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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Continued Coverage Of The Tsunami Disaster

Aired January 1, 2005 - 14:00   ET

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


HUGH REMINGTON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to this special report, the "Tsunami Disaster." We're coming to you live from Beruwala (ph) in Southern Sri Lanka. I'm Hugh Remington. Special welcome to our U.S. viewers in this hour.
How the world has changed in this last week. We've seen the greatest humanitarian disaster since -- in human history, really, in the memory of our species. We've seen perhaps what is the start of the greatest reconstruction effort at least since post war Europe. We're going to go in this hour across the region, across the Tsunami zone to our CNN correspondents. We're going to cover everything from the eastern area from Indonesia and Thailand, across to the west coast of Africa. I should say all the way west to the east coast of Africa, 44500 kilometers from the original Epicenter.

We're going to start this hour in Indonesia. It is where the greatest death toll appears to be. This area closest to the Epicenter of the earthquake, lets not forget this earthquake was nine on the Richter scale. Itself an enormously destructive event even if you can forget the wave. And who can forget the wave? This is an area that has been most in need of aid where aid has not been getting in. But CNN's Mike Chinoy hitched a ride, an exclusive ride on the first U.S. military air lift into an area most desperately in need of help.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the first day of the year, we joined the U.S. Navy for a flight to a town that no longer exists. At Banda Aceh Airport, sailors from the aircraft carrier "USS Abraham Lincoln" loaded a SH60 helicopter with containers of milk and nutritional supplements. We climbed aboard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just as we spoke of. It will be open the whole flight.

CHINOY: And Commander Frank Michael with Lieutenant Bo Beeman and Chief Petty Officer Gerry Schwarz ease the chopper into the sky. It was the first U.S. military flight bringing relief to the areas worst hit by the disaster. The mission was to find the town of Keude Teunom, if there was any of it left and deliver food to the survivors if there were any. Keude Teunom population just under 10,000 was 110 kilometers, 70 miles south down the coast. Within minutes we were flying over a wasteland. These had been towns and villages.

The Tsunami left them looking like they'd been hit by a nuclear bomb. And the sea on this day seemed so calm. Eventually a few intact structures came into view, including several mosques. Evidently built more sturdily and able to withstand the waves. We neared Keude Teunom and then suddenly we saw them a small number of survivors. One emerged from the rubble and frantically raced towards us, but his hopes for help were dashed. There was no safe place near him for Commander Michael to land. It took ten minutes of circling to find a location, ten minutes to begin to absorb the unimaginable catastrophe that had befallen the town. We touched down in a cloud of dust.

Gerry Schwarz put the first box of milk out. And a crowd swarmed towards the chopper. They were people, but they acted like a hungry, wild pack. Fearing they might swamp the chopper, Gerry Schwarz pleaded with the crowd to move back.

CHINOY (on camera): We are the first people that these survivors have seen since the disaster. Their desperation is palpable. They've had nothing to eat, almost nothing to drink, their entire town is in ruins. These people, though, are at least alive. We've been flying for an hour to Banda Aceh along the coast and until now we didn't see a single living person.

(voice over): Aceh has drowned, this man cried. There's nothing left. We're finished. One man grabbed our microphone. Thank you, thank you. He repeated. As soon as the last box was gone Commander Michael lifted off, but a second SH-60 soon arrived carrying a U.S. Navy medical team. On the way back, the crew seemed lost in thought. The aircraft carrier "Abraham Lincoln" is steaming just off Banda Aceh it is the nerve center for the U.S. militaries relief operation. We landed to take on more fuel.

There are 6,500 sailors on this ship, a senior officer told me. They're dying to come ashore and help. Then we left the carrier, heading back for more supplies to Banda Aceh Airport now full of American, Australian and Indonesian relief planes.

CPO GERRY SCHWARZ, U.S. NAVY: It was absolutely overwhelming, I've got 20 years in naval aviation. I've picked up everyone from downed aviation to stranded mar-inters, never before have I experienced anything as overwhelming. Fearful yet exhilarating to see that we are actually helping those in need and they are clearly in need, dire need.

CMDR. FRANK MICHAEL, U.S. NAVY: We have a lot of helicopters and we're going to keep doing what we're doing.

