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Search For the Miners; After the Storm; Extreme Weather; Red Cross Sued; Bush's Lyme Disease; Airport Security

Aired August 9, 2007 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: To that mine. He was the only network reporter allowed inside during the rescue operation.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Standing here knowing that 2,000 feet behind me, and maybe less, are the six trapped miners. It's cold. It's dark. It's foreboding. A claustrophobic could never cut it here. There's steady wind blowing. The ceilings are low. We're 30 minutes away from the nearest exit. In normal times, it's very stressful. But right now there's a lot of tension. Nevertheless, the workers here, the rescue workers, the people who normally work in the mine are calm because they have a job to do.

And take a look at what happens to our camera shot while we're in the mine. We hear a boom that shakes the mine and startles the workers, and especially us. The owner says it's another seismic event. One more and we evacuate.

BOB MURRAY, CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: When the coal breaks away from the rib and just kind of lays there, we call that sluffage (ph).

TUCHMAN: But there are no more. We do see other damage to the mine walls caused by the initial collapse, but it's the feverish work to rescue six men dead or alive that stays in our minds.

MURRAY: This rubble could extend -- well, we know it goes 300 feet because we were up there. But it may go another 100 feet and stop and we could just walk up to the men or they may be right there.

TUCHMAN: Wishful thinking, perhaps, but it's keeping these rescue workers going.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, in the Crandall Canyon Mine, Utah.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, after some stopping and starting, the rescue effort is full on again. An overhead drill is going full bore in an attempt to reach the spot where the minors are trapped. That drill is opening up a two-inch hole that will allow search teams to snake a camera deep into the mine and look for signs of life. Bob Murray is the CEO of Murray Energy, part owner of the mine, and he joins us now live from the Crandall Canyon Mine.

Mr. Murray, how close to complete is that first bore hole? BOB MURRAY, CEO MURRAY ENERGY: We are down 1,300 feet from the surface with that bore hole. The miners are at approximately 1,500 to 1,600 feet deep. So we should access them with that two and a half inch bore hole sometime this afternoon, John.

ROBERTS: Well, we're looking forward to that time and hoping that that bore hole is in exactly the right place.

Now what about from getting in to them horizontally. You took our Gary Tuchman with you just a few hours ago to the point of collapse. Will you be able to dig through that rubble and reach the point where the miners are?

MURRAY: Yes. Your cameraman and reporter and I just came out of the mine a few hours ago. I want to say, sir, that there is a second bore hole being drilled that I think is important that your listeners know. That hole is 8.5 inches in diameter and it will be down sometime tomorrow. Through those two bore holes, we can provide sustenance, communication, ventilation, anything that the miners need if they are alive and survived the concussion of the seismic event that caused the collapse.

The drilling and the mining underground that we just left has progressed about 180 feet in the last day. We're about 1,600 feet from the miners. And I estimate in my own judgment that it will take about a week to get to them. But it's not a life threatening situation if they are alive and were not killed with the initial percussion of the event. We can keep them alive indefinitely through the bore holes until we're able to access them underground, sir.

ROBERTS: Mr. Murray, let me just pick up on the point that you just made. You have clung fiercely to this idea that it was an earthquake or a seismic event that was the initiator of this collapse, which flies in the face of things that seismological experts are telling us. Take a listen to what Lee Siegel from the University of Utah told us yesterday.


LEE J. SIEGEL, SCIENCE WRITER: The University of Utah seismograph stations network of seismometers around the state, makes it pretty clear that the so-called earthquake, in fact, was the mine collapse.


ROBERTS: So, Mr. Murray, seismological experts are saying that what they registered on their seismographs was actually the collapse of the mine itself. That it wasn't an earthquake that initiated that event. What makes you so sure it was the other way around?

MURRAY: Because, first, that same University of Utah told us it was an earthquake. Secondly, they told the sheriff's department it was an earthquake. Thirdly, the earthquake was a 4.0 on the Richter scale that lasted over four minutes. There was an aftershock of two on the Richter scale that lasted over two minutes. That does not happen with what we call mountain bumps.

But the thing is, John, that's not what's important. I've been here at this mine around the clock, as have 134 dedicated people, to get these miners out. It was a natural disaster. And you folks can debate whether it was an earthquake. I know what it was. Or some other event.

But I'm concerned about the families, I'm concerned about administering to the needs of the families during this hour and time of crisis for them. And to getting the men out, sir. And I have no time to debate or think about these other subjects.

And on that subject, I would like to say that I took the son of one of the trapped miners, and the brother of another one, both experienced miners, in the mine with me yesterday. And they viewed what we're doing in the rescue effort. I'm taking them up with the helicopter to the drill rigs this morning.

They went back to their families and gave a far better report than I could give, John, to their families as to exactly what they saw. And they were very -- the families were very complimentary of our efforts. That is my concern, sir.


MURRAY: Is their welfare.

