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Desperate Need for Medical Supplies in Haiti; Haitian Cultural Capital Shattered by Quake; Worst Not Over for Those Rescued From Rubble; Special Election in Massachusetts as Dems try to Hold on to Senate Seat
Aired January 19, 2010 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Haiti, one week after the quake. U.S. troops head in, as many Haitians flee looking for their solutions outside of Port-au-Prince.
That's pictures of Haiti that you're looking at right now.
Another Caribbean quake shook buildings and nerves today. This one registered a 5.8. Chad was just telling us about this, about 30 miles southeast of the Grand Cayman Islands. No reports of injury or damage right now, but that was felt.
And it is an Election Day nail-biter in Massachusetts. Voters could elect a Republican to the so-called Kennedy seat, the seat that Ted Kennedy held for 46 years. President Obama's entire agenda could hang in the balance if this seat does not stay with the Republicans (sic) in the Senate.
Our coverage this hour out of Haiti extends to Pennsylvania. CNN's Mary Snow is joining me momentarily to speak about a number of orphans who have gone from Haiti to Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh. Until today, their long-awaited adoptions could have been in jeopardy.
We're also going to check in live with CNN's Soledad O'Brien, Elizabeth Cohen, Chris Lawrence and Jonathan Mann. They are all working the stories in Haiti only as CNN can.
Well, the choice is a tragedy, itself. Who in Haiti is in need of urgent help the most, those without food and water or those needing medical attention? And those who are injured and dying, well, to them the answer is obvious.
Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us from Port-au-Prince. Elizabeth has been talking for a few days about what the conditions are like in the places that people are getting treatment.
Elizabeth, what are the conditions like right now where you are?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ali, one doctor described it to me as civil war medicine. These doctors are heroes. They are doing the best they can with what they have.
We're talking about 160 patients. They've done about 30 surgeries in the past few days. They actually invented an operating room, which is pretty amazing, because they have no equipment. I mean, they have no equipment for operating rooms.
They have no machines, nothing in this operating room beeps. And as a matter of fact, they don't have some of the most basic things like tourniquets.
So, these doctors are extremely resourceful. What they were using as a tourniquet was a man's belt. And right here I have the buckle from that belt. You'll notice there's no leather anymore because it broke, and so now they're using a garden hose.
And what's incredible about this situation, Ali, is that even though they're missing really basic things like oxygen and blood, they've missing IVs for kids -- they don't have a lot of those, so they are having to use belt IVs on kids -- but they do have corneas. Someone sent actual corneas here. That's right, the part of the eye that you can donate before you die. You can agr3ee to donate it.
And they don't need corneas here. They can't do anything even remotely as complicated as a cornea operation.
And five corneas have now been wasted. I mean, they can't do anything. Nobody can ever use these because they've been sitting out in the heat.
So, doctors here are heroic and saving lives right and left. I mean, I literally could be standing in this hospital, look to my left and look to my right, and see lives being saved, but they are frustrated that they can't do more -- Ali.
VELSHI: Elizabeth, are you seeing any change? We're hearing that more planes are landing, more medical supplies are coming in. Are you seeing that in the situation that you're in? Is there some new material and new staff coming in?
COHEN: You know, they do get new supplies, but the issue is not the number of supplies, the issue is the right supplies. And I think they are having a hard time getting exactly what it is they need.
Now, I should say that this sort of little tent situation here -- we're in a U.N. compound, and this is warehouse -- they are hoping to move out of here in the next few days to a new set of tents that are going to be bigger and better. They hope to get an EKG machine, they hope to get a dialysis machine. So they are really looking forward in the next couple of days to be in a better facility.
VELSHI: OK, Elizabeth. Thanks very much for that and your continuing reports about the conditions for people getting medical treatment in Haiti.
Now, for all it is poverty and other problems, Haiti has actually long been a beacon of culture. And the southern seaport of Jacmel -- you can see it there, south of Port-au-Prince -- is considered its cultural capital. But Jacmel, too, was hit hard by the quake, as my colleague Soledad O'Brien has seen for herself. She joins me now live from Jacmel -- Soledad.
All right. There is Soledad. I'm sure she can hear me, but there is Soledad in the southern city of Jacmel. We'll connect with her again and come back with her.
