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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Wave of Destruction: Death Toll Rises to More Than 80,000
Aired December 29, 2004 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening from New York. I'm Anderson Cooper.
More than 80,000 dead, many of them kids. Tonight, the children of disaster, stories of hope, stories of courage.
360 starts now.
Amid the corpses and the chaos, tonight, tiny miracles. A little boy reunited with his family after two days trapped in a tree. A Swedish child ripped from his grandmother's arms, now safe back in his father's arms.
And two sisters open their hearts to a little boy orphaned by the killer waves.
The death toll rising. Tens of thousands of children lost, thousands more orphaned. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports live from a Sri Lankan orphanage where children play, too young to understand why their parents were swept away.
The search for little Anna. Tonight, meet a father returning to the place his daughter vanished, desperate to find out what happened to her.
And the luckiest man alive. First, he escaped death on 9/11. Now, Nick Van Strander has done it again, surviving the killer tsunami. Tonight, meet the man twice-lucky to be alive.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special two-hour edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, Wave of Destruction.
COOPER: Good evening again. Welcome to our international viewers as well.
We've been forced to show you some truly awful images the last couple of nights, and we're sorry to say we will be doing that again this hour, and probably for hours and days to come.
There is really no choice, given the dreadful reality of what's happened and what continues to happen in the wake of these killer waves.
But right now, for just a moment, we want you to start with something else. We want to start with this. Now, don't look away. It's all right. Her name is Estulassi (ph). She's 3 weeks old, and she's fine. As you can see, she's just tired. She's sleeping peacefully on her mother's arm.
And that is the miracle of it, that she is with her mother, that she is OK, that she is sleeping peacefully.
Her parents were in a seaside restaurant in Panang, Malaysia. When the tsunami struck, her parents and family were swept out of their building, everyone but the baby. She was left behind, alone for hours on a mattress, floating on five feet of water.
Who is more defenseless than a little child? Who is more vulnerable? And yet when her mother and father fought their ways back into the building, from which all other life had been flushed, they found her, crying on the mattress. The tsunami that had pulled trucks out to sea and people out of swimming pools, the waves that tossed and twisted and engulfed so much and so many, had spared her, 20-day-old Estulassi.
We want you to keep her face, her hope, in mind for the rest of this hour. It will be necessary, we're afraid.
We wish we had many more such stories to offer. But we don't. Elsewhere in South Asia, the news is uniformly grim. The death toll now is hard even to say. More than 80,000 people have perished, but those numbers really are meaningless. We haven't even heard casualty figures for parts of Indonesia or northern Sri Lanka.
Mass graves are being filled, thousands are still missing. Bodies are being burned. The suffering is enormous and widespread, especially among the children. And they will be our focus tonight.
We'll have reports from around the globe. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Matthew Chance is in Phuket, Thailand. Atika Shubert and Mike Chinoy in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
We go first tonight to Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here are the consequences of a tsunami. A Buddhist temple suddenly turned to orphanage, and hundreds of new, nameless faces, vulnerable looks that only children can give.
(on camera): We're obviously surrounded by a lot of children here, all displaced by the tsunami?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, after the past three days, they have been here.
GUPTA: Hard to believe they can smile. Some are still painfully shy, and most, for the time being anyway, oblivious to just how much their future has changed.
(on camera): How many displaced have there been as a result of the tsunami?
DR. THUSHARA RAMASINGHE, VOLUNTEER, SARVODAYA RELIEF: We don't have the correct figures yet, but should be children and the women.
GUPTA (voice-over): More than a million at least, and many of these families from some of the most deprived areas of the country, now, more deprived than ever.
(on camera): What do you do for them here?
RAMASINGHE: Actually, now, what happens is here, we supply the food and the medicine and whatever the basic facilities they need at the moment.
GUPTA (voice-over): At a time when care and relief arrive in cargo planes, no amount of aid can ever give them back their parents.
But still, here's where the story gets a little hopeful.
RAMASINGHE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), any children under 10 years who are without the parents, just let us know, and we are willing to take care of them, but for -- and we will plan their future.
GUPTA (on camera): You can really tell how bad something is in the country by how the kids are doing, can't you?
RAMASINGHE: These are the vulnerable groups, and these are the future of the country, right?
(voice-over): And so, by that measure, Sri Lanka is doing better than you might expect.
GUPTA: As we were just walking around, Anderson, actually visiting some of the NGOs trying to do their work, they said, Come back with us into this little courtyard. We walked back there, and there were literally hundreds, expected to go to thousands, of orphans walking around, recently displaced by the tsunami.
Another hopeful thing, Anderson. They said they're already starting to get lots of calls in about adoption. Adoption may be an option for a lot of these children as the days and months continue, Anderson.
COOPER: Of course, Sanjay, as we know, there are so many areas in Sri Lanka still no one has heard from up in the north, so who knows how many kids there are out there without their parents right now?
I, the kids you talked to at this orphanage, I mean, did they have a sense of what had happened? I mean, did they, obviously, some of them are just too young. But some of the older ones, I mean, did they know the situation they were in?
GUPTA: Yes, a lot of them do know the situation they're in. It's a very tenuous stage right now, given the fact that a lot of the parents are still considered missing. They have not been confirmed dead yet.
It was a little bit surreal, Anderson, just to walk around these children. You obviously saw them smiling, a little bit oblivious still to what the future may hold for them. But they did seem to get a sense that something tragic could happen. And it could get more tragic if their parents are confirmed dead. Many of them already have been, Anderson.
COOPER: And, I mean, this orphanage says they're going to care, they're going to plan for the future of these kids. But, I mean, what kind of resources do they have?
GUPTA: You know, really remarkably, this is an NGO. There are hardly any governmental money coming into this whatsoever. So this is all based on donations. And if there are some other good parts of the story, some of the good things that we've seen, it is the rising of the Sri Lankan people. I mean, these are people who are deprived in so many ways, actually donating goods, donating clothes, donating food, donating money to try and take care of these kids.
Also, as we mentioned, starting to get the calls in about adoption. That is something that they encourage as well. That's going to be another option for these children. It's going to be tough. I mean, this is an organization that's been around for some time. They have just been inundated now. Their numbers have gone way up, obviously, since the tsunami. They're going to be struggling for some time with this, Anderson.
COOPER: And, you know, we've been hearing those stories of courage from people in Sri Lanka. I mean, from people all over, but we've been getting a lot of them from Sri Lanka today. I mean, people just donating money along the side of the road, people who have nothing giving whatever they can, you know, to their fellow human beings, to their neighbors, and people we don't even know.
We're going to have some of those stories a little bit later on in this hour as well.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, good to talk to you. Thanks, Sanjay, for your reporting.
You know, we've been following a number of children's stories these last couple of days. And tonight, an update on one boy you may have seen before, little Hanis Bergstrom (ph) of Sweden, who was separated from his parents in Phuket, Thailand. Hanis's mother is still missing, but yesterday he was finally reunited with his father.
Now, there have been other reunions as well, small miracles in the midst of all that disaster, helping to keep hope alive for so many frightened families.
COOPER: They called him the miracle boy. And today, there was one more miracle waiting for little Hanis Bergstrom, his father. The 20-month-old was separated from his parents when the tsunami hit Phuket. An American family found him unconscious, wrapped in blankets, at the top of a hill. No one knew if he'd even survive. But he did.
His father, recovering from his injuries in another hospital, wondered if he'd ever see his little boy again. Today, his prayers were answered. But the joyous reunion was tinged with sadness. Hanis's mother is still missing.
And in another Thai hospital room, another miracle, 4-year-old Vathanyu Pha-Opas saw his father for the first time since the tsunami. Vathanyu was stranded in a tree, without food or water, for two days. His father, out in a boat in the ocean, was left floating for hours, thinking he might never see his family again.
SUTHPONG PHA-OPAS, FATHER OF VATHANYU (through translator): I was frightened. I did not think I would survive. The rescue team found my son in the mangrove, not me.
COOPER: And today, there they were, a family reunited. A small glimmer of hope for those still searching for their lost loved ones.
COOPER: Well, we're not the only ones, of course, to be thinking about parents and children in the wake of this terrible story. Listen to what State Department spokesman Richard Boucher had to say at a news conference today in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I want to repeat one particular piece of advice in that statement for the Americans who are traveling in Asia, or in the South Asian region, or anywhere that's a long way or even -- or close to the -- where this disaster is. And that is, call your mother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So many still have not called their mothers, the many who are still missing.
Matthew Chance is live in Phuket, Thailand. Matthew?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you join me at the town hall in Phuket, the island so badly affected by that tsunami on December the 26th. It's a place where the diplomatic missions have been setting up their emergency desks to register just how many foreign nationals are still in, well, on the island.
It's also the place where people, families, survivors looking for missing persons come to start their search. And one of the places they look first is right here, on these walls of notice boards, where, as you can see, people have posted photographs and posters of individuals that were last seen just before the tsunami hit on December the 26th and haven't been heard of since then. Among them, people from many different countries, from the U.S., from Australia, from Britain, from Germany, from Sweden, many other nationalities as well. Also, a great many number of children as well.
Let's try and take some closer looks at them. This young 9-year- old Russian citizen here, Bugalav Blataslav (ph) here, requiring information, requesting information for the Russian embassy. Two French boys, it says up here, Emilian (ph) and Alexandre (ph), last seen on Kho Phi Phi, where they were on holiday with their parents. Kho Phi Phi is one of the outlying islands that was extremely badly affected by the tsunami.
Over here, a very disturbing photograph, I think, because it shows these two very small Swedish girls, Frieda (ph) and Hedda (ph), missing, says their family name is Rodin (ph). And in a photograph next door, Camilla and Christian Rodin, the parents of them, like so many families here, completely wiped out, it seems, by the tsunami.
