Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
New Looting, Desperation in Haiti; Haiti's Youngest Quake Victims; Live Reports from Haiti; Bill Clinton Sees Devastation Up Close
Aired January 18, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Rick, thanks very much.
Happening now, new looting and destruction in Haiti. Earthquake victims storm a supply store, adding to fears of widespread violence. We're asking some tough questions about the state of relief efforts and security right now.
Plus, we're only a few hours away from the most important special election in memory and Democrats fear an historic defeat. The outcome of the Massachusetts Senate race could affect the future of health care for every American.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics and extraordinary reports from around the world.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But first, the breaking news coming out of Haiti right now. The European Union now estimates an astounding 200,000 people have died in the massive earthquake. That according to the Associated Press, which also reports 70,000 bodies have been recovered so far. These numbers, as we get a new glimpse of the worst that can happen when people are hungry and thirsty and suffering.
Several hundred looters broke into a supply store downtown Port- au-Prince only a few hours ago. Police fired guns into the air to try to break up the crowd. We're told fights broke out among the looters. It's a harsh reality six days after the monster quake. We want you to experience it, certainly, as Anderson Cooper did, on the ground.
Here's precisely what he reported.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: They're protecting a building over there. They don't really want to get involved in what's going on over here at this point. They just don't have enough police officers on scene. So it's become kind of a free-for-all. Kind of word is spreading in this neighborhood that there are items available -- that there's some food in this -- in this store. So people are just running. They're climbing up and grabbing whatever they -- they can. This could turn ugly very, very quickly.
(VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the thing is, some of the stores, due to the earthquake, obviously, they -- they split open from the top. So what the people are doing is whatever store that's open, they're just looting. They're taking whatever they can.
COOPER: And you own one of these stores?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I own two stores. And I think they busted two. The reason why I came down with some weapons. You know, we're trying to shoot into the air to make them go away from this house, but it's not working and we're not about to take any civilian life, of course, because we understand what's going on.
COOPER: And what about the Haitian police?
Can they be called on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I have to tell you, the Haitian police got hit pretty hard. A lot of the guys are missing, probably dead. A lot of -- they probably don't even have weapons. So whatever we can do as civilians to help, that's what we're doing.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: We're going to be speaking with Anderson later; also Karl Penhaul. He was on the scene, together with Anderson Cooper, when this rioting erupted. A lot more to report on that. We'll also get the latest from the U.S. ambassador to Haiti. We're standing by to speak with him live, as well.
Let's go to Soledad O'Brien right now.
She's been touring orphanages in Haiti.
This is another part of the story that is so heartbreaking -- Soledad, what are you seeing?
What are you hearing?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's absolutely terrible. What you see are literally hundreds of children -- one of the orphanages we went to had 200 babies. And serious problems because they're lacking all the basic supplies -- any kind of medical supplies. Sometimes they give the babies formula. When they run out of formula give them milk. That causes diarrhea. Diarrhea then means these babies get dehydrated.
We saw a little girl 14 months old but absolutely tiny -- couldn't have weighed 15 pounds. And she was so severely dehydrated that her skin was almost like paper. And they were trying and trying and trying to see if they could get an IV into her, because, of course, you couldn't really find her veins.
And we were pinning her down -- you know, sort of what I've done with my own kids at the doctor's office. But in this case, we were told that there was only a couple of hours before this child would not make it if she didn't get the IV. It was very, very scary.
You know, and you see the orphanage there has 200 children. Another one we went to has 133 children.
They want two things -- supplies, which, for the most part, are being driven in occasionally by some Catholic groups that they have a chance to find a particular orphanage. They also were trying to get evacuations. Many of these kids have connections or American, you know, parents in the process of some kind of adoption process. And they'd like to evacuate the kids and get them out, because many of them, they think, will not survive this -- they'll survive the earthquake, but they will not survive the lack of supplies -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What's -- what's the problem -- the main problem, from your vantage point, Soledad, in getting these supplies to these -- to these orphans?
O'BRIEN: Well, first of all, there's no real infrastructure to sort of set it up. So what you have -- what we saw today at one of the orphanages, a woman put out an e-mail request. A friend of a friend said, well, I'm in Haiti doing some other work. He went to the Dominican Republic, filled up his car, brought back some supplies and has been able to extend the orphanage's ability to stay open, basically, for two more days. So all of that buys two more days for 133 children.
You -- that's -- that's not organized infrastructure. That's a Band-Aid consistently being placed on these children, who are very, very vulnerable.
Also, some of these orphanages have had robbers. The guy who runs the orphanage we went to today, called Maison des Enfants, he said, you know, people come across our walls with guns and say, give us your supplies. They think we're getting things. But he says, we have nothing. We have absolutely nothing.
