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Science Teacher Survives Tsunami in Kayak; Senate Majority Leader Visits Tsunami Ravaged Region;

Aired January 5, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Americans searching for their missing loved ones received the worst kind of news, the American death toll doubles as relief begins to hit the disaster zone.
A CNN Special Report, Turning the Tide, starts right now.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: A once-serene Buddhist temple, now a scene of utter carnage and destruction, worshipers silenced by the deadly tsunami, a terrible toll, terrible loss.

Tonight, Anderson Cooper introduces you to a little boy who lost too much for his little heart to bear.

With their parents gone, are the most vulnerable of the children falling victim again? Are child predators taking advantage of the chaos to steal children?

Ten days after the killer tsunamis, the death toll stands at nearly 156,000, with thousands still missing.

We have special reports from Christiane Amanpour in Sri Lanka, John King and Aaron Brown in Indonesia, and Soledad O'Brien and Matthew Chance in Thailand.

ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN Special Report, Turning the Tide, with Anderson Cooper in Sri Lanka and Paula Zahn in New York.

ZAHN: And good evening. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

Those of us here in New York have been spending our days looking at videotape of a world turned upside down. Often enough, at first, you barely know what you're looking at. That looks like a boat, but it's overturned on dry land. And surely that's a car, only it's floating in what looks to be a lake. But since when are lakes lined with shops? So, no, it's not a lake after all, it's a street.

So many things are so very out of place. Evidently that is also the overwhelming impression even among those who can see all of this firsthand.

Anderson Cooper back with us from Sri Lanka. Anderson?

COOPER: You know, Paula, in the wake of the tsunami, a lot of things which are normally invisible are made visible, the roots of upturned trees, debris that's normally buried is laying all about. Even some things which shouldn't be visible at all, which should be invisible, have been made visible.

Take a look at this image. What is this image, if not an actual photograph of the will to live? Eight days after being carried 100 miles out to sea off the coast of Indonesia on a matting of branches and debris, 23-year-old Rasal Shaputra (ph) (audio interrupt) was taken aboard a freighter.

He was still alive after eight days with nothing to sustain him but rainwater. He needed help to get on the ship, of course. He needed help to eat, of course. He needed help to disembark. But unbelievably, he had kept himself alive. All those days, all those nights alone, out of sight of land, on a web of twigs and trash. That is how absolutely ferocious the will to live can be.

And if you want to know how ferocious the sea can be, recall that against its power, 150,000 times over, the almost invincible will to live was not invincible.

One of the things that's perhaps unique about Sri Lanka is the web of extended families which live in villages side by side, often under the same roof. You see it in just about every small village you come to here in Sri Lanka. Yesterday, I went to a village where that closeness, which is so often a blessing to so many, became a source of pain.

So much of a village life is centered around a single heart, whether it's a church or a mosque, or, in this case, a temple. This is a story of what happens when that heart is stopped.


COOPER (voice-over): Alone on a beach, a sad little boy, heard by the water beats on a drum, the pain in his heart too deep to express. The water took his sister and also his brother. He's only 13, but he's had a lifetime of loss.

These days, Matarango (ph) doesn't talk much, but he'll point out the ditch where his sister's body was found. Smelly, he says. The fresh mound in the earth is where his brother now lies.

(on camera): This is your brother?


COOPER (voice-over): No tombstone, no marker, just an old wooden board to keep off the rain.

A terrible toll has been paid in this village, a terrible loss for its people to bear.

(on camera): When the tsunami hit here in the village of Kamburu Gamura (ph), a wall of water washed over this structure. It was a Buddhist temple, and this was a holiday. The place was packed. A monk sat on the altar chanting. The people in the temple had absolutely no warning the water was coming.

Fifty-nine men, women, and children were in this room. Only nine survived. Fifteen of the village's children were killed.

W.K. Daratna's (ph) daughter, Sandamali (ph), was just 11. He dries out her things in the back yard.

Daratna makes his living from the ocean, selling fish in the village. But he won't return to work, because he can't face the sea. "I curse the ocean," he says. "I don't want to see the sea ever again."

In house after house, children have vanished. Sujoni Damianpi (ph) lost her youngest sister. They once shared a room. Now she sleeps alone.

A truck full of monks passes the village chanting prayers for the living, remembering the dead.

On the beach, some kids still play with the water, but little Matarango won't touch the tide. Alone on the beach, hurt by the water, a sad little boy throws stones at the sea.


COOPER: And I'm joined by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, who has been traveling widely throughout Sri Lanka.

You find stories like this just about everywhere you go.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I was noted in your piece where the person said, I never want to be near the sea again. It's so tragic, because this is the sea that they loved. They called it the good sea. How could it turn so malign, the sea that they lived off its bounty?

We've been talking to people, for instance, in one of the many shelters on the east coast of this island, which was one of the worst hit. And you just listen to mothers almost matter-of-factly saying, Well, I ran when I saw the wave, but I lost two children, I managed to save one. Another mother lost her sister, her brother-in-law, and all the children in that family. Others are just there waiting to see what they can get, what kind of support they can get, and just to see if the sea will give back their children.

Many of them who actually didn't see the children swept away with their own eyes still don't believe it, are hoping for a miracle. It's just so much pain.

COOPER: I, just on a personal level, I find it hard -- after a while, you -- it's like your eyes adjusting to a darkened theater. You start to not see the debris in the same way, you start to not see the devastation the same way. I mean, I think personally, it's something you have to sort of fight against.

But after a while, you know, someone comes up to you and says, Well, I lost two members of my family, and you start to think, Oh, well, that's not so bad, because this guy over here lost seven. And that's -- I mean, that's a wrong way of thinking to me.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, you can feel that way, but on the other hand, you can say, Well, I lost seven, but I saved one. At least they have hope from, you know, saving just at least one or two members of their family. I mean, that's the scale of this incredible tragedy. On this coast, 700 kilometers of Sri Lankan coast has been devastated.

COOPER: It's amazing to think.

Christiane will be joining, we'll be continuing our coverage. We've got a special report on children tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern. What are you going to be focusing on?

AMANPOUR: Well, some of the miracle stories, but alongside the miracles, also the dark moments for the families. I mean, some of these stories about how an individual human being, whether by fortune or quick thinking, managed to save a whole school full of children. The little boy who lost all his parents and siblings, but managed to survive by hanging onto the train rack. You know, just so many of these little glimmers of hope in this very dark moment.

COOPER: It's amazing, too, that who lives, who dies, I mean, those small decisions, those intimate decisions you make in the spur of a moment, you know, turning left instead of turning right, that made the difference between life and death.

AMANPOUR: Or running, not being terrified and being rooted to the spot.

COOPER: All right, Christiane Amanpour, thanks very much.

Let's check in with now John King, who I believe is in Washington. John?


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a stunning bird's-eye view, the devastation of Banda Aceh stretching nearly 100 miles, but in water, where roads and homes once stood, other buildings ripped to pieces, residents by the thousands washed away in the giant wave.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I cannot begin to imagine the horror that went through the families and all of the people who heard this noise coming, and then had their lives snuffed out by this wave.

KING: Ships tossed like toys, trees snapped like matchsticks. This pilot describes Secretary Powell as in shock as he looked down on a place where they are still counting for dead, still searching for bodies, and still aching for food 10 days later.

POWELL: I've been in war, and I've been through a number of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other relief operations. But I have never seen anything like this. KING: On the ground, an update from relief workers on the humanitarian crisis. The displaced in Banda Aceh now number an estimated 400,000.

Secretary Powell was told desperately needed relief flights are slowed by air traffic control problems. With the permission of Indonesian officials, U.S. and Australian military units will rush to make improvements.

POWELL: We can increase the throughput, as it's called, the rate of arrival of planes and supplies, and that's what we'll be working on.

KING: U.S. officials have shipped 16,000 tons of rice and soybeans to Indonesia, but much of it is being trucked to Banda Aceh from three days away, and deliveries were suspended once already this week for eight hours because of a firefight between Indonesian troops and separatist rebels.

The emotional visit left the U.S. delegation stunned.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: It is with a heavy heart that we're here, but we're friends forever.

