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Tsunami One Year Later; Tsunami Hero; Prevent Overindulging This Holiday

Aired December 24, 2005 - 08:30   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to join HOUSE CALL, our regularly scheduled programming already in progress.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And health problems at the camp now, I mean, does it seem like there are many ill people there? Does they seem like they have it pretty much under control?

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: And this is very much just from a layperson's perspective, people seem to be muddling through and doing OK. There is the depression. It is not rainy season. It's just getting into rainy season.

I think it's this maintenance issues and worrying about the future. I think that they are getting counseling or trying to. They hope for more aid groups to come back. Many of the volunteers that were initially there after the tsunami struck went to Pakistan to the earthquakes, came to - you know, came to Katrina and the hurricanes in the United States.

So they're hoping that these aid groups can come back so they can get more counseling, to get more medical supplies. But it's going to be an ongoing thing. They think that the recovery process in Indonesia alone will be at least ten years.

COHEN: Right, right. Well, Alice (ph), thank you so much for that interesting report. That was terrific to see.

And coming up, we head to the beach, the resorts of Thailand.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The waves kept coming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The building was collapsing, so I had to jump to another building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some survived, but so many didn't. How many vacationers are still missing? And what about this prediction?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be able to prevail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are the tourists coming back? That's just ahead.



COHEN: Welcome back to HOUSE CALL. Last December, the luxurious beach resorts dotting Thailand's southeast coast were ravaged by the tsunami. Nearly half of the more than 5,000 dead in Thailand were tourists on holiday during peak vacation season.

Our Aneesh Raman was there and has this report.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first wave hit Phuket around 9:00 a.m. Within minutes, tourists alerted the world. Within hours, we arrived.

(on camera): We got to Phuket on the first flight in. Most of the island was still without electricity. And here at the airport, this area was filled with hundreds of stranded people.

(voice-over): The first survivor we met was 26-year old Julia Lebeau from Belgium.

JULIA LEBEAU, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: The building was collapsing, so I had to jump to another building. And then, a second wave came in, a third wave came in, and people injured. I saw a dead bodies floating. And so then at a moment, we decided with a couple of people just to run for it.

RAMAN: She had narrowly escaped death, but many, we soon discovered were not as lucky. Tens, then hundreds, then thousands, the number of dead kept riding.

There was the wall of the missing. Some of the faces to this day still unaccounted for. Debris was everywhere above ground and below the water.

Now it is almost all gone. A year later, there are few signs of what happened here, more of what is happening now. Wissut Kasayatanand managed the Kamala beach hotel, where some of the most dramatic video was shot. In the days after the tsunami, he sound optimistic.

WISSUT KASAYATANAND, KAMALA BEACH HOTEL: We should be able to prevail.

Getting better.

RAMAN: Good to see you.

A year later, his spirit seems vindicated as the tourists returned. A hotel once littered with endless debris is back.

What is it for you see this, to see people coming back, to see the hotel back up and running?

KASAYATANAND: I'm so happy. I'm so happy. I'm really happy for all the staff, all the people on the beach and everything that their lives can move on and get going again, you know?

RAMAN: But not everywhere. The worst hit part of Thailand was the coastal area of Pang Na. We got there by road three days after the tsunami hit to find an area just starting to dig out.

(on camera): A year area, the area where we stood in Pang Na is now being rebuilt. Most of the debris has been cleared but some of it, this ship still rests miles inland, serving as a reminder of that traumatic morning.

(voice-over): And the wounds here linger as well, especially among the children of the tsunami. At this school in Pang Na, everyone was affected. 14-year-old Panupanowsung (ph) saw his whole family, parents and brother killed.

"I will never forget what I have lost," he says. "I keep telling myself no one in my family should have died in the tsunami."

The pain in southern Thailand remains very real. Survivors struggling to start over, some waiting even now for permanent shelter.

But the clearest legacy of the tsunami here is not one of tragedy, but one of resilience and determination of people throughout this area, overcoming the greatest of odds and living again.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Phuket, Thailand.


COHEN: The international commission on missing persons is working with governments and families around the world to help identify victims by matching up DNA. The lab, located in Sarajevo, was originally used to ID victims of the Bosnian War. To date, nearly 700 bodies from the Thailand tsunami have been identified.

More HOUSE CALL after the break.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An unintentional hero. What would you do if death was coming straight at you? Would you stay and help? He did.

Plus a controversy over these symbols of a killer tsunami. We'll tell you those stories just ahead.

But first, more of this week's medical headlines in "The Pulse."


COHEN (voice-over): New York University researchers studying mice found that the animals that breathe polluted air, even at levels within federal standards, had far more fatty deposits in their arteries than those breathing filtered air.