But twice they've been robbed. But no, there was nothing to take. So they're also worried about their security. They're running out of diesel fuel. They can't run the lights. Without the lights, they're more afraid of the robbers. So it's this very vicious cycle.
And if they can't get formula, then the kids get sicker. And there's really no infrastructure in place yet that's making it an organized fashion that these young children are getting the supplies they need.
BLITZER: And does it look like it's getting at all better?
I speak to you not only as a reporter and a journalist, Soledad, but you're a mom. You have four kids yourself.
Does it look like it's getting better?
O'BRIEN: You know, it's terrible. There was a little boy at one of the orphanages today and he was 10 years old. And he said -- he spoke English perfectly. And he said to me, "Will you read my bible to me?"
And I opened up the page. And it said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
And I just lost it. I mean it -- It felt just like that, like who is helping these children?
I don't know that it's getting better. I really don't. I don't get the sense that a great help is around the corner. People have signs saying, "Help us," "We need water," "We need food."
While we were at one of the orphanages, a big water tank -- tanker pulled up. And so they would have water. Again, for a couple more days they would make it.
But it feels like the emergency is just being pushed off. They -- they -- they missed the deadline by another day or two. And that's not a solution. That's not a solution.
People are calling for evacuation of the children, maybe an airlift, like they did with the Pedro Pans out of Cuba. But so far, we've heard that that's not really being officially organized, that that hasn't happened yet. And one has to imagine, some of these kids are going to die while everybody waits. They will.
BLITZER: This has to be priority number one, Soledad, saving these kids -- these kids who on the verge of death...
O'BRIEN: It doesn't feel like it...
BLITZER: ...who could...
O'BRIEN: It doesn't feel like it.
BLITZER: ...who could lead very productive, wonderful lives if they just get the medicine, a little food, some water and just get them out of there. But -- and what I hear you saying is you don't see this as the top priority.
O'BRIEN: It doesn't -- it certain -- if it is, it certainly doesn't feel like it. It does not feel like anybody has particularly -- first of all, there are so many orphans. There are 380,000 orphans. That's the count before the earthquake in -- in --Haiti. So, you know, you have this massive number already. And then there's no real catalog of -- of who's where.
You know, is anyone creating a list of the orphanages and making sure that there's someone responsible for getting supplies to them?
You know, the -- the people I asked who run the orphanage say they don't think so.
So it just seems like, you know, organized chaos. The people who -- who are helping in the orphanage staying there because it's a safe place right now. But it doesn't feel like any help is really coming any time soon.
And for the Americans who've been involved with the children in Haiti -- one woman, I e-mailed her. When those supplies arrived, because she had e-mailed her friend, I said, "Your supplies arrived."
"Oh," she said. "Tell me. Tell me about my daughter. How does she look? How is she doing?"
You know, she's been able to keep that orphanage open two more days because of her e-mails to a friend who drove in. That's -- that is -- that is not -- that is not organized. That is not a way to save 300,000 children. That's not it.
BLITZER: No. And, you know, there are so many parents here in the United States who had been, as you know, over the past year or two -- because it does take, sometimes, that long -- sometimes even longer -- to adopt these kids. They're watching all of this. And I've spoken to some of them. They are horrified at what's going on. They're so worried about these little kids. And -- and they seem -- and they're so totally frustrated. They don't know what to do.
Do you have any advice to these parents who might be watching us right now?
O'BRIEN: Well, you know, what seems to have worked is people reaching out to someone who's in country, who's in Haiti, and getting individual immediate supplies. That is sort of a short-term solution.
You know, the problem is all the paperwork. The buildings are flattened. There is no -- there isn't -- you know, people have said to me, well, all of our -- at the orphanage -- all of our records are in a building that doesn't exist anymore. And some of the orphanages themselves have collapsed, which means any of the paperwork they have, that's also disappeared.
So the short-term response, I think, is to keep these kids alive -- to get them supplies so they can stay another two days, another four days, another six days. And then the long-term response, I know some people are thinking about a Pedro Pan airlift, which would bring the kids out. It doesn't necessarily make the adoptions go through. That's a process you don't want to rush, obviously. But it's a way to secure the children. And then that process can take place somewhere else.
So, you know, I know a lot of people are pushing for that. It was successful for the young Cuban children who were coming out of Cuba when Castro came into power. It certainly could work here. You have so many children who are -- so it's -- I'm telling you that the number of babies I see who are sitting in their own diarrhea, they're not going to survive. You know, they -- they can't survive that over many days.
BLITZER: And remind our viewers, Soledad, about that Pedro Pan airlift out of Cuba.