We'll take a quick break and we'll get Soledad back with us on the other side of it.
Stay with us. We're covering in depth the situation in Haiti and the election in Massachusetts.
Stay with us.
VELSHI: OK. We promised you Soledad. She is in the southern Haitian port city of Jacmel, south of Port-au-Prince, considered the cultural capital of Haiti.
Let's go back there now. I think she can hear me now. She's standing there. This is a town that was affected by the earthquake as well.
Soledad, tell me what's around you and what the situation is there.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: All right. Ali, you know, a lot of the story out of Jacmel has been a lack of supplies, and we're seeing a big change in that.
You can see behind me, there have been dozens -- probably up to 100 is what I counted earlier -- people who showed up literally in the minutes after the French team came and set up this white tent back there and sort of did this mobile medical facility. Two doctors from France, two nurses, and then 10 other of their team members set up right here in the street, center of town, the downtown, where there was a lot of damage.
And you can see -- if you would pan this way a little bit, you can see the same damage that we have seen in Port-au-Prince, that same collapsing and pancaking. The story the same, people trapped inside of their buildings. So, true devastation in Jacmel.
And as we mentioned, as you mentioned, this is the cultural capital of Haiti. And so what has been lost here, lives. We've heard estimates of 3,000 people dying here. Of course, there's a fair amount of chaos in any record keeping at this point, so it's unclear how accurate that number is. But that would be, though, approximately 10 percent of the population here.
And so, the good news is that we have seen a lot of relief. Earlier, we saw the Canadian navy bringing some supplies in. The U.N. team led by the Sri Lankans are here at the hospital, which has moved outdoors because of the damage they suffered inside of the hospital.
They have 70 patients and doctors from Cuba, from Argentina, from Chile, a Canadian team as well, an American team also. All there.
What they say to me is, we need anesthesiologists, we need people who can do orthopedics, because the problem they're having are, you know, well beyond abrasions. They have people who have fractures, they have things that they cannot treat, people with severe trauma to the head, and they have no anesthesia, they're not able to do surgery. That has been a major problem here in Jacmel.
But from first steps forward in terms of relief that's arrived, great news there. They still need more. We hear that C-130s will be flying in the next 24 hours from the U.S., and that should bring them some much-needed relief as well.
Back to you, Ali.
VELSHI: And Elizabeth has been reporting from Port-au-Prince that there have been some surgeries that have taken place without anesthetic, and so many broken limbs, or displaced, disjointed limbs, it's a big issue that that medical help is not getting in there right now.
We'll keep coming back to you, Soledad. Thanks very much, in the city of Jacmel, on the southern coast of Haiti.
Well, after the hell that they saw back home, a Pittsburgh winter is nothing to be concerned about. Haitian orphans are getting ready to meet their new American family. Mary Snow is live with the latest on that when we come back.
VELSHI: All right. Chris Lawrence has been following the situation in Haiti. He's been following how people are being rescued and how they get from the rescue to hospital. You'd think once you're rescued from being stuck in rubble for a week, the worst of it is over. Apparently not.
Let's go to Chris Lawrence, who has been using his vehicle, the vehicle that he's been using to get around, in some instances, to shuttle other people around not just to hospital, but between hospitals.
Chris, tell us the story.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ali, it was just an amazing experience. And I think what shocked us more than anything else was that they were still pulling people out of the rubble last night. I mean, this is six full days after the earthquake with absolutely no water or food.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): We're driving to a story when a paramedic runs out in front of our truck begging for help.
(on camera): So what's happened was we were just passing by and the rescue teams told us can we please use your truck.
(voice-over): They just pulled a young woman out of the rubble and her blood pressure is 60/20. She's got to get to a hospital. They need to keep their truck to search for other survivors, so our CNN pickup truck becomes an instant ambulance and it's our driver behind the wheel.
A rescue team from Peru and Nicaragua had just pulled her out of a collapsed building six days after the earthquake.
(on camera): It looks like she had lost consciousness there for a minute or two and she just blinked and now she's opened her eyes again. I can see the paramedic. He's got his hand firmly on her neck. He's feeling for her pulse.
