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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Experts Discuss Tsunami Aftermath
Aired December 29, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the tsunami death toll now reported at 80,000 and it could top 100,000. Thousands of Americans still unaccounted for. The State Department getting 400 calls an hour from desperate families. Meanwhile, devastated areas across Southeast Asia faced a second wave of death in the form of disease.
How much worse can it get before help arrives? And when will that help be enough? We'll ask a hospital chief in Sri Lanka, one of the hardest-hit areas, and an American doctor who used to live there, still has family there. Plus more reporters on the front lines of the disaster and more miraculous survival stories all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: In our first segment, we'll check in with Matt Engbring, tsunami survivor who is in Tonsai Beach, Thailand. In New York is Dr. Derrick DeSilva who used to live in Sri Lanka. He still has family there. He's an internist, part of the attending staff at Raritan Bay Medical Center. And Carol Bellamy, an old friend, executive director of the U.N. Children's Fund, UNICEF, former director of the Peace Corps.
Let's go first to Matt Engbring in Tonsai Beach, Thailand. First, Matt, who is a college graduate out of Flagstaff, Arizona. What are you doing there?
MATT ENGBRING, SURVIVED TSUNAMI: Well, Larry, I actually decided to come here as a tourist and vacation here for rock climbing.
KING: Rock climbing. All right. What happened on...
KING: What happened on Sunday?
ENGBRING: Well, we were up early climbing here on Tonsai Beach. And well, first, you have got to understand that -- kind of the geographic feature that I'm standing on the beach here is only, you know, 10 feet, 20 feet wide in many sections. And, we butt up against these cliffs, you know, that tower anywhere between 250 to 500 feet tall. And, this is the draw for the climbers is we come here because these cliffs are so fantastic.
But, that morning, we were actually climbing when we heard a large, you know, rumbling noise. Huge noise coming from the ocean. You know, as you know, there's no early detection warning systems or anything in place and we really didn't have any time to assess the situation. During the wave, I was on a climb while holding a safety line for my friend who was on a climb and we heard the wave coming in. And I had heard stop on the cliff. And tie into a safe point.
And at that point, I got off my safety line and ran out to the beach to see what was going on. There was -- the other two members of my party were also on the beach. So there's four of us total. The three of us had a couple brief moments of looking at a wave before all three of us were completely swallowed up and submerged by the water.
We were right up against the cliffs when it hit. And it knocked -- well, it knocked my friends -- the two of them a lot worse than me, knocked them up into the cliffs and they disappeared almost immediately. And, within, you know, about two seconds, I went under the water, as well.
And, it seemed like a long time, but I came up from the water swimming and realized that I still had my friend on a cliff. The other member of our party, Patty (ph). And so I sprinted back to the area where the safety line was and I tied myself back into the safety line and put her back on to the belay (ph).
KING: Matt, what happened to the other two guys?
ENGBRING: Well, at this point, I have no idea what happened to the other guys. The waves were still coming in. And we were getting flooded. The water level at this point had probably already reached, you know, above 25 feet of what it normally was. I was holding onto a safety line getting kind of tossed around far while.
KING: What eventually happened to the two of them?
ENGBRING: Well, what -- as the waves subsided, two things happened. One of my friends was able to grab onto a cliff, you know, which turned out to be about 25 feet in the air holding onto the rock as he got thrashed around in the waves. And while the other one took his chances and swam away from the cliffs out into the sea and turned around and swam back into where he was able to grip to a ladder and climb up a ladder to get up on top of this other cliff.
KING: Matt, why...
KING: Matt, why did you run down to the beach?
ENGBRING: To take pictures.
KING: Matt, Matt. On second thought, Matt, that was not the world's smartest thing to do.
ENGBRING: Right, right. Well, you know, it is my former experience with oceans, you know, this wave when it was coming in really didn't look much anything bigger than I had seen before as a surf breaks in California. But, the way the feature is here, it's a very, long swallow beach. It goes out -- it's only maybe 10 feet deep for a good half mile out. And if I had realized that any sort of swell coming in like that is going to be a huge displacement of the water into the city, we had no idea. We, again...
