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Missouri Building Collapse; Troop Pullout Fact Check; Northeast Washout; Fires and Global Warming; White House Tree Falls; Andrea Yates Retrial; NOLA Depression

Aired June 26, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks very much for joining us again. Welcome, we are broadcasting live from New Orleans.
But we begin with more on our breaking story tonight out of Clinton, Missouri. It is just about 80 miles to the southeast of Kansas City.

What we understand is this, a building has collapsed. Reports are that a search is under way right now as we speak. Two, possibly three, possibly even more, according to one eyewitness, people believed to be trapped inside. That, according to the Associated Press.

Two people may be in touch with rescuers by cell phone. Now, the building houses an Elks Club and clothing store on the bottom floor. The two top floors, the Elks club. The two top stories, that Elks Club, appear to have caved in. The rest appears to be rubble.

About 50 or 60 people were inside when the building began to collapse. Apparently most of them got out. We're going to have more on this as we learn more about it.

We are expecting some pictures to come from the scene any moment. We talked to an eyewitness a short time ago who said there are a large number of emergency personnel on the scene. And as we said there is that report about possible cell phone communication with some people still inside the building. We do not have firm numbers though just yet.

Moving on, though, to the other top story tonight from tonight, the battle over pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.

The first skirmish was the Republican House resolution two weeks ago. You all remember that. Then the two Democratic proposals in the Senate. And now a plan reported over the weekend and hotly debated today.

All the angles tonight, starting with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the White House, a violent overnight storm took out this 100-year-old American elm tree. But it's the political storm brewing over Iraq that has Washington all a bluster. Democrats charge that a plan under consideration by the U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, to possibly pull out as many as 10,000 U.S. troops as early as the fall, is politically motivated.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MINORITY LEADER: We don't need a September or October surprise with a president and Republicans proclaiming victory and announcing troop redeployment just in time for the midterm elections.

MALVEAUX: The president categorically refuted the charge.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In terms of our troop presence there, that decision will be made by General Casey as well as the sovereign government of Iraq based upon conditions on the ground.

MALVEAUX: But Democrats are fuming over not one, but two bills that were shot down by Republicans last week, which called for a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.

Republicans painted the Democrats' proposal as a move to cut and run. Both sides, nervous about the midterm elections, are trying to gain the upper hand in the Iraq debate. With Democrats now arguing their proposals are in line with the Pentagon's and that it's Republican lawmakers who are out of step.

REID: It is clear that Congressional Republicans stand alone in opposition to troop redeployments, apart from the American people.

MALVEAUX: But a look at the substance of both Democratic plans show the bill offered by Senators Jack Reed and Carl Levin, which calls for phased redeployment of troops by the end of 2006, is similar to General Casey's reported plan, which aims at pulling out two combat brigades by the end of the year. But the White House says the Democrats' plan was not sound.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What Senator Levin did not mention is conditions on the ground. What Senator Levin wanted to do was get out.

MALVEAUX: The other Democratic proposal by Senators John Kerry and Russ Feingold is substantially different than the Pentagon's. It called for pulling out all U.S. troops by the summer of 2007.

The Pentagon reportedly wants to phase out tens of thousands of troops by the end of next year, but does not have a hard deadline for complete withdrawal.

STU ROTHENBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST: The kind of withdrawals that we're talking about are really minimal. And the president probably can argue reasonably that circumstances on the ground are driving the decisions.

MALVEAUX (on camera): But political analysts say what may be just as important as withdrawing troops is what does happen on the ground in Iraq. Whether or not there are more bombings, kidnappings or beheadings. That withdrawing some 10,000 troops this year may not be enough to improve the administration's standing.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


COOPER: More now on what General Casey's plan really is and what it's not.

As CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports, one thing it's not is new.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Pentagon insists there is no new plan for withdrawing American troops from Iraq, just the same old plan. To gradually cut U.S. force levels by not replacing some troops as they rotate out later this year. And that plan comes with the same old caveats.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: As the Iraqi forces continue to take over bases and provinces and areas of responsibility and move into the lead, we expect that General Casey will come back and make a recommendation after he's had those discussions which he has not yet had.

MCINTYRE: CNN reported last week that what had Casey has in mind to start is simply not replacing two brigades when they rotate out of Iraq later this year. That would cut U.S. troop levels by between 6,000 and 10,000 troops. With further reductions to come both this year and next, again, as conditions allow.

Over the weekend, the "New York Times" reported essentially the same thing, but added that a total of eight brigades, roughly 28,000 troops, might be cut by the end of 2007.

Casey steadfastly refuses to share his private thinking, believing that, like any announcement of a timetable, would tie his hands.

GENERAL GEORGE CASEY, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCES COMMANDER: I feel it would limit my flexibility. I think it would give the enemy a fixed timetable.

