December 19th, 2011
08:35 AM ET

U.S. watching North Korea closely after Kim Jong Il's death, general says

Editor's Note: North Korea's enigmatic leader Kim Jong Il - who, after succeeding his father 17 years ago, captained his poor, closed nation and antagonized its enemies - is dead, state media reported Monday. Kim, 69, died at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, state media reported.

A broadcaster reported that Kim died due to "overwork" after "dedicating his life to the people." Kim died of "great mental and physical strain" while in a train during a "field guidance tour," North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency reported.

As North Koreans face an uncertain future without Kim Jong Il, the world's attention now turns to his son Kim Jong Un, whom the ruling Workers' Party has dubbed the "great successor." Little is known about him in the West; he is believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s.

Photos: Kim Jong Il through the years | Video: The life of Kim Jong Il

Follow along with CNN's  minute-by-minute developments on the death of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il  and share your thoughts at iReport.

[Updated at 8:35 a.m. ET Monday] The chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said one of the U.S. military's priorities following news of Kim Jong Il's death is to monitor North Korea's troop movement. So far, no movement of North Korea's forces has been noted, Dempsey said, according to CNN's Barbara Starr.

A short-range missile test that North Korea conducted Monday - reported earlier by South Korean media - was not a surprise and is not of particular concern, Dempsey said. South Korean media have reported that South Korean government officials do not believe the test was related to Kim Jong Il's death.

[Updated at 7:56 a.m. ET Monday] Stocks in Asia slumped on Monday amid fears that Kim Jong Il's death could lead to instability on the divided Korean peninsula.

Japan's Nikkei lost 1.3%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong slid 1.2%, and the Shanghai Composite shed 0.3%. South Korea's Kospi fell the most, plunging 4.9% in mid-morning trading in Seoul, before climbing slightly to end 3.4% off.

Asian stocks already were battered by fears that possible credit downgrades in European countries could derail a solution to the eurozone debt crisis.

[Updated at 7:36 a.m. ET Monday] Victor Cha, senior adviser and Korea chair of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Kim Jong Un will be succeeding his father in "less-than-ideal conditions," in part because he has had little time to prepare for leadership.

Whereas his father was groomed for leadership for more than a decade, Kim Jong Un - who is Kim Jong Il's third son - seems to have been positioned as successor only recently. Though he was named a four-star general last year, he never served in the military - something that has bothered some North Korean military commanders, Cha said.

Cha, a former White House National Security Council member and an expert on North Korea, said that in North Korea's system, a new ideology is supposed to come from new leadership. No ideology from Kim Jong Un has been publicly released, Cha said.

It is hard to say whether a struggle for succession will ensue, Cha said, because the Kim family has been like royalty in North Korea, though it is unclear how much support Kim Jong Un will have.

Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also said it wasn't clear whether Kim Jong Un will take power uncontested. He noted that North Korea's Workers Party acknowledged in a statement that Kim Jong Un is the designated successor - a sign that the power structure is coalescing around him.

[Updated at 7:01 a.m. ET Monday] North Korea test-fired a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Monday morning, South Korean media reported.

An unnamed South Korean government official said “this is something the (South Korean) military had been keeping track of for some time, and I believe it is unrelated to the death of Kim Jong Il,” South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

[Updated at 6:29 a.m. ET Monday] Asked if North Korea will see a succession struggle, Jim Walsh, an international security expert with Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Security Studies Program, said the situation was hard to predict. Kim Jong Un's father began grooming him for the job only three years ago after the father suffered a stroke.

In contrast, Kim Jong Il himself was groomed over a period of 14 years before taking the reins from his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994. Even then, Walsh said, it took a year or two for Kim Jong Il to consolidate power, Walsh said.

[Updated at 6:23 a.m. ET Monday] Jim Walsh, an international security expert with Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Security Studies Program, says North Korea's transition of leadership will be a "delicate time to get through," in part because young successor Kim Jong Un will be looking to establish himself.

One of a regime's first thoughts upon the death of a leader is about whether enemies will take advantage of the situation, Walsh said. Walsh said North Korea will want to show strength, and he noted that South Korea's military reacted to Kim Jong Il's death by going on high alert.

"If you're in (North Korea's capital of) Pyongyang, that looks like threatening behavior ... so this is going to be a delicate time to get through,” Walsh said.