ROBERTS: And I don't want to argue the point, Mr. Murray, but you have said repeatedly at almost every opportunity, and you said it again this morning, that it was an earthquake that caused this collapse where seismologists say it was the other way around.

Let me just try to clear up one other point with you if I could. Was there retreat mining going on at your mine?

MURRAY: There was no retreat mining going on at the time of the collapse. Where the bodies are . . .

ROBERTS: But it has been -- but you have been engaging in retreat mining, though?

MURRAY: Previously. But the important point is, it has no effect on what we're -- what was going on at the time of the accident. There are eight solid pillars of coal around the mine. These are things that other people have brought out. You folks can debate that kind of stuff.

My job is to get these miners out. And I have been here at this mine around the clock to get them out as quickly as we can. My mine was in accordance with all mining plans approved by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. And they have found no violations in that mine in any way.

So I am focused on getting these men out. We have made no mistakes so far in getting them out, but it's a very slow process. And I hope we've done the very best job we can to administer the families. We've brought in bilingual interpreters. We've brought in the counselors from Mexico. We've had crisis management experts that we've hired to come in and help.

And, John, that's where my focus is, to get to these men. If the men are dead, that was up to the Lord and that is done. But it's up to me to get them out quickly. And that is totally where I'm focused. And I don't wish to debate on any of these other side issues. I totally want to administer to the people and get the miners out.

ROBERTS: All right. Bob Murray, I understand that you want to get the miners out. We should point out, though, when you talk about violations, that the mine was cited more than 300 times since January of 2004, including 116 citations which were considered significant and substantial. We just want to point that out.

But, Bob Murray, thanks very much for being with us. Good luck to you, sir, as you try to engage in these recovery efforts.


CHETRY: There's a new alert to states and a new theory about what may have caused the bridge to collapse in Minneapolis just a week ago. The NTSB looking at a possible design flaw in the steel plates that connect the beams of the super structure. State inspectors are not sure why the flaw would cause the collapse after 40 years of use. Possibility that there was some construction going on there that had heavy equipment. But the NTSB issued its first warning late last night asking states to be mindful of extra weight that construction crews can place on bridges, especially those with similar designs around the country.

Other headlines new this morning.

An earthquake overnight in the Los Angeles area and preliminary reports saying it was a 4.5. The epicenter about 30 miles northwest of the L.A. Civic Center. So far there have been no reports of anyone hurt or any major damage.

There's also a new tropical storm in the Pacific. Forecasters say Tropical Storm Flossie is about halfway between Mexico and Hawaii. Flossie is the sixth named storm of the Pacific hurricane season.

ROBERTS: Gunmen attacked government and police buildings in northwestern Yemen today. Government forces say they killed four al Qaeda militants yesterday, including the number two al Qaeda leader in Yemen. Al Qaeda attacked the USS Cole, which was anchored in Yemen back in 2000 killing 17 sailors.

There are conflicting reports right now about the possibility of Pakistan declaring a state of emergency. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf backed out of a summit in Afghanistan today. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called him overnight as talks swirled about Pakistan declaring a state of emergency that would give the government extraordinary power and could delay elections set for the end of this year. And a new major league home run record, again. Barry Bonds hit another home run, but this time there was a lot less fanfare for home run number 757. With the pressure off, Bonds homered in the first inning, splashing it into the water beyond the right field fence.

CHETRY: Well, it's time now to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for some other stories new this morning.

New York City trying to get moving again after a colossal storm that shut down the nation's largest subway system. AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho is downstairs at the Columbus Circle Station.

And there are still subway problems this morning, right, Alina?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are not a lot of subway problems, Kiran. Good morning to you.

You know, for the millions of people who rely on New York's mass transit, there is some good news to report this morning. Most of the subways are back in service. Now if there was any doubt as to what contributed to all of this, all you have to do is take a look at the cover of the New York City tabloids. "Twister" is the headline there. And underneath you see Dorothy from the famous movie, "The Wizard of Oz" saying, "this ain't Kansas." And that's for sure.

There was really what amounted to a weather trifecta yesterday. A blast of rain that dumped three inches in an hour on New York City, followed by that tornado in the Brooklyn area, which is rare. And then finally, the oppressive heat and humidity, which really put a strain on the city's power grid. Add all of that together, and what you have is something that is too much for the nation's largest subway system.


ELIOT SPITZER, (D) NEW YORK GOVERNOR: And there was a system failure. Whenever there's a system failure, you're not satisfied. The question is, why was there a system failure? Can we address it?


CHO: New York's governor, Eliot Spitzer, is making sure that the Metropolitan Transit Authority does address this problem. In fact, he's giving the MTA 30 days to come up with some sort of solution.

Now if you can believe this, this is a bit of history repeating itself. Something similar happened back in September of 2004. Back then they called it an act of God. This time the excuse, Kiran, was climate change.

CHETRY: Alina, thank you for that.

And coming up a little bit later, we are going to be speaking with New York Senator Charles Schumer about the problem with the subway system flooding, some of the trains on one particular line still out this morning because of flooding.

