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New Official Death Toll from Typhoon Aftermath; New Fix for Obamacare?; Interview with Senator Joe Manchin, New Official Typhoon Death Toll, 2,360

Aired November 14, 2013 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: But the death toll has been revised upward. Now the official Philippine government death toll is now more 2,300 people. More than that. But there is some confusion on the ground because according to the U.N. on their Web site, they have the death toll at nearly 4,500.

Again, as we have been saying all week, there really are no accurate numbers that we can give you with any confidence. There are so many bodies that have not been collected. The effort to collect bodies has certainly increased, firefighters doing the grim and grizzly, but necessary work of collecting those bodies.

There is a lot to tell you about. Increasing humanitarian assistance has been arriving in Tacloban and elsewhere but often it's piling up at airports. The problem now really seems to be distributing it, getting it in trucks to really get the aid out, to get it out safely, to get it out efficiently, and to get it out to those who need it most. The needs are great. There are millions of people who are in need of assistance, food, and water and shelter. Sometimes all three of those at once.

And it's not always just people in far away communities. This is sometimes people within eye's -- within, you know, half a mile or even a few blocks from the airport in Tacloban. They have not been getting assistance. People are living next to the bodies of their dead children, still nearly now a week since the storm.

We have a lot of reporting tonight but first I want to go to Tacloban, to our Nick Paton Walsh who's standing by.

Nick, from what you're seeing on the ground and what you're -- hearing and talking to officials about, what is the latest on relief efforts there?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have seen, I think, a change, a gradual increase of the aid getting into town here. Last night I saw trucks delivering food, large queues for that, certainly, and throughout the town as you go around now. There are these blue T-shirted workers flown in from Manila, we understand, and getting that very difficult job of picking up debris around, trying to get that cleanup going.

But, Anderson, as you said yourself, you know, the whole issue here is the need for this to be on an industrial scale, for there to be more aid and people, in fact, to flood the area. There are still issues with water, there are still issues with food. More may be arriving and I'm standing here and I can see the runway in which international aid efforts actually arrived. Those planes arrived very frequently now but the question is, how fast can they get it out into the city?

And the city, a week on, doesn't look much different to how -- when you were here recently. It hasn't substantially changed. The streets still covered in debris everywhere, vegetation, a real job ahead of them and I think anger certainly is still growing -- Anderson.

COOPER: In terms of -- you know, we just talked about the body count. I hate to even use that term because these aren't bodies, these are people, these are human beings who deserve dignity and deserve respect in death as they do in life.

That toll has risen officially. In terms of the collection, though, of people, the burial of people, what's happening?

WALSH: Well, we have seen in the past 24 hours, certainly I've seen an effort to collect bodies that line the street. The government said there are always fresh bodies but us frankly thinking these are the same left out for the day. That collection has certainly gone underway.

Now where I'm standing is where they finally come. This orange truck behind me right now absolutely loaded to the brim with bodies brought in from the city itself. This is where really the grim task of accounting those dead happens.

Behind me here, these are the bodies which they believe they are able to identify, that they know who they actually are and during the morning, we've seen a slow and steady stream of relatives trying to get news, trying to work out exactly whether these bodies are those they've been looking for.

Two people turning up finding bureaucratically they simply not able to match up their I.D. cards with the (INAUDIBLE). The bureaucratic scheme that brings to the bodies here. These bodies, though, these are identified. People seem to believe they know who they are. So many of these bodies, though, hard to distinguish because of the damage the water has taken upon them, the damage of decay.

I've spoken to one man this morning who said quite simply that he'd found his father amongst these bodies here, came here from Manila in a bid to bury him separately but does believe his mother, yet to be identified, may be amongst these body bags here -- Anderson.

COOPER: It's one of the horrors of a situation like this, and you can't really understand until you have actually seen what happens to people who have been outside, who have drowned under these kind of conditions, but without getting into too many details, it is -- it's very hard to identify people.

Even if they are your closest loved one, often you cannot tell who you are looking at, and imagine that horror of going and looking at hundreds of people, dead people and not being able to tell who your wife is, who your child is. It's just one of the many horrors that we are seeing on the ground in the disaster zone.

