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From Desperate to Dire; Rescue at the Marketplace; Dignity for the Dead
Aired January 15, 2010 - 10:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm someone who prays a lot, and now I'm very grateful that I never lost faith, though.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Never lost faith. That's a woman who was freed after 30 hours under concrete. Thousands of other Haitians waiting still for rescue, and time right now is running out.
Also, planes bringing rescuers, also aid workers, also U.S. troops, all that coming into Haiti. The Navy dispatching another ship from Norfolk, Virginia, this morning.
These are now homeless Haitians. They keep their faith. They have been singing, they have been praying, and they are singing and praying and hoping for something to happen, something better to come, and for it to come soon.
Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes, sitting in today for my dear friend Tony Harris.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
We are going to show you something now that is difficult to watch, but this speaks to the crisis in Haiti right now. These are decaying bodies. They're piled up outside of a morgue in Port-au- Prince. Just not enough room in the morgue for all the bodies, so they begin to pile them up outside.
Now day three we are in of the earthquake recovery effort. Let's tell you what we know right now.
The Red Cross estimates up to 50,000 people were killed in the quake. Still, that's a very tough number to get a good handle on.
Many survivors have had no food, no water since Tuesday's magnitude 7 quake. Of course getting aid to them is a logistical nightmare at this point. Tons of relief supplies are stuck right now. They're at the airport in Port-au-Prince, but because the roads leading into the city are so badly damaged, they just can't get the stuff through. Some relief is there, folks. They just can't get it out.
Many aid flights as well are trying to get there, trying to land, but they have been turned away. There's a lack of space at the airport now, also a lack of fuel.
Listen now to Haiti's president as he expresses the sadness and also the gratitude after the quake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. RENE PREVAL, HAITI: I'm very sad because a lot of people died, a lot of people are suffering. I'm very sad because my country is in great difficulty. But I'm very happy also to see how the world is with us, is helping us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: I want to go live now to the earthquake zone, get a look now from our Ivan Watson. He is there in Port-au-Prince.
Ivan, give us an idea now, set the scene for us now. Here we are on the third full day of recovery efforts now.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well, T.J., we're here in the main square here in Port-au-Prince. And as you can see, it's become a makeshift camp for displaced persons, people who have been forced to leave their homes.
I just met this young man here.
What's your name, sir?
MACKENZIE (PH) SHALO (ph), RESIDENT: I'm Mackenzie (ph) Shalo (ph).
HOLMES: All right. It looks like -- Ivan, I think you can still hear me, buddy. We lost your mike there for a second, Ivan. I think you can still hear me, but we're not able to hear you just yet.
Of course it's all kinds of logistic and technical issues there trying to get live. Yes, we still can't hear you there, buddy. That's all right, we're going to get that fixed. Don't worry, Ivan.
HOLMES: Ivan, I'm told now -- go ahead and speak for me again, Ivan. It looks like we can hear you again. So you just go ahead and pick up.
Again, so sorry, Ivan. Again, sorry, buddy. We are missing that mike again. We're going to get back to you because we certainly want to see where you are.
He's reporting to us from a marketplace.
Ivan, we're going to get it fixed. We're going to get back to you. I promise you we will come back to you.
But again, Ivan is in a spot there where we're starting to see all around, especially Port-au-Prince, people just starting to set up makeshift camps, if you will. You started to kind of get an idea of the scene there as he was reporting, but we will get back to him.
People just desperate right now to find a place, to, quite frankly, just sleep and rest for the night. In some cases, of course, we know that tens of thousands right now, the estimate, that are dead right now, but there are some survival stories.
We have one about somebody being in the right place at the right time. One quake victim watched a building fall down all around her. She survives with barely even a scratch.
This story now comes to us from our Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a short time ago, a 30- year-old woman trapped for 50 hours inside this building, the Caribbean Marketplace, rescued. And she is in very good condition.
They let us inside. The Iceland search and rescue team let us inside when it came close to getting the rescue. They had heard her voice for 24 hours.
And what they did is they got under her. She was on the first floor, and they were able to reach through and start pulling her down through a hole in the ceiling. We saw her feet first, and then, as she came through the hole in the ceiling, she went down a ladder with the rescue workers.
Her name is Faradia Morris (ph), and Faradia Morris (ph) had absolutely no injuries. She wasn't pinned down, she was entombed. She just couldn't get out of where she was, but she was comfortable, she was able to yell and scream and knock, and they were able to subsequently rescue her.
She told me she was in complete darkness for 50 hours, that she couldn't see anything whatsoever. But she heard the voices, had faith she would be rescued.