Well, extreme heat across much of the country. The heat index 120 in Charleston, South Carolina. That's where our Reynolds Wolf is standing by this morning.

The heat index, that's what it feels like outside if you're out there trying to do some activities, right, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, no question about it.

This morning in Charleston, it is -- there is so much moisture in the air. It's this damp feeling. It's just so oppressive here.

And we're talking about early morning. The sun will not set here until about 8:11. So it's going to get still hotter. Now keep this in mind, Kiran. We're expecting the high today to reach 96. That's going to tie the record on this date of 96, which was set back just in 1972. Now the all-time record high in Charleston was 105. That was set on August 1st in 1999.

Now we are expecting a lot of heat, a lot of humidity. So it's going to feel much warmer, like it's anywhere from 117, possibly as high as 120. They've been dealing with that in Charleston for much of the week. And many people are going to be frequenting spots or frequenting places like this, Waterfront Park, where you have a nice fountain. Tony (ph), possibly in the next couple of seconds, I may be running back here myself and enjoying some of that water.

And speaking of water, that's the key thing that we want people really to drink, as much as you possibly can. Drink plenty of water. You really don't need those sports drinks. You don't need soft drinks. All across much of the southeast. In fact, nearly a third of the nation is going to be experiencing this extreme heat.

You see it right there on the map. So, plain and simple, take it easy. You don't want to get out there in the peak heating hours of the day, especially into the afternoon. The thing is moderation. Moderation, moderation. Take it easy. But if you happen to be in the nice cool studios where I'm sure the temperature's around what, 67, Kiran, it's maybe 68 up there? Must be pretty nice.

CHETRY: Yes, but, you know what, I said you look great in a hat. You don't have to wear a suit today. So be thankful for a couple of little things.

WOLF: That's true.

CHETRY: Reynolds, thank you.

WOLF: You are so optimistic. You are so optimistic. Looking at the god side of things.

CHETRY: Thanks, Reynolds. All right. We'll check in with you a little bit later.

Johnson & Johnson taking on the American Red Cross. A legal fight. And Ali Velshi is here to explain.

I'm accidentally wearing their colors. I hope Johnson & Johnson doesn't call me this morning.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: My first question was going to be, when you think of red and white was do you think of? This morning it would be you, but people associate that with the Red Cross. It's also Johnson & Johnson's trademark. And for over 100 years they've had a sort of an agreement. Congress has actually even supported this agreement that Johnson & Johnson can use the Greek red cross on a white background for commercial purposes. The Red Cross can use it for raising money for humanitarian aid.

Now in the last few years what's happened is that the Red Cross has started licensing its name along with its symbol for some health care products and commercial products. Johnson & Johnson says that's not the business line you're in. That's for to us do. The Red Cross says we're not really just selling it for money, we're selling it for money that helps in our humanitarian aid work.

Well, finally, Johnson & Johnson said, we've had enough and they've filed suit in federal court here in Manhattan to try to force the Red Cross to stop using the red cross for money-raising activities that they don't consider humanitarian. It's a bit of a complicated case. The Red Cross says it's appalled by the fact that Johnson & Johnson would do this. We'll stick with it closely. But it's interesting, nonetheless.


CHETRY: Sure is. Ali Velshi, thanks so much.


ROBERTS: Coming up now to 15 minutes after the hour.

President Bush is apparently among the millions of Americans who have had lyme disease. The White House disclosed that President Bush was diagnosed and treated for it last summer. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

Sanjay, a White House spokesman says that President Bush had that bull's-eye rash. So it sounds like they caught it in the fairly early stages.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. It's a very characteristic rash. They describe it as a complete resolution of the president's case. No recurrence is how they described it.

It was last August, I guess, when he noticed, the president noticed, that he actually had a rash on the front of his left lower leg and he alerted White House physicians about that and they subsequently saw this characteristic rash, which does look like a bull's-eye. That, along with the fact that he had some outdoor activity sort of made them strongly suspect lyme disease. Now in its early -- when it's localized, that means it's just in the rash sort of stage and it hasn't had a chance to spread throughout the body. It needs to get treated at that point. If it's not treated at that point or it spreads, you can have pretty severe symptoms. People don't realize, lyme disease can actually be very significant. It can cause severe flu-like symptoms. It can also effect the central nervous system. People may complain of muscle pains. They complain of arthritic type pains. All of those sort of things can happen as a result of this infected deer tick which attaches itself to you and causes infection.

ROBERTS: You know, Sanjay, this is a disease that is often either missed or miss diagnosed. Why is that?

GUPTA: There's a few reasons. It's sort of interesting. A lot of people never find the rash. They were outside perhaps and the tick caused the infection, but they never see that telltale bull's-eye rash. That's one reason. Instead, they go to the doctor and they have these flu-like symptoms, which can be much more vague and people don't necessarily put it together.

