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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Swede Braves Waves to Save Drowning Man; Children Hit Particularly Hard by Tsunami
Aired January 3, 2005 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper in Sri Lanka along with Paula Zahn in New York. The aid trickles in. The death toll is rising. A CNN special report "Turning the Tide" starts right now.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN HOST: President Bush stands shoulder to shoulder with former presidents and asks Americans to continue to dig deep into their pockets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are showing the compassion of our nation in the swift response. But the greatest source of America's generosity is not our government it's the good heart of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: A miraculous story of survival. About a young man who escaped death in a train while hundreds drowned in their seats. Anderson Cooper traveled to the site of the train crash and found the man whose house helped save this young man's life.
They call him the miracle boy. A Swedish child found in the debris of the tsunami and reunited with his family. Tonight his rescuers come forward to share their story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day we had him, he was not talking, not playing. Not very -- very out of it. We were happy to see he looked normal again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: A parent's worst nightmare. A daughter swept away by the sea. Later her body recovered by her fiance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was spared so that can bring her home to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Tonight my interview with Kelly's fiance and her parents who moments ago were given their daughter's remain.
And they may not be called man's best friend, but in India and Thailand they are man's new best friend. Tonight how these gentle giants are helping with rescue efforts. Digging through debris, recovering the dead. And helping humans get back on their feet.
COOPER: Good evening again. I'm Anderson Cooper in Birwala (ph), Sri Lanka. I'm joined in New York by my colleague Paula Zahn. We have CNN correspondents deployed around the globe for tonight's special report. With me here in Sri Lanka, Hugh Remington, Paula Hancocks. In Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Mike Chinoy, and in Phuket, Thailand, Aneesh Raman. CNN correspondents from around the globe. Joining me now from New York, Paula Zahn. Paula?
ZAHN: Thanks so much, Anderson. We call this special coverage of ours "Turning the Tide" because we are devoting the evening not only to last week's nearly imponderable tragedy on the coast of South Asia, but, equally, the word's response to that tragedy. Of course, the water has come and gone taking we really don't know exactly how many lives with it. And it also seems tonight that as many as 5,000 Americans are among those missing. And in some cases presumed dead. But Anderson, where you are and our other reporters are stationed tonight, that now is just part of the story. Anderson?
COOPER: Paula, if we had to pick one single image to give a sense of how wide scale this event truly is, this is it. Take a look. Just a moment. Pause, if you will, and look. This image, imagine this scene repeated over and over again in more places than we can possibly name. In Indonesia, here in Sri Lanka, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in Thailand. Wherever the Indian Ocean wreaked such havoc a week ago. There are so many people in need right now. Look at the desperation. The arms reaching out. There are more people, so many people in need as many people as died, there are 10 or 20 fold people still living. And many of them are in desperate need of help at this hour.
One of the stories we have already followed and followed a lot last week was the train wreck outside of Galle, Sri Lanka. A terrible, horrible event. 1,000 people, more than 1,000 people trapped on a train when the water hit. Some 900 of them died. Now, earlier in the week, last week, you met one survivor of that train wreck. And he told you his remarkable story. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SHENTH RAVINDRA, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: I basically steadied myself on to the carriage because I knew the force of the wave would be quite tremendous. And as I steadied myself, the water came and hit. It pushed the carriage further inland to a point where it got wedged against a house. And from that point I was able to jump from the top of the train on to the house and up the roof. And perched myself there at the highest point of the house.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: That house saved Shenth Ravindra's life. Now, Shenth Ravindra's story had a happy ending. Earlier, about 12 or 18 hours ago, we traveled to the scene of that train wreck. It is a terrible, terrible scene. We want to warn you. We found the house that Shenth Ravindra jumped on to, the house that saved his life. And what we found is that the woman who owns that house and her husband who still live there, their story has yet to have a happy ending.
COOPER (voice-over): On this land awash in water, no one has time for S. M. Arwati's (ph) tears. The sea stole her son and also her mother. A runaway train destroyed her home. "Everything is gone," she says. "My child, my mother, all my belongings. Wiped out." S. M. and her husband, Donnapala (ph), live on the coast beside a railroad track. The tsunami ripped a passing train off its tracks, tossing this car within feet of their house. A few passengers managed to jump off the train on to their roof. Some lived. Some died when the roof finally gave way.
(on camera): We came back, there were three bodies here. One body over there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
COOPER (voice-over): More than a week after the disaster, the scene is still sickening. At least 900 people were killed on the spot. Trapped in this gnarled mass of steel and mud, rotting flesh and broken bones.
(on camera): As you move through the trains, the smell of decay and of death is still present. It's been a week since the waters knocked this train off. And most of the bodies, they say have been cleared away. But you can still smell someone died in here.
You don't have to use your imagination to figure out what people were doing the second the water hit. Here is a plate of food someone was eating. Surrounded by flies. This woman's purse. Another one down here. Over here is a baby's diaper. It looks like a child's purse.
(voice-over): Cadaver dogs search the wreckage brought in by Dutch volunteers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everywhere, we are searching. We find always bodies.
COOPER: Bloated and bruised, the bodies are pulled out and quickly buried. The work is grim, the heat oppressive, surrounded by death, there is little to say. S.M. and her husband take some pride in knowing their roof saved passengers' lives, but the loss of their son is too much to bear. They hope to pick up the pieces of their lives, but for now they're not sure where to begin.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: And that grim recovery work continues there every day. They don't have much equipment, but they do what they can and the work continues, and there is a lot of work to be done. Paula?
ZAHN: Anderson, it was almost unbearable to see you experience what you did as you took a tour of what was left of those train cars. You've covered this story for over a week now. How did your firsthand experience witnessing this change the way you viewed the story?
COOPER: You know, it is obviously different when you are actually smelling it and you actually see it with your own eyes, and you actually hear it. For me, it's sort of the smells and the sounds which really strike you, which don't come across on the television. The smell in that jungle where those train cars are just hurled about like a child's toys, it is -- it seeps into your clothes. You feel like it gets into your skin, it's in your nostrils, I still smell it. I showered, I changed my clothes, but every now and then sort of you get that odor of death. It's something that does not feel like it goes away, Paula.
ZAHN: The shot that got to me is the picture of what appeared to little kid's purse. The difference between life and death so -- such a thin shred there. Anderson, thanks.
We saw last week what too much sea water can do. With fresh water, however, catastrophe threatens not when there is too much but when there's too little. Mike Chinoy reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the stifling heat they wait for what could be the difference between life and death. Water they can drink. "We are drinking untreated water," says 17-year-old Nanda Zwita (ph). "We don't have fuel to boil it. Some of our family are already sick."
Amid growing fears of epidemics, the Australian army, in coordination with UNICEF, has set up an emergency water supply system using purification machines to turn untreated water into 20,000 liters of drinking water every hour.
MARK HENDERSON, UNICEF: The town system is still running, but it's only running partially. And the water that is coming out is not potable or drinkable. So, this is an opportunity for having drinking water here accessible to people.
CHINOY: But it's a race against time. Malaysian doctor Abdul Latiff is running the only intensive care unit in Banda Aceh's only functioning hospital.
DR. ABDUL LATIFF, MERCY MALAYSIA: We are starting to see a lot of waterborne disease and it is increasing by the day. And we're quite concerned about the increase of the numbers of patients here. There will be a major problem in the next few weeks.
CHINOY: The critical long-term step is to get the city's own water system up and running. (on camera): But it's a massive challenge. Banda Aceh's water supply comes mainly from its rivers. Rivers that are still clogged with bloated and decomposing corpses.
(voice-over): The army is fishing them out all day, putting them into body bags for burial of mass graves, but there are thousands more. The rivers of Aceh yielding up corpse after corpse with no end in sight.
CHINOY: Paula, I'm standing in what used to be Banda Aceh's main business district. And even here, in the city center, there are still countless bodies buried in the debris, strewn along the side of the river, so many that the authorities have not yet had a chance to get to them. Paula?
ZAHN: Mike Chinoy, thanks.
There is a phrase we use after something has gone terribly wrong. Mostly without thinking about it, or actually meaning it for that matter. We say, "well, time to pick up the pieces." In Thailand as in many other places that time has come. And whenever have there been so terribly many pieces to pick up? CNN's Aneesh Raman reports from Phuket.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The moment devastation struck the Kamala Beach Hotel. The world has seen the images. And heard the sounds. More than a week later, this is what remains, a sight reminiscent of a war zone. The gargantuan task of rebuilding falls on hotel manager Wissut Katayatanand. He has seen the video enough to never want to see it again.
