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Dr. Sanjay Gupta: From the Quake Zone

Aired January 1, 2006\ - 19:00   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Lin, and here's what's happening right "Now in the News." New grass fires have erupted across the dry and blustery plains of Texas and Oklahoma. Thousands of acres have burned. The blazes are fueled by very low humidity and strong, gusty winds. Police have closed roads and residents have been forced to evacuate several areas.
California's heavy rain have turned to snow in the Sierras. A day after mudslides closed several major roads, winter has returned across the higher elevations. And that has made it tougher for people trying to head home after holiday trips to the region's ski resort and tourist areas.

President Bush says the domestic spying program is limited. He says it's also a necessary tool in fighting terrorism. Mr. Bush said today he thinks it's logical to eavesdrop on phone calls linked to possible terrorists. Critics argue that the president's overstepped his authority by approving the wiretaps without a court order.

And Farris Hassan is back home in the United States. You remember, he's the 16-year-old student journalist who took off for Iraq last month without his parents permission. A live picture of Miami International Airport, where he arrived a short time ago. His mother confirmed that to CNN.

I'm Carol Lin. Up next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports from the quake zone, a first-hand look at the fight to survive after the recent earthquake in Pakistan.


ANNOUNCER: The world shook on October 8, leaving tens of thousands dead, millions homeless, struggling to survive out in the cold mountain air. "From the Quake Zone," Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings us the stories of the hurting hearts.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Malik Nurasen (ph) lived right here, his entire family now lives with him. On the morning of October 8, you could actually see what happened. All the devastation, a crack appeared, the entire earth started moving and parts of his home just completely washed away, wiped away by the earthquake.

It's hard to believe that this was actually a school once. These are actually tables over here, a bench for the students over here. This is where they studied. You have notepads still lying on the ground, pencils. All still standing just the way it was on October 8.

And then over here just a whole collection of papers and books. Someone came back and wrote on this chalkboard in Urdu afterwards, it reads "On October 8, 2005 the earth shook and wreaked havoc."

ANNOUNCER: The helping hands.

GUPTA: Now one of the most important things you got to be able to do, it to be able operate, take care of people who need operations, right away, just behind me, over here, is the operating theater.

One patient has just had their operation completed. They're being woken up and at the same time, another patient has just been put off to sleep. Their operation will start momentarily.

ANNOUNCER: The hope.

GUPTA: The woman you're about to see is the longest survivor ever of who someone who was trapped after an earthquake or after any sort of disaster. She was found covered with dust, severely starved and dehydrated, unable to communicate and listless. But she was alive and the patient (UNINTELLIGIBLE) brought her to the hospital. It's remarkable.

ANNOUNCER: These are the people in need. These are their stories. Now, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports "From the Quake Zone."

GUPTA (voice-over): We had heard the numbers over and over: More than 80,000 dead and more dying every day. But it was numbers and just numbers, and it wasn't until I walked right into the middle of a funeral procession that it started to really sink in.

It happened just moments after we arrived at the small village of Maraponalia (ph) in northeastern Pakistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, my son. Man of the Marcha (ph).

GUPTA (on camera): The men of the village here, a small village in the foothills of the Himalayas, have all gathered for a scene that has replayed itself too many times over the past months. Just behind me is the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) clothed body of a person who has recently died as a result of the earthquake, here in Pakistan. A prayer will take place, then the body will be buried.

(voice-over): The communities here have always been tight-knit for sure, nearly every man taking part in this ceremony. They face Mecca, bring their hands together and pray. But the strongest earthquake to strike Pakistan in more than 70 years has bound them closer than ever before.

We learned quickly, and perhaps it was obvious -- even if they lived, no one here escaped this earthquake

(on camera): I want to give you a little sense of what happened here. If you take a look at this mountain, you can see an entire chunk of the mountain actually just fell straight down. What you're looking at, all that rubble underneath there, beneath all that was an entire village. As you might imagine, as was the case here, nobody in this village survived.

(voice-over): The stories came quickly, the villagers, anxious to share. Some told us what happened to that man in the funeral procession. What happened here.

(on camera): The house that you're looking at was actually a house that was completely devastated by the earthquake. A man and two women lived there, on his wife, one his child. The two women both died. The man wasible to survive for a couple of months, but also passed away today.

These are the most traumatic images I have seen, and while can you never measure just how bad a natural disaster is -- I have seen far too many this year including the tsunami in South Asia, and Katrina in New Orleans.