I have to stress, Anderson, that all of the people on here are people who have not been found, they've gone missing. There is a possibility, however slight, that they will be reunited, they will be found, they're just simply lost in the bureaucracy and the chaos of the aftermath of the tsunami on this island.
But obviously, with each day that goes past, hope for these people becomes less and less, Anderson.
COOPER: And Matthew, are there people in hospitals that no one has identified? I mean, talking here about tourists, largely. I mean, is there a chance that these people are just in hospitals and simply haven't been identified?
CHANCE: There is a chance of that. In fact, you know, you mentioned Hanis Bergstrom a few moments ago. And he was one of those individuals who, for several days, nobody even knew what country he was from. No one could find his parents. And as I understand it, his mother still hasn't been found.
But yes, there's a lot of people still in hospital. Some of them are unconscious, some of them are in different evacuation centers, in different parts of the country, not just in different parts of the island. And so it may well take some time for these people, if they're still alive, to be brought together.
There are still about 1,500 people, though, that are unaccounted for. That's according to the official figures that the Thai government is giving, Anderson.
COOPER: Matthew Chance with this angle on the story. Matthew, thanks very much for that.
Coming up next on this special edition of 360, a 4-year-old girl last seen on a Thai beach, little Anna. Her mother, her brother, are now in a hospital. They are desperately trying to find her. We'll talk with her mother in just a moment. And with so many children left alone, there is much you can do to help. We'll fill you in on some organizations trying to save so many kids.
And later, sucked down by the tsunami, scuba divers surviving an underwater nightmare now reunited with their families in Los Angeles.
We're covering all the angles tonight. Stay with us.
COOPER: That is one of the new home videos that we saw today for the first time. It was taken in Thailand when the waves hit. I don't know if you could actually see what was in the water. But if you look closely, you can see children struggling deep in the ocean. There are some adults trying hard to keep them alive, clinging to whatever floats by. We do not know if they got to shore. We simply do not know if these two people survived.
There are so many children missing right now. You're about to meet a mother hoping someone has seen her little girl. Her name is Anna Kjellander. This is her picture. It is being seen around the world. And her mother hopes someone knows what happened to her.
Anna is 4 years old. She's Swedish, last seen on Phi Phi Island in Thailand. Her mother, Anne-Lie, her father, Stan, and 7-year-old brother, Martin (ph), were saved, are now in a hospital in Bangkok.
Anne-Lie joins me now on the phone from the hospital.
Anne-Lie, how are you and your husband and Martin doing?
ANNE-LIE KJELLANDER, ANNA KJELLANDER'S MOTHER (on phone): We're not doing so well. We have some injuries. My son has been operated in his stomach several times now. I have also been operated, and we have open wounds now, because they are infected. So we are desperately trying to get home.
COOPER: And I know there was a stretch of time where you didn't even know what had happened to Martin and to your husband. When were you finally reunited with them?
KJELLANDER: I saw Martin about half an hour after the accident. I was taken on a rooftop, and then I saw Martin in between some trees, some trash, and he was sitting about 50 meters from me. But we didn't see my husband or my daughter. They were gone.
And about one day after, I heard that someone had seen my husband in Phuket, and I got the telephone number, and I could talk with him on the phone. And then we were reunited yesterday on the Bangkok general hospital.
COOPER: When the waves started to come in, how did you all get separated? What happened?
KJELLANDER: We were standing on the beach near Phi Phi Princess Hotel. And we saw a small wave coming in. We thought it was the tide or something. But then we saw that the wave was coming closer and closer, and boats were getting up on land.
So (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I grabbed my son, and I couldn't see my husband or daughter. And I grabbed my son and we started to run. But we couldn't run. The water came so fast. And we were drowned under the water for a very, very long time, and we drank the water. My son said he saw white lights. So he was almost gone.
And at the last, I think the last second, I reached the air, and I was stuck in between houses. So I had a window in front of me, and I could see the people inside the house who were trying to get out through the window. And I told Mitchell, hurry to climb up on the roof.
So some people on the roof helped me up.
COOPER: And I know your husband was holding on to Anna. How did he get separated from her?
KJELLANDER: He just hold her for a little while. He separated from her very early and went through whole Phi Phi Island, from one beach to the other side, and out in the ocean about 300 meters.
COOPER: And did you see her in the water?
KJELLANDER: No, I haven't seen her at all.
COOPER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the injuries that you have now, I know Martin, who I think is 7, has an infected wound in his stomach. How did he get that?
KJELLANDER: He doesn't know. He didn't tell us that he had a wound. We tried to walk into a big hotel so we could come up some stories, and we laid down on the bed. And after an hour or two, he said he had a pain in his stomach. And I was laying down because I wasn't feeling well. So someone took a look on his stomach and saw a big hole.
COOPER: Anne, as we show the -- Anne-Lie, as, Anne-Lie, as we show this picture of Anna, what should people know about her, for people who are out there in Thailand who may have seen her? What was she last wearing? What do you want people to know about her?
KJELLANDER: She had a dress on, a dress with small ribbons on her shoulders, and the dress was pink and white striped. And underneath she had yellow bikini underwear, only the pants, or what you call it. And on the feet, she had pink sandals. And her hair is brown to the shoulders, and she has brown eyes. And she can only speak Swedish.
And we have heard one story that we haven't been heard is that someone saw a Thai woman carrying a girl which was Swedish, and had brown hair to the shoulders, who was screaming Mama, mama, all the time. And they were trying to get up into the hills.
But that's just one of the stories we have heard.
COOPER: Well, I know you're facing surgery tomorrow, and I wish you, and we all wish you and your son and your husband well. And I know your husband's going to go back, down back to Phi Phi to try to find Anna. And we hope and pray that you find her soon. We appreciate you joining us.
KJELLANDER: I would like to know, either if she is alive or if someone on Phi Phi, after the disaster, have seen some child lying on the ground looking like that. It's better knowing if she's dead or alive, or not knowing that she's missing.
COOPER: I can't even pretend to imagine what you're going through. I appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you very much. We wish you good luck.
If you have any information concerning Anna Kjellander, her family wants you to contact her Aunt Petra by e-mail. Her e-mail address is email@example.com, if you have any information. She's 4 years old.
Coming up next on 360, thousands of children dead. But for the child survivors, many now facing a life without their parents. Find out what's being done to help thousands of orphans in Thailand and elsewhere.
Also tonight, eyewitness to disaster. An American teenager traveling alone, an 18-year-old, describes the wall of water crashing down around him, wiping out everything in its path.
And a little later, burning the dead. The somber mission of final goodbyes.
COOPER: Just one of the many videos slowly coming in, hour after hour, individual witnesses to the tragedy.
You know, one of the remarkable things I think we've all seen these last terrible days is how people have responded to those in need -- those adults we showed you earlier trying to save the kids in the water. In the midst of tragedy, even those suffering, even those who've lost loved ones, who are injured themselves, often are trying to help others, people they don't even know.
CNN's Atika Shubert is in Banda Aceh in a hospital where the patients are helping each other.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the lucky ones. Ute (ph) is 8 years old. He was playing outside his house when a tsunami wave swallowed him whole. He does not remember how he got to this hospital.
The only people he speaks to are Suriati (ph) and Mardiana (ph), two sisters swept by the tsunami waves. They have lost their children and 13 members of their family.
"The water was black," Suriati tell us. "I swallowed so much water, as it carried me out of the village, turning me over and over. I landed on the roof of the mosque. I reached out and held on to a piece of wood with all my strength. That's what saved me."
They found Ute weeping near the hospital morgue. "We tried to help him and get a doctor to look at his eye," Mardiana says. "His parents, his whole family, are gone."
In the midst of this devastation, they have become a family.
(on camera): We came to this hospital to talk to victims like Ute, but within minutes, we were surrounded by other victims, people looking for their missing family members, all with their own horrific stories. Every one of them asking why the world hasn't responded faster to this horrific disaster in Aceh.
Everyone in this hospital has lost at least one family member. They tell stories of entire villages wiped out, bodies as far as they can see. This man cries to us, "Please tell the world, where is America? Please help to round up the bodies. There is no one left to save. Just help us bury the dead."
This hospital has virtually no doctors or staff, either killed or searching for their own missing families. This Malaysian volunteer was the first doctor we saw. He has covered major earthquakes before. This, he says, is the worst he's seen.
DR. QUAH, PHYSICIAN: They've got no water. Sanitation is zero. Their commodes are overflowing. There's no access to clean water right now. People are sleeping on the streets. There's no food. Most of the people over here, they haven't eaten in about three days.
SHUBERT: Mercy Malaysia was the first international aid agency in Aceh. More help is needed.
QUAH: I don't think anyone expected anything like this. No one expected it. And it happened so fast.
SHUBERT: Until more help arrives, Mardiana, Suriati, and Ute are doing the best they can, if only to comfort each other.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
COOPER: Now, there are so many stories that, so many pictures to show you. Here is one from Meulaboh, Indonesia. Now, the fishing village is about 40 miles northeast of the epicenter from Sunday's earthquake, almost ground zero. It's an aerial photo, and looks as if the village has vanished, first hit by the earthquake, then the tsunami. All that's inexplicably left standing, a few lone buildings and some trees. Officials fear at least 10,000 of the town's 53,000 residents were killed, but right now, they simply don't know.
360 next, eyewitness to disaster, an American teen traveling alone in Thailand. He joins us live.
Also tonight, scuba survivors. They were deep beneath the water when the tsunami struck. We were there for their family reunion in Los Angeles.
And the grim task of tending the dead, the cleanup and those left behind.
We're covering all angles in this special edition of 360.
COOPER: Slowed-down image of the water running past.
Welcome back to another special two-hour edition of 360.
