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At Least 337 Dead in Peru Earthquake; Stocks Plunge: Asian Markets Tumble on Credit Fears; Tropical Storm Erin Makes Landfall This Morning

Aired August 16, 2007 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome. It's Thursday, August 16th.
I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: John Roberts is off. I'm Rob Marciano.

Lots of stuff going on today.

We have our first Atlantic hurricane of the season. We have the markets that are heading down again. And of course this huge earthquake in Peru.

CHETRY: Yes, and that's what we're going to start off with right now.

7:00 on the East Coast, which makes it 6:00 a.m. in Peru. And we have breaking news about this. The dramatic situation still unfolding right now.

A massive 7.9 magnitude quake hit near the coast in Peru last night about 90 miles from the capital city of Lima. The death toll grew overnight. At least 337 confirmed killed, and more than 1,300 others hurt. The numbers have been coming in all morning long.

Alina Cho following that for us, and she has more now from our newsroom -- Alina.


You know, part of the reason why it's been so difficult to get an accurate count of just how many people died in this massive earthquake is that it happened in a coastal area. Rescuers are having a really tough time getting access.

A major highway has been damaged. Some roads have been blocked by fallen boulders, and that is making the search for survivors extremely difficult, to say the least. But as it stands now, civil defense officials in Peru are reporting at least 337 dead and more than 1,300 injured in last night's 7.9 magnitude quake.

Now, it happened at 6:40 p.m. local time. And incredibly, the epicenter was 25 miles below ground. Now, the quake was followed by several strong aftershocks. It also triggered a brief tsunami warning for parts of South and Central America. The earthquake lasted for just a couple of minutes, but felt like an eternity for the people who experienced it.


FERNANDO CALDERON, AMERICAN VISITING PERU: For two consecutive minutes, the ground is shaking. And finally, this big shake came and everybody -- everybody -- everybody. It was chaos.

Everybody start crying. Kids, everybody started crying. Everybody started running, like, towards an empty space. Everybody was afraid that the buildings were going to collapse.


CHO: Now, earthquakes in Peru are not that uncommon. The Andes Mountains cut right through the country and there are many fault lines.

This morning in Peru, there is a state of emergency in effect. The search for survivors, of course, continues this morning.

And Kiran, a doctor's strike that just started yesterday there has been called off to deal with this emergency -- Kiran.

CHETRY: They are asking people to donate blood. They're going to need all the help they can get. We're going to talk with Sanjay Gupta about that in just a couple of minutes.

Alina, thanks.

Meanwhile, on the phone, an American living in Peru, Electra Anderson.

Electra, did you feel the quake?

ELECTRA ANDERSON, AMERICAN LIVING IN PERU: Oh my god, did I feel the quake? No, I lived in California all my life, and my kids, and we are -- we are used to earthquakes.

So we were just -- my daughter just got surgery. She's covered in bandages. She couldn't go anywhere any way.

But we're on the tenth floor of a building that's on the water. It's a little bit south of the actual city of Lima, in Barranco. And we were looking at each other.

Like, I said, "Are you kicking the bed?" And she said, "No, are you kicking the bed?" And I said, "No."

And then the whole room just started going -- swaying back and forth. And it looked like the glass was going to pop out of the windows. And things started falling and cracking. But we just stayed in bed and kept watching TV. But, I mean, seriously, we kept looking at each other going, "This is going to stop, right?" And it never stopped. It kept going and going and getting bigger and bigger.

And it was like, you know, what am I going to drag her with stitches into a doorway? I mean, it just didn't make sense.

She's a doctor. And she just said, "You know, just let's stay in bed." So we just stayed in bed through the whole thing.

And then it was -- it was amazing. It's just -- I probably have been in six earthquakes in my life. And that was the most amazing, scary thing, because it was so long. It was...

CHETRY: And Electra, let me ask you this...


CHETRY: ... was there any damage or anyone hurt in your area?

ANDERSON: In my area, pretty much I -- now, my building is relatively new. I mean, it's about three years old. And it was built to withstand earthquakes, thank god. But I -- everybody in my building left the building.

And I know because I'm on the top -- I'm in the penthouse on the top floor, so I'm -- I know that the top floor, you know, moves more than anybody. But they all left and got in their cars and drove away to their other houses or, you know, to the countryside.

And a lot of people are sleeping in the parks. I can see them in the parks from the back of my house. There's nobody on the streets. Nobody.

The water went out. We never lost power. I never lost power. I know a lot of people did.