It looks like we're pulling up now to the U.N. hospital. Maybe we were driving for 10 minutes -- you think 10 minutes, 10-minute drive? It seemed like a lot longer.
Now, this place really isn't set up for any sort of long-term care. You can see she's being treated outside, right here on the sidewalk. The doctors are telling us what they're trying to do is just stabilize her enough so that they can transport her to a better hospital.
(voice-over): She's a college student named Maxey Fallon (ph) and her sister tells me she's been looking for her all week. We think it's over, but, no, they load another quake survivor in our flatbed. Both need to go to a better hospital.
The first one can't take them. So we drive another 40 minutes and it's dark by the time we get to this French hospital where the paramedics finally get her inside.
LAWRENCE: Yes, the paramedics told us that, basically, her legs were bent back over herself in such a way that it actually cushioned the blow from her chest and allowed her to breathe a little bit. And the doctors say she was severely dehydrated, she has some bad cuts and bruises, may have some fractures. They needed to do some x-rays today. But all indications to them said she was going to walk out of that hospital, maybe in even a few days -- Ali.
VELSHI: Chris, tell me something. I think you said it was Peruvian rescue team. Who, when you get into a truck -- that is, the truck you're using to get around, the pickup you're using, with the driver that I guess CNN has hired, with a Peruvian crew in the back -- who's determining where you're going?
Is it your driver who's just trying different hospitals? Is somebody instructing you to go from one hospital to another?
LAWRENCE: Well, we got so lucky, Ali, in that we were traveling with Arthur Brice. He reports for CNN Wire, speaks fluent Spanish. So our driving is speaking a little English, a little bit of Creole. The victim's family is speaking Creole. The doctors are speaking French, paramedics are speaking Spanish. And Arthur's able to kind of communicate with them in Spanish. So, it was a series of deciphering exactly what was going on and really trying to communicate commands through about three different languages.
We actually talked to her at the last hospital. She was conscious, very, very weak, but she talked to us.
She said that she could smell the dead bodies around her, but she said she was praying every day. And she said she never gave up hope. She thought that she would be rescued.
VELSHI: All right, Chris. You and the CNN team down there are not just doing a great job staying on top of the story -- that's difficult enough to do -- but so many of you have become involved in the story because there's really no other way to do it. You can't turn away from it.
So, great work. And stay safe.
Chris Lawrence reporting from Haiti, like so many others of the CNN team.
Now, a number of orphans -- you know, it's bad enough for most people in Haiti, but when you're orphans, life's a little tougher. They were taken out of harm's way, flown not to a warm destination, but to mid-winter Pittsburgh. I guess after the earthquake, Pittsburgh is not so bad.
CNN's Mary Snow is in Pittsburgh.
Mary, for those people who haven't been following this story, give us a sense of what this is all about.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ali, what a difference a day makes in the lives of these 53 orphaned children. They were flown here today to Pittsburgh, as you mentioned, a pretty chilly day here in Pittsburgh.
These little children, the youngest one about 9 months, the oldest about 12, came in T-shirts and tank tops, makeshift blankets put around them. But we did see so many of them smile as they were taken into this hospital.
And we were talking to some Red Cross workers who say as each hour passes by, these children are becoming much more relaxed, they're playing with toys. They said they're eating a lot. Some of them obviously are purely exhausted.
But these 53 orphaned children came from an orphanage that was run by two sisters, Allie (ph) and Jamie Newtry (ph). One is 22, the other is 30. They've been running this orphanage for the last three years. The building that they had been had been damaged, and these little children had been living outside, in the driveway. These two sisters were very scared about the conditions, and basically what's happened is they reached out to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the children's hospital here, and that set in motion this evacuation mission that resulted in the governor of Pennsylvania and medical teams going down to Haiti yesterday, and they were able to get these children out.
Now, many of them were in the process of being adopted by families here in the U.S., some in Spain, some in Canada. Some are now up for adoption, seven of them. And now what's going on is that officials are getting everybody's papers in order, and they will have to go through the process of finalizing these adoptions.
We're going to get a briefing in a short while on their conditions, but so far we're being told from people who have been with them that, so far, their health is relatively good -- Ali.