We're focusing as much as we can tonight on the plight of the tens of thousands of children caught up in the cataclysm in South Asia. Here's something a father of eight said today on one of the Nicobar (ph) Islands. "Everything is gone," he said. "We have nothing left, not even a slipper."
The needs are so great and the response from around the world has been great, as well. The United Nations says it's mobilized the largest relief effort ever undertaken. Fifty or sixty nations have together pledged more than $220 million in cash and other forms of aid. Help is already beginning to arrive here in Sri Lanka and in other places, as well.
But aftershocks are arriving, too. There have been three of them since last night, one, 5.7, another 6.1, and the third, 6.2 magnitude. This is Banda Aceh, Indonesia, not far from the epicenters of those aftershocks.
The sad truth is we may not have words that are strong enough to describe the sickening scenes in Aceh province. First came the earthquake, right off its coast, then the water, so much water. Survivors say the tsunami was 60 feet high there.
One grieving father says he tried to hold on to his kids, but the water was so strong, it pulled them away. He hasn't seen them since. One in four people most likely dead there. Most of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, is leveled. CNN's Mike Chinoy is there. He says people, quite simply, are stunned.
MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Until Sunday morning, this was the bustling port of Banda Aceh. Now it's a mass of twisted rubble. Boats tossed on to rooftops by the force of the tsunami, neighborhoods flattened as far as the eye can see.
Traumatized survivors wander amidst the ruins, some hoping to salvage a few possessions, others still looking for their friends and family.
EITY, SURVIVOR: My friend here, they are dead. I don't have found their body. I am searching, but nothing left.
CHINOY: 27-year-old Eddie was a fisherman. His five brothers and sisters are missing. "My boat is somewhere out there," he says. "I don't know where my family is."
In this shattered city, the living coexist uneasily with the dead. These bodies have been rotting in the heat for days. There simply aren't enough emergency workers to remove them.
Five days after the quake and the tsunami, there are still so many bodies on so many streets here in Banda Aceh, it's hard to imagine how much more terrible the conditions are further afield.
CHINOY: Meanwhile, those tremors overnight have upset everyone here. People on such an emotionally distraught condition, every couple of hours a very sharp aftershock in the middle of the darkened night, with no power, certainly adding to the sense of misery here -- Anderson?
COOPER: You know, Mike, we talked about it a little bit last night, but I think it bears repeating. Is it still the case that there are hundreds of thousands of people in some areas, probably hit first by the tsunamis, that we don't even know about at this point? Is that still the case? Has the government been able to account for any of those people?
CHINOY: We are just beginning to get the first indications there have been some flights that have flown over the western part of Aceh and Sumatra. And the impression that we're getting is one of absolutely total devastation, because that was the area closest to the epicenter of the quake. The size of the tsunami was so great.
And the thing that distinguishes the disaster here from everywhere else is that this is the place that suffered a five-minute long, 9.0 earthquake first and then, within an hour, had these enormous walls of water sweeping away structures that were already shattered or weakened to begin with. So you have a kind of double blow.
And I think what we're going to find in the coming days is that we have scenes of devastation outside of this area around Banda Aceh that are as bad, if not much worse, than what we've seen so far with even greater casualty figures -- Anderson?
COOPER: Mike, just on a personal note, I mean, you've covered South Asia. You've seen a lot of disasters in your time. How does this compare, just on a personal level?
CHINOY: I don't think that I have ever seen anything in all my years covering the news that rivals this. The sense of -- sometimes my crew and I talk about it. It's like an atomic bomb hit, or after some incredible air raid in World War II.
Everything is gone. The whole structure of the society has been dismantled. And it's just very hard to put into words. You see these bloated bodies in the middle of the street, and cars and motorcycles going around like it's a roundabout. It's so routine. People have come to just accept that this is what their fate is now -- Anderson?
COOPER: And it's likely to continue for some time to come. Mike Chinoy in Banda Aceh. Thanks, Mike.
Some of the tourists who were caught in the waves as lucky to live are just now returning to their homes. One young American from New Jersey was on a fishing island called Koh Lanta, just off of Phuket, when the water came crashing ashore.
Adam Forbes is here back in New York. He's with me now. He's only 18-years-old.
Adam, thanks for joining us. How are you doing?
ADAM FORBES, SURVIVED TSUNAMI IN THAILAND: OK, I guess. Pretty shooken up, yet relieved to be home. But...
COOPER: Your parents have got to be just -- I mean, how are they?
FORBES: They're glad to have me home, but still just filled with tears. And all they want to do is pamper me and continue to pray, and pray, and thank God that I'm home.
COOPER: Your mother's never going to let you travel again.
FORBES: I'm not sure if she will, no.
COOPER: You were traveling in the area for some four months. You were in Nepal. You wanted just a break in Thailand. When the waves started coming in, you were supposed to be out on a pier.
FORBES: Yes. I was actually supposed to be going to the pier to get a boat in ten minutes to head back to Bangkok and come home.
COOPER: But you had to pay your hotel bill, so you were running late?
FORBES: Yes, I was paying my hotel bill, quickly finishing breakfast, when the first waves started.
COOPER: I mean, you -- there were some 40 people on that pier, that pier you were supposed to be on, and from what you heard, did they make it out?
FORBES: No, from every story I heard, where the most deaths on Koh Lanta were were all those waiting on the pier for the boats to take them to Bangkok. So it was just a moment of a few minutes that really brought me back here home.
COOPER: When you hear that, I mean, does it seem real to you? I mean... FORBES: It's still sort of unreal. It's all just been so quick, with plane flights and then coming home to family reunions, and endless phone calls of friends. It doesn't seem real yet. It just seems sort of strange that a day and a half ago, I was there. And now, suddenly, I'm back to a safe place.
COOPER: What was it like? I mean, when that water came -- seeing it far away is one thing. When it actually comes up to you, I mean, what is it like?
FORBES: The first wave was -- just looked like a wall of white coming towards you. And the sound just filled -- it was just screams everywhere. And just the crashing over. And by the second wave, we had run behind the buildings.
But you could see the wave just coming over, coming over the bungalows and just splashing up everywhere and covering the road, just sort of pummeling towards you. It seemed like it would always stop, but the water just kept coming and coming.
COOPER: Will you ever look at water the same way?
FORBES: I will always appreciate the power of water for the rest of my life, and just how much it can do, and how much nature can destroy in just one or two minutes.
COOPER: And it seems like a lot of people just kind of -- I mean, they were just kind of standing there watching. Some people even approached the water, because it was so unusual.
FORBES: Everyone was just so shocked, even the locals, because they'd never seen anything like that. Some of them -- many people just grabbed their cameras and started taking pictures in the chaos until, eventually, everyone was screaming, "You have to get to higher land," and all the locals were just pushing everyone into the jungle.
COOPER: Adam, you're 18-years-old. You've already seen a lot in your young life. We hope you have many years of seeing much better things in the future.
FORBES: Well, thank you.
COOPER: Good luck to you. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm so happy you're well and all.
FORBES: Yes, it's great to be home. Thank you.
COOPER: Well, we are trying to bring you as many different angles on this disaster as possible. The view from space tells a story, as well. Now we want to show you two sets of before-and-after photos of Kalutara beach -- haven't been there -- on Sri Lanka's west coast.
Now, the first image of the coastline was snapped last January. Watch the waterline as we change to the after-photo taken Sunday, four hours after the tsunami struck. As the photos switch back and forth, notice the coastline is completely submerged in the after-photo. All homes and structures along the water now are underwater. Many, no doubt, washed away.
Now, let's check out the second set, the photos side-by-side, January on the left, the shoreline, normal and calm. On the right, we see the swirling waves of the massive tsunami hitting land. The brown areas on the after-photo are flooded streets. Kalutara Beach is about 25 miles south of Colombo, 37,000 people lived there.
Coming up next on this special edition of 360, loss and grief beyond our comprehension. The words of President Bush today, making his first public comments on the tsunami.
Plus, the relief trail: Strangers helping strangers in their time of need, and find out how you can help.
And a happy homecoming: Scuba divers at sea when the worst happened. Tonight, they are back home. We'll show you the emotional family reunion.
COOPER: Unbelievable pictures. Some may view this as an encouraging sign about humanity. While coalitions for war can take months or years to build, coalitions for disaster relief can be made in just days.
Today, in his first public statement addressing the tsunami, President Bush announced that the U.S. is joining Japan, India and Australia to form a core group to coordinate relief efforts. He also said the U.S. will provide long-term help to the damaged nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These past few days have brought loss and grief to the world that is beyond our comprehension. The United States will continue to stand with the affected governments as they care for the victims. We will stand with them as they start to rebuild their communities. And together, the world will cope with their loss. We will prevail over this destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So many countries offering aid. Today, a U.S. military cargo plane dropped boxes of aid over troubled parts of Indonesia. So far, the U.S. has pledged $35 million in relief.
A tsunami survivor in Sri Lanka says that everyone there has been pulling together to help the suffering, even those with very little. And there are so many with very little.
He writes in an e-mail to us here at CNN that "people in the poorest and most remote areas have flocked to the roadsides to donate money, clothes, water, bottles, or bags of rice, and lentils." That kind of generosity has spread throughout the world. As money is flowing in to the damaged regions, much of it from people like you watching this unfold all on television, people who just want to do something.
CNN's John Zarrella is following the relief trail.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fourteen-year-old Roshan Bodellianagay (ph) has set up a Web site to collect donations. The Silver Spring, Maryland, teenager, born in Sri Lanka, has put up his own money, too.
ROSHAN BODELLIANAGAY (ph), MARYLAND TEENAGER: I put $100 in here so far.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's your Christmas money.
BODELLIANAGAY (ph): Yes.