[Updated at 5:50 a.m. ET Monday] South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak, at an emergency Cabinet meeting Monday to discuss the government's response following the death of Northern Korean leader Kim Jong Il, said that peace and stability on the Korean peninsula "should not be threatened by what has happened."

"We must make thorough preparations to maintain peace and stability and continue to work closely with the international community,” the South Korean president said.

[Updated at 4:29 a.m. ET Monday]  Seoul put South Korean forces on high alert and Pyongyang urged an increase in its "military capability" as the death of North Korea's enigmatic leader Kim Jong Il spurred fresh security concerns in the tense region.

A tearful state TV broadcaster reported Kim's death Monday. She said the 69-year-old leader died Saturday due to "overwork" while "dedicating his life to the people."

North Korea's official KCNA news agency said Kim suffered "great mental and physical strain" while on a train during a "field guidance tour." Kim, who had been treated for "cardiac and cerebrovascular diseases for a long period," suffered a heart attack on Saturday and couldn't be saved despite the use of "every possible first-aid measure," according to the agency.

In the country where Kim was revered as "dear leader," passers-by wept uncontrollably on the streets of Pyongyang.

[Updated at 3:19 a.m. ET Monday]  The death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has ushered in a period of tremendous uncertainty in Northeast Asia, with every move by countries in the region risking unpredictable reactions from others.

South Korea ramped up its level of military alert Monday following the announcement of Kim's death, while Japan held emergency military meetings. The United States said it was in close contact with the South Korean and Japanese governments.

"It's a moment that's rife for miscalculation and unintended consequences," CNN's Wolf Blitzer said.

The region is a combustible geopolitical mix. The South, which has the support of the United States, and the nuclear-armed North, allied with China, have technically remained at war since the conflict that split the peninsula in the 1950s.

Even before Kim's death, tensions had spiked between the two Koreas last year. The North was accused of sinking a South Korean naval vessel in the Yellow Sea and fired artillery at a South Korean island in November 2010, killing two civilians.

But the United States and other parties had appeared to make progress in recent weeks to try to rekindle negotiations over the North's nuclear program, known as the six-party talks.

Those efforts now seem to have been in vain.

[Updated at 2:48 a.m. ET Monday] As North Koreans face an uncertain future without Kim Jong Il, the world's attention now turns to his son, whom the ruling Workers' Party has dubbed the "great successor."

"Kim Jong Un's leadership provides a sure guarantee for creditably carrying to completion the revolutionary cause ... through generations," the letter said.

But little is known about the deceased leader's youngest son. Even his age is uncertain to most of the outside world: he is believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s.

FULL POST

August 28th, 2011
01:41 AM ET

Live blog: Death toll now at 20; Irene no longer tropical storm

Flooding emerged as a major concern Sunday for states hit by Irene, which hit the East Coast as a hurricane and then a tropical storm over three days.

Even as Irene weakened to a tropical storm, authorities warned that its impact was not waning, especially in Vermont.

"Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in coming days as rivers swell past their banks," President Barack Obama said Sunday, adding: "The recovery effort will last for weeks or longer."

Officials said the storm had knocked out power to more than 4 million people and was responsible for at least 20 deaths.

Check out our Open Story, read the full CNN Wire story and follow the latest developments here:

[Update 11:11 p.m. Sunday] Emergency officials said at least 20 people across the United States have died as a result of Hurricane Irene .

[Update 11:09 p.m. Sunday] The body of woman who apparently drowned after either falling or being swept into a storm swollen creek was recovered Sunday near New Scotland, New York State Police said. The woman's body was pulled from Onesquethaw Creek about 4:30 p.m., police said. The identity of the woman was not immediately released, though police said that a New Scotland man reported his wife missing about noon. She was last seen near the creek.

[Update 11:08 p.m. Sunday] Irene ceased being a tropical storm late Sunday as it swirled near the U.S.-Canadian border, the National Hurricane Center reported.  Despite losing its tropical characteristics, the storm continued to kick out sustained winds of 50 mph about 50 miles north of Berlin, New Hampshire.

[Update 8:41 p.m. Sunday] More details about flooding concerns in Vermont's capital, Montpelier: Jill Remick, from the state's emergency management division, said water in the area - where multiple rivers converge - could rise as high as 20 feet, above the 17.5 feet that led to substantial flooding in May in Montpelier.

See how other states are faring in this state-by-state list of Irene developments.

[Update 8:30 p.m. Sunday] New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he erroneously reported that a firefighter died during an attempted water rescue in Princeton. He said he was provided erroneous information and apologized, saying the firefighter was in intensive care.

