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THE SITUATION ROOM
The Crisis in Haiti
Aired January 14, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BLITZER: We're going to be joining Anderson Cooper shortly. He's going to join us from the scene in Port-au-Prince. All of our reporters are on the scene. We're continuing our breaking news coverage.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
We're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It's now the top of the hour. We're not leaving this story, because there are developments unfolding right now. Amid the unspeakable tragedy that has occurred, there are some glimmers of hope, some stories of success. Members of a Virginia search and rescue team pulled a staffer from the rubble of the United Nations headquarters in Port-au-Prince. The U.N. secretary general called it a small miracle.
BLITZER: But there certainly is also tragedy almost beyond comprehension in Haiti. In the capital, the capital in ruins; a population decimated. And the pictures, we warn you, are very hard to digest.
Our national correspondent, Gary Tuchman, is taking us through the streets of Port-au-Prince, where horror and heartbreak reign.
Once again, please know that there are some graphic images in this report that might be very disturbing to some people, especially small children.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On Tuesday, this was a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince with apartment buildings. Now, it's the worst devastation that I've ever seen. This is worse than any horror movie you've ever seen. You can see here people looking for bodies of loved ones -- loved ones who are missing. And as we were just walking past, we see bodies that are under the rocks that are obviously lifeless.
But what is horrifying is on the other side of the street. They've tried their best to give people killed some respect by putting sheets on top of their bodies. But this street is covered with people who died in the earthquake and there's been nobody here to recover the bodies.
Perhaps, though, the most worrisome thing and the thing that concerns me the most and the thing that's upsetting the most is what's happening back here. And it's the search for possible survivors. There's not one rescue worker here, not one emergency worker and, most importantly, no equipment. People are digging by hand. One man said he heard noises, but there's no way to lift up these heavy rocks. There's no way to lift up this heavy concrete if there's someone who's trapped who is alive.
What's so scary and horrifying is we walk down the street and see children who walk by these bodies and look so frightened when they see the bodies. And one thing rescue workers here are telling us -- and the rescue workers are the civilians, like we said -- but they're looking for the flies and the insects. You see the children as they're walking by and they're walking fast, their mothers shielding them, but they're looking anyway.
But what the people here are looking for are flies. They say when the flies fly over here, there may be survivors and human remains.
You hear some excitement right here, but it's not because they've seen a body. It's because there's some arguing going on about how to proceed with the search for people.
But the site here -- it smells here just unbelievable. This is just a situation that you can never possibly imagine, that nobody should ever have to endure.
This is one of the most beautiful parts of Port-au-Prince and that's because this is where the presidential palace is. And this exemplifies this disaster. Look at what has happened to this beautiful building in the heart of downtown Port-au-Prince -- destroyed from this earthquake. And the area surrounding here normally has a lot of tourists -- a lot of Haitians, like Americans who come to the White house and look through the gates of the White house. But most of the people here are now temporarily homeless, because most of the homes here in downtown Port-au-Prince have been destroyed.
And across the street, basically it has become a campsite. Not only are people here because they no longer have homes, but people are very scared about the aftershocks and afraid if they do go in a structure that has just been damaged, that it can be destroyed. People don't want to go indoors and that's why they're staying outdoors.
This is the third floor of a school. It's for small children during the day, continuing education for adults in the late afternoon and evening. Adults were in this classroom when the earthquake happened. You can see by just looking at the chairs and the handbags and the books, how quickly people had to escape. The people inside this room survived. But the people in the other section of the school, just on this side, many of them did not. You can see the rubble, the open wall right here and we see several bodies that are down there right now.
BLITZER: Gary Tuchman doing some amazing reporting from the scene.
We're going to be speaking with him live. That's coming up, as well.
We've also just obtained some exclusive video shot just moments after the quake.
Take a look at these images.
BLITZER: Oh, my God. Those pictures were taken right after that earthquake struck. It's now been about 48 hours, a 7.0 earthquake. And there have been literally several dozen aftershocks since then.
Chris Lawrence is over at the airport in Port-au-Prince.
He's joining us now live -- Chris, those pictures are just hard to watch, but very important that our viewers here in the United States and around the world see the devastation.
You're seeing it up close there. But tell us what the -- what the latest you're getting is.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we're live right on the runway as search and rescue teams continue to come in. I think when you see that kind of devastation and from what we've seen even out on the streets, it shows you the tremendous damage that has been done and how quickly so many people here in Haiti were trapped underneath the buildings they were in.
I'm joined now by Rebecca Gustafson.
You are from USAID, which is the lead agency in terms of moving aid into the country and helping to process what's going on.
