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Victims Of Boston Bombings Show Health Improvements; Pictures Of Potential Suspects Released; Search For Possible Survivors Continues After Explosion In West, Texas

Aired April 18, 2013 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone, John Berman here along with Brooke Baldwin.

We're on the street, just a block and a half away from the finish line of the Boston marathon where those bombings happened on Monday, the investigation still very much under way right now.

Also, the recovery, the victims, those injured, still in the hospitals, their health improving by the day.

We learned a short while ago that Michelle Obama, the first lady, went to a couple of these hospitals to visit with the medical staff there, as well as to share some time with those who've been injured.

She went to Brigham and Women's Hospital. She also went to Children's Hospital where some of the youngest victims are currently being treated. She did spend some time with them which is awfully nice of the first lady and I'm sure helped lift their spirits.

Meanwhile, at yet another one of the great hospitals in this town, Mass General, there is a news conference currently under way. We wanted to listen in for a moment.

(BEGIN LIVE PRESSER COVERAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the president met with each of our patients who were involved in the bombing.

His conversations with them are between he and the patients themselves, so I'm not going to relay the details of what they discussed, but it was extremely uplifting for them, I think, in some ways, incredibly inspiring that he would take time out to come visit them and, honestly, have a sincere interaction with all these folks who have been hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about for you (inaudible) in his speech -- sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know anything about that. I've been here all day. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, during the cathedral, he spoke about you running the marathon and just as one shining example of many that were out there in the last couple of days of folks really just putting everything aside and the way the medical community really just laid it all out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, well, like I said, I've been here, essentially, since the bombing on Monday. I haven't watched the news that much, and I'll certainly watch his speak back.

I'm flattered that he would mention me, but since you're all here and I have the microphone, that means for a moment I get to say what I want, and what I want to say is to make sure that everyone recognizes that this is not an individual sport.

The marathon might be, but taking care of all these patients is not an individual sport. At the end of the day, I'm just a cog in the machine, and what makes this great, what makes our care great, is not me and I like you, Alice (ph), but it's not Alice (ph), it's the system, right?

It's all of us together, and it's the Massachusetts General Hospital and the construct under which the system functions and how we guide ourselves and the principles we use to take care of our patients.

So, if there's anything that's the right message, the right message is, I'm flattered that apparently he mentioned me in his speech, but it's not about me. It's about the hospital and the system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you had the opportunity to speak with the president today, and what was that conversation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We had the opportunity to talk quite a bit. And I can just say I'm honored.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he want to know about the patients or injuries? What were you able to relate to him about the severity of that ...

(END LIVE PRESSER COVERAGE)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: So you've been listening to one of the doctors there at Mass General Hospital, and, you know, he said, obviously, we learned the president -- surprise -- went to go meet and visit with a number of the survivors there, which was clearly uplifting.

But what really struck me, if I can just share this, is the fact that he said, look, I'm just a cog in the wheel.

It's the humility of the doctors to the first responders -- I talked to this firefighter and he's like, look, I was just doing my job.

People are doing their jobs here in Boston. They're doing their jobs in West, Texas. I salute them.

BERMAN: The investigators are very much still at work here.

And when we come back, we have some new information just in about these photos we've been telling you about.

Stay with us. Back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Back here live in Boston, still a crime scene, police saying the most complex crime scene they have ever seen here in Boston and everyone holding out hope to find the persons or person responsible for Monday's horrendous, horrendous terror attack here in town.

We're all hoping to learn, glean information from some of the photos. This is one of the most photographed events in the country on Monday.

And Deb Feyerick has been working her contacts. There have been these pictures that have come out, and these people. We can't call them suspects. We can't call them persons of interest.

They're just two people in pictures that authorities were looking into.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And it's not just those two people. It's a lot of different people.

What investigators do is they look through all the images and they see something about a particular person or people that seems abnormal, and so what they've got to do is they've got to -- absent any context that exists from the photo itself -- they've got to really look in to find out what is going on.

So these two young men happened to hit the radar because each of them had a backpack. The backpack seemed unusually heavy, certainly big enough that you could carry one of these pressure cooker devices. So they have to look and figure out who those guys are.

They had a number of images, and these images were going to the highest levels of intelligence to ascertain, does anybody know who these guys are?

Well, it turns out after a generated interest, people began to phone in and say, we do know who these guys are, and once the investigators stepped in, their importance went from high to less high.

And I don't want to say that they've ruled anybody out because, even investigators will tell you, nobody has been ruled out. Nobody has been identified by name. They have been identified by images.

So it's interesting. They are being very, very careful how they discuss this because, clearly, these two young men, if they have been ruled out or if they are ruled out at some point in the future, their lives are ruined and it's just because of speculation of what they were doing in the crowd at that moment near the finish line not too far off when the bombs went off.