VELSHI: Mary, you were busy working, so you maybe didn't get a chance to see the Larry King special last night, but the numbers were in and almost $9 million was raised by people who called into that telethon. Americans are showing a real outpouring of generosity in this particular case.
This, though, was not just any Pennsylvanians. The governor of Pennsylvania was involved in this.
SNOW: Yes. And, you know, in talking to people and piecing this together, this was an evacuation that they say almost didn't happen, that it was touch and go, that they almost left Haiti last night without any of the children.
But what the governor has said is that when Haiti's ambassador was on CNN on Saturday, the hospital said that they should try to contact him and see if he could help them get into Haiti. And the governor, the hospital officials say that was really a turning point in getting permission to get a plane into Haiti. They say that the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security was instrumental in this.
And yesterday, Congressman Jason Altmire was also on that plane. Eventually, had to reach out to the White House to get some help, expedite the process. And basically, what happened is the documentation, they say, was not in place for some of these children. They were granted the ability to come to the U.S. under a humanitarian waiver for some of these orphans.
VELSHI: Great story. Mary, thanks very much. Good to see as much of we can that's positive coming out of this, because there's not all that much of it. So thanks very much for bringing us that story from Pittsburgh.
VELSHI: All right. Listen. We've been telling you all about this. It is Election Day in Massachusetts. There is a lot at stake.
We're going to tell you what it is. It's not just a Senate seat. The outcome of this could affect all of us.
VELSHI: It's cold in Massachusetts. There was some snow this morning. It's the center of the U.S. political universe today. A special election to fill Senator Ted Kennedy's old seat pits Democrat Martha Coakley against Republican Scott Brown. And President Obama's health care bill may hang in the balance.
Our CNN national political correspondent Jessica Yellin is in Boston, and she's got the update on this. What is happening right now? The voting is going on, it's going on until 8:00 tonight, and we are not sure how this is going to end up.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Ali. In fact, the fact that this is such a nail-biter caught everybody by surprise, and there is not even exit polling happening. So we have to wait for the regular state machine results to come out, just like the old times.
So, the bottom line here is that this is the most unusual of elections. We are told that turnout is high for a special election. That could under normal circumstances bode well for a Democrat, because this tends in the past to be a strong Democratic state with a strong turnout machine, but this is so unusual that nobody knows if that might mean that the very energized supporters for the Republicans are the ones who are showing up to vote.
What has happened is that over the last few weeks, the Republican, who was able to tap into great voter anger, frustration, anxiety, about health care, about taxes, about the sense that Washington wasn't getting things done fast enough. He has tapped into that, and become almost an Obama-like candidate in this state with crowds turning out for him, people energized in their own way. A Democrat said, "I haven't seen this enthusiasm since the Obama campaign."
Meanwhile, the Democrat in the state has run a very lackluster campaign, really has not ignited people, and turned into something of an establishment candidate against -- to the dismay of Democrats across the state. So, no matter what happens today, Democrats have to be taking a close look at how they are running campaigns, and everybody is saying a lot of lessons to be learned here, Ali.
VELSHI: All right. Our own polling and other polling indicates a trend to the Republicans, but at the moment, statistically, too close to give somebody a lead. If Coakley, the Democrat, were to lose, what does this mean for Democrats nationally? YELLIN: Well, the big question is how will it be read? And you nailed it. A lot of people will say if the Ted Kennedy seat goes to a Republican, a lot of people are going to say it is a repudiation of the Obama agenda, of the Democrats in Congress. It is a little -- you have to really, you know, get into the numbers there.
There is also the issue -- she ran a terrible campaign, the Democrat in the state, and you can't discount that. What is true is that Democrats are not going to be able to take the races for granted. They cannot be asleep at the switch when a Republican candidate is surging, they didn't notice it here in the state until it was very, very late.
And what we know is that voters are dissatisfied with the pace of change in Washington, and they either need to do a better job communicating or somebody actually needs to pass some bills and actually get things done, Ali.
VELSHI: All right. Jessica, thank you very much, and we will continue to pop in and checking in with you on how it is going.
We will follow it very closely and of course, CNN's coverage tonight is something you're going to need to watch. Even if you have nothing to do with Massachusetts, because it is going to affect all of us.