WISSUT KATAYATANAND, KAMALA HOTEL MANAGER: We have seen it two or three times. You remember the whole thing, you know? Just it is still where you work and live (ph) for.
RAMAN: It was just a few hours after the waves came in that Wissut, inland at his house came rushing to the scene. His reaction was visceral.
KATAYATANAND: I look around, yelling just to double check, you know, to make sure if someone can hear me or anything so I can help them.
RAMAN: The majority of guests that come here come often. The connection between the staff and tourists is beyond professional and makes a large number of missing extremely personal.
KATAYATANAND: They are like part of my family. I mean, they, for sure, have to know the name of the staff. So, it is more like a family.
RAMAN (on camera): The hotel is now a graveyard of sorts. Guests that were in the first floor rooms would have seen the water rise to the ceiling almost instantly. Many of them were sleeping. And as the water rose so high, so quickly, there was no escape.
(voice-over) The lucky ones, like these staff members now clean away the same debris that killed those they knew. The process is surreal but it must go on.
KATAYATANAND: We should be able to prevail over this type (ph) of nightmare.
RAMAN: The hotel will be rebuilt. And new guests will arrive. Perhaps unaware of the hallowed ground upon which their holiday retreat stands. But for Wissut, the effects will linger. The missing always haunting him. His guilt is tragic.
KATAYATANAND: How I could be able to answer all the questions about missing people. Makes me feel responsible, you know?
RAMAN: One hotel of thousands trying to start anew, aware that as much as everyone might try, what happened here can never be forgotten.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
RAMAN: And Paula, as we drove around the area, it is still completely devastated. Debris is all you see. The people there, the volunteers are working endlessly. They are now like zombies, desperately, desperately trying to rebuild their lives. Paula?
ZAHN: We can well understand why they feel that way. Aneesh, thanks so much.
Meanwhile, Presidents Bush 41 and 43, father and son, plus President Clinton joined forces to raise money for tsunami victims. We are going to go live to the White House where this global disaster is transcending politics.
Also tonight, missing Americans. Thousands still unaccounted for. Will the death toll rise? We'll talk to a student from Stanford still searching for one of his friends.
And animals to the rescue. Elephants go to work to rebuild shattered nations.
ZAHN: And those images we've just been looking at are from the front lines of the U.S. military's latest mission. A mission of relief. At least two dozen navy ships, six military helicopters and thousands of sailors and marines have been deployed to the tsunami stricken region. Today their commander in chief bolstered U.S. efforts by enlisting two of his predecessors. And both of them are asking for your help. CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three presidents a show of American unity at embassies of countries hit hardest by last week's tsunami disaster. As the current White House occupant tries to quiet criticism his reaction was not fast or generous enough.
G. W. BUSH: In the coming days President Clinton and President Bush will ask Americans to donate directly to reliable charities already providing help to victims.
BASH: The president's aids enlisted his father and his old rival to lead what they call a massive effort to solicit private donations.
G. W. BUSH: The greatest source of America's generosity is not our government. It's the good heart of the American people.
BASH: The former presidents say they will help sustain and direct contributions. Pointing to this USA Freedom Corps Web site.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: A private donation of cash is more important at this stage of the recovery than sending things, items, tents, whatever.
BASH: President Clinton, known for moving fast to express public empathy in the face of tragedy, came to his successor's defense.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And in promising we would do more through the government if need be. I don't see how he could have done more. I think that right now we are just where we need to be. And we should not be looking back. We should be looking forward.
BASH: Former President Bush acknowledged this could be an opportunity for America to revive its tarnished reputation around the world but what about his son's personal low standings?
G.H.W. BUSH: That's not what this is about. It's about saving lives. About caring. And the president cares.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BASH: Tapping the former presidents, sending his brother, Florida's governor and the secretary of state for a first-hand look at the devastation, plus these pictures of military helicopters delivering aid is a combination the White House hopes will silence critics. And in terms of the American government's pledge, Secretary Powell says $350 million is where it will stay for now but he also said the president understands this is a multi-year commitment and he may have to eventually dip into the U.S. treasury again, Paula.
ZAHN: So, Dana, in spite what some people view as the brilliant move on the current President Bush's part, obviously this White House is sensitive about any criticism that they acted too little too late. How will they continue to monitor that?
BASH: Well, they're hoping that essentially what they've done today, the fact that they intend to have former President Bush and former President Clinton, that is something in terms of the Democratic critics they hope will help the most, they hope having them out there, they hope the continued images of the military helping, of those helicopters helping out those in need, that all of that will help to put last week's initial criticism to rest once and for all, Paula.
ZAHN: Dana Bash, thanks so much. To find out how the aid effort is going on the ground, let's go back to Anderson Cooper who is standing by in Sri Lanka, I guess as the sun is coming up. Anderson?
COOPER: Yes, still a little bit dark. Sun should be here very shortly, we're hoping. Paula, as you have been covering the last days, the outpouring of concern by our viewers, by Americans, by people around the world has been extraordinary. You've heard that time and time again. That is only half the battle. Raising the money, getting donations. The other half is actually turning those donations into bottles of water, into food, into medicine and getting to the people in need in time. Paul Hancocks has been following the efforts of one organization to bring aid to the needy. She joins me now. Paula, what have you found?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know that the food is here. We know the water is here. We know the medicine is here. The problem is we also know that it's not getting to the exact people that need it. The people in these remote inaccessible places in desperate need of this medicine. I followed one U.S. agency around, Americares, for the last four days and found the difficulties they faced in trying to get the medicine into the country and then to where it was exactly needed.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Life-saving drugs packed and ready in Amsterdam. Four days later reaching those who need it most. This hospital in Hambangtota (ph) on the south coast of Sri Lanka is the first stop for aid agency Americares. This doctor had to deal with 900 patients in the first two days in a hospital that can cope with just 300.
DR. JONATHAN FINE, AMERICARES: What was revealed to me is the damage done to the infrastructure of the hospitals, the linens are gone because they were used to wrap dead bodies. The hostels (ph) are a mess. We need disinfectants. They are worried about outbreaks of simple disease, like scabies, as well as diarrheal diseases.
HANCOCKS: The medicine is delivered and Americares walks away with a detailed wish list for the next shipment. A truck of donated food and water arrives just up the road at a coordination center. It will be handed out to more than 30 refugee camps in the area, holding around 1500 of those homes that were destroyed. Aid groups are starting to access these areas but many times on an independent basis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... duplication of work. So coordinate the efforts so that the things will be done to the maximum benefit of the refugees.
HANCOCKS: The Sri Lankan prime minister, visiting Hambantota (ph), discussing the immediate needs with the town people. MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, SRI LANKAN PRIME MINISTER: We are getting aid. And we have a coordinating committee and we are sending it into the affected areas, where it is north, east, south and west.
HANCOCKS: But for many not in refugee camps, food and water remains scarce. Coconuts are being given out on the streets. Many people don't want to leave the area where they or their relatives' houses once stood.
(on camera): We're just a couple of roads down from the hospital here and this is where locals are starting their cleanup operations. But it's an extremely delicate process. Most people that lived in this area would have died in their houses. So locals as locals are sifting through the rubble they are discovering more bodies.
(voice-over) And it's the state of mind of these volunteers and survivors that is another health concern. Doctors in the area understand medical support for the Sri Lankans is more than just material. Once the immediate physical needs are met, then comes the harder task of helping locals come to terms with what they have been through.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: You know, as I was watching that piece, every place you go here, it's local people you see doing the work themselves, local cleaning crews, local citizens who raised money what is the problem about getting the aid here quickly?
HANCOCKS: There are some logistical problems. There is the fact that most of the coastal roads have been washed away because they were very close to the sea itself. So if you have got a big lorry, you have got it full of food, water, blankets, whatever it is, it going to be difficult to access some of these areas. That's what Americare found, it had to do some detours in getting to the hospital.
COOPER: What about bureaucracy. When I was coming to the airport a guy had a whole cartload full of medicine, boxes of medicine, and the customs guy stopped him and handed him this enormous form that he had to fill out. And it seems so frustrating because it's not as if -- he's bringing medicine into the country. You would think they would expedite that.
HANCOCKS: That's right. There is red tape. There is definitely red tape. I spoke with a customs officer, and he did say it is getting better. But the fact is that Colombo Airport is used to about a dozen planes a day. You can imagine the amount of planes that's coming in. The amount of cargo planes, the aid, and so with Americares, we have to wait about 24 hours until this medicine can be cleared through customs.
COOPER: You're kidding, that's ...
HANCOCKS: They were trying as hard as they could, it's just the sheer volume. They couldn't deal with it.
COOPER: That's very frustrating.