(on camera): Malik Nurasen (ph) has lived right here. His entire family now lives with him. On the morning of October 8, you could actually see what happened, all the devastation. A crack appeared, the entire earth started moving and parts of his home just completely washed away, wiped away by the earthquake, falling down the hill. This is what happened on that day, this is what happened as a result of this earthquake. Take a look in here.

(voice-over): Malik Nurasen will try to brave the winter here in his own home, reluctant to ever leave his property. You see, there are no land deeds in many parts of Pakistan. He is worried he will never get his land back.

But many others didn't have that as an option. Their homes, beyond ruined, they all have a new and they hope temporary way of life.

(on camera): One of the things I was so struck by was just how massive this place is. Those are the Himalayan Mountains all behind me, and we are in the foothills of those mountains. This is one of the many villages of tents that sprung up immediately after the earthquake. There's about 6,000 people living here in about 1,000 tents. That's six people per tent, that's actually considered pretty good.

I want to point out a couple of things, though, that are concerning. One is these tents are not winterized. They will not protect against the rain, the will not protect against the immense cold, and it is getting colder here now, much cold -- much more colder at night, below freezing for sure. The ground is getting hard, and it's become increasingly difficult to dig, to even pound these stakes into the ground. Still, the U.N. informs these people that they'll be living here for about six months. At this altitude even I'm becoming a little bit short of breath. Still, the people so concerned they are about aftershocks and more debris coming down from the mountains. They want to live as high as possible, so people are continuing to move up the hill. (voice-over): Gofer Azkan (ph) used to live way up in the mountains. A header of livestock, his home now gone. He looks older and has experienced far more than his 22 years of life would have you believe. He has put together two tents for his family. He tells me this one sleeps six and has absolutely no heat. It is quite cold in there. Also, this is all the food for his entire family: A half a pot of rice, a quarter bag of flour, and a small handful of sprouts.

Even though he's optimistic, I couldn't help but wonder which would be more difficult for him to overcome, the cold or the starvation.

(on camera): They give a little prayer to the dirt and they throw the dirt onto the gravesite.

(voice-over): These are all the stories, tales of so much death and the struggle to survive, at nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, in 30 degree temperatures as winter comes, roaring so far away from help.

(on camera): You know, it's really hard to get a sense of what exactly happened during his earthquake. I actually come to roads like this, places like this you can see, and in fact all of these structures are just completely gone, I mean, completely demolished. People who were living here are displaced. But even more striking were the roads like this. I mean, the roads, just very narrow roads, only one car can pass at a time, big landslides, big boulders -- boulders the size of homes actually crashing on these roads, they had to be removed before any kind of relief, any kind of media, anybody could get in here.

Now you're actually starting to see some vehicles pass for the first time.

ANNOUNCER: Now help is arriving from around the world. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside this MASH unit for a doctor's perspective on how U.S. soldiers are saving lives in the quake zone.

And she's being call the miracle survivor. Trapped under a cripple mountain for two months, she's found alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a phenomenal story and from tragedies, both national and so forth, there are always cases of survival that are absolutely fantastic.

ANNOUNCER: How did they survive? Her story, just ahead. But first, here's how you can help.




GUPTA (voice-over): In the mountains of Pakistan, you need two functioning legs to survive. They tell me anything less and like an animal, you die. In other words, to lose a leg here is a death sentence. That's why they worry about 10-year-old Abita Danon (ph). She now has only one leg. The other crushed when the walls and roof of her school buckled all around her.

CAPT. JOHN FERNALD, MASH PEDIATRICIAN: One of the true disasters in pediatrics is all the schools that collapsed. So, you know, every kid -- we see so many kids (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA: Abita was one of three children to survive out of more than 200, but she is considered lucky.

(on camera): It's hard to believe that this was actually a school once. These are actually tables over here, a bench for the students over here. This is where they studied. You have notepads still lying on the ground, pencils. All still standing just the way it was on October 8. I also couldn't help but notice the signs around the room, this one in particular, out of the frying pan into the fire with the Urdu translation underneath. How eerily true.

And then over here, a whole collection of papers and books. Someone came back and wrote on this chalkboard in Urdu afterwards, it reads "On October 8, 2005, the earth shook and wreaked havoc" and it certainly did for so many students in this school and so many members of this community.

(voice-over): It was also a description of what happened to Abita Danon. She was so fragile, so badly injured, simply moving her meant it would take over a month to get her to the hospital, if she could get there at all. By the time she did arrive, she was infected and nearly dead.

MAJ. JEFFREY DEAN, MD, MASH ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: Bones were sticking out of the skin for 30 days before they were treated and then the infection is just persistent and, you know, it requires a lot of trips to the operating room.