The pollution, mainly from vehicle exhaust and power plants, was equivalent to air quality in cities like New York. And if you suffer from chronic lower back pain, you might want to try yoga for relief. A new study in "The Annals of Internal Medicine" found yoga was a more effective way to reduce pain than conventional therapeutic exercise or a self-help book.

Researchers studied 101 adults and found that 12 weeks, those doing yoga had better back-related function than the other two groups, and experienced less pain in the months after that.

The participants engaged in a slow-moving form of yoga called viniyoga, designed for people with back pain.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN.



COHEN: If you're just tuning in, we're revisiting South Asia, where so many coastlines were destroyed by a deadly tsunami just about a year ago.

In Sri Lanka, our crews came upon this tragic scene, a train filled with commuters suddenly struck by enormous waves. You probably remember these images. When the tsunami roared ashore, it tossed rail cars around like toys.

Our Satinder Bindra went back to that scene and found a man who's become an unintended hero.


SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All aboard and time to roll. Wanigarathne Kanatilika (ph) has been a guard on trains that run along Sri Lanka's south coast for 22 years.

On December 26, 2004, Wanigarathne was onboard a train just like this when the sea roared on to land, slammed into the train, and killed more than 1,000 people.

"It was like a big monster," he says. "It had a black mouth and white head and was trying to eat us. It was so big, it was coming right at the train."

The tsunami smacked into the train with the intensity of a thunder clap, but rather than panic, Wanigarathne opened several emergency passageways, leading people onto the roof of the train.

Later, as the waters subsided, he led them to higher ground.

"I don't think I'm a hero," he says. "I failed to save hundreds of people. I think I'm the world's most unfortunate and unlucky man."

These rail cars have still not been removed from the scene of the tragedy. Passengers traveling by train in southern Sri Lanka can see them as they whiz by. And every day, tourists and other visitors arrive to remember.

For many visitors, these mangled rail cars serve as an eternal reminder of nature's fury.

(on camera): Others say as long as this memorial remains, it will continue to remind them of their loved ones who perished here.

Guard Wanigarathne, who crosses this spot every day on his train, says it's more appropriate to construct a museum away from the scene of the tragedy.

But Munjala Junaka (ph) says the rail cars should say. His air conditioner repair shop was destroyed during the tsunami. And he now sells handmade artifacts and boats to visiting tourists. Without the rail cars, Munjala says his business would suffer. And he would never be able to save enough to reopen his shop.

As the debate over these rail cars continues, Wanigarathne returns to the scene of the tragedy. 17-year-old Gianiti Nilminee (ph) says 12 months ago, the train guard saved her life.

"I was hanging on a coconut tree," she says, "because the water had pushed me up there. And that's when he put out a stick and help me come on to the train."

But for all that others think of him, and even a year after the disaster, Wanigarathne says he's still consume side by loss. And even if he lives for a thousand years, he says, he can never forget all those who didn't make it home on December 26th last year.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, Perelia (ph), Southern Sri Lanka.


COHEN: According to the latest U.N. figures, 90 percent of working people lost their livelihoods in the affected communities of Sri Lanka. The good news, a year later, a majority of them have regained some source of income.

Stay tuned for more HOUSE CALL.



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Eat, eat, eat. We've all heard those words during the holidays. A wonderful time of year to celebrate, family, friends and lots of tempting foods, but sometimes there's tremendous pressure to overindulge.

(on camera): My Italian grandmother, I mean, a compliment to her would be to eat as much food as you possibly can.

ELLIE KRIEGER, REGISTERED DIETICIAN: Right. And I've worked with a lot of clients that do have trouble with their families, kind of forcing food on them. And this is part of how their families show love.

COSTELLO (voice-over): If your family tries to load you down with extra helpings, Ellie suggests telling them you'll have a little taste because you're trying to be healthier.

KRIEGER: Scan the buffet, see what is your, you know, prime holiday food that you would miss out on if you didn't have any. Fill up on the fruits, vegetables, and the lean proteins. And have a couple of those little specialty items.

COSTELLO: And Ellie's best holiday advice is to savor every bite and to eat intuitively.

KRIEGER: Just slow down and listen to our bodies. We will wind up eating less and enjoying our food more.

COSTELLO: Carol Costello, CNN.



COHEN: By all accounts, it's been a devastating year, the tsunami in South Asia, earthquakes, and of course, the hurricanes that barreled through the coast of the southern U.S. Millions of people can still use your help. If you'd like to donate your time or money, click on the American Red Cross Web site at

Or to help international relief efforts, try And click over to for an in-depth look at the tsunami ravaged areas one year later. From photo galleries, to finding out what's working and what's not, go to for the latest news on this one year anniversary.

And make sure to watch next weekend as we help you quit smoking. It's almost time for New Year's resolutions and we'll help you stop that deadly habit. Tune in next weekend at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

Have a healthy and happy holiday weekend. Thanks for watching. I'm Elizabeth Cohen. Now, stay tuned for more news on CNN.


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