This lowers a count of U.S. deaths reported to be linked to Irene to at least 18 in seven states.

FULL POST

August 27th, 2011
02:45 AM ET

Live blog: Hurricane death toll at 9; New York closes bridge entrance, port

Hurricane Irene continues to crawl north after making landfall Saturday morning in North Carolina. The storm is expected to head up the East Coast from Virginia to Maine, bringing hurricane-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and widespread power outages.

Follow the latest developments here, or read the full CNN Wire story:

[Midnight] Authorities shut down the Port of New York and the Port for Long Island Sound late Saturday as Hurricane Irene closed in on the New York City area. Also, the Palisades Interstate Parkway entrance to the George Washington Bridge in New York City has been closed due to weather conditions, according to a statement from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

[Update 11:40 p.m.] U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.  The declaration frees federal funds to help in the recovery effort, according to the White House.

[Update 11:20 p.m.] The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority closed down late Saturday because of a tornado warning in Philadelphia, according to SEPTA representative Jerri Williams.

[Update 11:05 p.m.] Irene remains a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph and gusts to 100 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. ET advisory.

[Update 11 p.m.] Storms in Delaware damaged 30-40 homes Saturday night in the town of Lewes, according to Ed Schaeffer, a fire department spokesman.  Five of them were damaged severely. There were no injuries, he said.

A tornado watch remains in effect until 5 a.m. Sunday.

[Update 10:47 p.m.] The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning until 11 p.m. ET for the city of Philadelphia, including east-central Chester County, northeastern Delaware County, central Philadelphia County and southeastern Montgomery County.

[Update 10:37 p.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, addressing reporters Saturday night, said residents should prepare to hunker down as Hurricane Irene approached. "The storm is finally hitting New York City," he said.

“The time for evacuation is over. Everyone should go inside and stay inside," Bloomberg  said. "The city has taken exhaustive steps to prepare for whatever comes our way.”

[Update 10:26 p.m.] The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches - extending through 5 a.m. Sunday - for parts of southern Delaware, eastern New Jersey, southeastern New York and Long Island and southwestern Connecticut.

[Update 9:52 p.m.] A tornado touched down in Lewes, Delaware, damaging at least 17 homes, the governor said Saturday night.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, Governor Jack Markell told CNN affiliate KYW. He wouldn't have official damage figures until Sunday morning, he said.

[Update 9:42 p.m.] Amtrak said Saturday night it is suspending all service north of Jacksonville, Florida, and east of Toledo, Ohio, and Indianapolis through Sunday because of Hurricane Irene.

[Update 9:27 p.m.] As of 9 p.m. ET Saturday, the storm was centered about 155 miles south of Dover, Delaware, moving northward at 16 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm’s intensity was 80 mph “with the center of the hurricane passing very close to the coasts of Delaware and New Jersey from late tonight into Sunday morning,” according to the weather service.

“The storm will bring damaging winds … torrential rain with dangerous flooding … and coastal flooding,” the weather service said.

[Update 9:17 p.m.] Philadelphia International Airport will close Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET and won’t re-open until 4 p.m. Sunday at the earliest, said spokeswoman Victoria Lupica.

The airport had already cancelled all departures because of Hurricane Irene.

[Update 9:03 p.m.] Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Corey Booker said he’s been going door to door warning residents to flee the storm.

 “We're strongly encouraging residents to leave,” Booker told CNN Saturday night. “I benefited a lot from the surprise factor as the mayor showing up [at their doors],” he said. "I think they got the point, and hopefully they’ll behave appropriately. Booker said ultimately the city would do what it could to save people in distress due to the storm.

FULL POST

Overheard: Impending soap loss brings out uncommon civility in comments
Susan Lucci has been with the daytime drama "All My Children" since the show's inception in 1970.
July 3rd, 2011
10:17 PM ET

Overheard: Impending soap loss brings out uncommon civility in comments

Anyone who peruses the comments section of CNN.com or just about any news site quickly learns what a rough-n-tumble world of words that can be. Under the cloak of anonymity, the harshest of assessments employing the sharpest of words are unleashed on online opponents real and imagined.

So when the CNN.com weekend crew checked back over some of the comments of the past few days, the comments on one story really stood out.

As reported on Friday on the Marquee Blog, the residents of the fictional town of Pine Valley will officially say goodbye when "All My Children" airs its last episode on Friday, September 23.