KING: Matt, you hang with us. I'm going to check in with other people. Dr. DeSilva in New York, you used to live in Sri Lanka, you still have family there. How are they?
DR. DERRICK DESILVA JR., M.D., LIVED IN SRI LANKA: I have two aunts that were there. And fortunately, one of them had contacted my dad after my dad contacted her, and she was fine immediately thereafter. But the second one we heard from yesterday evening, and fortunately, she was also OK. But what was very interesting is she lives right outside Colombo in a town called Mount Lavinia (ph), and had about three feet of water in her home according to my father. So the way the water got around is just absolutely frightening.
KING: Now, what are the resources there for dealing with this?
DESILVA: Well, the Sri Lankan Medical Association of North America, which my father and myself are members of, we've been collecting money. We have been collecting various resources, antibiotics and anything that is possible that we can send there. The resources that we have in this country are -- is just going to be money, it's going to be water, it's going to be food.
The resources -- we're going to try to get those resources there through the Chamber of Commerce. I spoke with Dr. Vijay Catochi (ph) who's the president of the organization just on my way into the studio today. And tells me that we're going to be working with the Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka and through some of the doctors there to get all these resources distributed within the country.
KING: And I'll check with you in a couple of moments about what the dangers are for disease and the like. Carol Bellamy of UNICEF, the executive director, what is UNICEF's role?
CAROL BELLAMY, EXEC. DIR., UNICEF: Well, we're in each of these countries. We were there before this happened. So we were able to mobilize immediately. We reallocated some of the money. Our focus is largely on children. As you know, there's a very young population in all 10 of these countries. Children have died but those children who have survived are suffering physical damage, intellectual -- psychosocial damage, if you will. We are particularly focusing on shelter, blankets, water purification, and making sure that the kids are staying alive.
KING: You can't drink the water, can you?
BELLAMY: No. Again, the doctors know better than I. But we work very often in these situations. Frankly, distilled water may be almost as damaging as the fast water that we saw in the waves. The potential for malaria, for cholera, for dengue fever, and certainly for children to have diarrhea through the bad water and therefore dehydration could cause many more deaths.
KING: Would you guess, Dr. DeSilva, the figure of 80,000 is going to grow even more?
DESILVA: I would. I think that that number is probably going to grow astronomically not only because of just the amount of people that we're seeing washing into the shores, but also with the possibility of other diseases that Carol just mentioned, anything from malaria, typhoid, hepatitis and all the gastrointestinal disorders -- diseases that may be present, yes.
KING: More on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be sweeping the area and covering as much as we can in the hour ahead. Don't go away.
KING: Our panelists from the first segment, will be with us and throughout the program pretty much. Joining us now in Ft. Myers, Florida, is Dr. Ellen Prager, president of Earth to Ocean. Author of "A Furious Earth: the Science and Nature of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamies." Dr. Rohit Sharma is on the phone from Colombo, Sri Lanka. And with us in Colombo is Dr. Sanjay Gupta our own CNN senior medical correspondent. In Gelleh, Sri Lanka is Satinder Bindra, the CNN New Deli bureau chief. And by video phone from Phuket, Thailand is Matthew Chance. Phuket is the popular resort island.
When, Dr. Gupta, when Sanjay, did you get there?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I got here about 36 hours now, Larry.
KING: What can you report?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it has been sort of interesting. We are obviosly in Colombo, Sri Lanka where all the aid is coming in and dispersed around the country.
A couple of things to report. And obviously, people have been hearing for some time about the death toll from the tsunami itself. The concern that people have been talking about for sometime is what happens now? What are the secondary effects? Are there concerns about epidemics and the clean water? Are there concerns about lack of sanitary conditions?
Being on the ground now, talking to both doctors and survivors, it appears this isn't hype, Larry, these are some real concerns.
We are hearing about outbreaks of chickenpox, for example. You don't hear about outbreaks of chickenpox anymore. That's a concern people who are unsettled and don't have sanitary conditions. It's also tough to get the relief out to those areas that need it the most. The roads just don't work that well and hard to get some places need rice or others need antibiotics, very specific needs. People are still working hard on this, Larry.
