TODAY   |  March 15, 2011

At least 15,000 people missing in Japan

As international aid pours into the devastated northeast region of Japan’s main island, bodies pulled out to sea by the quake-fueled tsunami are starting to wash ashore. TODAY’s Ann Curry reports from Minamisanriku.

Share This:

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

>> humanitarian disaster unfolding in japan . ann curry is in minamisanriku, the small fishing village .

>> reporter: even without the nuclear threat, japan 's disaster is deepening. with 2,500 confirmed deaths and 15,000 people missing and yet another terrible discovery today. along japan 's coast, a grim task. troops working steadily to recover a reported 2,000 bodies that began washing ashore today. also today, we saw our first convoy of military vehicles in the ravaged area. this while much of the country and the world focus on the safety of the nation's nuclear power plant while people living near the reactors are being scanned for radiation, half a million other people are living in shelters and with limited access to tv, radio or current newspapers, these women tell me they know little about the nuclear problems. what do you know about what's happening at the nuclear power plant ? [ speaking in a foreign language ]

>> reporter: this woman says there are no instructions. we have been told not to go outside. in the coastal town where 17,000 people used to live and more than half of the residents have disappeared, hope is fleeting.

>> translator: my home has washed away. i don't know what to say. i hope my daughter is alive somewhere.

>> reporter: lee cowjuan traveled to a makeshift morgue.

>> this is what's left of the lower floor. this is the third floor. looks like one of the patient wards. nobody in here would have stood a chance. they were proud of the hospital. this is a photo album we found with pictures of what the hospital looked like in better days.

>> reporter: since the u.s. navy delivered supplies on sunday more than 90 countries have offered aid, much of which is yet to get to victims. an early tally by the american red cross shows as of monday, $23 million in donations have been offered to help japan .

>> i want to reiterate america's support for the people of japan , some of our closest friends and allies.

>> reporter: tokyo, a financial hub of asia, has been paralyzed with trains out of service and major stores closed. and japan 's stock market lost 13% of its value as big companies like toyota announced they would be closed at least until thursday. everyone watches and waits for miracles like this 4-month-old survivor pulled from beneath the are you able frm rubble, now reunited with her father. matt, late today, more good news. we heard that a 70-year-old woman who was in a house that was swept away by the tsunami has been found. she was suffering from hypothermia but she was alive and is now being treated in a hospital. matt?

>> small miracles in the wake of such devastation. ann, thank you very much. we'll check in with you later. meanwhile