MCINTYRE: Casey says he hasn't yet talked troop cuts with the new Iraqi government. One reason, he's reluctant to say anything publicly. But already Casey is working with Iraqis on what's been dubbed an unofficial road map to begin turning over to local control some of the 18 provinces in the relatively calm areas of Iraq, beginning with two in the north and two in the south.

(On camera): Iraqi officials have been much more open and optimistic about their hopes for U.S. troop withdrawals. Iraq's national security advisor said last week, he expects most U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2007, with Iraq fully in control of its own country by the end of 2008.

No one at the Pentagon will say if they believe that's simply wishful thinking.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: Well, we continue to follow this breaking story out of Clinton, Missouri. We are getting to some of the first pictures in from the scene.

What we know is this -- there has been a building collapse, that's the building right there. As you can see -- well, it's pretty dramatic. Just a complete shearing or collapsing of at least the top -- the third floor of the building. It looks like the second floor may be intact. The ground floor is a clothing store. I believe it's called Cummings Men's something -- I can't read that -- fashions, men's wear. The ground floor seems to be intact.

Early reports had indicated that the first two stories of the building had essentially collapsed into the first story. And actually, this is just a repeat of that same spot from our affiliate KSHB. But as it zooms in to the ground floor, you can see just rubble all over the ground floor of the building. If we could lose that banner you'd get more of a sense of it. But there it is, there's all the rubble. Basically, you can see some of the ceiling has collapsed, and there you have a fair amount of rubble.

Now, the two top floors were the Elks Club. We are told there were many -- some reports had said anywhere from 40 to 60 people inside the building at the time of the collapse. From one eyewitness reported, it seems that a large number of those people were able to get out.

We do not know how many are still inside, if there are any people still inside. The Associated Press had reported two to three people may be still inside and that rescuers may have cell phone contact with some of those people inside. We're trying to get confirmation of that.

But again, this information is very early. And as we all know from past incidences, often the early information, the early reports, don't really get borne out over time. So we're being very cautious in what we say.

But rescuers certainly are on the scene, they have cordoned off the area. And according to an eyewitness, they have gradually been pushing people back more and more.

We have one indication, one sound bite from an official who's on the scene. Let's play that if we can.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've made contact and they've made contact with -- it's the Elks Club.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which is behind us. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's behind us. It's just above the sign there that says Cummings Men's Wear. And then the building just to the right, where you see the American flag hanging down, that's part of it also. And several of them were in that structure and they were able to come down some stairs.

But they have been in contact with some of their lodge members there. And they've been able to communicate with them. There are nine people, we believe, in the building. Eight of them have been spoken to. There are some minor injuries among those. Nothing really serious that we know of right now.


COOPER: So about nine people, I believe he said, in the building. This is actually a picture of what the building looked like before the incident. I'm not sure how old this picture is. It's taken by the Elks organization. You can see the two top floors there above the men's wear. And that's a comparison of what it looks like now.

Not clear at this point what caused the building to collapse. You can see it's sort of an odd shape, almost a diagonal slash across that third floor of the building. And the second floor appears to be intact, but clearly it is not because of all the rubble. You can see the collapsed ceiling on the first floor.

There was an inner stairwell. Apparently, a number of people were able to get down that. And as you heard from that official on the scene, they have had cell phone communication, apparently some minor injuries. That's all we have at this time.

The building is a historic brick structure, we're told, about 100 years old.

And again, we continue to follow what is happening on the scene. We'll bring you reports throughout this next hour.

Here in the U.S., extreme weather conditions have been taking a heavy toll in some parts of the country. Floods, torrential rains have inundated the mid-Atlantic region. We're going to look at some of the hardest hit areas. Take a look at those pictures. Unbelievable.

Also, you heard about Warren Buffett's donation to Bill Gates' foundation. We'll show you exactly what $66 billion can buy.

And hospitals now letting families actually into the E.R., even during life or death moments. Would you want to be there if it was one of your loved ones inside being operated on or being dealt with in the E.R.? We're going to talk it over with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta, the pros and cons, coming up.


COOPER: Well, torrential rains -- I mean, take a look at that. Can you believe that in the northeast there? Flooding in parts of the northeast, roads have been washed out in a lot of towns. While federal office buildings are flooded in the nation's capital, Amtrak service between Philadelphia and D.C. was disrupted. And a lot of parts, it is just one huge water logged mess.

CNN's Brian Todd now has the big picture.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dangerous rescue in Maryland's Anne Arundel County. This young man swam into high water, despite warnings.

Across the region high water and flash flooding are causing problems, damaging property and threatening lives.

TIM SHEEHY, FLOODING VICTIM: I had no idea it could happen that quickly. And cars, dumpsters, trees, just shooting down as though they were nothing. It was like Katrina.

TODD: Tim Sheehy was lucky. His car was spared by floodwaters that inundated this hotel garage in Alexandria, Virginia.

