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THE SITUATION ROOM
Race Against Time in Haiti; US in Charge of Haiti's Airport; Desperate Search for Loved Ones; Medical Crisis Unfolding in Haiti
Aired January 15, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We do, Jack, because these -- these e-mails you're getting are inspiring, by and large.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It's pretty good stuff, huh?
BLITZER: Yes, very good stuff, indeed.
All right, we've got some more coming up, Jack, so don't go far away.
The United Nations today appealed today for half a billion dollars in aid to Haiti's earthquake victims, saying many of the three million people in the immediate disaster zone have no food, they have no water, they have no shelter right now. Half the homes in hard-hit areas may be destroyed or damaged. The aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, is now off Haiti's coast, with helicopters, hospital beds and operating rooms. Other ships are on the way and U.S. airborne troops are already helping with security.
President Obama says he'll meet tomorrow with former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to discuss how to encourage Americans to get involved in the Haiti relief effort. We'll have extensive coverage.
Meanwhile, mass graves are being dug for the countless dead in Haiti's capital and time is quickly running out to save people who are trapped alive in the rubble. With little food or water available, some desperate survivors are turning to looting right now. Bodies remain in the streets. The stench of death hangs over the city. Many of the images we're showing you now and will be showing you over the course of the next few hours are very disturbing. We just want to alert you to that.
CNN teams are deployed throughout the disaster zone.
Let's go to CNN's Ivan Watson.
He's is in Port-au-Prince right now watching all of this unfold -- Ivan, this is a day -- the 72-hour moment, we've been speaking a lot about it. But right now, it's been 72 hours almost exactly since that earthquake struck. And there are people -- maybe hundreds, if not thousands of them -- still alive in the rubble and folks are desperately seeking to -- to get to them.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And we are seeing signs of helping arriving. I don't know if you can hear this, but there's a Blackhawk helicopter circling overhead. It's possible that that is an American Blackhawk from the USS Carl Vinson. That's the aircraft carrier you mentioned.
And we just filmed what we believe was that aircraft carrier sailing past in the distance. We maybe can show you some pictures of that. We've also seen some U.S. Coast Guard cutters in the distance, as well.
So we know that the international aid effort is starting to come up right now.
But despite that, the situation on the ground here remains dire. My colleague, Chris Lawrence, he was out with United Nations peacekeepers. He was out with the World Food Program. And he reported these images as they tried to distribute some food to desperate Haitians and it touched off a lot of chaos, as people were fighting to get control -- to get pieces of the food. And then a rumor spread through the crowd that the food was expired. And they began throwing it away.
And the convoy actually fled the scene. Now we should see some of those images right now.
And you mentioned that dire 72-hour window for trying to rescue people. And there was a film crew from our affiliate Channel 9 from Australia. They actually discovered a -- a miracle of sorts. They heard the sound of a baby crying in the distance. And this crew -- they went through the rubble. They found, at the bottom of a hole, an 18-month-old baby named Winnie.
Perhaps we can bring you those images right now, as their interpreter, a young man by the name of Debe Salisino (ph). He's a local, a Haitian. He climbed into the hole, along with the camera man, and helped rescue this 18-month-old baby.
They were not able to find any relatives except for an uncle who is shocked, dazed because he had lost loved ones. And that is a story -- stories like that are playing out all across this shell-shocked, shattered capital -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And we have no idea, because no one has any idea how many of these stories are still out there -- how many people they're still searching for who may be alive in the rubble of these buildings.
WATSON: No, we have no idea. We don't even know anything about estimates of the death tolls right now or the homeless. I mean this is a massive disaster. People are still trying to come to grips with this. We saw people pulled out alive from the rubble yesterday. And we saw this case of an 18-month-old baby, who was described to us to be in pretty solid, firm condition, despite the fact that she appeared to have been alone for nearly three days. Really a remarkable thing.
But we are also seeing, still, bodies getting pulled out, Wolf. Just about an hour ago, a body carried down the street here from the ruins of a building a block down, where they were trying to dig through some of the rubble there. And that scene is likely to continue to play itself out in the days to come, unfortunately.