CHINOY: Then it was back to Keude Teunom. Day one of a mission of mercy that will have to last a very long time. Mike Chinoy, CNN, Aceh, Indonesia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: Unforgettable scenes there from Mike Chinoy. Now billions of dollars has been donated around the world, has been pledged in these enormous aid mobilizations. The world realizes the extent of this disaster. They're also realizing what they can do. It is coming not just through governments, hundreds of millions of dollars but also from everything through children's piggy banks to individual donations in some cases to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

For some people, it is not enough to simply give money. One couple is not only organizing the flights of aid into some of these hard hit areas, they're even flying the stuff in themselves. Atika Schubert reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SCHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christian Von Strombeck and Susie Pudia (ph) are a husband and wife team. He flies, she owns Susie Air a company with two small Sessnek (ph) aircrafts. Susie's homeland of Indonesia was hit by disaster, they decided to pitch in. They used their planes to open a corridor to the west coast of Aceh, completely cut off from outside help. They were told it was impossible the air strip destroyed, but Christian, a German pilot of 16 years, was convinced he could land on the 600 meters of runway left. He was right.

CHRISTIAN VAN STROMBECK: We've carried quite a bit of load to there. We also hope that what we do gives many people hope. That's one very important thing that the people see that somebody cares for them and somebody's able to come to them.

SCHUBERT: And come, they did. Opening the door to the most devastated and isolated area hit by this disaster. Upon their landing, soldiers stranded here quickly began painting and repairing the runway as best they could. Now, other relief workers can follow. Susi Air now flies three or four flights a day, carrying supplies and information. This woman pleaded to travel with them to find her family, missing in Aceh's west coast. As they fly over the devastated area, at first she doesn't recognize her home town, 80 percent of it washed out to sea.

Susi tries to break the news to her gently, but there's no easy way to say it. Susi Air also delivers good news. These soldiers have had no contact with the outside world. They write down numbers and names hoping that Susi Air will let their families know they're alive and well. Susi Air was also first to verify that the island closest to the Epicenter had not been destroyed as many had feared, that it survived intact but in need of help. Its air strip fully operational.

SUSI: But I think it needs some time that gets a little bit sometimes a little bit crazy to break the thing through. Yes. That it's here. And I think other people has to do the same.

SCHUBERT: Perhaps the most important cargo on Susi Air is hope. Atika Schubert, CNN, over the coast of west Aceh, Indonesia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: In the course of this week, every time we felt as if we're getting a grip on the scale of this event, this disaster, it keeps on surprising us. We keep on learning more. Often it is not stuff that you would necessarily want to learn. CNN's Harris Whitbeck flew to the east of Sri Lanka, then he continued going even further out into the Indian Ocean, he came to the little island of Kisanea. This is the first time anyone has had a look at how Kisanea has survived this Tsunami disaster. The news is not altogether good.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the island of Keenia. An all-too familiar scene plays itself out once again. A searcher looks for and finds the remains of yet another victim of the tsunami. As they silently watch volunteers carefully carry the body away, residents of this tiny island do not seem to emerge from the shock caused by the violence of nature. Dozens of entire families disappeared from this small fishing community.

The survivors now refer to it as the neighborhood of death. And a little over a week after the tsunami hit, few harbor hopes that life will ever return. When the tsunami hit, he had to run from his house carrying his two small brothers, water lapping at his knees. The terror from that day, he says, will keep him away from this land forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to leave the area. I have a fright to come to this area.

WHITBECK: Refugee camps are filled with people who tell similar stories. Crammed into schools and other public buildings, they bear the chaos of the camps as they wait for a solution to the abrupt changes their lives have suffered. This camp is being run by Spanish firefighters who arrived in Sri Lanka expecting to rescue survivors. "We used our dogs to look for victims he says, but they were not successful because they're trained to look for live people, not dead bodies." Death left its mark on the tiny island. A mark that to many is indelible. Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Kiniya Island, off Sri Lanka.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: When we return, we'll look further west to other areas that have been affected by this tsunami. To the Maldives Islands and all the way to the east coast of Africa to Somalia. Stay with us on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When things like this happen we pull together. Through all the trial and tribulation, we'll come through.