SHEEHY: You could literally see it coming up inch by inch, two or three inches a minute, it seemed. And we just couldn't believe how fast and how furious and how absolutely devastating that torrent was.

TODD: Similar scenes playing out across the region with heavy rain drenching the Baltimore, D.C. metropolitan area and beyond. It made for a difficult and frustrating commute for many this morning as water overran roads and highways.

(On camera): You're looking at one of the most dangerous aspects of the flash flooding in this area. According to the National Weather Service, 80 percent of fatalities in floods occur in vehicles. They're warning motorists not to try to drive through water like this.

(Voice-over): Some who took the gamble, like this woman, lost and found themselves wading instead of driving, forced to ditch their cars.

Even airplanes weren't immune from the water. No takeoffs or landings at this small Maryland airport. Amtrak service was impacted. The Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department headquarters were among at least five federal facilities closed today because of flooding.

But some of the hardest-hit areas were in Delaware. Almost a foot of rain has fallen in the town of Seaford, turning the parking lot at this Wal-Mart store into a lake.

Emergency officials say some nearby areas are under as much as five feet of water.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Unbelievable pictures. You know, in a perfect world, some of that rain would have fallen on the burning and drought- stricken regions of the Southwest. And because of record drought and heat, some people are blaming global warming for this year's record drought and wildfires.

As we speak, acreage is currently burning in several western states right now. These are pictures from today. One thousand tourists at the Grand Canyon's north rim have been stranded -- 1,000. The only road out is blocked by wildfires. They're not in physical danger, we are told.

More on the possible wildfire and the global warming connection, if there is any, CNN's Rob Marciano.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): In New Mexico, a 2,300 acre blaze forced residents from their homes.

Near Sedona, Arizona, a 4,200 acre blaze threatens homes and hundreds have been evacuated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's probably a first for me. I've never seen a sheer rock face with trees in the middle of it that are on fire.

MARCIANO: Just the start of fire season, and already 3.3 million acres blackened in the United States this year. That's nearly three times as much as this time last year. And it's expected to get worse.

MICHAEL HANEMANN, DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA CLIMATE CHANGE CENTER: It's going to get hotter in the Southwest. It's going to get hotter, for example, throughout California. And that means more droughts, more wildfire in the summer.

MARCIANO: Michael Hanemann is the director of the California Climate Change Center. He says global warming is causing drought and drought is causing fires.

HANEMANN: We know the National Academy of Sciences reported on Friday that the last decade is clearly warmer than the previous 400 years. And these fires and the drought are associated with that unusual increase in warming.

MARCIANO: The Southwest is hot, but part of a bigger trend. This April was the hottest on record in the United States. And in the Southwest, the high temperatures make it even drier because the warm air pulls moisture from the ground. And that means more fires. Right now, wildfires are burning in 11 states.

And although we can't blame the recent wet weather in the Northeast on global warming, Hanemann says climate patterns all across the planet could change with rising temperatures in ways we don't yet understand. HANEMANN: Moving forward, I think we can expect to see increasing extremes, increasing variation in climate as a result of climate change.

MARCIANO: Hanemann says unless developed countries get serious about global warming, we can expect the worst. More fires and flooding.

HANEMANN: If we take action now, we will prevent I think really nasty consequences in the second part of this century. And if we don't take action now, I think we will experience really nasty consequences in the second half of this century.

MARCIANO: Rob Marciano, CNN, reporting.


COOPER: Just a quick footnote about the weather in Washington. We showed you all that flooding and the rain. A quick footnote now. Due to the heavy rains and the wind, history came to a crashing end last night at the White House.

Take a look at that, an American elm tree that has stood guard at the White House for 140 years fell. Even though the tree's no longer outside the White House, you can actually still see it. Go to your wallet right now, you take out a $20 bill, it is on the back. That tree is the one on the back of the $20 bill. Amazing. It is now gone.

Coming up, we'll have more of our breaking news story out of Clinton, Missouri. A building has collapsed. Maybe people still trapped inside. We'll have the latest also from the scene.

And Andrea Yates, she killed her five kids. Now she's got a new chance to persuade a jury she was insane when she did it. Andrea Yates, the sequel.

And Warren Buffett, the man who made his professional reputation and his multi-billion dollar personal fortune, picking winners on the stock market. Now he's giving most of that away. We're going to show you who's going to benefit from his generosity, coming up.


COOPER: We continue to follow breaking news situation. The building, as you see it right there, has collapsed. The two top floors which housed an Elks Club seems to have fallen down on the ground floor. It is happening in Clinton, Missouri, as we speak, about 80 miles to the southeast of Kansas City.

Now the collapse of the two top stories of the building happened a short time ago. A search is under way for one, possibly more people trapped inside the building right now.