The other thing is, there are other tick associated illnesses. There is something called STARI, southern tick associated rash illness, which actually is more common in Texas, for example, where the president may have been outdoors quite a bit. So that's something to consider as well. But there's a sort of differential there when it comes to these sorts of illnesses.

ROBERTS: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta for us on lyme disease this morning.

Sanjay, thanks. We'll see you a little bit later on.

A reminder, if you have questions for Dr. Gupta, send them to his mail bag. Go to and drop us an e-mail. Sanjay will be answering your questions coming up in our next hour.

CHETRY: Safe and secure in the skies, but you may have to give up something. How about your privacy. Would do you it? What the feds want to know from you next.



And our terror watch now. What the government is doing to prevent another attack in the skies. The TSA is getting ready I announce some new guidelines for screenings air travelers. Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve breaks it down for us. She's live from our Washington bureau.

Good morning, Jeanne.


You know, for a while there the airport in Bangor, Maine, had a little cottage industry providing runways for flights that had been diverted because there were suspicious people on board. Well the Department of Homeland Security is hoping those embarrassing and inconvenient events are soon to be a thing of the past.

According to sources, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is going to announce this morning that air carriers are going to have to provide manifest information about passengers either 30 minutes before departure from a foreign airport or alternatively as each passenger checks in for their flights. Previously the government was not getting that information until the planes were in the air. The idea, obviously, is to give customs and border protection more time to check out the names and prevent any plane from taking off with a potentially dangerous person on board.


CHETRY: So you were talking about -- you said that this program relates to foreign travelers. What about domestic passengers and that screening?

MESERVE: Well, another embarrassment has been when grandmothers and young children and others -- other obviously innocent people have been stopped from boarding airplanes because their names appeared to be on some kind of watch list. The Transportation Security Administration has blamed the problem on the fact that airlines, not the government, have been checking passenger information against the watch list. But officials say some of the airlines are not doing a great job at this.

So today sources say Secretary Chertoff is going to announce plans to have the TSA take over that function with testing of the program to begin this fall. The government has spent millions of dollars trying to launch screening programs to do this in the past. They've never gotten off the ground because of the objections of privacy advocates. They hope this time they've gotten it right.


CHETRY: All right, Jeanne Meserve, thank you.

MESERVE: You bet.

ROBERTS: Well, the Botox bandit tops your "Quick Hits" now. Police in Tampa, Florida, are looking for a woman who gets cosmetic procedures done and then runs off without paying. They say that she makes up an excuse about having to go out to her car, but she never comes back to play. Unfortunately for her, plastic surgeons tend to take a lot of pictures of their clients. And that was her.

Trouble on the menu. The price of steak is skyrocketing here in New York City and America's drive to get off foreign oil is to blame. We'll cut into it next on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: What's on the menu at steak houses here in New York City? Trouble and plenty of it. Meat is getting more and more expensive and America's attempt to cut its addiction to foreign oil is to blame.

CHETRY: Yes. And here's the deal. Ethanol is the fuel seen as the best replacement for foreign oil. And, of course, ethanol is made from corn. And corn's used to feed cattle. As the demand for ethanol is increasing, the price of corn has been going up and it makes it a lot more expensive for ranchers to feed the cattle that then becomes steak. So some restaurants are passing that price spike on to customers. Others, though, are replacing steak with things like buffalo meat.

ROBERTS: A little bit cheaper.

CHETRY: So buffaloes . . .

ROBERTS: Do buffalo not eat corn?

CHETRY: I guess they eat grass.

ROBERTS: I guess so. All right.

CHETRY: Well, one of the stories that you can't miss coming up. There is a new report -- actually if you love going to the beach, you're not going to like this. It's a new report on the quality of our beach water. There have been a record number of beach closures last year. In fact, just this week, we've seen a lot of closures and how the run-off from yesterday's storm is effecting beaches in New York City.

ROBERTS: I was just going through this report here thinking that the real OC has got some problems here when it comes to the beaches.

CHETRY: Yes, southern California's beaches, as well as many up and down the East Coast. So we're going to tell you which ones top the list and some of the best beaches as well coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: A shot of Montrose Harbor from our affiliate WGN in Chicago this morning. Going to be a bit cooler there than it was a couple of days ago. Only 85 degrees. A chance of some thunderstorms. Right now, 73 degrees. But get this, that humidity, 94 percent. So it's going to feel like a warm, wet blanket wrapped around you today in the windy city.

CHETRY: They look like toy boats there this morning, don't they? All lined up like that so nicely.

ROBERTS: Say that five times fast.

It's Thursday, the 9th of August. Thanks very much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us. We begin with a first look inside of the Utah mine where six men are still trapped. We have not heard from them since Monday when that collapse happened. Well, right now a drill is opening a two-inch hole, it's boring all the way down 1,500 feet into the mountain in the spot where the miners are believed to be. Rescuers are hopeful they'll be able to get a camera in there and find signs of life. They think that this may happen as early as tonight or into the early morning hours.