KING: Governor Bush is heading back to the United States. Next for Secretary Powell is a regional conference in Jakarta to coordinate relief and reconstruction, then a visit to Sri Lanka for another look at the tsunami's fury.


KING: Now, Anderson, Secretary Powell will be among those at the donors' conference here in Jakarta. It gets under way a little more than an hour from now. From the U.S. perspective, the issue at the moment is not money, it is coordination between the various governments involved. It is also trying to develop the infrastructure on the ground to deliver the relief supplies. The challenges here in Indonesia different, perhaps, from the challenges in Sri Lanka.

Secretary Powell is seeking not only a financial commitment in making those governments keep to their pledges to give millions and millions, indeed billions, in the coming weeks and months, but also trying to work out some of the tough issues that are preventing getting the aid, now stacked up at many airports in the region, to the people on the ground.

Yesterday, example, in Banda Aceh, it had been 10 years since any American aid workers were on the ground there, because of fighting between the government and separatist rebels. The health minister was killed, the public works minister was killed in the bombing, so -- in the tsunami, excuse me.

So the issue is not so much money right now, it is trying to find a way to get more aid workers in. And they frankly are worried, as more and more relief organizations come into the affected areas, there will be chaos and confusion, and even competition, that will prevent getting the aid to those who need it the most, Anderson.

COOPER: John King in Jakarta. Thanks very much, John.

So many of these local governments saddled with bureaucracy to begin with, a lot of the infrastructure of these governments has simply been wiped out in some of these areas. The aid is coming, but it is not always getting to where it's needed as quickly as it should.

Coming up later on in our special coverage, Soledad O'Brien is in Phuket, Thailand, with one survivor's story, searching for his missing friend.

Right now, let's go back to New York and Paula Zahn. Paula?

ZAHN: Thanks, Anderson.

As you so poignantly reported in your reforce (ph) report, probably our chief concern should be how the children are faring in this terribly hit region, children waking up at night screaming.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the trauma facing an entire generation of kids. That's up next.

Plus, children of the storm. A grandfather clinging to hope that his grandson was kidnapped as proof that he's still alive.


ZAHN: Seeing the desperation simply overwhelming.

You may have heard reports that child missing since the tsunami may have been abducted from a hospital in Thailand. Well, tonight, police say that's simply not true. And that's not what the family wanted to hear.

Our own Matthew Chance is in Phuket Island in Thailand with the very latest on this story.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like thousands of others, 12-year-old Christian Walker is still missing. Swedish police investigating reports he had been kidnapped in Thailand after surviving the tsunami say they found no evidence of foul play. His disappearance may be far less sinister than first believed, but it's no less tragic.

Earlier, speculation was fueled by the child's grandfather, who made an urgent appeal in Thailand for information. He said Thai doctors had told him they recognized photographs of Christian. Thailand's health ministry has since said there's no record of him ever being treated.

DANIEL WALKER, GRANDFATHER: Well, I tell you, I don't know that he's been kidnapped. I should say I'm hoping he's been kidnapped, as opposed to having been killed initially, because if he's been kidnapped, there is a possibility that he's alive.

CHANCE: But that possibility now looks increasingly unlikely. Aid workers say criminal gangs and pedophiles may well be operating in the aftermath of the tsunami, exploiting this disaster's youngest and most vulnerable. And grief-stricken parents may well hang onto even that as a desperate hope.


CHANCE: Well, Paula, the trail of 12-year-old Christian Walker does seem to have gone cold at the moment. But the fact is, there are still hundreds of children, even just here in Thailand, that are still counted as missing in the aftermath of the tsunami.

It must be absolute torture for the parents of those children to think that even a possibility of any one of them having survived and been abducted by the criminal gangs that aid workers, including UNICEF and other agencies of the U.N., say are operating here and in other areas of the disaster zone, Paula.

ZAHN: Matthew Chance, thank you so much for the update.

And while police say that was not the case that this child was stolen, the threat, though, is quite real.

Coming up, a look at concerns that some children might be sold into child labor, illegal adoptions, or even prostitution.

And tomorrow night, a CNN primetime special at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Saving the Children. Anderson and chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour will bring you the stories of the tsunami through the eyes of children left in its wake. Again, 10:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow night.

A global disaster and a massive relief effort. Aaron Brown is in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, the area hardest hit by the storm. Find out how religion is playing a role in the distribution of aid.

Also tonight, children and trauma. An entire generation grapples with a nightmare. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the personal story of two girls who can't sleep through the night.


COOPER: One of the hardest-hit areas in the disaster zone has been Banda Aceh, Indonesia, so close to the epicenter of the earthquake that started all of this in the first place.

CNN's Aaron Brown arrived in Banda Aceh yesterday. He's been covering the relief efforts there. Let's join him now. Aaron?


As you look past us here, this wall of water, the wave, came up the river. Now we're about a mile and a half from the ocean. This isn't the beach here. And Tom, if you pan over here, you can see how enormous the wave was. It lifted this boat up to the height of this bridge.

The other thing to note, as you look down the river, is how little has changed since the wave hit. When we were driving through the town yesterday, we didn't see a single piece of heavy machinery, not one bulldozer to clean anything out here.

So while there has been an enormous effort to get food to people, to get medicine to people, get refugees in tents and the like, virtually nothing has been done so far to clean up any of the massive debris that is not simply here, of course, but that is all around the city, Anderson.

COOPER: Aaron, where is the relief going? I mean, you know, as we saw, it's been starting to trickle in. The U.S. military is doing an awful lot there. Where is it going? And how fast is it getting out?

BROWN: Well, it's literally getting out as fast as they can. I mean, they bring these Sea Hawk helicopters in off the "Abraham Lincoln." They're bringing some smaller -- there's New Zealand cargo jets coming in, some Australian cargo is being brought in. And then they're put on smaller helicopters.

Some of it stays here in Banda Aceh, of course, but a lot of it goes to the western part of the island. The western part of the island, there's a series of villages, fishing villages, by and large, and they're just almost completely destroyed. You're talking about 80 percent of the people who perished.

The Navy, the U.S. Navy, by and large, will put down there, distribute food. They will lift back up with them the most seriously wound -- injured people, bring them to triage centers at the airport, where we reported from yesterday, and ultimately, those people will be taken to hospitals, although sometimes it's a long wait, taken to hospitals about 10 hours away.

COOPER: Aaron, we'll be checking in with you a little bit later as our special report, Turning the Tide, continues.

We're going to take a look at orphans and how they are dealing in the aftermath of such loss.


COOPER: An amazing scene of sunrise over Baruwala in western Sri Lanka. We are live in Baruwala, the sun here not yet risen. That was the sunrise yesterday. We're looking forward to what this new day will bring.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien is in Phuket, Thailand. She has been following efforts by some survivors to find their missing loved ones. And today, some bad news for many Americans who are still searching. The American death toll doubled, the official numbers doubling.

Soledad O'Brien now in Phuket. Soledad? SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, clearly, wherever you look along this path of the tsunami, there is just stories of loss and, frankly, guilt by the survivors here in Phuket, Thailand, where thousands are either dead or missing.

We spoke to one father who tells us the story of how his toddler, who he was holding onto just slipped through his fingers. He couldn't keep his grip on him. We're going to talk to him a little bit later.

There is some good news, though, that I want to get to. First, let's talk about a little bit of a return to normalcy. Schoolchildren back in school. And we've got some pictures from the Punga (ph) Province, where the schoolchildren have finally returned after a scheduled holiday.

Another school, though, the numbers there, I think, underscore just how devastating the impact has been on that population, children, 128 children scheduled, registered at that school, only 26 of them actually have showed up. Are they dead? Are these missing? Or are they just temporary dislocated? We do not know at this point.

Focus now on the business, the business of tourism, and the business of fishing. We spoke to the deputy director of the U.N. Development Program, and he says local impact is now his main focus. As far as tourism goes, they are trying on Phi Phi Island, where you can see some pictures from the hotels obliterated, the little businesses were wiped out.

And so they're trying to bring those things back as quickly as possible, for the locals, whose main business is fishing, some 3,000 fishing boats are needed before they can rebuild their lives and businesses. Getting that under way is going to be critical to prevent a second catastrophe, an economic catastrophe, if you will.