O'BRIEN: Well, parents were -- were so worried about their children when Fidel Castro came into power in Cuba, that the -- the Catholic organizations -- the Catholic Church really sent the children out to families in America who -- who took them and really fostered those children. And so people think that that's a model -- some former Pedro Pans, by the way, think that that is a model that could work here -- send the children out. Many Christian relief agencies are already involved in Haiti. Send those kids out of the country and -- and to safety so that they can get medical care, etc.
And then, from there, you can sort of figure out what the situation -- you can figure out the visa situation. You can figure out any adoption process. It doesn't have to put an adoption through right away. You can do that -- no one wants to rush that process. But it sort of is an immediate answer.
But that requires getting -- you know, there are relief planes that leave the airport empty to go get more supplies. Children could be on those planes. They could be. But there's visa processes and you -- you know, you need permission from both governments to make it happen, so there's got to be a will.
The Cuban models worked. If you talk to the Pedro Pans, it was a very difficult situation for them. Many of them really still are upset about how tough it was. But I think most that I have talked to said, you know, it saved them.
It could happen here, too.
BLITZER: Let's hope.
We're going to be speaking, by the way, Soledad, with both the U.S. ambassador to Haiti and the Haitian ambassador here to the United States. Let's see if we can get some of this bureaucratic paperwork moving...
O'BRIEN: Ask them. Yes.
BLITZER: ...to try to accelerate some of...
O'BRIEN: Ask them to commit...
BLITZER: ...some of this.
O'BRIEN: Ask them if they'll commit to doing it without the paperwork.
You know, could, tomorrow -- there are planes going. There are people who have volunteered their planes.
Tomorrow, could they put -- because I have 500 children who would go tomorrow morning...
BLITZER: We'll ask these two...
O'BRIEN: ...off the top of my head. Five hundred.
BLITZER: We'll ask these two ambassadors. That's -- that's coming up.
Soledad, thank you.
Chris Lawrence is on the scene for us.
He's got more on this part of the story -- Chris, where are you and what have you seen?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we were driving back to our main office here in Port-au-Prince when all of a sudden a paramedic came running out into the middle of the street. He stopped our truck. He started, you know, asking us, "Please, please. I'm Haitian. I need -- can we use your truck?"
So we -- so we pulled up. And they had just pulled a 23-year-old woman -- her name is Maxine Commons (ph). They pulled her out of the rubble, Wolf. She's a university student. I just spoke of her sister. Her sister has not seen her since the earthquake, been searching for her every single day. A team of -- of -- a search and rescue team from Peru pulled her out of the rubble. There was a doctor on the scene there -- an Israeli doctor, who took an initial assessment of her. And then the -- the paramedic ran down and he stopped truck. He asked us, "Please, please can we put her inside?"
So, Wolf, they -- they loaded her into the back of our truck and -- and we drove her to this U.N. kind of triage center here across from the airport. (INAUDIBLE) in the back with her. He had an IV in her. Her sister and another family member also rode with her. It -- it was just a surreal experience. I mean I -- I've never even contemplated something like that happening.
In the end, we -- we got here to the hospital. They -- they've taken a look at her. What I'm being told now by some of the doctors is she's got a fractured pelvis. She's got some tremendous lacerations. She is in a whole lot of pain right now. She's got some compressed organs and she is conscious, Wolf. She is conscious.
We -- as we drove to the hospital, I could see her losing consciousness off and on. And the paramedic would -- would keep his hand on her neck, feel for her pulse. He was stroking her cheek. Obviously, I couldn't hear him. But he -- but he saw -- it looked like he was trying to encourage her and talk to her. And, again, I'm looking right now and she's -- she's three feet in front of me right now. The doctors are -- are tending to her. And it's just amazing. They pulled her out of the rubble this long after the quake and -- and she is conscious right now.
BLITZER: Six days after this earthquake hit -- Chris, at this makeshift triage facility near the airport where you are right now, do they have the equipment -- the sophisticated equipment that would be in a hospital, for example, that could save this woman's life?
LAWRENCE: Well, Wolf, we're on a sidewalk right now. We're on a sidewalk. She's still on the stretcher that -- that she was on when they loaded her on to our truck. Some of the doctors and paramedics are around her right now. No, it's nothing sophisticated, Wolf. It's outside.
And the -- and the thing about this story is the way they were alerted that she might be in there was through some text messages. They started receiving some text messages. This search and rescue team from Peru went in there. And we've just been told that they now believe there are more people still trapped inside the university there in Port-au-Prince.
BLITZER: Well, this will give hope to a lot of parents and a lot of loved ones who -- who still are looking, searching for missing loved ones in the rubble.