Our own Gary Tuchman went three miles deep into that mine. He was the only network reporter that was given access.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the first three days of our coverage of this disaster, we weren't allowed within one and a half miles of the mine. That's why we were very surprised last night when the owner of the mine said to us we could go inside the mine to see firsthand what's going on.

So we took a 45 minute safety course to learn how to use the oxygen, to learn how to escape from the mine if there was a problem.

TUCHMAN: ... allowed within one and a half miles of the mine. That's why we were very surprised last night when the owner of the mine said to us, we could go inside the mine to see firsthand what is was going on.

So we took a 45-minute safety course to learn how to use the oxygen, to learn how to escape from the mine if there was a problem. And then went in a small truck into the entrance of the mine -- the same entrance that the six miners went in. We went on a three-mile ride. The mine is very cold, 58 degrees, very windy.

We were taken right to the collapse site. We saw rescue workers using equipment trying to blast through the coal to get closer to the six men trapped inside. No knowing if they're dead or alive, but they're trying very hard to get to them.

They use a mining vehicle, which has a spinning blade, which goes through the coal and the rubber. They take the coal, they put it in a shuttle car. The shuttle car brings the coal outside, and they continue doing that over and over and over again.

The work had to stop for about two days because of continuing seismic events here. While we were inside the mine, a very scary event happened to us. We heard this thud, this concussion, the room started to shake. I look at some of the mining workers, they looked a little shaken. We were very shaken, as journalists. It turns out, according to the owner, it was another seismic event. He said if another happened we would have to leave but there wasn't another one that happened.

We were there two hours and we can tell you there's still an awful lot of work to do. This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, in Huntington, Utah .


ROBERTS: Pretty incredible trip underground there. We are also beginning to learn the names and faces of the men trapped inside the mine. CNN has confirmed the names of two of them; 58-year-old Carey Allred (ph), who has been a minor for 30 years, and 41-year-old Manuel Sanchez, a 17-year veteran of coal mines in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. Nate Carlisle, a reporter for "The Salt Lake Tribune", who has covered the story from day one, says he has learned more about the miners.


NATE CARLISLE, "SALT LAKE TRIBUNE": Don Ericsson (ph) is a long- time or life-long resident of this area. One person I talked to who worked with him years ago at an auto wrecker says if Don Ericsson (ph) is still alive, that he -- the other miners are in good hands. Because Don Ericsson will take care of him.

ROBERTS: Another fellow who you have identified in your story is Brandon Phillips, comes from a family of miners?

CARLISLE: He does, as a lot of families do. It is multi- generational. It is believed he lost a relative about 20 years ago in another mine disaster in Utah, that killed 20 or more people.


ROBERTS: We're going to learn more about the other miners throughout the morning and we'll share that information with you just as soon as we get it -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, now to a new alert to states and a new theory about what may have caused the bridge collapse in Minneapolis a week ago. The NTSB is looking at a possible design flaw in the steel plates that connect the beams of the super structure, of the overall structure of the bridge.

State inspectors are not sure why the flaw would cause the collapse some 40 years later. They say possibility of the heavy, heavy equipment because of construction work being done. The NTSB issued its first warning about this late last night, asking states to be mindful of the extra weight that construction crews can place around bridges, around the country.

ROBERTS: Millions of children are not getting basic vaccinations for things like chicken pox and meningitis. That's according to a new study. And those are the kids whose parents or guardians actually have insurance. So it's got nothing to do with availability. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Doctor Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

Sanjay, we have heard so much about the importance of childhood vaccinations, yet there's still this gap. How is that happening?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's pretty incredible. Some of it comes about because of inability to actually get some of those vaccines. Some of it is that a lot of parents and health care providers still don't know which vaccines should be given at what particular age.

The CDC started a new campaign for National Immunization Awareness Month, trying to focus on pre-teens specifically. And giving a list of some necessary vaccines. Let me put those up for you so you can look at specifically what is necessary for, again, these are pre- teens. Meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria -- a shot for that, vaccinations for that.

They are also recommending now, officially, this again coming from the Centers for Disease Control, vaccines for whooping cough and cervical cancer, as well. It's important to point out, again, while these are not always available to everybody -- and that's a significant problem in the health care system -- there are some things like tetanus, like diphtheria, that may actually wear off over time and need to be given a booster, sort of in that pre-teen stage, John.

ROBERTS: Are there any down sides to these vaccines? There was the whole thimerosal controversy going on for a long time, which may have discouraged some parents from getting their children vaccinated.

GUPTA: Yes, I think that is an ongoing controversy. You are referring to this possible link between the MMR, measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and autism. Obviously, that's a vaccine given to younger children. That's an ongoing controversy and probably has led to a decrease in the number of immunizations.

There is also a fair amount of controversy over the HPV, human papilloma virus, for cervical cancer. Again, officially recommended now by the CDC, a lot of controversy around that. Should it be given?