What is the situation right now in Port-au-Prince with the search and rescue effort and possible survivors?
REBECCA GUSTAFSON, USAID: First of all, on behalf of the U.S. government, I do want to extend my deepest condolences of the people of Haiti. We are here to help in the search and rescue effort. We have four teams here on the ground. This morning, we actually were able to make a live rescue at the U.N. mission here in Haiti. We have four people that have been identified by Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Squad, that is here with us, as well, as live possible survivors of the earthquake. And we want to make sure that we get them as soon as possible.
LAWRENCE: Now if you would tell me, where are these possible survivors right now and what's being done to try to help them?
GUSTAFSON: Well, what I can tell you is that our teams are out and looking for hot spots that they've identified as being areas that have possible voids in them so that they can get the teams out there as soon as possible so that we can find survivors.
LAWRENCE: (INAUDIBLE) there's been some criticism by some that the aid -- the humanitarian aid -- food, water, supplies, things like that -- hasn't started arriving here in Haiti fast enough.
Is that the priority, at this point in time?
GUSTAFSON: What I can tell you is that we were activated almost immediately after we understood how large and severe the earthquake was. This president and the secretary of State obviously came out very quickly and put all of the assets that we have in the U.S. government behind the relief effort here in support of the Haitian government. And we will be here until they don't need us anymore.
What you may not see and what most people don't even know is that these search and rescue teams here in this country internationally coordinate all year long. They train together all year long.
So while maybe movement wasn't seen as quickly by those people looking at Haiti and seeing the devastation, the coordination work is already happening. And it showed the day that we showed up on the ground. We immediately were able to go to the hot spots that has been identified by other international teams and assure that we were able to assist. And I believe that is, in fact, why we were able to make that rescue at the U.N. compound this morning.
LAWRENCE: So in terms of moving assets into the country, into Haiti, what is -- what is the priority today in terms of what types of personnel are you trying to bring in?
GUSTAFSON: Right now, obviously, search and rescue is our mission. Until someone in the Haitian government tells us that search and rescue is no longer their priority, it will be our priority. We will bring in engineers who can look at structural situations that may be damaging to go into, so that they can shore them up so that we can look for survivors in voids.
We also bring in medics. We bring in the urban search and rescue dogs that everyone loves to see. And those dogs are very, very important. In fact, they were able to help us determine that the survivors we believe are actually in the hotel right now just down the street are hopefully alive and hopefully well and we will hope to get them out soon.
LAWRENCE: So, again, it's the search and rescue teams -- getting them here is a priority over the food and water, which -- which comes at a secondary phase, is that what you're saying?
GUSTAFSON: What -- what we do know is that this tarmac is only so big. As you stand here, you're hearing airplanes behind us that are bringing in teams and evacuating personnel who wish to be evacuated voluntarily. Our priority is to get here to save lives. Right now, in the first few days, the priority is to get those teams out as quickly as possible. As soon as we're able to do that and this tarmac is -- is clear of all of these planes bringing all the teams in, we will be able to assess the needs, in coordination with the government of Haiti, and bring in whatever is needed.
LAWRENCE: Rebecca Gustafson of USAID -- again, the lead agency, Wolf, giving us some perspective about prioritizing (INAUDIBLE) that may still be out there, trapped in the rubble, still able to be saved and using what space is available here on the tarmac.
I can tell you, I talked with an official earlier today and they said normally they handle about 25 flights a day out of this airport. By 3:30 this afternoon, they had already done 55 flights. So that's why you had some of those planes that had to circle around for some time, because they simply weren't able to move a plane off of the tarmac quickly enough to get space for another plane to land -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris, it's getting dark now. It's about to get dark in Haiti.
Is that airport equipped to accept flights -- to allow flights to land throughout the evening?
LAWRENCE: Let me ask that now. Rebecca, just a real quick question Wolf is asking. We -- we can see the sun is starting to set now.
Is this airport equipped to handle flights after dark, throughout the night?
GUSTAFSON: What I can tell you is that we have a great cooperation working with the U.S. Air Force is out here, working with the local government authorities, who ordinarily work on flight arrangements here. We are getting flights in as early and as late as possible in the evening. I was here last night and there were flights landing in the dead of night.
LAWRENCE: All right. That's good information, Wolf.
So that suggests that perhaps even as the sun goes down, the flights will not -- will not necessarily stop. And I can tell you, just from looking around, I can still see a number of flights up and down parts of the tarmac here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Chris.
Thanks very much.
Those flights are lifesavers. There are lot of people still trapped and they desperately need help right away.
