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Dispatches from Sendai, Japan

CNBC Tokyo Bureau Chief Kaori Enjojiis on the ground in Sendai, Japan, a city that was particularly hard hit during Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

Enjoji is preparing to broadcast there for CNBC, but is also sending reports about her observations there.

Here is the latest:

March 14, 4:08 pm Tokyo time:

I talked to a man who said he walked to Sendai from the nuclear reactor in northern Miyagi prefecture called Onagawa. It is the northern-most reactor of the four along the eastern coast, straddling the two prefectures further south: Fukushima and Ibarag.

"I think there are about 2,000 workers stranded at Onogawa," Misao Takeda said.

He said he was contracted by Kajima Corp. to do construction work. He says he came to Natori in search of water and will try to find an evacuation center where he can stay for the night.

March 14, 2:50 pm Tokyo time:

Members of a rescue team climb into a house
Getty Images
Members of a rescue team climb into a house

I am watching rescue teams find bodies from areas where the tsunami first hit, the ones that swelled to ten meters high.

First they are using saws to cut through trees, cars, parts of what look like roofs to get to the body. They found another one now. A team of about thirty block the body with blue plastic sheeting out of respect. They say they have found four in the last three hours. Wrapped in blue vinyl, they will be taken to Sendai. The hum of the electric saw is echoing through the air. The sun is slowly starting to set.

March 14, 1:50 pm Tokyo time:

Some stores in Sendai city are open but people say they need to wait seven hours to get in. It is a sign that some supplies are getting into the city. People are carrying all they can carry in their hands. What many people say they want are gas cartridges, rationed to one per customer. They can use it to cook meals but that is not enough to stay warm at night as temperatures are close to freezing.

March 14, 5 am Tokyo time:

I can see a fire burning along the coast. It is 5 a.m. local time, and dawn has yet to break. It will probably be another hour before we see daylight. Somehow I think it is human nature to feel less desperation when it is daytime and bright.

Sendai Port
DigitalGlobe | Getty Images
Sendai Port

There are more helicopters and many self-defense forces along the highway, which is closed off to non-military personnel. I managed to get a pass that allows us access to these roads, which shows little structural damage even along the coast. The reason why many of the highways are closed is because tsunami waters carrying the debris have poured into the road.

The central business district of Sendai is pretty calm with little structural damage, remarkable given the scale of the quake. Some of the bigger buildings are allowing people to charge their mobile phones for ten-minute intervals and people are doing so on the sidewalk. With most phone lines down, Internet access is unavailable, and sending out sms has been the only way to communicate with the rest of the world.

As I spoke to one man recharging, I am awed by his calm.

In fact, many people are showing such resilience. Things will be different, I am sure, further up north, where an entire village is missing and dead bodies by the hundreds were found on the shore. My cameraman Hide and I will head out there later this afternoon.

It is close to freezing, but the weather has been about the only blessing for survivors and rescue workers. Spring has arrived a little earlier here, with temp up at around 15 degrees Celsuis (about 59 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and lots of sunshine.

There are no gasoline stands open in the city and I see lines of cars waiting for them to reopen with drivers sleeping in that line overnight.

It is Monday here and as businesses reopen for the first time here after the quake, there will be a clearer indication of the economic impact.

March 13, 7:22 pm Tokyo time:

I am now in Sendai city, where darkness has overtaken the city for the third night.

Damaged houses, cars and debris after the earthquake
Sankei | Getty Images
Damaged houses, cars and debris after the earthquake

As we crossed from the west towards this coastal city on the east, no one would guess at the devastation. Snow blanketed the rice paddies and rural communities looked suspended in time; just as they looked when I was in this region three years ago.

It took us ten hours to drive in from Tokyo. Yet slowly, there were signs of what was to come. Gaping holes in the highway, fallen trees, and pavements turned into bumps as they undulated during the quake.

A few moments later, it still looked like farmland. But something was different. Instead of dry land, the fields looked like swampland. I had arrived at the area along the coast where the biggest tsunami crashed.

As temperatures drop below freezing at night, the mud dries up, suspending cars, tree trunks and homes in their midst.

There are military personnel, but they say most of the evacuation is still being done by air, which is time consuming.

One resident some stores opened for a few hours today for the first time, a sign that supplies were starting to arrive. But she said there were people in line by the hundreds and by the time she got into a store, everything useful had been taken.

I can see an area in the distance where some electricity has been restored and we are headed there now. The only sound is of helicopters flying above.

The before half-meter resolution satellite image of Sendai, Japan was taken by the GeoEye-1 satellite on Nov. 15, 2009.
Source: GeoEye satellite image
The before half-meter resolution satellite image of Sendai, Japan was taken by the GeoEye-1 satellite on Nov. 15, 2009.

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