News of when the final episode would be aired sparked an outpouring that stayed surprisingly on subject and brought some uncommonly kind interchanges. This one between Patsy Davis and bubba really stood out:

Patsy Davis: "My name is Patsy Davis and I live in Charlotte, N.C. I HATE the fact that "All My Children" will no longer be broadcast after Sept. 23rd. That is HORRENDOUS! I LOVE that soap. Why are you taking it off the air? I will miss the cast, but I want to wish everyone of them good luck in whatever endeavor they pursue. Maybe I will see one of them in a movie or another TV program. God bless to all of them!"

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: TV
If N.Y. bill passes, over 11% of Americans would be eligible for same-sex marriage
Opponents of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York gathered in the state capitol building Monday.
June 20th, 2011
10:41 PM ET

If N.Y. bill passes, over 11% of Americans would be eligible for same-sex marriage

Should New York become the sixth state to grant same-sex marriage licenses, it would more than double the U.S. population eligible to enter such a union.

Five states - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire - and the District of Columbia currently grant same-sex marriage licenses. The combined population of those states and D.C. is 15,712,015, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2010.

The New York state Senate passed the same-sex marriage bill on Friday. It will go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

With the official U.S. population at 308,745,538, that means 5.08% of the population of America is eligible - upon meeting a state's age and other legal requirements - to marry a person of the same sex.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: New York • Same-sex marriage
Japan quake live blog: Radiation level in food no cause for alarm, expert says
People wait in line for a supermarket to open as limited food continues to cause problems for people in the earthquake-affected areas Sunday in Ichinoseki, Japan.
March 20th, 2011
08:20 AM ET

Japan quake live blog: Radiation level in food no cause for alarm, expert says

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit northern Japan on March 11, triggering tsunamis that caused widespread devastation and crippled a nuclear power plant. Are you in an affected area? Send an iReport. Read the full report on the quake's aftermath and check out our interactive explainer on Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

[10:20 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:20 a.m. Monday Tokyo] Stars and Stripes, the independent news organization covering the U. S. military, reports more than 7,900 U.S. residents at bases in northern and central Japan want to leave on military-sponsored flights.

[9:44 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:44 a.m. Monday Tokyo] National broadcaster NHK reports that Japan's Self-Defense Forces is once again spraying water on the No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

[8:52 p.m. Sunday ET, 9:52 a.m. Monday Tokyo] A few water samples taken in the area around the  Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant tested positive for iodine - although far below levels of concern under Japanese law, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency website.

[7:27 p.m. Sunday ET, 8:27 a.m. Monday Tokyo] Kyodo News reports that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has canceled a visit to one of the areas devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami because of bad weather.

Government officials said Kan had been scheduled to go Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture via helicopter.

[4:35 p.m. Sunday ET, 5:35 a.m. Monday Tokyo] A U.S. radiation expert has said there's not much reason to worry  despite restrictions on some food produced in two provinces around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  Japan slapped on the restrictions after high levels of radioactivity turned up in spinach and milk.

Dr. James Cox, professor of radiation oncology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said the reported levels posed little or no health concerns.

[10:40 a.m. Sunday, 11:50 p.m. Sunday Tokyo] Japan has restricted sales of vegetables from the prefecture surrounding the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a ban on the sale of raw milk from the same region, the country's Health Ministry announced late Sunday.

[7:22 a.m. Sunday ET, 8:05 p.m. Sunday Tokyo] CNN has confirmed with the Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital that two people, an 81 year old grandmother and her 16 year old grandson were rescued after being trapped inside their house for 9 days. Full story

FULL POST

Japan quake live blog: Death toll surpasses 6,000; 10,259 reported missing
A man and his sister on Thursday stand before their broken house, destroyed by the tsunami at Rikuzentakata, Japan.
March 17th, 2011
10:43 PM ET

Japan quake live blog: Death toll surpasses 6,000; 10,259 reported missing

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit northern Japan early Friday, triggering tsunamis that caused widespread devastation and crippled a nuclear power plant. Are you in an affected area? Send an iReport. Read the full report on the quake's aftermath and check out our interactive explainer on Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

[10:43 p.m. ET Thursday, 11:43 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Japan's National Police Agency reported at 9 a.m. Friday (8 p.m. ET Thursday) that 6,406 people are confirmed dead and 10,259 have been reported missing following last week's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

[9:47 p.m. ET Thursday, 10:47 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] A radiation reading of 20 millisieverts per hour has been recorded at a key annex building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant - the highest yet recorded there - an official from the Tokyo Electric Power Company said Friday morning. In comparison, a typical chest X-ray exposes a person to about .02 millisieverts of radiation. A typical dose of background radiation in developed countries is about 3 millisieverts over an entire year.