KING: Thank you. You remain with us, Sanjay.
Matthew Chance, is in Phuket, Thailand. Where are you, Matthew, specifically? And what can you tell us from that area? Can you hear me OK, Matthew?
I don't think Matthew can hear me.
Doctor Rohit Sharma is on the phone. Do you hear me OK, Dr. Sharma?
DR. ROHIT SHARMA, APOLLO HOSPITALS: Yes, yes, I hear you.
KING: Dr. Sharma is director of medical services Apollo Hospitals in Colombo, Sri Lanka. How are you doing there? What's happening?
SHARMA: Oh, we are operating at two levels. At one level, we're taking care of patients who have been brought to our hospital, which is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hospital. And of course, services are being provided, including counseling services.
And then another level, we're sending out ambulance teams to the pelifrey (ph) to the coast, to the south coast, to the east coast, to the northeast. Where the level of care required is not really high- tech. What we need is really basic stuff, basic antibiotics, we need water purification tablets there, we need to dress the wounds, we need to provide care for diabetics. You know, the basic stuff. Nothing very high-tech.
But it's -- the scale of the disaster is unimaginable. There are about -- those who died have died, but those who are left behind, they're the ones, the living, they require our care. And they're about upwards of 1 million people who have who are displaced. That means more than 5 percent of the country's population.
SHARMA: You can imagine that.
KING: I think we lost the doctor. We'll check back. Satinder Bindra is in Galle, Sri Lanka. Where is that? And what can you tell us from your vantage point?
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, from here, in this southern coastal belt, almost everything: schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, they've all been destroyed. And the people here, of course, continue to be emotionally very distraught.
Then there's another problem. There's a lot of undisposed of bodies here. There's an unbearable smell in the air. And health officials are getting very concerned. They want these bodies to be cremated or buried as soon as possible.
As far as relief is concerned, Larry, it is now arriving. Since yesterday, we have seen a fair bit of traffic on the roads here and lorries and trucks carrying food, water, medicines. And as far as international aid is concerned, too, that here, that, too, is here.
A United States plane, a C-130 landed a short while ago. The French are helping. The Russians are here. The Israelis are here. And the Indians have sent two naval ships with helicopters to try and help the people of Sri Lanka.
With every passing hour, though, Larry, the death toll continues to rise. So far, 23,000 dead, some 4,000 are missing, 8,000 wounded and almost a million are displaced.
KING: Stay with us Santinder. That's excellent reporting.
Dr. Ellen Prager in Ft. Myers, Florida, president of Earth 2 and author of "Furious Earth: the Science and Nature of Earthquakes, Vulcanos and Tsunamis." Did that book forecast this?
ELLEN PRAGER, AUTHOR: Well, certainly not something on this catastrophic scale. I do talk about some of the previous disasters related to tsunamis, but we've really never seen something like this.
KING: So, this the furious to the Nth degree, right?.
PRAGER: Oh, unfortunately, yes.
KING: Do we know why?
PRAGER: Well, tsunamies have happened throughout the Earth's history. It's a consequence of a sudden displacement or earthquake at the sea floor interacting with the ocean above it. So, you know, these things happen just like earthquakes happen.
KING: So it is a natural phenomenon?
PRAGER: It is most definitely a natural phenonoma. The earth's surface is made up of tectonic plates that are constantly moving. And you can sort of think about it -- when the edges of the plates either ride under one another, they jostle against each other, that causes these sorts of earthquakes.
KING: So, by that definition, it could happen anywhere?
PRAGER: Well, it typically happens most often where these plates come together. So, while literally it could happen anywhere, it's most likely to happen in specific areas of the world.
KING: One of them being where it hit Sunday?
PRAGER: Most certainly. The most common area is around the edges of the Pacific Ocean in what's termed the ring of fire. But you have those same sort of plate boundaries where this happened.
KING: So Hawaii would be a natural target?
PRAGER: Well, it's a natural target. And in fact, they have had several tsunamis in the past.
KING: How about the Pacific Coast of the United States?