HANCOCKS: The fact was it did get through in the end. You could see the looks on the faces of the doctors as they were receiving the basic antibiotics, etc., that they desperately needed.
COOPER: All right. Paula Hancocks, thanks very much.
There are so many stories to tell here. When we come back, we are going to tell the story of one American, his survival story. And the friend he left behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is my daughter? Where is my daughter?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: On the morning of December 26th. Pat Rooney, his wife, three children and other family members were vacations in Thailand when he knew something wasn't right. He felt tremors, saw the tide disappear and then, with his video camera recording watched the wave approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ZAHN (voice-over): For the Rooneys it was the dream vacation. Two weeks in Thailand and Christmas eve in paradise, as they call it the resort of Reileh (ph) Beach, south of Phuket. They were altogether. Pat and his wife, Sarah, their three kids, Jordan, Tyler, Dylan, their grandfather also came. And so did some relatives from New Zealand. Everything was working according to plans until December 26th. That morning some wanted to go snorkeling. Others rock climbing. But the ocean decided otherwise and turned their vacation into a nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is dad?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is my daughter?
ZAHN: A gigantic wave went crashing ton the resort followed by a second one that Pat filmed with his video camera. There were screams and fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay together. Stay together. Head for the hills. That's what I said from the beginning.
ZAHN: The whole family ran in every direction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody. Everybody -- where is Jordan?
ZAHN: For more than an hour, the Rooney's lost their oldest son, Jordan. Well, Jordan miraculously ended up surviving as did every family member. Joining me now for more on this remarkable story is Pat Rooney from Dallas. So good of you to join us. It's so bizarre that you felt something was distinctly wrong that day. You felt the initial tremor, followed a couple hours later by what was the sound of what, a roaring train?
PAT ROONEY, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: Actually, we saw a wall of water as it's been described coming at the main beach. And that was -- then screaming people who saw it basically simultaneously.
ZAHN: It's remarkable that you were able to capture any of this given the state of panic as everybody was racing off to the hills. You had planned to go snorkeling that day. And then you felt that initial tremor. Do you think that saved your life?
ROONEY: Well, actually we felt the tremor about 8:00 and this was about 10:45, 10:50 when we saw the wave. We were going to go on about business as usual except for that we decided to be low key and not get on a boat to Phi Phi Island, which got hit before us and actually got hit lots harder. So, everything -- we are fortunate. We're fortunate we weren't in the water already or rock climbing already. We were fortunate we were altogether, one of the few times in the whole vacation that all of us were together. We all ran together initially and then Jordan being the 20-year-old that he is, went back to look at the damage of the initial crash. We lost him. And he got caught up in a sea of other people running up to a different part of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bay area.
ZAHN: So describe to us what that hour or so period was like when you were separated from Jordan, not knowing whether there could be a third wave or fourth wave crashing in on you.
ROONEY: Right it was the not knowing where he was, and not knowing where -- whether or not there would be the big sort of second aftershock or second tsunami. You've heard people from Phuket and Phi Phi saying the same thing. Somehow a rumor started that there would be a 30-meter wave, which is phenomenal. You can't imagine how high that would be. But that was the rumor. That's why people stayed in trees in Phi Phi and that's why we stayed on the hills of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) beach. That first hour not knowing where Jordan was, we assumed he's strong and he's young and he's fast, and he would be somewhere safe and dry and we were happy to find out when he finally found us. He was mad at us because we had not ran to the same place that 90 percent of the people ran. We ran to a small section that we actually thought was a little higher. But we did all get together.
ZAHN: What a lucky, lucky break on your family's part. Finally, when you came down from the hill the next day, describe to us what you saw.
ROONEY: That was the first time that we really saw the damage. What we did not realize was that the damage hit the front beach, which is sort of the west side, protected muchly (sic) by two huge rock formations. We didn't get the huge damage that Phuket and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Phi Phi, some of these things you see, but we did have all the boats were in the trees and in the pool and into that cafe was buzzing with electricity. The restaurant we had breakfast in 30 minutes earlier was gone, basically. So, those resort areas got hit pretty hard with a funnel of water concentrated into kind of one area because of the rocks which really saved, you know, the outer areas from being damaged more than they were. We were actually at the right place at the right time.
ZAHN: Your family certainly has a lot to be grateful for. Pat, thank you so much for sharing your story with us tonight.
ROONEY: You're welcome.
ZAHN: Good luck to you.
They call him the miracle boy. A Swedish child found in the debris of the tsunami and reunited with his family. Tonight, his rescuers come forward to share their story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECCA BEDDLE: The day we had him. He was not talking. He was not playing, not... He was very out of it, so we were really happy to see he looked perfectly normal again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A parent's worst nightmare. A daughter swept away by the sea. Later, her body recovered by her fiance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was spared so he could bring her home to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Tonight my interview with Kelly's fiance and her parents who moments ago were given their daughter's remains.
And they may not be called man's best friend but in India and Thailand, they are man's new best friend. Tonight, how these gentle giants are helping with rescue efforts digging through debris, recovering the dead and helping humans get back on their feet.
ZAHN: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of the tsunami disaster. In just a moment, we're going to go live back to Anderson Cooper in Sri Lanka, but first a look at some of the other top stories making the news tonight.
Eli Lilly may have known the suicide risks of its antidepressant Prozac for more than 15 years. The office of a congressional lawmaker has given CNN what is said to be a 1988 internal document from the drug maker. It shows Prozac users were more likely to attempt suicide and show hostility than patients on other antidepressants. It also suggests Eli Lilly tried to down play those results.
Meanwhile in southern California, a wintry mess, as you can see here on the roads. About two feet of snow left drivers stranded in mountains north of Los Angeles while lower level roads were flooded causing several accidents. More severe weather is forecast for later on this week.
And in Buenos Aires, Argentina, protesters there demand justice for the victims of a nightclub fire. At least 188 people were killed in that blaze on Thursday. There are reports that emergency doors might have been locked. The protesters want an investigation and say the city needs to have tougher safety codes.
It's been almost nine days since the tsunami hit and each day we are still learning more about the specter of this tragedy. Let's go back to Anderson, who's standing by in Beruwala, Sri Lanka. Anderson.
COOPER: Paula, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers, to get overwhelmed by the scale and the scope of this disaster. What you sort of realize when you come here though is just how personal a tragedy it is for everyone here in Sri Lanka. Literally every person you talk to, you know, as you are having a conversation, if you say to them did you lose somebody? Did somebody in your family get killed? Everyone, it seems, has lost somebody.
The man who drove me over here this morning, I asked him, did he lose somebody? Three people in his mother's village were killed, three relatives of his and you find that I mean in house after house, in block after block, in town after town. As you drive down these roads, people have hung white flags, every house in which someone has died, someone is in mourning hangs a white flag. And as you drive down these roads, I mean you just see thousands of white flags just fluttering in the breeze.
It's a strange -- it's a hard thing to sort of just wrap your mind around how intimate this tragedy is for people, the cold calculus of survival, who lives, who dies seemingly so random. A small child who by all sort of calculations shouldn't have lived does. And a healthy young man who should have lived perishes. And where someone was and where they were standing and which direction they chose to run. I mean the split-second decisions people make often made the difference between life and death. Did they run up the stairs? Did they try to run out? It's a strange thing and a difficult thing both to see for us here and I'm sure for you as well. But we think it needs to be seen and we're going to continue covering it all this week. Paula.
ZAHN: Anderson, as you look into each one of those faces that we have seen in these tight close ups tonight, that you could see the pain and understand, as you are talking about the split second decisions sparing lives and costing others. Thanks. See you in a little bit.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell says as many as 5,000 Americans are unaccounted for following the tsunami. Among the missing, James Hsu, a 25-year-old graduate student at Stanford University. He and four fellow students including Stephan Zech were at the Thai resort area of Ko Phi Phi when the wave hit. Zech and the others survived, but Hsu hasn't been heard since then. Earlier I spoke with Zech on the phone from Frankfurt, Germany.
ZAHN: Thank you very much for joining us tonight Stephan. Take us back to that horrific day when the tsunami hit. Describe what you saw, what you felt.
STEPHAN ZECH, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: I was actually in a pretty unique situation in that I was diving at the time. We were about 30 minutes, probably south of Phi Phi Island and about 12 meters below the water. And when the tsunami hit, it hit us pretty hard and we were thrown through the water at pretty high speeds. But we didn't really know what it was. It was actually my first dive so I certainly did not know what was happening. But after we ascended, we found out through the diving instructor that we had gone quite a distance in a very short amount of time and so we just thought it was an incredible current that hit us but none of us hit any rocks. None of us got hurt and so we just went back on the boat, waiting to find out what it was that had happened.