BLITZER: Let me put you on the spot, Ivan.
What's been -- and you've been there now since almost the beginning -- you were among the first reporters to get to Port-au-Prince -- the most heart-wrenching moment that you've experienced?
WATSON: Um, hmm. There have been a few. I just -- I think today -- let's mention today's moments. There's just when we've gone out and asked locals here to send messages to their relatives and friends in the U.S., simply to say, I'm alive. And just hearing a Haitian saying, you know, my brother and my sister in Boston or in Miami or whatever, I just want you to know that I'm alive. Our house is gone. Everything is destroyed. But I'm here in one piece."
That is something that's going to stick with me from today. And every one of these days, you just mentally cannot digest the amount of human drama and suffering and tragedy and then generosity that you're seeing out on the streets playing out minute after minute here. It's -- it's really overwhelming.
BLITZER: The best of humanity amidst this enormous crisis.
Ivan, we're going to get back to you.
Ivan Watson is one of our team of reporters on the scene in Haiti right now.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It's home to about nine or 10 million people. The exact number is hard to get. More than half live on less than $1 a day. The country's limited infrastructure was badly damaged back in 2008, when four tropical storms struck the island.
Haiti also suffers from high crime and widespread disease. Political violence has plagued Haiti for most of its history. About 8,000 U.N. peacekeepers have been stationed there to try to maintain civil order since a political rebellion back in 2004.
To find out how you can make a difference -- and it can be a huge difference -- and help those who are suffering right now, help those who are trying to help Haiti, go to our Web site, CNN.com/impact. You can impact your world -- CNN.com/impact.
They need money. They need it quickly. This is a chance for you to get involved. You should do so if you have some extra money, even if it's $10, $20 or more, go ahead and give them some money. These people are dying.
Here's one extraordinary scene of hope in Haiti's devastated capital. Take a closer look at this.
BLITZER: Despite the death and destruction all around them, hundreds of people -- mostly women -- took to the streets today, singing and chanting as they marched -- a sign of resilience and a determined will to go on. It's not the first time that such a display has been observed amid the rubble. Singing and clapping was heard well into the night in a large square that has become home to thousands of Haiti's homeless.
Let's listen to a little bit more of that singing right now.
BLITZER: The resiliency of -- the resilience of these people in Haiti demonstrated on the streets on this day, as they're singing -- mostly women and children -- to make sure that they know the world is watching them and that they are alive and determined to fight on.
We're going back to the scene.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is standing by live.
We'll check with him on the medical condition, what's going on in Haiti right now, right after this.
BLITZER: We're not leaving this story. It's a horrible story in Haiti unfolding. It's 72 hours now, almost exactly, since the earthquake hit.
Jack Cafferty is going through a lot of e-mail.
You've got some -- another question for our viewers -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: There's an old saying that goes, if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all. It's an expression that certainly seems to apply to the people of Haiti, as theirs is a long history of things that go seemingly from bad to worse. If it's not the poverty -- the majority of Haitians make less than $1 a day and 75 percent of them have no job at all -- it's political repression. The nearly 30 year regime of the Duvalier family, beginning in the late 1950s, is seen as one of the most corrupt and violent and repressive in modern history. Their personal militia killed tens of thousands of Haitians, tortured and raped countless thousands of others.
The Haitians also have a checkered past that includes slavery, debt, revolution, exploitation. And when those poor people aren't trying to survive their own government and their poor economy, Mother Nature periodically moves in and slams them with hurricanes, earthquakes, you name it.
Yet for some reason, the Haitians remain, for the most part, a peaceful, optimistic, even good-natured people. We could all take a lesson from them.
Most of the people in Haiti will survive. The country will manage to go on in some form. The problem is, the people there never seem to be able to enjoy a run of good fortune -- an improving economy that elevates their standard of living, an honest government that makes a legitimate effort to provide for the general welfare -- of course, we don't have that in this country, either -- things like education, infrastructure, shelter, medical care. These things all seem to be forever beyond Haiti's grasp.