[9:02 p.m. ET Thursday, 10:02 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Japanese stocks open higher as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and European Central Bank agree to join Japan to intervene in currency markets.

[8:49 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:49 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Officials gave contradictory reports about the status of a new cable intended to restore power to reactor Unit No. 2 at the Fukushimi Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was damaged in the earthquake and tsunami has been emitting high levels of radiation. The International Atomic Energy Agency, citing Japanese authorities, said the power cord had reached the unit and that it would be connected once spraying of water on the No. 3 reactor building had been completed. But a spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the plant, told CNN the electrical line had not been connected, though officials hoped to get it connected by the end of the day Friday.

[8:30 p.m. ET Thursday, 9:30 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] The U.S. State Department said it is possible there are still Americans inside the 80-kilometer (50-mile) evacuation zone around the troubled nuclear plants, and is sending a fleet of 14 buses to Sendai - north of the evacuation zone - to evacuate as many as 600 Americans who may still be in one of the areas hardest hit by the disaster and having difficulty traveling because of road damage.

[7:50 p.m. ET Thursday, 8:50 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] Australia and South Korea on Thursday urged their citizens living within 80 kilometers of the plant to evacuate. That evacuation zone, like the one recommended by the United States, is much larger than the 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius ordered by the Japanese government

[7:24 p.m. ET Thursday, 8:24 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says engineers have gotten an emergency diesel generator for Unit 6 running to supply energy to Units 5 and 6 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Water injection to the spent fuel pool is continuing.

FULL POST

Japan quake live blog: Fire erupts in fourth reactor; radiation warning issued
This is a satellite image of the Daiichi Power Plant in Japan taken at 11:04 a.m. local time, just minutes after a reported fire there.
March 14th, 2011
07:47 PM ET

Japan quake live blog: Fire erupts in fourth reactor; radiation warning issued

An 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan early Friday, triggering tsunamis that caused widespread devastation and crippled a nuclear power plant. Are you in an affected area? Send an iReport. Read the full report on the quake, tsunami and the fears surrounding Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

[11:22 p.m. ET Monday, 12:24 p.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The death toll in Japan from Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami has risen to 2,475, authorities said Tuesday. At least 3,118 people were missing and 1,889 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.

[10:18 p.m. ET Monday, 11:18 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Radiation levels at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have increased to "levels that can impact human health," and anyone within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant should remain indoors, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday. Read more on the radiation concerns.

[10:12 p.m. ET Monday, 11:12 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] A fire has erupted in a fourth reactor at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a top adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced Tuesday.

[10:07 p.m. ET Monday, 11:07 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The risk of further releases of radioactive material from a damaged nuclear power plant remains "very high," Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday.

WATCH: Prime minister warns of radiation risk

[9:43 p.m. ET Monday, 10:57 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials say pressure readings indicate some damage to the Fukushima Daiichi plant No. 2 reactor's suppression pool, a doughnut-shaped reservoir at the base of the reactor containment vessel, A blast was reported there Tuesday morning. Water continues to be injected into "pressure vessels"  to cool down radioactive material, even though workers have been evacuated to "safer locations."

[8:57 p.m. ET Monday, 9:57 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] CNNMoney.com reports that Japanese stocks continued to plummet Tuesday, falling nearly 6% in the first hour of trading, as the nation continues to cope with the aftermath of last week's earthquake. The Nikkei-225 index, the most prominent measure of Tokyo market stocks, dropped 566 points, or 5.9%, within the first 60 minutes of the session. That was on top of a 6.2% drop Monday, the first full trading day after the quake.

[8:13 p.m. ET Monday, 9:13 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The death toll in Japan from Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami has risen to 2,414, authorities said Tuesday.  At least 3,118 people were missing and 1,885 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters. The number of dead is expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

WATCH: Anderson Cooper on debris that's 10 feet thick

[7:47 p.m. ET Monday, 8:47 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Yukio Edano, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, said he could not rule out the possibility of a meltdown at all three troubled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan.

While sea water was being pumped into the reactors in an effort to prevent further damage, "It cannot necessarily be called a stable situation," Edano said early Tuesday.

