan's North Waziristan province on Sunday. Four militants were reported killed in the attack.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Arab League Endorses No-Fly Zone Over Libya

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- The Arab League has endorsed a no-fly zone over Libya, a significant decision that puts pressure on the U.S., the EU, and the Security Council to decide whether to authorize military intervention to help stop Moammar Gadhafi’s momentum against the struggling opposition.

In a statement on Saturday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration welcomes the Arab League's endorsement.

"The international community is unified in sending a clear message that the violence in Libya must stop, and that the Gaddafi regime must be held accountable," Carney said. "The United States will continue to advance our efforts to pressure Gaddafi, to support the Libyan opposition, and to prepare for all contingencies, in close coordination with our international partners."

Carney said the move "strengthens the international pressure on Gaddafi and support for the Libyan people."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Yemen Uprising: Security Forces and Protesters Clash in Sana'a

GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images(SANA’A, Yemen) -- Social unrest in Yemen continued on Saturday, as demonstrators descended on Sana’a – the nation’s capital – calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

Thousands of protesters came out to Taghyeer Square Saturday, resulting in a clash with Yemeni security forces. Security personnel reportedly fired gas bombs at demonstrators, causing some to suffer severe seizures. A number of people could be seen lying on the ground in need of medical treatment, and reports say approximately one thousand demonstrators were injured in the clash.

President Saleh has been in office for 32 years and on Thursday, amid calls for him to leave office, he said he was willing to re-write the country’s constitution – a move that would give parliament a more powerful role. Opposition party officials rejected Saleh’s offer, demanding that he step down.

According to reports, about 30 people have been killed in the protests which began in January.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Japan: Reporters Travel to Earthquake Ravaged Sendai

Photo by NASA via Getty Images(SENDAI, Japan) -- The city of Sendai, Japan, was hit hardest by Friday’s devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami; it sits on the northeast coast, just 80 miles from the epicenter of the quake.

Among the journalists on their way to Sendai is ABC News correspondent Clarissa Ward, who was making her way east toward the earthquake-ravaged city.

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK
By CLARISSA WARD, ABC News


It has been an epic journey, even trying to get here. We have been traveling for more than 26 hours and were diverted through three different cities. We have now reached a point just less than 100 miles to the city of Sendai.

What is most striking is that when you look around here, the roads look fine, the buildings look fine, there’s electricity – but just another 50 miles down the road, that is all expected to change when we get to a town called Yamagata, which is being described as sort of the last frontier of the area where people are coming in and regrouping before going on to those affected areas. We have seen a lot of cars coming and going, but it’s impossible to say whether they are fleeing the area.

The people we’ve talked to are certainly very, very frightened. Our driver, for example, told us he that he had never felt anything like Friday’s earthquake. He said the ground was moving for five minutes and now he’s confronted with these sort of apocalyptic images on his television set.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Japan Searches for Survivors After Monster Earthquake, Tsunami

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japanese authorities are racing to rescue those trapped in the rubble after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami left hundreds dead and a nuclear reactor on the verge of a possible of meltdown.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he dispatched 50,000 troops for recovery efforts as powerful aftershocks continue to rattle the region.

Tsunami survivors were plucked by helicopters and from rooftops, but hundreds more along the 1,300-mile stretch of coastline are waiting to be rescued. 200,000 are living in temporary shelters and more than one million households are without water. Survivors are bracing for more as an emergency tsunami warning is also being issued.

Death tolls from Friday's earthquake and tsunami range from 574 to 1,300 people. Thousands remained unaccounted for.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

US Investigating Claims that Bahrain Used Force Against Protesters

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. has launched an investigation into reports that Bahrain used force against protesters during the country’s recent uprising.

A letter from the State Department to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) says the U.S. is “investigating the actions of the Bahraini police and Ministry of Interior forces and assessing their conduct in connection with the protests.” Based on the findings of the investigation, it will be determined whether U.S. aid could be stopped for units found to have targeted peaceful protesters.