So here's the question -- why can't a country like Haiti catch a break?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: No simple answer, but an excellent question.
The State Department has just announced an agreement between the United States and Haiti -- a memorandum of understanding signed by the prime minister of Haiti granting the United States control of the airport -- the major airport in Port-au-Prince -- indefinitely. The U.S. will take charge of flights in and out of this airport -- a critical matter given that so many of the supplies, so much of the assistance coming from the air landing at this airport. The U.S. now in charge of the airport indefinitely. This according to the State Department, the assistant secretary, P.J. Crowley, telling reporters.
He's also letting us know that there's another memorandum of agreement -- of understanding -- that's been signed between the U.S. and Haiti allowing American doctors to perform their medicine and treat quake victims as soon as they get on the ground. No more licenses, no more authorization. This is another memorandum of understanding signed between the U.S. and Haitian governments.
Joining us now via Skype is Ralph Loubeau.
His cousin is trapped beneath a collapsed funeral home in Haiti.
Ralph, where is this funeral home, can you tell us?
RALPH LOUBEAU, COUSIN TRAPPED IN QUAKE RUBBLE: Actually, Wolf, it's called Gadbila (ph), near downtown, not too far from the White House. But I just found out not too long ago that my cousin also had passed away. My aunt passed away yesterday and four employees the day before. And so, yes. That's about it.
I've been working tirelessly since Wednesday, doing radio, TV to try to get help sent to Haiti through the Red Cross -- donations. We've done a lot of that.
But this morning -- starting this morning, I got a hold of somebody at CNN here, thanks to my friend, Luceaux Leburd (ph), that passed me their information and tried to get first responders there.
I got some good news this afternoon, a couple of hours ago, saying that they were in contact with my father and help was on the way. But I guess they never got there. But, yes.
BLITZER: So -- so your -- you live in Lincoln, Nebraska. That's where we're speaking to you right now, Ralph, is that right?
LOUBEAU: Yes, I moved to Lincoln in 2000. I came here for school. I did my undergrad in marketing at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. And I also did my master's there, which I finished in leadership education in August.
BLITZER: So let me just be precise...
BLITZER: Let me just be precise, Ralph. Your family members back in Port-au-Prince -- back in Haiti, are there still some who are unaccounted for who are still missing that you're worried about?
LOUBEAU: No. At this point, everyone is accounted for. My whole family were the only ones that were, as far as I know, helping go through the rubble of our collapsed funeral home to try to get -- find my cousin and my aunt and the other employees. And -- but, at this point, that's it. Everyone is accounted for. Everyone else is alive, but not doing well, obviously. But I have not spoken to anyone yet. I -- I can't bear to call home yet so.
BLITZER: Well, we wish only the best to your remaining family there, Ralph.
LOUBEAU: Thank you. I want...
BLITZER: ...to all the people in Haiti.
LOUBEAU: I wanted to make sure that I know, at this point, there's not much we can do for my cousin. But I want to make sure that people know that everyone in Haiti is still suffering. And they can help. Please continue your donations at the Red Cross, at their Web site, the international -- international fund and please specify Haiti when doing that on the Web site.
And, also, they can text Haiti to 90999 and that will give $10 to the Red Cross.
BLITZER: Good information, Ralph.
And we -- we also want to let our viewers know they can go to CNN.com/impact. There are several links there to worthy charitable organizations that are deeply involved in providing relief -- relief funds and operations in Haiti right now -- CNN.com/impact.
Thank you very much, Ralph, for that.
We're standing by to speak with our own Brian Todd.
He's aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson.
He's watching what's going on, as the United States military gets involved in saving lives.
BLITZER: Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is on the scene for us watching what's going on; also getting involved as a physician -- Sanjay, where are you now?
What's going on?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are in an area called Cite Soleil. It's an area not too far from the hospital where we were yesterday -- a hospital that was really, really scrambling to try and get resources, Wolf.