One thing I think is important to point out, John, is that there are individual risks and there are public health risks. Some of the diseases we were just talking about could possibly be contagious, like meningitis, for example, and are more a public health concern. Whereas the HPV is very much a decision that may be between doctors and patients regarding whether or not they want to prevent this particular cancer on an individual basis.

ROBERTS: A big ethical debate about that. Some people thinking they are giving teenage girls the HPV vaccine may encourage them to have sex.

Doctor Sanjay Gupta, thanks for joining us.

And a reminder, if you have questions for Sanjay, send them to his mailbag. Go to Drop us an e-mail. Sanjay will answer your questions, as he does every Thursday, coming up in the 8:00 a.m. hour.

CHETRY: A lawsuit in that massive New York City steam pipe explosion in your "Quick Hits" now. A man and woman who suffered excruciating burns are going after Con Edison. They are suing Con Ed for negligence.

The New York Fire Department is investigating the collapse of a four-story building that was under construction and it came down during yesterday's powerful storm. No injuries, though, were reported in that building collapse.

In the wake of deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse we're wondering are our cities aging faster than we can keep up with them? Can we afford, and is there enough money to maintain our cities' infrastructure. We will talk with Senator Charles Schumer about some of the problems unique to New York State. Next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning.

An 18-wheeler wreck clogging a major artery, tops your "Quick Hits" now. The Nebraska Highway Patrol says a trucker lost control, slammed through a barrier and turned over, blocking both sides of I-80 between Omaha and Lincoln. Both sides of road, though, are open this morning.

A road turned into a taxiway and stopped traffic in -- where else? -- Miami. Police stopped cars so a twin engine plane could be moved from one part of Miami International Airport to the other, using the streets surrounding the airport. See, you thought it landed in the road. But no, they were just transporting it.

Dramatic cell phone video: A fiery crash in Upstate New York. It happened on a stretch of train tracks near Fort Drum. Two railcars full of equipment broke loose and barreled down the tracks at 50 miles per hour. Workers down line were warned to take cover. One of them was able to capture this video as one of the runaway cars hit a repair truck.

CHETRY: Parts of Brooklyn are still cleaning up this morning 24 hours after a twister tore through parts of the borough. Take a look, this is what the Bay Ridge neighborhood looks like; massive storms dumping three inches of rain in less than an hour.

And that exposed a much bigger problem, the city's subways. The heavy rain brought them to a screeching halt. This follows the deadly steam pipe explosion under a busy Midtown street. This is video of that from back in July.

These incidents, coupled with the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, made us look at the infrastructure of America's aging cities. Joining me now is New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who says his state isn't getting the money it needs to keep everything maintained.

Good morning, Senator. Good to see you. SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Good morning. Nice to talk to you.

CHETRY: What a mess yesterday in New York City. This was actually the third time in just seven months that the subways were crippled by the rain. There have been calls, for years, to make some major changes to the drainage system. Why is the nation's largest public transportation system so ill-equipped?

SCHUMER: The bottom line is that this is a system that's now close to 100 years old. It was an engineering marvel when built, but, of course, all these things deteriorate. To do them minute-to-minute, day-to-day, month-to-month maintenance is probably the number one job of any system that carries so many millions of people. Things fall down on the job.

In the mid '90s, the subway system reportedly brought $400 million in new pumps. Why they didn't work is something we are all looking at right now. Nobody understands why the MTA did not work. We have had torrential downpours before, but it seems the subway closes down far more frequently than it used to. It's the life blood of New York. I'm asking -- we're all asking -- what happened?

CHETRY: Apparently, Governor Spitzer, calling for a 30-day review from the MTA to try figure that out, as well.

But then, on to the other issue, the Minneapolis bridge collapse causing a lot of state and local officials to say maybe we need to take a second look at our bridges. In fact, a recent nationwide study had New York's transportation infrastructure as one of the five worst in the nation. This study says 37 percent of bridges are considered structurally deficient in our state. What can we do to fix that?

SCHUMER: Well, Kiran, all of this points up a bigger problem. That is that we've probably put too much emphasis, throughout the country, the federal and local level, on building new things, and not enough on maintaining the old.

For instance, when the federal highway system was started by Dwight D. Eisenhower, and for the next 30 years, there was a great need for new highways. Now most of the new highways that are built go for much less populated areas to others. Yet there's about four times as much money, federal money that goes to new construction than maintenance.

I think the whole thing has to be flipped around. We have to emphasize maintenance. It's not exciting or interesting, nobody gets up there and cuts a ribbon, but it's necessary, important. And we have to put much more emphases on maintenance rather than new construction. That applies to bridges, that applies to highways, that applies to sewer and water systems as well.

CHETRY: All of it costs a lot of money, as we know. Nobody wants to pay more taxes, people want to have money spent on other types of public programs. There was something interesting that I'd like to get your thoughts on. This opinion piece in "The Daily News" today says state leaders have ignored the private sector, or the potential of handing over some of these infrastructures, like bridges, to the private sector. Having them with endless amounts of money to be able to maintain them, and charge a toll. Is that something that could be a possible solution for the state?