PRAGER: Very much so. Several hundred years ago, there's geologic evidence that they had a massive tsunami. And this is why the United States, the department -- NOA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a warning system principally in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii.
KING: Sanjay Gupta, what surprised you the most about what you have learned since being there?
GUPTA: I think when you talk about the secondary problems, Larry, I mean, you talk about the people battered and bruised, for example, a lot of people hear that and say that's not so serious. I mean, they survived.
In fact, it can be serious for some of the reasons that Dr. Sharma was outlining. If you have a deep cut, for example, and you can't get a 25 cent antibiotic, all of a sudden, people could die from rather routine things. And that's a real problem.
But also -- sort of good parts of the story is that it took a while for foreign aid to get here. But despite that, the people of Sri Lanka actually started to mobilize themselves. We visited a few organizations that actually mobilized several hundred doctors around the country, set up orphanages for these displaced children whose parents were lost. They have a place to stay now. Many of them, in some of these orphanages around the country.
So the people have sort of risen to the task, as happened so often in times of crisis. But these medical problems are going to be around for sometime and they need to be dealt with.
KING: Dr. Sharma, are you still with us on the phone?
SHARMA: Yes, yes, Larry, I am.
KING: Do you have enough personnel?
SHARMA: No. We don't. We're short of people at all levels but we're managing, nevertheless. We have to with whatever resources we have. And we're working along with the government, too, under direction, as well as independently. But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) calling people from leave. Everybody is pitching right from -- well, the consultants down to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because everybody is pitching in. So I think we should be able to manage.
KING: Would it help if doctors flew in from other countries?
SHARMA: Not really. Not really. What we need is -- the material that we have, the medicines and aid that we have, that has to reach to the area where it's required. That is not happening. That's what we're worried about, that's what we're concerned about, that's what we're trying to achieve.
KING: We'll be back with more of LARRY KING LIVE right after these words. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. We can now make connection with Matthew Chance in Phuket, Thailand, who I understand is at the missing wall.
What is that, Matthew?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a wall which you see right behind me. A notice board more than a wall, in fact, of photographs and postcards and pictures of people who are missing, people from all around the world; from the U.S., from Australia, from Europe, around Asia, as well, to come here essentially on holiday for the most part, and simply have not been seen since the tsunami struck on December the 26th.
These are people who, relatives, survivors, people who were with them on holiday, perhaps, people who have flown in since then, have come here and put these photos up to try and get as much information as they can, Larry, so they can be ideally, of course, reunited with them.
And that's possible because the hotels -- the hospitals here, rather, are still very, very full indeed of individuals who have not yet been identified. So there is a good chance that people on this board are still alive.
But obviously, as things get more organized, as the hospital workers have made connections with the people looking for survivors, and those connections are made, then hope as days go on clearly diminishes for these people, Larry.
KING: Satinder Bindra in Galle, Sri Lanka, how are the people holding up?
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, they're not holding up too well. They're emotionally shattered. They're very confused. And as you drive along this coastal belt, Larry, you see hundreds of people just sitting outside their homes. Their homes, of course, have been completely destroyed.
They have this vacant sort of blank look on their faces. They really don't know where and how to start reconstructing their lives. One person told me yesterday, quote, "I feel very alone." I don't know if I have a future.
Now this southern part of Sri Lanka, Larry, is world famous as a tourist resort. Many people come here to enjoy the sun and the beaches. Now people here who work in the tourism industry, and that's a majority of them, aren't even sure if tourists will come back.
So they don't even know if there's any point to rebuilding their homes. Many people had put their life savings in their homes and in their businesses. It's all gone. People had no insurance.
And on top of that, Larry, they have to deal with the fact that they're still looking for some of their loved ones. Many people here, thousands of them, in fact, are still missing.
KING: Dr. Prager, God forbid, could this happen again? Could it happen tomorrow? PRAGER: You mean in the same area?
PRAGER: It could. You know, the likelihood is very small that it would happen again in the same area. When you think about it, when you have one strong earthquake, you don't typically see another strong earthquake in the same area for a long time because the stress on the fault that has been released has to build up the time again. So it could happen in the future. But probably not for a long time.