We were really pleased to hear that they put up these tents not too far away from that hospital, these white hospital tents, being able to perform medical procedures, surgical procedures.
What we just heard, though, Wolf -- and this is of concern, obviously, to a lot of people here -- is that the doctors, the nurses, the health care professionals are being told to pack up their -- their -- all their medical supplies and try and get to a secure location. They're being told this by the United Nations. There's concern about riots not too far from here.
And this is part of the problem for them, is that they are -- they want to take care of lots of patients that are actually in the tents and many more patients actually outside. But they simply are being told at this point to stop and to try and get to some sort of secure location -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What's going to happen with all those patients -- all those people who are in such desperate need of medical attention?
GUPTA: We've been asking the same question. And most immediate are the patients that are -- that are waiting. You may see some of patients even over my shoulder here, Wolf, including a little baby boy over there. They are watching as the -- the health care teams start packing up their goods.
I don't know. This was the same situation that we ran into yesterday -- lots of patients waiting for care and hardly anybody to provide any care or any resources for them.
Again, even as I'm talking to you, there are -- there are cars behind me. They're starting to pack up their goods in preparation to leave.
So we're -- this is sort of going a little bit backward. There was a little -- a lot of excitement about the fact that these tents were going up. But, obviously, if the -- all the health care teams leave, along with their supplies, a big problem. I don't know if they're going to establish another location to try and care for people, if they're going to try and secure it in some other way. But for right now, some -- some -- at least for the time being, some bad news for these patients -- Wolf. BLITZER: Well, the patients who can't be moved, the patients who are lying in bed with broken legs or whatever, are they just that to be there by themselves?
GUPTA: Well, I don't know. I don't -- and I don't think they know right now exactly how they're going to handle the situation. I think that they're literally talking to each other, trying to figure out exactly how this is going to work.
They're told that some folks from the United States are going to come down here. I don't know if they're simply going to escort these doctors and nurses out of this area to a more secure location or if they're also going to try and set up a little bit of a -- a force here in this particular area, to try and take care of these patients.
I think it's just unclear. I think everyone is sort of deciding and discussing, even as we speak right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So, in other words, there's some ominous indications that people are getting ready to get violent, is that what I'm hearing from -- from you, Sanjay?
GUPTA: That's exactly what we're being told, Wolf. In fact, that's coming from the United Nations to these doctors. That's where they're getting their directive. The specific language that was told to me was there was concerns about riots and there was concern specifically about the -- the gunshots that they could hear off in the distance.
So that's -- that's -- that seems to be what's happening. But, again, this is all coming in as -- as communication to these doctors and nurses -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Are there enough doctors?
Let's assume they could stay.
Are there enough doctors and nurses at this one little facility where you are right now that could take care of those people?
GUPTA: Well, let me -- let me show you. You know, there's actually about five separate tents set up around here. And whether it's enough, the answer to that has to be no. But you do have a lot more personnel -- exponentially more so than you did yesterday, a short distance from here, where I was at a hospital where there was essentially one doctor trying to take care of hundreds of patients.
So the personnel seems to be here. The supplies were starting to increase in number, as well -- pain medications, antibiotics, gauze, dressings even, and types of materials to try and handle orthopedic injuries. So that seemed to be improving.
But again, this concern about violence not too far away from here -- again, according to the UN, they're telling these doctors to leave and to find a more secure location until further notice.
BLITZER: I want you to be careful, Sanjay, as you always are. One final question. I'm getting a lot of e-mail from medical professionals around the country, doctors and nurses, saying they would love to volunteer, they would love to get down to Haiti and help out as best as they can.
Is there -- is there an opportunity for these people who want to do so to actually do it?
GUPTA: I think there's a real need for -- for all -- for all kinds of medical help, whether it be personnel or supplies. There is difficulty that I know of actually getting -- even if you make it into the airport, actually getting to some of these devastated locations, getting to hospitals that could use help, as well. The coordination has not been great, as far as getting people actually to these -- to these areas.