SCHUMER: It's a possible solution. But most of our highways, most of our bridges are not toll bridges. If you are going to hand them over to somebody else to do, they may impose tolls. I know Governor Corzine, for instance -- who is a very bright guy, and understands these financial things -- decided that it would be certainly worthwhile to look at handing over a lot of the New Jersey Turnpike to private sector. There was more or less a rebellion in the legislature, and among the people of New Jersey. So that's not such an easy --

CHETRY: Right. But the turnpike is a toll road already, though.

SCHUMER: It is a toll road, but even there, even with it being a toll road, people were worried they would have no control. The tolls would go up, etc cetera. I think the best thing we can do immediately is to try and redouble the federal and state emphasis, particularly federal, on maintenance. And not -- and stop focusing so much on new construction. That's true whether it comes to mass transit, rail, bridge -- as I said our other kinds of infrastructure. There's a lot of money still going into these areas, but much more into new construction than into maintenance.

CHETRY: Senator Chuck Schumer, thanks for being with us this morning.

SCHUMER: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Coming up now to 45 minutes after the hour. Pavarotti in the hospital, tops your "Quick Hits" now. The hospital, in Pavarotti's northern Italian hometown of Modena (ph), would not say why the opera singer was there. Reports say, though, that he has pneumonia.

We are hearing from Fidel Castro this morning. His own words, in a newspaper column. Castro wrote he is angry about two Cuban boxers who defected during the Pan Am Games in Brazil last month. He's now threatening to block the Cuban boxing team from any further international competition.


CHETRY (voice over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, is it safe to go back in the water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too many of the beaches in the United States, the water is not clean. It's not safe.

CHETRY: An alarming report reveals a record number of America's beaches are polluted and a threat to the public. Is your beach one of them? What you need to know before packing your beach bag, next, on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, zero, and liftoff of Space Shuttle Endeavour, expanding the International Space Station --


ROBERTS: The crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour will spend today preparing to dock with the International Space Station. It was a picture perfect liftoff for Endeavour yesterday evening. On board, a teacher, Barbara Morgan. She was Christa McAuliffe's back up in 1986, before the Challenger disaster. Morgan will be beaming down lessons designed to get kids interested in space exploration. The shuttle docks with the International Space Station tomorrow.

CHETRY: The number of beach closings across the country is at an all-time record high, according to a new study. In fact, just yesterday nearly 100 beaches on Long Island were closed after the huge storm. And they feared pollution and run-off. How can you tell if your favorite hang-out is a beach buddy, a good beach, or maybe a beach bum, one that may be too dirty to swim in? Stephen Leatherman, also known as Doctor Beach, joins me from Miami this morning.

Thanks for being with us this morning.


CHETRY: The new report that found this record breaking number of beach closures, this is from data they got last year, identifies a lot of California beaches. Let's run down the list. Will Rogers State Beach that's in L.A. County, Aliso Beach, Crystal Beach, Doheny State Beach -- I hope I'm pronouncing that right -- and Newport Bay. What is going on with those beaches?

LEATHERMAN: You see, California is beautiful, it has the mountains meet the sea, but the problem is all the debris, and dog waste, and other -- oil droppings, all that stuff from the streets runs down quickly to the streams, and sometimes straight right into the water.

So they have a big problem in California dealing with storm water run-off. That's the problem. That area is highly developed. Any time you have these cities and congestion of people, all that sort of stuff, all that debris you see on parking lots, boom, it flushes right into the sea.

CHETRY: Is this something unique to California or are we seeing this all over the country?

LEATHERMAN: We see it all over the country. Of course, California gets it very problematic because it's the mountains meet the sea. But in Long Island, New York, New Jersey, whenever you get big storms coming through, same thing happens. You get the water going to the streams, the streams feed to the rivers, the rivers go to the shore. Look at the Hudson, overall it has been pretty clean in the last couple of years. They even have barnacles coming back.

But when you get these big floods, it brings all this debris and the parasites, the bacteria, viruses, right to the shore. And you don't want to go swimming. I call it the first flush. You need to wait. The good news is that the saltwater environment will eventually kill all of this, but it takes a couple days.

In fact, a lot of these beach closures, something like 80 percent of them are preemptive. The beach communities know all this stuff is coming. They close the beaches without even doing the test, because they know what they're going to find.

CHETRY: I got you.

For people that are planning trips and vacations to the beach, we are in the middle of a summer vacation season. How can they tell if the beaches and waters they are going to be in with their families are safe?

LEATHERMAN: First of all, you want to check with EPA, it has a website, or your local authorities. They will tell you. The lifeguards should close the beaches as well. The beaches are closed, I'm sorry, I know people planning vacations, but you need to do something else. Go to a swimming pool or wait it out for a day or two, and it will clean up, as long as the rain stops. But other than that, I tell people don't swim in the brown tide. It's really not smart.