We'll continue our breaking news coverage. We're going to be speaking with a college student who was injured in this earthquake in Haiti and is now in Miami with an -- with an amazing personal story.
BLITZER: A young American woman badly injured in the earthquake in Haiti says she's just thankful to be alive. Twenty-five-year-old Christa Belsford is a graduate student at Arizona State University. She was doing volunteer work in Haiti when the quake struck. The house she was in collapsed, pinning her legs. She was among the first victims airlifted to the United States, where doctors had to amputate one of her feet.
She told her story to our affiliate, WSVN, in Miami.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP COURTESY WSVN)
CHRISTA BELSFORD, QUAKE SURVIVOR: I was on the second story of a house in -- of a cement block house in Dabloon (ph). My brother and I and some of our friends had just sat down to connect to the satellite Internet and check our e-mail when the earthquake started.
I thought that a truck had hit the building, because I felt the building shake and I knew it wasn't a stable building. But then the second truck -- the sort of the second wave, I knew it was an earthquake.
And my brother and I both ran down the stairs to try and leave the house, because I -- I knew that the house wasn't going to stay up.
Julian (ph) made it all way out of the house. He stopped in a doorway -- a metal frame doorway. So he wasn't badly hurt. But I slipped going down the stairs and so my -- my lower legs were crushed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you thinking?
What were you feeling at the time when this earthquake hit?
BELSFORD: First, I wanted to get out of the house. And then when I -- when I realized my legs were trapped, my second thought was to protect my head and neck. In Alaska, they have earthquake drills in school every year. So -- and that's what they tell you to do. So that's what I did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know it was an earthquake?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you show us in...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You knew right away?
BELSFORD: Yes. Well, after -- once I realized it wasn't that a truck had run into the building, I knew that it was an earth -- an earthquake. It took me half second to decide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when that happened, what would immediately then happen?
You thought something terrible had happened to your right leg.
BELSFORD: No, actually. I didn't think -- I didn't think that my legs were that badly hurt. I knew that -- I knew I didn't have that long. I -- I knew that they were under a great deal of pressure and so I was worried about losing circulation. But I didn't realize that my right leg had been almost completely cut off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What went through your mind when this happened, Christa, right away?
BELSFORD: That first I wanted to make -- well, I wanted to be OK. And the second thought was how do I get myself out of here. I wasn't -- I -- my -- my body and my arms and my face were -- were clear. I was fairly protected from the rest of the house. So I was -- I was OK.
And so I called my brother and he -- he did his best to get me out. And then Julian (ph) and a couple of other guys -- the Haitian guys -- eventually it took about, I think, half an hour to get my right leg free. And as soon as I could see that, I turned around and I could see that it was disconnected, basically.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your feelings now about having survived this whole thing and getting to this point?
BELSFORD: I'm so thankful to be alive. There are so many ways, in the last two days, that I could have been dead, that I just am thankful that I'm not. And I'm terribly sorry for all the people in Haiti -- the Haitians, especially, that don't have the medical care that I'm get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What a remarkable young woman, Christa Belsford, 25 years old. She's a graduate student at Arizona State University. And she's just so grateful to be alive. She's back in the United States right now.
Let's go to Gary Tuchman.
He's on the scene for us in Port-au-Prince -- Gary, these stories are so heartbreaking and there are still so many thousands -- tens of thousands of Haitians, primarily, who are unaccounted for.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. It's been more than 48 hours since the earthquake. And behind me, the Caribbean Market, a huge four story supermarket, furniture store. There are many people who perished inside this building.
But there's a search as we're going on. It's multinational, it's professional, but it's also frantic because it's been many hours. Most of the rescuers say that usually you can survive for three days without water. There is a woman who is inside there. Her name is Nadia (ph). They are communicating with her, about 100 yards behind me, but they aren't able to get to her.
She's entombed -- that's the word they use. It's not a -- she's not being crushed, so she's in good shape. But they can't get to her and they're frantically working and she's still communicating. She knocks when they ask her to knock. She's able to talk. She speaks English, they say. They say she is a young woman, but they aren't able to get to her yet.
But another part of the story -- and a very important part, in this area where we're standing on now, there are scores of people who had relatives who went inside the store. They haven't seen them and they are hoping -- they are praying that they're alive, too.
The dogs haven't picked up a scent of anyone else yet, but they are refusing to give up.
And with us right now, two of those people.
Come on over to me, if you don't mind.
This is Stanley.
This is Jennifer.
Both with such sad stories to tell. They -- they want us to go on television and make sure that they don't give up searching for their loved ones, too.