So while they, it's great, I think people helping, it's going to be a little bit frustrating, I think, at least for the next couple of days, until a more coordinated plan is in effect. Most of the folks that we're seeing that have established tents like this one come from military organizations or from large relief organizations that already had a presence on the ground here in Haiti. So they already had some sort of coordination set up.
BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta, be careful over there.
We'll check back with you.
Thanks very much.
I have an important programming note for our viewers. "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." -- that's the name of his show -- will air live this Saturday morning, 7:30 a.m. Eastern, Sunday morning, 7:30 a.m. Eastern. "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." -- two special programs hosted by Dr. Gupta will air live here on CNN, Saturday morning and Sunday morning. I think you're going to all want to see it. Sanjay is doing some amazing reporting for us and going beyond amazing reporting. He's also saving lives in the process.
All right, Sanjay.
Thanks very, very much.
We'll check back with you.
Be careful over there.
The U.S. military is already on the scene and on the way. An aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, is now on -- on station off the coast of Haiti.
CNN's Brian Todd is aboard the Carl Vinson -- tell our viewers, Brian, what's going on as far as the U.S. Navy is concerned.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you that this vessel and the U.S. Navy in general down here is incredibly busy. They are stretched very thin, but they are ramping up operations every minute of the day right now.
We just got on board this carrier a couple of hours ago. I have to apologize to viewers, I have to hold my hand up to my ear in order to hear you, Wolf, because there are choppers taking off and landing constantly here on the USS Vinson.
It is an operation that is in flux. The admiral here, Rear Admiral Ted Branch, told us a short time ago that this vessel has actually run out of supplies. They're choppering in supplies from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to resupply this ship so that they can then ferry supplies out to Port-au-Prince and drop them off there.
A very busy operation. They -- they went about 30 knots -- they really opened it up on the high seas to get here from Norfolk, Virginia, where they started on the day of the earthquake. So just getting here and getting the supplies off this boat is a -- is a monumental undertaking. And they are kind of doing it on the fly. They're getting supplies from Guantanamo, taking them over to Port-au- Prince as they get them -- a very, very busy operation here.
BLITZER: And I take it, Brian, that there's a delay between when I stop talking and you start talking. Our viewers totally understand the technology is very complicated in getting you live from aboard the USS Carl Vinson.
But the operation, I take it, is mostly helicopters -- heavy lift capabilities, taking equipment and supplies into Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti?
Is that's what -- that's what's going on?
TODD: That is exactly what's going on, Wolf. It is all being done by helicopter. Now, that presents an issue in and of itself. They have two types of helicopters, predominantly, on board this carrier, the MH-53s. Those are your heavy lifters. Those are very, very large choppers that can carry about 20 people each and a lot of supplies. They also have SH-60s. Those are smaller search and rescue helicopters. Now, here's the issue with that. The MH-53s carry a lot of supplies and they've been doing that. But what they're also doing is fanning out throughout the country, trying to look for drop zones -- places where they can just drop in and distribute aid and distribute food and water. And that's a problem because a lot of the terrain is very hilly. It's got lush vegetation outside Port-au- Prince. And the areas that are not like that are full of debris and rubble.
And when an MH-53 chopper approaches that debris, it kicks up into the rotors. It's very, very dangerous.
So Admiral Branch told us a short time ago they may have to start using the smaller helicopters, the FH-602, those search and rescue birds, to try to get that aid over there. It makes it more practical, maybe a little faster, but those birds can't carry as much supplies in at a time.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There are about 5,000 or 6,000 sailors or marines aboard the "USS Carl Vinson" and they're working around the clock to try to save lives. We'll be getting updates from Brian Todd. Brian, thanks very much.
We'll take a quick break and continue or coverage of the news coming out of Haiti. There are parents right now, many here in the United States who are still anxiously awaiting word from their kids who had been in Haiti, whether on missionary work, educational work. We're going to be checking in with some parents after this.
BLITZER: A heartbreaking emotional roller coaster for one Massachusetts family. Their daughter is a student at Linn University at Boca Rattan, Florida. She had been missing since the quake. Then yesterday came word she had been rescued and was safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's alive! They rescued her! She's alive! We're thrilled.