REMINGTON: We're coming to you live from southern Sri Lanka. Now, when news of this tsunami disaster first started to spread fears were being expressed fairly early on about the Maldives Island. Why? Because they're almost at sea level. They have no high mountain ranges to prop them up. Ocean, if they wanted to, could sweep right over the top of them. Then as the focus started to shift to other places, to Indonesia, to India, to Thailand, into Sri Lanka itself the Maldives faded somewhat from view. How, in fact, have the Maldives survived this terrible disaster? We have now with us the Maldives ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Muhammad Lateef. Thank you very much for joining us. What are conditions like in your homeland?

DR MUHAMMAD LATEEF, MALDIVES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITHED NATIONS: The situation is very serious. Still it is in disarray, especially at community level. The government is organizing arrangements, emergency arrangements, task forces. But still the situation is very bad. Nine islands, as you just described, as in Aceh, nine islands are totally devastated. Parts of islands have disappeared.

REMINGTON: Is it possible even yet to get a full grasp of what the impact has been given the archipelago is stretched over such a wide area, I presume communications can be difficult. Do you believe even at this stage you really even know what you're dealing with?

LATEEF: Actually, the wave swept right across end to end the entire archipelago. People expected to disappear entirely from the surface, but we didn't. I'm sure there are footages and video clips, especially with the tourists, most of whom, quite a few of them are honeymooners. We don't have the audio visual coverage because at the initial stage for a few days many, many atolls were out of contact. We still have islands that are still not able to establish a right of contact. And you and I have people who have not heard from family members. We don't fear them dead, but still communication is not that well established yet. The situation is not really very good. But it is a very small country.

REMINGTON: So what are the priorities for you then? Is it drinking water, as it is in so many other places and sanitation?

LATEEF: Yes, it is. It has not discriminated in any country as such. We have the same, similar problems that you are describing on your TV. We have the same problem, food, water, clothes and emergency tents and rehabilitation as quickly as possible. In the interim, it is very chaotic. Displaced people are in -- not just displaced people, the entire population. Yesterday there was a rumor of another wave and our entire country went into panic. Can you imagine a small island state like this at the sea level the kind of psychological impact they would have in this situation that they are in currently.

REMINGTON: The Maldives, of course, there's no high ground to run to is there? Do you feel that you're getting sufficient notice in a sense in the world in terms of aid and help from outside?

LATEEF: We are hoping that we will get the proportionate aid and attention from the international world. I think we did get at the early stages the media gave us enough attention. And even our friendly countries responded very quickly, even the United States from the White House, as you know, I announced assistance and the Maldives name was mentioned second in the list. And I think we are very hopeful we will get the attention of the international assistance. But we still need media coverage I think, I have a feeling.

REMINGTON: OK Dr. Lateef I can assure you that we'll keep watching. Thank you very much for joining us.

Somalia of course kept on sweeping west, Somalia on the east coast of Africa has had such a blighted history. You might almost have imagined that it could have escaped an earthquake and a tsunami with an epicenter that's 4500 kilometers away. It did not. It has suffered itself. CNN's Jim Clancy brings us up to date. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A United Nations team flying over some of the hardest hit areas of Somalia. Below, what is left of Hafoon Island, located more than a 1,000 kilometers northeast of the capital Mogadishu.

TOMMY THOMPSON, U.N. TEAM: I feel it is partially wiped out. That's quite clear from the photographs and our own findings there.

CLANCY: Hafoon was home to about 7,000 people before last Sunday. Today many of them are said to be homeless, as parts of the island and surrounding areas are still under water. Assessing the full scale of the disaster in Somalia is proving difficult. Many of the areas most affected are unreachable by road. Another problem the country is without a central authority. An interim government that was recently formed is still in exile in neighboring Kenya. And warlords are still in charge of many provinces.

Safety concerns prevent the United Nations teams from flying over certain areas because of the presence of large numbers of anti- aircraft guns. There is still no confirmation of the exact number of those who died when the tsunami hit. Initial reports from the affected area said close to 1,000 people were killed. But the transitional government in exile puts the number at more than 200, and says those who survived are in desperate need of help.

ALI MOHAMMED GEDI, INTERIM SOMALI PRIME MINISTER: The situation is desperate. Because people who have no shelter, who have no food, who you can imagine most people are the children and all the people.