And none of the phones -- none of the phones worked. The cell phones, we all use radios here. And none of the phones were working.

Only I had a -- I have an American phone, Vonage from Florida that I use here, and that was -- people were calling me because I had that phone. That was the only phone that was working to find out how everything -- everybody was.

CHETRY: Right.

ANDERSON: But I can't tell them how everybody was, because I -- you know, I -- I haven't left my house.

CHETRY: All right. Electra...

ANDERSON: We've been having tremors all night. We've been having aftershocks. I don't know. We counted up to 70 until I went to sleep at 2:00 in the morning. And then you woke me up at 5:30. So... CHETRY: All right. Well, hopefully you'll be able to get back to sleep. It's been certainly a very jarring time there with that earthquake, 6:00 in the morning in Peru.

And thanks for talking to us, Electra. We appreciate it.

In the meantime, there are more than 1,300 people injured in the aftermath of this major earthquake in Peru and countless more could be trapped under mud and debris. The government now asking people to give blood.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

And what are the top concerns for medical personnel? I guess they were in the middle of -- or possibly planning this doctor's strike. That's been called off now as everybody's springing into action. What are the biggest concerns right now for the rescuers?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, and thankfully that strike has been called off.

You know, one of the -- one of the things that's at the heart of all of this is that the hospitals themselves often have been destroyed or deeply affected by the earthquake as well, so they don't have reliable electricity, they don't have reliable resources. And you can imagine how that sort of spawns out to the rest of the problem here.

You talk about primary injuries, where people actually have things like broken bones, crush injuries. You have secondary injuries where people are walking around, stepping on broken glass or stepping on nails, things like that. They can get dehydrated from being outside, heatstroke, although it's a little bit cooler, we here, there.

You can also get electrocution from downed wires. The electricity just sort of around that area.

And then there's tertiary problems which will develop over the next several days -- lack of clean water, lack of clean sanitation. Standing water as a result of the earthquake can lead to sort of infectious disease problems as well.

So you sort of see it in the primary, secondary and tertiary problems that will sort of evolve over the next several days. But the problem is that the hospitals, if they are not working properly because of lack of resources or lack of electricity, lack of running water, it's going to sort of amplify those stages of problems.

CHETRY: All right. Sanjay Gupta giving us the medical perspective on this earthquake.

And like we said, they're asking people to donate blood as well. So we'll keep tabs on the situation in Peru for sure.

Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thank you.

MARCIANO: Now to breaking news in the markets. Some Asian stocks are having their worst day since the attacks of September 11th. Now U.S. stock futures are sliding again, and it follows another triple digit plunge on Wall Street that sent the Dow below the 13,000 mark.

Ali Velshi is here with a look at where the market is heading today.

And I have a bad feeling about the answer to that question, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wish I could tell you you're wrong, Rob.

You know, it's kind of -- we learned a long time ago that world markets are all interconnected. So when we have a rough day in New York, it trickles over to Asian markets, which start trading in the evening, U.S. time, and then European markets start trading overnight. And then it comes right back to us.

Where does it start and where does it stop?

We've had five down days in a row on the -- on U.S. markets. In fact, the S&P 500, which is one of the broadest measures, we see that drop yesterday to 1,406, which means it was lower than it was at the beginning of the year.

If you invested in January, that's a year to date look at the S&P 500. Look at that run-up that it had. Look at that in June, look into July, and now look where we are. We're right back down to where we started, and that's -- that's affecting most regular people, because when you invest in a 401(k), you've invested hopefully in a well-diversified fashion in a lot of different stocks. And a lot of different stocks are down.

Now, let me tell you what we're looking at right now.

We've got Dow Jones futures pointing to 145 points lower. That means we're going to have a triple-digit loss at the open as things stand right now. And things can change a lot in the next hour and a half.

We have Asian markets, as you said, in some cases taking their biggest losses in a while. We have a couple markets that were down more than six percent overnight. European markets right now across the board all down more than 2.5 percent.

So, another rough morning. For those of you who are concerned about your investments, take another look at them and determine whether you are in things that are too risky and you need to rebalance your portfolio.

But for most people, if you don't sell your shares, you haven't locked in your loss. And most people we've talked to think that this market will eventually start making its way back up -- Rob. MARCIANO: Ali Velshi watching the markets for us this morning.

Thanks, Ali.


CHETRY: So we're watching the earthquake, we're watching the markets, and we're also watching severe weather right here in the U.S. CNN is your hurricane headquarters, and we are keeping track of two big storms right now.