ZARRELLA: While the tsunami survivors need everything, relief agencies private and governmental say money will do the most immediate good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people give commodities, it will take a month to get there and the transportation costs are more than the value of the commodity. Please do not send commodities. We need cash to these NGOs.
ZARRELLA: Most non-government relief organizations distribute cash donations in much the same way. This is how it works. For example, Connecticut-based Save the Children deposits your donation in a New York bank. From there, it's wire transferred to a bank in Jakarta, Indonesia. The money will then be wired to banks in the areas hit by the tsunami.
There, Save the Children offices can draw on the accounts to buy what's needed, from food to plastic sheeting for shelters to salaries for healthcare workers.
ROBERT LAPRADE, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Being able to hire those people locally that understand the culture and the language and other things are very important to implementing good, quality programs that help children.
ZARRELLA: Children, like 8-year-old Ute (ph) in Banda Aceh, whose entire family was swept away. At least, aid organizations say, the countries hit have well-established banking systems which makes it easier to get help to victims like Ute (ph), who need it most.
John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.
COOPER: Well, children like Ute are still in danger. There's a lingering threat of rampant disease in the areas hit by the tsunami, which is why, as here in India, many bodies are being burned.
Hindus customarily burn their dead, but not like this, so unceremoniously. Row upon row of pyres, scenes like this are sure sign that something is very, very wrong. We're taking a look at all angles.
Joining me now from Albany, New York, is Dr. Irwin Redlener. He's the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
Doctor, thanks for being with us. You know, we've come so used to seeing bodies being burned in mass burials, some, you know, in an attempt to stop the spread of disease. In reality, how big of a health risk do these bodies pose?
DR. IRWIN REDLENER, COLUMBIA U. MAILMAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, actually, Anderson, it's much less of a risk than people might imagine. And even among the health professional communities, there is some confusion about how dangerous dead bodies actually are.
There are some conditions, for example, people have died of things like hemorrhagic fever or cholera. There is danger associated with that. But in a situation like this, which is basically a natural disaster, people have died from traumatic injuries or drowning, there really is very little danger immediately.
And I'm actually quite concerned that this rush to dispose of the bodies will deprive people of being able to identify their lost loved ones and friends and neighbors and relatives. And this is a really serious problem. They will die in those families without the benefit of any kind of ritual whatsoever.
And the long-term consequences psychologically can be really devastating, and it should be avoided. And obviously, the bodies have to be dealt with, but I don't think there's as much of a rush as some people may believe right now.
COOPER: But I've been in war zones and seen a lot of corpses. I mean, they become bloated in water -- I don't want to get into too many gory details...
COOPER: ... but I mean, flies land in them, maggots develop. Isn't that a risk?
REDLENER: Yes, after a while, it is a risk. It's just a question of finding the right balance between the proper time and the medical necessity -- when that happens for disposal of the corpses, versus what some of the other needs might be among the families.
So we're not saying that the bodies need to be just left there. I'm just saying that many of us are encouraging the governments to try to do this very judiciously and make sure that they've done everything they can to allow family members to identify their lost loved ones and go through some sort of parting ritual. We think that's just going to be important for the long-term. But the immediate medical vulnerabilities are really not as great as people might think for this kind of situation.
COOPER: You know, news focuses on things for a short period of time. This is not going away anytime soon. I mean, this is a tragedy that is going to be dealt with for months, if not years, in these communities.
REDLENER: Absolutely. And I don't think we're going to see the end of this for, actually, probably decades. For the generation that's currently affected, I expect that the psychological trauma of not only losing people that are part of your family and part of your neighborhood, but actually losing entire communities is enormously destructive from a psychological point of view.
So we are hoping that -- and obviously, the attention of the media and the world is rightly on the situation right now. We've never seen anything like this. But I'm going to ask the question: Where will the attention be in two months and two years from now? And there's still going to be enormous needs as far as the eye can see, with respect to the long-term consequences of this absolutely horrendous, incomprehensible catastrophe.
COOPER: That's a good point to leave it on. Dr. Irwin Redlener, appreciate you joining us. Thanks.
REDLENER: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next in this special edition of 360, scuba survivors. They were pulled down under waves. Find out how a husband and wife made it out alive. We were there when they reunited with their family today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's coming again. It's coming again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's coming again?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huh, the wave?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's coming in, a new wave. It's coming in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Two people swept away. That video was from Phuket, Thailand.
One American couple was scuba diving in Thailand when that tsunami hit right there. They felt turbulence, but didn't know what it was. Then trash filled the water. Rude litter bugs, the dive master said. No one had any idea what was happening above. The couple is back now in California. They told their story to CNN's Miguel Marquez.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A family's joy, a father and son reunited. Faye Linda Wax (ph) and her husband, Gene Kim, back home after they literally rode a tsunami.
FAYE LINDA WAX (ph), SURVIVED TSUNAMI IN THAILAND: It was a pull down. But it also whited out at the same time, so it was really scary.
GENE KIM, SURVIVED TSUNAMI IN THAILAND: It was just totally milky. You couldn't see anything at all. And I'm not sure what it was. It was probably the current ripping through.
MARQUEZ: The husband and wife were diving 12 kilometers, about seven miles, off Thailand's Phi Phi Islands. They were at a shipwreck, 20 meters, about 65 feet, under the Andaman Sea when the tsunami swept past them.
WAX (ph): We were sucked down to 40 meters very quickly.
KIM: I was getting tossed around. I bumped up a couple times against the wreck itself and swam up as hard as I could, looked at my gauge, and I was still dropping.
MARQUEZ: Their attempt to surface by inflating their life vests, thwarted by the massive current of water racing for Thailand's shore.
KIM: This is the first time I had to do an emergency ascent under unusual and harsh circumstances. So it was terrifying.
MARQUEZ: Kim got separated from the others, and eventually found a dive buoy and a rope. The rope became his lifeline.
KIM: It was just unbelievably lucky for us to have been in the water when we were there.
MARQUEZ: Still, they didn't know they had just survived a tsunami, so they changed locations and went for another dive. But the currents were so strong they called it a day. Only then did the gruesome reality reveal itself.
WAX (ph): I saw piles of bodies, both Thai and foreigners who had come to the island.
MARQUEZ: Their room and all their belongings swept out to sea. The duo helped rescue and care for the injured. Ninety hours later, they made it home, maybe the best homecoming ever.
Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.
COOPER: Our special coverage of the tsunamis continue here on 360. A real-life "Sophie's Choice": One mother, two children, all caught in the tsunami. She had to let one of them go to save the other. An impossible choice, that story when we return.
COOPER: We've been focusing on children much of this last hour. And it is still too early to know just how many children will be left alone, without mothers or fathers, by the ferocious force of nature.
But aid agencies say they will number in the thousands, at least. These are the smallest victims of the tsunami. Lucky to be alive, but they're left without their parents, without homes, and for now, without hope.
COOPER: You can see it in their faces, the anguish, the hopelessness, a despair that no child should ever experience. A young boy weeping at a cremation ceremony in India. Another searches desperately for his missing family. They stare out at passersby, hoping that someone will soon come to claim them.
In India and Thailand and Sri Lanka, they are the orphans of this tsunami, so young and facing an uncertain future. The fear is there will be thousands of them, left alone in countries struggling to recover.
CHIP LYONS, PRESIDENT OF UNICEF USA: We're still coming to grips with how severe this trauma has been. Each of us that have watched and seen these images can only begin to imagine what children have seen who have been left behind, losing parents and family members.
COOPER: They're living in shelters and makeshift tents, as aid agencies try to work out just how they'll first find then help the massive number of orphans. In India, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation says it will support India's orphans, adopting those who lost both parents, helping them to complete their educations. Other groups say they'll try their best to track down parents who are missing, but might still be alive.
LYONS: There will be a place where photographs of children who are survivors are put up so that those that were separated from family members, they can see that this child is under proper care, but has survived.
COOPER: For now, it is these pictures which tell the heartbreaking story of these children, sick, scared, alone, and searching for a place to call home.
COOPER: Well if you'd like to help some of the children who became orphans in this tsunami, here are a couple of groups you can contact through the Internet. UNICEF's Web site is www.unicef.org. You can reach Save the Children at www.savethechildren.org. Those are just some of the groups trying to help the kids right now.
Once again, instead of PAULA ZAHN NOW, we continue our special edition of 360, complete coverage of the wave of destruction. At least 80,427 people are now confirmed dead. CNN's count is based on numbers that we're getting from officials in 11 countries affected. We're checking with them constantly. But so many areas are still unreported, at this point, the numbers, well, they are meaningless.
The International Red Cross predicts the overall death toll will pass 100,000. So far, the equivalent of $220 million has been paid or pledged to relief programs. A U.N. official now calls it the most he's ever seen in the first three days after any catastrophe.
The suffering is so large, it is so widespread, it's almost impossible to focus our cameras on it. The lenses are simply not big enough. So, for a moment, if you would, just stop and look. And, we warn you, what you're about to see are some pictures that are hard to see. The pain they capture is hard to bear. But we're showing them to you because this is the reality, a reality repeated in tens of thousands of homes and millions of hearts around South Asia right now.
The pain is everywhere. A parent mourning their dead child, holding her hand, not just one child, but many. The heart is simply not big enough to contain such sorrow. Each of these photographs comes from Galle, Sri Lanka, a city we have focused on every night this week. Sri Lanka is the big island at the southeast tip of India. At least 23,000 people died there. Galle is on Sri Lanka's southwest corner.
It's where that passenger train was washed off the tracks. You see the cars in the upper part of your screens. At least 800 of the 1,000 people aboard those trains were killed. The same waves that hit the train demolished Galle itself. This helicopter flyover shows you what is left of the city of more than 80,000 people. What you don't see, what you can't see from way up there are the white flags. A resident of Galle tells us they hang from almost every home, meaning that somebody who lives there is either dead or missing.