CLANCY: The prime minister says if assistance is not rushed to the area, more people may die.

GEDI: This is a great threat, so it is the priority of the international that are expected to provide of the health organizations of the U.N. and other international organizations.

CLANCY: Most reports put the number at displaced people between 30,000 and 50,000. The U.N. team expressed frustration at not being able to confirm these numbers.

THOMPSON: We can't see these areas that have been flooded, the insides of the houses have been swept clean. There is a limit to what we can and can't see from the air.

CLANCEY: The situation is made worse by the misery, 13 years of civil war in Somalia have brought on its people. The world food program says it has been able to get food aid to about 15,000 people since the tsunami hit. But the question remains, how many more thousands of people are there whose very survival may depend on getting aid and getting it soon? Jim Clancy for "Inside Africa."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: When we return, the economic impact. What does it mean when millions of workers across this region rely on businesses that are now little more than piles of rubble? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONI BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: At first it seemed a terrible disaster, a terrible tragedy. But as the days have gone on, people have realized it's a global catastrophe. It is the absolute horror of what has been happened and how many different people's lives have been touched in different ways. Even in our own country, most of us know people who have been touched by it. But it is also the fact that the consequences of this are not just short term and immediate but long term and will require a great deal of work by the international community for months if not years to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REMINGTON: As Toni Blair says so many things to think about. There is immediate survival, there is aid, there is reconstruction, there is jobs. What does it mean when a company that employs a couple hundred workers in a place like Sri Lanka suddenly finds itself to be a pile of rubble? Earlier today I spoke with a Sri Lankan hotel operator Kenneth Gisinger (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KENNETH GISINGER (ph), HOTEL OPERATOR: And then the water came inside. And no one knew what was going on. The next thing we knew was the water went back. And the whole thing was dry. The water here the side of the reef was completely empty. And the fish were jumping up. And it dropped there. Beyond the reef and on the left.

REMINGTON: Those are rocks.

GISINGER (ph): That was more than 30 feet of the rock we saw and the whole thing was empty. Dry.

REMINTON: It was dry all the way there.

GISINGER (ph):P And I believe it was more than 400 meters.

REMINGTON: So what happened when the third big wave came through?

GINSINGER (ph): It destroyed everything. We has a restaurant there, it just took that away. Then up near those there. And it hit the rooms. And then continued destroying everything in sight. And went towards the village.

REMINGTON: And what about all this here?

GINSINGER (ph): These are where people live.

REMINGTON: Who lives in those places?

GINSINGER (ph): Those are our staff quarters. REMINGTON: So your workers at the moment, do they not really have a job, but many of them don't have anywhere to live?

GINSINGER (ph): That's right. Most of them are from the area. But some of them their houses in the area have been destroyed. So they don't have a job and don't have a place to stay as well.

REMINGTON: Is there any social welfare assistance in Sri Lanka that helps people out of work?

GINSINGER (ph): I think the numbers we are talking is too large for them to do it. But I think more than what happened on that day, it's becoming more and more complicated now, the problems.

REMINGTON: Why is that?

GINSINGER (ph): Like people are homeless, jobless. They can't -- people who can afford to buy some food, sometimes they don't have access to food. And especially the fresh water.

REMINGTON: The shops have gone.

GINSINGER (ph): The shops are gone. There's no fresh water in this area. All contaminated. And even the cleaning up operation hasn't started yet.

REMINGTON: So tourism has been good?

GINSINGER (ph): Very good. For the last four or five months it has been very good. We had 90 percent continuously. When this wave, we were running full house operation with some of the guests in house.

REMINGTON: And that's how high the water.

GINSINGER (ph): That's the high mark of the water. Water came up right up to the ceiling. As you can see there and it was under water. And it just continued.

REMINGTON: Did you see it coming in from here?

GINSINGER (ph): Yes, I did.

REMINGTON: What did it look like?

GINSINGER (ph): It was very scary. And the water with sand and mud, just roll up and while I was standing there.

REMINGTON: In terms of the personal stuff, all the stuff that makes life precious, photographs and so on.

GINSINGER (ph): Yes, we lost everything. I lost my identi-card and my driver's license, I just found it.

REMINGTON: Now you run a hotel with no one here anymore.