She says she also heard -- and this is the very sad part of the story -- that for the first 10 or 12 hours she heard screaming inside this marketplace. And then the screaming got quiet, she heard nothing else.
We know that many people died inside this marketplace. We still see bodies inside, and many bodies have already been taken away.
But this woman, so lucky, 50 hours inside. She has been rescued, and these are the men of Iceland search and rescue, these are the heroes. And she knew it.
The Iceland search and rescue workers rescued her. This gentleman we've been talking to all day as this drama has been unfolding -- you can come a little bit closer to me.
This is Michael Olafson (ph).
And Michael, one thing we were worried about, three days you can last without water, generally. And because it's so mangled inside, you weren't sure where she was. You heard her voice, but they weren't sure when they could get to her. You got to her.
Tell me how it makes you and all your men here feel.
MICHAEL OLAFSON (ph), ICELAND SEARCH AND RESCUE: Well, we are very pleased, so just very happy, you could say.
TUCHMAN: And guys, was there ever any doubt, if I can ask -- tell me your name.
PETER, ICELAND SEARCH AND RESCUE: Peter.
TUCHMAN: Peter, was there ever any doubt that you would be able to rescue her successfully?
PETER: No, not after we got the information from another victim that we found, about her location. And then we heard her knocking, so the locating was -- there was no doubt in my mind we'd get her out.
TUCHMAN: Well, congratulations to all of you. You've done great work.
This is what they came for and this is what they live for, to have these kinds of very successful outcomes.
HOLMES: And our Gary Tuchman actually talked to that woman after she was rescued from that marketplace. She told him it was faith and prayer that helped her hang on, and he asked if she was ever actually worried that she wouldn't make it out of there alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, to be honest, no, because the first thing I did is to think of my parents, because I did not want them to lose me. I am the only child. And the second thing, I never stopped, never stopped once praying. And I'm going to tell you something, I'm someone who prays a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And your mother, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now I'm very grateful that I never lost faith, though, because I was telling him, thank you, because I was in a place sincerely where I was protected. But those (INAUDIBLE), and only the walls fell.
TUCHMAN: That's what I was going to ask you. Where were you in the store?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Just -- I just walked in, walked in, left work. I walked in, going home. And I did not make it home.
TUCHMAN: You look like you have makeup on. I mean, you look beautiful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I had makeup on. I was coming back from work, though. And that's it. And when it happened, I was very shocked.
TUCHMAN: Did you know what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I presumed that it was an earthquake, but I would not be 100 percent sure because it happened so fast. My God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And as he pointed out there, she does look pretty good at this point. Amazing, some stories like that we are hearing. They're few and far between in a lot of cases, though.
We want to turn back to our Ivan Watson. I believe we've reconnected with him.
Ivan, you go right again. Again, set that scene for us there, in a place where people are just trying to find a spot to sleep for the night.
WATSON: Absolutely. This is where people, thousands of people, have been forced to sleep because their homes have been destroyed, T.J. And they're worried about where to find food, where to find water, where they're going to spend the night the next night.
There's no electricity out here. There are wounded people from the earthquake.
Now, we were speaking earlier with this young man named Mackenzie (ph). He's got a message for people in the U.S., so let's just hear him out very quickly.
What do you want to say to folks in America?
MACKENZIE (ph), RESIDENT: I want to say to the people that I'm alive, I thank God I'm alive.
WATSON: You've got family in the U.S.?
MACKENZIE: Yes, sir.
WATSON: What's your name?
MACKENZIE: My name is Mackenzie (ph). The name is (INAUDIBLE).
I want to say thank God for life.
MACKENZIE: But (INAUDIBLE). But I thank God for life.
WATSON: So Mackenzie (ph) sending out a message to his relatives in the states that he's OK.
Now, Mackenzie (ph), have you gotten any help, your family, in the past three days? Any help at all?
MACKENZIE: No. No, sir.
WATSON: Nothing at all?
MACKENZIE: I did from my neighbor and my friend.
WATSON: That's it?
MACKENZIE: Yes, sir.
WATSON: So no aid has come to these people yet.
And I want to direct your attention out to the port right outside, T.J. Dominique (ph) is going to pan out there.
We can see a Coast Guard cutter floating out there in the port. It's been there waiting today. We believe that's a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.
And the news has just come in that a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, that it has arrived, and that it has hospital beds and operating rooms and helicopters with the 82nd Airborne, and that they are ferrying water into the city. There are more than a million inhabitants here. They desperately need help.