Stanley, tell me who came -- who came here from your family?
STANLEY HANEAL, LOOKING FOR LOVED ONE: Well, my wife. She's still inside.
TUCHMAN: I didn't know your wife was inside.
Is there is chance that she's somewhere else?
HANEAL: No, she's here because her car is right there in the parking lot. And I don't -- we don't want to create some panic and say that there's only one person that's alive. We want to believe that there is many, many people alive. But the team from Iceland, I think, is making a great work and...
TUCHMAN: These are the...
HANEAL: ...I think we're going to find some more.
TUCHMAN: These are the -- these are the search and rescue people, primarily from Iceland, but they're also here from Spain and then from Belgium and from Fairfax County, Virginia. They're doing great work.
So you're telling them, please keep looking for my wife?
HANEAL: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) think they are not going to give up. And I am sure that they -- they're going to find some more people. You know, we have friends and family over there in the States and all over the world. And I don't think we should panic them. And we should remain hopeful that there's so many more people inside and they're still alive.
TUCHMAN: OK. You've been here, Jennifer. Come a little closer to me, Jennifer (INAUDIBLE). Now, Jennifer, let's turn this way.
Jennifer's sister and mother were shopping here. And the reason Jennifer knows that for sure is because she was sitting right where we are in a car in this parking lot when the earthquake happen.
JENNIFER ELI, LOOKING FOR LOVED ONE: Yes. I was in the parking lot, in the car, waiting for them.
TUCHMAN: And you saw the store come down?
ELI: I saw the crash. The -- I felt the earthquake. I witnessed the fall, the crash and everything. And I've been here since Tuesday. I haven't left. I've slept here and did everything here. I'm still waiting for them. I still have faith that they're still live inside, waiting for a way to come out. They're still alive. I have faith in that.
TUCHMAN: One of the reasons we're talking to Jennifer right now and we're talking to Stanley right now is because, Wolf, when we talked to you in the last hour and we were saying that officials have told us there's little chance of any other survival, these people all said to me, no, we refuse to give up and we want on spread that message. That's very important, because miracles do occur in these kind of situations. I think you all know the reality, that it's going to be a tough road to hoe here.
ELI: It's going to be tough. But we all have faith that there's many people alive inside. We all have faith. We have faith in that.
TUCHMAN: Well, there's nothing more that all of us at CNN and all of our viewers watching and hope what you're saying is true. So that's what we're going to be thinking about and hoping for, OK?
Jennifer, Stanley, thanks for talking with us.
There are just so many terrifying stories to tell here in Haiti. These poor people who are standing here right now, they're hoping for a miracle -- Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Miracles would be good. But as they say, God helps those who help themselves. We need a lot of international effort.
Do you see any evidence on the ground where you are, Gary, right now, any -- any evidence that international aid workers are -- are really getting there in the numbers that are required to provide the food, the water, the medical supplies, as well as the earth removal equipment that's so desperately needed?
Are they there where you are?
TUCHMAN: Well, where we are right now, there's an incredible turnout of enthusiastic, hardworking, very qualified search and rescue officials from five different countries and they're here now. Also in the streets, we looked -- we're surrounded by a gated in area. There are many people who want to get in here, because there are so many people who had family members and loved ones inside the store here.
This is a huge complex. And they're keeping them out right now because they're afraid of a -- a situation where things get panicked. So there are horns honking of international aid workers who are coming through right now. As you probably heard, the Port-au-Prince airport is jam-packed.
And I'm being told something is happening right now.
Mikael, why don't we bring you over here and you can tell me.
Mikael is with Iceland Search and Rescue. And he's been the person to talk to about it.
What's the latest update on the woman who's inside?
MIKAEL OLAFSSON, ICELAND URBAN SEARCH & RESCUE: Yes, we have possibly identified where she is. So now we are starting to make the hole to get her from below.
TUCHMAN: Well, that's great news.
OLAFSSON: It's more than great, it's brilliant.
TUCHMAN: And it's absolutely brilliant. That's a great word in Icelandic and in English.
OLAFSSON: Yes. But it's not done, so we shouldn't cheer before it's really done and she is outside.
TUCHMAN: The one thing is they haven't known where she is, exactly. They hear her voice, but the voice reverberates when you're inside with all this wreckage.
But you know where she is, you're starting the process to drill a hole that actually is big enough to come through?
OLAFSSON: Yes, to get her out.
TUCHMAN: And so how long do you think it will be?
OLAFSSON: We guess it takes us around 40 to 60 minutes to make the manhole size through the floor.