GINSINGER (ph): That's right. REMINGTON: There's a lot gone, isn't it?

GINSINGER (ph): In a couple of minutes.

REMINGTON: When we come back, the risks, some believe the inevitably of epidemic. And we will take a Sri Lanka road trip. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REMINGTON: Welcome back. We're coming to you live from Beruwala (ph) in southern Sri Lanka for this CNN special report on the Tsunami disaster. I'm Hugh Remington. Thanks for joining us.

Now if you go anywhere in the Tsunami join our correspondents will tell you that you will see things that are very often extraordinary things that are very often unforgettable. Things that very often are not what you'd expect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON (voice over): Come with us for a short drive down the Sri Lanken coastline, where some aid is starting to arrive. The Dutch funded agency involved here says the desperation is getting greater rather than less. Livelihoods are gone in this village as well as lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many people along the road they have washed off and still the bodies are not found. Sometimes the families have lost two or three people.

REMINGTON: Here not even the wild monkeys are safe. The trees still standing are dying. They've been poisoned by the saltwater surge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel this whole place will become a desert.

REMINGTON: Down the road, we find a police inspector using vital drinking water to clean up his house. He admits there's no safe water in the area, but he doesn't seem too much concerned. People nearby are reduced to beseeching passing traffic for food and drink. The further we go, the worse it gets.

The search for bodies continues under awful and unhygienic conditions.

REMINGTON (on camera): Even now, as you can see behind me, bodies lie unidentified and still unburied, although an earth moving piece of equipment has just been brought in. There's no ceremony. A hole is being dug in the sand. And that's where these people will be interred.

REMINGTON (voice over): The bodies are being pulled from the train that was wiped out with 1,000 dead. This man looks at every body, but still finds no sign of his brother and his wife. RICHMOND WIESEXERA (ph): We can't identify them because they are so damaged. So I saw about 1,000 bodies that they did bury with the bulldozers.

REMINGTON: The bodies that are recovered will rest near the sea that claimed them. On Sri Lanka's national day of mourning, it is hard to imagine a bleaker end.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: Now, from the early hours of this disaster, India was very quick to offer support and help to Sri Lanka. Initially the form of warships and helicopters, it has since stepped up that aid, 11 warships are now off the Sri Lanka coast, helping out where they can not only medical help but also with seismic surveys so that if there is any more movement underneath the water, they hope to be able to give some sort of new tsunami warning. That's despite the fact that India has plenty of problems of its own out of this Tsunami disaster. CNN's Satinder Bindra got on board one of those Indian warships for this exclusive look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the largest humanitarian mission undertaken by the Indian navy outside its waters. In all it's deployed 11 ships in this Tsunami struck region. And seven of these ships are along the coast of Sri Lanka. Three of the Indian shops are just off the coast of Gaul which is in southern Sri Lanka. I'm standing on one of them and there are two other ships here, one is a floating medical hospital, the other ship is carrying supplies and a lot of exports that can help Sri Lanka as it continues to reconstruct it's shattered economy.

Now the Indian ships are carrying a lot of medical supplies, a lot of other essential ingredients that Sri Lanka will need. So far Indian helicopters on board these ships have delivered six tons of supplies. They say they have the capacity to deliver 20 tons more. India has donated $25 million to Sri Lanka. And Indian officials say this symbolizes the warm ties that exists between these neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a bond that ties ordinary Sri Lankans and ordinary Indians that is most heartening to witness, especially in times such as these. People in India have reached out to people in Sri Lanka.

BINDRA: The Indian navy's most immediate task is to clear out the harbor. Several fishing boats and trawlers are sunken there. The Indians are most concerned about the fear of an epidemic. They say they're watching the situation here along the southern coast closely. Satinder Bindra, CNN, on board the Isutledge (ph) along Sri Lanka's southern coast.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: Now lying over everything at this stage is the fear of disease, the risk of epidemic, the belief in some quarters that the epidemic is now almost inevitable as the first reports of possible cholera turn up in Sri Lanka. We're joined now by an expert from the Center for Disease Control, Dr Mark Keim. Thanks for joining us Dr. Keim. Do you share the view that an epidemic somewhere in the tsunami zone is now effectively inevitable?