We're going to be speaking with parents of a young woman who was a student from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. That's coming up in a little while.
Chris Lawrence, stand by.
Update us as you get more information.
We're not going away from this story.
And, also, remember this. Stay with CNN tonight for a special two hour ""LARRY KING LIVE"" on how you can help. Larry will be joined by dozens of celebrities, including Mick Jagger Ryan Seacrest, Seal, Ben Stiller, among others. You can join the global outreach and take action. Tune in tonight for two hours, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: You heard Anderson Cooper report just a little while ago the scene of looting in Port-au-Prince. It's getting very, very dangerous and ugly out there right now.
CNN's Karl Penhaul was with Anderson at the scene -- Karl, describe what you saw and what we know is happening right now.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Essentially, these are two very large warehouses in a commercial district of Port-au-Prince. They were partially collapsed as a result of the earthquake. And hundreds and hundreds of people were pouring in there and tossing out boxes from the upper stories of that building to people waiting down below.
Now in those boxes, there were candles -- obviously very useful here because there is no power.
There were soup cubes; also, some drinks; some general supplies there, as well.
When those boxes went into the crowd among the people themselves, desperate to get their hands on these boxes, fights would break out amongst them. And then, at some point, there was a small contingent of Haitian police nearby. When I say small, I'm talking about three or four Haitian police.
They fired shots into the air. The crowds temporarily dispersed and then started to come back.
But on the one hand, yes, there are desperate people that are looting these warehouses to try and get their hands on much-needed supplies. But again, what was clear -- very clear down at that scene is that part of this looting is being organized by gangs.
Now gangs in Haiti, as you know, are not only a criminal phenomenon, but also a political phenomenon. And that goes a little bit with the political tone of some of this looting. A lot of people here are very fed up with the way that the Haitian government has responded -- or failed to respond -- to this disaster. And some in that crowd today, as they were looting, were also calling for a changing government -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Karl, is it -- is it your -- is it your -- your sense now that these are isolated incidents, this looting and the violence that we saw, or it's much more widespread throughout Port-au-Prince and the area?
PENHAUL: I think we'd be wise not to over exaggerate these instances of looting. There have been instances of looting yesterday. There were also instances of looting. Both U.N. and U.S. military authorities describe these as isolated. From what I've seen driving around extensively in the city, they do only appear to be isolated. Only a few hundred yards from where those warehouses were being looted, hundreds of people were waiting in a pretty orderly line for gas.
And so it's not generalized, widespread looting. But if the aid doesn't get handed out quickly enough, then the level of desperation will rise. And if this political discontent against the lack of response by the Haitian government continues to grow, there could be an additional problem there, especially if some of these gangs that fulfill both a criminal and political function, start to whip up the people -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I assume -- but correct me if I'm wrong, Karl -- that it gets more dangerous as nighttime descends on Port-au-Prince.
It's going to be dark there fairly soon.
Is that right?
PENHAUL: To some extent. From where we are in the hotel, we do hear some sporadic gunfire at night. That, again, I would assume is -- is caretakers of stores and of warehouses trying to dispel anybody thinking of looting in the area.
Last night, in fact, as well, we were driving back just after nightfall into the capital, having been in the city of Leogane, west of Port-au-Prince. And there on the approaches to the city, it seems that some neighborhoods are setting up their own -- own small vigilante committee by putting rocks in the street. And so that limits the flow of traffic after dark. That way people in their own neighborhoods can control a little bit more who comes in, who comes out. And that, they hope, will also prevent the threat of their homes and their possessions being ransacked.
But certainly, there is this risk. And, yes, after dark, much more risky -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Karl Penhaul on the screen.
Karl, be careful over there -- one of our intrepid reporters.
Many of you certainly want to help. And tonight, you can find out how, right here on CNN -- a very special two hour "LARRY KING LIVE."
Joining him, some of the world's most famous celebrities -- Susan Sarandon, Scarlett Johansson, Ringo Starr -- dozens more, tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. It will go on for two hours -- information you need to know on how you can help the people of Haiti.
We'll continue our breaking news coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Back to the breaking news right now.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us live from Port-au-Prince -- Sanjay, I know you spoke to former President Bill Clinton today. I want to talk about that.
But tell us about the surgery that you performed today, earlier in the day, I think aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson.
Tell us what happened.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what happened was that aboard the carrier, they had a -- a specific patient who required a neurosurgical procedure. And, you know, they -- they looked throughout the military trying to find a neurosurgeon who could perform this operation and they couldn't.
They had been watching our coverage, Wolf, and realized that I was in country and -- and got a hold of our World Headquarters desk and somehow eventually got us altogether.