The waves hit on Sunday. It took until today for the first international relief convoy to arrive in Galle.
CNN's Satinder Bindra is there.
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Help and relief at last for thousands who've lost everything. Their loved ones are dead, their homes destroyed and their belongings swept away. Now they'll have to live on handouts for weeks and frightening memories for the rest of their lives.
My father was pushed by the water onto the street, says survivor Unilever Opradaki (ph). That was the last I saw of him. Now as he buries his father, Unhra Opradaki says millions of Sri Lankans feel the light has gone out of their lives.
Gamani Sumit Naniakar (ph) shows me what remains of the restaurant he built with his life savings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I am alone. I have -- I can't think of what I can do in the future.
BINDRA: Others feel it's time to try to shake loose their shock. They employ local ingenuity to pull their valued possessions from under tons of debris. What lingers on here is an intense and overpowering smell.
(on camera): Decomposed bodies are still being found everywhere. And health officials are getting very concerned. They're fearing the outbreak of an epidemic that could kill thousands more.
(voice-over): So far there are no reports of any major health problems in southern Sri Lanka. But, in some places, looters are taking advantage of the situation.
DAVID GITTINS, HOTEL OWNER: My immediate neighbors, everybody from the local community walking on to my property, stealing, taking property that doesn't belong to them, I find it a very despicable thing.
BINDRA: Meanwhile, hundreds continue scrambling for food and cookies. As he receives his tiny portion, this boy manages a smile. It's his way, perhaps, of saying thanks to all of those across the world who are trying to help Sri Lanka.
BINDRA: And, Anderson, the mood here remains one of confusion and fear. You see thousands and thousands of people just sitting outside their homes. They have this vacant look on their face. And they really don't know how to rebuild their lives again. They're also fearful because they're scared another giant wave, another tsunami, could hit them.
COOPER: Satinder, you mentioned looting. How widespread is that?
BINDRA: Anderson, I've seen it in part. It's not everywhere. It's isolated. But where it does happen, tempers really run hot.
And, in one case, I found a hotel owner who'd caught somebody looting off his property and then he went back and snatched what they had looted away from them, and then a fight sort of broke out. But, luckily, the police arrived on time and they managed to cool down the situation.
COOPER: Desperation setting in, in some places. Satinder Bindra, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Nikki Harrison is a British hotel manager. She was heading along the coast when the wave hit on Sunday morning. She managed to escape and drove six injured children to a hospital. She joins me now on the telephone from Illuketia, about five miles inland from Galle.
Thank you so much for being with us.
Right after the wave struck, you and your husband loaded up your car with a bunch of wounded children, raced them to the hospital. Describe what that drive was like.
NIKKI HARRISON, SRI LANKA RESIDENT: It was pretty horrible, because everywhere you wanted to go, you couldn't because the road was either blocked by water or it was blocked by people running. So, you lost all sense of direction and you didn't know which way you were going.
COOPER: And how did you pick the children to be in your car?
HARRISON: Because we got as far as we could to get to the other hotel on the beach, and then just all the people were just sort of running towards us, asking us just to take their children.
So, we just put them all into the -- all into the jeep. We didn't know whether they were alive or whether they were dead or whatever, but we just sort of piled them in, and a couple of women and the men and whatever, and set off.
COOPER: So, how many children did you have in your car?
HARRISON: We had at least six children.
COOPER: And what kind of condition were they in? Were they awake? Were they unconscious?
HARRISON: No, they were very poor. There was a couple of children that were sort of making moaning or making noises. But the others I think were probably just sort of lifeless little girls and boys.
COOPER: How did you deal with that?
HARRISON: Piled up on top of each other.
COOPER: Were you able to tend to them at all, or were you just trying to drive as fast as you could?
HARRISON: We were just trying to drive. It was very difficult.
I was sort of turning around, seeing what you could do, but you did have to concentrate and try sort of could get through on to a road and find out where you were going. It was just a case of just sort of moving in whichever direction somebody told you to go.
COOPER: I have to ask. I don't really think I want to know the answer. But how many of the six children you had survived?
HARRISON: At the very most, I would think one or two, at the very most.
COOPER: When you got to the hospital, what was the scene like?
HARRISON: Well, it was horrible, because it was still very early on. So, they weren't really very sort of yet coordinated, although there were lots of sort of hospital trolleys coming out. There was a lot of screaming. There was a lot of panic. There were doctors and nurses just trying to sort of get to the vehicles that were bringing in everybody as they could.
So, there was just scenes of chaos. So, we just had to open the doors. And these poor children were just sort of taken out, put on trolleys, and just sort of tried to get in. But, at the same time as that's happening to your sort of vehicle, the same is happening to everything behind. So, it was really pretty chaotic, because everybody still didn't really know what had happened.
COOPER: Chaos, and yet so many small acts of compassion, such as yours.
Nikki Harrison, appreciate you joining us. Thank you very much, Nikki.
HARRISON: Thank you.
COOPER: In the wake of the tsunami, hospitals, as Nikki said, have been overwhelmed.
CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been to a hospital in Sri Lanka's capital of Colombo.
What kind of obstacles are the doctors in the field up against at this point?
GUPTA: Yes, Anderson, it's been sort of interesting.
What typically are relatively minor ailments, sort of cuts and bruises and things like that, can turn into major problems out there in the field because people aren't getting antibiotics, aren't getting stitches quick enough. So these aren't problems that are insurmountable. I mean, we're talking about problems that can be treated with a 25-cent antibiotic, clean water, things like that.
The problem still, though, Anderson, amazingly, four days later now, getting the right supplies to the right places. Here's some of what we found.
GUPTA (voice-over): Everyone keeps saying help is on the way. The problem is, it isn't here yet. So, in a country where public health barely exists, the people of Sri Lanka are rising up to care for their own.
(on camera): What is the most important thing that you're seeing out in the field?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a couple of immediate public health problems there, outbreaks of diarrhea and certain other infectious diseases taking place on the third day now.
GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Vinya Arearatna (ph), head of the country's largest NGO, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at one of the earliest command centers. It was set up just two hours after the first wave hit shore; 200 doctors were organized and immediately sent all over the country. And this, a rudimentary map, kept track of the displaced and the dead.
RANASINGHE: It's always getting updated, like every hour. We now have workers inform us in this particular area, this is the damage and these are the casualties.
GUPTA: The situation is even more complicated, because many experts make the mistake of thinking that all parts of Sri Lanka face the same difficulties.
(on camera): I think what's sort of startling is that all these different districts have very different needs, everything from milk, food, to salt, 500 kilograms, boxes of matches, 5,000 packets. You've got IT down pretty specifically.
(voice-over): And it's these details that make all the difference, getting the right supplies to the right places at the right times. And only organizations that are boots on the ground have that right information. Organizations such as the NGO Sarvodaya, a Sanskrit word meaning "awakening of all."
(on camera): Do you think the tsunami has inspired awakening of all?
THUSHARA RANASINGHE, SARVODAYA: Tsunami is a wave of destruction. At the same time, there's a tremendous amount of compassion. So we think that there is a wave of compassion as well.
GUPTA: And you can see, Anderson, there are really specific sort of requirements in the different districts around the country.
What typically happens is that aid organizations send tons and tons of materials. Sometimes, it's just not the right materials. And you need to get sometimes matchsticks to certain areas, whereas other areas need rice. They're really honing that down. Anderson, this is an NGO. This is not a governmental organization. These people are coming together mainly as volunteers to try and make that happen. They're not sitting around and waiting for the foreign aid to come. They're rising up and taking care of it themselves -- Anderson.
COOPER: Sanjay, the water that we see behind you, was that water -- I'm not sure of the topography exactly where you are. Did that water come up? Did the area behind you get hit hard?
GUPTA: Not so much. We're in Colombo. This is the capital of Sri Lanka. This is the western part of the country. That's the Indian Ocean behind me. Travel about 30 kilometers now south and you're going to get into some of the more destructed areas there. A little further south from that, Galle, as you've been talking about this evening as well, Anderson, one of the hardest-hit areas.
Colombo, though, is the area where all the aid is coming through. This is where the major airport is. This is where the doctors, the relief organizations are going to come through and then sort of spread sort of tentacles throughout the country. That is what we are seeing here. When we landed, we didn't see so much of the relief the first couple of days. Now more and more organizations starting to come in, assess, and bring their supplies, Anderson.
COOPER: Of course, the situation more complicated because the northern part of the country controlled by the Tamil fighters. It's a whole different situation up there.
COOPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much for joining us.
Coming up next on 360, two children, one mother forced to make an impossible choice. What would you do? She was forced to let go of one child to save another.
And for this wandering American, disaster called twice, a 9/11 survivor caught in the tsunami. You'll hear what happened to him from his family.
And later, survivors hurt, homeless, but helping others holding on to hope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no way any person can tell you what emotion you feel when you see a wall of water one story high flood the lobby of a hotel, park three cars in the back of the lobby, and you see people swirling around in that, and you don't know what you can do to get them out. There is no emotion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Disaster on a human scale, the terrible equalizer of death, as 360 continues.
COOPER: So much pain.
An Australian woman caught in the tsunami faced an impossible choice. Hit by the force of the water, she was holding her 5-year-old son's hand and cradling her 20-month-old baby. She had to let go of one of them to save the other and herself. Her 5-year-old was swept away. She thought she'd never see him again. Miraculously, he lived. This is him.
A man clinging to a pole saw the boy wash by, grabbed him, and for two hours held him in rushing water up to their necks. So many stories like this, small choices to make, choices no one should have to make. Other stories of survival just as amazing.