Nick, we'll talk to you later on in the program.

We left Tacloban for logistical reasons a few hours ago really, overnight here in the Philippines, and it's now Friday morning here in the Philippines. Basically, the seven-day -- the seven-day weeklong anniversary from when the storm took place.

Before we left, we went back out into the neighborhoods that we had first visited. A neighborhood not far from the airport. Just to see and try to reconnect with some of the people we met just two days before to see if they had received help. We thought that if anyplace had -- was able to get aid quickly, was able to get help, even searching for lost loved ones, it would be an area very close to the airport.

Here's what we saw.


COOPER (voice-over): A body covered in a sheet, another in a makeshift coffin. There are flowers but no names, no one seems to notice anymore. To survive the living are told to forget the past, forget the dead, but that, of course, is impossible.

Juan Marto (ph) tries to stay busy. His child is missing. He still doesn't use the word dead. Juan's father lays in their shack, his back injured in the storm. This family has suffered more than anyone ever should.

(On camera): How high was the water? The water was as tall as that tree?

(Voice-over): Janet Esmerto's (ph) two children slipped from his grasp and drowned.

"I did all that I could," she says, "but I let them go." What can you say in the face of such sadness?

Juvilyn Tanega (ph) is trying to keep busy. She's collected old dishes and is cleaning them up. We first met Juvilyn on Tuesday. She showed us the bodies of three of her children. She placed them in a piece of luggage under a sheet. She was searching for her three other children.

(On camera): Has anyone come to help you?


COOPER (voice-over): "I really want to see them," she says, "Even if it's just their bodies." Two days later, and she still hasn't found her three other children.

(On camera): Has there been any help since we saw you?

(Voice-over): None, she says. "My children are decomposing." (On camera): They are still there?

(Voice-over): "No help, no local government officials, no city officials," says Juvilyn's father, nobody is showing themselves. His injured son Jericho sits silently listening. Jericho's mother is dead, so is his aunt and nine of his cousins. In a daze he asked me, when is my mother coming back? He never ever says she's missing. He still thinks she will come back.

"We didn't know there was a tsunami," he says. "We thought it was just a storm."

(On camera): You didn't know that there would be this storm surge of water?

(Voice-over): We've been through so many storms, he says. There have been many times before a house gets destroyed and we just hide behind a tree. But there's no water, it's just wind. It's the water that killed us.

(On camera): If somebody had told you it would be like a tsunami, you would have left?

(Voice-over): "Oh yes," he says. "We would have left right away."

Jericho wants to leave now on a C-130, the kind of plane he sees every day overheard flying evacuees to Manila. His father tells him they have to stay, they have no money, just each other. That's all that's left.

(On camera): It's been almost a week since the typhoon hit and the initial adrenaline of the storm and its aftermath has faded and just the grim reality of what life is now has taken its place. People are trying to kind of rebuild, is too strong a word, just survive as best they can. People have hung up some washing on a shack that they put together out of scraps of corrugated tin that they've been able to salvage.

You see women doing washing of plates and clothing, whatever they can find, whatever they can find that they used to own that's been spread out through all this area. You see people all the time now just walking around trying to find their possessions, just trying to find family photographs and plates, and all the little things that make up a person's life.

(Voice-over): Survival is still a struggle, for some more than host. Two days ago we met Dick Esperas (ph) sharing some rice with his neighbors. He desperately wanted to call his mother in Manila to let her know he was alive, though his wife and two of his three children were not.

We dialed her number for him on our satellite phone. "They're all gone, they are gone," he says. "They're all gone. We're the only ones who survived, just the two of us survived," he says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma. Ma. COOPER: "I don't know why this happened to me." We found Dick Esperas again today.

(On camera): How are you?

(Voice-over): His grief is still overwhelming. He can't stop thinking about seeing his family drown in the storm.

"The first one that I saw was my youngest," he says. She fainted and then she drowned. The water was so fast. And then my wife, when I tried to grab her, I missed her and then she drowned, then I never saw her again. He admits he often thinks of killing himself but hasn't because he still has one child who needs him.

