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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Search for Trapped Miners; Iraqi Pleas for American Journalist; Fear in the Big Easy; Mayor Ray Nagin, What Were you Thinking?; Paradise Found for Katrina Dolphins.
Aired January 20, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, on a night of waiting in America, waiting for this city to get more aid, waiting to learn the fate of a kidnapped American journalist in Iraq, and waiting for any word about two miners in West Virginia lost underground.
ANNOUNCER: It's happened again. Two men trapped inside a mine in West Virginia. The clock is ticking as rescuers try to reduce deadly levels of carbon monoxide. Tonight, the latest from Melville, West Virginia.
Osama bin Laden breaks his silence, promising attacks on American soil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something's been planned. Conceivably, it's something bigger than 9/11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The strategy of one of the world's most dangerous terrorists. Plus, another tape released today from bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
And he was sent to prison for murdering a child and, 21 years later, set free for a crime he didn't commit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're innocent, you wake up and wonder, "Why the hell am I here? Why am I here?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, why the child's mother refused to give up until he was free.
This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from New Orleans, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: And good evening again. Time is not our friend, those words today by West Virginia's governor, Joe Manchin. Tonight, a lot of time has slipped by without any word on the fate of two miners trapped underground since late yesterday. Any moment now, we're expecting a news conference. As for the rescue, the longer we wait, the more concerned we become that we may face another tragedy like the one at the Sago Mine a little more than two weeks ago. We've got to hold onto optimism, though, for the families there. That is what they are saying.
CNN's Chris Huntington has the latest from Melville -- Chris.
CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at any minute we're expecting to hear from Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia, also Doug Conaway of the state's Department of Mine Safety.
Just the very latest, we learned from Mr. Conaway about an hour ago that their chief concern underground right now is the status of the fire. Frankly, the fire is not completely under control. Mr. Conaway told us that in fact some of the coal is burning in addition to the conveyor belt that they believe was the source of the fire.
There is a lot of questions about just why that conveyor belt caught fire. Indeed a question raised, but not sufficiently answered, as to whether or not that belt might have caught fire a couple of weeks ago, but perhaps not been reported. That's a question that we will continue to ask until we feel we get a sufficient answer.
We have heard from one of the miners who escaped, who wanted to remain anonymous, but the word is that when the 10 miners who made it out separated from the two who did not, there was an effort to go back and try and find the other two. Obviously an unsuccessful effort.
Again, we are expecting an update any minute now from the head of the mine safety organization here in West Virginia and the governor -- Anderson.
COOPER: Chris, set the scene for us a little bit, how many rescue teams are one the scene, if you know, and I mean are they now in the mine or is the smoke still too much that they can't even try to get in?
HUNTINGTON: No, Anderson, the rescuers have been in the mine. There have been 25 to 30 rescuers down in the mine at any given time. They have as many as 100 on station, ready to go in and spell those who are working underground.
Again, the fire is still burning. So there are areas of intense heat, of tremendous smoke, carbon monoxide. All of these are hampering what would otherwise be just a dedicated search and rescue effort. In fact, what we were told a couple of hours ago is that they really, those working underground -- again 25 to 30 guys working underground with breathing apparatus were really having to focus on containing the fire first of all and then also free up other passage ways with clear air.
One of the vexing issues, the double-edged sword of trying to get fresh air down there is that you need fresh air in order to increase the area that you can search. It's also the danger, though, of fueling the fire. And again, as I mentioned, the concern now is that some of the coal -- not just coal on the conveyor belt, but coal embedded still in its natural form in the rock may be burning and that is not a positive development -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Chris, as you know, one of the things Governor Joe Manchin said earlier, the good news is that apparently there wasn't an explosion. We're just talking about a fire, but obviously that smoke and the carbon monoxide is a big problem. How deep in the mine do officials believe these two people are?
HUNTINGTON: Well, there's two ways to answer that. In terms of depth from directly below the surface, they believe the area where the fire is and the area near where they think the miners were all last known to be alive is about 900 feet deep, directly beneath the surface. But it's about two miles in from the nearest entry way. So it's a great distance from total freedom, if you will.
Also, the huge labyrinth of available passage ways. Frankly, if you add them all up, it would get into the potentially hundreds of miles. You're talking about in many cases passage ways that are two to three miles long that have avenues, if you will, four, five, six parallel, then cross-hatched or cross-streets about every couple of hundred feet. So there's just a tremendous amount of area where potentially these two men could still be, either barricaded sitting, potentially even still wandering -- Anderson.
COOPER: Chris Huntington, we're continuing to monitor the situation. It can change any moment. We've been waiting for this press conference. We've been told it's going to be coming. It was supposed to come the last hour. We're told it could start any moment. Chris is going to continue to monitor it for us. We'll bring it to you live when it happens.