One, Tropical Storm Dean, grew to hurricane strength grew to hurricane strength in the Atlantic within the last couple of hours, and then also Tropical Storm Erin. From the radar picture, you can see that one bearing down on Texas. Heavy rain coming down in the spot where they really don't need it -- swamping areas that have already suffered from flooding all spring and summer.

Our Sean Callebs is in Corpus Christi, Texas. Bonnie Schneider in the severe weather center in Atlanta.

We begin though with Sean and the scene out there in Texas this morning.

Hi, Sean.


If you look at that radar picture, it looks like this area should be getting hammered with rainfall now. But organization has not been one of the characteristics of Erin as it moved towards the Texas coast. And right now we are getting just some light winds that are basically coming from the east. It leads us to believe that a lot of those significant bands are probably right along the coast now.

But you're exactly right, this state is very concerned about what this rainfall is going to do. Not so much with the wind. They expect it to be maybe 45 miles per hour. Or the storm surge -- they don't expect that to be very significant at all.

But this is a state that has simply been inundated with rain every month since March. So there's nowhere for it to go.

The ground remains saturated. They are very concerned about flash flooding. We know that the governor of Texas has already mobilized emergency crews to get them down along the coast here in the Corpus Christi area to prepare for once this rainfall does begin to hit this area.

They know it's coming. It's just a question of exactly when.

They could as much as three to five inches of rain in the Corpus Christi area, but as they move more inland, that becomes a bigger concern. They could get as much as eight inches of rain.

And so much of the United States really needs that, the bone-dry areas. But this state simply hammered, and it doesn't look like there's going to be any break. They are worried about this, and, of course, that other storm churning out there as well -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Sean Callebs, thanks so much.

And speaking of that other storm, Bonnie Schneider watching both Erin and Hurricane Dean.


MARCIANO: Kiran, other headlines new this morning.

The first hint of hope for the six trapped miners in Utah. Rescuers with sophisticated listening equipment say they heard noise lasting five minutes. The mine CEO was emotional last night.


BOB MURRAY, CEO & PRESIDENT, MURRAY ENERGY CORP.: They actually give me hope. And I just wish I could tell you that we have had them out by now.


MARCIANO: Hearing the noise from the mine was also enough to convince crews to drill a fourth hole in a different location.

And new information this morning in the case of missing Madeleine McCann. British scientists say traces of blood found in the hotel room where the 4-year-old was taken from is not hers. According to the test, the blood belongs to a white European man. Portuguese police say they believe Madeleine was murdered the night she disappeared in May.

Flooding in North Korea topping our "Quick Hits" now.

Flooding from heavy rains destroying more than 10 percent of the country's farmland. Rice and cornfields are submerged or completely washed away at the height of growing season. This is a nation that has dealt with severe famines since the mid-1990s.

And flooding has killed another 500 people in Bangladesh. The military now helping doctors and nurses in temporary hospitals as waterborne illnesses begin to spread. Floodwaters in Bangladesh also washing away nearly 133,000 tons of rice.

Well, we spent a lot of time overseas talking about threats to America, but is the biggest threat actually right here at home? There's a new report out on homegrown American terror. We're going to have more on that next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: We want to show you some of the most compelling shots of the morning in our "Quick Hits" now. A sinkhole nearly swallowing a minister's car. He was in it in a parking lot when it gave way. This is what happened. He says he said a prayer asking god to save him. As it turns out, I guess that prayer was answered because this Tyler, Texas, man escaped unhurt.

Well, also, a fireball on Interstate 70 near Grand Junction, Colorado. An 18-wheeler crashing into an overpass. The driver was killed. Traffic was backed up for 11 miles in both directions. And now there are some worries this morning that this bridge may collapse.

Thick smoke and flames rising over the forest in southern Turkey. A local leader says that the wildfires are growing. They're moving closer to nearby villages. Firefighters are trying to attack those flames from the air, giving villagers time to escape -- Rob.

MARCIANO: Kiran, the threat of a homegrown terrorist attack could now be greater than an attack from a terrorist organization overseas. That's the conclusion of a new report by the New York City Police Department.

Kelli Arena is in our Washington bureau with more in our "Terror Watch" this morning.

Hi, Kelli.


You know, the New York Police Department did a pretty comprehensive study on how people's beliefs are radicalized, which would drive the formation of terror groups. And it's an effort to basically explain what happens before rather than after a homegrown attack and what law enforcement can do to prevent the process from going forward.