We hear some of them now from CNN's Mary Snow.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KEN ROSEN, VACATIONED IN THAILAND: I left the night before. I'm very lucky. I count my blessings.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Ken Rosen, his blessing was timing. He was on Phi Phi Island and witnessed the devastation on TV in Bangkok the next day.
ROSEN: I was on a motorcycle on Patong Beach going to the airport that night and looking over the ocean, and it was just beautiful. And then the next day, I came back from weekend market in Bangkok and saw the news and knew that all hell had broken lose.
SNOW: For Stephanie Walker, it was a change of plans that kept her out of harm's way. She supposed to travel to Sumatra, but decided to stay in Bangkok.
STEPHANIE WALKER, CHANGED TRAVEL PLANS: I was told to go to the island to visit because it was so beautiful. I was told that about Thursday. And then, a few days later, we woke up to the news that there had been an earthquake.
SNOW: Jim Whitley felt the earthquake while getting his morning coffee at Starbucks in Phuket. He says he was in his hotel two hours later when the tsunami hit.
JIM WHITLEY, VACATIONED IN PHUKET: I was lucky. I was still in the hotel. I hadn't gone out to the beach yet.
SNOW: In the area where of Phuket where Whitley was, he says the death toll reached 300 people within two hours. He was on the second floor of his hotel.
WHITLEY: About six foot of water just filled the lobby within seconds.
SNOW: Adam Forbes took the high ground on an island two hours from Phuket.
ADAM FORBES, VACATIONED IN THAILAND: We had hills. So, we ran up, and the water -- came past the water, but once it got to the mountains, it stopped, whereas other islands were just flat, so it just took out everything.
SNOW: Before the tsunami, Forbes was moments away from leaving the island on a boat.
FORBES: No one died right where I was, but in the town, five minutes away, where I was headed, 40 people on the pier died.
SNOW: These travelers share in common their relief, but they're also shaken by what might have been.
Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, 400 people an hour right now are calling the U.S. State Department looking for information about loved ones in the tsunami zone; 12 Americans are known to have died, but there's no count yet of the missing.
We do know that thousands of tourists from all over the world are unaccounted for in Thailand alone. The chief of one hotel chain says there is little hope for them, except for individual miracles. But there have been individual miracles. One of the Americans who survived this disaster was Nick Van Strander (ph). He's 25 years old. What makes his story so startling is that, just three years ago, he escaped a disaster of a very different kind. He escaped the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
On Sunday, he was on Havelock Island, part of India's remote Andaman Island chain, when the water began to rise. Nick Van Strander's parents, Pat and Burt (ph), join us now from Whitehall, Pennsylvania.
Pat and Burt, thanks so much for being with us.
After 9/11, it took apparently two days before you heard from Nick. I can't imagine what you were thinking had you heard news of this tsunami.
PAT VAN STRANDER, MOTHER OF TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: It was devastating.
BURT VAN STRANDER, FATHER OF TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: It was devastating.
P. VAN STRANDER: We didn't know what to think.
B. VAN STRANDER: We looked at the news reels and news coverage and we were devastating.
B. VAN STRANDER: We had no idea what where Nick was, what condition he was in.
COOPER: And you were worried that...
B. VAN STRANDER: It was devastating.
COOPER: And you were worried that he couldn't have gotten lucky twice.
P. VAN STRANDER: Right. Our biggest fear was that he was swept out to sea.
B. VAN STRANDER: Right. That's our first initial thoughts. P. VAN STRANDER: Right, that the islands were going to be covered and just completely gone and he'd just be swept right out in the ocean.
COOPER: What do you do when you're sitting there and you have those emotions and you just don't know? I mean, can you do anything about it?
B. VAN STRANDER: You hope for the best. You pray, and you hope for the best.
P. VAN STRANDER: We start calling and trying to find out where we like register his name. I actually was looking to register his name in case his body was recovered. That was honestly my first thought.
And I just wanted to recover his body and bring him home, because we had started to hear that the islands were losing -- first, it was 300 people. It jumped to 3,000. Now it's 5,000 to 7,000. It was just, how do you hope your son will survive something like that?
COOPER: And especially after 9/11 to go through this thing all again.
P. VAN STRANDER: Right.
COOPER: You finally got the phone call. How long was it before he called you, and what was the phone call like?
P. VAN STRANDER: From India? Nick has never called us from India, except for, we actually got the first call from the consulate in India, saying that they knew he was alive, that he was on the island, and they were going to evacuate.
The only actual confirmation we've had from Nick was a 30-second call this morning at about 7:00 a.m. simply to say, I'm alive; I'm OK; I've got to go. And that was it.
B. VAN STRANDER: Prior to that, he had met two Israeli girls. Their sister, the Israelis flew -- provided the Israelis with phones. And they called. They gave Nick a phone to use, and he called their sister and...
P. VAN STRANDER: And we got a call from Israel that they were all right.
B. VAN STRANDER: Right. Right.
COOPER: So, when Nick comes back, and I'm sure you're going to try to get him back as quickly as possible, what are you going to say to him?
P. VAN STRANDER: When we know you're going to go and do this again, as we know you will, just please be careful again. B. VAN STRANDER: Yes.
P. VAN STRANDER: Because, with his high-spirited adventure personality that he has, he's not going to stop. This is not the end. He's not going to stop traveling.
B. VAN STRANDER: That's right.
COOPER: He's got the traveling bug?
P. VAN STRANDER: Yes.
B. VAN STRANDER: Yes. He's adventurous.
P. VAN STRANDER: Just be careful and take all the precautions and do what you have to do.
COOPER: You know, Pat...
COOPER: I'm sorry. I was just going to say, we've been hearing so many sad stories for the last week. It's been a tough week for so many people.
P. VAN STRANDER: Absolutely.
COOPER: It's nice to hear, you know, that it worked out for you. And I know your thoughts...
COOPER: Go ahead.
P. VAN STRANDER: Yes. We never thought that it would be a happy ending.
B. VAN STRANDER: Never did.
P. VAN STRANDER: Never thought it would be a happy ending.
COOPER: I know your thoughts and prayers are with all those families who haven't had a happy ending.
P. VAN STRANDER: Yes, it is.
B. VAN STRANDER: Yes, they are. Yes, they are.
P. VAN STRANDER: Absolutely.
B. VAN STRANDER: Absolutely.
COOPER: As they are for all of us.
Pat and Burt, thanks for being with us. And when Nick does come back, I suggest maybe a lock and a chain. Just keep him home for a little while.
B. VAN STRANDER: For a while anyway.
P. VAN STRANDER: We're going to try, anyway.
P. VAN STRANDER: Thank you.
B. VAN STRANDER: Thank you.
COOPER: ... some locks on the door as soon as he steps in.
P. VAN STRANDER: Absolutely. Take the passport. That's what we'll do.
COOPER: There you go. That's a good one. Thanks very much, Pat and Burt. Thanks.
P. VAN STRANDER: Thank you.
B. VAN STRANDER: You're welcome.
COOPER: It's nice to hear at least some happiness.
360 next, families searching for their loved ones, so many lost souls waiting to be claimed. We're going to have a live report from Phuket, Thailand, coming up.
Meanwhile, the world responds, the relief effort gaining steam. It cannot come too soon for the survivors left with nothing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I lost all my relatives, including my wife and grandchildren. I had four young daughters. Now I am the only surviving person in the family. All my houses have been washed away completely. And whatever little I had was stolen or lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In communities across India, you can smell fires burning at this hour. They are funeral pyres, fire after fire after fire, row upon row, each consuming the remains of a tsunami victim. Rich and poor, men and women, American, Swede, Indian, Indonesian, and Thai, in death, we are all the same.
We turn now to CNN's Matthew Chance in Phuket, Thailand -- Matthew.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're back here at the town hall in Phuket, where people come in order to try and start that search, often a desperate search for their missing relatives and friends and loved ones.
People here are pictured in postcards, in posters, and in photographs as well, put on this board and boards all the way down here in a desperate attempt to try and get as much information as they can, try and make contact with these people. Not all of them will be dead. Some of them may well be in hospitals in the chaos of Phuket. Others may well be reunited with their family. That happens all the time.
Earlier, though, we went to an area outside of Phuket on the mainland, a place called Khao Lak. That's where some of the most serious devastation occurred. And I have to warn some of our viewers that the scenes we saw there and some of the scenes you're going to see now are very disturbing indeed.
CHANCE (voice-over): Beneath this smashed concrete, a whole family is trapped. But this is no search for survivors, just more bodies for Thailand to count. This is where the awesome power of the tsunami struck this country hardest. In the mud, reminders of the many lives lived and lost here. Rescue workers told us only half the dead have yet been recovered. The final horrific cost of this disaster still in doubt.
When we first arrived, it was total destruction, he says. There were bodies all over the place. We've cleared it up a lot. I believe there are many more beneath this rubble.
And for days, makeshift morgues, like this one, the grounds of a Buddhist temple, have filled with the remains of Thais and tourists alike. Forensic teams are helping with identification, but in a few days, they say, mass cremations will have to begin.
(on camera): This is a scene of the most gruesome kind. The bodies have been laid out in the hundreds here. And they're now being sprayed with disinfectant, laid out so that their families, their loved ones, survivors can try and identify them. But these are appalling conditions. It's hot and humid and the stench is overwhelming.
(voice-over): And so is the grief. The days here are now filled with hurried funerals. This family told me of their terrible loss, seven dead, ages 79 to just 6.
We don't know what to do, says Layat (ph), the grandmother. We've gone crazy. I don't think I can survive all alone, she says. No comfort. Her loneliness will be shared by so many. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CHANCE: Anderson, there are so many people still missing here in Thailand, 1,600, in fact, according to official figures. But Thailand is by no means the country worst affected in the region, of course. But I think it is the place where most people in the world feel that they've been drawn in to this terrible disaster -- Anderson.
