Nightly News | April 01, 2011
>>> it was three weeks ago tonight we learned of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in northern japan and then the nuclear disaster that followed that. tonight here are the latest numbers. more than 11,000 are dead, more than 16,000 still officially listed as missing. today the u.s. military was enlisted in what's being called one of the largest recovery missions ever launched on the planet. an urgent three-day effort to find thousands still unaccounted for who may never be found. nbc's lee cowan is in tokyo for us tonight with more.
>> reporter: it's a grim turning point. the u.s. military marked three weeks since japan's disaster by helping in a final sweep for the missing. it's a massive effort. more than 100 helicopters, 65 ships, some 25,000 personnel, all searching for bodies washed ashore on coastlines previously inaccessible. for people like makiko, she fears it's her last hope. she's been scouring lists of evacuees looking for her parents, but to no avail. to find them, she says, is my only wish. at the troubled nuclear power plant , radioactive water continues to leak into the ocean. and today it was revealed into the groundwater as well. there are even traces found in beef. vegetable farmers whose spinach and other leafy crops were pulled from the market last week were out today trying to prove to customers that not everything grown near the plant is radioactive. this man has been farming this land for 40 years, but this greenhouse is now barren.
>> so this whole thing was spinach.
>> reporter: he tilled it under, just as he was told to do. but now he fears for his other crops, like tomatoes and cucumbers, which he insists are fine. so this is safe? [ speaking foreign language ]
>> reporter: really good. but reality and perception are two different things. he's already lost 70% of his business so far. in three weeks, he'll be planting his rice crop in the soil, and that's a crop he fears that could be even further stigma tiesed. it will eventually turn into a life-or-death situation, he says. for he and others like him, three weeks isn't the beginning of the end , it's just the end of the beginning. lee cowan, nbc news, tokyo.
>>> and this is an incredible story. hear heart-wrenching as well.