And I went to the airport here in Port-au-Prince. And the carrier flew out a helicopter for me. And I boarded that helicopter and went to the carrier ship and performed this operation. It was a 12-year-old girl who -- who had a piece of shrapnel that had gone through her skull and into her brain. And, you know, she did need emergency surgery. And I'm gratified, on her part, that she's doing very well. And her name is Kimberly, just a delightful 12-year-old girl. And after the operation was performed, I flew back.
BLITZER: You know, I assume there's a huge shortage of neurosurgeons in Haiti right now.
GUPTA: Yes. You know, it was interesting, I -- I've been trying to figure out just are there really any neurosurgical capabilities in Haiti at all?
And, you know, we can't really find any. The -- the USS Comfort is going to be coming into this area within about 40 hours I'm hearing. And so they're -- they're basically trying to make sure the neurosurgical capability is on that -- on that carrier, as well.
BLITZER: Thank God you were there. And thank God you -- we hope you saved the life of this little girl.
You, also, as a journalist, had a chance to speak to former President Bill Clinton.
I'm going to play a little clip -- a little excerpt of that interview.
Listen to this, Sanjay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Do you have any idea -- have you been told how many people have died?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have. But unlike you, I've been told so many different numbers, I'm not sure anybody knows.
GUPTA: Do you -- do you think the aid is -- is coming in fast enough?
CLINTON: Well, I think the aid is coming in as fast as we can get it in by air and a little bit by sea now. The real -- as you know, the real bottlenecks are the distribution system here. And that, I think, is inevitable given the level of destruction of the government ministries and the buildings and all the things that, you know, you've said here.
But I -- I think -- I think the agreement that has been reached between the U.N. forces, MINUSTAH, and the military and the work that -- the agreement that Hillary signed with President Preval and just the sheer, you know, getting the hang of it, I think the distribution system is going to go way up.
This earthquake was an equal opportunity destroyer. You know, you've been here long enough. You know, if you looked at the neighborhoods, you know that some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country were totally wiped out.
And that, tragic as it is, it means we have a chance to rebuild the country together now -- to get people together in a way they never have been.
So... GUPTA: Could Haiti be better than -- than it was before the earthquake as a result of this?
CLINTON: Yes, it's very difficult to say that now for people whose loved ones have been killed. But as -- the nation as a whole could be built back stronger and -- and a more just society; a moral, educated society; a society with better health care; a society with more clean energy and many, many more jobs; a society that ends deforestation and brings back real agriculture. We could do all that now. And I'm going to try.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It sounds, from what he's saying to you, Sanjay, is the stuff is arriving -- the supplies are coming into the airport and elsewhere, but the distribution is very difficult, getting it out to those who need it most.
Is that the biggest problem, though?
GUPTA: There's no question about it. You're getting a lot more supplies coming into the airport. But figuring out what -- what supplies should go where and simply getting it there from Point A to Point B is challenging.
Another thing that's very interesting about this, Wolf, is that as you compare this to a tsunami, for example, or even other natural disasters, you know, with some of these other natural disasters, you had a lot of other people who died initially, but then after that, people pretty much -- you know, they needed to get food and water and basic supplies.
Here you have a -- a huge number of people who obviously died, but you also have a large number of people who are injured -- dramatically -- severely injured, but could be saved. And -- and that's the real difference. You have what are called preventable deaths occurring. These -- these deaths don't have to occur. They could be prevented by offering up some of these supplies at the right time in the right areas and they're still not getting that.
And I think it's a source of frustration for everybody, because we're not talking about even dramatic interventions. We're talking about antibiotics sometimes. We're talking about simple things that could dramatically extend life, Wolf, and it's just not happening enough.
BLITZER: What a story. Sanjay, thanks for everything you're doing. Not only as a journalist, but also a physician. We really appreciate it. And I know our viewers here in the United States and around the world do, as well. Thanks very much. Sanjay Gupta doing amazing work for all of us right now in Haiti.
Let's bring in another guest. U.S. coast guard commander James Spotts is joining us. He's on the scene for the U.S. coast guard.
Tell us, Commander, what the Coast Guard doing. What is your mission in Haiti right now?
CMDR. JAMES SPOTTS, U.S. COAST GUARD: Right now, Wolf, what we're trying to do is we've got some -- we're trying to get injured people out of a coast guard base. They're a partner coast guard we have down here. Well, we found a hospital up on the north coast that has some extra beds. So as fast as we can get them out to our ships, we're flying them up.
BLITZER: How is that working out?
SPOTTS: It's working out well. It's a little slow. We need to -- we're picking up the pace as fast as we can. But we're getting a lot of people up there. A lot of people who need treatments, a lot of critically ill folks.
BLITZER: How many helicopters do you have?