Let's talk more about that. We are joined now by Leigh Gallagher of "Fortune" magazine and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger about the implications of this election. Gloria, let's first of all -- Jessica told about the political implications and the message that will be sent to Washington, but in reality, there is a real issue that the president's health care reform bill could be stuck in the mud and derailed by a Democratic loss in Massachusetts tonight.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you know, Ali, they are really sitting there and looking at their choices, and they don't have any good choices. Because if they can't get the 60 votes together, and they have to give up on health care reform, which almost seems unimaginable, then they will look weak and ineffectual and the Democrats will look like they can't govern.
If on the other hand, they have to push something through the Congress through whatever process they can, they will look arrogant. Republicans will charge that they're corrupt, and so, you know, their choices are terrible right now.
VELSHI: And Lee, let's talk about this. It's health care that is the thing that's hanging in the balance most clearly, but the reality is if this is seen as a hit to Washington, if it's seen as a hit to the Democrats, everything that the president is trying to achieve right now could face a setback, including some of its most important economic plans.
LEIGH GALLAGER, ASSISTAN MANAGING EDITOR, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE : That is absolutely true, Ali. I mean, today, it is health care, but it is really everything hanging in the balance. As you say, the president is in the middle of an incredibly ambitious agenda, and a good deal of which affects the economy.
So of course, there was cap and trade -- I mean, we will see if that has maybe fallen off of the priority list, but, you talk about financial reform. That is a major, major proposal that is still has to be pushed through. You know, that is key to what is going to happen.
VELSHI: Well, go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: Well, Ali, let me be a little counterintuitive here, because sometimes a loss can be a good thing.
BORGER: And sometimes -- the administration might make a pivot and take a look at the fact that it is losing independent voters who were key to their re-election -- to their electio --, and will be key to the re-election and losing the independent voters since the spring. Majority of voters identify themselves as independents in Massachusetts, by the way, as independent...
VELSHI: Right. We keep saying it's a Democratic state, but the reality is, it's not necessarily. This is Ted Kennedy's seat for 46 years. That's a different thing than being a Democratic state.
BORGER: Right. Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1. Okay, fine. But 51 percent still identify themselves as independents. So, maybe this will make the White House pivot and try to go the bipartisan route if Republicans will cooperate. That is of course a very big if -- and try to say, okay, we promise you bipartisanship. Now we want to go back to square one and call the Republican's bluff on health care. It could turn out to help this president, maybe not congressional Democrats, but him...
VELSHI: You have gone from saying it is bad or bad for the Democrats tonight...
BORGER: For health care.
VELSHI: For health care. All right, we're going to hold on to both of you. Leigh Gallagher and Gloria Borger coming back on the other side of this break for more discussion on how this election matters to you even if you have never been to Massachusetts and never plan to go to Massachusetts. This is an election of national importance and we will back to talk about it more. Stay with us.
VELSHI: Before the break, we promised more of Leigh Gallagher and Gloria Borger. I am a man of my word. Here they are for more on today's Senate election in Massachusetts where polls close in under five-and-a-half hours.
Leigh, Gloria put a spin on it, if things are badly for the Democrats tonight, and maybe even if they don't, this may be a pivot point for how they will behave going forward on all of things they are trying to a achieve. That could be useful on how it applies to people's money.
GALLAGER: Absolutely. You know, as I was saying, there is an ambitious plans on the table. A lot of them are very, very, you know, partisan. Take it, for example, jobs and the potential of another stimulus bill. That is a hotly debated political topic, and it's true that maybe those plans will be reined in. Having the 60 seat super majority has basically meant -- has given the Democrats a lot of power. So this may be a reality check.
But at the very least, it is going to be a reality check of the midterm elections. I mean, Democrats -- this is a lesson that maybe they're going to have to fight tooth and nail for the contested seats.
BORGER: Let's be counterintuitive to Gloria's counterintuitive for a second. If the Democrats win tonight, Gloria, does that pump them up. Does that mean they can bang on their chests and say y'all were wrong?