WATCH: News conference confirming blast

Kenneth Bergeron, a physicist who used to work at the U.S. Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, said that "the release of hydrogen and the fission products (suggests) these reactors have probably had fuel rods exposed for significant periods of time."

Edano's comments come amid news about an "explosive impact" that happened Tuesday morning at the No. 2 reactor.

Cooling has been a problem for days at reactors No. 1 and 3, because the earthquake and the tsunami damaged those reactors' cooling systems. But cooling problems at No. 2 began Monday, when a blast at the building that contains No. 3 - said to be caused by a buildup of hydrogen - damaged No. 2's cooling system.

[7:17 p.m. ET Monday, 8:17 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] More information about the new blast at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan: An "explosive impact" occurred Tuesday morning at the No. 2 reactor, a day after a hydrogen explosion rocked reactor No. 3, the plant's owner announced.

[7:09 p.m. ET Monday, 8:09 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] A blast has been heard at the site of the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.

[6:44 p.m. ET Monday, 7:44 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The situation with Fukushima Daiichi's No. 2 nuclear reactor is not yet stable, though authorities have had some success in pumping in water in order to cool radioactive material inside, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said early Tuesday. He said the cooling functions at the facility's Nos. 1 and 3 nuclear reactors are serving their purpose.

Cooling problems at the No. 2 reactor on Monday allowed nuclear fuel rods to overheat and generate radioactive steam that officials will have to vent into the atmosphere. Crews thought they had the situation under control, but water levels dropped dangerously again Monday night when a buildup of steam prevented fresh seawater from entering the reactor chamber, Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported.

Workers have had trouble keeping reactors No. 1 and No. 3 cool because the earthquake and the tsunami damaged those reactors' cooling systems. But the cooling problems at No. 2 began Monday, when a blast at the building that contains No. 3 - said to be caused by a buildup of hydrogen - damaged No. 2's cooling system.

[6:39 p.m. ET Monday, 7:39 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] The U.S. Geological Survey has revised the magnitude of Friday's earthquake in Japan upward to 9.0 on Monday. It had previously put the magnitude at 8.9.

The new reading means the quake is tied for fourth on the U.S. survey's list of strongest earthquakes since 1900.

[6:07 p.m. ET Monday, 7:07 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] CNN journalists on the sense of urgency rescuers are feeling to find survivors because of unfavorable weather forecasts, which called for continued temperatures barely above freezing, as well as rain and freezing precipitation that could trigger mudslides.

Continued subnormal cold also will probably strain power generation in a country already employing rolling blackouts as a conservation measure.

[5:18 p.m. ET Monday, 6:18 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] Donations to help Japan have been relatively slow to come, reaching about $12 million so far, according to an early tally by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a newspaper covering nonprofit organizations.

That number is far below the first four-day totals of other recent natural disasters, CNNMoney reports. More than $150 million was raised toward relief within four days of the crisis in Haiti, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, donations exceeded $108 million during the crucial first four days.

"Japan is not Haiti and it's not Indonesia, it's a developed country with a GDP somewhat similar to our country. It's not what people typically think of as a country in need of wide-scale international aid," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy.

[4:34 p.m. p.m. ET Monday, 5:34 a.m. Tuesday in Tokyo] In the first full trading day following last week's quake, Japan's Nikkei 225 plunged 6.2% Monday. While other world markets were mostly lower, the decline was generally more muted.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 ended down less than 1%, while Germany's DAX fell 1.7% and France's CAC 40 lost 1.3%. And there were even gains in Asia - Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4% Monday, while China's Shanghai Composite edged up 0.1%.

This news came as leading investors said that they expect, over the long term, the massive human disaster in Japan is unlikely to have a major impact on economic markets outside that Asian nation.

FULL POST

Japan begins road to recovery
March 13th, 2011
11:43 PM ET

Japan quake live blog: Explosion at nuclear plant's reactor building

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan early Friday, triggering tsunamis that caused widespread devastation and crippled a nuclear power plant. Are you in an affected area? Send an iReport. Read the full report on the quake, tsunami and the fears surrounding Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

[11:43 p.m. ET Sunday, 12:43 p.m. Monday in Tokyo] Six people were injured after Monday morning's explosion at the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Co. says. Seven people earlier reported as missing have been accounted for, a company official told reporters.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed images of white smoke rising above the facility. Citing the nation's nuclear and industrial agency, NHK said that a wall of one of the reactor's buildings had collapsed.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary said a day earlier that accumulating hydrogen gas "may potentially cause an explosion" in the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Daiichi plant. A similar scenario played out Saturday, when a blast caused by hydrogen buildup blew the roof off a concrete building housing the plant's No. 1 reactor.