But as you just heard from young Mackenzie (ph) here, they are not getting any help yet. And this is a big concern because we're getting reports now -- one man I talked to, he saw people see a man walking down the street with a sack of rice, and the crowd go out and just tear the rice out of his hands. So, desperate situation, and it's only going to get worse until people can get more help.
I'm going to bring you over to here. We see families have set up a crude shelter here from the sun. We've been talking to some of the people here.
Come on over here.
This is Lamon (ph). (SPEAKING FRENCH)
You see Lamon (ph) is right here.
So, Lamon (ph) is right here. His hands are injured, as you can see, and he's forced to sleep out here, and his family is behind him.
This is his wife. And you can't see behind this curtain here are the injured children. And his son, 18 years old, he's laying on the ground here seriously injured. There's a little girl, 7 years old, she can't even see out of her eyes right here.
I don't know if you can see from that angle. It's a pretty difficult situation here, T.J. And it's only going to get worse unless somebody can come and help these people.
HOLMES: And Ivan, I don't know how well you can hear me. Hopefully you can hear me OK with this question.
We see people milling about. Give us an idea how many folks are we talking about, kind of in the area you're in. And do they kind of go out during the day? And would you expect that square in that area you are to get a whole lot more, a big influx of people at night as they come and try to settle in for the evening?
WATSON: Absolutely. This place -- there isn't a place to lay down. It's coated with people sleeping out on the concrete.
And what we're also seeing here is a tendency of residents of Port-au-Prince, they're leaving the city, heading for the hills, heading for parts of Haiti that haven't been damaged as much because the situation here is untenable. And you see people carrying their belongings on their backs, trying to hitch rides out of the city.
Many of them afraid that law and order is going to break down. And we are hearing isolated cases of looting already. There were food riots in 2008. People have those memories, and they're worried that that could repeat itself in the days to come.
HOLMES: Yes. All right.
Ivan Watson for us.
Ivan, we appreciate you. We'll certainly be checking in with you again. Thanks so much for giving us that picture.
Now, despite the efforts to save everyone, many have perished, of course, in this earthquake. Our Anderson Cooper goes with one family to bury the dead. That story is coming up next in the NEWSROOM.
I do want to give you a look here -- down 100 points. Look at the Dow and what's happening at the markets.
We'll certainly keep an eye on Wall Street and so many other things as well. But, of course, the big story today, we'll continue to update you on what's happening in Haiti.
Stay with us.
HOLMES: Well, as you have been hearing, know by now that bodies literally are lining the streets of Port-au-Prince. A few Haitians are able at this point to give their loved ones a proper goodbye, a proper burial.
So CNN's Anderson Cooper follows one family that at least tried.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's become an all-too-common sight, a coffin wheeled down a Port-au-Prince street.
(on camera): This is a woman named Bridget Jean-Baptiste (ph). She was 28 years old. She was a journalist. She was actually teaching a class, they say, when the walls collapsed on her.
(voice-over): Bridget's (ph) father, sister and brothers accompany the coffin, barely noticing the other bodies still laying in the road.
Bridget (ph) was pulled out of the rubble alive. They couldn't find a doctor to treat her. "She wasn't dead when we found her at 11:00," he says. "She died at 1:00. She could have been saved, but we didn't find any help."
These are the only pictures they have of Bridget (ph), all they have to remember her by.
(on camera): Bridget's (ph) family isn't even sure if there is a space in this cemetery for them to bury her. They, frankly, don't have much money to pay for a space. They spent all the money that they could find on her casket. But they wanted to bring her body here as quickly as possible to try to give her a decent burial. Now they're just going to try to negotiate whatever they can.
(voice-over): At the cemetery, they're told to wait. There are too many bodies still to be buried, too many families consumed by grief.
"There are tons of dead people," this woman cries. "Everyone in my house, my neighbors are dead, except me."
"My friends, please, help us," this man says. "Isn't there anyone who can help us here? Help us. Help us. God is great. Help us to live."
Every few minutes, more bodies arrive.
(on camera): There's little dignity in death in Port-au-Prince these days. Some families are able to afford coffins. And you see plenty of those. But a lot of people are separated from their families. And, so, when they die, their families don't even know they're dead, and no one knows what -- who these bodies are.
So, they're just brought -- they're just brought to the cemetery, literally piled into mounds. There's probably about 20 or so people here, many of them small children. Cemetery workers here are saying they're doing the best they can. They're trying to give dignity to as many people as possible, but they're simply overwhelmed at this point. (voice-over): Bridget's (ph) family is finally told where they can place her casket. She will be put in an old crypt that still has empty some space. It appears to belong to another family.