GUPTA: Nine operations so far. It would take all the resources of the U.S. Army's 212 MASH Unit to coax her leg and life back to health.

A MASH unit. Remember? A Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and this is the last MASH in existence. After it's gone, MASH will be disbanded in favor of smaller more nimble units. But here, in northeastern Pakistan, 200 patients a day are lucky MASH is still open for business. Here, a young boy with scabies. This man simply can't sleep. A woman who's lost all feeling in her hand.

And some of the stories are just too much to bear. Dr. Mohammed Hoc (ph) from New York City is volunteering. A Pakistani-American doctor and Muslim. He took care of Americans after 9/11.

DR. MOHAMMED HOC (ph), VOLUNTEER FROM NEW YORK: I saw 9/11, the tower went down. That was 9:00, 8:30. (inaudible) might not have lost. But they bring a baby, the babies...

GUPTA: No matter how hard he works, he can never bring back a young girl's mother. This woman was carrying her baby that morning and even though she broke her arm trying, she could not save her baby's life. My own daughter is six months old, these stories, so incredibly hard to hear.

And this is just one day, all of this pain and grief in just 24 hours at the MASH unit here in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan.

DR. FAREED SHEIKH: So basically, this lady is 40-year-old female. She had ARDS (ph) lung failure.

GUPTA: It's worth pointing out, you know, you get tremendously ill patients here. I mean, this woman is on a breathing machine. She has her monitoring over here, as well. She has chest tubes in which are actually draining some of the fluid from her lungs, taking the pressure off of her lungs, as well, probably. As just pointed a patient like this would probably die in any teaching hospital here in Pakistan, but in this tent, here in the middle of Muzaffarabad, she may actually survive this type of injury and that's what we are seeing here as we're spending some time with this MASH unit here.

SHEIKH: She had medical problems before, they weren't really taken care of, on top of that, some of them had trauma, so it's very difficult to take care of them, yeah.

GUPTA: Dr. Fareed Sheikh (ph) is also hoping provide something that didn't exist before in many parts of Pakistan, basic healthcare. According to the World Health Organization, immunization rates for disease have climbed in this area. Before, less than 50 percent had been immunized. Now it is above 70 percent. Life changing operations such as hernia repairs and removal of a goiter of the thyroid gland were considered elective, a luxury but are now performed free of charge.

(on camera): Now, one of the most important things you have got to be able to do is to be able to operate, take care of people who need operations right away. Just behind me over here is the operating theater. One patient has just had their operation completed. They're being woken up. At the same time, another patient has just been put off to sleep. Their operation will start momentarily.

(voice-over): As for little 10-year-old Abita Danon with the crushed leg, when she found herself in the middle of an earthquake, she didn't even know what to call it. The Urdu word is zalzila (ph) but she had never needed to learn it. Today, her life is forever changed by zalzila. Her school and home will be rebuilt probably stronger than before. And the doctors at the 212th MASH have given her her leg back, but for the time being it is unclear how long they'll be staying or what will happen to her after they leave.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up next:

GUPTA: We just landed as one of the worst area hit area the Pakistan earthquake and I want to point out one of the most well organized camps that we've seen. About 16,000 people living here in these small villages around the camp, all around this mountain here the Indus River, all the way up, about 195,000 people, all in this area. As the winter gets colder and the temperatures start to drop, they're coming down by foot, many of them, entire family, entire villages, into these tents around here.

ANNOUNCER: Meet the man who's taking charge in the most remote refugee camps of the quake zone.




GUPTA: And you just got call said...

COLONEL AHMAD FARAZ, PAKISTAN ARMY: We just got a call and by the ninth I think we were here.

(voice-over): On October 9, just one day after the earthquake, Colonel Ahmad Faraz flew straight to the epicenter. When he arrived, the Allai Valley was a bloody, muddy, broken mess. Amid criticism that the Pakistani army was too slow to act, Faraz and a small group of troops are assigned to turn Allai Valley into a safe refuge for tens of thousands of people.

The valley is in northwest Pakistan. It is among the most remote and difficult to reach places in all of Asia. To understand what was happening to the people here meant paying the colonel a visit. We started by car, bone crushing hours in a small van.

(on camera): So we are traveling through the mountains here near a place called Bahd (ph), one of the worst hit areas by the earthquake and, I mean, you can't escape it. It's inescapable all around us that the devastation by the earthquake, all these buildings.

(voice-over): And impossible to travel by car to areas higher up in the mountains. Landslides have destroyed many of these ancient roads beyond repair.