KING: Is the time of the year important in the area it occurs, like hurricanes?
PRAGER: Well, no. Not particularly, other than the fact that unfortunately it was the tourist season so there were a lot more people on the beach.
KING: But the climatic conditions don't affect this as it would a hurricane which doesn't occur in January in Miami?
PRAGER: No, no, no. Nope. It really doesn't have anything to do with the seasons.
KING: Thank you, Doctor. Carol Bellamy, the problems seem insurmountable.
BELLAMY: Well, we can't give up. We have to respond. The U.N. is coming full blast. We have responses from governments around the world, governments even in the area. India was hit but they're also helping some of the other countries. You know, we can't let it push us back. It is an incredibly large, horrible disaster but these people have a right to have a life in the future and we have got to do something about that.
KING: Dr. DeSilva, you were surprised -- were you surprised that the doctor in Sri Lanka said they don't need doctors?
DESILVA: Well, he is obviously there. And he knows what the situation is. But I am a little surprised because I know that the Sri Lankan Medical Association here in this country is -- there are some physicians from this country that are going to be leaving within the next week to go there just to add some assistance.
And in fact, when I spoke with a Dr. Vijay Cotochi (ph), who is the president of the organization, on the way over here, he said to me that that that is going to be the next thing that perhaps will need to happen. Because these physicians are working 24 hours a day, they're just working around the clock. At some point, they are also going to be fatigued and are going to need some kind of relief.
KING: Matt Engbring, our survivor, why are you still there? Matt's gone. Matt with that outstanding report from Tonsai Beach, Thailand, our rock climber. We'll be back with lots more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Carol, you want to comment about what UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said about rich nations being stingy?
CAROL BELLAMY, UNICEF: Well, I think he regrets having said that. I think there's no question that countries around the world from the U.S. to Japan, from Europe to Australia, have come forward with money, much more will be needed but certainly, the initial resources are there. I think we have moved beyond that comment and I think it's time for all of us to work together and not complaining about each other.
KING: You're satisfied with the way the nations and the UN are reacting?
BELLAMY: I'm satisfied but clearly, so much more needs to be done. I think the UN is able to respond quickly. UNICEF, we have brought in blankets, water purification, the World Food Program is bringing in food. The World Health Organization is responding but so much more is need and at this point, money is needed. For whether it's for the UN or others who are responding. That's the greatest need. Remember, it's a government themselves who are leading in this effort and to be commended for doing that.
KING: Dr. Gupta, this is gruesome but has to be asked. What's happening to the bodies?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the decomposing bodies lying on the beaches are being identified and subsequently either buried or cremated. Larry, there's talk about whether or not these pose a health risk in and of themselves. The short answer is, probably not as much as people think. As the body dies, and it is gruesome to talk about. As the body dies, the viruses and bacteria die. There is a low risk of contamination from a dead body. In many ways it is higher from living bodies who have unsanitary conditions. An important point, I think, because of the emotional toll of actually being able to identify the bodies, probably important to allow families to do that and not create the mass burials we are hearing so much about, Larry.
KING: What, Dr. DeSilva, is the number one medical problem, is it the cholera, is it the waterborne disease, typhoid? What?
DR. DERRICK DESILVA, JR, LIVED IN SRI LANKA: I think it's probably a combination of all of those things. The waterborne diseases, things like cholera, typhoid. The dysentery that carol mentioned but it is going to be water borne because a lot of things are happening there. The other thing we have to be concerned about is once -- once a pocket of something like cholera or typhoid or something like that breaks out, it will get spread with into the water system and will contaminate whatever is there and that's why it becomes so important to get the fresh water there. To get whatever we can there so that people don't go out, because when you get thirsty enough, you will literally drink whatever is there. And if these people don't get that water, that's what's going to happen. And yes, cholera, typhoid, things like malaria, and all the dysenteries, that are possible.
KING: Matthew, how are the people in Phuket doing?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE)
KING: I guess Mathew couldn't hear me. Satinder, how are the people where you are doing?