COOPER: Matthew Chance live in Phuket -- thank you, Matthew. Hard to imagine just on a day of some 90-degree heat having to go through row upon row of a body looking for your loved one.
I know a lot of you are sitting at home right now watching this story, feeling helpless and you want to do something. We've gotten your e-mails saying as much.
Miles O'Brien is keeping track of the global relief effort for us -- Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, like everything to do with this terrible tragedy, it's very difficult to get ahold of the numbers, get a sense of what's going on.
First of all, let's talk about some of the flights that are going into the region, trying to get some needed supplies and materiel, food, water, and the like in there.
... numbers, get a sense of what's going on. First of all, let's talk about some of the flights that are going into the region, trying to get some needed supplies and materiel, food, water, and the like, in there. Let's take a look at some of these pictures as these flights have come in. Cargo flights in and out of the region.
Obviously difficult to get in and out of there. Many of the runways are affected by the tsunami and closed down. We do know that cargo supplies have gotten to all throughout that ring around the Indian Ocean. But given the magnitude of this tragedy, it's difficult to imagine there are enough aircraft in the world to really reach the number of people who need assistance right now.
Let's talk about some of the cash donations now and get a sense of the relief effort and what countries are doing, what corporations are doing, what individuals are trying to do to help things out. We begin, of course, with the United States. And as you probably all well know, right now the United States has pledged at least initially $35 million in immediate relief support. That's just the beginning, of course. The United States has pledged, and President Bush saying today, to form a group with Australia, Japan, and India to try to coordinate this massive effort.
One of the big problems here is just figuring out who is delivering what, who is doing what and when. And that is a very difficult problem given the magnitude of the problem.
Japan weighing in with a $30 million outright grant to the nations that are most affected. Australia also with $27 million helping out those nations directly.
And in Europe: France, Germany, and Spain all weighing in. As a matter of fact, Spain just offering up a $68 million line of credit to those nations hard hit in the region; $1.3 million, a million euros outright. France, 20.4 million. Germany, 27 million.
And as we head over to the region, we want to tell you about some of the private or corporate donations. Amazon.com, if you've clicked on Amazon lately, there's a hot button there for the American Red Cross. So far they've raised at least $1.6 million. That number is going up.
Pfizer, the big pharmaceutical company, $10 million outright to relief organizations. A total of $25 million in medicine, total of $35 million. FedEx offering free flights and aircraft in and out of the region to try to get this materiel to people. Johnson & Johnson, $2 million in cash.
And finally, people all over the world with an outpouring. One name that just really struck us. Jackie Chan of Hong Kong, the kung fu star, offering up $64,000 out of his own bank account.
Anderson, it's hard to get a scope on the response just as it is hard to get a hold of a sense of this tragedy.
COOPER: It certainly is. Miles O'Brien, thanks very much.
And you know, often in news we focus on celebrities or use their names, but really tonight and all this week we've been focusing on people. You sitting at home, people all around the world, just giving of their hearts, giving whatever they can.
So many watching here in America right now come from Sri Lanka or Thailand or elsewhere. Many are Americans now, but of course their hearts break for the places they know and still love. Sinnarajah Raguraj is assembling a team of doctors to go back to Sri Lanka to help. He's a doctor himself. He joins us from Baltimore.
Doctor, thanks for being with us. You went right into action as soon as you heard the news. What have you been able to do already?
DR. SINNARAJAH RAGURAJ, PHYSICIAN: Oh, hi. Yes. Since we got the devastating news, and it has been a very shocking news for us, but since then what we are trying to do is we have got an existing organization, called International Medical Health Organization, and we are trying to raise some funds immediately and send it to Colombo, which is not badly hit by this natural disaster, and purchase the necessary things and send it to the northeastern part of Sri Lanka, which is badly hit.
And already we have sent a team of doctors to analyze the situation there and to study the need and they've already reached Colombo, and they have gone to the other parts of Sri Lanka as well.
So the first thing what we have done is we have collected some individual contributions from our members, and so far we have channeled about $45,000 to Colombo immediately to purchase the necessary life-saving medicines and...
COOPER: Dr. Raguraj, I want to ask you, we've been getting a lot of e-mails from Sri Lankans who are viewing the program, probably viewing it right now, who've been asking about the north part of the country. Of course, it's controlled by the Tamil Tigers. There has been a civil war there for many, many years. It's a vicious war, an expensive war. Do you know what the conditions are there, because we're not hearing much word from there? How free are you going to be able to go to get up there?
RAGURAJ: Sure. We have already got our doctors, already has visited some of the areas which are badly hit like Kilinochi, Molativi (ph), Ambari (ph), and eastern part of Jaffna, and the devastation is huge. And unfortunately, so far almost about four days gone and we haven't got any relief supply or medical supplies reached there.
And our major concern and the worry is already there, malnourishment is pretty highly existing in these areas, and the children are very vulnerable for the death (ph). And more and more we wait, we are going to see more and more death happening in this area. So our major concern is to get the relief supply and the medicines as soon as possible to this area, which are badly hit by the tsunami.
COOPER: Dr. Raguraj, you know, so many people around the world trying to help out, you as well with your team of doctors. We appreciate you joining us.
RAGURAJ: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next on this special edition of 360, a young woman who followed the sun in search of exotic adventure. We'll talk about her adventure, it came to an end, and about the spirited life of Kelly Hillgrove.
We're also going to take you to some islands that were once a remote tropical haven, now battered beyond recognition. The toll there only beginning to be known.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water came up to my door, and then the water was so powerful my bungalow just exploded. The roof went, the walls caved in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Coming up, getting to islands that no one has visited since the tsunami. But first, let's take a look at "The Reset."
Another aftershock, this one a magnitude 5.7, hit about four hours ago near Indonesia. The confirmed death count from Sunday's quake and tsunami has passed 80,000. The numbers of course will grow. Red Cross expects it to exceed 100,000. Thousands more missing right now.
U.S. State Department is getting about 400 calls an hour from relatives of Americans unaccounted for. President Bush calling the loss and grief to the world, quote, "beyond our comprehension." He is promising long-term aid.
There is of course something worse than the anxiety of not knowing the fate of a loved one. It's knowing the loved one is gone. Kelly Hillgrove and her fiancee were vacationing in Galle, Sri Lanka. He survived. She did not. With me now from Denver, Kelly's brother Robert Hillgrove and her cousin Tracy Wangaard. I appreciate both of you joining us. I'm sorry it's under these conditions, and we're so sorry for your loss.
ROBERT HILLGROVE, VICTIM'S BROTHER: Thank you.
COOPER: Robert, you've talked to Kelly's fiancee who survived. What did he tell you about that morning?
HILLGROVE: At that time it was still so recent. He was a mess. But he said that it struck at about 8:45 in the morning their time. They were just getting up to have some breakfast. He was still in bed. And they were in a cabana in Galle, about 30 feet off the beach, the shoreline, and some water came in the kitchen, and they just basically looked at each other. They were kind of mystified as to what was going on.
He didn't mention any outside warning or anything. And he said less than two minutes later a waist-high wave came in, and at that point they both had to get out of the cabana. I guess it was just chaos at that point. He said he saw my sister running up the beach, away, and so he got out, and then a wave, as he says, three times his height, 18, 20 feet high, came in, and at that point...
TRACY WANGAARD, VICTIM'S COUSIN: He didn't see her anymore.
COOPER: Tracy, you heard Kelly was found actually holding a child's hand. What do you think she was trying to do?
WANGAARD: I think Kelly was being Kelly. She always wants to help people. And I think she probably saw that child and wanted to comfort that child in both of their last moments.
COOPER: That's the kind of person she was?
WANGAARD: That's absolutely what kind of person Kelly was. She believed in people and inspired them to be the best person they could be.
COOPER: Robert, what do you take away from all this? I mean, it's so fresh; it is so raw.
HILLGROVE: It is. And I just want to say that Tracy and my sympathies go out to the families of the victims of this. This is a global tragedy. And to have Kel be a part of it, this whole thing just magnifies our loss.
COOPER: How is her fiancee doing? I mean, is he injured physically?
HILLGROVE: He thought he may have broken his leg. We are unsure. He didn't really talk that much about it. He was more concerned about at first his overwhelming sense of guilt.
WANGAARD: He is receiving some medical attention for an infection that he has in his foot, but he wasn't clear on what kind of injury he had.
COOPER: Tracy, how long was it from the time you heard about the tsunami to the time you got the news about Kelly?
WANGAARD: I heard about the tsunami first thing Sunday morning, and 5:30 Monday morning we found out about Kelly's death.
COOPER: And Robert, when did you last speak to Kelly?
HILLGROVE: I myself saw her Saturday night, the 18th. She came by before going down into Denver to celebrate her birthday. Her birthday was the 19th. She gave me this mis-sized sweater for Christmas.
COOPER: It's a nice color.
COOPER: What -- you know, often when someone is taken like this it's easier to focus on the way they died and not focus on the way they lived. Tracy, how did Kelly live her life? How will you remember her?
WANGAARD: Well, I will remember Kelly just by, I don't know, being silly and always there for me and always there for anyone that ever really needed her.
And Kelly also finally came to a place in her life where she was happy, and she had goals set for herself. And she was at -- you know, she knew where she was going. She wasn't searching for something. She knew exactly where she was going, and she was a big inspiration for me that way.
COOPER: And let's -- let's hope she's still in a happy place and always will be. Robert Hillgrove, Tracy Wangaard, appreciate you joining us. I know it's a tough thing to talk about. I know we share your pain. Thanks for being with us.
HILLGROVE: Thank you.
WANGAARD: Can we say something?
