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America's New War: Suffering From Burn Wounds From the Attack

Aired September 17, 2001 - 04:49   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well for many who survived last week's attacks, the ordeal did not end with an escape from fiery buildings. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on the burn victims from the attacks.

And please be advised, this report does contain some fairly graphic images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fireballs in hallways with no where to turn, temperatures soaring to a thousand degrees and burns, worse than you've ever seen before.

MANU DHINGRA, BURN VICTIM: All of a sudden as I'm walking in the hallway I hear a door explode and just this big ball of fire just engulfed me. I just froze, I didn't do anything, I just stood there.

GUPTA: Just stood there because he instantaneously sustained burns over 40 percent of his body when a fireball tore through the 83rd floor of the World Trade Center's tower one.

DR. ROGER YURT, WEILL CORNELL BURN CENTER: It must be a thousand degrees or more. It takes about one second of temperature at 155 degrees to get a third degree burn.

DHINGRA: I ran into my office and screaming I'm burnt, I'm burnt. There's a bomb -- bomb.

VASANA MUTUTANO, BURN VICTIM: All of a sudden the door, you know it just flew open and saw -- I just run, and we saw fire chasing my back and I fell down.

GUPTA: The fireball on the 73rd floor of tower one then passed over Vasana Mututano. It burned the flesh over her entire back and legs.

LING YOUNG, BURN VICTIM: I was very fortunate I was in the back of the elevator. This -- OK, anybody in front of me either killed, no leg, no face, it was just disgusting.

I tried to help her but then I couldn't hold on to her, so I tried to do it, but then I couldn't cross all those bodies, OK.

GUPTA: Well, we found them, some of the last ones out of the World Trade Center.

YOUNG: Because I mean out within a nick of time within five minutes I think the whole building collapsed. I think I'm lucky because I think I'm the last one out.

GUPTA: They are alive but at great cost. They sustained nearly indescribable injuries.

YURT: We had a patient with 100 percent burn. Total body all third degree burn. What was more shocking was seeing so many with big burns at the same time.

GUPTA: Many of the victims of Tuesday's attack probably didn't know the largest burn center in the country was just down the road.

MUTUTANO: I didn't know that there is such a place called burning unit before.

GUPTA: But now they credit Weill Cornell Burn Center and Dr. Roger Yurt with saving their lives, though he regrets the one that he couldn't save.

YURT: There's a possibility that a patient with 100 percent burn could survive, but it's very remote.

GUPTA: That patient?

YURT: The patient did not -- did not survive.

GUPTA: Many of the patients that did survive did so because of remarkable heroism.

DHINGRA: It's somebody from the building maintenance. I'm sure they came up and they said we have to evacuate, we have to evacuate. And I'm thinking how am I going to get down, you know, and I just -- all my arms are burnt, my back is burnt, face. And so one of my friends they're like, Manu, you have to get out, you have to get out. You know there's nobody here, you have to get out. So I just, I don't know how, I just jumped up and just started running down the stairs and people were very nice. They saw that I was burned and they let me go in front of them.

GUPTA: Now they consider themselves lucky and grateful.

MUTUTANO: All the doctor and nurses with international faces around here. They're -- is kind to me. They don't even know me.

DHINGRA: I'm just fortunate to be here right now.

GUPTA: But that luck comes at a price.

YOUNG: I was very, very, very lucky, but anybody -- any of my friends who was up on the 70th floor either they got crushed, or on the way down to the stairs they (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GUPTA: Ling Young lost all of her co-workers that day except for one, her best friend. Together they escaped, though they encountered separate fires along the way and made it to ground just in time.

YOUNG: She said I can't breathe, I've got to get the hell out of here. And they said, no, we've got to wait for one more. She says, if you don't let me get out of here I'm not going to be able to make it. Finally the EMS said, OK, let's go. After we turn around the corner, the whole building collapsed on us.

GUPTA: Surviving the attack took minutes, surviving their burns may take months, but their traumatic memories will last a lifetime.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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