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today, they're -- I mentioned earlier they're, you know, emotionally very distraught. Today they're feeling perhaps a little better because they've been fed. A lot of international relief has now got in. U.S. planes have got in and I have seen a lot of distribution going on here, Larry. There's been cookies that are distributed. Some dry rations. A lot of people got food and high nourishment yesterday. A lot of clothes are being distributed now and most importantly, Larry, water is being distributed. It's being distributed in two forms. Water in plastic bottles, you know, a truck driving by and throwing the bottles out to people and then you get these trucks carrying large plastic container, perhaps as much as 500 liters of water in them and have a hose attached to the end of it and they keep giving people water. A lot of people are, you know, still very thirsty because for the last maybe one or two days, they have had no access to safe drinking water. Many people preferring to thirsty and some relief coming for them and grateful for that.
KING: We are joined by Dr. Laura Kong, director of the International Tsunami Information Center. She is in Honolulu. What about advance warning systems? Are they nonexistent, Dr. Kong?
DR. LAURA KONG, DIR. INTERNATIONAL TSUNAMI INFORMATION CENTER: No. I don't think so. We have an excellent system that has been working for 40 years in the Pacific.
KING: Well, what didn't work in the Indian Ocean?
KONG: Well, what we don't have in the Indian Ocean, at least presently is a warning system. And when we talk about warning systems, we are talking about very essential components of real-time monitoring of earthquake seismicity. We're talking about real-time monitoring of water levels in the regions of interest. And then, of course, we're talking about the ability to once the science is done, and to evaluate the tsunami potential, to be able to disseminate that information to emergency contacts, emergency officials in the areas and then, of course, finally, those officials that know what to do with them immediately and that component was not available.
KING: Are there any advance instruments in the water itself?
KONG: Actually, yes. I think Dr. Bernard the other day mentioned in the United States, we have developed some deep ocean tsunami detection devices where we're able to monitor the wave as it passes in the deep ocean and those signals are immediately transported back to the warning centers in real-time. KING: What would happen to a submarine were it in those waters?
KONG: In general, when a submarine or any boat, for example, is in deep ocean, the physics of tsunamis are such that they're actually probably not going to feel it. It's just a very, very long wave. Very, very small wave in the deep ocean. It's just when it hits the coast we see the building and extreme increase in height and the devastation that it then causes.
KING: Would a submarine spot it? Would a submarine be a warning system?
KONG: Well, what we're doing is for these remotely placed instruments in the deep ocean, they're actually measuring very -- they're very sensitive measures of the pressure of the water pressure. So, if we can place those instruments in the deep ocean, we can be able to monitor any tsunami that might pass by.
KING: Dr. Kong, of these natural phenomenas(SIC), what is it about the tsunami that interests you the most as a scientist?
KONG: Well, you know, what we have is -- is for tsunamis, something that, unfortunately, occurs infrequently but when it occurs, what we've seen in the past it just causes a tremendous amount of fatalities and the fatalities are not only in the area where the earthquake originated or the tsunami originated but in the case of the earthquake and tsunami in 1960 that occurred in Chile, it caused damage and destruction all the way across the Pacific, in Japan. And so with that, we kind of have a tremendous challenge to be able to provide a warning and a timely warning, and at the same time, have those people evacuate out of harm's way.
KING: The length and breadth of it. Sanjay Gupta, are most of the deaths drowning?
GUPTA: Yeah. Most of the deaths were drownings. A lot of people were actually swept away at sea and presumed to be drowned, as well. So, a lot of people obviously battered and bruised up, as well who survived (AUDIO GAP) those who survived stay living, Larry.
KING: We are never, Matthew, we're never going to get an exact total, are we? Matthew chance?
CHANCE: Well, Larry, I don't know whether we are or not. It's difficult to say. Certainly from the perspective of Thailand it's true that as many as 1600 people are still missing. And, and that's something which the authorities are working very hard to try to address and they have got rescue teams out up and down the coastline here in this, you know, densely populated touristic area.