TUCHMAN: This is great news.
OLAFSSON: It's more than that.
TUCHMAN: If I can ask you one more thing. You know, we were just talking to some people here -- and I'm going to talk kind of softly, because I don't want to upset people.
But is there any chance that there are more survivors?
OLAFSSON: Oh, yes. We have rescued people days -- I mean up to seven days later. So, now when she's out, we can -- well, we would say, sterilize the building of rescuers and others, so we can put the dogs in to make sure there's nobody else alive.
TUCHMAN: Mikael, thanks for talking with us.
Mikael Olafsson from Reykjavik, Iceland, which is a wonderful city -- Wolf, we hope we have good news for everybody later tonight.
BLITZER: Yes. We're going to stay in close touch with you, Gary. We want to see that woman emerge and good -- in good shape. I know it's not over with yet, but we are encouraged about that one life that potentially could be saved and we hope she will be saved.
We'll get back to Gary shortly.
The president of the United States is speaking out about what's happening in Haiti right now. We have his comments. That's coming up.
Also, a statement just coming in from former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. They've now agreed to work together to coordinate international aid efforts.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Only moments ago, the president, up on Capitol Hill, made another statement about Haiti.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our, obviously, our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people of Haiti, Haitian Americans who have family members. One of my top advisers, Patrick Gaspard, is Haitian American. He's got cousins and aunts and uncles who are still missing. His family priest, who he's known since he was a baby, who baptized him, is -- is suspected dead.
Those stories ripple throughout the Haitian American community, but, obviously, they ripple throughout all of humanity, when we see the kind of tragedy that we're seeing.
I want everybody here to understand that I've directed my administration to take swift and coordinated and aggressive action. I've made it clear to my national security team that this has to be a top priority across agencies -- the Department of Defense, the Department of State, USAID, all the agencies involved -- Homeland Security, our FEMA director. They are all intimately involved in making sure that we can get in there as quickly as possible to engage in search and rescue and to provide immediately medical attention and then long-term help with the recovery.
Our highest priority is the safety of American citizens. And we are currently airlifting injured Americans out of Haiti. I know many of you have constituents desperate for news of their loved ones and should direct them to state department website for phone number and e- mail address and let them know we will not rest until we have accounted for every single of our fellow Americans that are in harm's way. The first wave of our rescue and relief workers arrived on the ground yesterday. Search and rescue teams are now working around the clock to save lives. More waves of major as receipts going to be arriving this morning I announced an immediate investment of $100 million to support our relief efforts in the early days of this crisis. Most of this is for the basics. Lifesaving equipment, food, water, medicine. This investment will grow over the years as we help our neighbors embark on what will be a long-term recovery. And so I just want everybody in the House of Representatives to understand that this is a moment for American leadership. This is a time when the word looks to us and say that given our capacity, given our unique capacity to project power around the world, that we have to project that not just for our own interests but for the interests of the world as a whole. And my national security team understands that I will not put up with any excuses for us not doing the very best in this time of tragedy.
BLITZER: The president of the United States promising a sustained and relentless effort in order to help the people of Haiti right now.
And we just received a statement from two of the predecessors, President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton. They say this in a joint statement. "We are deeply saddened by the devastation and suffering caused by the recent earthquake in Haiti. The people of Haiti are in our thoughts and prayers. We are pleased to accept President Obama's request to lead private sector fund-raising efforts in the days and weeks ahead we will draw attention to the many ways American citizens and businesses can help meet the urgent needs of the Haitian people." The two former presidents go on to say, "Americans have a long history of showing compassion and generosity and in the wake of tragedy. We thank the American people for rallying to help our neighbors in the Caribbean and in their hour of suffering. And throughout the journey of rebuilding their nation." That statement issued by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Fran Townsend is here, former homeland security adviser to former President Bush. The first time I think that these two former presidents, Fran, have worked together, the former President Bill Clinton worked together with the first president Bush on the tsunami, Katrina relief efforts, and now the second president Bush is working together with President Clinton in this effort.
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. It is interesting because President Bush having worked for him directly, I traveled with President 43, President Bush, to Kansas to the tornado site, to the California wildfires, to the hurricanes and he has an incredible sense of humanity and compassion. He -- rarely wants cameras around when he is meeting with people who are the victims of these sorts of disasters. Yet, he really has a gift at -- much as President Clinton does, to reaching out to folks, making them understand that there are massive humanity who wants to help them. And he has a real gift, both presidents do for fund-raising. So it really is nice to see this and I think that the American people ought to take real heart about how effective I think they can be at this. BLITZER: I think that American people will be happy at least at this moment in the face of this tragedy to see these political leaders working together for such an important cause.