There are no songs, no personal eulogies. There's little time and far too much confusion.
"God in heaven," her father prays, "we return to you this girl who's gone. In the name of the father, son, and Holy Spirit, amen."
"What God gives," her brother says, "he takes away."
A few concrete blocks are used to seal the crypt, just one more of this city's dead now laid to rest. There's no marker, no flowers. Bridget Jean-Baptiste (ph) has been sealed in someone else's tomb.
Anderson Cooper, CNN, Port-au-Prince.
HOLMES: And Anderson Cooper heading up our coverage here at CNN. You can see his reports throughout the day right here.
Also, tune into "AC 360 "tonight, have a complete look, of course, at the day's events in Haiti. That's 10:00 Eastern Time tonight.
Well, as we have been saying, people are sleeping in cars, chairs, mattresses, anything they can get their hands on. Our iReporters are bringing you the pictures from Haiti as survivors wait on relief. We'll tell you how you can help.
That's coming up next.
HOLMES: Some of our other stories we're keeping an eye on today.
An apparent U.S. drone strike has failed to kill the man who now leads the Pakistani Taliban. Intelligence sources tell CNN that Hakimullah Mehsud was wounded, however. Mehsud, who is on the left you're seeing in this video here, he recently appeared on this tape with a suicide bomber who killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan.
Well, on the health care front here, Democrats a step closer to merging the House and Senate health care reform bills. The Cadillac tax on high-end insurance plans remains in there, but Democrats raised the threshold that triggers that tax. That satisfied some big labor groups which said lower limits would hit too many middle class workers.
And can you believe this? It was a year ago, yes, the "Miracle on the Hudson." A year ago today that Captain "Sully" Sullenberger landed a US Airways jet on the Hudson River in New York. He saved 155 lives, became an instant hero.
At 3:31 today -- that's the time of that crash-landing -- passengers will raise a toast to life.
Well, former President Bill Clinton plans to set up a disaster fund similar to the ones for victims of the Asian tsunami. This time he's teaming up with former President George W. Bush. President Clinton says the most important goal right now is to keep those donations coming in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've still got another week where we've got to move stones and find bodies. We're going to find a lot of people alive if we keep moving.
Meanwhile, you've got unprecedented numbers of the people roaming the streets at night with no place to sleep. They haven't had any sleep in two days, they don't have water, they don't have food.
The most immediate thing now is for people even to get small amounts of money. But we need large numbers of people giving small amounts of money so we can get food, water, medical supplies and shelter there.
The Red Cross has gotten its operation back up and going. The U.N. is beginning to work. I gave them my Web site, ClintonFoundation.org/haitiearthquake. We're going to buy and ship today more medical supplies, more water, more food.
We've asked people to text Haiti at 20222. They can automatically give $10.
We need another week of this. We've got to do this. And that's how we're going to avoid having the city erupt more.
You've got all those people just wandering around with no place to go and no place to sleep, no water to drink. That's the most important thing for the next week or 10 days.
Then we -- President Bush and I will do everything we can to make America a big part of this long-term partnership. And President Obama has tasked the secretary of state and aid director to manage America's end of this.
We're going to do fine, and it's going to be a good thing. Haiti still can resume its path of modernization for the first time in my lifetime, but we've got to get them through this awful, awful period first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, the Red Cross says Americans have pitched in some $35 million so far to help out in Haiti, but a lot of people are wondering out there, is this organization legit, is that one legit?
Our personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, here to help us out with that. Gerri, hello to you. I guess, just what are -- I guess, quite frankly -- just the basics to start out with to try to -- and it's so confusing. There are so many out there and you want to help, but what are the basic things you can keep an eye out for?
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Right, T.J.
Well, you know, I've got to tell you first that there has been an incredible response to some of the best-known organizations out there. And we're seeing it fueled by social media -- Twitter, Facebook -- amazing.
AmeriCares got $2 million. Oxfam America, $3.2 million. Really outstanding effort.
But I have to tell you, you have to be really careful at a point in time like this. Scam artists are taking advantage of people's generosity.
You need to be skeptical of folks who represent themselves as surviving victims, or even officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites. You've got to know that organization before you give.
Look, scammers will insert keywords like "Haiti" or "earthquake" into their sites to trick you into thinking it's legit. Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas and attached files, because the files can contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
You can research the charity you're interested in at GuideStar.org. Check out the charity ratings at CharityNavigator.org. They really know these groups. Or go to the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org/charity -- T.J.