CHETRY: What can happen to you? What are some ill effects you would feel from swimming in contaminated water?

LEATHERMAN: First of all, people get sore throats. They can get flu-like symptoms. You can pick up viruses, parasites. You certainly don't want to deal with that. But that's the worst case.

I don't know of people really dying in this country. I have been to India, where you could die if you fell in some of those canals. But certainly we don't have that kind of terrible water quality. But really it has to do with all the fertilizers, pesticides off people's lawns. And that's a big problem. People say, oh, we have to stop the pollution, yes, but we have pretty much stopped all the industrial pollution. This is stuff that washes off lawns, and off of the roads and all of the parking lots.

CHETRY: Especially with the a lot of the rain that we have gotten. It's been an especially wet one. Before we let you go, let's look from your own website, You identify what you consider to be the top five -- the best beaches. Let's go through them real quick. We have them up there. In Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach, North Carolina? How's that one?

LEATHERMAN: Oh, yeah. This is a superb beach. Of course, there's no -- it's a little, small town, there. So there's no source of pollution there. You're way out in the ocean, fantastic area.

CHETRY: Caladesi Island State Park?

LEATHERMAN: This is in Tampa area, near actually, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Beautiful area, get there by pedestrian ferry.

CHETRY: I got you.

We saw Cooper Beach, which is in the South Hamptons, the Hamptons; then Hanalei Beach on Kauai, in Hawaii, and Coast Guard Beach out on Cape Cod, Mass.

Well, thank so much, Doctor Beach, for filling us in on this stuff. Some things that people should be aware of.

Stephen Leatherman, thank you.

LEATHERMAN: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: Well, on a beach full of people, this man would stand out. Check out the new tallest man in the world. "The Guinness Book of Records" says this Ukrainian man is 8'5". He said he got frostbite on his feet once, because he couldn't find shoes big enough. He is a half foot taller than the old titleholder, a Chinese man, who stands 7'9".

CHETRY: You say old titleholder, he was the titleholder last week! Man, things are changing quickly around here.

ROBERTS: Somebody new comes out every week.

CHETRY: Someone is eating spinach.

ROBERTS: A new report about a chemical in plastic. Sanjay Gupta has been following it for us.

What did you find, Sanjay?

GUPTA: The substance is bisphenol A, and it's present in just about everything. One of the most alarming places though, baby bottles. Just how big a problem is it? More importantly, what can do you about it? I'll have that for you at the top of hour. More AMERICAN MORNING just after the break.


CHETRY: A Mexican tourism official is saying sorry for an ugly incident at a beauty contest last spring. Let's take look.




These were the boos aimed at Miss USA Rachel Smith. She was jeered several times while appearing at a pageant in Mexico City. Many people called that outrageous. The Mexico tourism chief calling the behavior unacceptable and just apologized in a letter to Smith. ROBERTS: Why would you ever boo her? Can't figure that out.

CHETRY: She's pretty, right?

ROBERTS: It's 58 minutes after the hour. Coming up in our next half hour, stories that you can't miss. We have been talking about tainted products coming from China, seafood, one of them. Could a million pounds of Chinese seafood slip through the net of the FDA and end up on your dinner table?

CHETRY: And what are the implications of that? Sanjay Gupta will talk about that with us.

And also it's a story we have talked about all week, some concerns about a certain chemical that's ubiquitous. We find it in almost everything, including our baby bottles. Some practical advice for parents when it comes to whether or not the chemical in these plastics is really dangerous for your child. Sanjay will break it all down for us. Coming up, the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.


CHETRY (voice over): Disaster tour: This morning the first images from inside the collapsed Utah mine. CNN side-by-side with rescuers and the mine owner. Still trying to find his six missing men.

BOB MURRAY, PRES., CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: Well, it was a natural disaster. You folks can debate whether it an earthquake. My job is to get these miners.

CHETRY (voice over): Prayers of hope and a rescue effort renewed, on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome once again, it's Thursday, August 9. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks for joining us.

We have got the first pictures from inside the Utah mine where crews are working around the clock to make contact with six trapped miners. CNN's Gary Tuchman went three miles deep into the mine overnight. The only network reporter allowed inside during the rescue operation. Take a look.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): We entered the Crandall Canyon Mine through the same tunnel the six trapped workers went through.

A three-mile journey, in a small truck, that would take about half-hour in utter darkness. We passed rescue workers in their vehicle, on the way to our ultimate destination.

BOB MURRAY, PRES., CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: Right there is where the rescue effort is going on.

TUCHMAN: This is as far as we could go. This is where the mine collapsed. The six trapped miners are believed to be tantalizing close but with tons of coal separating them from us -- this was an unusual opportunity to see how much work rescue workers still have.

You are looking at the effort to drill into the coal and rock to rescue the six men. The machine is called a continuing mining vehicle. It has a spinning drum on the front of it, with blades.