TODAY   |  March 14, 2011

Residents unaware of disaster’s magnitude in Japan

With many Japanese residents huddled in shelters without power, there is a lack of information about the reach and severity of the catastrophe. TODAY’s Ann Curry reports from Minamisanriku.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> crisis in japan. ann curry is in minamisanriku. i'm thinking with all that region has been through with the earthquake and tsunami over the past 72 hours now word of the potential nuclear crisis. are people on the streets there talking about that? the power plant 's only 50 miles to the south of where you are.

>> reporter: you know, that's interesting, matt. i think it's fair to say that people are so overwhelmed with all the other things they are facing that they may not be completely up to speed on this issue. the reality is they have been reassured by the government that the government will take care of them, they will be safe. i think some of the things that were revealed in your interview this morning, i don't know that people here fully know about. people are talking about eating, whether they have clean water . they are worried about power. they're very cold at night here because it's cold and they have no power. the kids are coughing. the elderly need more blankets. there is a pressing, immediate need. that's something they need to know more about.

>> it brings up an interesting point, ann. how easy is it for people there to get information? you have aftershocks, tsunami warnings. how are people staying in touch and staying informed?

>> reporter: there are radios. it looks like they are operated on batteries. people are listening to those. also, i don't think there are new newspapers but they are reading old newspapers. they are also in together in groups staying in evacuation centers inside disaster zones like this. there is a lot of communication -- verbal communication , one on one. they are sleeping on the floor, in the same room. so that's happening. buttal i would say that without television and without ready access that they have come to expect to the outside world it is fair to say that there is a certain amount of a lack of information about what's really happening outside. so, you know, i think that what we learn today in the interview you had this morning at least with the u.s. officials is that there is a lot -- there is a reason to be concerned. i think people here have a sense that in terms of a nuclear issue that the government has it under control.

>> ann curry reporting for us as she has all morning long. ann will be back in a little while. thank you very much.