"It's like I don't want to live anymore because of what happened to my family," he tells me. "All of us here lost our loved ones, but all I'm saying is people have different ways of dealing with it. How we feel, in my case, I can't handle it."

In Tacloban, there is little time for grief, little chance for comfort, between death and life, the line is thin. Sometimes there is no line at all.


COOPER: Well, if you've been watching our coverage over the past week, you know that we've been on the ground in Tacloban and elsewhere trying to be as accurate as possible. Accuracy is what we care most about here at CNN. Giving information that might actually help people on the ground and help the relief effort in some way become efficient.

In our reporting it seems, though, here in the Philippines has become something of a political issue at times. A broadcaster, a radio broadcaster named Korina Sanchez has apparently taken issue with some of my reporting. She also is not just a radio broadcaster. She happens to be the wife of the Interior minister who's overseeing the relief effort on the ground.

Miss Sanchez seems to be under the mistaken impression that I said I saw no presence of the Philippine government on the ground in Tacloban. I never said that. Obviously I have been on the ground in Tacloban for days and I've, in fact, interviewed a very heroic, Philippine Navy captain, Captain Santiago, who's going out and helping people. I've seen the work that's being done and the work that isn't being done, perhaps even as importantly.

Miss Sanchez is welcome to go there, and I would urge her to go there. I don't know if she has but her husband is the Interior minister. I'm sure she could arrange a flight.

Here is the broadcast that I think she thinks I said something that I didn't say in. Here is what I actually said.


COOPER: As for who exactly is in charge of the Philippine side of this operation, that is not really clear. I mean, we -- I'm just surprised that I haven't -- I haven't -- I expected on this day five, I thought I had maybe gotten here very late that things would be well in hand. It does not seem like that. People are desperate. People do not have any place for shelter. There is -- it's very difficult for people to get food.

Neighbors are helping out neighbors. Water is in short supply. It is -- it is a very, very bad situation here.


COOPER: Let's remember, I was showing you a clinic several days ago that was at the airport that the doctors there said they didn't have enough food, they didn't have enough water for the hundreds of people they were seeing every single day, that they didn't have enough medical supplies.

That's a clinic at the airport. If any clinic in the entire disaster zone should be able to receive aid quickly and easily, it's the clinic at the airport and they were not getting it.

I don't know what the situation is there today. I certainly pray to God that it is a better situation than it was even two days ago.

The president of the Philippines has also counseled foreign journalists that they should be accurate in their reports and we certainly appreciate that counsel. Accuracy is what we strive for. I read in the paper today, it's the first time I've been able to read the news. The president also said in a speech that the media should use a role to uplift the spirits of the Filipino people to find stories of resilience, of hope, of faith, and show the world how strong the Filipino people are."

I would actually say that all week long in every report we have done, we have shown how strong the Filipino people are. The Filipino people, the people of Tacloban and Samar and Cebu and all these places where so many have died, they are strong not just to have survived this storm, but they are strong to have survived the aftermath of this storm.

They have survived for a week now often with very little food, with very little water, with very little medical attention.

Can you imagine the strength it takes to be living in a shack, to be living sleeping on the streets next to the body of your dead children? Can you imagine that strength?

I can't. And I've seen that strength day in and day out here in the Philippines. And we honor them with every broadcast that we do.

We're going to take a quick break. Our coverage from the Philippines is going to continue. We're also going to have domestic news from the United States, big developments in the Obamacare situation and we're going to go to Wolf Blitzer after the short break.

We'll have a lot more from here in the Philippines. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Hey, I'm Anderson Cooper live in Manila, in the Philippines, reporting on the disaster situation here. We're going to have a lot more from the region because there's a lot more we want to tell you about that we are witnessing on the ground. But I do want to go, in particular, the plight of children, and the situation for children of the storm. We'll talk to a relief worker who's focusing on the needs of kids and the needs are so great here. You can't imagine.

But I do want to go to the United States. I want to join up with our Wolf Blitzer in Washington for all the latest news from the U.S. -- Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, you're doing an amazing job from the Philippines. We're all very, very grateful for your hard work, and the hard work of your producers, your crews. We're going to get back to you in a few moments. But there's other news we're following here in the United States.