BERMAN: Let's just be clear. These are the two photos that did cause so much excitement yesterday and then were passed around to law enforcement agencies, state, local, federal, all over the country. Now their importance going from high to not quite as high.

FEYERICK: You have to -- let's think of it on some level as a top ten list, OK? You always have the top ten.

So let's say they went from number one -- they're down lower. They're down lower. We don't know where, but clearly there are so many other people they are looking at, that they are identifying and saying this doesn't look right.

This man, for example, there's an image of a man who's standing near the tree, not too far off where a device went off. So now he raises in importance.

So, it's really just kind of sifting through the sand and they've got to identify each individual grain of sand, and that includes the people in the images of those who were in the crowd.

Remember, not just people here in Boston, you have witnesses who were here from all over the world.

BALDWIN: Right.

FEYERICK: So that even broadens the scope of how big this investigation is.

BERMAN: Ruling people out is just as important as ruling people in.

Deborah Feyerick, thank you so much for that information.

BALDWIN: Thanks, Deb.

And here we are now -- what -- three days after the bomb shattered Boston's biggest, most iconic day, Patriots Day, Marathon Monday.

The city came together today to seek comfort to honor the victims and really to try to begin the healing process.

And a lot of victims now carry the physical scars and many more will forever bear the emotional wounds.

While so many people -- you saw the smoke, you saw the blast on Monday, and many people were trying to get out of there, you have first responders like veteran Boston firefighter Charles Buchanan, Jr.

He ran towards the smoke, covering the dead, tending to the victims, and through his own pain, he talked to me about the strength of his city and the love for his fellow firefighters and Bostonians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BUCHANAN, JR., BOSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT VETERAN: it is the worst day. It's the worst day for the city of Boston, but we will survive.

We will learn by this, all of us will, and we will be prepared that much better.

You know, we will not give in to these individuals or whoever it may be that comes and hurt us.

BALDWIN: do you feel like you're still numb at all?

Remember, after 9/11 a lot of people were walking around kind of numb and one day it hits them and they are furious.

Are you angry?

BUCHANAN: I am angry. I am angry. I cannot compare it.

I went down and paid my respects, as all firefighters do here, and we do that, and we do it well. We take care of our own, and I mean that.

The -- excuse me -- the people that I work with are like my brothers.

The nation -- the nation, we will heal. We will not forget. We will unite, and we will be stronger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: I want to take you now to West, Texas. This is this tiny, population 2,700 town here that is just about 20 miles north of Waco, absolutely devastated by this explosion at a fertilizer plant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't hear!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cover your ears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't hear!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Listen to those sounds.

CNN's David Mattingly is on the ground in the town of West, and, David, what's the latest on the search for possible survivors?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm afraid the latest right now is the same thing we've been hearing for several hours now, that there is a very active search and rescue operation under way, but we're not finding out at this moment what they are finding, what they are encountering as they go through the rubble of some of these buildings.

There's a couple of problems with the search and rescue that's going on right now. First of all, they are having to deal with buildings that have been severely damaged by last night's blast.

Some of these buildings have to be shored up, debris moved away, some of it's too heavy and requires specialized equipment because you don't want to go in there and perhaps do more harm to someone who might be trapped in there or even put one of the rescuers in a position of being hurt while they are trying to help someone.

So, they are being very careful, very methodical going building to building looking to see what they might be able to find now that they have daylight and time and equipment and manpower to go through these buildings.

So, a very slow and tedious process, people here still trying to come to grips with the magnitude of that explosion in this very little town.

Governor Perry put it very directly, saying that this town is so small that everyone here has been directly affected by it, every family directly affected by it.

So, right now this is where all the media has gathered. It is a livestock auction facility, a makeshift command center, if you will, right now for all the news releases that come out.

We're waiting to see when the next official response is going to be, but right now there's been no change, no official numbers released all afternoon.

BERMAN: All right, David Mattingly in the town of West, Texas, right now.

Still such a fluid situation right there with the search and rescue operation under way.

Weather's been an issue, so many problems they are facing right now, and as the governor, Rick Perry, said, everyone in that small town has been affected.

It has been a tumultuous night, a tumultuous day in that town. We want to show you some of the sights and sounds that we've been seeing there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need every ambulance we can get this way. A bomb just went off inside here. It's pretty bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are homes leveled. There are businesses leveled.

I don't know how many folks may still be trapped in rubble.

Homes have been destroyed. There are homes flattened. Part of that community is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The windows came in on me. The roof came in on me. The ceiling came in. I worked my way out to go get some more help.