HOLMES: And these charities these days make it a whole lot easier for people to give. It's not a matter of writing a check and mailing it in anymore. I mean, I've been amazed at how much has been collected just by people sending a simple text.
WILLIS: It's amazing. Look, the charities that are going to be the most effective right now are the ones that have been around a while, the ones that have experiences and resources and the planning to assist people. Go to their Web sites and make sure they're detailing their efforts.
Unless the charity already has staff on the ground in Haiti, it's really going to be difficult to get new aid workers there quickly. Be wary of claims that 100 percent of the donations assists victims. It never works that way. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund-raising and administrative costs.
You can research the charity you're interest in. Again, GuideStar.org or CharityNavigator.org.
And if you want a list of legitimate places to go to donate, the very place to go, CNN.com/impactyourworld. There's a great list there, even by the kinds of help you want to provide. They have special places to go if you want to provide medical help. There are great charities to contact.
Or if it's food you're interested in, you can really drill down to the kind of effort you want to help with -- T.J.
HOLMES: All right. And the last thing here -- and you kind of hit on it there a bit -- but that's something people are so worried about -- I want my money, I want 100 percent of it to go directly to the folks in Haiti. How difficult is it to make sure or to look up and find out exactly how much of that dollar is going directly to the folks in Haiti?
WILLIS: Well, I have to tell you, Charity Navigator, if they have reviewed the charity that you're interested in giving to, they typically tell you how much of your average dollar, donated dollar, actually goes to the cause. They give you a sense of that.
But I have to tell you, T.J., anybody who tells you 100 percent of your money is going to Haiti, going to people, it doesn't work that way. They have overhead, too.
So, at the end of the day, you have to be careful about the claims you're hearing. And again, don't open those attachments on e- mails. Sometimes even that can be a problem. Find a legitimate charity, as we said, and give to the max.
HOLMES: All right. Gerri Willis, we certainly appreciate that. That's something a lot of people are interested in. They want to help out. They just want to make sure their dollar is going directly to what they want it to go for.
So thank you so much.
WILLIS: My pleasure.
HOLMES: And as Gerri just mentioned to you all, you can check out -- thank you again, Gerri -- what the different charities are. You can find out. Log on to our Web site, CNN.com/impact, for CNN's Impact Your World.
HOLMES: Of course we continue to assess the impact of this earthquake on Haiti's people. We have to remember here just how impoverished a state this is.
Eighty percent of Haiti's nine million residents live under the poverty line. Eighty percent, folks. That's more than half live in abject poverty as well.
Haiti has no building codes. Many are unsafe to live in. And the mountainous countryside has been heavily deforested. People have been cutting down trees for fuel and clearing land for agriculture. That's caused severe erosion, leaving Haiti prone to terrible landslides.
Also, a gridlock airport we're dealing with now, impassable roads as well, making this all tough to get help to the people of Haiti. We talked with a general leading the military's response to the crisis about the logistical challenges and the security issues as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. P.K. KEENE, DEPUTY COMMANDER, U.S. SOUTHERN COMMAND: We're working in conjunction with the U.N. forces and (INAUDIBLE) that are here. We're cognizant of the increasing concerns about security. Up to this point, we have not seen a great deal of insecurity, but clearly that is a concern. And we will work with the government of Haiti and the national police to deal with it as best we can.
But our priority is getting -- right now is getting rescue efforts, which are already on the ground, have been for several days, and getting medical treatment and working with the government and the international organizations to provide that much-needed relief aid to the people of Haiti.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: I want to bring in our Rob Marciano now.
And, Rob, this has been an increasing problem here. They're trying to get stuff to these folks, but there's nowhere to put a lot of these flights. We're getting reports that flights trying to get in there are being turned around in some cases, some not getting clearance to take off from other places, they just can't do it. So I know you look at this flight explorer trying to track the planes going in and coming out, but how many are we talking about now?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we've seen some activity today, more than yesterday, that's for sure. And right now we can tell you, we can show you what planes are leaving Haiti and which planes are going to there.
These two planes are leaving and the ones where you see that they are blocked, the identifiers, that means it's a military transport plane of some sort. Others are just charter flights. Some of them -- these two look like they're arriving. It's at 19,500 feet and descending; this one is 18,400 feet and descending.
And as opposed to yesterday where we saw just a number of flights just circling and circling not able to land, these look to be taking off and landing. Although not as quickly and as frequently as everyone would like, there seems to be a little bit more progress today.