ZAHN: Did you feel the sensation of a second wave hitting?
ZECH: After about 30 or maybe 45 minutes, we had people that had cell phones and some sort of web connection that found out what had actually happened and we started picking up injured people from the water and from smaller boats. And, so, we did find out what occurred.
ZAHN: Once you finally got on shore what did you see?
ZECH: First thing we saw a lot of debris in the water. We saw, you know, dead bodies at the beach. Just, you know, bungalows flattened and hotels destroyed and a lot of people are just running around trying to get situated, trying to help people. And so of course our main concern was to find our three friends and so we went back to where our bungalow used to be and used the last probably 45 minutes or so of daylight that we had left to try to find anything. But of course, you know, we were disoriented. It was hard to find any type of landmark to know where you actually were on the island.
ZAHN: So at this hour, you are still missing your friend James. Do you have any idea where he was when the tsunami hit?
ZECH: No, we did not. We were extremely hopeful as we are today, an optimist, because a lot of people were actually picked up out of the water or from wherever they ended up when they got hit and taken to a remote island or whatever nearby location. So any time we saw a ferry go by, we would scan the faces and we'd yell out names and we'd see if they were on it and we were unsuccessful but there were a lot of ways and a lot of time had gone by before we actually made it to the island. So there was definitely a chance that he had made it off the island somehow with the help of someone.
ZAHN: James' sister Peggy said if there is anybody who could survive these extreme odds, it would be her brother James. What do you want the audience to know about him tonight and his will? ZECH: James is an incredible guy. I knew him through school somewhat and I have gotten to know him so much better over the last three weeks of traveling with him. And all I can say is that Peggy is right. And, you know, we keep looking forward to seeing him and we will remain hopeful as long as we can and he'll come through. Anybody that could, you know, donate money and help the cause to go and find these people or identify the injured ones that are out there and nobody knows who they are, it would be wonderful if they could do so.
ZAHN: It's important to be reminded of that. And while you might not know it from Germany, there is an overwhelming sense of people wanting to help out in any way they can from here. Thank you so much for your time tonight.
ZECH: Thank you.
ZAHN: Coming up next on "Turning the Tide" a CNN special report -- dolphins trapped, a rescue effort now under way, two creatures of the sea, a symbol of hope in a very dark time.
COOPER: Sri Lanka is of course a poor country and the truth is that life was tough for many children here long before the tsunamis hit. There's been an ongoing civil war here that's been going on for decades now between the government and the Tamil Tigers up in the north. They are separatists. For so many children were made orphaned by the civil war, all they had were each other. And now those bonds are broken as well. Stan Grant is traveling in the north of Sri Lanka.
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everything turned dark. All color faded. All laughter stopped so suddenly for these children on the morning of December 26th.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through-translator): Some of us were playing. Some of us were studying. Some of us were talking. It was like the sound of a bus. Then an auntie came, running over, shouting. Then the water came.
GRANT: The tsunamis force flattened the town of Molativu (ph) in Sri Lanka's north, the children at the local day care center left at its mercy. There were more than 70 there that Sunday morning. Half of them were killed. Among the dead, babies and toddlers, only the older ones survived.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through-translator): It came at 9:00 a.m. We ran to the kitchen but it came here and the wall of the kitchen broke. Then we used a ladder and climbed a mango tree.
GRANT: Even before the tsunami, life for children in this Tamil Tiger rebel stronghold was bleak. Here the jungles are dotted with makeshift orphanages. The Tamil Tiger rounding up the children to give them something to call home. Like this one, most orphanages were not been affected by the tsunami. They have been affected by two decades of civil war, which has left thousands of children dead, many thousands of children orphaned.
Girls and boys are separated. Their fellow orphans become brothers or sisters. The women assigned to them surrogate mothers. They play sports. They go to school. Anything to keep their minds off their past.
(on-camera): The children here have not only lost their parents in war, they have lived in constant fear of attack themselves. The Tamil Tigers say that this camp has come under fire six times in the past 10 years. Each time it's had to be rebuilt and relocated.
The camp itself looks more like a military base. The suitcases are old army bullet cases. This bunker. The Tamil Tigers have been accused of using these boys as fodder for the front line. Child soldiers in the war with the south.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through-translator): They do not bring up these children to fight even though the media and the outside have been accusing us of this.
GRANT: I asked these boys what they want to be when they grow up. Doctors, hands are raised. Teachers, more hands. Soldiers - conspicuously no. From the front lines of war to the front lines of mother nature's fury, sacrifice and suffering all too familiar for the children of Tamil Elam.
GRANT: And tonight Anderson, there are hundreds of thousands of more children in refugee camps right along the Tamil-held north doing what they have learned to do so best, sadly so best, that is just go about the business of survival. Anderson?
COOPER: A brutal civil war and it's terrible to see those children caught in between. Stan Grant, thanks very much for that.
It is dawn just about now here on the west coast of Sri Lanka. The sun is coming up. It's a strange time because you see a lot of villagers who come out to the water's edge when the sun first rises and they are not out to appreciate the morning. They're not out to see the sunrise. They are checking the water's edge to see if any bodies have washed ashore, to see if any of their friends or their relatives or their loved ones have been brought back, this water which has taken away so much these last few weeks, every day now, is giving back. Paula?
ZAHN: And that shell of a building behind you Anderson a powerful reminder of just what kind of power that wave packed in. In one Thai town, where there is so much devastation, two trapped dolphins are a symbol of hope tonight. Next, an update on the rescue mission.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: In Khao Lak, Thailand, with hope fading of finding any more human survivors from the tsunami, the focus has now shifted to two trapped dolphins. They were swept ashore into a lake made by the wave that struck last Sunday. One appears to be injured. Today Greek drivers tried to corner the dolphins into a net with no luck at all. They will be back again tomorrow with a bigger net and as one worker puts it, if they're saved, quote, that would be the only survivor story. We need one. That says it all.
Well, along most coastlines it looks like a war zone. Trees and homes all but decimated, boats thrown onto bridges, damage everywhere. What is remarkable is that elephants are doing some of the cleanup, doing the difficult jobs that humans or even heavy equipment can't.
ZAHN (voice-over): The ancient animals once used to transport armies and help local workers with heavy labor now face another task. Asia's elephants have now been called in to help dig through the debris and recover the dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through-translator): The elephants help us evacuate survivors or bodies that could possibly be trapped under the rubble, as heavy equipment has still not been able to get here.
ZAHN: On the road and in the rubble from Indonesia to Thailand, the giant pachyderms have been pressed into service. Shifting fallen trees and chunks of concrete to reveal what's trapped underneath. Just a year ago, six of these massive mammals had a very different role, carrying Colin Farrell and cast into staged battles during the filming of "Alexander." But today they are in Thailand doing the very real difficult work for which they are uniquely suited.
The Asian elephants, considered an endangered species, have also been credited with saving lives. There are reports that they had become so agitated as the tsunami approached, they broke free and headed for higher ground. Many carried tourists on their back away from the oncoming wave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A truck can't pass, but an elephant like a four-wheel drive. They walk in the forest all their life.
ZAHN: Just yesterday, some of the elephants were back at their old jobs, giving rides to tourists, helping their handlers earn a living, giving everyone the tiniest glimpse of normalcy amidst all the horror.
ZAHN: Animals we should all respect. Anderson, hard to believe that they are able to do the kind of work we are seeing them do right now.
COOPER: Yeah. Paula, and actually you see a lot of animals roaming around here in Sri Lanka. You see a lot of dogs. You see a lot of stray cats. You know, people have sort of let them go a lot of hungry animals here scavenging amongst the wreckage. It's one of those sights you just have to sort of get used to here.
We see some of these numbers, 154,000 people killed by the tsunamis, some 46,000 in Sri Lanka alone and those numbers expected to continue to rise as we get more and more information and as relief organizations and aid workers get to those most in need. Those numbers will most certainly rise. Who knows how high the numbers will go. But for every one of them, there are five to 10 other people who have survived this storm and their lives are forever changed. They are forever scarred. They've lost loved ones. They've lost friends. They've lost family members.
We wanted to take a look at some of the survivors we have seen over the last several days, some of the stories they've told or ones you cannot forgot and ones you hear as you walk down the streets here or as you drive along. Here in Sri Lanka, you see fisherman who are afraid to go out to the sea anymore. They are afraid that the sea which gave them their life for so long, is now something which strikes terror in their hearts. They have survived but their lives are forever changed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My God! Oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wave hit and we have big waves in the channel. It wasn't a wave. It was -- the wave that hit, it was just a solid wall behind it and it just kept coming. Nothing was going to stop that wave. It was just the biggest wave I had seen.