Now, on the other stories, some of our other top stories tonight, we have still not heard any word on what has happened to kidnapped American Journalist Jill Carroll. There was still hope tonight that her Iraqi captors will set her free. Today, her father appeared on the Arabic language network, Al-Jazeera, and asking his daughter's captors to spare her life. He says his daughter doesn't have the ability to free anyone, as the captors have demanded, and he asked that maybe as a reporter, she could be used to send her captors' voice to the world.
Of course, we don't yet know if pleas like these are reaching the kidnappers. We do know that the message is getting across to other Iraqis and many are hoping Jill Carroll will be set free. CNN's Michael Holmes is there.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the sake of all Iraqis, asking you to release Jill the journalist. For the sake of an old man.
Voices on the streets of Baghdad in support of Jill Carroll, a reporter who in many ways is not your ordinary Western journalist in Iraq. She's been here more than two years, spent much time with the local community, speaks Arabic, dresses in Muslim clothing when out and is known for her stories about the suffering of the Iraqi people.
And so we have seen an almost unprecedented level of local coverage of her kidnapping. Equally ubiquitous, calls for her release. Calls that cross the usual sectarian divides, Shias and Sunnis saying the abduction of Carroll was quite simply wrong.
AZZA HUSSEIN, IRAQI: I feel pain that happened in my country. I feel like she is my daughter who was kidnapped. Because they are all like our children. I feel like I was wounded.
HOLMES (on camera): It is redundant to say that this is a dangerous place for western journalists. Dozens have been kidnapped, dozens have been killed. Many media organizations have been forced to take extraordinary security measures. Some journalists rarely leave their guarded offices. Not Jill Carroll.
(voice-over): While she lived in a hotel with other Western journalists, she routinely left, dressed in the Islamic hijab. She'd travel in local unarmored cars without ...
COOPER: We take you to Melville, West Virginia to a press conference that has just begun. Let's listen in.
DOUG CONAWAY, WEST VIRGINIA MINING SAFETY CHIEF: We've had teams working on that fire. Since we got in there, we made the evaluation early on and we kept people there fighting that fire. We've been putting foam and we're using water on that.
It's still a lot of heat in that area and we're continuing to leave people there to work on that. We've pretty well, I believe we went all around it, looked all around it and we don't feel it's spread too far, but we still have to maintain a lot of cooling affect on the coal and on the belt structure.
JESSE COLE, MSHA: I might tell you about another development that we're working on. Here toward the number 11 gate road in this area here, we're drilling a hole. There's approximately 200 feet of cover there. The whole will be six inches in diameter and we'll drill it down. It is now down to 130 feet. And we're repairing some hydraulic hoses on the drill rig and we'll continue to drill it down.
Before we drill it into the coal scene, we'll drill it wet. That means we'll have water at the bottom of it, so there won't be a chance of an ignition. After we drill it down, we'll use the drill steel to pound on, to attempt to get signals back if there's anyone underground in that area. After we signal for three times and we don't get a response, we'll pull the drill steel out and drop a camera and a microphone into the hole in an attempt to get a response.
And even after that then, we'll plant geophones around it, drop the drill steel or do it before we drop the cameras in, pound the drill steel and see if we get anyone to pound on the roof bolts in that area and sense those. And we'll move those geophones along that entry if we start receiving some signals. So that's the development up to that point on that.
QUESTION: Why did you pick that spot?
COLE: The spot is near the -- out by the side of 11 gate roads.
QUESTION: Why did you pick that spot?
COLE: Oh, why did I? I'm sorry, I misunderstood you. This spot out here, you've got 200 feet to cover. In some of the other areas, you've got 900 feet to cover. We wanted to go into spots that they might be, that they might have come to out of that area, coming down this way. And that's the whole thing, you don't know exactly where they go and you don't know what reasoning that they use.
QUESTION: And you can get there faster by drilling than actually sending crews down there because of the distances?
COLE: The crew's down here -- all of our crews are concentrating up here because that's where they were last known to be. And we're doing that successfully. You drill where you can't send your crews right off.
QUESTION: What's the timeframe for that drilling?
COLE: Well, it's 200 feet. We've drilled 130 feet. We can't account for how much time it's going to take to do the repairs. We can drill it rather quickly after we get ready to finish drilling it.
QUESTION: Do you know the distance from where you're drilling to where the crews are standing? Like how far away is that?
COLE: This is what, about a 400 foot to the HVAC (ph). Give or take this -- as you remember from here to here was two miles, so there's about a mile there.
QUESTION: About a mile away?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll do one more question.
QUESTION: I keep hearing reports on the conveyor belt having caught on fire a couple weeks ago. If you don't know the answer to that, can you find out for us ...
CONAWAY: Yes, I'm sure somebody could check on that, yes. We're concentrating our efforts right now on dealing with this situation.
QUESTION: Do you have any information about why the smoke was getting into the intake air when they were coming out initially? Have we figured that out yet?