BLITZER: Her parents flew to Florida, anticipating a reunion, but when they landed, devastating news. They learned the initial report was incorrect, their daughter had not been rescued, was in fact still missing. That led to this emotional plea.
LEN GENGEL, DAUGHTER MISSING IN HAITI: We have hope, and I have a prepared statement that I would like to read. With our sons and good friend Father Bob Lade, our daughter Britney went missing at the Hotel Montana in Haiti. We have found out room number 300, we were told yet by Linn University that our daughter Britney was rescued on a helicopter and was okay. We flew down to Florida last night to meet with the kids who were supposed to be in late at night, and upon our arrival at Linn University, we were greeted by the president and the vice presidents, and we were told that they had bad intelligence, and we're very sorry and Brit was still one of the four students missing along with the two professors. They still don't have a reason why they were told that they had three of the missing girls.
We appreciate all the efforts of Linn University, and just the one of the thoughts and prayers of people across our whole country. We have so happy for the parents and the eight students who made their way out of the Hotel Montana in Haiti, and we're so thankful to god for their safety. One of the -- we are praying that our daughter Britney be one of the rescued today and be brought home safe and sound, and I am pleading to President Obama to please, please send more people to Haiti to rescue. As a father, President Obama, you must feel our pain and what we're going through. We were told our children were safe, and re cased, and now we're told they're not. And we need your help, and we know you can do it. Father to father, I'm pleading with you to please, please get help and rescue those folks at Hotel Montana in Haiti.
BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in Ed Lavandera. He's on the scene in Florida, digging deeper into this story.
What a heart-wrenching story. Ed, how could this mistake happen? ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're trying to figure out exactly how that happened. There is a search and rescue team that the university has on the ground that has been at the Hotel Montana site since Wednesday. Clearly some sort of miscommunication there exactly how that happened, university officials haven't been able to get to the bottom of that. They're saying their main focus is to continue that search for those missing students and two faculty members that are still somewhere there in Haiti.
BLITZER: And she's the bottom, second from the right in the gray shirt. Is that right?
LAVANDERA: There are four students total, two faculty members that are still missing. There are now two search and rescue teams that Linn University has brought into Haiti to continue the search and also some other school administrators canvassing hospitals, any other tents or hospitals to see if somehow those kids might have been gotten out of there alive and they just haven't been able to track them down at this point. Obviously communication and lack of communication is a big problem.
BLITZER: How long had they been there? And remind our viewers what they were doing there.
LAVANDERA: This was a week-long humanitarian mission they had gone on. They were volunteering with a group called Food for the Poor. This was a week they would be spending helping out obviously the poor people of Haiti. We're told that at the time, that students that did survive and had evacuated, the eight students that have been evacuated so far they had been participating poolside, participating in reflections and the missing students were inside their hotel rooms at the time of the earthquake.
BLITZER: I think all of our viewers are praying for these kids. Mr. Gengel's remarks were simply so passionate, so moving, they touch the hearts of everybody who is watching. Keep us informed, please, to stay in touch with the authorities at Linn University, and let us know what's going on, Ed. Will you do that?
LAVANDERA: Absolutely. We've reached out to many of the family members. Obviously it's very difficult, especially for the family members who had their loved once evacuated. They know full well this might not end up as a happy story for everyone here at Linn University.
BLITZER: All right. Ed Lavandera is on the scene in Florida. Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now, our senior medical correspondent. We'll check in with her. She's on the scene in Haiti, right after this.
BLITZER: We're continuing our coverage of the devastation in Haiti right now. Elizabeth Cohen, our senior medical correspondent, will update us with the latest on what's going on with all of the victims and medical equipment that's so desperately needed. Mary Snow is standing by. We'll talk to her about adoption opportunities, if you're interested perhaps in adopting an orphan in Haiti. Is that easy? Is it difficult? What's going on? We'll check in with them. Much more news coming up.