In "Raw Politics," President Obama went in front of the cameras today and basically fell on his sword taking full blame for the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act Web site and telling Americans he's not a perfect man. Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular, and on a whole range of these issues in general. And, you know, that's on me. I mean, we fumbled the rollout on this health care law. I think I said early on when I was running, I am not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president.

But I'll wake up every single day working as hard as I can on behalf of Americans out there in every walk of life who are working hard, meeting their responsibilities, but sometimes are struggling because the way the system works isn't giving them a fair shot, and that pledge I haven't broken.


BLITZER: At the news conference, the president was very, very firm in making the case that he has rules ready to announce to deal with those people whose health insurance has been cancelled under the Affordable Care Act, cancelled despite his many promises that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.

The announcement today was a reversal for the president, it comes amid outright hostility from the right, but perhaps right now even more significantly some growing anger, even from some Democratic lawmakers who supported the president's health care plan.

Tonight Democrats and Republicans are preparing to introduce bills to delay key parts of the Affordable Care Act. The politics, I have to tell you, they are raw right now. We want to focus on the facts, though, tonight. How this new fix, as it's called, will work and whether it will actually help those who've lost their insurance.

Our chief national correspondent John King is joining me now.

So, John, this announcement from the president, who gets helped by it and who doesn't?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we can't answer the question definitively tonight. We know that the president's goal is to help those Americans who they viewed him breaking his promise or getting those cancellation letters, because their past insurance plans, which they liked, aren't up to the new Obamacare standards. So presumably the president is saying now he's giving the insurance companies the green light to go back and reissue those polices, say never mind for at least one more year, you can keep that policy if you like it.

But it's not just up to the president. As he noted today, Wolf, state insurance commissioners had the authority to say yay or nay. Washington state tonight, for example, already has said it wants to keep the Obamacare rules in place. So we're going to have to watch this play out and here is the risk, as well. Some of those people might get the news they want, a letter from their insurance company saying you can now keep that plan but the industry is warning tonight along with that letter could come a premium increase.

So from a policy standpoint, the president is hoping to ease the anger outside of Washington for people who got the cancellation letters. We're going to have to keep track of that inside Washington. As you noted, raw politics and a lot of Democrats thinking the president didn't do enough today to stop what they see as bleeding.

BLITZER: John, the insurance industry and the Obama administration, they've been trying to remain allies throughout all of this, but not everyone in the industry right now is very pleased with the announcement, are they?

KING: No, you spoke to a key representative of the insurance industry today, Karen Ignagni, and she equated this to changing the rules of the baseball game in the ninth inning.

Look, the industry has been working with the president. They think they'll lose some money in some ways and get that money back by, you know, having so many more people into the pool. However, the industry is now worried, number one, they have to go back in many cases and tell those people whose policies were recently cancelled, you can have them back. It's going to be a confusing process.

The industry is now worried that the people will say hey, the president said you have to give me my plan back and they will get blamed. The industry will get blamed if there are any problems. So they are worried about the uncertainty, Wolf. They're worried about tumult in the marketplace and again, they're worried that if the companies decide the only way to do this is raise rates, that they'll get the blame, not the politicians.

BLITZER: Yes. Enormous problems right now all around. John, thanks very much.

The fix that President Obama announced today falls short of what some members of his own party are pressing for including Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a red state Democrat. He joins us tonight.

Senator, what's your reaction to the president's announcement today, this temporary fix that would attempt to save at least some of those insurance policies that were cancelled because they didn't meet the overall standards of the affordable care act? Does the president go far enough?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Well, first of all, it's a step in the right direction. I'm very appreciative of that. They've acknowledged it. You know, we got to keep our promise to the people, to our constituents, to the American people that were made to them. I believe, like they did, if I had a policy, I was already insured no matter how good or bad, you may think it had been or is, I could keep it so I wanted it.

BLITZER: You want to just delay the whole thing for a year?