According to the Associated Press, two of those people may be in touch with rescuers by cell phones. A lot of rescuers on the scene, according to an eyewitness we talked to. The building houses an Elks Club, a clothing store on the ground floor. As I said, the top two stories of this building, as you see, have caved in. The rest appears to be rubble.

About 50 or 60 people were actually inside this building when it began to collapse. Most of them apparently got out. The mayor of Clinton talked to reporters a short time ago. Here's what he said.


MAYOR GUS WETZEL, CLINTON, MISSOURI: This is the worst of nightmares for myself and our community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it seems to me, based on what I saw out there, the community's really come together. I saw a lot of people out there.

WETZEL: We have a loving community. And these are all our folks. And every life in this community is touched by this.


COOPER: Well, joining us on the phone now is Steve Cummings. His brother owns the clothing store you see there on the ground floor. He and his brother managed to get out of the building.

Steve, what happened?

STEVE CUMMINGS, ESCAPED BUILDING DURING COLLAPSE (on the phone): Oh, we just had a group of about 50, maybe 55 people up for initiation. We were just finishing dinner, to go to our meeting on the third floor. About a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It just seemed like the middle of the building started to collapse. We just looked up. And I happened to be at the very back corner, or the northeast corner, which I think is still standing. There happened to be an entrance way to our adjacent building. There was two openings between that and our -- we've got like a dining room adjacent to it.

And when everything started falling in, we kind of hopped over behind the bar at the back, and then through an adjacent door. Then there was about, oh, eight or 10 of us got out through there. And then another probably 30 got through a larger opening. And then we had some emergency stairs located. And that's where most of us got out.

COOPER: It's a good thing you did. Steve, just to orient our viewers, right now we are looking at a picture where you see Cummings Men's Wear.


COOPER: Is that -- that's the front of the building?

CUMMINGS: That's correct.

COOPER: And you said you were on the third floor. Is that the window that we're seeing on our right that is still remaining on that third floor?

CUMMINGS: No. I was on the second floor. Everybody was...


COOPER: You were on the second floor...

CUMMINGS: Yes, one person on the third floor, as far as we knew. We were going up for a meeting. But, as far as we know, the exalted ruler was up on the top floor. And everybody else was still on the second floor getting ready to go so the meeting that was going to start in about 15 minutes.

COOPER: You said the exalted ruler? That's a station in the Elks Club, correct?

CUMMINGS: That's right. Elks Lodge, the same as the president.


COOPER: OK. So about how many people would you estimate were on the second floor when you felt it starting to collapse?

CUMMINGS: Probably 55.

COOPER: And to your knowledge, how many of them got out?

CUMMINGS: There was 10 people still missing or still in there.

COOPER: Ten people as we speak still inside that building.


COOPER: Have you heard anything about their level of injuries? We heard one official on the scene earlier, saying minor injuries. Anything else on that?

CUMMINGS: Well, no, we don't -- one's having some leg problem, I guess. He fell clear to the bottom floor. Two people, the exalted ruler and our -- what we call our lecturing knight, we haven't been able to contact them. Both of them have cell phones, but we haven't been able to reach them. The other eight people still in there, we can either hear them or the firemen can hear them, or we've been in contact with them by cell phone. And, but we don't know...


COOPER: Steve, this may be a dumb question. But what did it sound like? How did you know that the building was starting to come apart? I mean, what did it sound like?

CUMMINGS: There wasn't really much sound. I mean, I just kind of -- I was, like I said, I was in the very corner of the building. I kind of turned around and the particular spot I had, had an old suspended ceiling in it. I saw those tiles going down. And then when I turned around, I just saw the tables that we had in the middle room, they just started, you know, disappearing. You just saw people just drop. And then it seems like at that time you saw the third floor come crashing into the second floor at that time.

So I mean, the noise was really not, nothing spectacular. It was really just -- I don't know, kind of like -- I can't describe that part. It wasn't loud at all, just a ton of dust.

Now I've got 10 of my best friends still in there. So I want everybody to pray. We're going to need it.

COOPER: Have you been able personally to talk to anybody still in there, or is it only rescue workers who have talked to them?

CUMMINGS: No, I've talked to one individual, which he's got three of my buddies there right close to him. But we don't know how bad their injuries are. I mean, they're talking, but we don't know anything about that yet.

COOPER: And are they just plumb stuck? I mean, are they surrounded by debris?

CUMMINGS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, debris above and below them and beside them. They were just probably about five feet from the door, doorway to get down the steps. And I think that's where it started collapsing first is where they were at.

COOPER: Do you know what they are being told by rescue personnel at this point? I imagine to stay put.

CUMMINGS: Yes, I'm sure that's right. No, I don't know, don't have a clue on that.

COOPER: Steve, I know it's a tough time for you. And you're worried about your friends. And I appreciate you talking to us. And certainly a lot of people out there will be praying for them. Appreciate you joining us, Steve.