[11:33 p.m. ET Sunday, 12:33 p.m. Monday in Tokyo] The official death toll from the earthquake and the tsunami has risen to 1,627, authorities said Monday. This doesn't count the 2,000 bodies that the Kyodo news agency reported were found Monday in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's east coast.

As of 10 a.m., at least 1,720 people were missing and 1,962 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters. The number of dead is expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

[10:59 p.m. ET, 11:59 a.m. Tokyo] An explosion happened late Monday morning at the Fukushima Daiichi's No. 3 nuclear reactor building, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano confirmed to reporters.

The container vessel surrounding the reactor remains intact, Edano said, citing the head of the nuclear plant report.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed images of white smoke rising above the facility, which is in northeastern Japan. Citing the nation's nuclear and industrial agency, NHK said that a wall of one of the reactor's buildings had collapsed.

Residents remaining within 20 kilometers of the plant, despite an earlier evacuation order, have been ordered to stay indoors, according to Edano.  The secretary added that initial reports suggested that radiation levels had increased after the blast, but Edano said he did not believe there was a massive leak, given that water continues to be injected into the reactors and that the pressure inside the reactor is "within a certain range."

Edano said a day earlier that accumulating hydrogen gas "may potentially cause an explosion" in the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Daiichi plant. A similar scenario played out Saturday, when a blast caused by hydrogen buildup blew the roof off a concrete building housing the plant's No. 1 reactor.

[10:38 p.m. ET, 11:38 a.m. Tokyo] Approximately 2,000 bodies were found Monday in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's east coast, the Kyodo news agency reported.

[10:31 p.m. ET, 11:31 a.m. Tokyo] Japan's nuclear safety and industrial agency reported sounds of an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant's No. 3 reactor, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

White smoke could be seen rising from the facility at 11 a.m. Monday.

Workers have been flooding this reactor and the plant's No. 1 reactor with seawater to cool them after the earthquake and tsunami damaged the reactors' cooling systems.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said a day earlier that accumulating hydrogen gas "may potentially cause an explosion" in the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Daiichi plant. A similar scenario played out Saturday, when a blast caused by hydrogen buildup blew the roof off a concrete building housing the plant's No. 1 reactor. The reactor and its containment system were not damaged in the explosion at the No. 1 reactor.

[9:39 p.m. ET, 10:39 a.m. Tokyo] The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami has risen to 1,598, with hundreds more missing, authorities say. At least 1,720 people were missing and 1,923 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters. The number of dead is expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

[9:29 p.m. ET, 10:29 a.m. Tokyo] An aftershock with a magnitude of 5.8 was recorded 27 minutes ago off Japan's east coast, about 140 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

[9:09 p.m. ET, 10:09 a.m. Tokyo] Japan's NHK television network shows the rescue of three senior citizens who had been trapped in a tsunami-swept car for 20 hours.

[8:57 p.m. ET, 9:57 a.m. Tokyo] More information about the 60-year-old Japanese man who was rescued at sea Sunday after he was spotted clinging to the swept-away remains of his house: "I thought today was the last day of my life," Hiromitsu Shinkawa told his rescuers, according to Kyodo News Agency.

[8:51 p.m. ET, 9:51 a.m. Tokyo] The leading Japanese stock index skidded nearly 5% in the opening minutes Monday, the first full day of trading in Tokyo following last week's earthquake.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange opened as usual at 9 a.m. Japan time. The Nikkei-225 index tumbled 493 points, or 4.8%, to just above 9,700, according to the Nikkei website. It was down even further, almost 600 points, in the first few minutes before rebounding.

[8:32 p.m. ET, 9:32 a.m. Tokyo] In the following video, a victim of the tsunami - rescued by the Japanese military - says water swept her out of her home, and that she clung to a tree and then a mat before she was helped.

[7:50 p.m. ET, 8:50 a.m. Tokyo] About 2.5 million households - just over 4% of the total in Japan - were without electricity Sunday, said Ichiro Fujisaki, the nation's ambassador to the United States. Rolling blackouts are expected in some areas to preserve electricity.

FULL POST