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CNN Today

Survival Stories Amid Search for Missing and Dead in India

Aired January 29, 2001 - 2:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: From western India, there are incredible stories of survival amid the chaotic search for the missing and the dead. More than 100 aftershocks have been felt since Friday's devastating earthquake. Village after village in ruins. More than 20,000 people feared dead. It is now Tuesday in that part of the world.

We begin this hour with CNN's Nic Robertson, who brings us a look at the conditions in Bhuj.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All day, the needy keep coming, 10,000 feet at this communal kitchen alone. And throughout the city, there are dozens more.

Shelter, too, is provided for the most hard hit. Fifty to a tent, crowding the tiny makeshift campground built on open space in the middle of the town.

Those lucky enough to own sturdier houses that survived the quake live in their gardens. Whole families outdoors in case of aftershocks. There're fears also about disease from the bodies and how to cope with their changed lives.

P. J. VORA, BHUJ RESIDENT: For the coming days, it is basic abilities like water and electricity, that is a must.

ROBERTSON: It is a sign of just how serious the upcoming problems are likely to be. The prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, toured the city. His message: for everyone in India to help out.

Elsewhere in the city, the search for the missing is still on. Indian army troops leading the effort, now helped by overseas teams and their technical equipment.

MIKE THOMAS, U.K. SEARCH & RESCUE: What we've been able to help bring is special equipments and some expertise in identifying and locating people who may still be alive.

ROBERTSON: Their presence raising hopes. Pownam Mulchandani shows a British team where she last saw her 12-year-old son Janak (ph) in their apartment as she left to go shopping minutes before the quake. Four days now since the disaster, and although a few people are still being save, she recognizes her son's chances may be slim.

POWNAM MULCHANDANI, QUAKE VICTIM: I wish you would have come earlier. Today is the fourth day.

ROBERTSON: Around for the next few days, at least, the international teams will likely pull out when there is no chance of finding anybody else alive.

(on camera): And while, for now at least, no one here appears to be giving up hope of finding lost, loved ones alive, the focus is beginning to shift to the future. India's chamber of commerce says the quake is going to cost $3.3 billion.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Bhuj, India.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Already, the Indian government has asked other nations for $1 1/2 billion in aid or loans. A misunderstanding with neighboring Pakistan over relief supplies also has been cleared up, as relief teams continue their frantic search for signs of life.

CNN's Satinder Bindra has the story of the person rescuers call "the miracle man."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Indian army soldiers clear tons of rubble from this building, they hear what sounds like a faint and feeble voice. The voice belongs to Prakash Gore (ph), trapped under tons of debris.

Shifting rubble too quickly can mean instant death for both Prakash Gore (ph) and the rescue team. So the Indians call in the experts, the Swiss disaster relief unit.

The rescuers race against time. After hours of digging, an unbelievable moment. Rescuers dig further frantically. They know for sure Prakash Gore (ph) is alive when he moves his hand ever so slightly. What's even more remarkable, say rescuers, is he's been talking like this for hours.

RAJA KARTHKETA, RESCUE WORKER: The very first thing he says, in fact, when we established communication with him, I spoke to him. He says, I just want to go back to work. I want to be on the feet, and I want to go to work.

BINDRA: A doctor reaches in to touch Prakash Gore (ph). He's still alive, but barely. More ominously, perhaps, for the first time since last night, he falls silent. Then suddenly, he talks again.

KARTHKEKA: He said that, you are not taking care of me. You are -- I don't want to hear -- listen to anything you say. Just get me out of here, this very moment."

BINDRA: Sixteen hours after rescuers first heard Prakash Gore (ph), they gingerly pull him to the surface, to sunshine, to fresh air, and a first glimpse in four days of one of his brothers.

JANAK GORE, BROTHER (through translator): All my aspirations have come true. They worked very hard to pull my brother out alive.

KARTHKEKA: He felt what he was going through was probably a temporary phase. He had absolute hope that he was going to get out.

BINDRA: With no food and water, rescuers say Prakash Gore (ph) is alive because of his stamina, courage and will to live.

(on camera): Right by Prakash Gore's (ph) side and still clutching his hand when he was pulled out: his wife. Rescuers say she died four days ago. Also dead, Prakash Gore's (ph) two-day-old son and nine other members of his family.

(voice-over): In Bhuj, every life saved is a cause for celebration. Within moments of Prakash Gore's (ph) rescue, workers pull out four-year-old Sonu Mahesh (ph). As she emerges from what many thought was her tomb, Sonu (ph) asks for an ice cream cone and her doll, stunning rescuers. Soon, they'll have to tell four-year-old Sonu (ph) she joins thousands of others in Bhuj who'll have to live the rest of their lives without their families.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, Bhuj, western India.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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