CUMMINGS: All right, thank you.

COOPER: All right. I was talking to Steve Cummings whose brother owns the store down on the ground floor there, now filled with rubble. A store filled with the top two floors of this building, a 100-year-old structure there in Clinton, Missouri.

As you see, we're getting some new video now. You see a number of the rescue personnel who are on the scene, fire personnel, EMTs and the like; obviously, a large number of police personnel. They are trying to at this point figure out what to do next.

This is what the building looked like before the collapse. This picture from the Elks organization. The two top stories of this building belong to the Elks organization.

And as you heard from Steve Cummings, there was going to be an initiation there tonight. The man who runs the Elks organization there was on the third floor. That floor completely collapsed. Steve was estimating in the 50 range, the number of people on the second floor. He was able to get out with a group of about 10 on the right-hand side of the building by going into another building through an exit door.

We continue to follow this situation. We'll have more reports live from the scene and the latest video as well when we return. We'll be right back.


COOPER: We continue to follow a breaking news story out of Clinton, Missouri. This is what we know. There are a number of people trapped inside this building. One official on the scene had said the number was nine. A man we talked to, Steve Cummings, who escaped from this building just a moment ago -- we talked to him just a moment ago, he put the number at 10.

He had personally talked to one friend of his inside the building who had several other people literally stuck around him. He was not sure of the nature of their injuries. The one official on the scene who has spoken to the cameras, we will play his talk very shortly. He has said the injuries that he knew of were considered to be minor. Again, we do not have details.

Steve Cummings was reporting that there was one person on the top floor of the building, the third floor of the building, when the building actually collapsed. The whereabouts of that person are not known at this time. Steve Cummings simply just did not know. Mr. Cummings meetings was able -- who is the brother of the owner of that ground floor store, which is a men's wear clothing store. You see it, Cummings Men's Wear, he was able to get out of an exit on the second floor.

If it is in fact true that there are only nine to 10 people trapped in the building, that could be a very lucky situation. Because according to Steve Cummings there were as many as 50 or more people about to gather for an initiation ceremony for the Elks organization on that second floor. A large number of those people were able to get out.

Here's an eyewitness report from the scene.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... pick up your wife and what did you see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The walls just kind -- I heard a rumbling, and the walls kind of swell out a little bit. And then all of a sudden the top of the building just collapsed in. You could hear glass shattering and the rocks. As soon as it happened, a cloud of smoke covered all of the buildings. You couldn't see anything.

But you could hear people yelling and screaming and hitting on stuff inside, wanting help. And there just wasn't too much you could do because, you know, cars were smashed and it was everywhere. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did it look like there was a fire or an explosion?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there any indication from what you saw what may have happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't see any fire or any smoke or hear an explosion. But the rumbling before it collapsed was kind of a strange sound. But I mean, it just happened so quick that you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when the smoke cleared, you heard people inside?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, yes, people inside. And there was people running around out here screaming, wanting to use cell phones to call family members. And it just -- it got crazy really quick.


COOPER: Suzie Stoner -- again, we continue to follow this breaking news story. Suzie Stoner is from the emergency management team. She joins us now on the phone.

Suzie, what can you tell us? What's the latest on what's going on?

SUZIE STONER, MISSOURI STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Well, the Division of Fire Safety, the Third Division of Fire Safety has enacted fire mutual aid. We have fire units from Kansas City Fire Department and Lee Summit (ph). We've also dispatched the Missouri Task Force One, which is also known as Urban Search and Rescue 25, a federal asset, to Clinton County. We have Missouri highway patrol officers, at least 10 officers on-site doing perimeter security.

COOPER: And so approximately how many people on the scene are there right now, do you know?

STONER: I don't know. We're still enacting mutual aid so more people are on their way.

COOPER: Do you have any sense of how many people are still trapped inside the building?

STONER: Well, we've heard between 10 and 15 people, possibly. But we're not sure.

COOPER: OK. One official on the scene had put the number at nine, and he had said that officials are in cell phone communication with some people inside the building. Can you confirm that? And if so, do you know how many people have been communicating with their cell phones from inside?

STONER: We don't know that number exactly. We are relying on the information from the local emergency responders on site to give us the information.

We do know that the people trapped inside the building, they've made contact with some of the people, not all of the people.

COOPER: Do you have any sense of what sort of injuries you may be expecting or have seen already from people who have left this building?

STONER: I know that the injured people have been transported to local hospitals.

COOPER: Do you have any sense of numbers of injured people?

STONER: No. We're still -- we're relying very heavily on the emergency management people in the city of Clinton to supply us with information so that we can support their rescue efforts.

COOPER: OK. And do you know approximately what time this building collapsed?

STONER: I'm sorry, I don't have that information.