That wave is a good 15, 20 feet tall. Easy. Get in! Get in!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first indications we had was the vibrations which came through probably about 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning. And then I was in my bed at the time. First I heard a crashing sound coming through from the front of the building. We were lucky because the hotel we were in had an underground car park which took a large part of the impact. The wave came through on the first floor. I heard crashing, banging, screaming sound. I rushed out the front to see people basically bleeding everywhere, broken bones, people thrown into -- out of windows, debris everywhere. We were under about 10 feet of water at the time and the situation was terrible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no way any person can tell you what emotion you feel. When you see a wall of water one story high, fill up the lobby of a hotel, park three cars in the back of the lobby and you see people swimming around in that and you don't know what you can do to get them out. There is no (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were having coffee and the woman in the coffee shop said to us, the water is too high. She kept saying that. I said what does that mean? Not a minute later she screamed, run and we all just started running and the water came really quickly. We started jogging through the streets, just trying to get to the mountains and my friends and I just started running and every time we turned a corner, we thought we lost -- or the water had stopped, but when we would come to a through-street, the water would be there. So we ran for about several streets with the water right at our heels and then when we got to behind several buildings and streets, the -- we got to the base of the mountain, it was like a mass exodus out of the city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't judge how fast it was moving because it was behind me. We were just running, but it was carrying everything that it had destroyed on its way in, was carrying it on its way out, so there was furniture and buildings and piece of everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Suddenly there were huge waves that hit the seashore and people started running helter skelter. A lot of women were trapped because they couldn't run and a lot of children were also trapped. About 60 people are supposed to have died. We've never seen anything like this before. And we are really very scared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I lost everyone and everything, says 30- year-old Yusniati (ph). "My four children and my husband are gone, gone. I was holding my 8-month-old in the waters, but the waves pulled us apart."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We've never seen anything like this. We were fishing normally in the sea when we were shocked by the huge waves. We fled for shore and prayed for Allah to save our lives.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was alone and shouted for help, but no one was here. Everything got washed away, including boat and net. Nothing is left in any house. All our belongings are gone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then I thought, OK, it's going to stop. It's going to hit our ankles. And my youngest daughter dropped her -- her journal, and I went to pick it up. And when I picked it up, I heard this sound that can only be described as, perhaps, a jet engine bearing down on us.
And trees started to break, and then what looked like a wave that was 10 to 15 feet, not in the traditional sense of a wave but water, massive water, rushing at us, closing the gap. I didn't think we could ever run that fast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water just came up like a gigantic wave and took the water bungalow. It took all of the deck. The deck came flying in through the windows, and I -- I said, Let's go, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Started up, being able to stand up in it. And then carpets and chairs and mattresses started coming at you. And I got out of the way, and ended up on some sort of, like, pier going out to sea. And there was people on the beach in the early morning just being washed out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We climbed up this tree while the water was still breaking right at our feet, the waves. We head up the tree and went higher and higher until we were right at the top and we couldn't go any higher. And we just waited until the water level eventually dropped.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before the wave came in, there was the massive undertow, and in 15 to 30 seconds, something like 200 yards -- I'm sorry, 2,000 yards of water just got sucked right out to sea. And anybody who was in the water at that point, up to their knees or so, got yanked right out. There was just no hope for those people.
People described seeing literally thousands of people on this beach in one minute, and the next minute none. Those people were gone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suddenly, we saw the water advance. But at first we thought it was just the sea really just going along a little angry. Then the second wave was a lot stronger, and we rushed upstairs. It happened a few times with about an hour in between. And the third wave that hit the hotel devastated the bottom half, the lower floors and so on. And we were trapped on the third floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The children were playing on the beach when I came running down to find them and my wife, Libby. The sea off Koh Yao was a flat calm, but with one big exception. A 20-foot wave was coming in shore very quickly, indeed.
Five-year-old Peter was staring at the wave, mesmerized. I lurched forward and grabbed him.
Obviously, with the wave pursuing us pretty rapidly, Peter and I were moving rather more quickly than we are this morning. My wife, Libby, and my daughter, Elizabeth, headed for our bungalow over there, but I knew that myself and the little fellow here certainly wouldn't make it.
We listened to the wave breaking on the beach. There was a big bang as it came through those trees. I suppose we'd reached about here before we were -- we were washed away. We were then carried about 40 yards.
The wave carried us both through this little gap between these two bungalows. All the time, I was acutely aware of all the debris that the wave had picked up on its journey. Peter and I ended up, actually, down there in this field. And here are some of the tree trunks and other bits of debris that the wave carried with us. Fortunately, they missed us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rooms filled up within 30 seconds, first of all to about three foot. And then we all got out of the rooms, and then -- and one of our friends was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) He couldn't get out of the room. He woke up, and was asleep in his bed, lying. Woke up in water. Had to throw a TV out the window to climb out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We turned around, and all of a sudden there was about a 25- or 30-foot wall of water rushing towards you, probably at about 40 miles an hour. And you had little time to try and get to higher ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having stood in the water, literally within two seconds, it was from ankle height to shoulder height. You usually imagine a tidal wave would be much like they're usually in the movies, a big crescent wave. The waves that hit Phuket and certainly, from the reports I've had from other resorts, they all came in very hard and fast. It was a bit like watching a bath run to the top.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was this terrible roaring noise. When we looked through the glass doors, and this torrent of mighty water just came down the steps and through the doors. It washed me away into the playroom, and the glass doors were smashed by the water, and I just couldn't keep my footing. I was very frightened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard a little girl crying all we heard was a whimpering. So we went in there, dragged her out. She ended up going to a hospital and we found out today that she didn't make it either. But four others in that hut, all of them perished yesterday. And this is a small village, about 800 people, and we lost five right there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Children are less able to run away from this kind of a flood. They're less able to hang on to a tree. They're less able to swim for their lives. So we're afraid that, in fact, children were disproportionately affected, especially those who were caught in the raging currents.
JEFF EKKELKAMP, SON OF TSUNAMI VICTIM: I'm searching for my mother. She's from Holland. She's 53 years old. She's missing from the Khao Lak's Merlin Beach resort. We have still hope, and we are not going to leave without her. Strange said, but dead or alive, but we have to find her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had three false alarms already. Last night, we found someone on Khao Lak, Symon, spelled with a Y rather than an I in the surname.
And when we managed to track him down at midnight, it was just someone completely different from England who was on holiday. So you have lots of leads which you follow and you get excited and then you find some information which sort of takes you off that trail. But you have to remain positive. You know, miracles do happen. If you start to believe that the worst has happened, you start to crumble. So you just remain positive all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Horrible. There is -- sounded like a jet engine just right maybe five feet behind you, people screaming as maybe the water hit them. It was trees cracking, houses exploding. It was just so horrible.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I was in the water in the middle of the sea. And I didn't have anything with me. My pants were gone, washed off in the water. I had only my top on. I was tired of swimming, and I had the God-given gift, my father's given gift of swimming.
I have to swim. I started swimming with lots and lots of wounded. I may find somebody. My father might be there and my family might be waiting for me. I still have hopes that my parents are alive, searching for me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'm all right, poppa and mama. Please come back again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then it came in again. I could hear my wife scream. I knew where she was and I was hiding behind a wall. And I went around to get her. And then just all hell broke loose. That was the last time I saw her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was at work when some people came to me and told me that huge waves were lashing the shore and my family was in danger. I rushed home and managed to rescue my mother. I took her to the hospital. By the time I returned, I realized my daughter was missing. I looked up hospitals for her but could not find her. After three days, I found her body in the debris of my house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We left paradise. It was a beautiful island. And we came back to just hell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We never felt that it was a tsunami. It was a big tide. They had big tides there every day. Well, it came and went, and everybody calmed down and came back to look at the damage, find their loved ones. That's when the second wave came. An elderly lady was stuck in the side of a balcony, and she was lying in the water on her back with her head just barely above water.
Chairs and benches and all sorts of junk were piling up on her and crushing her. Her elderly husband couldn't help her. But two other guys came running up and five of us pulled her out of there.
ZAHN: What miracles.
As our CNN special report, "Turning the Tide" continues, here are some of the latest developments in the recovery effort tonight. The overall death toll now is nearing 155,000.
Secretary of State Colin Powell says 4,000 to 5,000 American tourists are still missing. The search for them centers on Sri Lanka and Thailand. Meanwhile, President Bush today appointed his father and former President Bill Clinton to head up a campaign to raise private donations for the earthquake and tsunami victims. Both former presidents will be on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight at the top of the hour.