SPOTTS: It varies. Anywhere from 1 to 3.
BLITZER: It seems limited how many people you can bring out with only three helicopters.
SPOTTS: This is -- it makes it challenging, Wolf.
BLITZER: Have you ever seen anything like this in your years in the coast guard?
SPOTTS: I was the military liaison officer down here last year in 2008 when the four tropical storms hit Haiti. And I got to say, that's nothing compared to this.
BLITZER: What about your supplies, do you have enough?
SPOTTS: We're doing all right. I've really got to give props to this crew. They've dug deep, into their personal belongings to help those on shore they're giving treatment to.
BLITZER: When I think of the coast guard, commander, and Haiti, I always think of Haitians getting on rafts and boats and trying to make their way to the United States. You can't blame Haitians right now if they want to leave that island and try to get towards Florida. Is that happening?
SPOTTS: Not to our knowledge right now. I don't think there's -- I can't really comment on it and I haven't seen any statistics to indicate there's an increase in migration.
BLITZER: What are your orders in case you see Haitians on the high seas? What are the instructions that you have?
SPOTTS: Well, a lot of times Haitians go to take the sea on very overloaded boats and it's dangerous. For them, it's a safety of sea issue and we try to get them off the boats and get them back to Haiti.
BLITZER: Go ahead. SPOTTS: There was an incident not too long ago off Caicos where a boat flipped over and everybody died. It's very dangerous for the folks in Haiti to try to take the sea like that. They say sometimes six or seven days on these boats, 40-foot boats, 200 people on it.
BLITZER: Commander, James Spotts, thanks for everything you're doing. Thank all of the men and women of the coast guard for us. Good luck. I know you need more supplies, you need more help to hopefully the supplies and help are on the way.
This important reminder for our viewers, later tonight on CNN, a special two-hour "LARRY KING LIVE" and how you can help Haiti. Larry will be joined by dozens of celebrities, including our Russell Simmons, David Spade, Ashley Judd. You can join the global outreach, take action. Tune in tonight for two hours, 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. Our coverage continues after this.
BLITZER: Signs of hope amid unyielding scenes of death and despair. We have the latest on the situation in Haiti, the breaking news coming up. More than 73,000 people now have food that could last up to a week, that according to United Nations officials. Also, the U.S. southern command, the U.S. military southern command says by the end of today 7,000 U.S. troops will be in the area to help out. And from military muscle to money, European Nations are pledging right now to give more than $500 million for emergency and long-term relief assistance. The United States has already pledged $100 million. Much more on this story coming up.
Let's check in with Betty Nguyen right now. She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
Betty, what's going on?
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are just learning that the president's annual state of the union address will be next Wednesday, January 27th. Senior administration officials confirmed the date to CNN saying it was just decided today. President Obama will deliver the address to Congress at 9:00 p.m. eastern again next Wednesday, January 27th.
The Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II almost 30 years ago is out of prison. And in a statement issued on his release, he called himself a messenger of god and predicted the world will end this century. The pope forgave Mehmet Ali Agca. He shot the pope as he rose through Saint Peter's Square in an open car. Turkish authorities plan to monitor him because of concerns about his mental health.
Driven from a Pakistani courthouse, they claimed they'd been tortured. They made the same claims for a special anti-terror force. Pakistani authorities deny the five Muslim men have been mistreated. They're all from the Washington, D.C. area and had been in custody since December.
Some journalists in China say their Google e-mail was hacked. One of the accounts belonged to a reporter from the "Associated Press," which is launching an investigation. The claims follow similar attacks against g-mail accounts of human rights activists. Those attacks prompted Google to consider pulling out of China. We'll continue to follow that story. Wolf?
BLITZER: Betty, we'll check back with you.
We're going to get to the breaking news out of Haiti. That's coming up. Brian Todd is on the scene for us on a military mission. We'll tell you what's happening right after this.
BLITZER: We're going back to Haiti in just a moment. There's breaking news unfolding right now in Port-au-Prince.
But right now in Washington, the president of the United States is saying thank you. The president and the first lady visited the headquarters for the American Red Cross. The president thanked workers for their efforts and he thanked the American people for their donations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: Just by twitter we've seen $21 million raised already. Which just shows how generous the American people are in times of need. And so we are very grateful for those contributions. It's also a testimony of the confidence people have in the Red Cross in they'll be using that money wisely. So congratulations to all of you. Both staff and volunteers for the great work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
OBAMA: I should also mention, by the way, U.S.A.I.D. search and rescue team today, unearthed ten people who are alive out of the rubble. That's the single biggest rescue post earthquake in one day that people have ever seen. And I think the team in part was from Fairfax, Virginia. So we're very proud of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And speaking of rescue, we're getting ready to speak with a parent of a daughter who has been missing at that Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince. Now since the earthquake, we'll speak to the parents find out what's happening at the Hotel Montana. Standby.