COOPER: OK, well, Suzie, I appreciate you joining us. I'm sorry to be quizzing you. I'm just trying to get as much accurate information out there as possible.

We appreciate you calling us and we'll be checking back in with you shortly over this next half hour as we continue to cover this breaking story out of Clinton, Missouri.

We're not sure the exact number of emergency personnel on the scene, but you can see clearly, just from the pictures, a large number of EMT, fire, rescue personnel, police officers, as well.

Again, the numbers of people actually trapped inside this building seem to vary. One official on the scene had said nine. Steve Cummings, who we talked to on the phone, had said 10. Suzie Stoner saying anywhere from 10 to 15 people.

Clearly it is not known at this point exactly how many people are inside. Nor do we know the nature of their injuries, if in fact there are any injuries at all.

Steve Cummings reported, though, talking to one person on the phone who is surrounded with several other of his friends, other members of the Elks organization, and they are apparently just sitting tight waiting to be rescued.

And that's the scene right now from Clinton, Missouri. We're going to continue to cover it as well as a number of other stories, including Andrea Yates who returned to court today.

We'll talk to CNN's Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin about her defense and what the prosecution is going to do to try to get her back and keep her in custody.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, the murder retrial of Andrea Yates began in Houston today, and it comes nearly five years to the day after she drowned her five children in the bathtub.

Now, no one disputes what Yates did. At issue, again, is her state of mind when she did it. The defense says that Yates was insane, that she thought she had the sign of the devil, 666, carved into her head.

Prosecutors contend the fact that Yates called 911, said she needed a police officer and confessed proves she was sane.

What's interesting is the expert witness who helped convict her is the same man who led to her retrial.

CNN's Ed Lavandera explains why.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Park Deets has made a lucrative career of studying some of the craziest people on earth. He's a forensic psychiatrist, often hired by prosecutors as a medical expert witness. When Park Deets talks, juries listen.

PROFESSOR GERALD TREECE, SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW: Park Deets is a very powerful witness. And he is a professional witness.

LAVANDERA: But his testimony in two Texas cases involving mothers who killed their children has baffled legal experts. In Andrea Yates' case, he determined the suburban Houston mother was not legally insane at the time she drowned her five children.

ANDREA YATES, KILLED HER FIVE CHILDREN: After I killed them, they went up to heaven to be with God, to be safe.

LAVANDERA: She was sentenced to life in prison.

A few years later Deets testified that Deanna Laney, who killed two of her children by beating them with stones, was legally insane. She was spared prison and sent to a mental hospital.

DEANNA LANEY: I feel like that I obeyed God. And I believe that there will be good out of this.

LAVANDERA: The Yates and Laney cases are eerily similar. Both women are devoutly religious. They home-schooled their children, and both called 911 to report the killings.

Deets was the only medical expert in the Yates case who ruled she was not insane. Almost a dozen other experts testified she was insane.

(On camera): Park Deets refused our request for an interview, but he has said he reached differing conclusions because Laney and Yates were responding to different voices. Laney said God told her to skill her children. Yates said that Satan was threatening her children, so she killed them to send them to heaven.

But Yates also said she knew she'd be punished; and to Deets, that meant she knew right from wrong.

(Voice-over): Knowing right from wrong is what often determines whether someone can be found guilty for their crimes or held legally insane. But other experts say Deets' testimony was wrong because Yates clearly was insane.

JIM COHEN, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: The underlying disease is that you're hearing voices. You're hearing command hallucinations. And you act on those hallucinations because you are psychotic. So it shouldn't have made any difference whether a farmer told her, or whether Satan told her or whether God told her.

LAVANDERA: It's because of Park Deets that Andrea Yates is on trial again. He wrongly testified that Yates was influenced by a "Law and Order" television show that featured a woman who got away with drowning her children by claiming she was insane.

In the first trial prosecutors used that to their advantage.

JOE OWMBY, PROSECUTOR: She watches "Law and Order" regularly. She sees this program. There is a way out. She tells that to Dr. Deets.

LAVANDERA: But that episode never existed. Deets said he misspoke. And an appeals court threw out the conviction. Park Deets is expected to testify again in the second trial, but the prosecution has hired another medical expert. Just in case the star witness falters again.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Houston.


COOPER: It is such a bizarre, complex case.

CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins me right now from New York.

Jeff, thanks for joining us. How much do you think that Park Deets's testimony impacted the first verdict?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Huge, huge, Anderson. He is an immensely persuasive witness. And he was the only witness on the issue of sanity for the prosecution. And that was the whole case. Because as you said, the facts were not in dispute. And he looked the jury in the eye, as he has done literally hundreds of times before, and said, like Ted Kaczynski, like Jeffrey Dahmer, like John Hinckley, all these people I've examined, she's sane, and the jury agreed with him. It was very powerful stuff. COOPER: But the reason it's gone back, though, is this question about the "Law and Order" episode. Did that actually play into the opinion on her sanity?