CONAWAY: No, we haven't really investigated. There is a set of doors that there may be some leakage that has come through that set of doors. You know, no, I mean, that's just a possibility. We haven't really looked at it to that extent.
QUESTION: What are the conditions inside right now as far as smoke and air quality?
CONAWAY: Well, as we made the air change, the smoke and air quality in some of these entries over here has cleared up. We had pretty good air in the outside entries on the left side here and smoke in these. We've cleared the smoke out of those, or a lot of the smoke out of these entries, which is going to aid in our evaluating of those entries.
QUESTION: So are the crews working without gear and are they are they able to work quickly now?
CONAWAY: They're under apparatus right now, or at least when we were up there, they were still under apparatus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, thank you very much.
QUESTION: How big of an area is the fire impacting, just, you know, give us an idea of the area that's involved in the fire and how many people are working on that.
CONAWAY: Well, it was an area I'm estimating about 300 feet by maybe 150 feet.
COLE: It might be even 200 by 300.
CONAWAY: Yes. Something along -- if you're talking about impacted. I mean, we've controlled that down to a smaller area. We have ten individuals that are working in that particular area. It is a small area. It's confined. We've got waterlines, water hoses, foam generating machines we've set up in the area and I think that's an ample amount of people to be working on this.
QUESTION: Total number of rescue crews working? People?
CONAWAY: Six -- we have six teams on the ground.
QUESTION: OK, so that's 25 to 30?
CONAWAY: Yes. We also have some employees of the company that are assisting in transporting our crews in and out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you very much.
QUESTION: You said five on a team? Because earlier you said there were eight on a team?
CONAWAY: No, five of them. And there were 20 total teams.
COOPER: We are told the governor of West Virginia is also standing by. He may be joining this press conference very shortly for comments of his own. If he does, we will bring those to you.
Let's just recap the situation as we know it there in Melville. It sounds to me as if they don't know exactly the location of these two miners. They know where these men were last seen. They believe that area is about 900 feet below ground, about 10,000 feet into the mine.
Again, it's one of those sloping mines. This is not a vertical mine, as many of us think of mines, that we learned at Sago. This is one of those drift mines that slowly slopes down into the ground about 900 feet, the Aracoma Mine there.
Now, the fire, they are saying is contained.
Let's listen in to the governor.
GOV. JOE MANCHIN, WEST VIRGINIA: strong and they want to know how the families are doing and we're going into about our 29th, 30th hour together, in the church and being together. But West Virginia families are so unique because the strength of the family kind pulls together.
And with that, the families have pulled together. If you could see in the church, we came in as two distinct families, as you know two of the miners that we are rescuing, looking for. Now it's just one family once you're in that church.
So typically, West Virginians are not only so strong, but they are so supportive. Our families and our people do some of the strongest and toughest jobs in America. Mining is an inherent tough job. We make steel in this state, an inherent tough job. We have tough manufacturing and chemical jobs, which are tough. We have family support. We have a total commitment that's like nothing else.
And with that being said, it really speaks of the fabric of our state. And I said we've been hit with a lot of tragedy in the last couple of weeks. And as people have been praying for us around the world and around the country and around this state, we truly feel those prayers in that church. We feel the people are with us on that. And I can't tell you how proud I am. The West Virginia people, the spirit of West Virginia and the people who have bee helping us all through this.
HUNTINGTON: Governor, Chris Huntington with CNN. After Sago and with this incident, there's been a lot of discussion about the erosion of mine safety standards, particularly at a time when coal is of great value and there's a great imperative to get as much out of the ground as possible as quickly as possible under the administration pushing clean coal. What's your commitment to the miners in this state to make sure that the next set of guys that go in there are getting the safest possible working conditions?
MANCHIN: Let me just say right now all of our attentions are towards rescuing these miners. Everything we're doing. As soon as this rescue operation is completed, whatever time today, tonight or tomorrow, I will have a statement that will change mining, not only in the state of West Virginia, but hopefully across this country.
I feel so strong about this. And I've been now with families for the last three weeks, through some of the most difficult trying times. Human suffering that families should not have to go through. And we can do something and we will. And I'll have a statement and I'll be very, very succinct in what needs to be done. And you'll see very quick action.
CONAWAY: Chris, if I might respond to that on the federal level, because we have a responsibility here as well. And I perfectly associate myself with what the governor has said. Our first efforts are at rescue and recovery right now and helping the families get through this grievous situation.
We will certainly be looking in the proper time for the proper answers to many questions that we have and there's not a person in this state or in this country that doesn't want to find out what happened and how we can prevent it from happening again.
QUESTION: Governor, when you talk about the Sago disaster, we saw a lot of the mine owner, Ben Hatfield, when that was going on. We have not seen the mine owner, Don Blankenship, where is he?
