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CNN Today

Seattle Earthquake Could Have Been Worse

Aired March 1, 2001 - 4:28 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: At this time yesterday we were talking a lot about that Seattle earthquake. Today, nervous but determined people in the Pacific Northwest are cleaning up and they're trying to get back to business the day after this region was hit by its strongest earthquake in a half century. Experts say it could have been much worse if the quake had occurred closer to the surface of the earth. The focal point or the hypocenter of yesterday's 6.8 magnitude quake was 33 miles below the surface of earth.

Most of the 270 injuries involved linked to the quake are considered to be minor. The early damage estimate is $1 billion, but officials do say that the cost is growing. Two small aftershocks hit the region today, but there are no reports of any additional significant damage.

Joining us now from Seattle is CNN national correspondent Tony Clark -- Tony.

TONY CLARK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Joie, it's raining here in Seattle today; that is normal. In fact, many things here in Seattle are normal. In fact, if you take a look down the street, perhaps most of what you can see is the traffic, the sorts of things that you would see on any normal business day here in Seattle. But if you come around, you can see the sorts of things that are far from normal.

This was a fabric store, a place where people could get all kinds of fabrics. This was supposed to be the grand opening day, in fact; there are balloons inside there. When the earthquake hit yesterday morning, the walls started crumbling down. There have been estimates that here in northwest Washington, the damage could be upwards of $1 billion.

Today FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, a congressional delegation are going through -- they're assessing some of the damage; they're meeting with the governor today to talk about what can be done, what has happened here. In Olympia, the state capital of Washington, there is damage at the state capitol -- damage to the dome, damage to some of the buildings today. Officials, engineers and others were going through the buildings, trying to assess how much damage there is to those buildings -- having employees go in simply to pick up things but for the most part, as one of the police officers there noted, employees are being kept away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. DAVID COMBS, WASHINGTON STATE POLICE: Well, right now they're just going through all the buildings to make sure that they're safe. And they're allowing workings to come into the building -- the building has been cleared by GA -- to get some items out of their desks and their personal affects and things like that. Then they're being escorted into the building and then they're being escorted back out. They're not being allowed to stay in the building by themselves at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLARK: State employees are expected to be back at work sometime on Monday; but for people like the owner of this store and the people that work here, coming back to work will be sometime away.

Tony Clark, CNN, Seattle, Washington.

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