DR. MARK KEIM, CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL: That's not necessarily the case. When we look at prior examples of Tsunamies in the past or other natural disasters. It has been the experience in prior natural disasters that outbreaks of large proportions involving epidemics are actually relatively rare. That's not to say that we shouldn't be very diligent in looking for those. I know the activities that are now well under way are establishing surveillance systems and looking for the possibility of outbreaks of diarrhea illnesses and respitetory diseases. Other kinds of concerns for illnesses that may be associated with the aftermath of a disaster.

REMINGTON: Are there any particular areas, as we look at the map around the Tsunami zone, that you believe might be most vulnerable?

KEIM: Well it is hard to judge that from here in Atlanta because obviously we don't have the on ground information related to that. But we can at least say that we know that those areas that are most widely affected by natural disasters and tsunami's in particular, are the ones that the infrastructure most heavily degraded are those that we can expect to have the most need.

Right now, the first and foremost concerns are treating those people that have been injured, of managing the bodies in a respectful and dignified manner in addition to providing water, food, sanitation, and shelter for those disaster victims that are survivors and still are going to be, need response and recovery over the next several months.

REMINGTON: Now there are --

(AUDIO GAP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REMINGTON: Welcome back to Sri Lanka. We're coming to you live, perhaps not surprising under the circumstances, we lost the line just a few moments ago. Let's return to our guest, Dr. Mark Keim from the Center of Disease Control. The question I was interested in was with so many people traveling in and out of zones that are now under stress because of this tsunami disaster, is there any danger if disease outbreaks do come, that they'll rapidly spread not only through around this area but international as well, perhaps back to home countries?

KEIM: Well certainly the health care responders and promoting the public health of the responding communities is definitely a very important and critical goal for minimizing the effects of this tsunami disaster itself. And those workers that are coming into the area, many of them have ongoing occupational health programs. In addition, there's guidance and CDCs developing and also other international organizations are developing with respect to guidelines for responders that work in austere environments in particular. One of the other aspects that will be added to this in the future will be guidelines for those responders that may be returning to the United States or returning to other areas of the world where there may also be need for increased surveillance and information for those people as to what kind of symptoms to watch for and what kind of medical care can be offered in their respective countries.

REMINGTON: Let's hope there is no outbreak. Dr. Mark Keim thank you very much for joining us there from Atlanta.

Now, one area that is under a great deal of stress is the northern part of Sri Lanka. Tamil Tiger controlled northern Sri Lanka. There are reports today from our correspondent (IN AUDIBLE) that up to 40,000 people might die in the final count up there. That's according to sources among the Tamil rebels that control that part of the country. We have this report on the difficulty of getting aid into those areas. The difficulty that's been made even worse by some really atrocious weather. This is report from ITN's Harry Smith.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRY SMITH, ITN (voice over): For the people of eastern Sri Lanka, it's the last thing they needed. As they struggle to bring aid to thousands of disaster victims, two days of torrential rain have turned streets into rivers. Communications have already been hit by roads crumbling from the impact of the Tsunami. Now many roads further inland are blocked by floodwater. Our efforts to reach the coast involve many detours before we found one flood shallow enough to cross.

We also had to pass from Sri Lankan military control into the territory of the Tamil Tigers who fought a long and bloody war here, which killed tens of thousands before a cease-fire two years ago. This coastline was one of the worst hit in Sunday's disaster. Its low lying towns took the full force of the giant wave. After a few years of peace, the forces of nature have brought death and destruction back to this part of Sri Lanka. And its nature which is now prolonging the agony for those who survived. In the clusters of the convent we found 700 refugees. The nuns providing them with food and shelter say they are running out of supplies and urgently need outside help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a week we can just help out, but we really need more to continue in this way.

SMITH: Some aid is being handed out. But most like this comes from local donations. People here said their remoteness from the capital Colombo and the fact that they're camels puts them at the end of the queue. With more rain forecast Sri Lankens can't count on nature to give them a helping hand, but they hope that the rest of the world will.

Harry Smith, ITV News, eastern Sri Lanka.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: And indeed it's not just rain in the forecast but rain continues to fall in eastern Sri Lanka, just exacerbating that terrible effort to get aid to that area which has been wiped so heavily clean. That is a low lying eastern in eastern Sri Lanka with many lagoons just behind the coastal sandy strip and in many cases the waves just swept right across that coastal strip and pushed people into the lagoons. The rain is making things pretty miserable.