BORGER: No, because they have lost governor races and they understand the mood of the country out there. I think their big problem is this. If we step back for a moment from the heat of the race tonight, what the president has done is that he has told people that he wants more government and he wants bigger government. And they have reacted very strongly against that, because trust in government is at an all-time low in this country right now, Ali. It's lower than it was after Watergate.
BORGER: So, the president, you know, he did not make the case well enough, I would argue, for lots of the things that he wants to do, including health care reform, because people are still scared of that big government and scared that big deficit.
VELSHI: Ed Henry is with us right now. I want to bring you into this thing. People think when you elect a president, he wins and gets to be president. This is maybe the best civics lesson we've ever had, this last year, understanding what a president can and cannot do, even when they control both houses of Congress. Explain to our viewers who are may not be as steeped in this as you are, why are we paying so much attention to this? What is the consequence of losing this seat if the Democrats lose it?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Gloria noted a moment ago, when you have a 60-seat sort of super-majority, you are able to block the filibusters that Republicans use to try to block the president's agenda. If all of the sudden, you are down to 59, you're not going to be able to ram through the health care plan they were going to do just a few days ago ...
VELSHI: Unless, unless, unless...
HENRY: With the Republican vote -- VELSHI: Unless like most Americans are wondering, can't anybody make a deal? Can't anybody actually do something that's not partisan.
HENRY: Right. That is the next thing I wanted to say, is that what we should point out in terms of how the system does work, to break it down for people. People should not forget that 59 seats in the Senate is a pretty big deal. Everyone is so focused on 60. The fact of the matter is that I remember a time when President Bush was elected in 2000-2001, and he had White House, he had the House and in the Senate before the party switch, he had 51 Senate Republicans.
He still got his tax cuts through and major pieces of the agenda through. 59 seats is nothing to sneeze at, but as Gloria's been pointing out as well as Leigh, there may be trimming of the sales as White House has to do (ph). Win or lose tonight to make adjustments to reach across the aisle a little bit more than they did in the first year. But don't forget that 59 seats in the Senate, they can still get a lot done.
VELSHI: Go ahead.
BORGER: And there is a question even if the president does reach across the aisle, is it in the Republican's best political interest now to help this president succeed?
VELSHI: Yes, yes.
BORGER: Exactly. And so, I would argue that it might be. Some would say, well, it is working for us so far, and we should just remain united against him.
VELSHI: All right. Well, we will be watching this through the course of the afternoon into the evening. Obviously through the course of the day. All we can watch is the analysis of it, but as we get closer on, we will be on the story in a way that only as CNN can be, all through the night.
Wolf Blitzer will lead our coverage of it tonight with our whole political team. And Ed, that is sweet of you to be watching elections back in the early 2000s when you were only 14 years old.
VELSHI: Leigh Gallager from "Fortune", Gloria Borger, and Ed Henry is going to be joining us a lot as well. I hope the whole team will. Thanks so much
Well, remember this moment in political history?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House. Yaaaah! (END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Happy sixth anniversary to the Dean Scream on this day in 2004 when Ed Henry was 16 years old. The Democratic presidential helpful -- hopeful uncorked that, whatever you call it. He was trying to pump up his crowd after his third-place finish in Iowa.
VELSHI: When it comes to getting help to the people, the logjam in Haiti is starting to ease, but day-to-day survival still takes initiative, and there are no guarantees that supplies get to where they are needed.
My colleague Jonathan Mann is live on the streets of Port-au- Prince with some cases in point. Jonathan, what is the situation?
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ali, you know, the numbers defy description. The last estimate we have heard from the Haitian government is that 65,000 people may be dead, the U.S. military and the United Nations are flying in hundreds and thousands of meals. But break it down to just one person, and it is easier to get a sense of what is going on.
Just behind us is -- well, it is almost like the backyard here in Haiti. It is a tent city set up just outside of where we are working. People whose homes have been destroyed or damaged who are afraid to go back indoors, so they are sleeping out here. It's been seven days, one week since the earthquake that devastated Haiti, and we thought it would be just interesting to find out how these people are getting by. We thought we would follow one of the survivors for a day in the life. We started very early.
MANN (voice-over): It's just before 6:00 a.m. at the Chondama (ph) tent city here in Haiti. The first light of dawn is coming over these people who spent the night out of doors once again. Around me, you can see they are beginning to stir, beginning to begin their day. In one corner of the tent city, they are praying, elsewhere, they are getting ready to leave.