MANCHIN: I've said in my bill that there'll be no fine and no crime until January 1, 2015. But the bill still goes effect right now. We're working throughout it. We're trying to get the markets right. We're trying to get the glitches out of it. And that's what I'm thinking. A transition year is what's needed until January of 2015.

BLITZER: We understand, Senator, the White House has asked that any new legislation, and you have some new legislation, they be held back for now to give the president's new administrative fix some time to work. Are you willing to wait? Should Congress wait?

MANCHIN: Well, I think, you know, Congress has been pretty patient, if you will. From waiting now to see what works and what doesn't work, we've got people hitting deadlines. People believe they're going to be committing a crime or be fined if they don't buy a product they couldn't get on because of the glitches.

If the president and the administration will look -- those of us who are trying to work and fix things and be constructive, not destructive. That's what they need to be looking for and we're saying, listen, the transition here, we need to work through it. The law needs to go into effect, work through it, see if we can get the industry, insurance industry working with us, not against us.

If that policy is richer than what we can afford, then we need to look at some things differently like some of the people that got cancellations. They got -- they bought insurance policies that this administration or this bill believes inferior. They didn't believe it was inferior. They believed it was what they could afford and it gave them some protection.

BLITZER: One final question, Senator. You're a former governor of West Virginia. If you had -- your lifetime achievement, the greatest achievement of your administration and you have three years to get it ready, it turns out the rollout, the Web site and bunch of other stuff, such a disaster, would you have fired someone?

MANCHIN: Just sacrificially throwing people out, you know, that's not going to fix it right now. You need people who are committed and dedicated to getting the right people -- to fix -- they'll fix the glitches, Wolf. Do we have the product that people want? Do we have the product they think there's value in?

That's what hasn't been sold yet. And if that needs to be some tweaking, that's the one-year transition would work absolutely unbelievable. I believe give us that breathing time to make sure that you're selling me a product that I like, that I think is good and will help me and my family and I'll want to buy it, I want it.

BLITZER: Senator Manchin, thanks very much for joining us.

MANCHIN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, the wild political story up north that simply won't let up. A new explosive rant from Toronto's mayor who's already in a heap of trouble. We'll have a full report from Toronto but in the meantime, let's go back to Anderson, he's joining us once again from the Philippines -- Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, hey, Wolf, yes, in addition to that report from Toronto, we're going to focus a lot more on the situation here in the Philippines.

You know, we've shown you day after day so many children who have lost their lives and parents searching for their children. There are so many children still alive here who are in real need of help. We're going to talk to an aid worker about what the needs of the kids are and how everyone, all of us can help. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back, reporting from Manila live in the Philippines on basically the one-week anniversary of this storm. It is Friday morning here in the Philippines and we want to give you updates to breaking news at this hour. The official death toll, according to the Philippine government, has now risen. The number of people they died say is above 2,300.

There is some discrepancy. The U.N. on one of their web site says that the official death toll, they believe the death toll is closer to 4,500 people, several dozen short of 4,500. But again, it's -- there are no accurate numbers at this point. I think that's the bottom line.

We haven't been stressing numbers in the week of our reporting because frankly, you go in the neighborhoods and there are so many people still unaccounted for, missing, family members searching for loved ones and people. Human beings laying there that nobody have collected and officially counted. So we're staying away from numbers but the needs are great.

There are thousands, of course, probably tens of thousands in need of medical attention, even routine medical attention that they would normally be receiving, dialysis and the like and dehydration because of lack of water. Problems with food and food delivery, things are getting slowly better, but cannot come fast enough for the people on the ground.

I keep stressing that. We're going to focus on the needs of children coming up, but I want to go back to Wolf Blitzer in Washington for more on developments there -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very different stories over here, Anderson, looking forward to your reports. As I said you are doing an amazing job and our viewers are grateful to you and your entire team. But there is some breaking news we are following here.

The younger brother of Toronto's crack smoking mayor is urging Rob Ford to take a leave of a absence that according to a Toronto city council member. This latest twist comes on the same day that Ford gave another jaw dropping performance just when you thought the mayor had maxed out the shock factor he managed to take it to yet another level, this time with allude remark.