They're even today, still pulling bodies out of the rubble. Pulling, fishing bodies out of the sea, as well. Sweden, the government of Sweden, just to give you an example of the kind of levels of casualties they're looking at here in Thailand which after all is not by any means the worst effected country, Sweden says it still has a thousand of its nationals unaccounted for. It's interesting there because Thailand is because of the great number of tourists here, it is the place out of all these countries affected by this Asian you know, killer wave thing. Is that, you know, it is the place that's drawn in, you know, the world's population. The international community into this disaster.
KING: Satinder, since there's no way to experience this before, what is it like to view a scene like this? To view bodies? As a reporter.
BINDRA: Larry, I've been in super cyclones where I've seen a lot of damage. And, now this. And I must tell you, it's one of the toughest experiences both as a reporter and as a human being. I was at a hospital, Larry, just yesterday. Where in one hospital alone, people are driving 800 bodies and 300 of these bodies were out there, they're still not being identified. And it was very, very difficult to be out there. And imagine what it would have been like if you were someone who was looking for a family member in there. 300 bodies laid out there on day four of this tragedy. Very, very difficult for family members. And obviously, for all of us, we're telling the story, it's quite difficult, as well.
KING: We'll be back with more of LARRY KING LIVE right after these words.
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT (VIDEO CLIP): 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'll stand with them as they start to rebuild their communities. And together, the world will cope with their loss. We'll prevail over this destruction.
KING: Again, we are back. 80,000 we know, pretty much 80,000 dead. Could go over 100,000. Many are forecasting that. Dr. Ellen Prager, author of "Furious Earth," what's the number one thing, Ellen, that we don't know about tsunamis?
PRAGER: Well, there's a lot we don't know. One of the reasons a team will go to an assess the impact and look at evidence from this tsunami is so that we have a better idea of when you have a certain magnitude earthquake, how high the waves are, how far they run inland. Each tsunami is sort of an individual. And they're very variable. So we don't get to se them, you know, in person most of the time or study them so there's actually a lot we don't know.
KING: What, Carol Bellamy, is the availability of food? We have talked about water. What about food?
BELLAMY: Well, food is very much needed. Again, there is food coming in. Not enough at this point. There's not enough of anything but the World Food Program, I think, is responded quite effectively. I know one of the speakers before mentioned cookies. Those aren't your typical cookies. They tend to be high protein biscuits so they're very important particularly for children. There's more needed of everything. KING: Dr. DeSilva, you have a desire to go there?
DESILVA: I do. I do. I have a very strong desire to go there. And, it really, Larry, it breaks my heart every time I see the pictures. In fact, the picture that is on right now. When I see these pictures, I have to start closing my eyes because it truly breaks my heart to see the emotional and the whole stress that this is causing to the entire world. And to the people of my community that I work with. My patients. I have had emails and phone calls from people and it just - it is difficult. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like in Sri Lanka.
KING: Will you go?
DESILVA: I am seriously considering it.
KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Colombo, Sri Lanka, what does a country do to -- with a tragedy like this, when it doesn't have an infrastructure?
GUPTA: You know, that's a good question, Larry. A couple of things to point out, you can't think of Sri Lanka as one country. It is different districts. You've been hearing Carol Bellamy talk about the blast of aid that is coming. I would say that every district has very different needs. Unless you are on the ground here, you can't anticipate that. Let me give you some examples. Ampara(PH), for example, which is in the southeast part of the country, they make a lot of rice. They don't need rice, for example. They need a lot of antibiotics. On the other hand, if you go a little bit further north, you need to get rice, they already have more antibiotics there. What you need to do and what the country is doing on its own even without the foreign aid is to really establish in a very detailed way what is needed where. Blasts of aid don't always solve the problem. You have to get the right stuff to the right places, Larry.
KING: Is, Dr. DeSilva, is malaria going to be a problem?
DESILVA: It could be. It could be. Again, this is another disease that is in the area. It is in some of those regions. And it could become a problem there, also. Absolutely.
KING: Matthew Chance, have most of the tourists now cleared out of Phuket?