MANCHIN: Every person with the responsibilities that they take -- I can only speak about myself, being governor of the state of West Virginia and the responsibility I believe that we have, I have for the people, for the families and for the citizens. I wanted to make sure that with our mine, Doug Conaway and also the federal MSHA will be working together to brief the families.
I felt that was very important. I think you all have been receiving the same briefings. And I really can't speak with someone else or any other people or other parties would be in a different situation than that. We are speaking basically on a factual -- they're doing the investigations, in charge of those investigations and I thought it was very important to families heard from them, so ...
QUESTION: Governor, can you describe the scene? What it looked like in the church?
MANCHIN: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Could you describe the scene, what it looks like ...
MANCHIN: Yes. Of course, you've been in West Virginia a lot, so you know how we gather. There's food coming in from everywhere. It's coming in through every door. The outpouring of love. We just had one of the Sago family members come and lend their support and as I was leaving, they were speaking and sharing with the families of the Aracoma Mine.
It's just unbelievable. We come together as family. We pull from the strength of each other and we help each other through a difficult minute, a difficult hour and a difficult day. I can't explain it. It's who we are in the state of West Virginia. It's the fabric of this state and it's really what's made this country strong. And I'm so proud of West Virginia.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit more about the Sago family member or members ...
MANCHIN: They wanted to share. There was one of the widows, daughters, cousins -- was two widows and their children and they felt very strong about being here. They were drawn and they wanted to be here. They wanted to fellowship with all of our families and it's just something very nice and very special and they're there right now with them.
QUESTION: Governor, we're getting to the time where at Sago there was a sense of words. What is the sense tonight?
MANCHIN: Well, let me, you know I -- again, you heard me talk about Sago. We -- Congressman Mollohan come from mining districts or mining areas that we represent. We've been around them all our lives. You know, my family, the tragedy that we had when I lost my uncle in '68 mine explosion. We know the inherent dangers. We know what we're dealing with. We're dealing with carbon monoxide, which is lethal.
This is different, though. We had no explosion. We had a fire. That fire still puts off the carbon monoxide. But it makes it --it does not impede the passageways, as you would have in the Sago Mine. So with that being said, we're very hopeful.
It's been very hard to see as both of our inspectors have told you. And mine crews are working very hard. The odds are not in our favor, but we're very hopeful because the air quality's improving rapidly. The visibility is improving and there's still that great hope with a lot of prayers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, Ian Rabina (ph), with the "New York Times," I keep hearing that there are -- the same conveyor belt caught on fire only a matter of days or weeks ago, but we can't get an answer ...
MANCHIN: Yes, I haven't heard -- I'm sorry. I really haven't heard that, but the investigations really reveal whatever and also any investigation that had gone on prior to that that would have discovered that and it will be on the records. There's just an awful lot of equipment that goes on inside a mine of this size. This is a very large mine and we'll just have to wait and see.
QUESTION: Governor, we -- a couple of people have -- a couple of news organizations have already come out and reported the names of the two and I actually heard from a woman who was at the church giving a talk to the two wives of the missing miners who said that they didn't mind, but has there been any official confirmation? I mean, can we get the names confirmed because we don't want anymore miscommunication as ...
MANCHIN: True. The families at this time, to date, right now, the families have requested it still not be revealed. And I think it is for many reasons and probably some of their extended family might not have been notified yet. We have honored that and we're very pleased that you've honored that also as much as possible, I'm sure. And I will ask next time that we talk if that can be done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you all.
QUESTION: Sago mine ... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question.
QUESTION: When you said -- I'm sorry. I'm a little confused. I thought you were feeling pretty optimistic and now you say the odds are not in our favor.
MANCHIN: Well, I, you know, I'm the most optimistic person that you'll probably ever meet. I'm the most hopeful person that you've ever met. And I'm realist also. We have situations where we have high carbon monoxide levels, but they're improving rapidly. The miracle that we had at Sago, the Sago Mine, which is Randal McCloy. Now, who can explain that?
Doctors can't even explain it. So with that, yes, I'm still very hopeful. But I'm also a realist, too, that I know we're in difficult situations and we've talked and all the families have talked and we understand what our odds are. So, we're still very hopeful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you -- do you mind -- do you mind identifying the Sago widows that are there? Because they asked not to be identified or ...
MANCHIN: I think that really -- and maybe if they would want to later, but I think it was their private moment. They came down there to share their private moment and their private time to lend support to the families, which is what we're all doing.
We want to thank you all for a job that you have to do, it is extreme difficult and we recognize that, but this is a special little state, a special state because we have special people that are so strong that I can't explain the strength that comes from within, but it's there and they do that job every day and they'll continue to provide for their families and also for this great country. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you all very much.
COOPER: West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, speaking on the efforts to rescue and bring back two miners who at this point are unaccounted for. It's not clear that officials exactly know where these two are. They know the area that they were last seen in, some 900 feet below ground, some 10,000 feet into that mine. They know that there was a fire and there was smoke and the fire is not entirely out yet. In fact, some coal actually may be burning as Chris Huntington had reported a short time ago.