Now, one of the report's main findings is that homegrown terrorists are younger. They are getting radicalized more quickly than they have in the past. And that could actually make it harder for police to prevent or to interrupt the type of radicalization that could lead to potential attacks.

In another observation, New York's police commissioner Ray Kelly says that the individuals just don't stand out in any way.


RAYMOND KELLY, NY POLICE COMMISSIONER: I think the unremarkable nature of the individuals, they are truly ordinary citizens, they don't stand out because they're impoverished. They don't stand out because they are particularly radical in their -- in their youth, that they're -- you know, they are very ordinary people that somehow become radicalized.


ARENA: Kelly says that homegrown terrorists are most often not directed by al Qaeda or any other group. They're just ordinary people who become radicalized and are willing to act out violently. The report also says that individuals who are most prone to homegrown attacks are Muslims between 15 and 35 men who live in male-dominated Muslim communities -- Rob.

somehow become radicalized.

MARCIANO: Kelli Arena on our "Terror Watch" this morning.

Thanks, Kelli.

ARENA: You're welcome.


CHETRY: Well, this report is not being received well by a lot of Muslim-Americans. They say that it paints Muslim-Americans with a very broad brush, really essentially turning everyone into a possible suspect.

Joining me now, Kareem Shora, the executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: You know, you have a lot of concerns about this report. One of the things, the controversial sections -- and I'll put it up on the screen -- is where they talk about where the places that likely homegrown terrorists may choose to hang out -- book stores, cafes, hookah bars, Internet cafes. It says, "They can serve as locations for indoctrination and compromise a radical subculture within the city."

What was your objection to that assessment?

SHORA: Well, Kiran, we don't want to undermine any form of effort by law enforcement. The threat is here and the threat is real. But the language, the unfortunate language that the NYPD chose to use in this report seems to really contradict what the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have told us. And to really counter what the FBI has done...

CHETRY: Why? What is different based on what you have heard from the FBI, as well as the national intelligence estimate?

SHORA: According to the national intelligence estimate released last month, as well as the regular dialogue that we enjoy with the FBI as a community, as we saw in Kelli Arena's earlier piece, we helped assist the FBI in a visit to Quantico by young Arab Muslim males and females to help provide them with opportunities, to show them that there is social mobility, to show them that the American system works. And I think -- I think the past six and a half years have proven that we have not faced any serious terror attacks, and it's a result of the fact that our system works. CHETRY: You just said the threat is here and the threat is real. What is that threat, in your opinion?

SHORA: The threat is against -- against all Americans. It's against everyone in the United States, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or what have you.

We are all facing -- we live in the same country. We are neighbors. We are all Americans first.

I'm just as concerned about the threat as anybody else is. And so our job as Muslim-Americans, Arab-Americans, South Asian-Americans is to become assets for our government. And we have been assets for our government. We are not a liability.

CHETRY: You know, I think one of the things that they brought up in this report was that there are some who don't feel that they are Americans first, and they bring this subsection of 15 to 35-year-old Muslim men who live in mostly male-dominated Muslim communities.

Do you believe that that threat is real?

SHORA: There might be a threat, but this threat exists everywhere. The situation is that -- I read the report, and what they did was they looked at the situation in the U.K., France, Spain, Germany, even Turkey, I think. And then they tried to implement that model here.

And we know the numbers don't show that. We know the fact is that Muslim-Americans, Arab-Americans are extremely well integrated in society. In fact, we are a success story in this country. And it's a testament to the success of the American system.

CHETRY: Another one of the criticisms of this report, it seems, is that they listed these types of places and these types of people but then really were unable to say how you can identify a person who would possibly become a potential terrorist.

So is there a way to identify, not necessarily based on race or sex, but who could possibly become a potential terrorist?

SHORA: Absolutely. Again, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security use behavior profiling, not necessarily racial or religions in nature. And that works.

And again, our system seems to have worked simply because social mobility is there, simply because society is able to accept diversity a lot more so than the United Kingdom or Spain or elsewhere. And again, we can't sit here in New York City or elsewhere and say we are the same as the United Kingdom. We're not.

We're Americans first. Our system works. And the report is simply false in its assertions that mosques or hookah bars or schools are hotbeds for extremism. That is not true in the United States.

CHETRY: Kareem Shora with the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Thanks for giving us your perspective on this today.

SHORA: It's a pleasure.

MARCIANO: The fight against a three-alarm fire tops our "Quick Hits" this morning.

It's going on in a Baltimore scrap yard. All the smoke has caused a half-mile stretch of I-895, well, to be closed. Firefighters are also worried about a tank holding more than 100,000 gallons of gasoline nearby.