His outburst came just a day after the city council voted to ask him to take a leave of absence. Not only is Ford refusing to leave, he's digging in and taking no prisoners. Let's go to Toronto. Paula Newton is joining us with more on the breaking news. What is the very latest, Paula?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, council source telling us that indeed today Doug Ford did ask his brother that it was time for him to finally take a leave. That is a departure, Wolf. You know, one of the criticisms, the people that matter the most to Rob Ford were not encouraging him to take the leave. This is a significant development.

You know, yesterday when I spoke with Doug Ford he said look, it's been tough and you're about to see why it got a whole lot tougher today.


MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: Watch my wife, man.

NEWTON (voice-over): Pushing, shoving, yelling, threats, just another day in Mayor Ford's city hall. Like the rumble in the jungle Mayor Ford promised. He literally crashed his way out of the office, defiant and angry trying to pull his wife out of a chaotic crush of journalist and if that scene wasn't shocking enough, the back story was worse.

Rob Ford came out swinging first thing in the morning, announcing that the fresh allegations of him using cocaine, driving drunk and being with prostitutes are false, and he's suing his former staff members for making the allegations to police. FORD: That is outright lies. That is not true. You know what? What it hurts my wife when they are calling a friend of mine a prostitute? Helen is not a prostitute, she's a friend and it makes me sick.

NEWTON: What he says next in the most vulgar way, hit like a bomb live on Canadian TV. The mayor denying he ever said he wanted to have oral sex with a former staff member.

FORD: Olivia said I wanted to -- I never said that.

NEWTON: His crudeness shocking, too, for his wife who made a rare appearance at his side hours later as her husband tried to make amends.

FORD: Ladies and gentlemen, I want to apologize for my graphic remarks this morning.

NEWTON: Mayor Ford then disclosed yes, he's getting help.

FORD: I have been under tremendous, tremendous stress. The stress is largely in my own making. I have apologized and I have tried to move forward. This has proven to be almost impossible. The revelations yesterday of cocaine, escorts, and prostitution, have pushed me over the line, and I used unforgivable language, and again, I apologize.

NEWTON: Was he over the line or over the edge? Jaye Robinson is a city councilor and once a member of Ford's executive team.

JAYE ROBINSON, TORONTO CITY COUNCILOR: We cannot say Mayor Ford, leave the building. We cannot say step aside. We cannot say resign. None of it is really in our jurisdiction to make that happen.

NEWTON (on camera): So shocking for people to hear that.

ROBINSON: I know. It is very -- and it's not just shocking for you. It's shocking for the residents of Toronto. They didn't realize that we did not have that power.

NEWTON (voice-over): Several times on this day alone, Mayor Ford looked like a man unable to racially cope with his personal and political troubles.

FORD: None of you guys have ever had a drink and got behind the wheel, I know that.

NEWTON: And yet, no one expects the mayor to step down, no, he's doubling down. Next week, we'll see the debut of a new TV talk show with his brother, Doug.


NEWTON: Wolf, I can't under score enough how rare that appearance by his wife was. This is a woman that doesn't do any official appearances with her husband. This is a woman who sends her school to morning, picks them up at night, so significant she was there today. We expected perhaps he would announce he was taking a leave of absence that didn't happen. It could change now that his brother is actually encouraging him to take some time off -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see if he does anything along those lines. All right, Paula, thanks so much. Paula Newton reporting for us from Toronto. Let's go back to Anderson in Manila -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wolf, did I hear the mayor is going to start doing a talk show?

BLITZER: Yes, yes.

COOPER: Next week?

BLITZER: Can you imagine with his brother, a talk show, maybe a reality show but it's -- you heard right, all the way in the Philippines, you heard it accurate.

COOPER: Wow, OK, I know I'm tired. I wanted to make sure. We'll obviously continue that next week and tomorrow, as well.

When we come back, we want to look at the flight of kids here, the most vulnerable, obviously. We'll talk to Unicef that does a lot of work on the ground and are helping to get them clean water. We'll talk about that.