Jean Leigh Jean Rubaire (ph) was just waking up when we came by. He said he would be on the move, too, soon, for food, but he said there's not money for food. It is very painful.
TUCHMAN: So, we did go back to see what luck he had, and when we went, I think that you can see what we saw, the spot in that park where his family had been sleeping was all cleaned up. They were gone at last check, they were still out there, still looking for food, Ali.
The helicopters are flying overhead -- I don't know if you can hear them -- they are U.S. soldiers of the 82nd Airborne in position just about a mile behind me. But for the people immediately behind me in the tent city, they have cleared out, most of them, trying to find food, trying to find water, trying to find the next step in lives that are going to take a while to put back together.
VELSHI: That food and water is coming in, the idea is getting it to the people who need them who must be getting awfully hungry at this point.
Jonathan, thank you for some excellent reporting. Jonathan Mann in Port-au-Prince.
CNN viewers across the country and around the world, you guys are incredible. This is so touching how our viewers dug into their pockets to help Haiti. The final numbers from last night's "LARRY KING LIVE" special, over $8.9 million -- $8.9 million pledged by you to the Red Cross and UNICEF to help the people out in Haiti, helped along by some celebrities who were in here making calls on Larry King's show. What an impressive feat. Congratulations and thank you, to all of you.
We are going to take a quick break. Gary Tuchman has some new news.
VELSHI: All right. Gary Tuchman is in Port-au-Prince right now. He has just finished talking to the president and the prime minister of Haiti. Let's go right to Gary and find out what he knows.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Ali. In the weeks since this catastrophe, a lot of people have been wondering, where is the Haitian government? Well, we found the government.
For 90 years, the president of this very proud country lived in a beautiful, ornate presidential palace. That palace has been destroyed, this is the new presidential palace. It's a Haitian police station near the Port-au-Prince airport. Inside, the president and prime minister and members of the cabinet are operating this government but, the president, Rene Preval, tells us at a reduced capacity, that's to be expected.
Nevertheless, he says that all 18 of his cabinet members are alive, however some cabinet members have lost family members. He tells us that the minister of justice was wounded but is alive, the minister of finance lost a child, and the president says his wife, his wife's parents, were killed in the earthquake. But he says at this point, he is trying to communicate to the people on radio, he's planning to make an address on the radio today, and he says that the government is in power.
He speaks French, the prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, speaks English so we had a little more thorough interview with him. He tells us that as of this point that -- and this is important -- that 70,000 bodies have been recovered. That's a confirmed number, and there are a lot more still to recover. So those are some of the first solid numbers we have heard of this terrible magnitude of this tragedy...
VELSHI: Wow, 70,000 bodies. You are getting this right from prime minister?
TUCHMAN: This, Ali, is from the prime minister of Haiti, that 70,000 corpses have been recovered and they are not nearly done. And they also may not know a final count, there are bodies that are not recovered that are not part of any count. So that gives you an idea, there are more -- I should tell you, Ali -- there's a lot of chaos.
What's really interesting here, Ali, is that the president and the prime minister are inside this building right now, they have no visible security, they don't have people walking around with rifles or anything. We just had a bunch of bureaucrats come here, and when the bureaucrats come, there is all of these guns and rifles to protect the bureaucrats, but the leaders of this nation don't have that kind of security inside of the building.
But we did see the cabinet members inside, they are working inside. We saw economic advisers, it's very simple, very sparse inside, very run down, but this government is operating here in this facility -- Ali.
VELSHI: But, although, fair to say, Gary, the relief operation whether it is the stuff that is happening at the airport or the distribution of aid supplies, that is not being run by the Haitian government. So they are doing everything they can, it seems to me, behind you to try and regain control of the civil situation, but they are still not really leading the relief effort.
TUCHMAN: What they are telling us at the Port-au-Prince airport, which is very close to us, the Haitian government is still in charge of that relief effort, but with the great assistance of the U.S. government, the U.S. Air Force. There are a lot of problems getting the supplies in here, we know that. But the Haitian government is telling us, and it's being backed up by the U.S. State Department, every aid flight that needs to get in will get in.