The Bahraini government is reportedly looking into the actions of security forces during the events of Feb. 14-18, a step the U.S. views as a positive one towards finding out if anyone is to be held accountable for the use of excessive force. The letter, written by acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Miguel Rodriguez, says there are conflicting reports about the military’s role in response to protests and officials are hoping the facts can soon be established.

The State Department’s letter was in response to an inquiry by Leahy about whether any Bahraini security forces who were trained by the U.S. had attacked protesters or used weapons provided by the U.S. against protesters. Leahy is concerned about possible violations of the Leahy Amendment, which prohibits the U.S. from providing training and aid to military forces who have committed human rights abuse.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Japan Nuclear Safety Agency: Emergency at Second Reactor

Photo by DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(OKUMA, Japan) -- With fears unabated about the effects of an explosion at one of Japan's nuclear plants after Friday's powerful earthquake, the nation's nuclear safety agency on Saturday reported an emergency at a second reactor in the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Meanwhile, Japanese authorities are racing to rescue those trapped in the rubble after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami left hundreds dead and a nuclear reactor on the verge of a possible of meltdown.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he dispatched 50,000 troops for recovery efforts as powerful aftershocks continue to rattle the region. Tsunami survivors were plucked by helicopters and from rooftops, but hundreds more along the 1,300-mile stretch of coastline are waiting to be rescued. There are 200,000 people living in temporary shelters after being evacuated to higher ground and more than 1 million households are without water. Five million households lack electricity.

The official death toll from Friday's earthquake and tsunami stands at 686, while local media reports put fatality totals closer to 1,300 people. With thousands unaccounted for in the hardest hit areas, that number is expected to rise.

The earthquake, the fifth largest in recorded history and the largest ever to hit Japan, struck Friday at about 2:46 p.m. local time, triggering a tsunami that unleashed a menacing stew of debris over the countryside and into towns, crushing buildings and everything in its path.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Explosion At Japanese Nuclear Plant Prompts Fears of Meltdown

In this satellite view, Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power plant is damaged by an earthquake which caused a tsunami in Okuma, Japan. DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(OKUMA, Japan) -- The container protecting a nuclear reactor at a plant facing a possible meltdown was not damaged in an explosion that injured four workers and destroyed the exterior walls of the plant, a Japanese government spokesman said Saturday.

Government spokesman Yukio Edano said the blast did not damage the nuclear reactor itself at the Fukushima Daiichi, which would cause radioactive material to leak out.

Contrary to initial reports of radiation levels rising around the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the blast, Edano said that radiation is decreasing and that the pressure inside the reactor is also dropping.

A top U.S. scientist said Japan must come to terms with the severity of the nuclear accident it is facing, and work to immediately protect its most vulnerable residents from the damage of radiation exposure - particularly protecting children against exposure to radioactive iodine.

"Any attempt to make it seem that this is not the worst case imaginable is foolhardy," said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant, located about 200 miles northeast of Tokyo, was one of two run by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. whose cooling systems were damaged in the 8.9 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar112011

Obama: International Community "Tightening Noose On Gadhafi"

Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced Friday that he has “determined that it's appropriate for us to assign a representative whose specific job is to interact with the opposition” in Libya to “determine ways that we can further help them.”

The move, in light of the U.S. rejection of Moammar Gadhafi’s representatives as legitimate, can be interpreted as a de facto recognition of the Libyan opposition as the legitimate representatives of that country. Earlier this week, France announced it was formally making such a move.

The president noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would soon be meeting with representatives of the opposition “and so we're going to be in close consultation with them.”

The president said that the moves the international community has taken means “we are slowly tightening the noose on Gadhafi. He is more and more isolated internationally, both through sanctions as well as an arms embargo.”

Speaking at a Friday afternoon press conference, the president noted that NATO will meet on Tuesday in Brussels to consider imposing a no-fly zone over the country.

The president said he was not rushing to military action in the region because of the risks both to U.S. military personnel, possible consequences, and politically the need to “maintain the strong international coalition that we have right now.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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