We'll talk to an aunt whose niece and nephew, their parents are missing. She herself is pregnant, but she's determined to help those kids until she can find out what happened to their parents. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper reporting from Manila in the Philippines. We want to focus on the children. There are so many children in harm's way and continue to be in harm's way in terms of lack of food and water and so many families have been separated. So many people moved around to escape the storm and so many people are missing and getting information about a lost loved one is very, very difficult. So many people are frankly just disappearing. Lack of information is a big problem.

Our Anna Coren found a Filipino-American woman on vacation here in the Philippines. She was pregnant. When the storm hit she was able to get to safety. She brought a niece and nephew with her, but other family members stayed in harm's way. They are now trying to get information what happened to those family members, here is her story.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Distraught and traumatized, his arm in a sling, Benjamin Degali delivers a desperate message to his daughter from the disaster zone. Watching a local news channel in a hotel room 160 miles away, Jasmine Durmer is overwhelmed to see her father before spotting her brother in the background. He tells her not to come to Tacloban because it's unsafe, but the words that follow fill Jasmine with fear. JASMINE DURMER, BENJAMIN DEGALI'S DAUGHTER: They were saying if you're going to ask me about any question what happened to our family then you can ask me when we see each other.

COREN: Jasmine lives in New Orleans with her American husband and was on vacation visiting her husband in Tacloban. The day before the monster storm ravaged parts of the Philippines, she took her young niece and nephew on their first plane trip to Cebu. While they were safe away from the eye of the storm, 16 of her family members huddled together as the winds tore the roof of the building they were sheltering in.

DURMER: The reason all of them are gone, you know, they are not there or I don't know. I don't know what to expect.

COREN: Among the missing, the parents of the children who are now in her care.

JANICE CALCETA, JASMINE DURMER'S NIECE: The people of the Tacloban no house and there is no foods, water, and many people died, and I'm sad because my family -- I don't know where is my family now.

COREN: Fearing the worst, a heavily pregnant Jasmine asked to take the children back to the united states where she's due to give birth, but Philippine authorities refused saying they need parental permission to get a passport to be granted a U.S. visa, an impossible task. Jasmine won't abandon them and will stay in the Philippines until her surviving family can be reunited.

CALCETA: I miss my brother and my sister, my mom. I miss them.


COREN: Anderson, this is a heart breaking story and so many more like them. So many people are trying to get out of these disaster zones. They board the C-130 Hercules which is behind me and they fly here to Cebu, which is very much the staging ground of this massive relief operation. But get this, up until the last day or so, the Philippine military has only been operating with three C130 Hercules, you know, just highlights the lack of resources.

Anderson, I spoke to "Save The Children" Foundation, which is trying to get aid out to the people who are so desperately needed and it said that it took more than six hours to get their cargo off the plane here at the airbase because there's only one forklift operating. It really is frightening considering the scale of this disaster.

COOPER: Yes, they got to get forklifts in a lot of these places in Samar where they are setting a hub as well. I know that's going to be an issue. The Marines know about it certainly and have said they are going to get some forklifts in there. Even in Tacloban that's an issue. Anna, appreciate that incredible story.

I want to bring Kent Page with UNICEF and you've been in a lot of disasters. What are the challenges here? I mean, obviously UNICEF is focusing on the needs of kids. What are their greatest needs right now?

KENT PAGE, UNICEF SPOKESMAN: Well, for UNICEF, the most important thing that kids are safe, that they are healthy, that they are protected. So health, nutrition, getting them clean water, good sanitation, protection and we have to consider education also. Schools have been wipe out and getting kids into child-friendly spaces where they can feel protected, where they can have a chance to play, where they can get a sense of normalcy back in their life after going through such a devastating experience is very important.

COOPER: So how do you get water into these communities? How do you get -- how is that pipeline?

PAGE: Well, right now, UNICEF is actually flying a plane in with emergency team that's going to Tacloban. We are hoping to get out water tanks or water treatment plant. We are partnering with OZAY, which is setting up a mobile hospital clinic in Tacloban and we are providing water treatment plant that would go with that mobile hospital.