They are also drilling down in a separate area. They have crews inside the mine, a number of personnel there hosing down the fire, butting flame retardant material down, trying to control this fire, trying to contain it to a smaller and smaller area until they can finally extinguish it.
But as Governor Manchin said, there are high levels of carbon monoxide and there is smoke and that, of course, is a problem. The people who are working in the mine are using their breathing apparatuses. And as I said, they are drilling down, trying to send down any kind of communication devices, hoping the miners, if they are still alive, might be able to tap on that drill if the drill reaches them in the correct area.
We'll continue to follow this story throughout the next hour. We're going to have more on the mine rescue effort ahead on 360.
Plus, they want to move back to the place that they called home, but will New Orleans allow them to return? If not, then what? Where will they go?
And in another neighborhood, they thought they wanted to come back until the shooting began. How safe is New Orleans these days? We'll look into it.
You're watching 360.
COOPER: And welcome back. One of the bands performing to a pretty small crowd here on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It is raining out. There's still a number of people out, milling around, having a couple of drinks, listening to music. Life -- at least on this street -- returning to normal, but all throughout New Orleans, that certainly cannot be said.
In a lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans has to answer a question few other cities have ever faced, whether to renew the neighborhood or just let it disappear, as if it were a magazine subscription, let it lapse. The city has to answer that question. And so individually do the people who used to live there. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where it still looks as if bombs were dropped, Lahoussine Belanouvane works to fix his destroyed house. He works outside. He works inside.
Do you want to move back?
LAHOUSSINE BELANOUVANE, LOWER NINTH WARD RESIDENT: Yes.
TUCHMAN: It may be tough.
BELANOUVANE: I am tough too.
TUCHMAN: This Moroccan immigrant has a wife and two small children. They have five years of wonderful memories in this house they own.
(on camera): -- your children's bedroom?
BELANOUVANE: Yes, bedroom. And I had it in two different colors because they were sharing a room and one wants the blue and one wants the purple. TUCHMAN (voice-over): There's a ton of work to do, but it all may be for naught because the city has still not made it clear if there is a future for the lower Ninth Ward. People are still not allowed to move back. There is no gas or sewer service and very limitable electricity.
What are you hearing from the city? Are you allowed to move back in?
BELANOUVANE: Well, we don't know if we are going to be allowed to move in or not, but I'm hoping to be allowed to move in. I'm doing my part.
TUCHMAN: On the ironically named Flood Street, Karen Parker fixes up her home, but isn't so sure she wants to come back.
KAREN PARKER, LOWER NINTH WARD RESIDENT: It's not an easy decision to make because this is our property, it is our land, it is our home and if we give this up, then we don't have anywhere else to stay on our own. We'll have to start all over with someone else until we're able to.
TUCHMAN: But Lahoussine, who evacuated with his family to New York state, is positive he wants to be part of a new Lower Ninth Ward. On the day we talked to him, he saw what he thought was a mirage through the trees. It turns out, it was the first working street light in the neighborhood, brightening his block and his mood for at least a little bit.
How will it make you feel if you find out that after all your memories and all the work you've done here, you're not allowed to move back?
BELANOUVANE: That's going to be a very sad moment when I hear it because it's just like gonna crush all my hope and all my memories.
COOPER: It is so sad, Gary. When will they know whether or not they can move back? It's become so political.
TUCHMAN: Right. The city at this point is saying it doesn't know. However, the city is floating a proposal to have everyone canvassed in these devastated neighborhoods and they're saying they may wait to see if they have a critical mass, that's their quote, that wants to go back and then make their decision. But that proposal hasn't been approved yet. But 14,000 people lived in the lower Ninth Ward before August 29 and tonight, you have zero people.
COOPER: That's incredible. And also the problem is, well, if you OK canvass people, but where are you going to canvass them? They're not there, they're in 40 states across the United States.
TUCHMAN: That's the problem. They're all over the United States. I don't know who you do this, to be honest with you.
COOPER: It's become a real political issue here in New Orleans. We'll continue to follow it. Gary, thanks. Great report.
And what about the crime here in New Orleans? Is it safe to come back? We're going to take a look at that.
And it's also been an unforgettable week, unforgettable in so many ways for Mayor Ray Nagin. This time it was a storm of his own making. We're talking of course about chocolate city, you know, and God punishing America, all that. We're going to give him the opportunity to clarify or retract or well, you'll see what he says about his controversial remarks. Find out what he has to say when 360 continues.
COOPER: Those are some of the people here on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It's probably about the only part of New Orleans that you can say has returned to normal, although it doesn't -- you know, normal is not really the right word for Bourbon Street at any time.