North, about two hours away, temporary shelters have been set up, temporary camps, and there's rows and rows and rows of tents in line. They're waiting there, while at the same time they finish some work on row houses, a little less temporary, a little more solid, but not permanent, exactly. It's sponsored in combination by the government and relief agencies, those programs, the infrastructure they're hoping to start putting back. Because of course at this point, and again this is from the Punya (ph) province, no infrastructure there whatsoever.

So Anderson, some progress to report on some fronts, but for those searching for any news, and certainly those who are searching in the hopes of finding someone that they love alive, not a lot of progress on that front necessarily -- Anderson.

COOPER: Soledad, we'll check back with you a bit later on. Our special two-hour coverage continues right now. CNN's senior medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta has been looking into the status of orphans, here in Sri Lanka and all across the disaster zone. So much attention has been paid to the waves, and people say the waves are gone, the water is calm, the sea has returned to normal, but life for so many children here in Sri Lanka, so many orphans, will never return to normal. For them, the trauma, it seems just be beginning. Here's Sanjay.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not surprising that 12-year-old Ushara Naomi (ph) and five-year-old Madra (ph) both wake up screaming at night.

N. PREMADAFA DE SILVA, FATHER (through translator): When she goes to sleep, she asks whether the tsunami will also come to this place. Several times throughout the night, she wakes from sleep and shouts. She has nightmares.

GUPTA: The two girls, along with their mother, ran for high ground as the tsunami wrapped itself around their country. Their father found them here, five kilometers from their home. Even though they're in a displacement camp, most would consider the De Silva family lucky. Everyone in their family survived, but more than a week later, it's abundantly clear it's not just the physical, but the psychological damage that is of major concern.

N. F. DE SILVA: As a man, I can bear it, but for my girls, I am doubtful that they can handle it. So I don't show my fear to my wife and my children for their own sake.

GUPTA: As their father hides doubts of their recovery, the mother does what she can to shield them from traumatic memories.

KUMARI KAJAKARUNA DE SILVA (through translator): I'm in a difficult situation. I don't like to talk to my daughters about it. I know with the help with the teachers in music class, they will soon come through with a certain level of understanding. That's why I don't want to remind them again.

GUPTA: In a country where you'll be hard-pressed to find a counselor or psychologist to deal with these emotions music therapy seems to make a difference for the De Silva children.

IROHANLE GUNAWARDHANE, MUSIC TEACHER: These children have lost their teachers, schools, books, everything. Music activities will help them stay focused on their education. Also, these children show some abnormal behavior, such as loneliness, depression and stress. By doing music, maybe they can forget these things and enjoy life.

GUPTA: As Irohanle teaches the children patriotic songs of ancestors who also overcame adversity, they join the countless generations who have used music to sway emotion and to assuage fear. As they sing, you can almost see the nightmares disappear, even if it's just for a little while. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Sri Lanka.


COOPER: The power of music, I think it bears repeating one thing Dr. Gupta said in that piece, this is a country, Sri Lanka, where you would be hard-pressed to find any therapist or psychologist or counselors. A hard thing for the children here to have to face on their own. Let's go back to New York and my colleague Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: Thanks, Anderson. The hope is along the way, I know some folks here in the United States are planning to make a trip, because they think those kids are in dire need of psychological counseling.

We have another story on the other side of amazing survival. A couple on their honeymoon swept out to sea, saved by a stranger. They share their challenge next.


ZAHN: You're looking a live picture of the USNS Mercy, a 1,000- bed floating hospital leaving its berth from San Diego. That would be a glorious sight to folks in south Asia if it weren't for the fact that it will take 30 days to arrive in the region. Nevertheless a lot of hopes are riding on the important work that the men and women on this ship will be doing.

Today the State Department confirmed the number of Americans believed killed by the tsunami have gone up, more than doubled in fact. That number now stands at 36. It also says the number of Americans unaccounted for has dropped to 3,500. Many of those names are posted on the walls of the missing, like this one in Phuket, Thailand.

Will and Amanda Robins are not among those lost thanks to the help of a man they knew simply as Marcus (ph). The Robins were on their honeymoon in Thailand's Phi Phi Island when the tsunami suddenly hit. They join us by phone from a hospital in Bangkok.

Will, thank you so much for joining us with Amanda. I know you're suffering through some pretty extensive injuries. If you don't mind taking us back to the roaring of the initial wave you heard and what you thought was going to happen.

WILL ROBINS, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: Um, yes, nice to speak to you. The initial wave, obviously we were hidden in a room, so we didn't know what was going on. We weren't sure if it was a terrorist attack or an earthquake or tsunami, but then obviously when all the walls caved in and the water came in extremely quickly and we were rushed out to sea, we realized it was some type of earthquake or tsunami wave taking us, but really quickly we didn't know what was happening until a couple hours after when people started to talk about it and we could see the waves coming over the island continually washing debris back and forth over the island. It all happened so fast. We really weren't able to contemplate what was happening.

ZAHN: Amanda, during those initial minutes, you didn't even know whether you and Will would be separated, then you both had to deal with bad injuries. What are you suffering through now?

AMANDA ROBINS, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: I'm sorry, would you please repeat that last part?

ZAHN: Yes, I'm sorry you all have to share a telephone. I was saying at one point you and Will didn't even know if you were going to be separated after you were sent back into the sea. Both of you were injured. How are you doing? What do the doctors tell you?

A. ROBINS: As far as our injuries go I have a pelvis fracture. I have a fracture on the front left side, but on my right side my pelvis is fractured on both sides, which is extremely rare and just was due to the tremendous force. Will's ear was almost severed off. It was hanging on for dear life. He was able to have that stitched on. Then his clavicle had separated, and the struggle to survive had overlapped, so he had to have surgery to straighten his bone and put it back in its correct position.

ZAHN: I guess, Will, when you think about what it took for the two of you to survive, you can only describe it as an unbelievable will of nature...

ROBINS: We're hearing about every other word. If you could talk a little bit louder, that will be so nice.

ZAHN: Sure. I'll have you put Will on, now. And pause for a second to make sure he can here me. And what our audience needs to understand, this is very complicated technical setup, and they have to share a phone. So, when I talk to one can't here.

Will, I hope you're with me now. I'm talking about the enormous will it took to survive all this. And I know the two of you credit a young man named Marcus, basically with saving your life once you were thrown out to sea. He was in a boat. Have you figured out where he is today?

ROBINS: Um, yes, actually we had worked out when we met him on the boat, and been partially saved and taken out to the ocean to one of the dive boats, he had told me his name. And we were able to actually get an e-mail from him yesterday.

We e-mailed the company that he had worked for, and we found out that his family had all survived -- because he was in shock, unable to help us, because he had lost his whole family. But amazingly, you know, to save us, because we were getting pulled back under.

And thankfully all of our prayers have come to fruition, and his family is OK, and they're all back in Sweden recovering from some injuries and some of the -- you know, the broken bones and stuff, but everybody is alive and well. So, it was really nice to get an e-mail from him yesterday and know he's OK.

ZAHN: That's a great end to a story that ended nicely for all of you that were thrown together by fate. Will and Amanda, we know it's going to be weeks before you recover from the injuries you've sustained. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us tonight.

ROBINS: Thank you very much.

ZAHN: Good luck. And in one Maine community, there is an emptiness tonight, a deep loss from a disaster half a world away. 35-year-old Kelly Ann Hillgrove was killed by the tsunami. Just last week and this week, members of her family told us about her remarkable life. And today our Gary Tuchman was with them today as Kelly was laid to rest.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a fridged northern New England day in the tiny town of Hope, Maine, a mother shows off old home movies of her children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Kelly and this is her brother Robert.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And how old is Kelly here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's her first birthday.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): One week after Kelly Hilgrove's 35th birthday, on vacation in Sri Lanka, her body was found in 5 feet of water, clutching the hand of an unidentified two year old child. Her fiance was separated from her when the waves hit, and he was the one who found her.

MASSER ZOUADUI, FIANCE: I found her after 2 hours, and she was just fine, she just had a mark on her temple, nothing, and she was so beautiful, and to me, she didn't suffer, because her face was -- was not a face of suffering.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you feel there will ever be a day when you can recover from this?