Let's go now to the CNN Weather Center to see what is in store, Martin Jeanes.

MARTIN JEANES, CNN METEOTOROLIST: It is not good news here actually in the forecast for Sri Lanka at all. You're right in saying that the region has seen a lot of rain over the past couple of days. In fact some regions up to 300 millimeters falling in just 24 hours. The only comfort really will be on Sunday where we'll find much of Sri Lanka seeing dry conditions except for the center piece. All the time I think for Tamil Nadu, southeast India dry conditions, the temperatures always hovering around the 30 Celsius mark of course.

More rain is set to move across Sri Lanka in the days ahead. And we will check our preset forecast in a moment. Scattered showers for the Nicobar (ph)Islands. Across Sumatra, you can see the big blob of cloud just off the northwestern coast of Sumatra, there's heavy showers in the forecast there. But I think our main concern at least over the next couple of days will be Sri Lanka. Here is our rain forecast. The green showing the rain, the deeper greens the heavier rain, the yellows even heavier. Watch Sir Lanka, watch the eastern coast as we go through the course Sunday. That rain pulling right across the east there as we head our forecast into Monday. That rain going across much of Sri Lanka heavy at that. Particularly in the east there. And even clipping into southeastern regions of India as we head from Monday into Tuesday.

We'll also continue to see the heavier rains affecting much of Indonesia and more particularly Sumatra as we go from Monday into Tuesday. The dryer conditions to the north. Heavy monsoal showers and all the time hot and humid. You can see the temperatures there hovering around or above the 30 Celsius mark. Somalia of course hit by the giant waves as well. Forecasts here for the next couple of days mostly dry, again we'll find the temperatures around the 30 Celsius mark.

More showers just off shore, but I think the Somalia it will remain mainly dry. Some other big weather stories to keep an eye, of course that tropical cyclone just off the northwestern coast of India, I should say Australia. It is actually heading to the northeast. But as we go through the next few days, it will begin to take a southerly turn. We could see some impact across the coast there and it will be strengthening of course all the time. Iran saw serious flooding last week across the south. Good news here that rain now shifting well away to the east there. As we head into Europe, our main weather will be across the north very windy conditions. Gale force conditions for many areas over the next couple of days. Do take care if you're in that part of the world.

Hugh, back to you now in Sri Lanka. REMINGTON: Thank you very much, Martin. When we return, a somber New Year. Now the world saw in 2005 in the shadow of the Tsunami. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REMINGTON: Welcome back. We're coming to you live from southern Sri Lanka. Now, over the course of the last few days, so many people who were tourists in Sri Lanka or in Thailand and other parts of this zone have been returning home in all sorts of states, bringing with them all kinds of stories, stories that are unforgettable. Stories that have scarified their relatives and friends back home. Gary Cotril in London's Heathrow Airport went out to talk to a few of those freshly off the plane.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY COTRIL, ITV NEWS, (voice over): Home from the horror, but not free from it.

AMANDA SIMONS: I went under so many times, I can't believe I came back up.

COTRIL: Amanda Simons is in a wheelchair as a result of her ordeal, but her wounds are just more physical she's one of the few to escape from Kylack (ph), Thailand's worst affected beach where more than 2,000 holiday makers died. Her hotel collapsed under the force of the wave.

SIMONS: Then the current just took me out and I got trapped between some concrete. And this kind man, he pulled me out. But then I saw his body washed up.

COTRIL: Amanda feels guilty about had her rescuer's death and sorry she couldn't do more to help others.

SIMONS: There's a girl that I can't find by the name of Matilda. She was from Argentina. We were in the sea together. She said, take my hand. No, I can't. Because I knew I couldn't hold on to someone. You couldn't be strong and be on your own. I didn't take her hand. When the next wave came, she didn't come back up.

COTRIL: Amanda's boyfriend is angry. He says British officials in Thailand left them stranded without food, money or documents.

DARYL PHILLIPS:P All the other countries have stuff. Those who were not injured first class home free. We had nothing. Our tickets (INAUDIBLE) the sea.