I want to check in with Fredricka Whitfield right now. She's monitoring some other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
Fred, what else is going on?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, hello to you and hello everyone. President Barack Obama is heading to Massachusetts Sunday for last-minute campaigning. Democrats are worried about the growing possibility of a GOP upset there in the election to fill the late Ted Kennedy's seat. A new poll shows the race between Republican State Senator Scott Brown and Democratic candidate State Attorney General Martha Oakley is now essentially deadlocked. A GOP victory could give Senate Republicans enough votes to block health reform.
And a warning to airlines not to hide the bottom line cost of fares. The transportation department has fined United Airlines $30,000 for failing to include a 7.5% federal tax when it quoted some airfares on its website. Government rules require most mandatory taxes and fees to be include in the quoted price of a ticket.
If you thought Starbucks was already pricey, well think again. The company says it is raising prices on certain beverages by as much as 35 cents in Canada and large U.S. markets including New York, Washington D.C. and cities in California. The hikes are what Starbucks calls the normal course of business. The chain points out prices have also gone down on some of the beverages, including brewed coffees.
A toast to survival. It was one year ago today that hero Captain Sully Sullenberger planned his plane on the Hudson River, saving all 155 people on board. He and many of the survivors took the ferry out to the spot where the plane went down. It was one of several events to mark the anniversary of what's become known as miracle on the Hudson. Members of the group raised their glasses at 3:31 p.m., the exact moment of impact after a flock of geese disabled the airplane's engine forcing that emergency ending. Wolf?
BLITZER: We remember that event very, very well.
WHITFIELD: As if it were yesterday.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
We'll check in with Elizabeth Cohen. She's on the scene in Haiti. Stories of medical survival and more, right after this.
BLITZER: Doctors and medical supplies are among two of the most urgent needs in Haiti. Lives are at stake. Elizabeth Cohen is in Port-au-Prince watching what's going on.
What are you seeing, Elizabeth, and what are you hearing?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What I'm seeing, Wolf, is more and more doctors and medical supplies coming in, but still it's not enough. I started my trip yesterday with a team of doctors who faced a hurdle -- a lot of hurdles, actually, trying to get from Florida to Haiti. Here's what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.
COHEN: A moment to celebrate. After eight hours of waiting, this group of doctors from the University of Miami finally made it in to help save lives in Haiti. I accompanied them on the flight in. No one was happier to see these physicians than Dr. Enricci Ginsburg who had been working in this makeshift hospital on the United Nations compound near the airport for two days.
Last night you had three doctors for how many patients?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably 250.
COHEN: Three doctors for 250 patients, are you kidding me? Let me show you around this makeshift hospital in a tent. The screams of the woman you're hearing right she's 6 months pregnant and during the earthquake a boulder fell on her stomach and now she's miscarrying. This little boy over here, he has a bleed in his brain. The doctors say he hasn't been conscious since he arrived here. They don't think there's very much he can do for him. You hear children crying, you hear orphans crying through the night, "mommy, mommy." Dr. Ginsberg gives the doctors from Florida plus some from Chile an assessment on each patient.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She also has a pelvic fracture, I think. We need one person to change a dressing on this child, we need an IV on this girl.
COHEN: The new doctors will help, but there's a limit to what they can do. That's because they're missing even the most basic of supplies. For example, when they do amputations, they don't have general anesthesia, so they cut off the limb while the person is still aware. One doctor I talked to calls it civil war medicine. In all this pain, in all this trauma, there is one bright light, and his name is Reggie. This little boy just came out of the rubble two hours ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just came out. His grandmother, brother and two of his cousins.
COHEN: They were all dead?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were all dead.
COHEN: How did he live for more than two days all alone crushed under dead bodies?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm telling you, that's god. That's the only thing I can say. That's god.
COHEN: I mentioned amputations in my story, Wolf. Today I witnessed an amputation, a woman had her foot amputated with no general anesthesia. You can see the bed was just by the side of the road. She had local anesthetic and a sedative, but she did not have general anesthesia and she was awake while they cut off her foot.