Of course, you go just a few blocks in any direction and life is anything but normal. And the people here want you to know that. They want you to know that there is so much that still needs to be done here. So many needs still not met, and they want volunteers to come down here and just people to still talk about New Orleans and talk about Mississippi, and talk about what is happening here and continues to happen because the worst thing that can happen here is that the rest of the country just moves on and forgets about the people here. That would truly be a crime.
For many of those who want nothing more than to return to New Orleans, the list of obstacles if just impossibly long. For starters, you know, there's the question of where they're going to live.
Last night we reported on the serious shortage of FEMA trailers that were promised months ago. And beyond the trailers, another question, where will they work? For some of the obstacles, well, there's also fear. CNN Sean Callebs looks into that.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A massive turnout for unity, a parade organized by community clubs. One of the first real chances here to urge friends and neighbors to come back to New Orleans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, without this right here, there is no New Orleans. This is like the heartbeat, you know, the pulse.
CALLEBS: But it ended with gunshots and chaos. Three people were wounded. All survived. The gunman got away, but not the fear he created.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor want everybody to come home. How you gonna come home when you're coming home to the same thing?
CALLEBS: Jayda Atkinson and her family have been in Atlanta since Katrina. She went back to New Orleans for the big gathering, to see her friends and her neighborhood and decide whether to move back. But today, she regrets making that trip.
JAYDA ATKINSON, FORMER NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: You would think that the situation we came out of, that crime would be like the last thing in the back of -- in their minds. You know, where is the hatred coming from?
CALLEBS: She and others say scores of people at the parade were either just moving back or making plans to. A shooting, some say, definitely changed minds.
Atkinson, for one, plans to stay in Atlanta for good and just got a job offer.
ATKINSON: Really?! OK. When do I start?
CALLEBS: Even without the Atlanta job offer, she says, she wouldn't come back.
ATKINSON: I don't want them going back if the violence is getting worse than it was before and there's not no protection there.
CALLEBS (on camera): Police Superintendent Warren Riley says there is protection.
WARREN RILEY, NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: New Orleans is a very calm, very peaceful city right now, as it relates to crime fighting.
CALLEBS (voice-over): Attacks like the parade shooting had convinced many evacuees that violent crime is up, but Riley says crime has never been lower. Before the hurricane, police arrested about 450 people a day. Now it's just 75 a day. In fact, Riley says, there have been just six murders in the four months since Katrina. Before, there were four to six a week. Riley says New Orleans is no longer one of the most violent cities in the country. And here's the main reason.
RILEY: Crime is low obviously because probably 65 to 70 percent of our population is staying at some other place right now.
CALLEBS: Community clubs and the parades are staples here, bringing neighbors together. And the people who stayed here are determined to keep doing that, especially now.
TAMARA JACKSON, PARADE ORGANIZER: When you come back for one event and this takes place, it's kind of -- it's hurtful. So I can understand, but all I can do is encourage for everybody to come back and let's rebuild together.
CALLEBS: For some, that invitation rings hollow. The threat of violence, real or perceived, is enough to make some say no thanks. But Tamara is determined.
Give the city a chance? JACKSON: Give us a chance. Give us a chance.
CALLEBS: Hey, Anderson, live now here in the French Quarter and a bit of probably a problem here. There is still some crime scene tape up, a couple of cop cars here, state police cars out here. A short while ago there was a weapon that was discharged in one of the buildings down here. That's why all the police officers at the top of your show. No one was injured. They have recovered the weapon and they've taken a couple of people in they're going to talk to see exactly what happened.
But that is a real concern for the police chief. He says there's a big difference between perceived crime and real crime. He says because New Orleans is now on a national stage, virtually everything it does is really amplified.
Now, secondly, pre-Katrina, there were 668 New Orleans police officers. Now, since Katrina -- and think about it, 70 percent of the people have left the city. There are now 1,420 police officers. So, in terms of a ratio, there are more cops out on the street now per person than before -- Anderson.
COOPER: And Sean, you've been living down here -- I've just been down here a couple days. When I walk around, I see police everywhere, not just New Orleans police, but Louisiana State Troopers.
CALLEBS: Without question. We were right here the other night and give you a good idea, they're not just -- they're doing what they can to help people and we're going to hear more about that. We talked to Superintendent Riley.
He said February 22 they're going to have a big ceremony to honor so many of the officers who were really the unsung heroes in those fierce few desperate hours after the levee broke and the situation here was extremely dire. We really haven't heard their story because not that many people were able to get in to the city at that time.
We've heard a lot about the looting and the other problems associated with the police, but the superintendent says he wants to get the other side out and he's going to work on that -- Anderson.
COOPER: And that is really one of the great stories about the New Orleans Police Department that people just don't know about. We're going to bring you some of those stories the week of Mardi Gras here on 360.
You know, when you walk the streets in New Orleans with Mayor Ray Nagin, you can feel the passion he has for the city and its people, but did he get carried away earlier this week when he offered unvarnished talk about race, Iraq and God's role in all of this? We'll hear what he has to say about that, coming up in my interview.