COTRIL: Many homecoming Britton's are struggling to deal with the things they've seen and experienced. Amanda Simons is no exception.

SIMONS: Someone up there didn't want me to go, did they? And I made it. But it's not fair all the people that didn't make it.

COTRIL: Gary Cotril, ITV News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: Now, anyone who has done a bit of traveling in the world knows that the Scandinavians are among the world's great travelers. With the cold northern winters, it has long been a rite of passage for young Scandinavians to travel to the tropics to see in Christmas and the New Year. As a result of that, so many from Sweden, from Denmark, from Norway, from Finland have suffered and are still missing from this disaster.

Robyn Curnow reports on how in Sweden this Tsunami tragedy that brought the country virtually to a standstill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Flags half mast. A cold, sad start to the New Year. These icy Stockholm streets, a world away from giant waves, submerged palm trees and a battered coastline. But the Asian catastrophe is also a Scandinavian tragedy. To escape the long, cold, dark winters here in Sweden, about 20,000 Swedes travel to Thailand for a sunny beach holiday this Christmas. Now Swedish media is reporting that nearly a quarter of them are still missing, presumed dead.

More Swedes died on a far away beaches of Thailand than any other foreign nationals. Some survivors are still there searching for missing loved ones. Others like these two au pairs are home but for Charlotte and Erica, Thailand is never far away from their thoughts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want it to go away, actually. It feels bad to be home in a way because you're still so there. In your mind, in your feelings. And you never can away.

CURNOW: They can't let go just yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I saw water down at my feet. Thin looked up slowly. And I saw water from me and myself to horizon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn't see anything else. Just water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just water coming towards us.

CURNOW They and the family they were with were separated by the mighty waves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I took one of the little children in my -- to me. And the roof came down on my head. And I dropped her. Luckily she got caught under the water. She was stuck. So she didn't disappear with the --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The..

CURNOW: Plucking up the little girl from the waves Charlotte told the 3-year-old to hold on to her. They clung to each other, battling to stay afloat for the next three hours. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The little girl talked to me and I talked to her. She told me she didn't want to go for this ride anymore. She was tired. And we were both really tired.

CURNOW: They were rescued by Thai fishermen hours later. The little girl's 1-year-old brother is still missing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We thought we were going to die. And then you -- I don't think you can imagine the feeling.

CURNOW: Nobody here can quite imagine it. On this official day of mourning Swedes still battling to grasp the enormity of their loss. Robyn Curnow CNN, Stockholm, Sweden.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: Well, it is 2005. It has been a somber New Year. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports on how the world has seen in the birth of this New Year in the shadow of disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): The sadness surrounds them. Sorrow in nearly every face. In Phuket, Thailand, this isn't how anyone planned to bring in 2005. A massive candlelight vigil mourning those lost, remembering those still missing. In Indonesia, most government agencies canceled fireworks displays and urged people instead to pray. Across India, New Year's celebrations were also canceled. As one official said, it doesn't feel like to host parties.

There was a minute of silence before midnight in Sydney, Australia, where authorities said it was too late to cancel the New Year's Eve gathering in Sydney Harbor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one.

COOPER: TV coverage of the Sydney fireworks turned into a telethon for Tsunami victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The giant disco ball we're hanging from the Sydney Harbor Bridge it doesn't get much better than that. Of course tonight we are here raising money for a very important appeal. Tonight we ask you to dig deep and give generously.

COOPER: It might have sounded a little unusual, but they raised $750,000. There was a pal over New Year's celebrations in Europe. In Paris, black cloth draped the champs-lyses. In Berlin, flags on government buildings greeted the New Year at half staff. At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II prayed for victims of what he called this huge tragedy. He also urged the world community to rush aid to the survivors.

New Year's festivities in Sweden, in Norway, in Denmark and Finland were canceled as well. Mindful of the images we've all been seeing, officials there called on people to ring in 2005 with dignity.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REMINGTON: And that's it for this special report once again for CNN. We have been coming to you live from Berwalick (ph) in southern Sri Lanken, I'm Hugh Remington from the entire CNN team here in the field. Thanks very much for joining us. Don't forget we have correspondents right across the Somali zone and we will be keeping you up to date with every new development as it comes. Thanks for watching, stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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