And $90 million of marijuana now being destroyed. Local and federal drug agents found it about 10 minutes outside Yosemite National Park in California. They also made an arrest. It's part of a week-long pot eradication mission.

And all eyes have been on David Beckham since he made his hyped debut with the L.A. Galaxy. The English superstar started his first game last night.

How did he do? We have got highlights. Who says CNN doesn't do sports?

AMERICAN MORNING will be right back.


MARCIANO: This is new video just in to CNN on our CNN International. Daylight pictures of the aftermath and damage from the 7.9 earthquake that hit Peru overnight last night.

Again, over 300 people have been killed with this and over 1,000 have been injured. More of these pictures to come and more updates on this situation throughout the morning, no doubt.

CHETRY: All right. So we'll continue to follow that.

Meantime, an American first for soccer star David Beckham. The $250 million man scored his first goal last night for his new team, the L.A. Galaxy.

MARCIANO: As they say, goal. They came against the -- he's happy. He should be.

They came against D.C. United and Beckham scored on a free kick in the game's 27th minute. He also set up for another goal and a 2-0 win.


Also some news -- he kind of won a popularity contest, didn't he?

CHETRY: Yes. Well, first of all, why didn't he take his shirt off? That's troublesome, ladies. MARCIANO: She's pouting.

It's not me. It's for my single friends. That's what's it's for.


CHETRY: Well, he became captain of his new team. Landon Donovan, the former captain, turned over the arm band to Beckham after they had a conversation earlier in the day. Donovan saying he felt it would give the team a lift, and Beckham saying, "I'm very honored."

So now he's the team captain as well.

MARCIANO: Well, I'm curious how the team feels about that. You know? It's one thing about the captain being a diplomat there and making a nice gesture...

CHETRY: Right.

MARCIANO: ... but he certainly helped the team out last night.

CHETRY: That's right. I think they want to win. And if he's helping, them I'm sure they're all for it.


CHETRY: Meantime, here's a story that you can't miss coming up.

You know the popular Web site People go in there, it's almost like the online encyclopedia, with one catch, which is that anyone, virtually, can go in there and change information on Wikipedia.

MARCIANO: It's almost -- it's really amazing to me how accurate it is. But it's not always accurate. That's the main problem, I suppose.

CHETRY: Exactly. And when gremlins get in and change things, maybe put in some slanderous information or some lies about people, now there's a new way to find out who's doing it.

Busted. And we're going to explain how coming up when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Explain how, coming up when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching live pictures from our affiliate, CNN affiliate, America TV right now. Daylight coming up over South America. Peru, the earthquake last night, 7.9. This is out of the Chincha area, which was hardest hit. And you're looking now at some of the damage caused by this major earthquake rocking the South American coastal country of Peru.

Good morning, everybody. It's August 16th. John Roberts is off. I'm Rob Marciano.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry.

If you're just joining us, we want to bring you the latest on this breaking story out of Peru. This is an earthquake, a 7.9 magnitude, that hit about 90 miles away from Lima, Peru. Giorgio Ferrario is with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the head of the regional delegation for South America and he joins us this morning on the phone.

Thanks for being with us.

GIORGIO FERRARIO, INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS: Yes, good morning to everybody from there.

CHETRY: We have 1,500, perhaps more, people injured. What is the rescue effort and the work right now from the medics who try to help these people?

FERRARIO: Well, the major problem we face is actually rock information. Many times in these kind of situations, the death toll is rising, you know. At 10:00 in the night, we had something like 35 people killed. And now the figure is up to 350.

What we've seen from here is that the death toll will rise again when now -- now that the night is over and now that the day is starting. So the rescue teams will be able to make their work more properly.

What we have done is Red Cross, for the time being, we have sent immediately to the field an assessment team. An needs assessment team of the Peruvian Red Cross, with support of a person from the federation, from the international federation. (INAUDIBLE) and in (INAUDIBLE) it took them seven hours -- seven hours and a half to do work normally done in two hours and a half because of road -- because the road is also destroyed.

CHETRY: I see.

FERRARIO: And the image (ph) they gathered from the field is that the destruction is extensive.

CHETRY: So you're saying that just because of the destruction that took place, it's difficult for rescuers to even get where they need to be. What can you tell about Chincha, this area that we're seeing in the video. It looks like one of the hardest hit area of this earthquake.

