Nightly News | March 15, 2011
>>> this nuclear crisis just one prong of what japan is dealing with. this is just day five since the 9.0 earthquake, the fifth largest in recorded history. and the tsunami that followed. japan is about 10% smaller than california. this graphic shows the area of the country affected by moderate to severe shaking in the quake. here's the surface area we believe that was covered by water in the tsunami. the recovery hasn't even started in some places, where it's just rubble. the suffering goes on daily, and then the earth shook again violently today. lester holt is in yamagata, good evening.
>> reporter: we've chosen to give a wider birth around the plant, which is why we are now in the mountains west of sendai. with each bit of troubling news from the nuclear plant , the anxiety and fear ratchets up across this region. many fear they are not getting the straight truth about the danger they face. in a region still reeling from the horror people can see. it's the one they can't see, radiation that now has some foreigners racing to leave japan .
>> the tsunami in the middle of japan or tokyo -- it's bad. the radiation, you cannot escape, you cannot see.
>> reporter: in the streets of tokyo, where face masks are warn to prevent the spread of germs. patience is wearing thin.
>> nobody knows the truth of what's happening and what's the effect.
>> reporter: tens of thousands have been evacuated from the exclusion zone , which now includes a no fly zone for commercial flights. close to the quake epicenter in sendai, i met japanese families too afraid of after shocks to return to their homes and at times too afraid to stand outside.
>> why are you going to your car right now? straunz because i heard that the rain is radio active and if it touches your skin, i will get some kind of skin disease .
>> reporter: all of this compounding the terror of quake and tsunami survivors already pushed to the brink. at a shelter, people work the phones still trying to connect with loved ones feared lost. there were more bodies pulled from the debris along the coast today. families still crying out, desperately searching for missing loved ones .
>> reporter: it's not just the survivors who are overwhelmed by what has happened here.
>> you wonder how the local people live here are to recover from it.
>> reporter: there are still occasional voices from the rubble. people don't die easily this rescuer says, that's why we are still here. for all they have lost, the people of japan have not lost hope. we can tell you that china has become the first country to organize mass evacuations of their citizens from northeast japan . the u.s. and many other countries continue to advise their citizens against nonessential travel to this country.
>> lester holt , thanks.