TOOBIN: Oh, well, that was -- the prosecution used that. It was an unbelievable fiasco by the prosecution. I mean, imagine citing a "Law and Order" episode which suggested that Andrea Yates had, you know, seen this episode and used it, and Park Deets has been a consultant to "Law and Order." Yet the entire thing was fictional. They somehow made a mistake and didn't check out the fact that this "Law and Order" episode didn't exist.

And as you just heard in Ed Lavandera's piece, the prosecution used it in their summation. And quite understandably the Court of Appeals said, no, I mean, you have to do this over because you relied on false evidence.

COOPER: And of course, we're looking at pictures of Andrea Yates' kids, all of whom drowned, killed in that bathtub. The defense says that Deets brought religion into his diagnosis, that Andrea Yates said she was influenced by Satan, so he decided was she insane? I mean, is that true? What do you think about it?

TOOBIN: Well, I think his reasoning is certainly peculiar. That, you know, because Deanna Laney said that she thought the kids -- that God told her to do it, and Yates thought that the devil told her to do it, that there's some distinction there.

I think that's likely not to make a big difference in the retrial. The real issue is going to be, did she know what she was doing? Did she have understanding of right from wrong? Did she act in some rational way? I don't think the religious issue is going to turn out to be a big deal in the retrial.

COOPER: The prosecution, though, is planning on calling Park Deets back. Is that a smart move?

TOOBIN: It's a tough call. Because you know, he is an extremely successful witness. He's testified hundreds of times, almost always successfully, almost always for the prosecution. But in this case, he committed this incredible blunder, regarding "Law and Order," that he's going to have to explain. But he's going to have planned an explanation. There won't be any surprise. So I think it's probably best for the prosecution just to live with the problem that they had. But given the fact that Deets has examined Andrea Yates so much and reached these conclusions and has been so successful in the past, it's worth it to put up with the problem that he has with this fictional "Law and Order" episode.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Toobin, appreciate your analysis.

Coming up, the latest in our breaking news story, the partial collapse of a building in Clinton, Missouri, during an Elks Club initiation ceremony or right before it. Eyewitnesses say that several people right now are trapped in the building, anywhere from nine to 15. We've heard varying reports. We do not have an accurate count, nor do we know their status, any kind of injuries they may have sustained. But as you can see, rescue workers are on the scene. We'll continue to bring you live reports in the minutes ahead.

Also tonight, the dark days in New Orleans. More and more people battling depression. We're going to take a look at what is happening in this city when this special edition of 360 continues live from the great city of New Orleans.


COOPER: Well, there's no doubt about it, it can be distressing at times here in New Orleans to see how much more work needs to be done to rebuild this city, even after all of this time. And along with the physical scars, and there are so many physical scars still here, there are other kinds of scars that aren't so obvious to the eye.

CNN's Gary Tuchman looks now at the growing number of people struggling with depression.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lifelong New Orleans resident Gina Barbe divides her life into toward parts, before Katrina...

GINA BARBE, HURRICANE KATRINA SURVIVOR: I was real happy. I was always laughing, I was excited about my life.

TUCHMAN: And after Katrina.

(On camera): Was there a time where you seriously considered suicide?

BARBE: I just -- I thought -- I asked God - I've asked God to just take me because I didn't want to be here anymore. Yes, definitely.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gina lost her job as a New Orleans tour planner after the hurricane and hasn't been able to get another one. She lost friends in the hurricane, and some to suicide after the storm. But there is much more to her depression.

BARBE: It's definitely not the same city. It's very -- I would say lonely, quiet. It actually reeks, to me it reeks a lot of death.

TUCHMAN: On the Gulf Coast, many people talk of increased depression and suicide since the rampage of Katrina. It's not just anecdotal.

Could you have ever envisioned something like this?

DR. JEFFREY ROUSE, NEW ORLEANS CORONER'S OFFICE: No. One can never envision apocalypse coming to one's hometown.

TUCHMAN: Dr. Jeffrey Rouse (ph) is a psychiatrist for the New Orleans coroner's office. He says before Katrina, the suicide rate here was nine per 100,000 people.

ROUSE: In the months after the storm, up until the end of 2005, by using the most conservative methodology we can come up with to come up with that rate, the rate was about 26 per 100,000 per year on an annualized figure. So roughly triple.

TUCHMAN: And that means this man's job is incredibly important.

SGT. BEN GLAUDI, NEW ORLEANS POLICE CRISIS UNIT: The last 10 months have been quite different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has 6512 got in service?

TUCHMAN: Twenty-four years ago police Sergeant Ben Glaudi started a unit that responded to severely depressed New Orleans citizens. His crisis unit is now seeing a dramatically increased rate of people who need to be protected from themselves.