FERRARIO: Yes, Chincha, just in very close to the epicenter of the earthquake. And we have to remind that the towns in that part of Peru are some old towns. And but beside the towns where the news, of course, are coming from, were the first news and information are coming from, the areas (INAUDIBLE). So there's many communities that are spread out in the area. And that's where the most -- it's more difficult to get data from that area.

CHETRY: Do you have enough medical personnel right now? We understand there was a doctor's strike that's been called off, as well as the calls for people to donate blood to the injured.

FERRARIO: Yes. Well, the national authorities, the president himself made a call for the medical authorities to be made available. So doctors are on duty all around the country. We have to remember that although the other areas have been effected much less than the most effected area, the damage has been felt and the earthquake has been felt severely also in other parts of the country.

But what is most important is that the relief efforts now need to be concentrating on the immediate needs. So, for us, for the duration (ph), we are considering, at the request from the government, from (INAUDIBLE), the national system of civil defense, is we're loading two planes, we're leaving from Panama with tents, with blankets, and with (INAUDIBLE). And the planes would normally arrive in Peaceco (ph). The only thing that we have to double check is the state of the airstrip in Peaceco, see if it has not suffered any damage. And by the afternoon we will start distribution with the volunteers of the Red Cross on the field.

CHETRY: All right. So you're trying to coordinate that relief effort, saying that information is hard to come by. It's also difficult for some of the rescue personnel to get into some of these hardest hit areas.

Anyway, thank you so much for joining us on the phone, Giorgio Ferrario with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, helping to coordinate this effort in Lima.


MARCIANO: Kiran, as you know, CNN is your hurricane headquarters. And we're watching two big storms right now. Within the last couple of hours, Tropical Storm Dean, seen there in the Atlantic, has grown into hurricane strength. And right now Tropical Storm Erin is hitting the Gulf Coast of southeast Texas, in an area that has been swamped with heavy rains this summer. They've seen flooding and now they may suffer more as this tropical rain storm heads that way.

Bonnie Schneider in the severe weather center, the hurricane headquarters in Atlanta, with the latest on what's going on with Erin.

Hi, Bonnie.


CHETRY: Well, we're also watching the numbers coming in from the overseas markets. The Dow future showing another down day for Wall Street. Asian markets down sharply. The worst since the 9/11 attacks. And all of it stemming from the growing home loan crisis. The nation's biggest mortgage lenders, Countrywide, down another 10 percent in futures. We're going to be checking in with Ali Velshi coming up.

And it's a nuclear power and bin Laden may be hiding there. Now the U.S. is reportedly looking for a new way to keep Pakistan stable. "The New York Times" reports that the Bush administration may back a power sharing system in the country that would split leadership duties between current President Pervez Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Intelligence shows al Qaeda is regrouping from Pakistan's tribal areas.

MARCIANO: A reversed decision topping your "Quick Hits" now. A pedestrian bridge near the site of the I-35 bridge collapse will remain closed. It was briefly reopened yesterday, but rescue workers complained that the public view was disrespectful for victims' family.

And opening statements begin today in the St. Rita's nursing home case. The owners are charged with 35 counts of negligent homicide and 24 counts of cruelty to the elderly and infirmed for ignoring warnings to evacuate their patients before Hurricane Katrina.

And millions of parents give their kids cough syrup, but there may very well be a risk to those cold remedies. We're going to talk with Sanjay Gupta coming up.

And Madonna worries a plane full of passengers. I didn't even know she flew commercial. But she got the whole plane worried about something. We'll tell you what she was doing. That story and much more coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


MARCIANO: In New York, the family of a tow truck driver badly injured in last month's steam pipe explosion says Con Edison can't be trusted to conduct an independent investigation. Gregory McCullough suffered third degree burns to more than 80 percent of his body. His family's attorney wants a neutral party to oversee the investigation into what caused that blast.

And millions of dollars in private donations are heading to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. Families of the 32 students and faculty killed in the April shooting will receive $180,000 each. Students who were wounded but survived will receive free tuition and up to $90,000.

And for parents looking to protect their kids from gun violence in school, a Massachusetts company is selling a bullet-proof backpack. It's got a ballistic panel sown in, similar to a bullet proof vest, and it can be used as a shield during an attack.

And Madonna, well, she freaked out her fellow passengers on a recent flight from New York to London. Passengers say at some point during the seven-hour trip she injected herself with vitamins. She reportedly ate nothing on the plane, just a bottle of water, and those vitamin shots. By the way, Madonna turns 49 today. Happy birthday. And that may be one of the reasons you look so good.