Also, more progress as far as what we're seeing is decreasing frequency of after tremors or aftershocks. There was one that just popped up here a couple of hours ago. Really now we're on the frequency of the past two days where we're seeing basically two or three aftershocks per 24-hour period so that's pretty good. Most of the aftershocks have been a little bit west of the epicenter, which would be further away from the city of Port-au-Prince, also good, but we're not necessarily seeing these things go away entirely and that may not be the case for some time, T.J.
A little bit of good news on the weather front, we don't see any storms developing. This is the dry season for them. Typically, temps right around 90 during the day and right around 70 during at night. Hopefully, we'll ramp up the frequency of those flights and get in all those need supplies as quickly as possible.
HOLMES: Yes, you take the good with the bad. It's great there's no storms or anything moving in there, but man, standing outside all day with no shelter and 92 degrees like some of the stuff you're showing there -- man.
MARCIANO: And those numbers measured in the shade, so in the sunshine even hotter than that.
HOLMES: Rob, we appreciate you, as always, buddy. We'll check in with you again.
And, of course, those shattered streets of Haiti, sharing with you more images we're getting in.
HOLMES: Dozens of workers at the U.N. headquarters in Haiti still unaccounted for and here we are some almost 70 hours after that quake. Our senior United Nations correspondent Richard Roth following that part of the story for us.
And, Richard, I think we're hearing from Ban Ki-Moon as well.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, several quick points here.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying he will travel soon to Haiti to get a firsthand assessment. A U.N. spokesman just announcing seconds ago total number missing and unaccounted of the U.N. staff and personnel that were based and working in Haiti. So far, 37 official dead, but 330 missing and unaccounted for. That's out of a U.N. staff there of 12,000 people.
The secretary general of the U.N. making an urgent plea for countries to donate in what will be a U.N. so-called flash humanitarian appeal to be announced within a half hour. And the U.N. says Haiti and the people there need a lot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAN KI-MOON, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: This afternoon the U.N. Will launch an emergency flash appeal for around $550 million, $500 million. Most of this money will go to urgent needs, food and water are in critical short supply. Given the number of people in the streets without homes, we must provide shelter. We need tents and more tents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: The secretary general would not indeed confirm or give any news about the fate of senior U.N. leadership, among others buried in the rubble of one of the U.N. buildings in Port-au-Prince. He said, again, they just lack digging equipment, heavy lifting capability.
Obviously, we're almost 72 hours out, T.J., the fate does not look pretty comforting for the U.N. Back here in New York at headquarters, very worried about their colleagues in Haiti -- T.J.
HOLMES: And we got those numbers right -- 12,000 there, 330 missing and unaccounted for, 37 dead right now. We have those numbers right?
ROTH: That is correct.
HOLMES: All right. Richard Roth, we appreciate that update. Thanks so much. We'll be checking in with you again.
And, of course, we talk about the U.N. there, they're looking for their people. A lot of people around the world are looking for family members and friends who are in Haiti as well. I'm going to turn to my colleague and my good friend and my partner on the weekends, Betty Nguyen, keeping an eye on something for us.
And this is a good resource for us here. A lot of people looking for folks right now. We've got something set up that is helping and is working.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is absolutely working. That's the beauty of this. And yes, there are thousands of people looking for their lost loved ones and just want to make sure that they have survived this earthquake.
And so, here's what you can do. You can go to CNN.com. You can go to what is our main page or you can go directly to this site, which is CNN.com/Haitimissing. It's going to take you to a screen that says, "Looking for Lost Loved Ones in Haiti."
And the easiest way to find someone instead of scrolling through these pictures after pictures, we have 358 pages of pictures and information of people that were missing in the earthquake, but instead of looking through all of those, you can go to the search button right here and then type in somebody's name.
Or the easiest way to do to find out if they're alive is just type in the word "found" and that will take you to another page and it shows you the whole list of people that are found. While that's processing, I'll take you there immediately. And so you see, one after another, people who have been found.
This is a great story right here. Found, Brother Elaine Russo (ph). And not only is there the picture, but it says, "we have found my brother. His back was hit by a brick. He made it, but his friend didn't. Thank you so much, CNN. Please donate to Haiti." This is one of so many people who have been able to find their loved ones. Here's another one. This is -- her name is Nancy Hubbard (ph), 54 years old, she was found. And we've gotten this information from one of our producers, in fact, updated saying Nancy -- the name is Hibbard here, one or the other, Hibbard or Hubbard -- was found but is unable to get back home due to road conditions. She's from a small town in Wisconsin and she was working with a small Christian ministry there.
So there are countless stories of people who indeed have been found through this website, which is the beauty of it. But there are many more pictures on this site of people who are still missing or their loved ones just simply don't know if they made it out alive.