TUCHMAN: 11 days after she was killed, Kelly's funeral in a Methodist church back in Maine, her ashes in an urn in front. Her brother, the one in the home movie, gave the eulogy.

BOB HILLGROVE, BROTHER: I think I'm in a state of confusion right now on whether to decide if her loss is bigger than the catastrophe over there, or if the catastrophe is bigger than her loss, each compounds the other.

TUCHMAN: The small church was packed. Kelly's mother and father sitting in the front row.

L. HILLGROVE: She put herself through school, and she worked so hard and she had had so many traumas in her life, and I just couldn't help her.

TUCHMAN: Kelly had been living in Colorado, but her family and friends say her heart was always in Maine.

B. HILLGROVE: She's home. And that's what counts.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Hope, Maine.



COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN special report, "Turning the Tide." I'm Anderson Cooper in Western Sri Lanka. One of the hardest places to get to in Sri Lanka is up in the North and the Northeast, in areas controlled by the Tamil Tiger rebels. CNN's Stan Grant was one of the first western journalists to travel extensively with the rebels in that region as they went about the devastated land trying to recover bodies, burying the dead, burning the dead.

What Stan saw as -- of all the people he saw, what affected him most, I think, has been seeing the children. It affected him not just as a journalist, but as a father. Here's his reporter's notebook.


STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We've been traveling with a group of Tamil Tigers collecting the bodies of the dead from one of the areas that's been devastated around this particular part of Sri Lanka. And we came across a group of bodies in the distance. And from where I stood, I could see that they were children, no more than babies, really, aged maybe between 1 to 3.

And from a distance, it just really didn't look real. They looked almost like mannequins or dolls. But as I got closer, I saw that their arms were locked around each other, they were hanging onto each other. Their bodies had been tossed in the torrent of the wave as it came through, but somehow these 3 little kids had hung together, clung together and died together.

At those moments, you stop being a reporter. The tools of our trade, the objectivity and the distance that we need to be able to do our job effectively in most cases desert you. Being a reporter just doesn't cut it anymore.

I was standing there looking at it. I couldn't help thinking about my own children, because I have 3 little boys of my own. And I know I look in on them sometimes before they're about to go to bed, and they're often laying there, and they've got their arms around each other. And I remember looking at those 3 little babies, and they had their arms around each other and it reminded me so much, so much of my own kids.

And I started thinking about the little things, because being a father, it's never the big things of life that really matter. It's the little things. It's how I get angry with my boys when they're watching videos, playing games and not doing their homework, when my littlest one wants to run around the house without any clothes on and I'm yelling at him to get dressed, or my oldest boy is trying to get out of math homework for the hundredth time. I remember wrestling with them before they go to bed and how they loved that so much. And I wondered about the little of these boys' lives. I wonder what they were doing at the moment before they died, if they were playing together on the beach with no idea this water was about to come through. I wondered about their father, I wondered if their father was alive or dead, if their father wrestled with them before they went to bed or got angry for them watching movies when they should have been doing their homework.

As I stood there I actually started to broadcast live. I had a phone in to one of the programs. Richard Quest, one of our London anchors was on the other end of the line. As I was speaking to him, the bulldozer came through and lifted up these three bodies onto a funeral pyre. They had stacked the wood about a meter or so high.

I remember standing there live on air describing the scene in front of me, trying to do my job as a reporter, which was just futile, because I stopped being a reporter. I was a father. I remember getting to the end of it, just not knowing anymore what to say. Richard came on, and he said, at this moment, obviously it's a very solemn moment, there is nothing I can ask you.

I hung up the phone at that moment the fire was lit, and it was a funeral service. That's what I was witnessing, a funeral service. No priests, no mourners, no parents, just three little babies in this barren landscape lifted up on a funeral pyre and set alight. I remember then just thinking of a little prayer for them and wanting to be with my own family. And I tried to ring my wife a few minutes later. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't do it, because I was working. I wanted to hear my wife's voice so I could do that, but she wasn't home. I think it's that image and how it touched me and how it made that scene so more real, that is still what this story is about for me, down to its basics.


COOPER: A very personal story from CNN's Stan Grant. Let's go back to Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: Anderson, thanks. Thousands of people still missing, including this little boy. His last words to his dad, I'm scared, please help. His dad is still holding out hope. He shares his anguish next.


COOPER: Here in Sri Lanka, the effort to find missing loved ones is a very difficult one indeed. There's really no centralized place somebody can go to look at pictures to try to get information about their father or their son or their daughter. The situation in Thailand in Phuket is somewhat different. It's a little bit more organized it seems, and CNN's Soledad O'Brien has been following one man's heart-wrenching tale as he searches for his two-year-old son. Let's go to Soledad now in Phuket -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Anderson, thanks. As you well know, every story of loss is terrible, but this story I have to tell you, it will rip your heart out. We spoke with Anders Ericsson, he's from Norway, and his two-year-old son Ragner (ph) is missing. He tells us the story of what happened when the tsunami hit them. Let's listen.


ANDERS ERICSSON, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: We were staying at the beach resort, in Khao Lak (UNINTELLIGIBLE) beach, and we were having this fabulous morning. We were at the back of the complex, which is a two- story-high bungalow. We were playing in the pool. Someone came screaming that we had to get as high as we could, because the tsunami was coming.

So we just picked up our things and ran up the stairs to a room that was open from our friends on the second floor. I was -- we were gathering people there from the beach, because everything was happening so fast. When the wave hit, it first smashed the windows of the second floor, and in a moment, the concrete wall was busted. We were flushed out of the room. I was holding my son in my arms. He had these blue swimming arms on him, and the last thing he said to me is, daddy, I'm scared. Please help.

We were flushed out and caught in debris. The water was crazy, you were up, you were down, you were underneath swimming around with cars, refrigerators, furniture, fallen-down trees, everything else. The palm trees came on us. We were traveling in this wave 30, 35 kilometers per hour. We went above the palm trees. The palm trees were just small bushes picking up. I tried to change the grip on Ragner. I lost him. Since he was smaller than me, he just drifted away from me. I caught myself up in a tree about 900 meters up, inland, where I climbed up, held on. My wife, she was flushed 2,500 meters across the main road and into the rubber tree plantation. We found each other 24 hours later and found out that we were alive.

O'BRIEN: You have put your number for people in Thailand to reach you and it's on the picture. People can see as they look as this picture of your son.

O'BRIEN: Do you spend the day going to hospitals and following up on leads? Any worthwhile leads so far?

ERICSSON: At the moment, we are following up -- the work has been very much getting out the message, with a picture, to anyone who has seen him or can identify him in any way can contact us for good or bad news. We just have to find out.

We have been out looking. There has been a lot of rumors that there's still European children at hospitals, but all of that has been checked out from the Malaysian border all up the coast, Suletani (ph) and Bangkok. So he is not in a hospital. We're pretty sure about that. And if there's someone who has seen him, we are grateful for any help that you can provide news our search for our son.


O'BRIEN: The little boy is 2 1/2 years old. He has a triangular birthmark on his back. And, as you can hear, I think his father is resigned to maybe just hearing any sort of information, anyone who can say that possibly they have the little boy's body at this point, because surviving obviously looking very slim at this point -- Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Soledad, just a devastating story. Thanks very much.

I'm joined by CNN's Christiane Amanpour here in Sri Lanka, also Aaron Brown in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

And, Aaron, I understand you have some breaking news. What just happened?


As we were standing here waiting for you, we were hit by another aftershock. There was one about 2:00 in the morning and another one this morning. We're standing on a bridge. And everything you know about earthquakes tells you that a bridge is a really bad place to be. And so we got off.

We're about a mile and a half from the ocean. And then there's another 30 miles to where the epicenter of the quake was. And so, pretty clearly, Anderson, the earth is still grumbling pretty good out there.

COOPER: Aaron, when something like that happens, what does everyone do around you? How significant is it? What does it feel like?

BROWN: The problem is, you don't know how significant it is. What it feels like is, the ground starts shaking.

I was standing literally right where I am now and I looked across this two-lane bridge and I could see it moving.