The whole 1500 block of Still Meadow, my son lives there. Luckily, he was on the second floor. That whole street is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beat up, it hurts. But I'm alive, so happy.

I was actually picked up and thrown about 10 feet because I was standing at the end of my bed and then where I landed was by the bathroom about 10 feet closer into the house.

Thank God that I went upstairs because, if I hadn't, the couch that I had been on, when I came down I looked at it; the couch wasn't there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a horrifying situation that people have been through, and they're going to be just trying to deal with the aftermath of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It like picked you up. It just took your breath away. And then it dropped you and it like -- it exploded everything around you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I walked through the blast area. I searched some houses earlier tonight. Massive.

Just like Iraq. Just like the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just overwhelming to us for a town of 2,400. We have three ambulances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And any idea of the number of missing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know that. I know that we've had 160-plus that have been treated at our local hospitals.

We know that we have several firefighters that are still missing.

We have accounted for the law enforcement official. He is in the hospital in critical condition.

But we're still looking for those firefighters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you compare this to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An atom bomb. Nothing but a bomb.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": Good afternoon everyone. I'm Anderson Cooper in West, Texas, with my colleague, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, with all the latest on the explosion last night.

It is obviously a very chaotic scene in this small town of West, Texas, the town of about 2,700 or so people, more than 160 injured.

At this time, estimates of fatalities are just that, estimates, really guesses by authorities. Authorities are using the figures anywhere from five to 15 people, but that is really a guess.

And even though this explosion occurred about 8:00 p.m. local time last night, we are still very early hours in this search-and- rescue operation, in this investigation into exactly what occurred.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And then the numbers change, as you know, and at some point, they make that decision to go from search and rescue to search and recovery. That hasn't happened yet.

Unlike Boston, Anderson, where we just were, there were buildings, as a result of this explosion, that were also flattened and that's really changed this.

In Boston you had the concerns about the primary blast and the secondary blast, but here you have the concerns about the fire as well, these buildings, and the rescue going on in there, and, also, the initial concerns about the chemicals, themselves.

My understanding is that concern has sort of been lifted, but there is this concern about this anhydrous ammonium, which is a chemical that is typically stable, but in the presence of a fire it can actually become quite explosive, quite flammable.

COOPER: It's a nitrogen fertilizer that is in a gas form naturally, but it's stored in actually a liquid form under enormous amounts -- it's compressed, it's liquefied and stored under very cold temperatures.

GUPTA: That's right. And if it gets out under typical conditions because the pressure from the tank goes away, it just sort of is lighter than air and wafts off into the atmosphere.

In a condition like this, though, it can stay closer to the ground and create what people refer to as a ammonia fog. And that was one of the initial concerns why rescue workers with wearing respirators to try and protect themselves.

Again, it sounds like the air conditions have not been a concern as far as actually measuring that ammonia concentration in the air.

COOPER: But it's certainly, as Sanjay said, was a big concern for the volunteer firefighters and EMS workers who arrived on the scene.

This blast occurred around 8:00 local time, the enormous explosion that you've seen no doubt on cell phone video cameras.

But there was actually a fire about half an hour before that, that first responders, firefighters were called to. They were actually onsite, battling that blaze, that smaller blaze, when the larger explosion occurred.

Now exactly what caused that fire we do not know. Nobody knows at this point. It's not at that stage of even an investigation stage. As Sanjay said, it is still very much a search-and-rescue operation.

They are methodically going through a survey, four-to-five block area around this plant. You know, there is a lot of damaged structures, a housing -- an apartment complex, one side of it was basically sheared off, the nursing home as well, and there was a nearby school, a number of houses as well.

So there's a lot of property to go through. They want to go through it, methodically, very, very carefully just to make sure they do not miss anybody.

And that's why the -- we haven't seen really a change in the number of confirmed fatalities and confirmed wounded because, simply, authorities just don't know at this point.

GUPTA: And I think you mentioned this is a small town. It's 2,800. When you talk about a four-to-five block radius, that is sort of the town. There's not much more beyond that.

The Hillcrest Hospital, which we were talking about a bit last night, just to give you a sake of reference, that's a 237-bed hospital and they're taking most of these injured.

Some of the burn patients, my understanding, are going to Parkland, which is a world renowned burn center.

(AUDIO BREAK)

GUPTA: But this is a trauma center. They are trained to do this. In fact, we're going to be with the Red Cross a little later on.

We've been doing some of the -- they've been helping some of these patients actually get to the hospital.

We're going to see what things have been like for them. They've also been in charge with some of the folks from the CDC to test the air quality in this area, to make sure, again, as we were talking about, that it continues to be safe.

COOPER: Our coverage here is going to be continuing all throughout the day, all throughout the evening hours as well.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.