A helicopter was the only way to get to the colonel. Though these mountains may look desolate, hundreds of thousands of people live here. Tens of thousands have already died, many of them children.

Many more are still alive, but profoundly vulnerable. After surviving untreated injuries, dehydration, starvation and outbreaks of disease, there is now a good chance untold numbers could freeze to death.

FARAZ: And, you know, first they are saved (ph) and then families and then again and again. I think in the fifth week, fifth week of this camp, I have 16,000 people and still people are coming.

GUPTA: Many of these people have never left their small plots of land. Getting them to come to the safety of this camp meant thinking like they do. That means Colonel Faraz and the private aid agencies working here are caring for not only for these people but also for their livelihood. (on camera): A lot of these people would not come out of the mountains, would not have come to camps like this unless they could bring their animals with them, their livestock, that is the livelihood. And so many places, we've heard this over and over again, they treat their livestock better than they treat their own children in some ways. They're not only members of their family but they are also a significant source of income and what this organization has done here, Wave the Children, USAID, actually create a place not only to keep the animals warm and safe from the element, but also to provide them food. And that was a big incentive to actually allow many of these families come down here.

(voice-over): And they continue to come. Make no mistake, there has been a long deep distrust of the military by the mountaineers, yet they still line up because they believe in Faraz.

FARAZ: Look how organized they are.

GUPTA (on camera): Yeah.

FARAZ: You can talk with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, sir. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says thank you.

GUPTA: He's thanking you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. He is helping this tent village. Thank you very much.

GUPTA (voice-over): They're learning Urdu, the official Pakistani language. And the camp is working. This is the largest refugee camp in Pakistan. We saw absolutely no violence or looting. In fact, as soon as I met the colonel, I was reminded of another military leader who changed the tenor of the relief effort in New Orleans, General Russell Honore.

GENERAL RUSSELL HONORE, U.S. NATIONAL GUARD: Put that weapon down off your back. You're delivering food.

GUPTA: Both men have proved a critically important point about relief. Money and resources alone won't promise success. Effective relief depends on strong leadership.

FARAZ: What is this? What is this?

CROWD: Chin.

FARAZ: What is this?

CROWD: Nose.

CROWD: Eyes.

CROWD: Eyebrows.

GUPTA: Turns out, saving lives wasn't Faraz's only agenda. He wanted to tackle something much more profound. He hopes this tragedy can help bring Pakistan into the 21st century, learning new languages and changing the culture.

FARAZ: OK. Sanjay. OK. She will tell you the national anthem.



FARAZ: So this is -- this is the children (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is what I want to show you. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people. Then look at their faces, everybody's happy.

GUPTA: Of course, you are just seeing a small slice of the relief in Pakistan. And surely, not everyone is happy. Forty-five-year-old Reyaz Mohammed (ph) was injured in the earthquake. He began having fits or seizures. The volunteer nurses who will alone see more than 200 patients today are at a loss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen minutes ago, and I see one just now like this.

GUPTA: Everyone is recruited to help.

(on camera): This is a big problem around here, around here, because you're seeing patients that have no history. Their CAT scans, all their records were actually destroyed by the earthquake. So, they show up here, as this gentlemen did, with a seizure and nobody knows exactly what to do in this case.

You can just drink this?

FARAZ: Yeah.

GUPTA: That's good.


GUPTA: Tastes pretty good.

(voice-over): Colonel Faraz knows he won't be able to take care of Reyez Mohammed and many of the sick and needy in Pakistan. But he will do what he can to provide clean water, warm tents and basic hygiene.

(on camera): Have most of the people here use toilets before?

FARAZ: Never seen any -- I mean, surely, it's a clean area. No smell.

GUPTA: Right. There is no smell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixteen thousand people and it's very neat and clean.

GUPTA (voice-over): He dreams of much more.

FARAZ: I think we are going to have a batch toilets and bathrooms every in the tents. This is going to be the metropolitan city, not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Islamabad.

GUPTA (on camera): This is going to be a metropolitan city?

FARAZ: Yeah.

GUPTA (voice-over): Given the need and suffering here, Colonel Faraz is determined to make it possible.

ANNOUNCER: As the military and aid grew to rush help, will a frigid winter proved to be a knockout punch in this fight for life? That story, just ahead.

Plus we take to the skies to show you the most amazing pictures yet. Entire mountain sides, gone right before your eyes. And a story some find too incredible to believe. This woman defies all the odds, crushed in the rubble for than two months, but pull out alive.





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