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Deadly Earthquake Rocks Western India; More Than 1,000 Suspected DeadAired January 26, 2001 - 2:17 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: One of our major stories today is the extremely powerful earthquake in Western India. You have heard Ari Fleischer, in his daily briefing, telling us about President George W. Bush expressing sadness at the quake and offered his condolences to victims' families in India and also in Pakistan -- the president also making a general offer of help to India and Pakistan.
Rescue workers today have been besieged by people begging for help in digging out their relatives. Felt across Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal as well, the quake toppled more than 100 high-rise buildings in heavily populated areas. It's feared as many as 1,000 people -- perhaps more -- have been killed.
CNN's Satinder Bindra is in one of the hardest-hit areas.
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day of national celebration marking India's 52nd Republic Day has turned into a day of loss and mourning. Hundreds are feared dead in one of the worst earthquakes to hit India in (INAUDIBLE)
Many, working with their bare hands, are struggling to clear rubble and pull men, women and children still trapped in the debris. Residents say what's needed is more heavy equipment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have no help. It has been five hours, but the crane has not come. Until the crane reaches here, we will not be able to remove the rubble. At least 12 families are still trapped inside the building. I don't know if they're alive. We will only know once they're taken out.
At least 100 schoolchildren are reportedly trapped in the building that was once their school. As relief workers continue to work around the clock, they're being assisted by at least 5,000 Indian soldiers.
ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: We have decided meet the emergency on a war footing. The states which are affected will be given every assistance from the center.
BINDRA: The densely populated city of Ahmedabad has suffered some of the most extensive damage. More than 50 high-rise building in this Western Indian city are completely flattened. Phone lines, power cables and water pipes have been damaged. Some roads appear to have split right open. Cave-ins are everywhere. The earthquake had an intensity of 7.9.
It was centered in the Western India region of Gujarat, just east of Ahmedabad. Relief supplies, doctors and portable medical units are now being flown into local airports that somehow survived major damage. A disaster control center is also being set up to coordinate relief efforts. Officials warn it's likely there will be aftershocks. They're advising residents not to stay indoors in buildings that have suffered structural damage.
(on camera): All that remains of many high-rises like this is just rubble. Relief workers knows they have a long and tiring time ahead. They will also to have to work very fast to rescue many people who are still alive.
Satinder Bindra, CNN, Ahmedabad, Western India.
WATERS: We have Satinder Bindra on the line now from the area we were just hearing about.
Satinder, earlier you were saying that the Indian government was waiting to ask for outside help. We have President Bush, I imagine among many international leaders, now waiting for the word from Mr. Vajpayee to send in relief. Is the call going out?
BINDRA: So far, Lou, there's been no official word from India, though Mr. George W. Bush, the president of the United States has offered. The Red Cross also has offered to put out an appeal for help. And the European Union also says it will send an investigating team. But so far, no word from India. India says it has sent 5,000 troops. It's also sending in relief, supplies, grain and doctors here.
Some of the airports here are still operational. They seem to have escaped damage. And India says it is going to continue with this relief effort on a -- quote "war footing" -- Lou.
WATERS: All right, Satinder Bindra, reporting from Western India on an extremely -- 7.9 is the strength of the earthquake there. And it is a major earthquake.
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