Also Brian Todd is covering a major U.S. military relief operation that's underway right now. He'll be joining us from Port- au-Prince right after this.
BLITZER: In Haiti right now, there are many people in need and many people there to try to provide it. A major part of this relief effort, U.S. medical evacuation missions called medivac that are swooping into Port-au-Prince to save lives. Here's our Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Vincent is now launching several dozen flights a day from this deck and they're not just ferrying supplies. Medivac missions are a crucial component to this operation. And we went with one helicopter crew to get an inside look. At first light, we're off the deck, speeding toward Port-au- Prince with a crew of what's normally a submarine tracking and sea rescue chopper. But there are no normal missions in Haiti right now. Not long after we touched down, the order comes. Tell us what you're doing here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got an urgent medivac from the embassy, we're not sure of the injuries or the casualties. We don't know where to take them now. We're waiting for the medivac come in.
TODD: Then a pickup emerges from near the U.S. embassy compound, an elderly woman is rushed to the helicopter on a stretcher. Right behind her, another woman's ambulatory but has a badly inured left arm. Lifting off, the flight doctor takes vital signs. These women are out of danger for now, but have to be treated somewhere nearby. They're in luck. They're taking the victims right off the helicopter and over here to this small medical station right on the tarmac here at Port-au-Prince airport. Some of the victims in here have very some severe trauma. The doctors say they can treat most of it and they're not overwhelmed yet.
Inside, you see how that can change very quickly. Doctors and nurses have to move fast to treat and stabilize. Pierre was buried in rubble for at least three days. He's in much better shape than he looks.
The doctor says he's going to walk out of here and he's going to be fine. They feel like he really escaped something here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says god has protected me and he said I haven't died yet; I'm still living, so all is going to be well.
TODD: A woman a few feet away isn't as fortunate. The lead doctor here says it took 20 hours to dig her out of rubble and that four different hospitals couldn't accept her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, she had a significant crush injury of her left lower leg and it was a dead leg. And, you know, medically if you leave a dead leg on, it's going to kill her eventually. So we had to amputate it.
TODD: A short time later, we went back to check on some of those patients. That woman was just waking up and didn't know why she was there. Doctors were just breaking the news to her that she'd lost her leg. Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian Todd joining us. He's going to continue his special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And remember, stay with CNN later tonight for a special two-hour "LARRY KING LIVE" on how you can help Haiti. Larry will be joined by dozens of celebrities, Sean Combs, Mick Jagger, David Spade, John Mayer. Join the global outreach. Take action. Tune in for two hours later tonight, 8:00 p.m. eastern. We'll continue our coverage after this.
BLITZER: We're going back to Port-au-Prince and Haiti shortly. There are more developments unfolding right now, but there is also a huge political story with enormous implications for the entire nation playing out in Massachusetts right now. Democrats may be on the verge of losing the U.S. Senate seat long held by the late Senator Ted Kennedy. If they do, they would also lose their 60-seat filibuster- proof majority in the U.S. Senate, an advantage they have been counting on to pass health care reform. On the eve of the special election, a new poll shows Republican Scott Brown now seven points ahead of Democrat Martha Coakley.
Let's bring in our national political correspondent Jessica Yellin. She's in Boston.
Jessica, the president was there yesterday trying to help out the Democratic candidate. You have been talking to voters. What are they saying?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know it's no secret to anyone here that the seat Ted Kennedy held for more than 40 years could go to a Republican tomorrow. That could snatch health care reform away from the Democrats and cast an ominous sign for Democrats at the polls in November. The big question is why. Why has Massachusetts so historically Democratic, turned against the Democrats apparently in this election? What is going on, and can it be generalized what's happening here to the national stage?
I spoke to many people today, but I will bring you an interview with one person, Peter Rinning, a small businessman in Summerville, Massachusetts. His point of view represents a lot of what we have heard throughout the day. I asked him first, he's voted Democrat for many years. What is it about Martha Coakley, the candidate, that fails to excite him. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER RINNING, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: I don't think she has reached -- lack of a better term, the common person. She's not out there Saturday afternoon on a street corner talking to people, waving to people. I don't think she understands what I need.
YELLIN: So she acted entitled?
RINNING: Yes, absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP) YELLIN: Now, Wolf, as I said, he was a Democrat. He's thinking of voting for the Republican Brown tomorrow. I asked him why, what does he like about Brown and is that a rejection as well of the Democrats in Washington. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RINNING: It's not so much that I like him better than Coakley. I don't like Coakley to begin with.