However, there is tremendous -- there's only one runway at this airport. This airport only had a few flights a day before this, now they have hundreds of flights coming in. There's a lot of traffic. So the deal is, when people have aid and they want to come in, they are given a slot in which to land. They may be approaching, they ask to land, they say, your slot is in two hours. They have a choice, they could circle for two hours or they can land somewhere else. But generally, they are saying everyone will be allowed in, it's just that everyone can't land at once. And that's what they're saying. So, it was worse a few days ago, but much better today.
VELSHI: Did you get a sense, Gary, from them, was there one major appeal they were making or one thing that they need to fix before everything else or a sense of their priorities?
TUCHMAN: Yes, they are saying that the aid is coming in. They need a lot more aid and it needs to get to a lot more neighborhoods. We have been through neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Ali, where nothing has come in.
But the main message from the prime minister that he had to the people here in Haiti that he didn't say but he thought was important to say, is stay calm if you can. Your government is still in control, listen to the radio, the president will be making an address. We are still in control, please try to stay calm. And he says, they are marveling at how relatively -- and we use the word relatively, specifically -- but how relatively calm things have been here in Haiti.
VELSHI: All right, well, that is good that things are getting calmer and things are changing. But boy, that is something that the prime minister told you -- 70,000 bodies have been recovered already.
Gary, thanks again for excellent reporting. Gary Tuchman in Port-au-Prince.
Well, we're just moments away from "RICK'S LIST" with Rich Sanchez.
VELSHI: Two minutes to the big list. There he is, the man over my shoulder, Rick Sanchez with "RICK'S LIST" 3:00 Eastern.
Rick, I got to tell you, we are a news organization so the story isn't about us, it's about telling the story. But we just had Gary Tuchman on, Gary Anderson, Chris Lawrence, Soledad O'Brien -- the list is endless of our people in Haiti who are somewhat involved in the story.
RICH SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: You can't stop being a journalist either and the fact that Tuch would come out and talk to you just a little while ago and confirm for the -- I don't know about you...
VELSHI: I have not heard 70,000 bodies.
SANCHEZ: First time I've heard a number put out like there. He says, now confirmed 70,000 bodies. You and I both know the number is going to be higher, because every time we cover these things, it goes higher.
VELSHI: That's devastating.
SANCHEZ: But 70,000 is a pretty big nut, Ali, and we're going to try to continue to, you know, drill down on this.
Did you see the Anderson Cooper video he sent you?
VELSHI: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. A young boy who has sort of gotten in the midst of this almost what became a food riot, this looting riot.
SANCHEZ: I've got some long-version stuff of that that I'm going to be sharing with you that's quite spectacular.
You folks at home, if you have not seen this yet, get ready for a pretty wild ride of what's actually going on right now, not just with the saving of the lives, but actually trying to keep the security down in the Port-au-Prince area.
And then there is the Massachusetts' story.
VELSHI: Unbelievable. That is going to be hotter. Obviously, this thing ends at 8:00 with the polls closing in Massachusetts. Everybody in the country is affected by it.
SANCHEZ: It's the questions, though. Do you know? I don't know. For example, you have a guy there named Paul Kirk, right? He's the guy who filled in for Ted Kennedy. He is gone if Brown -- well, if any of these guys win today, he is gone. But if the republican wins, this fellow Brown, right.
VELSHI: Yes, Scott Brown.
SANCHEZ: Does he give up his seat right away or does he say, no, we are going to wait. You have to canvas all of the election boards?
These are the important questions that need to be asked in the story, and the only person with the answers is the secretary of state from Massachusetts. Guess who we have as a live guest coming up here in just a little bit here.
VELSHI: You've got the secretary of state.
SANCHEZ: The secretary of state for Massachusetts. I want to drill down with this, I want to ask this guy the tough questions, because there is a lot that need to be asked or health care dies.
VELSHI: Yes, you're going to have a very, very full couple of hours coming up on "RICK'S LIST" 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern right here on CNN. Thanks, buddy, I'll be watching.
SANCHEZ: Thanks, Ali.
VELSHI: And that does it for us.