And everyone started to say, get off the bridge, get off the bridge. And my mother didn't raise me to be dumb. I didn't need to be told twice, to be honest. And so I just ripped the earpiece out and ran to where the street starts and the bridge ends, until it calmed down. The whole thing -- it felt to me actually like it happened in two little waves. And the whole thing probably lasts, I don't know, four or five seconds, maybe a little longer than that.

But I can tell you that, when it's happening to you, it feels a whole lot longer than three or four seconds.

COOPER: Yes, I can imagine.

Christiane, let's talk about this early warning system a little bit. People have been talking about this for a long time. It's years down the road.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, I'm just listening to Aaron. Imagine an aftershock, what people must think. What about perhaps another wave, after-wave. It is a terrifying prospect.

Apparently, the chances are very slim. But unlike the Pacific Rim, which has an early warning system, the Indian Ocean does not. The last tsunami was in 1833. And we talked to an American vice admiral last night, the director of the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is going to start talking with colleagues and people in this business how to set up an early warning system. They say it may take 10 years.

COOPER: Are you -- I was in a village yesterday. And a number of the people there said that they heard there was going to be another tsunami. Someone even gave me a date. They said it was going to be on January 8. Do you hear that kind of stuff?

AMANPOUR: People very suspicious, very upset that they haven't been warned, and hoping against hope that there won't be another such one.

COOPER: All right, we'll talk with Christiane a little bit more on, as well as Aaron Brown and Soledad O'Brien.

For now, let's go back to New York and Paula Zahn -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, you two.

The scale of devastation is very difficult to imagine. Pictures such as these in Indonesia convey only part of the damage. But now there's a new danger that we all should be concerned about, one that isn't the result of a natural disaster. It is all manmade.

At the top of this hour, we start with a growing fear that the most vulnerable victims, children, are falling prey to those with the most evil intentions, sexual predators.

Here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid the wreckage and refugees, relief workers now estimate one-third of the people killed by the tsunamis were children, about 50,000 in all. An untold thousands more lost their homes, their parents, or both.

"All the houses in our neighborhood were destroyed," this girl says. My mother is dead. We found her body." Such stories have children's aid groups sounding an alarm.

ANDREA BERTONE, HUMANTRAFFICKING.ORG: The more out in the open they are, the definitely more at risk they are for being exploited by, unfortunately, a lot of people who are going to come in not only for sex, but for domestic labor, for adoptions.

FOREMAN: Even before the disaster, some of the hardest-hit areas were infamous for a black market trade in children, kids sold for everything from camel racing to prostitution, serving sex tourists. Aid workers have no proof this is happening to refugee children now, but despite police crackdowns, rumors of predators on the prowl are rampant.

CATHERINE CHEN, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Well, across Indonesia, we know that 100,000 to 210,000 children are engaged in sexual exploitation every year.

FOREMAN (on camera): This seems like really one of the worst places in the world that this could have happened for children.

CHEN: Yes. Yes. That's very true.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Child advocates fear traffickers may even try to profit from well-intentioned offers to adopt orphans, snatching and selling children who are simply separated from their families in the chaos.

DAN TOOLE, UNICEF: What we do first is register those kids. We start to post photos of children to make sure that the relatives elsewhere can find them.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: And here to talk about the threat of child trafficking is Janice Shaw Crouse, who heads up the anti-trafficking efforts for Concerned Women For America.

Doctor, thanks for joining us tonight.


ZAHN: So, how vulnerable are these children to the sex traffic trade?

CROUSE: Well, they're vulnerable anyway. Every day, these children are abducted in these countries. They are countries where sex trafficking is rampant.

These evil people are all over those countries. So this situation just makes it that much worse, because the situation is so chaotic, so unstable.

ZAHN: But there are evil people here in this country, too.


ZAHN: And the United States pretty much props up the sex trade. How many of these kids, if in fact they're kidnapped and they're sent into the sex trade, could wind up in the United States?

CROUSE: A number of them probably will. But most of them will end up in Singapore or some of these other more wealthy countries in Asia.

But the children who come into the United States, there are 14 to 17 million of them, the State Department estimates, every year.


ZAHN: Say that again. How many?

CROUSE: I know. It's staggering, isn't it? Fourteen to 17 million people are brought into the United States every year. And it's just appalling to think that this is going on. And yet it is. The demand for prostitutes, the demand for cheap labor, has really created an industry that is unbelievable and is so horrific, that we don't even want to think about it taking place in a country like this.

I guess the good part of it is that the United States is also the leader in combating this modern-day form of slavery, is what the president calls it. And he's devoted $50 million to combating sex slavery and labor slavery of children like this.

ZAHN: But are you optimistic, even given some of the restrictions some of these South Asian governments have now put in place about what it takes to get a young orphan child out of the country, that it will make any difference at all?

CROUSE: Well, the problem is, it's almost impossible to keep up, even as much as we're doing now. The problem is growing so rapidly that every effort we're making is just really a drop in the bucket.

But miracles happen every day, Paula. And I'm very encouraged by what is happening in these four countries that were hit so hard, because they're countries that are on tier two that the State Department ranks. That means that they're doing significant work against this modern-day form of slavery. But they really have so much more work to do.

And yet they are taking very dramatic steps. And I think that it is working at this point. And certainly awareness has increased dramatically in the last couple of days.

ZAHN: Yes, the specter of this just gets you in the gut.

CROUSE: Doesn't it, though?

ZAHN: Just -- it makes you sick.


CROUSE: When you think of what these children have already gone through, the trauma that they have had with the earthquake and then the tsunami, losing their parents, to add something like this to it is just unconscionable.

ZAHN: Thank you for your leadership and insights, Dr. Crouse.

CROUSE: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: The scope of this disaster, as you all know, is unprecedented. And so is our response. CNN has correspondents and crews all over the region, bringing you all the stories, big and small, stories that you're not going to find anywhere else.

Coming up in this hour, fierce heat, long lines, and the endless cleanup, for thousands of survivors, it's the new way of life.

But, first, we want to update you on some new developments.

International officials are gathering in Jakarta right now for an emergency summit of donor nations. It starts at the top of the hour. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan are among those attending. We will be taking you there live.

Indonesia, which is hosting the summit, remains by far the hardest-hit country. After taking a helicopter tour of the devastation in Banda Aceh, Secretary of State Powell told reporters, "I have never seen anything like this," a man who's been to a lot of war zones.

Indonesia's confirmed death toll both from the earthquake and the tsunami that followed now stands at more than 94,000. The island nation of Sri Lanka follows, 46,000 and counting. Nearly 10,000 people are confirmed dead in India, more than 5,000 in Thailand. The overall death toll, nearly 156,000, 16 Americans confirmed dead. U.S. officials today announced that 20 others are presumed dead.

Anderson and I have so much more to share with you tonight from the heart of the tsunami zone. And like the lives of the survivors, the stories have tremendous highs and incredible lows, the scramble to fight off hunger under miserable conditions, celebrities raising millions, while schoolkids empty their piggy banks. And maybe, most incredible of all, hope lives, even after the worst that can happen.

It's all straight ahead.


ZAHN: Some help finally arriving.

An international aid conference begins at the top of the hour in Jakarta, Indonesia. Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan are there.

So, too, is John King. And he joins us live.

John, before we get to the substance of what's going to come out of this conference, give us a sense of the kind of security forces that have been mobilized to protect these world leaders that are coming to this conference.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's quite extraordinary, Paula. You can hear the helicopters perhaps overhead. The convention center here is under very tight security.

There have been, of course, many terrorist attacks in this country in recent years, including a bombing at the Marriott Hotel where Secretary of State Powell is staying right now. However, I will say this, that officials and all the security officials we have talked to from the U.S. perspective say that they believe right now that the greatest urgency here, even among, say, the separatist rebel groups, others who oppose the government here in Indonesia, is to get aid to the people.

They are certainly worried about security, but that is secondary to what they believe is coming out of this conference with a greater urgency, not just promises from politicians to come up with the money, but a plan from those politicians to take that money and to deliver it in the very different ways it is necessary in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the other affected countries.

ZAHN: John, when you're talking about 13 different countries getting involved with the distribution of aid, it could be a real mess, couldn't it?

KING: It can be a real mess.