Plus, you're going to go back to Melville, West Virginia, where rescue teams are trying to reach two trapped miners. We'll get another update on the rescue effort.
And we want to remind you Dr. Sanjay Gupta wants to hear from you. Send him your medical questions. We'll report on some of your questions next week. E-mail us, logging on to cnn.com/360. Please put Ask Dr. Gupta on the subject line.
360 continues in a moment.
COOPER: Welcome back from New Orleans. Right now, we take you to Melville, West Virginia, for the latest in the mine rescue mission underway. CNN's Chris Huntington is standing by, monitoring the situation.
Chris, what's the latest?
HUNTINGTON: Well, Anderson, it's now been 30 hours since the fire first erupted in the mine here in Melville; and as the time ticks away, as Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia has made clear throughout the day, that the longer the time goes, it is not what people wish for.
Governor Manchin just spoke here a few moments ago. He was flanked by one of the long-term Democratic Congressmen here in West Virginia, Nick Rahall. And I had an opportunity to ask Governor Manchin a question that has been on the minds of many people in the communities here in Sago and also here in Melville and that is what really is happening with mine safety in this country and frankly what can the governor of the state, one of the leading mining states in the country, do about it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANCHIN: Let me just say right now all of our attentions are towards rescuing these miners. Everything we're doing. As soon as this rescue operation is completed, whatever time today, tonight or tomorrow, I will have a statement that will change mining, not only in the state of West Virginia, but hopefully across this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNTINGTON: So there you have it, a pledge from the governor of West Virginia to put his stamp at least on progress in mine safety.
Now, back to the issue at hand. Two miners still trapped, still missing in the Aracoma Mine. It's been 30 hours. The rescue effort continues. The part of that effort, though, is to try to contain a fire that has continued to burn all along. And the officials tell us that some of the coal surrounding the conveyor belt that was the source of that fire has also caught on fire. They believe they have it contained. They believe that they are also able to clean up some of their passage ways that had been smoke-filled and filled with carbon monoxide.
The reading on carbon monoxide is that it is decreasing, but it is still in some places at dangerously high levels. And of course, that hampers the ability of rescue workers to go in there.
We understand that the rescue workers, some 30 of them that are in the mine right now are still using breathing apparatus. In other words, they're not able to cruise around the mine passageways just on the available breathable air in the passageways. They still have to wear breathing devices and that means that that limits the amount of time that they can spend searching around a huge labyrinth. Miles and miles of passageways -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Chris, monitoring the situation. Thanks very much, Chris.
Back here in New Orleans, a 360 exclusive. Mayor Ray Nagin, my interview with him. What was he thinking when he said New Orleans would be a chocolate city once again because that's what God wants? We'll ask him.
Also, other survivors may have been waiting for the waters to subside, but they wanted more of it, lots and lots more, and now they have it. We're talking about some dolphins who were also victims of Katrina.
From New Orleans and around the world, you're watching 360.
COOPER: It is pouring here in New Orleans on Bourbon Street, but the bars are open and the drinks are flowing.
Mayor Ray Nagin, the mayor of this city, is known for his blunt speaking style, but what he sad on Monday, on Martin Luther King day, surprised even those who are used to his, well his candid remarks. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY NAGIN, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don't care what people are saying uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, it was the kind of comment that made you want to ask the mayor, what were you thinking? Today, that's what I asked him.
NAGIN: I'm African American, OK. Just, to kind of put that out there. It's part of our culture to talk about chocolate cities. You know, D.C. was the first chocolate city that ever came on the map, Newark, Detroit, New Orleans. So for me, the vernacular of saying chocolate city, was not a big deal. I have used that in speeches for three and a half years now. And I've even used it on Capitol Hill, so I didn't really think it was a big deal.
Where I crossed the line was bringing God into the whole, you know, discussion. And that's where I kind of zoned out.
COOPER: Saying that God wants New Orleans ...
NAGIN: Wants New Orleans to be a chocolate city ...
COOPER: -- to be a chocolate city and that God was punishing the United States.
NAGIN: I don't know where that came from. It was a crazy moment. You know, maybe I'm not getting enough sleep at night, but that won't happen again.
COOPER: Do you believe that God is punishing America?
NAGIN: No, man, I'm not going to even get into all of that. Look, I made a mistake, I'm human and I'm ready to move on.
COOPER: When you come out to an area like this, what do you think?
NAGIN: Well, I think we have a lot of work to do. It just continues to give you a reality check when you see all this devastation.
COOPER: Do you think most people know that this is all still out here? I mean, you know, you travel -- you travel around the a lot ...
NAGIN: You mean around the country?
COOPER: Yes, it seems like ...
COOPER: It seems like people have moved on.