The president met with the new members of Congress today. He told them that approving disaster relief funds for the Indian Ocean countries will be their first order of business.
Our CNN special report continues throughout the night with correspondents across South Asia bringing you complete coverage of the tsunami's aftermath. And just ahead, there are some miracles, lots of them, in the midst of misery. A baby survives alone at sea, floating on an air mattress.
And remembering an adventurous traveler who loved the tropics honoring a life well-lived when we come back.
COOPER: And welcome back to Sri Lanka.
In TV news, we use the word miracles an awful lot. No doubt, we overuse the word. But there have been stories the last week or so that are simply remarkable, stories that give hope to survivors, give hope to those still searching for their lost loved ones, stories which give us all a reason to go on.
COOPER (voice-over): Nearly a week after the tsunami, a healthy, smiling 18-month-old baby boy from Kazakhstan was returned to the Kazakh ambassador after a woman discovered the boy floating on a mattress off Thailand's Khao Lak tourist resort.
The boy's parents probably perished, but his big brother is reported to be still alive; 23-year-old Melwati (ph) was swept out to sea by the tsunami, alone and adrift in the Indian Ocean for five unimaginable days. But a Malaysian tuna fishing boat spotted her in the waters near Aceh, clinging to an uprooted palm tree. She was weak and injured, but amazingly still conscious.
Back on shore, a search-and-rescue team made another incredible discovery five days after the tsunami flattened the town of Banda Aceh. There, under piles of rubble, was a 27-year-old man buried alive. Once he was freed, Isan Asmi (ph) was awake, alert and very, very thirsty.
Two days later and just hours after Indonesia's search-and-rescue teams said chances of finding more survivors was very bleak, another Aceh man beat the odds; 24-year-old fisherman Tenku Safyan (ph) was found alive after being pinned under his boat for seven days, no food or water for a week. Doctors describe his condition as very fragile, but hope that his body is as strong as his will to live.
COOPER: People here in Sri Lanka you talk to, they say they have seen many miracles these last seven or eight days, miracles large and small. They certainly do believe -- Paula.
ZAHN: Well, you have to believe when you see those stories you just shared with us tonight, Anderson.
And so many people have lost so much. And even when there is no longer hope for a miracle, there is still kindness and, for some, closure.
One such story which you'll see only here on CNN begins on a beach near the Sri Lankan city of Galle. That is where Kelly Hillgrove and her fiancee were staying. We told you about their story last week. The tsunami swept them apart. He survived. She did not.
Just hours ago, he brought Kelly's ashes home to her family in Maine.
I'm joined now by Kelly's father, Robert.
First of all, Mr. Hillgrove, our condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very tough time.
ROBERT HILLGROVE, FATHER OF TSUNAMI VICTIM: Thanks, Paula.
ZAHN: How is Kelly's fiancee holding up? It was he, after all, who helped discover your daughter's body.
HILLGROVE: He is asleep right now, completely exhausted, a long plane trip, many, many phone calls from everybody and everywhere. We initially was going to take him to the hospital. But he just wants to sleep and rest and it will probably be a 12-hour scenario.
ZAHN: One of the more wrenching things we heard about is that your daughter apparently was found on the beach clutching the hand of a young child. I guess that imagery doesn't surprise you at all, does it?
HILLGROVE: No, it doesn't. From friends and knowing the way that she was, it seems that type of person, it doesn't surprise me.
ZAHN: What was Kelly like? What kind of a person was she?
HILLGROVE: I guess you would call it a free spirit. She initially started out running, as I did, and she wanted to do artwork like her brother Robert.
And then she had to find her own niche, which was working, helping people, doing what she wanted to do, I believe. And I think she did it. She filled up three passports, something which I'll never do, or Linda , my wife. And I think she accomplished quite a bit.
ZAHN: There are still so many families out there holding out hope tonight. And although you will never heal from this great loss or the rawness of what you're feeling now, what does it mean to you that her fiancee has brought Kelly home?
HILLGROVE: It means everything. It really does. It's a finality of it. It's something that can never be paid back.
And I truly believe -- Linda and I truly believe that if it wasn't for CNN doing their part for the coverage, I don't think we'd have her remains back with us. And I really believe that. He was given a visa. And I want to say that the time frame was 15, 20, maybe half an hour after the fact. And he got it.
And this is a result of it. It's -- you can't be -- you can't thank enough people. And your organization I think really had the input on this. I really do.
ZAHN: Well, Mr. Hillgrove, we're so sorry about your loss and we thank you again for joining us at such a troubling time for your family. Good luck to you. HILLGROVE: Thank you.
ZAHN: And thanks again for sharing your story.
We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And we are back now.
So far, the world has pledged more than $2 billion to help the survivors of the tsunami disaster. They will need more. And today, President Bush called on his father and former President Clinton to lead a campaign to make that happen. And he thanked Americans who have already helped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the week since the tsunami struck, private citizens have contributed millions of dollars for disaster relief and reconstruction.
Organizations like the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, the Salvation Army, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, CARE, Unicef and America Cares responded rapidly after the tsunamis hit. They have reported an outpouring of generosity from around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: But how are those organizations spending your money?
Allan Chernoff dug into their IRS records and found major differences in how efficiently they get the money to people who actually need it.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Corporate donations of medical supplies keep arriving at AmeriCares. The relief group is transporting the goods to established charities in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. Normally, $99 of every $100 donated goes to relief. But for tsunami aid, AmeriCares' president promises every cent will go for assistance.
CURT WELLING, PRESIDENT, AMERICARES: We're greatly benefited by the fact that we have wonderful relationships with most of the world's pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies. And so that means an awful lot of the things that we get are donated to us.
CHERNOFF: The American Red Cross, the giant of U.S. relief agencies, spends $300 million a year on administration and fund- raising. Even so, it, too, is relatively efficient; $91 of every $100 donated goes for assistance at home and overseas. Altogether, the American Red Cross spends just over $3 billion a year on assistance. Save the Children also delivers $91 worth of aid for every $100 donated. Doctors Without Borders has very low administrative expenses. It relies on volunteers. It accepts no money from the U.S. government. And so the group spends a lot for fund-raising. As a result, $85 of every $100 goes for aid. That's slightly below the median for international relief organizations. Those who track relief groups say providing aid in the Third World is not cheap.
ROBERT OTTENHOFF, PRESIDENT & CEO, GUIDESTAR: Well, you've got to remember that these are organizations that have staffs to support and activities to run, so you can't expect them to have no overhead costs.
CHERNOFF: Oxfam, the hunger relief groups, says better than 90 percent of the donations get to the victims, but Oxfam concedes, its ongoing fund-raising overseas and college fund-raising are labor intensive. During normal times, just $77 of each $100 donation is directed toward assistance programs.
(on camera): Every relief organization pursues its mission in a different fashion. Some routes require more time and money than others. So there's no precise apples-to-apples comparison of all of the organizations trying to address the humanitarian crisis.
ZAHN: And that was Allan Chernoff reporting.
And joining me now from the United Nations is the man in charge of the U.N.'s massive relief effort. Jan Egeland is undersecretary- general for humanitarian affairs.
Good of you to join us at such a challenging time.
Mr. Egeland, before we get to the flow of aid just last week, you accused rich nations of being stingy in their dispensing of aid. Was your goal to humiliate them into action?
JAN EGELAND, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: No. My goal was to comment on what was the actual state of affairs in the year that was now past us and where we did not get enough money to provide even food for refugees and displaced and children that have been affected by conflicts in the Sudan and the Congo and elsewhere.
I said that the growing world economy and the 30, 40 rich nations should be able to foot the bill for at least feeding the poorest of the poor. I was never, ever in doubt that the generous partners that we have in the United Nations would come to our help now that we needed to help the tsunami victims.
ZAHN: We have heard a number of reports indicating that there are some logjams in getting supplies to the victims who need them. What will break that logjam?
EGELAND: We're doing a lot of things. One of the things is actually to have convoys going from Medan Airport, which is bigger than the small airstrip in Banda Aceh. We have a number of convoys going in every day. We are also using now airports in Malaysia and elsewhere to go to the area. More than anything, we are using helicopters coming on U.S., Australian, Indian and Singaporean carriers to go to those isolated places that we cannot even reach by road.
More than anything, it's the west coast of Sumatra which is the epicenter of this catastrophe. There are hundreds of villages there to reach. None of them can be reached by road. And there are potentially tens of thousands of people there stuck in a desperate situation.
ZAHN: Mr. Egeland, there are millions of Americans who are ready to write some generous checks, but they're very concerned that this money be turned into the supplies these victims so desperately need. What percentage of these victims are actually getting what they need?