And for viewers in the United States, one thing to understand is, this is not like taking food and water and supplies to the state of Florida after a hurricane, where you have an infrastructure in place. Just yesterday, Secretary Powell was up in Banda Aceh, in the -- Sumatra here in Indonesia. And there have been no U.S. aid workers there for 10 years because of civil strife, sometimes civil war.

They were trying to truck in some supplies and they had to stop because of fighting between the separatist rebels and Indonesian troops. The health minister, the public works minister, 80 percent of the local officials were killed in the tsunami. So, how do you deliver medicine, how do you deliver food, how do you think about rebuilding roads when you have nobody to talk to?

So, that is the most urgent challenge here, developing a network and a system to do the urgent need, then worry about long-term reconstruction, debt relief, and issues like that.

ZAHN: John King, we'll be staying with you throughout the night to keep us posted on how that conference is unfolding. Thanks so much.

Back to Anderson.

Anderson, I'm sure you've heard in some of John King's reporting today the very personal reaction Secretary of State Powell has had as he's toured some of these devastated areas. This is a man that has seen more combat zones than any of us could ever imagine, and he was very shaken by what he saw.

COOPER: Yes. I heard what you said about him saying he had never seen anything like it. It's an amazing statement considering his record.

Paula, we'll come back to you in New York shortly.

I'm joined by CNN's Hugh Riminton, who's been out and about tracking down the relief aid, where it is going, how it is getting there. And a lot of aid is coming in. The U.S. Marines have landed. They plan to bring in about 1,000 U.S. Marines in total, bringing aid to those in need.

But, at this point, it is still not enough. It's not always getting to those in need, as you found out.


As we travel around, Anderson, aid is pretty much a lottery. We expect that there are some extremely difficult to get to areas that are just simply not getting aid, as those desperate scenes still with helicopters, such things that are pushing through.

But what we're finding is that, even close to the main lines of communication between the major cities and the roads that are opening up, there is still desperation in people's faces as they line up to get whatever they can.


RIMINTON (voice-over): All day long by a putrid drain, the women of Hikkaduwa stand and wait. The heat is fierce. The queue seems endless.

Near the front, those who got up at dawn watch life being doled out cup by cup. Everywhere, Sri Lankans are trying to move beyond their grief. They line up patiently at police stations to record the loss of their houses and loved ones. The world that was shifted is being moved again, load by load, scrape by scrape, heave by heave.

In this tourist town, they plead for people to return.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just come in help to the people, whatever, as money come in to the town. And we like to work also. We need to work.

RIMINTON: This food depot is not the work of a formal agency, but a couple from Liverpool, England, who have been sending $600 a day to keep people alive in the town where they've had holidays in the past. Their friends here put the money towards rice, sugar, and lentils.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we are all together, we can stand. If we divide, we fall. At this moment, we should stand together.

RIMINTON: In fact, they stand together all day.

(on camera): After waiting seven hours in the baking sun, the tension has become too much. And this feed point is about to become bedlam. There are just too many people. There are simply not enough bags of food.

(voice-over): Within 10 frantic minutes, it is all gone, 350 people fed. Others walk away with nothing. Even after so many days, the tsunami's force seems difficult to grasp, a wave that stopped time, that swept the earth clean, water that welded metal to wood where, in this stretch, the only structures that survived were the graves. We find here Abubada Rizve with his list of family members killed.

ABUBADA RIZVE, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: Another one, the youngest one, six-month baby. Other one is 25 years, my son-in-law. Another is 1 year. He's son. Altogether, 15 persons.

RIMINTON: He invites us to see where his family was destroyed. His wife survived, but has lost her leg. At 42, his greatest pain, the loss of his baby daughter.

RIZVE: This morning, I hear they found my daughter, my one daughter. So I feel really bad. So that is -- I really -- I love my daughter.

RIMINTON: He says he thinks of suicide. He waited 10 years for this girl who they buried today in the sand.

Across Sri Lanka, volunteers are coming forward to help as people face their changed lives with all the courage imaginable. But this is a country full of people with no one left to talk to but themselves.


COOPER: The trauma people are facing, what help is there for psychological problems?

RIMINTON: Well, before psychology came along in the world a century or so ago, people got through things by talking to friends and family.

But what we're seeing here is so many people, those traditional supports have gone, because friends and family have gone. There's one major aid agency today in Colombo in the capital who is training a whole bunch of counselors to go out in the field. But it's quite evident that there's going to be an entire generation here at least that is going to be deeply scarred, forever emotionally and mentally scarred, no matter what comes in because of this event.


COOPER: Yes, an amazing story.

Hugh, thanks very much for that.

When we come back, a truly remarkable story, a man who survived at sea eight days. He only had rainwater to drink. He is alive, not all that well, but he is alive and he is going to make it. We'll have his story when we come back.


ZAHN: More help on the way tonight at the tsunami zone. The U.S. Naval ship Mercy is setting sail from San Diego, a 100-bed -- excuse me, a 1,000-bed floating hospital. It will take about a month to get to the region. Pledges of help for the tsunami survivors have now surpassed the $3 billion mark worldwide. Germany has increased its contribution to $664 million today. Australia raised its pledge to $774 million. Pope John Paul II renewed his call on all believers and men of goodwill to contribute.

And on the road in Illinois, President Bush urged all Americans to keep giving.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What they tell me is, the most important contribution a person can give is cash. And let the agencies on the ground be able to use that cash to best meet the needs of those who have suffered.


ZAHN: And the White House confirmed today that President Bush has donated $10,000 of his own money for relief.

And many more of the world's most famous are contributing as well.


ZAHN (voice-over): Formula 1 champion driver Michael Schumacher leads the pack of celebrity donors with a $10 million gift. He's joined by basketball stars Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O'Neal and others who have pledged $1,000 for every point they score in games later this week.

Hollywood stars are also writing checks. Steven Spielberg has donated $1.5 million to be divided between three charities. Actress Sandra Bullock has given $1 million to the Red Cross. And Leonardo DiCaprio, who spent four months in Thailand shooting the movie "The Beach," pledged a substantial amount to UNICEF, telling ABC's "Good Morning America" it's important the world act together to provide relief.


LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: If there's any silver lining, it's the fact that there's been this great outpouring of human compassion.


ZAHN: Singers are chiming in, too. The rock band Linkin Park launched a nonprofit organization with a $100,000 donation.

Country singer Willie Nelson is headlining a benefit concert in Austin. And Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, and Tim McGraw have signed up for a mid-January TV benefit. Private donations in the U.S. have topped $200 million so far, with one charity, Catholic Relief Services, reporting donations at a rate of $100,000 an hour.

If you plan to make a donation, please be careful. Fund-raising officials say watch out for Internet scams.

DANIEL BOROCHOFF, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHILANTHROPY: Don't respond to spammy e-mail. And the link -- anybody can set up a phony Web site that looks legitimate. Don't give out your credit card number to somebody that calls you.


ZAHN: And if you would like to help, log on to You'll find a list of the most reputable charities.

There's a lot more of our special coverage straight ahead tonight.

Hot, crowded, desperate for food. We're going to take you on a mission to save stranded villagers.

And imagine riding out a killer tsunami in one of these. Well, you're going to meet a man who did just that.

And a story you won't forget, the tragedy of losing all you have, and then the triumph of new life.

All that and more when we come back.


COOPER: And welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper live in Sri Lanka. Coming up in this half hour, we're going to take you on an amazing tale, a man swept out to sea, survived for 8 days on a raft, all alone, nothing to drink, but rainwater. His tale of survival coming up in this half hour -- Paula.

ZAHN: Anderson, the more I hear about that guy, the more amazing it is that anyone could survive those conditions. We have all been consumed by the magnitude of the devastation and the immensity of the suffering, yet, there are stories so many stories of hope, like Anderson just shared with you, including that of a new life. A tiny boy who came into the world only hours after the tsunami spared his parents. We'll have their story in a little bit.

But right now, we want to take just a moment to update you on some other major stories in the news tonight.

Assassinations and car bombings claim nearly two dozen lives in Iraq today. However, the country's interim prime minister says his country's national elections will take place on time January 30 as scheduled.