CHETRY: That's her fountain of youth, no food, just water and injectable vitamin.

MARCIANO: Apparently so. My goodness.

CHETRY: Yummy.

Well, a warning for parents this morning about cough syrup. The FDA out with some new guidance and CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us from Washington with more on this latest health advisory.

And, you know, we have two examples here, Dimetapp and a CVS brand. You always think twice, though, don't you, before you give your kids any type of cough syrup?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I absolutely do. And, you know, this advisory was actually pretty interesting and pretty strong as well. They're saying never give these medicines, cough or cold medicines, to children under the age of two unless instructed to do so by a doctor. So that's a pretty strong advisory. They're, obviously, over the next couple of months, going to be looking at the risks and benefits of these types of medicines and whether they should be used at all in children that young.

At the heart of this is over a two-year period the CDC actually found that there were 1,500 adverse effects and three deaths in children that young from taking these medications. And it seems to have to do, at least some of the time, with overdosing. Now overdosing can happen one of three ways. Excuse me. I have a little bit of a cold myself.

Overdosing can happen one of three ways. One is that the parents simply give too much medicine. Two, is that they give it too often. Or three is that they actually combine it with other medications that have some of the same active ingredients and that can lead to part of the problem. It doesn't seem to be working. Parents give more and more and more. They're saying be very careful with that. That can lead to problems.

In fact, they have some specific guidelines that came out of this report I think it's important to hear. Again, not for children under the age of two without a doctor's order. Never use adult medications. I guess that's an obvious one but important to remember. Ask doctors about the specific strength level when you are instructed by a doctor to use the medication. And ask a doctor, obviously, before combining medications as well.

But this is a pretty strong advisory. And I think it's an important message for a lot of parents who have children who get colds often to pay attention to this.

CHETRY: So is there a specific ingredient? Because all of them have different formulations. Or is it just a general warning about cough and cold syrup?

GUPTA: Well, there are different reports on that and I think that's going to be looked into. There is a couple of ingredients they're looking into specifically that could have more of an impact on the heart's electrical system. You know, so it actually can cause some arrhythmias of the heart. It can actually also cause some problems with blood vessels in the body constricting, causing blood pressure problems as well. And again, we're talking about very young children here. But there are a couple of ingredients that they're looking at specifically.

CHETRY: All right. So, Sanjay, good advice. Under two, just avoid it unless you talk to your doctor.

GUPTA: Yes, it's not real clear evidence that it works anyway. So, you know, these things have got to run their course, but definitely talk to your doctor about it.

CHETRY: Thanks a lot, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CHETRY: And a reminder, if you have any questions for Dr. Gupta, send them to his mailbag, Sanjay will answer your questions coming up in the next half hour as he does every Thursday.

MARCIANO: And there's a new website allowing all of us to see who's making changes to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and it's embarrassing folks at the CIA, "The New York Times" and a lot of other places, too. We'll show you why next on AMERICAN MORNING.


MARCIANO: Welcome back.

We're following breaking news this morning out of Peru. New pictures coming in now as the sun comes up over that devastated country. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit last night about 90 miles south of the capital city of Lima. At least 337 people were killed and more than 1,300 others were injured.

We're also following Tropical Storm Erin. It's now coming ashore on the Texas Gulf Coast. Nearly four inches of rain has already fallen in places that suffered from extensive flooding all summer long. There also have been several tornado warnings with this system.

And the first Atlantic hurricane of the season, Hurricane Dean, is now building strength. Hurricane warnings and watches are up for the Caribbean and the island should feel the storm's wind and rain by tomorrow.

CHETRY: Well, this morning there is a new website that's embarrassing folks from "The New York Times" to the Church of Scientology. The site is called OK. There it Is if you didn't get it. You'll see it here on your screen. There you go. It tracks who's making changes to the popular Internet encyclopedia known as Wikipedia. Well, it's the brain child of Virgil Griffith. He's a recent graduate of Cal Tech and a cyber spy. He's now credited with exposing folks trying to rewrite history. Nick Thompson is a senior editor at "Wired" magazine. He joins me here in New York with more on this.

It's very interesting. First of all, for people who don't know what Wikipedia is and how it works, explain that briefly.

NICK THOMPSON, "WIRED" MAGAZINE: So Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia. And what's different about it from other encyclopedias is, anybody can edit it. You go to a page, you click on a little button that says edit and then suddenly you can add whatever you want or subtract whatever you want.