So getting these things to the people is very important. We've got to do it as quick as we can. There has been difficulties accessing many of these communities, but the log is breaking up now and we're getting things to people but the needs are really great. In some communities, we can say that everybody needs everything. So the scale of this is immense and UNICEF is working with other U.N. agencies, with NGO's, with the government to make things happen.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's -- this is a situation where, as you said, everything is needed. I mean, the home is wiped away, the food sources are wiped away. There are no jobs so people can't earn money. These are things we don't think about in the day to day life that make up the life of a child and you're trying to keep them alive.

PAGE: This is why this is complex, this emergency. You know, to get kids who don't go to school right now, all classes are suspended, there are no schools. We need to get them into spaces where they are protected. It helps the kids and frees up the parents to go and take care of the needs, try and find work, try and get money. So it's complicated. It's very complex, and everything is related.

COOPER: is the web site?

PAGE: Yes.

COOPER: Appreciate what you're doing, Kent. We'll continue to check in with you. We'll talk to our reporters spread throughout the region for all the latest on the relief effort.


COOPER: Welcome back to the continuing coverage live here in Manila. I want to go to Nick Paton Walsh in Tacloban and Ivan Watson who is joining us from Cebu and here with me in Manila is Andrew Stevens. Nick, there is a Reuters report out that I just saw saying they have a number out for death toll in Tacloban, a big number. Explain the confusion over the numbers of dead, please.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Reuters are saying 4,000 died in Tacloban alone according to officials here. We sent our producer up into the city hall behind me. They've seen the white board where this number of 4,000 is being recorded and then asked officials where they got the number. They aren't entirely sure how they came to it and try to find a woman who wrote the number on the board and weren't able to do that.

The idea that the death toll seems to be being adjusted upwards and it makes sense, in the neighboring town there were more. It is probably going to go higher than 2,000. It gives you the idea of the confusion accounting for the dead. They may have numbers coming up, but aren't sure how rock solid they are and got to them and shows you the chaos of viewing people's lives. Imagine trying to get food and water and the simple mechanics of getting dead bodies and burying them is beyond the task of the government here -- Anderson.

COOPER: I've been watching here in Cebu, the lack of communication is part of the problem, getting information.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and we traveled to the first landfall of the typhoon. You were there yesterday, and people still haven't been able to reach their loved ones on other islands in the Philippines to tell them they are still alive. They are resorting to flying out handwritten notes. We seen one waiting to be sent out on a flight saying we're OK and we're alive.

And I met a mother who traveled by boat 22 hours from Cebu to be reunited with her 8-year-old boy who she had been cut off with. She didn't know whether or not he was alive and we saw that glorious reunion amid all that uncertainty and fear. I have to say, all this destruction, I was struck where the death toll was about 87 in a town of more than 40,000 people.

To see people in the houses laughing, joking with a foreigner like me, perhaps will be the greatest resource the Filipinos have, their sense of humor that will take them through the long and difficult months ahead as they to rebuild -- Anderson.

COOPER: We talked about at the top of the program, Andrew Stevens, the strength and dignity. You say how are you doing? They say I'm OK. Have you lost anybody? Yes, I've lost three of my children, six of my children, I mean, their strength is extraordinary.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Their strength is extraordinary. Many of these people live a tough life at the best of times trying to make it and struck, even resilience struck just how they deal with this, two days afterwards when a lot of people would have been too stunned to move. People were gathering in groups, talking as I was like laughing. A lot of people I was talking to saying thank you, thank you so much for being here. Still very polite and still gracious.

COOPER: Reports of looting and stuff, it's easy to stress that too much. By in large I've been stunned at the response of individuals to this tragedy and there again, just their strength and continued courage. Andrew, appreciate your reporting. You've been there from the beginning. We'll have more when we come back.


COOPER: Well, thanks very much for watching our continuing coverage of the disaster and the relief efforts here in the Philippines. As we said at the top of the program, with every report that we have done all week long, we believe we have been showing you the strength of the Filipino people and everybody on the ground in Tacloban and elsewhere, that is the thing that all of us will never ever forget. The strength of the people here and that strength will be needed and tested in the difficult days and weeks and months ahead. CNN films, "The Assassination Of President Kennedy, our special CNN presentation begins now.