GLAUDI: They're hopeless, they're helpless, they have fear because of the uncertainty what may be going on with them.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Gina Barbe is fearful. And she acknowledges often hopeless and helpless.

BARBE: The thing that makes me really happy is when I get out and I go running. I feel good because I'm running. Running makes you feel like you're running away from everything.

TUCHMAN: Very symbolic.

BARBE: It is symbolic, very symbolic, yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But she realizes she now needs more help. Like so many others in this very changed city.


COOPER: Yes, I mean running is great, physical exercise is great, but it's not enough to treat depression. What kind of help can she get, is she getting?

TUCHMAN (on camera): Gina has decided now that she needs professional help. Like a lot of people she thought maybe she could do this on her own, but she's not getting better. She's going to go to a therapist. She also tells us she's ready to volunteer, to do some volunteer work maybe for a pet shelter, to give herself a feeling of having some purpose.

COOPER: That's nice. Gary, thanks very much. Appreciate it. That's sort of the unseen scars here in New Orleans.

Coming up, the latest on our breaking news story, the partial collapse of an Elks lodge or an Elk's building in Clinton, Missouri. Rescue teams are on the scene, searching for people still trapped in the rubble. Some of those people have cell phones and they have actually been calling out and giving updates on their condition. We'll give you an update next.


COOPER: Before we go, I want to quickly update you in these next couple of minutes about what is happening right now in Clinton, Missouri.

As you can see, a number of personnel, rescue personnel on the scene. A lot of rubble. What has happened is this, a three-story building, a 100-year-old structure, has collapsed. The two top floors were part of an Elks lodge. There you see the building right there, looks like the top is just kind sheared off. That is the ground floor. The two top floors have fallen into the ground floor. Used to be a men's clothing store. There are a number of people, we don't know the exact number who are actually trapped inside the building. A number of them have cell phones that are working and they have been calling rescue personnel, as well as their friends.

We talked to one man, Steve Cummings, the brother of the man who owns the clothing store, who has talked to a friend of his who said there are a number of people around him. They are able to talk. He was not sure of their medical condition.

One official on the scene had talked about there are injuries. He described them as being minor. But again, we simply do not have the information at this point. Here's what one eyewitness had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The walls just kind -- I heard a rumbling, and the walls kind of swell out a little bit. And then all of a sudden the top of the building just collapsed in. You could hear glass shattering and the rocks. As soon as it happened, a cloud of smoke covered all of the buildings. You couldn't see anything.

But you could hear people yelling and screaming and hitting on stuff inside, wanting help. And there just wasn't too much you could do because, you know, cars were smashed and it was everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did it look like there was a fire or an explosion?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there any indication from what you saw what may have happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't see any fire or any smoke or hear an explosion. But the rumbling before it collapsed was kind of a strange sound. But I mean, it just happened so quick that you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when the smoke cleared, you heard people inside? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, yes, people inside. And there was people running around out here screaming, wanting to use cell phones to call family members. And it just -- it got crazy really quick.


COOPER: OK, that eyewitness from the scene.

Right now, Reporter Marcus Moore of CNN Affiliate KMBC is on the scene. He's from Kansas City.

Marcus, what are you seeing? What's happening?

MARCUS MOORE, KMBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, right now we're about three blocks away from the scene where all the action is going on. Basically what I've seen tonight is just a lot of heavy equipment being -- driving past, being taken to the kind of the epicenter of all of this, this building that collapsed around 7:30 Central Standard Time tonight. And you've been reporting tonight, anywhere between 30 and 50 people, we're told, were inside this building for an Elks lodge meeting that was supposed to start, when the third floor apparently collapsed onto the second floor. That's what the mayor told me this evening.

And right now a massive rescue effort is under way. We're told at least 10 people are still trapped inside the building. And some of them, as you reported just a moment ago, have been able to make contact with emergency crews, trying to help them find them in the rubble.

COOPER: Marcus, appreciate your report live from the scene. Thank you very much. And again, in our waning seconds here, a number of people, anywhere from nine to 15, according to three different reports that we have heard of people still inside this building.

As Marcus was saying, there are large numbers, a dozen says one eyewitness, of rescue personnel on the scene. The whereabouts of the people, exactly, we do not know, nor do we know their medical condition.

We'll continue to follow this story throughout the evening. We'll have a lot more about it on "AMERICAN MORNING," tomorrow, starting at 6:00 a.m., East Coast time.

Thank very much for joining us here from New Orleans tonight. We want to also thank all the librarians who have been in this city. The first convention to come back to New Orleans, bringing a lot of money and a lot of focus on this city. Thank you for being here.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is next, with an exclusive, the family of a notorious mafia hit man who claims he killed hundreds and helped get rid of Jimmy Hoffa. That's next on "LARRY KING."

See you tomorrow.


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