CHETRY: So for a very long time this was sort of unknown to people. And what this man did, Virgil, was he uncovered that by finding, what, the IP addresses, almost the stamp on your computer saying where it's from.

THOMPSON: Right. So he did something very clever. People have always known that companies make up information on their sites or change information. What he did is he took a list of all the IP addresses, the unique identification number for every computer, that had made changes on Wikipedia pages and then cross referenced it to a list of all those IP addresses and what companies they belong to. So then you can see every change made by somebody within "The New York Times" or within Diebold or (INAUDIBLE).

CHETRY: OK. So let's go to some of these places here.


CHETRY: Here's George W. Bush, this is our commander in chief. Has a Wikipedia page here. And there were some changes made to it. It -- suddenly the words jerk, jerk, jerk, jerk -- here you go -- ended up. You can tell just by looking, when you look at history, that it was revised on December 28, 2005. But who was behind this one?

THOMPSON: We don't know exactly the individual, but it was somebody using a "New York Times" computer.

CHETRY: And what did "The New York Times" say about it?

THOMPSON: They said, well, we don't know exactly who it is. It could have been anybody in the building. Anybody using any of our computers. We can't find the individual.

CHETRY: All right. Now we did call "The New York Times" and they said, as you said, there's no way to tell what employee was responsible.


CHETRY: But, of course, this is another interesting one. Diebold Elections Systems. These are those electronic voting machines. They've been somewhat controversial. Well on this site there was criticism explaining why some people had a problem with the systems and the way that they worked. Interestingly enough, this section suddenly gone. THOMPSON: Right. Companies -- a number of companies have done that. If there's criticism, get rid of it. Magically disappears.

CHETRY: So what did they say about what happened here? Well, we found out that it was revised November 17, 2005, by . . .

THOMPSON: By somebody inside of Diebold. Now we don't know exactly who it was, but you've got to suspect somebody at Diebold trying to change their PR.

CHETRY: All right. So here's another interesting one. And this is my own Wikipedia site, which, at times, is not as accurate as perhaps it could be. It's interesting, though, because you went in just to show us how this works and yesterday changed it. What did you jokingly write under career?

THOMPSON: I said that throughout this time her professional goal was to interview Nicholas Thompson, now an editor at "Wired" magazine.

CHETRY: See that, you can read my mind.

But, anyway, it was interesting because we went back to my Wikipedia page this morning and that was gone. But the other interesting thing is, on my page it says this article may require clean-up to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. What does this mean? It's on -- it's designated on some sites that get a lot of edits.

THOMPSON: Right. So anybody can edit a Wikipedia page, but there are few people who have sort of special powers on Wikipedia. And they can say that sometimes a site is too controversial, people are making too many changes and they just want to slow it down so they restrict it in certain ways. But this -- I was able to add this edit in about 10 seconds yesterday afternoon. So I'll add it right back when I'm off the air.

CHETRY: And then someone else will take it off again. People have time on their hands for sure.

Very neat, though, that you explained it and explained how that website tracking who's making these changes works.

Nick Thompson, senior editor with "Wired" magazine. It was my life long goal to interview you. So thank you for coming.

THOMPSON: Thank you very much. Bye-bye.


MARCIANO: As always, be careful what do you on the Internet.

Well, hang a sign, face a fine. Your "Quick Hits" now. A public works official in Washington, D.C., well, they're threatening to fine an anti-war group about $10,000 for posters advertising an upcoming rally. The city says the posters were hung with an illegal adhesive but the group claims it's being targeted for its political views. And a veteran Republican congresswoman is leaving her House seat. Ohio Representative Deborah Pryce is expected to announce her retirement today after 16 years on The Hill. She was the third- ranking Republican when the GOP controlled the House and she barely won re-election in a recount last fall.

Well, free at last, Freddy the Cat. There he was. And now he's come out of hiding. We'll tell you how we got that feline lured out of the wall ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, welcome back.

We want to update you on a story we told you about earlier in the week. Remember Freddy the Cat. Freddy the Cat loved to be hold up inside of a wall at a home in Colorado, despite the best efforts of people to get him out. Well, he's out.

MARCIANO: Congratulations.

What did they do? They set a little kitty trap.

CHETRY: They set up those magnetic trap doors that kept closing behind him until he had no choice but to finally get out. They tried everything. And apparently, at least I heard from the producers, it also involved not only magnetics and trap doors, but some KFC.

MARCIANO: Oh, a little Kentucky Fried Chicken.

CHETRY: That will bring anyone out of their hole, right?

MARCIANO: Exactly. Who could possibly resist that.