TOWNSEND: That's exactly right, Wolf.
BLITZER: All the political bickering that goes on, nice to see some cooperation once in a while as well, especially in the situation like this. Another quick break. We are going to be speaking with former secretary of state Colin Powell, retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He's very passionate about Haiti and what's going on. Stand by.
BLITZER: So many people in the United States are simply desperate right now for any information about missing loved ones in Haiti and there are so many of them. Her sister is missing in Port- au-Prince. She's joining via Skype from Miami Shores, Florida right now. Her sister is missing in Port-au-Prince.
Tell us about your sister. What was she doing there? What was going on?
WALINE BELIZAIRE: OK. She left from Miami on Monday morning. She was on a missionary quest with one of her church members. And to preach on to the community in Haiti. And we haven't heard her from ever since. She left her number here for us and after we heard the earthquake happened in Haiti we contacted immediately the numbers are not working. We have native relatives in Port-au-Prince as well that live there. We contacted them. No sign of them whatsoever. No communication, nothing. And I'm -- just terrified and is worried to know what's going on and there's no way of reaching her.
BLITZER: The last time you spoke to her was before the earthquake, right?
BELIZAIRE: Yes. On Monday morning.
BLITZER: And how old is she?
BELIZAIRE: She's 40.
BLITZER: Tell us a little bit about her. She obviously wanted to get involved in helping people in Haiti. That was the main purpose that she wanted go there and see what she could do to help.
BELIZAIRE: Yes. She's very concerned about all her relatives and friends down in Haiti. And she got with other church members to go to Haiti and preach and help all she can do. And that was her plan to just go there, you know, spontaneously. And just help out.
BLITZER: Was she with -- she was with a group, with some others, who came from Florida to Haiti? Is that right? Have you heard from any of her friends?
BELIZAIRE: No. I haven't heard from any of them that went with her. No one.
BLITZER: Well, hopefully everything will turn out fine and simply a matter of the phone lines are down. Cell phones are down. We heard from the ambassador, Haitian ambassador, here in Washington just a little while ago. He said slowly but surely they are trying to get the cell phone connections, the phone systems running. Several of them are not yet. Let's hope for the best ask let's pray for the best. Thanks very much. Keep in touch with us. If you hear from your sister and hope you do soon, let us know. Okay?
BELIZAIRE: Okay. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. Just one story. There are so many of those stories going on right now. People in Haiti, around the world, are desperate for any news of loved ones missing since the earthquake struck about 48 hours ago. CNN set up a special Haiti missing persons desk to help with your needs. Amber Lyon is joining us. She is manning the desk for us in our Miami bureau.
Amber, what can you tell our viewers about what we are trying to do here?
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you said earlier, you know, cell phones are out here. Very few people have access to the meat in Haiti. Here at CNN we wouldn't combine all of our mediums to try to help get in touch with loved ones in Haiti ask help Haitians and people in Haiti right now get in touch with loved ones here in the states and all over the world. Just to let them know they are doing okay.
So if you are worried about someone right now all you need to do is head to CNN.com/Haitimissing. This is what you do. Once you get to this site, you are going to see that you can search by name. It's a new feature we added here. Type in the name of a loved one or friend and see if there's already an I-report filed about them and you can comment on that, try to update people on their whereabouts.
As of now we have almost 2,000 I-reports that people have made trying to find their loved ones and missing persons as of now and, you know Wolf, I have been to Haiti before. My journalism travels brought me there. There are already a lot of orphans there before the earthquake and now there's a lot of people in the states worried about the whereabouts of those orphans. I want to pull up this I-report here. This is the kids at the Marinapa Orphanage. Now what's going on here and let me blow up the photo for you. Take a look at that photo. There are 150 children in this orphanage. It is near Aubrey. That's a town just north of Port-au-Prince in Haiti. The person that posted this I-report says so far they have had no word from any of the people to know if any of these orphans are okay and they are, quote, in agony waiting to hear the status of their kids.
In addition to this we had another mother who posted a video of -- posted an I-report about the little boy here. Take a look at him. He is just 2 years old. She's a mother in Kentucky and she was almost done adopting this child when the earthquake hit. She was in the states. He was in Haiti. She says that this boy is okay and she even posted a YouTube video of her and the child. You can take a look at that, too, right now. It is almost heartbreaking because this is what she is saying. She knows this boy is okay. But as of now, she's pleading for rescue groups to find him and the other 30 orphans because they need food and water desperately.