Corporal Wassif Ali Hassoun, the U.S. Marine who disappeared in Iraq last year, reappeared in Lebanon and ultimately was charged with desertion, is missing again. Investigators believe Hassoun, who had been granted holiday leave went to Canada and caught a plane back to Lebanon. A Supreme Court spokesman says ailing Chief Justice William Renquist is working part-time and intends to swear in President Bush later this month. Renquist is receiving chemotherapy and radiation for an aggressive form of thyroid cancer.

Banda Aceh is at the Northern tip of Sumatra's Island. Since it was damaged by both the earthquake and the tsunami that followed, the devastation and suffering are simply unbelievable. Aaron Brown is there monitoring the recovery efforts and joins he us now.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We've had this rumbling, another aftershock, we get 3 or 4 a day. Mike Chinoy is with us. We've both been in this business awhile. One of the problems in this story in this place, I can't speak for the others, is I'm not sure the television camera captures how big, how horrible, the destruction is.

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, I think that's true. What you see in front of you is what you see in front of you. But then it's the same thing whether you go to the left or right or behind you or 5 miles or ten miles or 150 miles. It's really hard to take in.

I went off with the U.S. Navy on a relief mission yesterday. And we flew over 100 miles down the coast and it really raised a lot of questions for me about sort of where the line is between being a reporter and at what point you really want to do something to help.


CHINOY (voice-over): Even before we took off, an American pilot arrived cradling a baby he just rescued. We were told there were many more casualties where this one came from.

Reporters aren't supposed to get involved. We observe, we record always slightly removed. But after nearly 10 days here, I couldn't do that anymore. When it came to loading food and water onto the chopper we were taking, I found myself joining in.

There were 2 helicopters on this mission both attached to the guided missile frigate U.S. Shiloh. We flew along the western coast of Sumatra. Until December 26 there were towns and villages here. Now I've run out of words to describe what I see.

Lieutenant Joe Heal and his crew were taking food and water to a town called Malabo, or what's left of it. Thousands of people died here. The survivors remain cut off. Air drops virtually the only source of supplies.

We flew in low, frantic people swarmed around the chopper. Joe couldn't land. As we hovered five feet from the crowd, crew member Zachary Dawson struggled to unload the supplies. I put my notebook down and started to toss boxes out the door.

In spite of the chaos, there were smiles in the crowd. We'd given them food, water and a little hope. For the first time since I came to Aceh, I felt good about something. But it upsets me to think how many still have nothing. On the USS Shiloh where we landed to refuel, the pilot told me just how tricky the drop had been.

LT. JOE HEAL, U.S. NAVY: The hover only came up just because they rushed the helo so fast. But as I was coming down, they were underneath me. And the crew men in the back told me it was not safe to come down.

CHINOY: Even 17 kilometers, 12 miles out to sea, a week and a half later, you can't escape the horror. Captain Craig Faller told me bodies float by every day.

CPT. CRAIG FALLER, USS SHILOH: It's unbelievable. It's very sobering. And we're just glad to be here. And anything we can do to help.

CHINOY: Half an hour later, Lieutenant Heal gets ready for another mission. Whoever I talk to here, military folks like him, relief workers, other reporters, and of course the local people, we all come back to the same theme: this disaster is beyond anyone's comprehension.


CHINOY: I guess for me the thing is the situation where the longer you stay, and the more you see, the harder it toss find something that you feel is meaningful to say about it.

BROWN: We ought not -- we're in the business of words and pictures. And words and pictures are what we're expected by viewers to do. There is an enormity to this. We drove through, as I told you I was going to do yesterday, drove through the town. And 100 yards from the mosque which by and large is untouched, there's bodies still there. And there will be bodies still unclaimed, unburied, sitting there, for months and months to come.

CHINOY: Yeah, just 400, 500 yards down there, I took a walk. there hundreds and hundreds unclaimed.

AARON: Mike Chinoy, thank you -- Paula.

ZAHN: Aaron, we'll be checking back with you in a bit. Thanks to both of you.

Coming up next, what could be the most unlikely story to surface so far. Imagine yourself adrift at sea on almost nothing. How about almost like a tree limb. For more than a week. It is an amazing odyssey coming up.


ZAHN: Misery meeting hope. It seems like everyone who has survived the tsunami has a story of how they cheated death. Well, one Washington state family made it out alive in kayaks.

Here's Kimberly Osias' story that you'll only see here on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KIMBERLY OSIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Half a world away from Southeast Asia, here in Bellingham, Washington, earth science teacher Bob Candico is closing the distance.

BOB CANDICO, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: Being able to look at pictures of something firsthand is kind of a better way of experiencing.

OSIAS: Teaching middle schoolers about earthquakes and tsunamis, using his own real-life experience.

CANDICO: We packed all our stuff up and started paddling in the boats.

OSIAS: Bob, his wife Karen and their 23-year-old niece Cammy (ph) were on a Christmas kayaking trip in Thailand when the tsunami hit.

CANDICO: The earthquake was right here, off the tip of Sumatra. We had no knowledge of it. We didn't feel it. We wouldn't have felt it anyway, because we were on the water.

OSIAS: They were out at sea when Bob noticed the ocean's bizarre ebb and flow.

CANDICO: So here we are paddling just before the wave.

OSIAS: Waves ten feet high coming in like clockwork every 15 minutes.

CANDICO: Water would rise up and the beach would disappear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While you were kayaking, what do you think would have happened if you didn't have the knowledge about earthquakes and tsunamis?

CANDICO: When I talk about science in teaching, you never know when you're going to use something. But having some knowledge in this case saved our lives.

OSIAS: Knowledge that prompted him to paddle further away from shore and out of harm's way.

It was days before Bob e-mailed home saying everybody was OK. But it wasn't until they arrived at the airport for the flight home that the enormity of what happened started settling in.

With thousands of people dead or unaccounted for, passengers were asked to sign in, registering with their governments that they were not among the lost.

(on camera) You had to be frightened.

CANDICO: The fear was really real. When we came home, we came home with a burden.

OSIAS: A burden of guilt for worrying his family and his school. And a burden of sorrow for the people who did not come home.

Kimberly Osias, CNN, Bellingham, Washington.


ZAHN: Got home with an amazing gift, as well.

Every day we hear of new miracle stories. You may have missed this one from the start of tonight's special.


ZAHN (voice-over): This man, Reisal Charputra (ph), of Indonesia's Aceh province is one of the few who lived to tell the tale. Moments before the tsunami leveled his village, he heard frantic calls of warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My son came and shouted, run, run, a big wave is coming.

ZAHN: But it was too late. He and his family were all swept far out to sea. In the initial shock, he expected to die. But he didn't. He floated for eight days, he says, alone. Long after all others around him had died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I saw many dead bodies floating beside me.

ZAHN: But a miracle in the form of this uprooted tree kept him alive. He clung to this tree as the currents carry him nearly 100 miles from shore. Finally, he was spotted by sailors on this Japanese ship and brought to safety in neighboring Malaysia.


ZAHN: A miracle he survived.

Time to check in with Larry King.

Larry, you and I have been at this for almost -- over a week now. I don't know about you, I just can't get enough of those miracle stories. What do you have in store for us tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Yes, but it's starting to get to you. Doesn't it get to you, those stories?

ZAHN: All of them do.

KING: Up tonight we're going to have -- you know that 12-year- old boy, the Swedish boy, Christian Walker, who was reported missing, had been reported kidnapped from a hospital. And now authorities are saying there's a different story.

Well, his grandfather is not Swedish. His grandfather is an American Marine. He's gone to Thailand. He's going to be with us, and we'll focus the whole program tonight on children at the top of the hour -- Paula.

ZAHN: We will be here watching, Larry, as always.

KING: Thank you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much.

And right now, we have a beeper, as we call it in our business, with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is traveling with Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader. A man, as you probably also know, is a gifted surgeon.

Let's find out what Dr. Gupta is seeing right now -- Sanjay.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Paula, he's a cardiac transplant surgeon. That's right. He is here, along with Senator Mary Landrieu just to form assessments of what's going on here in terms of some of the relief efforts and what is needed.