CHANCE: No. It's strange, strange. Because in fact, many of the people who weren't directly affected by this, even though they know so many thousands of people are killed in the region, they've stayed on. Many of them at least to finish their vacations. Others have been evacuated to Bangkok and every day, new groups of tourists come in from various countries around the world staying in resorts in Phuket that haven't been affected by the tsunami and so, the prediction is here by local officials and local business men involved in the tourism industry, basically everybody in Phuket is that in the long term and medium term, don't expect the tourism industry, which is extremely valuable to the Thai economy, to be affected that much.
KING: Isn't that strange, to you?
CHANCE: I think it's incredibly strange, yes. But, I suppose no one can really tell whether the sort of psychological impact that this may have around the world and the fact that so many people around the world have been involved this so personally and getting obviously such a lot of attention around the world and such unwanted attention for any country that's trying to push itself as a tourist paradise, whether that will have a psychological impact in the medium term and long term. Very much remains to be seen.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments. More coverage around the clock on CNN. Don't go away.
KING: Before we leave we are going to check in with CNN's senior Asian correspondent Mike Chinoy who is in Banda Aceh Indonesia who has, I understand, a special video for us. Mike, what do you have?
MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Larry. Well, over the last few days, the biggest concern and the biggest question mark has been the fate of people on the western coast of this part of Indonesia, that's the area closest to the earthquake. We have just received some video taken by an Indonesian based British conservationist named Mike Griffith(PH). He flew over the area two days ago. And what he took pictures of and what he described to us is a scene of unbelievable devastation. He talked about it being like a nuclear blast. Whole towns just completely vaporized. These pictures are of a town called Cholong(PH), it's a town of about 13,000 people on the coast. There's literally nothing left. Not a single building standing. The photographer saw about 30 or 40 people huddled on a hill. But other than that, there was no sign of any survivors. In other towns in the same area, no sign whatsoever of survivors and buildings leveled for a stretch of 100 kilometers or more.
The tidal wave, the tsunami apparently went inland for a kilometer and a half, almost a mile. At enormous heights and just destroyed everything in its path. The main city in this area, Malabo(PH), city of 40 or 50,000, only a third of the structures are still standing. The other two thirds completely gone and those that are standing appear to be empty shells. The photographer believes that at least two thirds of Malabo's 40 or 50,000 people are dead. So these first images of an area cut off from the rest of the world showing seen scenes of devastation far worse than anything that we had imagined. Larry?
KING: And Mike, everybody we don't see is gone?
CHINOY: That seems to be the case. You're talking about tsunami of 30, 40 feet in height. Some people even say 60 feet in height. Because this is so close to the epicenter of the quake. It was just offshore of these waters. The expectation is, an awful lot of people died but there's no way, really to be precise except whole towns have cease to exist. Literally vaporized.
KING: Mike Chinoy, on top of the scene. Amazing report and that video is -- what can one say? Carol Bellamy, your reaction?
BELLAMY: Just remind everybody, don't forget the children. So many children without parents now.
KING: Dr. DeSilva, what are your reactions to what you've just seen?
DESILVA: I was sitting here. I was, again -- very difficult to look at something like this. My heart goes out to everybody and you said this before. Somebody said this. This is going to affect the entire world community. And I think the world community is stepping up to the plate and doing what is need and I pray that things will improve.
KING: Thank you and thank you to all of the guests for participating in this special hour of LARRY KING LIVE. I want to take a moment to note the passing of a great guy and a tremendous performer, Jerry Orbach he appeared as a guest on this show. He won Tonys, a great singer and dancer. Tremendous actor and of course, the indelible star of "Law and Order" for 12 years. He appeared on Broadway. Won a Tony. He appeared in many films and the lights of Broadway were dimmed tonight in honor of a man who will not be replaced. Jerry Orbach. I'll be back in a couple of minutes. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, an extraordinary lady, an incredible story. She was shot in the face by her boyfriend who killed her mother. She lives and is having reconstructive surgery as we speak. It's an extraordinary hour tomorrow night.
Speaking of extraordinary, one of my favorite people, an extraordinary gentleman is Tucker Carlson, carrying on nobly all week as the host of NEWSNIGHT.
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