What you need to do, I know probably right now, if you are missing a loved one, feeling a little bit out of control, to gain control, head to CNN.com/Haitimissing. You can check out profiles, hopefully try to connect yourself with some loved ones in that country.
BLITZER: Amber Lyon is working the missing person's desk for us. We are going to be checking in back with you, Amber. Thanks very much.
Our breaking news coverage will continue in just a moment. We are taking a look closely at some pictures that have just come in before the earthquake and after the earthquake in Haiti.
BLITZER: We are continuing our coverage of the breaking news out of Haiti 48 hours after the earthquake struck, a 7.0 earthquake and dozens of aftershocks since then. The situation remains oh so tenuous right now. We are going to get back to the scene in Port-au-Prince in just a moment.
Let's check in with Fredricka Whitfield right now. She's monitoring other stories in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Fred, what else is going on?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you Wolf. Hello everyone.
Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas has been charged with a felony and will reportedly plead guilty. This after the basketball player admitted that he had guns in the team locker room last month. Court documents show Arenas was charged with one count of carrying a pistol without a license. Washington Examiner reports that he is set to appear in court tomorrow and will plead guilty. Arenas has said it was a mistake and a misguided effort after playing a joke on a teammate.
In Iraq, series of bombings have killed at least two people and wounded 60 others. Officials say that three bombings, including a car bomb, struck the holy Shiite city of Najaf near a commercial area. It happened near a holy shrine. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Fred, let's back to the breaking news right now, the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. To get a sense of the scale of this disaster and it is enormous, let's get a closer look at Port-au-Prince before and after this killer quake. CNN's Tom Foreman is here.
And the images especially when you see them from those satellite images are really devastating.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's stunning really. We looked earlier on some of the things that were happening down here at the port. You can really see the difference in right here. If we zoom in right there, you can see the port. If you take the latest image from GOI here, you slide across, you can see, whole sections missing here. The road completely buckled up and destroyed in here. Destruction up here. You'll notice the crane up in here was up on the shore at one point. Move it back over this way. You can see it wind up all the way to the water. Tremendous, tremendous damage.
The other thing I want on show you, something we talked oar with the ambassador when he was here. One of the big issues here is how are you going to get things around. All of this aid, everything they need cannot go anywhere unless the roads are cleared. He pointed out some key roads that will make a difference. Here's the airport up here. Obviously here's the port over here. Two key roads he wants open. Right over here and Truman Boulevard. This matters not only because it allows access to the port, back and forth to the airport here, but also it takes you all out into these areas which we know very, very little about. We knew there was a lot of damage out here, a lot of people in trouble. We know very little about it also this area right here, this is very, very key. I'm going to fly in there and show you why. Because this, he says, is where you unload fuel for this area. These facilities, look at them right now, this is the same place when we look at it on the GOI picture here now, that was before and this is now. This is before. This is now. It doesn't look terribly damaged. If these can be operational and you can keep this road open, then you have a real chance of getting help up to all of the rescue workers that will be working up in here.
Then, he says if you get that far, the next thing you have to do is open up some of the connecting streets here, Avenue Migate which is up here by the airport. I may be mispronouncing some of these but I will do the best I can, Avenue John Brown down here and Avenue Highly which cuts down here. Wolf, as we look at all of these, brighten them up, you can see what the ambassador is talking about. You now have a network of east and west and north and south main roads.
The last thing I want to show you where we got started, if we go down in here, take a close look down here at John Brown in this are and we turn off of the roads, and just look where I am pointing the finger here and turn off the roads so you can see the road here. This is before all of the trouble happened. You can see a nice clean wide street and a major thoroughfare here, and if I turn back on the GOI image here and I put the slider on here, you can see the amount of rubble filling that one main road here, completely blocked, here, blocked, blocked, heavily blocked here, and blocked here and up in here. You can see many, many side roads blocked as well. Nonetheless, Wolf, what the ambassador said is if we can simply find a way to get all of the key roads popped open, that will make a big difference in getting the goods from the airport and the port to people as they arrive.
BLITZER: They need the huge effort moving equipment to get the streets clean. FOREMAN: Which we have seen little sign of so far.
BLITZER: That is a problem of offloading them and the lift capability of the helicopters is so important. All right. Tom, thanks for that explanation. Good work.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be joining us as well. He is not only a journalist and an excellent journalist, but he is a neurosurgeon and he has been called into duty to save lives in Haiti, and you will see what Sanjay is doing and a lot more. We are live to the scene right after this.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Port-au-Prince right now. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent is on the scene there.