EGELAND: We are reaching tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands now every day. In Sri Lanka, we will reach -- be able to feed 750,000 people as of the day after tomorrow.
In Indonesia, it will take a longer time. Whatever can be donated today, for example, through American non-governmental organizations, it may take some time before it will reach the victims. But it will be very, very well received.
ZAHN: What is it, Mr. Egeland, these victims need the most at this hour?
EGELAND: At this hour, it is water and sanitation. Many also need food, clothing, even, and shelter.
ZAHN: Well, it is heartbreaking to watch from here, and we wish you tremendous luck as you try to get this desperately needed aid to the victims.
Mr. Egeland, good luck.
EGELAND: Thank you very much.
ZAHN: And coming up at the top of the hour, Larry King's special guests, the two men heading up the relief efforts here in the United States, former Presidents Bush and Clinton.
Please stay with us, because, next, our CNN special report looks at a double miracle. How this couple lived to tell their story is one miracle. How they came to rescue a lost toddler and then ultimately reunite him with his family is another. Their amazing experience when we come back.
ZAHN: And welcome back here at the bottom of the hour. Our primetime coverage this week is focused on the earthquake and tsunami recovery efforts. We have correspondents across the region, from northern Indonesia to Thailand and all across the Indian Ocean to southern India and Sri Lanka. But world events have not stopped. And here are some of the other stories now in the news.
A newly revealed document shows drugmaker Eli Lilly has known about the dangers of Prozac for 15 years. Citing clinical trials, the 1988 internal document says nearly 4 percent of Prozac users attempted suicide, a rate 12 times greater than among users of other common antidepressants. CNN obtained the document from New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who wants tighter regulations on drug safety.
In Iraq today four separate car bombings, at least 16 people killed.
Weather a big story in the West Coast. Heavy snow in California shutting down a 40-mile stretch of Interstate 5, a main highway just north of Los Angeles. And in lower elevations, the storm caused some severe flooding. The bad weather expected to last through tomorrow.
We return now to the vast disaster zone stretching across south Asia, reaching the shores of Africa and touching lives all over the world. And amid the tragedy, a remarkable tale of compassion and sheer luck from Phuket, Thailand. It involves two vacationers from of all places, Seattle, Washington.
(voice-over): Meet Ron Rubin and Rebecca Beddall. The lucky ones, the survivors.
RON RUBIN, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: So this is what's left of our hotel room. Our bed was here. And we were sleeping.
ZAHN: They had flown from Seattle here to Phuket at one of the world's most beautiful beaches for a dream vacation.
RUBIN: It was an absolute tropical paradise. Just miles and miles of perfect sandy beaches, palm trees, you know, Christmas Day, families walking on the beach. It was -- it was something you would see in a postcard before the wave.
ZAHN: That tragic morning when the wave hit, the couple was fast asleep in their hotel.
RUBIN: I was awoken (ph) by this crashing noise that sounded like a landslide, an earthquake, a plane crashing and a train wreck all at the same time. And I jumped out of bed and I ran for the door with no clothes on and I ran out here and I ran through this -- I ran through the door. And I made it to the railing. And Rebecca said I was running so fast that I almost fell. When I looked down, I could see the water coming through the first floor of the hotel. And the pool was turning from blue to brown. The whole first floor of the hotel was under water.
REBECCA BEDDALL, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: And I didn't see what he saw. He saw water. I didn't see it. I thought maybe it was an earthquake, the building was going to collapse. I didn't know. I just -- there was no time to think about anything at all. All I did was kept my eyes on him and just followed him. And he saved my life by knowing to go to the roof. I would not have known that.
ZAHN: Once the storm had passed and they knew they were safe, they told CNN's Matthew Chance that their story had really just begun.
BEDDALL: This is where we ended up. And most people had convened here looking for other lost members. Everyone was missing somebody. So this was kind of the place people were trickling in to see if they could find each other.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And is this the exact place you found Hannes (ph)?
CHANCE: You didn't know that was his name.
BEDDALL: No, of course not. He was laying in that spot right there.
ZAHN: He was a small Swedish child just 2 years old. The blonde toddler lay among some Thai locals. He was swaddled in blankets and in shock. They rushed him, terribly traumatized to the hospital, where doctors were able to save his life. Ron and Rebecca feared for the worst, that the boy's parents were dead. And then, after a chance sighting of pictures on the Internet, a few days later, a bittersweet reunion.
RUBIN: It was very emotional to see that the father was alive and the grandmother was alive. And it's a tragedy that the mother died, but we were just -- we were so happy for him when we -- when we...
BEDDALL: And he was playing normally, just like a normal kid. He had a toy and he kept squeezing it and he was talking. I mean, he was not like that the day we had him. He was not talking. He was not playing, not -- he was very out of it. So we were really happy to see he looked perfectly normal again.
ZAHN: But their joy is mixed with sorrow for the thousands of families searching and holding out hope that their loved ones, too, will be saved.
BEDDALL: It's too much luck. You know, it's too much luck that we both survived. We didn't lose one another. We have no injuries. It's -- and that's just not the case for the majority of the people that were staying in Khao Lak. So there's really no words to describe how we feel.
RUBIN: It's a miracle to be alive.
ZAHN: If you don't believe in miracles after that, I don't know what will make you believe. And as we said, the ripples from this tragedy are touching people all over the world. We'll go back to Anderson Cooper who is standing by in Sri Lanka tonight -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Touching people all over the world, Paula, because so many of those killed and so many of those still missing all throughout south Asia were tourists who came from countries large and small all around the planet. Sweden was particularly hard hit. 827 Swedes are dead, at least 1,400 right now are listed as missing. CNN's Robyn Curnow has the story about one Swede who survived the storm and has returned to his country a hero.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This winter it's no wonder that Simon Anderson traveled from his home near this frozen Swedish lake to the warm waters of this Thai island made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie "The Beach." Like many Swedes Simon Anderson and his family wanted to escape these icy conditions for some sun. Little did the 20-year-old know he would return home a hero, saving not only his mother and sister from the tsunami, but also a Chinese man who could not swim.
SIMON ANDERSON, SURVIVOR: When I saw the sea water coming up on the beach, I see another die out in the waves. It was quite big wave, about four meters, five maybe. And I said or shout to him, I must go out there and save his life, because he's going to die. He's going to drown.
CURNOW: Simon remembers his father begged him not to go back into the water, but he did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I throw myself in -- out in the waves and started to swim to the guy. And when I came to him, he was so panicked, he couldn't swim good, or I don't know. So I got his lifesaver thing on him like they do in movies or something.
CURNOW: In fact, Simon tells me he was inspired by the TV series "Baywatch," pulling the drowning man into a watery cave because the beach was too far away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had water from our feet all the way up to our -- over our heads.
CURNOW: They were trapped in the cave for over an hour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't so scared about my own life. I was most scared about the Chinese guy's life, because he couldn't swim so well. So I was most scared for him so he wouldn't drown. I was -- I was myself confident enough for myself to know I'm going to make it if I need to.
CURNOW: Simon and the Chinese man whose name he cannot remember did make it. Afterwards they were separated on that far Thai beach, perhaps never to meet again.
But Simon's brave actions applauded by the Swedes. Here on Swedish TV 4, Simon tells his story to a nation desperate for some happy news.
Thousands are still missing. Swedes still desperate for any information from Asia.
(on camera) The Swedish newspapers are filled with stories of heroics and heartbreak. Mostly, though, the coverage is deeply upsetting. Stories of people still missing or dead, page after page after page.
Robin Curnow, CNN, Stockholm, Sweden.
COOPER: When we return, you'll see the storm through the eyes of a child.
COOPER: As we've said often in this disaster, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the numbers, but here's a number that really sticks in your mind. At least 50,000 of the storm's victims were children. It's about one third, and that's just an estimate. Those numbers could go higher.
CNN's Hugh Riminton has been traveling around Sri Lanka and recently spent some time with some kids severely traumatized by the storm.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Anderson. I mean, if you look at the situation at the moment now, the aid is very haphazard, and you're still seeing extreme desperation in areas where aid hasn't been getting to, where it's an absolute moment by moment, can I get some water today type of situation.
Now, there are other refugees or displaced people's camps where things are a little bit more organized. And it's -- it's at that point that you actually get to look a little bit under. It's not just that desperate moment-to-moment fight for survival.
But strangely enough it's at that point that you really can look in the eyes of some of these children. You really get a chance to see how appallingly traumatized that they really have been.
COOPER: Let's take a look.
RIMINTON (voice-over): The children of Beruwala (ph) Temple laugh as children do, though each night now they sleep 40 to a room.
And they don't talk about why they're here. They are homeless now.