NAGIN: You know, it's to me, people have two perceptions of New Orleans right now around the country. Either they perceive us to still be full of water or, you know, still dealing with the immediate aftermath or they think we're OK. And, you know, it's just very difficult.
We had two Senators -- or a group of Senators come down the other day and they were blown away when they saw all the work that we still have to do.
COOPER: That's one of the things I find odd and sort of frustrating. You -- it must be incredibly frustrating for you, is that you know, you see these Senators and these Congress people come down here and they all say the same thing, wow, I had no idea it was this bad, but where is the disconnect?
NAGIN: The disconnect, I think is, you know, you know TV -- and you've been doing a great job of covering this, but until you actually come down here and you see the scope, I don't think the TV can really define the scope of the challenge. I mean, when you go from block to block and section to section and really town to town, to see the total devastation, you have to see it up front in person.
COOPER: And when you see a house like this, what do you think?
NAGIN: Well, I think, you know, like that song, this house was a home. And now look at it. It's devastated. It's turned upside down by the force of nature and somebody used to live here and now they can't live here. And that's just something that's pretty amazing.
COOPER: So even five months almost after Katrina, and it still kind of surprises you, still?
NAGIN: It is. You know, and the only thing I can do is balance myself by talking to people that have been through a similar event. So, I was talking to somebody from New York, and they were telling me about what happened after 9/11, and they said it really took the community about six months or so before the fog kind of cleared. And if you go there now, I think there's still a big whole in the ground, right?
COOPER: Yes. And I mean, it' amazing to me, you know, you go -- I mean, these are like shrines almost. You know, people put up their memories of better days. A little boy with his suit -- I guess these are his clothes.
NAGIN: Yes. I mean, it's -- you know, people will want to remember and they want to think back to how it used to be. And they're anxious to get back there. It's going to be a long time before we ever get back to what it used to be.
COOPER: That is certainly true. It is going to be a long time.
Could you use maybe some good news now? How about the story of some Katrina survivors so happily resettled, they could just about do back flips? And they are.
When 360 continues.
COOPER: There's Charlie Moore hanging out there. A couple people -- those are -- I hope those aren't CNN employees. I don't think they are. I think they're all working.
Sad to say, a lot of the stories we've been forced to report here on the Gulf Coast have had to do with survivors of Katrina, who still are struggling to find new homes.
Well, here's a change. The happy tale of a group that has found a new home underwater. Again, here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TUCHMAN, (voice-over): What you're witnessing here is a happy reunion. Sixteen dolphins swept from their home by Hurricane Katrina at last have a new home -- and this one's in paradise. On Paradise Island to be precise.
TERI CORBETT, MARINE MAMMAL TRAINING, ATLANTIS: A day in the life of a dolphin, hopefully will be fun. Our theory of working and working with the animals is nothing but having fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got it.
TUCHMAN: But the future didn't always appear so bright for these bottle-nose dolphins. With Katrina bearing down on the Gulf Coast, some of them were moved from the marine life oceanarium in Gulfport, Mississippi, to a nearby hotel swimming pool. Eight of them, though, were left behind and swept to sea on August 29, when the storm moved in and the oceanarium was destroyed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, look at him. Yes, yes, he's upside down. He's a bigger fighter.
TUCHMAN: Their trainers were afraid the mammals, trained to do tricks for tourists, but not to fend for themselves in the wild, would starve.
Are these like your children?
CORBETT: Oh yes, yes. Yes, there are babies.
TUCHMAN: Finally, on September 10, they were spotted in the gulf. And we were there when the dramatic rescue work began. Trainers blue whistles and banged on buckets to attract the dolphins' attention. And it worked. The dolphins did flips, so their trainers could see them. And within days they were rounded up and on the road to recovery.
For a while, they were placed in the same hotel pool as their mates, and already up for a game of catch.
(on camera): It's late at night and these dolphins are still quite active. We asked the trainer -- nice toss -- I'm all soaking wet. We asked the trainer if these dolphins, Jacki (ph) and Tony, nice throw.
(voice-over): Soon, though, the dolphins were again separated, sent to temporary shelters in Mississippi, Florida, Maryland and New Jersey. But not anymore. Sixteen of the 17 dolphins saved from the storm have a new home. One of them, Tessie (ph), has an infection that's keeping her in Florida. But she's set to join her friends when she's feeling better.
DR. PAM GOVETT, ATLANTIS, PARADISE ISLAND RESORT: Since arriving to Atlantis, the dolphins are in stable condition and appear to be doing well. They began to eat immediately. They've also been very interactive and playful and we're encouraged by this behavior.
TUCHMAN: For 17 orphans of Katrina's wrath, a new life and a happy ending. Gary Tuchman, CNN, New Orleans.
COOPER: We'll have more of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.
COOPER: I want to thank all the people who work at CNN, here in New Orleans, for helping us as we came down here and the people who live here in New Orleans, for showing us their hospitality while we've been here.
"LARRY KING" is next.
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