Sanjay, tell our viewers where you are right now and what is going on.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I have seen so many patients over the last couple of days, Wolf, I was wondering where will they get any treatment, and also so many bodies, where were they being taken?
Where we are is one of the few hospitals that is actually still up and running here in the Port-au-Prince. It is in the Doma area. It is an interesting place, because they have so few resources, so few health care personnel, that it is hard to even call this really a hospital. It is more of a makeshift facility where so many people are coming.
Wolf, I don't know if you can see behind me here, but this is outside and this is the courtyard and overflow area, if you will, for patients who take sheets and literally put them up between trees and give themselves some cover. These are patients who are told, look, this is nothing that we can do for you, and some of them are simply not sick enough, and some are so sick that the hospital can't take care of them.
But it is just so busy here. Haiti has even without a natural disaster has a low doctor to patient ratio, and as far as we can tell, there is one doctor caring for hundreds and hundreds of patients, Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, there's two doctors now, because you are a doctor yourself, and we will show our viewers in a little while that you took off your journalist hat for a few moments and you put on the neurosurgeon hat and did some amazing work down there. Talk a little bit about this urge that you have on the one hand, Sanjay, to report the news as you do so brilliantly, but at the same time as a neurosurgeon to get in there and try to save lives?
GUPTA: Well, Wolf, I'm a doctor first. There's no question about that. I have been lucky to, I think, to be grateful to help a lot of people today. You may be looking at the film we taped of the 15-day-old baby who was injured and the mother was killed, and the father was distraught, and there was a person running through the streets looking for a neurosurgeon to help the child, and see how significant the head injury was, a skull fracture or brain injury? Good news with her. She could move both of the arms and legs and the eyes were working well. This is how tough it is. People with concerns about head injuries and all kinds of injuries trying to take to the streets to get whatever help they can get, Wolf.
BLITZER: We will show the viewers what you did, and we are showing them some pictures. Sanjay, don't go away, because Anderson Cooper is on the scene right now for us.
Anderson, tell our viewers where you are and what you have seen on this day.
Hold on one second, Anderson Cooper is getting hooked up with the microphone and the ear peace. We will go to him in a second. Let me bring back Sanjay.
Sanjay, you have covered a lot of stories around the world, and I have been with you in some of the stories, but have you ever seen anything like this up close?
GUPTA: I have never seen anything quite like this for two reasons. One, it is Haiti. And Haiti is all of the things that you have been talking about for a couple of days now. It is the most impoverished nation in the world, and the resources are so few to begin with, but to see things so acutely and so soon after the natural disaster of the earthquake, to see people still in situations where they need rescued and now trying to literally dig through the rubble with their bare hands and the family members trying to save their loved ones, and I have not seen anything like this, and this hospital, and what they are trying to do with great difficulty. It is tough to see as a doc certainly, but as a journalist as well.
BLITZER: They have obviously a shortage of doctors and nurses, but what about the bare essentials the antibiotics to save lives and these are critical injuries that the people have endured.
GUPTA: We could talk about needing gauze, bandages, antibiotics and analgesics and some of the most basic things you need to take care of the patients. I can tell you, Wolf, I flew into the airport at Port-au-Prince. There were other relief planes with lots of relief supplies. The issue is, Wolf, simply getting the supplies to the hospitals like this, and getting the supplies to the critically injured areas, and it is tough. The roads are difficult to navigate, and the buildings have collapsed into the roads and -- [ inaudible ] before you can address the needs. It is not rocket science, but that is what needs to be done in order to get to a lot of the people you see behind me to the hospital and get basic treatment.
BLITZER: So, Sanjay, doctors and nurses are desperately needed in Haiti? Do you see evidence that the doctors and nurses are actually getting to the scene?
GUPTA: Yeah, we are starting to see the doctors and the nurses from all sorts of different facilities and places in the world show up here. In fact, I was having a conversation with a group of multinational group from the United States, Canada, Belgium and Spain. They have come here, and they were watching some of the reporting to assess what happened here and determine what they need and then to come up with a plan to try to get even tents set up behind these tents that might be able to do operations. Very much like we talked about in a war zone setting, and that is what this is going to look like within a day or so. But, again, just simply getting those supplies, those tents, and all of the operating room supplies here is their primary and sort of most important challenge. Right now, it is starting to get better, but they have to be able to get the necessary equipment here in the first place.
BLITZER: I want to alert the viewers that we are here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I am Wolf Blitzer reporting, and Sanjay Gupta is on the scene for us. Sanjay, as we are at the top of the hour, I want to reset, how worried are you right now, Sanjay, about disease?