Twelve-year-old Ganga (ph) and her 9-year-old sister, Juwani (ph), now rely utterly on their elderly grandparents.
"When the water came, I was frightened," said Ganga (ph). "We ran and our home was gone."
Every day the grandmother travels hours to a hospital to be with the girls' 13-year-old brother. Since the wave, he has spoken not a single word.
The nurses care for him, along with so many other wounded youngsters. No one can guess when he might start to speak again.
At the temple camp, children have had to grow up fast this week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All houses, dress, anything lost, we are -- we are very -- very sad.
RIMINTON (on camera): It is a sanctuary, but it can't last long. This is a school and kindergarten complex, and a week from now, all of these families must be moved on.
(voice-over) But to where?
SUJEEWA SAMARASINGHA, TSUNAMI VICTIM: Where you go? Nothing. Go on the road? Nobody help us, to help us out.
RIMINTON: To ease the trauma for her sister's children, she's told them their mother has gone away for work. Their mother is missing. The elder girl has guessed it.
SAMARASINGHA: She says no, no. You lie -- you lie as you talk to me.
RIMINTON: But how tough is this grandmother? No home, no work, no prospects, but no problem raising three young children. She says it will make her feel better.
COOPER: To see that little girl who knows that her mother is missing, probably not coming home, what happens to these kids? I mean, where do they go from here?
RIMINTON: Well, you know, I said -- I said to the aunt now, I said, "Well, when are you going to tell her the truth, you know?" I thought was it a greater cruelty to have this girl wondering in such a way about where her mother has gone, if she hasn't gone for a job or whatever.
She was determined. She says, "I can't tell them at the moment. It will be the finishing of them."
So you know, it's one dilemmas that just one mother has to deal with -- one aunt has to deal with in a situation like this. It's so many dilemmas, so many hard times.
COOPER: And so it happens in village after village, no matter where you go in Sri Lanka.
RIMINTON: Hundreds of thousands of little communities, of people that are suffering like that right now, yes.
COOPER: Hard to see -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks so much, Anderson.
Coming up next, a story that should leave you all in awe, a doctor seriously injured and trapped by debris, but she uses her own medical training to save her life. And from her bedside she's going to tell us how she beat the odds and survived.
ZAHN: Just eight days ago, Dr. Libby North was in a bungalow in one of Thailand's islands packing for the trip back to the United States with her friend, Ben Ables (ph). Then the wave crashed through the window. Ben vanished.
Libby was trapped for 45 minutes before help arrived. She's recovering now from a crushed hand and leg. She joins me on the phone from her hospital room in Bangkok.
Doctor, how you doing?
DR. LIBBY NORTH, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: Hanging in there, thank you.
ZAHN: What's the prognosis for your hand? I understand you've been through some extensive surgery to reattach your hand.
NORTH: Right. Initially, unfortunately, it was severely severed, and the flexor tendons, the median ulnar nerves and the ulnar and radial arteries were severed. But fortunately, I was one of the first people to be evacuated from Koch Phi Phi to Phuket, and I was able to receive surgical care by a plastic surgeon there, and he was able to reattach my hand.
And a hand surgeon here in Bangkok is hopeful that I will be able to recover about 80 percent gross motor function over the next several months. So I think that's very good news.
ZAHN: That's got to give you a sigh of relief. But describe to us what you were going through during that 45 minutes when were you trapped under all that debris. Did you think you were going to make it out alive?
NORTH: I wasn't sure. Before the wave receded, I was -- that was the most terrifying experience. I was submerged, and I was being crushed under heavy debris. And I thought that I was definitely going to drown. And it was the worst possible death imaginable.
And at the final moment, the wave receded, and I was able to breathe, but then I noticed my hand. And, again, my wrist was severely severed, and I was covered with blood. And I -- it looked as those some arteries had been severed. So I thought maybe at that point I could die from blood loss.
Fortunately, my left hand was free, and I was able to hold onto my right wrist as a tourniquet. But during that hour before I was rescued, I did feel extremely lightheaded and I thought that I might lose consciousness.
ZAHN: Well, it is amazing, given what you were up against that you could think clearly enough to do what you did. A lot of people think you wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for your medical training.
And I know you've got a lot of mixed emotions. Good news on one hand about your own hand. But our thoughts are with you as the search continues for your friend Ben Ables (ph).
Dr. Libby North, good luck to you.
NORTH: Thank you very much.
ZAHN: And thank you for sharing your story with us tonight.
Now on to Larry king, who has two very special guests tonight who have joined forces to help tsunami victims, two men who Larry King has become quite familiar with over the years of covering their presidency.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Hi, Paula. Welcome back.
ZAHN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: It's -- yes, it's rather historic. Two presidents on together. I don't think we've ever had that. We've had presidents of other countries on together, and I know presidents get together at libraries and funerals.
But this is certainly rare, to combine two presidents on a special kind of drive. Very good idea, I think, and I'm looking forward to the hour.
ZAHN: Well, they certainly, based on the news conference they have a lot of passion about what they're up to. Larry, looking forward to seeing those interviews tonight.
KING: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Thank you. "LARRY KING LIVE," coming up in just about six minutes, if you're counting, right here on CNN.
Coming up next, our CNN special report continues with the best news of all, alive and well friends and families making the life affirming connection. CNN.com reunion stories coming up next.
ZAHN: Right now, another story you will see only here on CNN. The day after the tsunami, CNN.com set up a web site where people could e-mail in questions about helping the victims. The site also helps families find missing loved ones. All sorts of e-mails related to the tsunami have been coming in, at least 20,000 so far. That's 20,000. Wow! And some of them have resulted in some very happy reunions.
CNN.com QuickCast anchor Veronica De La Cruz joins me now. Good to see you, Veronica.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN.COM QUICKCAST ANCHOR: Paula, hi.
ZAHN: I know you were blown away by the unprecedented interest in Web site. And I want to focus in now on one of the happy endings to more than a dozen stories you've personally witnessed.
And I want to start off by reading this e-mail that came Leigh- Jay, who writes, "I am trying to make contact with my disabled sister, 40, and her boyfriend. They travel to India every year and stay in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. My sister is confined to a wheelchair, has blue eyes and long dread-locked hair. Her name is Jennifer and her Spanish boyfriend is Andy. I have left messages and descriptions with embassies and help lines. I'm desperate for news."
What is the news on Jennifer and Andy?
DE LA CRUZ: Well, Paula, we have some good news to report. Leigh-Jay was actually able to get in touch with her sister and her boyfriend on New Year's Eve and happy to report they are alive. They're well. They're traveling through India right now.
And the interesting part of this story, Paula, is that this person posted their appeal and had a massive response from dozens of people, not only wanting to offer up words of hope and inspiration but also wanting to point out other resources that they could look for. So it's been an amazing resource for a lot of people.
ZAHN: That is so good to hear. We're going to move on to another e-mail from Charlotte, close with this. "Last received an e- mail from husband on Sunday, stating he was sitting on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, and felt the hotel swaying. I have not communicated with him since the e-mail. His name is Rodney. He is in Bangkok for R&R."
And then goes on to say, "If anyone knows anything about his whereabouts, please notify me."
What happened after this e-mail was posted?
DE LA CRUZ: Well, basically, what happened after this e-mail was posted was two hours afterwards, somebody went ahead and e-mailed her and said, "Hey, I live in the area. I can see the hotel and it's standing, so hopefully Rodney is OK."
And then without telling her, went ahead and called the hotel and said, "Hey, your wife is worried sick about you, please get in touch with her."
ZAHN: It's nice to get some good news on a web site, isn't it? DE LA CRUZ: Sure is.
ZAHN: Great stories. Thanks, Veronica.
Time to go back down to my colleague Anderson Cooper, who is in Sri Lanka, who will be back with me at 10 Eastern tonight with a lot more on what he has witnessed since arriving there -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Paula, listening to you talk about the Internet, it's one of the things that really strikes you about Sri Lanka is you go into these towns and you just see small posters. People have Xeroxed in a very sort of primitive Xerox a picture of their loved one with some -- some messages about them, desperate for some sort of word.
There are so many people here still missing. And there's very little hope they will be found, Paula.
ZAHN: Sorry to hear that, but I guess as you've described all night, in spite of the odds of finding them alive, they are still trying to keep up with a little bit of hope in their hearts. Thanks, Anderson.
Anderson and I both will be back with our CNN special report, "TURNING THE TIDE," at 10 Eastern. Thanks so much for joining us for this special report tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" next. His special guests, former presidents Bush and Clinton on their new roles, coordinating the U.S. effort to aid tsunami victims. Thanks again for joining us tonight.
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