WANGAARD: We're looking for somebody to possibly help us get her fiancee in the country for a few days, a temporary visa or something so that he can attend his fiancee's funeral in Maine. So if anybody...
COOPER: Have you been able to talk to anybody in the State Department or anything?
WANGAARD: No, we haven't.
COOPER: All right. Well, perhaps someone seeing this or, you know, we'll see what comes out of this, and if -- let us know the progress you make.
COOPER: If you talk to the State Department.
HILLGROVE: Because if it weren't for him we wouldn't know anything about her whereabouts or her return. He's our hero. He's our person of the year.
COOPER: Robert and Tracy, again, thank you so much for talking about Kelly.
HILLGROVE: Thank you.
COOPER: We'll be right back.
COOPER: Well, each day, even each hour that passes brings new stories of this disaster. At the top of the hour tonight Larry King will, as he always does, bring you people and stories you haven't heard anywhere else. He joins us now with a preview.
Good evening, Larry.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Thank you. Good evening, Anderson.
Yes, we'll be all over the place. We've got doctors in New York and throughout the islands. We've got Dr. -- our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's in Sri Lanka. We've got five different reporters and victims of the -- of this tragedy that could border now, they're estimating it might hit 100,000. In fact, I don't think, Anderson, that we will ever know the total.
But we'll be on top of the scene at the top of the hour.
COOPER: You're so right, Larry. I mean, so many of these bodies simply disappear, mass graves, being buried. The numbers may never be known. Larry, we'll be watching. Go ahead.
KING: It's -- it's incomprehensible, is it?
COOPER: It is.
KING: This is not comprehensible.
COOPER: I know. It -- you know, I've said it before, but the camera lens isn't -- isn't big enough to kind of encompass all the suffering and all the -- all the images that we're seeing.
KING: No. We can't do it justice. All we can do is try.
COOPER: That's right. Larry King at the top of the hour. Thanks, Larry.
In India, where at least 10,000 people died, officials just today began to get to the remote Andaman and Nicobar islands. Relief workers there say the damage there is much worse than they believed, and the number of people there could reach 7,000. They don't know at this point.
Malika Kapur is there.
MALIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Indian navy warship on a humanitarian mission. On board the Rajput, which means the brave, there are more than 200 passengers, refugees from remote Hadbe Island (ph), one of the Andaman chain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are going to stay here now. There is nothing left at home, nothing at all. The water has destroyed everything.
KAPUR: Steering the survivors to safety, Captain K.S. Appaya. He calls the rescue mission his duty.
CAPT. K.S. APPAYA, INDIAN NAVY: It's moral because one is providing relief to fellow humans, and it is patriotic because they all happen to be Indian. So we are doing our job as a citizen of the country.
KAPUR: The Indian navy is trying to reach some 30 islands in this scattered chain more than 900 miles from the mainland. So far, some 3,000 people are thought to have died. Thousands more are still missing.
When the refugees reach the island's capital, Port Blair, they make their way to shelters set up in schools and churches.
In this local church ground, there's food, shelter, and water. For some that's little consolation. But it's better than the alternative.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): the smell of death was unbearable. We couldn't stay any longer. So we decided to leave.
KAPUR: Volunteers are doing their best to help. Port Blair was not as badly hit by the waves, and local residents are bringing food and clothes to the refugees. Volunteers appeal to the public for more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Please help and bring the milk. The children need it.
KAPUR (on camera): For survivors being brought here to the safety of Port Blair, the journey has just begun. Many refugees say they have no idea how long they'll stay here or where they'll go next. One thing they do know is going home is not an option, at least for several years.
(voice-over) Malika Kapur, CNN, Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.
COOPER: Well, complaints of the pace of relief efforts are a common theme right now throughout the disaster zones.
On Sri Lanka, Barbara Segal knows firsthand. She's just finished building a house on the water when the monster wave struck. She joins me now on the phone from Illuketia.
Barbara, thanks for joining us. Did your house...
BARBARA SEGAL, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: Good morning.
COOPER: Good morning. Did your house survive?
SEGAL: Actually, yes, it did. The walls are still standing. The boundary walls are gone completely, which is lucky because it let the water out, otherwise it would have gone back on the house.
It's a terrible mess, but it's still there. So it must have been a pretty well built house. I'm very pleased.
COOPER: Where were you when the waves hit?
SEGAL: I wasn't there. There were some things not quite finished with the house. So David and I stayed at a little place a few miles away and got up for breakfast and heard a lot of shouting outside and went to the window to look what was happening. We thought it was a wedding or something like that.
And then David started shouting it's a tidal wave, and then it hit, and that was it.
COOPER: And were you able to make your way back immediately to the house?
SEGAL: No. No, no. When you're in the water, there's no infrastructure. I mean, everywhere was underwater. It just seemed like for hours and hours the water just kept coming and then it sucked back and then it came again. It was awful.
COOPER: Did you assume the worst?
SEGAL: Everybody didn't -- nobody knew what to do.
COOPER: Did you -- I mean, at the time did you think your house wouldn't have made it?
SEGAL: I thought nothing would have -- I thought everything had gone. Everything in front of us had gone. It was all flat. All little houses flat.
COOPER: Are you back at your house now? Are you able to be back?
SEGAL: No. No, I can't stay. I've been back. And in fact, I was very touched, because we managed to get back two days later. And everybody we knew, more than 40 local people, men were there, already helping clear up the mess and trying to sort out any possessions we could salvage. They just turned up of their own free will to help us.
A neighbor next-door, who we didn't even know his name, a local man, whose house is gone, flat, nothing left, but he and his two sons are there with torches trying to help us and guarding our property from looters.
COOPER: Barbara, you know, it's one of the things -- I mean, you don't want to say something hopeful or good has come out of this, but we keep hearing these stories of -- especially from -- from visitors or people -- residents who are living there who say, you know, "Things were bad for me but my neighbor, the local villager, who has lost everything, bent over backwards to help me. They were concerned about me."
SEGAL: That's right. We went -- when the wave hit and we got inland, we had to run inland afterwards. We were taken in a truck by some local people to their own home, and then they went back to try and rescue more people in their truck.
But there's so little, they had nothing, and yet they were giving us fruit off their trees to eat and coconuts to drink, because they realized we couldn't drink their local well water without maybe being sick. So they were cutting down coconuts to give us to drink.
They couldn't -- the people here are amazing. Fantastic people. They've been so badly hit. It's wonderful. We're very, very lucky to be alive, a lot of us, because of the local people.
COOPER: I can't imagine some of the images you've probably seen since Sunday. What's going to stay in your mind in the months and the years to come?
SEGAL: What stays in my mind is driving along a road or walking along a road and every house has a white flag in front of it. That means somebody's died. Every house.
There's not a house that's been passed by where we are living -- we live down further south. We live near Matara. And every house, you can't walk without seeing flags. It's covered in white flags.
Or last night we were driving back. We borrowed a tuk tuk (ph). It's a three-wheel. Because my car is gone, obviously, we haven't got any cars and there's no petrol. It's very hard to get petrol now. So the infrastructure is nil down south where we are.
COOPER: And are you getting any aid? I mean, is there any sign of the government there?
SEGAL: I believe the government got aid as far as Galle, but it hasn't reached us yet. At the moment, people are still having to bury their own dead. There were funeral pyres by the road last night.
That will stand in my memory the rest of my life, seeing people having to make funeral pyres of their family members by the side of the road, because there is no one to help them to do anything else. There's no bulldozers. There's no earth moving equipment.
COOPER: And I mean, you're not -- you're not far from Colombo. I can only imagine what it's like for people who are even farther away from Colombo than you.
SEGAL: Well, we're quite a long ways. It's a long way. Normally it's a four to five-hour drive. It's not actually that many miles, but the road is bad, normally. So I mean, we're on the very, very southern tip of the country. Now it's almost -- it's just -- almost an impossibility.
COOPER: And there are of course...
SEGAL: I believe the roads are open, just slowly opening.
COOPER: Right. There are, of course, parts of the country we haven't heard about, the north, controlled by the Tamil Tigers.
Barbara Segal, thank you so much for joining us and telling us about the compassion that your neighbors have shown you and the struggle...
SEGAL: Please ask the world to send medical supplies. We don't need money. We need bulldozers. We need equipment. We need -- we need people with experience in situations like this to put the country back together. It's not money we need. It's supplies and medicines and doctors. COOPER: Let's hope that message is heard. Barbara Segal, thank you.
Coming up next on 360, the contrast between awesome destruction and a simple symbol of hope. We'll end with hope tonight, ahead.
COOPER: Finally tonight, taking one picture to "The Nth Degree."
We're going to end this evening exactly where we began two hours ago, with a single image that deserves to be seen again. This image, of a peacefully sleeping child not quite three weeks old.
There's nothing at all out of the ordinary about S. Tulasi of Panang, Malaysia. She has that patented angelic look babies always have when they're comfortably asleep and can smell and sense their mothers cradling them.
Look at her. Clearly, in her tiny universe all is well with the world.
But all was not well earlier. This baby spent hours entirely alone, floating in five feet of water on a mattress after her parents and the rest of her family were washed out of their seaside restaurant by the tidal wave that did so very much damage and killed so many all along the coast of south Asia.
Grown men could not resist that tide. Buildings and cars couldn't resist. Whole villages and families couldn't resist. Some small islands couldn't resist.
But when her parents fought their way back, they found S. Tulasi, 20 days old, still lying there on that mattress, crying but safe. Alone, entirely defenseless, heartbreakingly vulnerable, she'd done what so many others struggled so hard to do but could not. She had survived. A squealing bundle of hope. Something many in South Asia wish they could hold onto tonight.
I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching this extended edition of 360. "LARRY KING LIVE" begins right now.
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