Two things they're going to focus on. Senator Frist is going to focus on what sorts of medicines are going to be needed, what sorts of medical care is going to be needed. He's talked about setting up an international health corps, perhaps, to bring doctors from all over the world to this part of the world.

Senator Landrieu also her. Her focus is going to be children primarily. That's what she wants to focus on, children who have been orphaned, who have lost one parent or both parents. And she's going to be visiting with some of the orphanages around.

The plan is for the senator to eat. We're in Colombo now. We'll be getting on the helicopter in a flight to the southern tip of Galle, and then make their way around the east coast, as well. This is the first time they're in country, so we'll certainly keep you posted on what their observations are, Paula.


ZAHN: Sanjay, for folks who aren't familiar with your work, besides being a pretty savvy TV guy, you also happen to be a surgeon yourself. Describe to us some of the conditions you've seen in operating rooms that you've been exposed to on this trip.


GUPTA: We have seen some hospitals -- and I'd point out, Paula, I think it's important, that Sri Lanka doesn't have the best public health infrastructure.

Having said that, I visited some of the hospitals here and found them to be very adequate in terms of resources, in terms of operating resources, overall medical resources.

The problem is, as many know now, is getting those who need that care the most to those places. Going up to the coast, a lot of medical care being given in these displacement camps, which essentially, Paula, consist of setting up a small, creaky wooden chair, having a doctor, if you're, lucky sit down, monitor a lot of these patients, find out if they're developing any diarrheal disease, which is the biggest concern right here.

Far and away, diarrheal disease is the biggest concern, because that can be contagious. It can spread, and that's when you can possibly start an epidemic.

They're trying to get medicines, Paula, into these camps. What's striking to me, I think, and to a lot of doctors that I've spoken to, is that the medications cost 25 cents for one of these antibiotics. And it could truly save a life in certain regions here in Sri Lanka.

The problem is getting some of those medications to those displacement camps. We're over a week from when the tsunami wrapped itself around this country, and still medications haven't gotten to a lot of these places. And that is very frustrating, I think, for a lot of people we are seeing, Paula.


ZAHN: All I know is Senator Frist is an important symbol for a lot of folks, as we see him donate his time to help those that are suffering so much. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

When we come back, more stories of survival. They may not look like children who lived through nature's fury. But these kids have incredible resilience, as you'll see next.


COOPER: It may surprise you to learn, but some children in the tsunami zone have already gone back to school. They've returned to their classrooms. But in some cases, they've found empty seats. Their classmates have simply disappeared.

CNN's Aneesh Raman visited one school in Phuket, Thailand.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do not let the image fool you. Amidst this innocent scene of children back at school, smiling and playing, the horrors of last week lurk quietly everywhere.

Like others today, 9-year-old Manatna (ph), surrounded by friends, tells her tale of what took place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was sleeping. My aunt knocked on my door. I didn't get up. Then she kicked my door. I got up and with my mother and father, I ran up to the hill. The water was still coming. So we had to go even higher up. Water everywhere.

RAMAN: Her father was then thrown by waves. As she speaks of that, translation can do no justice to the little girl's pain.

What these eyes have seen, what the effects will be on a child's mind, is nothing short of profound. Manatna (ph), not even a teenager, already speaks of death with resignation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If I die, at least I die once.

RAMAN: But she is lucky. Manatna (ph) and her family survived.

In her classroom, empty seats with those children yet to return. Their absence today is ominous.

(on camera) Manatna's (ph) story is this island's story. The pain of what took place still so real, so fresh, that even for these children, picking up school books left out to dry, the need to rebuild cannot be ignored.

(voice-over) A new roof for a house destroyed. Manatna's (ph) father trying to provide a glimmer of hope that perhaps things can and will get better. Yet the most troubling question is the one she cannot answer, the one that she avoids: why this happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't know.

RAMAN: Amidst friends overcoming such an ordeal seems possible for Manatna (ph). But as she walks home alone, there is no way to know the images playing in her mind, the emotions brewing.

For children all across this region, digesting the hellish enormity of this disaster could be impossible.

(on camera) And Anderson, that's why communities like these are coming together like never before. Teachers are now counselors, parents are watching out for others' children. All to help the kids deal with the undeniable trauma of what has taken place here -- Anderson.


COOPER: Aneesh, and so many children still missing. Aneesh Raman in Phuket, Thailand, thanks very much.

Let's go back to New York and Paula Zahn -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, Anderson.

Of course this disaster, touching children all over the world. And here in the United States, they are learning about it in school and learning what they can do to help out.


Joining me now, three students from the United Nations International School here in New York: 12-year-old David Kaner, who's in seventh grade; Ruth Wekwete, 11-year-old sixth grader from Zimbabwe; and Eric Kiss. He's 11 and in sixth grade. Great to have all of you with us.

We know you've talked an awful lot about the tsunamis. What was your reaction when you heard over 150,000 people were killed by this?

ERIC KISS, SIXTH GRADER, U.N. INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL: I was sort of shocked. I couldn't really like believe that this -- because I've never really actually experienced, like, a tsunami or anything or heard of one. So I couldn't really believe that it could actually kill that many people.

ZAHN: David, I know my own kids have had trouble trying to understand exactly what this means. Did it affect how you slept? Did you have a hard time sleeping? Did you worry a lot?

DAVID KANER, SEVENTH GRADER, U.N. INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL: I worried a lot for the people who are there. And I kept -- I kept imagining what it would be like to be there. And I -- I really felt strongly that they -- that they needed help.

ZAHN: And I know now that your school has set up a program where you all will write letters and you will designate some funds to different countries.

Ruth, I'd love you to share one of your letters with us tonight, if you wouldn't mind reading it for us.


ZAHN: Before you read it, I should make it clear that your school was affected by 9/11 in a dramatic way. So all of you children have been exposed to tragedy.

WEKWETE: Dear friend, being in a disaster can really affect you. Whether or not it is a natural disaster is another thing. When September 11 happened, I didn't know what to think or how to react. Everything was happening so fast. This day made me realize how much I appreciated my life itself and my family. Disasters scare you and devastate you. At the same time, they make you realize how precious life is and that you should make the most of it in whatever way you can. We hope that you receive many blessings. Your friend, Ruth.

ZAHN: That's going to make a lot of difference when someone receives that. Eric, you also wrote a letter that I'd love for you to share with us now.

KISS: Dear friend, I've heard that the tsunami has killed 100,000 people. I hope you didn't know any that's gotten hurt. Also, there are a lot of people that are homeless and a lot of diseases are going around. I'm sad that all these people have gotten hurt. I think we should buy food and medicine. Also we should buy tents so if someone's house was destroyed, they could sleep there. Sincerely, Eric.

ZAHN: A very nice letter.

KISS: Thank you. ZAHN: How sad has it been for you to see pictures of children orphaned by these tsunamis, their whole families wiped out? It's hard to accept, isn't it, Ruth?

WEKWETE: Yes. Because like just thinking, you know, you're so lucky to be in a place where it's, like, really safe. And, like, all these people have been devastated by a disaster. It makes you feel happy that you're helping them in whatever way you can.

ZAHN: I'm personally very proud of what the three of you are trying to do. Best of luck to you. We should make it clear, in most cases these kids are trilingual. Not bilingual, trilingual. Maybe we'll be seeing you doing some important international work down the road.

David Kaner, Ruth Wekwete, and Eric Kiss, thank you all. Good luck to you.

WEKWETE: Thank you.

KISS: Thank you.


ZAHN: And unfortunately, this disaster has been so much about the children: the ones lost, the ones who survived. And join us for some of their amazing stories in a CNN special, "SAVING THE CHILDREN," tomorrow night, that will be Thursday, at 10 p.m. Eastern.

And Anderson and I will be back in just a moment.


COOPER: It is almost 8 a.m. here in western Sri Lanka. A new day has begun. The sun is just rising. It will no doubt be a very difficult day for tens of thousands of Sri Lankans, as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow -- Paula.

ZAHN: Yes. I guess every new day reveals more horror there, Anderson. You've given us a pretty good sense of that tonight. Anderson, I'll see you in just about an hour from now, along with Aaron Brown, as the three of us come together for yet another special report. John King will join us out of Jakarta to bring us up to date on that very important donors' conference going on there.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.


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