We have some video that has come into CNN. These folks who have indeed survived this quake made it to a CNN camera. This is what they have to say to their loved ones. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Jeff, your last name is?
JEFF MOOSA, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: Moosa (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Jeff lives here in Haiti, Jeff Moosa.
Your mom and dad's name?
MOOSA: Evelyn Moosa and (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: OK, so if any of you or if they're watching or if any of you know them in Miami, your son is alive and well.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Joining us now is Jean Max de Sou (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm alive, thanks to God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am Eve Henri (ph) I want to send a message to my sister living in Berkley (ph) that I'm here and I'm safe. I want to let everybody know that everything is OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Alex, I want to say -- to send a message for my family in New Jersey. Everything is all right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Emmanuel Gautier (ph), just want to let me family in Maryland, Connecticut and my brother who is in Iraq that I'm OK. My office is completely down, but I'm safe and well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: I just love that video coming in to CNN because it is proof indeed that they are alive. Again, very quickly, if you are looking for a lost loved one in the quake, what you do, you can go to our main site, CNN.com. There's a link right here, "Looking for Lost Loved Ones in Haiti" or you can simply go to CNN.com/Haitimissing. That will take you to these sites and not only can you put the information in there for your loved ones who you have not heard from, but you can also update it and let us know that you have found them, which is the best part of this -- T.J.
HOLMES: And those -- you were telling me earlier, there's a lot of "found" that are on that website.
NGUYEN: Forty-some odd pages of people who are found. And within those pages, you know, there's a dozen or so of pictures and names and information. So you just do the math there and we have found a lot of people already. So it's a beautiful thing.
HOLMES: So it's working, it's helping.
HOLMES: Betty, we appreciate you. Thanks so much, we'll talk to you again here shortly.
I want to check some of our top stories and a potential breakthrough to tell you about in health care reform negotiations. The White House, the democrats struck a deal with unions to soften the tax on high-end insurance plans. The tax would pay for part of the health care overhaul.
Also, that attempted Christmas Day terror attack investigation has uncovered new information on a threat from al Qaeda. A source tells CNN al Qaeda in Yemen has trained and equipped operatives to strike U.S. targets beyond aviation, but federal officials say there's no imminent threat.
Some earthquake survivors have been flown to Miami for medical treatment. One is that lady you're seeing right there, and she will share her story later in the NEWSROOM .
HOLMES: As relief workers and emergency supplies begin to go into Haiti, there are a lot of folks trying to get out of there. CNN's Jason Carroll has more from Port-au-Prince.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are two groups of people here at Port-au-Prince International Airport, hundreds of desperate trying to get out and the grateful few like Danny Abraham's family who managed to escape on military airlifts.
DANNY ABRAHAM, AMERICAN EVACUEE: We lost our house. Thank God none -- nobody was hurt. And we're trying to get them away.
CARROLL: Families with young children and the elderly, given priority.
Virginia Cary was hurt during the quake.
VIRGINIA CARY, AMERICAN EVACUEE: I knew I was going to pass out, and I guess I did.
CARROLL: Miss Cary and her husband Lovel are 81 years old, both from Cleveland, Tennessee, here for a church conference.
V. CARY: And a wall collapsed on us, on the car. Killed one of our men in the front, and we were in the backseat.
CARROLL (on camera): And so the plan is to get you on one of these planes and get you out of here then, right?
LOVEL CARY, AMERICAN EVACUEE: We hope. We hope. I hope I can find the man that's got our passports.
CARROLL (voice-over): Some confusion to be expected. Rescue crews saying this is still the early stage of the evacuation.
(on camera): Throughout the day there are a steady stream of planes coming here at the airport. They've got relief supplies. They're coming from all over the world, from Belgium, from Brazil, from Miami, from Spain, from Iceland, just about any place you can imagine. What happens is as soon as they get those relief supplies off of the planes, then you've got evacuees who are sitting here at the airport anxiously awaiting to get on those flights.
You have so many different countries trying to do what they can to help. How do you coordinate that?
LT. GEN. P.K. KEEN, DEPUTY COMMANDER, U.S. SOUTHERN COMMAND: It is a very difficult challenge. And here, there's no difference.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get on with the separation. Get behind. I know it seems stupid...
CARROLL (voice-over): Outside the airport, a crowd of those still trying to get out continues to grow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing works, so I wait.
CARROLL (on camera): So you wait.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I don't know how long it's going to be, but I'm going to wait.
