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Scope of Japan humanitarian crisis becomes clear

Friday marks a grim milestone. It's been one week since the massive earthquake and tsunami decimated much of northern Japan in a matter of minutes. Now, with search and rescue operations well under way, we're finally seeing the true face of this horrific disaster.

"Early Show" co-anchor Jeff Glor reported the physical damage from last week's disaster is now estimated at nearly $200 billion, but as rescue teams make their way into the hardest hit areas, it's become increasingly clear that the human costs are far greater than anyone could have imagined.

All across Japan, people bowed their heads and paused today, observing a minute of silence - exactly one week after the moment that transformed so many lives.

Complete coverage: Disaster in Japan
Pictures: Snow adds to Japan's misery

It was a sunny afternoon, at 2:46, when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake rattled people and buildings as far as 1,300 miles away.

Less than an hour later, tsunami waves up to 33 feet high crashed ashore.

And now, the numbers behind the tragedy keep growing. Nearly 6,000 people are confirmed dead. Almost a half million people are homeless. Another one million homes are without power. Survivors are without heat in snow and sub-freezing temperatures.

Yoko Takizawa, Kesennuma resident, said, "I was at work when the tsunami hit, and my husband was at home. So, he grabbed the dog and stuck it under his arm and just ran. All we have now is our dog."

Shelters, already crowded with the homeless, swelled with evacuees from the nuclear crisis.

All of them are living in school gyms and community centers. Many of them are elderly, struggling stoically with little food, water, or medicine.

In Kesennuma, near the quake's epicenter, people line up for hours for supplies rice packets and diapers. Each person is allowed to purchase no more than 10 items.

Mitsuko Ito, another Kesennuma resident, told CBS News, "I don't know what's happened to my daughter or to my son, I don't know if they're alive or not."

Rescue workers still cling to hope that they can find survivors. They've saved more than 15,000 people, but it's believed at least 10,000 remain missing.

An American rescuer told CBS News, "We're still hoping, but we don't know. We still considered to be in rescue mode, but as time goes by, the chances become less and less."

Rescue work is still underway in the devastated areas, but with more snow on the way, any chance of survival for those still trapped, is rapidly decreasing.

Glor added on "The Early Show, "It's also believed as many as 1,300 Americans were in northern Japan last Friday when the quake hit. Many families are still waiting for word."

Co-anchor Chris Wragge remarked the challenges facing humanitarian organizations in Japan are enormous. For more about the current issues facing the effort, Nan Buzard, senior director for international response and programs at the American Red Cross, appeared on "The Early Show" Friday morning from Tokoyo.

Buzard said the biggest challenge facing the people in the day-to-day life following the disasters is the cold.

"There have been very limited fuel deliveries," she said. "So there's no heat in most of the evacuation centers that we were in. And the elderly people, even if they're bundled up in blankets, it's still very, very cold and the kerosene heaters that are there just can't fight that cold. That's one of the worst problems that we have right now."

She added getting rescue workers to the people in need is another challenge.

Buzard said, "The Japanese Red Cross has launched about 100 medical teams to work in these evacuation centers. But, there are logistical challenges of getting people out there. And for us, obviously, the nuclear reactor situation is something that's on the back of our mind. Something on the front of our mind if we're driving fairly close to it. That is a second evacuated population that is going to potentially have some long-term needs, as well, in terms of potentially new homes and livelihoods. So the complexity of this for hundreds of thousands of people just cannot be underestimated."

Wragge asked, "On a personal note, I know each disaster has its own identity and you have seen your fair share over the years. But when you look around and you see what's going on, what thoughts come to mind for you?"

Buzard said, "What's really striking here is in one of the most developed, wealthy disaster-prepared nations, people are absolutely stunned. When we talk to local officials and people who are in these centers, they prepared all their lives for tsunamis and earthquakes. They didn't prepare for this. So they're upside down in how they feel about this. And I think it just, that's what's shocking to us, is to see how completely dazed and overwhelmed the population is. It's painful to see. It's painful to see not only their grief, but their fear."

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