YELLIN: It's a vote against her more than for him.
RINNING: Yes. Yeah.
YELLIN: How much would it be a vote against the Obama administration and Washington as it is now?
RINNING: If Brown won tomorrow that would be a huge strike against Obama and his administration. I mean, it's Kennedy's seat. Kennedy came out for Obama when Obama was running. For his seat to go to a Republican would be like a knife in the back to Obama in the sense of politicalness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: A knife in the back, very strong words. Wolf, I will tell you, the Republican in this race has run as a man of the people fighting a machine politician. It's the way he's cast the Democrat as part of the establishment. At this time a very anti-incumbent fervor, that has worked. So we'll see how it plays out. The Democrats say all the press the race is getting might now turn out the Democratic base. Maybe it will be a close election. But all of this hangs in the balance, a lot another stake for the Democrats.
Coming up at 7:00 I'll tell you how much health care reform plays on voters' minds in Massachusetts. Wolf?
BLITZER: It's a huge issue. It's hard to make any predictions. These special elections, you never know because of turnout or lack thereof what will happen. We'll have more on the Massachusetts race coming up.
We're going back live to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to speak with parents of a young daughter who's still missing at the Hotel Montana. Stay with us. Our coverage will continue after this.
BLITZER: Going back to Haiti shortly. Let's assess what's happening in Massachusetts right now with our CNN contributor the Democrat strategist Donna Brazile and our CNN contributor the Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. Thank you very much, guys.
Donna, if someone said two weeks ago or even a week ago that this ARG poll has Scott Brown, the Republican, at 52 percent and Martha Coakley, the Democrat, 45 percent on the eve of the election you would have thought they were crazy.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Wolf, given the political environment not only in the state of Massachusetts but across the country I'm not surprised that the race is tight and that Mr. Brown at least in this poll might have a slight chance of winning tomorrow. Look, I believe it comes down and Alex knows this it's about turnout, turnout, turnout. If Martha Coakley can get her vote out tomorrow she may win.
BLITZER: But you know the enthusiasm, correct me if I'm wrong, seems to be with Republicans right now in Massachusetts and independents who don't like the Democrats for whatever reason.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And it's not isolated thing. Republicans just picked up a governorship in New Jersey, Virginia and now Massachusetts of all places? This is like pigs flying and hell has frozen over, a Republican doing so well in Massachusetts. But this is a national thing we are seeing in Massachusetts. Americans think Washington isn't listening and they think Washington is spending like crazy, debt out of control. Not focusing on the economy like they should. So they are saying, hey, listen to me.
BLITZER: If the Democrat loses and the seat goes to the Republican, is health care reform dead?
BRAZILE: Well Wolf, there are many bills right now pending in the United States Senate.
BLITZER: What about health care?
BRAZILE: Even with a super majority I hope health care isn't dead.
BLITZER: I know you hope it's not but what do you think?
BRAZILE: No. It will not die.
BLITZER: How will the Democrats pass it if they only have 59?
BRAZILE: Because we don't need 59. If the house votes for the Senate bill as is they could pass it next week.
BLITZER: How likely is it? Because that's possible ...
BRAZILE: That's --
BLITZER: The Senate has already passed legislation. If the house passes it without changing a comma or a word then, of course, the president will sign it into law.
BRAZILE: That's why the people of Massachusetts must understand this. Scott Brown is not coming to Washington, D.C. to fight for jobs, health care, climate change, Alex. He's coming to try to stop President Obama's chief domestic policy position.
BLITZER: There is a fall back. The Democrats will have to accept the Senate version.
CASTELLANOS: They might do that but people in Massachusetts know what they're voting for. They know what's at stake. They know that health care is on the cusp in Washington. If they vote to send a Republican down here and then Washington again thumbs its nose at them, Washington again ignores them, the American people will say, these people in Washington are just -- they have forgotten who they work for. I think it would be a disaster politically for the Democrats to do that. If a Republican wins Tuesday, Wednesday you will see a lot of Democrats start to retire, pick up golf games, become lobbyists because we'll have a very different environment and I don't think the Democrats will be quite as eager ...
BRAZILE: The American people aren't ready to give the Republicans back the keys to destroy the house again. I think we have a fighting chance of winning tomorrow.
BLITZER: They will be closing the polls in Massachusetts at 8:00 p.m. eastern. We'll have extensive coverage tomorrow night here on CNN. I know you will be watching as closely as anyone. Thank you very much.
To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, growing desperation in Haiti resulting in what Anderson Cooper is now describing as a frenzy of looting as the estimated death toll climbs to a staggering 200,000 people killed. That's estimated. No one knows for sure.