CARROLL (voice-over: Many here just as frustrated as the U.S. State Department representative who's just trying to control the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have a security problem here if these people don't get in order.
CARROLL (on camera): Can you just tell us what information you would like to get out there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, because the situation is fluid. OK? What we have is these people are already here, we've got to try to deliver some service to them.
CARROLL (voice-over): Many say they would rather stay here and take their chances instead of going back to the city where help still seems very far away.
HOLMES: And again, we want to share with you some of the images we have been getting in, some of the faces, some of the devastation in Haiti and here we are some 66-plus hours now after Tuesday's quake.
HOLMES: We are beginning to hear more and more from some of those who are injured in Haiti's quake. Well, there's a brother and sister, Julian and Christa Brelsford, and they say they learned how to react to an earthquake while growing up in Alaska. They spoke earlier this morning with CNN "AMERICAN MORNING's" Kiran Chetry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTA BRELSFORD, HAITI EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: We were on the second story of a two-story house. I felt the first shock and thought that maybe a truck had hit the building, and then I felt the second shock and knew it was an earthquake. So all of us started to run down the stairs to leave the house, because it was -- we knew that the house wouldn't stand.
Julian was first down the stairs, I think, and he ran and sheltered in a doorway. I slipped while I was going down the stairs, and so the roof of the house fell down a story and a half on to my leg and crushed my right leg. But my left leg was fine. Well, crushed, but not as badly.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: How scared were you? How much pain when this first happened, or was it just shock?
C. BRELSFORD: I was very, very scared, but my main thought was to try to not panic. I was running through all the lines they told us in our earthquake drills in elementary school.
CHETRY: Yes, you guys are from Alaska and you had to go through those earthquake drills, right?
C. BRELSFORD: Yes, we did.
CHETRY: Julian, how were you able to try to help her. As I understand it, you used an electrical cord. You knew that her leg was pretty hurt badly, and you used an electrical cord to act as a tourniquet. What were you trying to do in those immediate moments after you realized your sister was injured?
JULIAN BRELSFORD, HAITI EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: When I first realized she was injured I was still worried about the building collapsing on her, so I didn't want to do very much. I did try to take the pieces that I could lift, the small pieces, and pull them off. And it was eventually by pulling pieces one by one off the top of her that we got her completely free.
CHETRY: And this is just the beginning of your ordeal, because after that happened you guys eventually were able to get evacuated. But you had to spend the night outside for -- what? -- a full day, and then even after that you were transported to the airport. How did you eventually get to Miami and get treated?
C. BRELSFORD: We took -- after I got free of the building, I took a motorcycle ride about three kilometers from where we were to the Sri Lankan military -- their U.N. peacekeeping mission, where I spent the night and got a splint and a little bit more medical care and some cough drops and cookies. And spent most of the day there until the afternoon when a U.S. Army -- a U.S. military ambulance came and brought me to the U.N. triage center at the airport in Port-au- Prince, where I waited for a little while and then got put on a private jet with a number of other injured survivors and brought to Miami.
CHETRY: And Dr. McKenney, what shape was Christa in when you were able to assess her and then ultimately decide to operate?
DR. MARK MCKENNEY, TRAUMA SURGEON, UNIV. MIAMI-JACKSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: You know, surprisingly, she was in OK shape. The extremity was crushed so badly that it actually helped her. Because if it had just been partially crushed, she would have bled to death from the arteries and veins, but essentially the arteries and veins were fused from the crush and her brother put on a tourniquet. Although gangrene was starting to set in, so she needed an emergency amputation which was done by my partner.
CHETRY: So after the emergency amputation, you have to go through another surgery today, Christa?
C. BRELSFORD: That's correct.
CHETRY: And what are you thinking right now, knowing that, you know, you lost your leg in this, but you survived something that thousands perhaps tens of thousands of people did not?
C. BRELSFORD: That's amazing that there are so many way in the last couple of days that I could have died that I'm not worried about my leg at all. I have one leg that's in good condition, I'm otherwise completely healthy. And I knew that as long as I got fairly prompt medical care I was going to be OK. And so I'm just thankful to be alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: So we're coming up on now about 67 hours after that earthquake and more planes, ships carrying relief supplies are arriving. The Haitian people are keeping their faith.
HOLMES: Well, here is what we're working on for the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.
General Russel Honore who helped or spearhead recovery efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is going to be joining us right here live on the set to talk about what needs to happen now in Haiti.
Also, a group of American doctors who have been trying to get into Haiti have finally been able to get in. And our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is with them, and she joins us with the latest on the grim task they have ahead.