BLITZER: Oh, my god. Elizabeth, what is the hope for these people you are seeing there?
COHEN: The hope is that in two words that the operating room and it is estimated that 100 of them need surgery and they need it fast or they are going to get terrible infections from the wound. Wolf, a moment ago a team from the Israeli military landed and they are going to be opening up a surgical hospital with an operating room. They hope to have up and running by morning.
BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, we will check in with you and people are coming in from all over the world to try to help this desperate situation in Haiti.
Remember you can have an impact by going to CNN.com/impact, and impact your world and there are links to important organizations and you can help. We will check in with all of the correspondents on the scene, Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper and more. Stay with us, our coverage continues.
BLITZER: Here is a closer look at some of the pictures coming in from our friends at the Associated Press of quake survivors returning to their home countries.
In Montreal, the first group of rescued Canadians arrived on the same military aircraft that carried Canadian soldiers into the disaster zone.
In Tupelo, an injured Brazilian U.N. peacekeeper embraces a relative on its home soil.
In France, a young French citizen is carried by Red Cross workers after coming back safely.
And at JFK Airport in New York, a cheerful daughter welcomes back her mother. Be sure to visit CNN.com/impact to find out how you can help the thousands of earthquake victims back in Haiti. CNN.com/impact.
Let's go back to Jack Cafferty right now. He is hearing from you.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Question this hour, Wolf, why can't a country like Haiti catch a break? Sheryl writes from Arizona, "Haiti can't catch a break as you say it, because in recent history the last 600 years, they were first colonized and then enslaved. When you take away a people's language and culture and repress them, it is amazing how long it takes the culture and the people to rebound, if they ever do."
Charles writes, "Except for the people who are killed and severely injured I would say that Haiti has caught the biggest break they have had in years. This country has an opportunity to completely rebuild now. Hundreds of millions of dollars are going to pour into a place where $1,000 has been a fortune. If the usual collection of idiots and thieves running things had any trace of morality at all, there are phenomenal opportunities now to take the lemons created by the earthquake to turn it into a big beautiful glass of lemonade."
Paul writes, "Why aren't we asking this about Bangladesh or the Philippines or any other number of countries under attack by natural disasters. We are all in horror over what happens in Haiti, but mostly because it happened in our backyard."
Joel writes, "Lack of good leadership. Haiti never had a chance. Haiti's birth as country was through violence brought about by a slave revolt which devastated the economy, and the new rulers had little education and no nation-building skills, and the future was sold out to France in the form of a debt to France that the nation could not afford to pay. If anything good can come out of this disaster, I hope it is the emergence of a good leader to bring Haiti into the 21st century."
And Gilbert writes, "As one who was born there and was a member of the ruling class, it's a fact, is Haiti's rich don't pay taxes and carry two passports and one foot in and one foot out and they take monies out of the country routinely and it is also a fact that the government is corrupt with little tax revenue and little remaining fiscal assets and precious little in aid money that survives pillage by the government officials, it's no wonder the majority suffers beyond all comprehension."
If you want more on this, we got a lot of mail once again on this question, go to my blog CNN.com/Caffertyfile.
BLITZER: Did you hear that father's plea whose daughter is missing from Linn University in Florida in Haiti, Jack?
CAFFERTY: I don't know how you deal with that. Well, he was told she was rescued and then they fly down there to see her, and find out she was not rescued. So emotionally I don't know how to handle that.
BLITZER: As a father, you don't know how to handle that situation, it is awful. We will stay on top of it and I have been flooded with requests for information about this and so much else. People, Jack, want to help in any way they can, not just by giving money, but a lot of them want to go down there and use their own hands to try to find those who are still in the rubble.
CAFFERTY: It is, you know, it is so much a part of the historical fabric of this country. We have always been this way as a people. You know, willing to help, go do the right thing. Our government, sometimes, pursues counterintuitive policies to the idea, but as far as the ethics and the morality of the American people, there is nothing better on the face of the earth, because given a chance, they are compassionate and willing to help. And there is a huge recession here and look at the money raised just like that when this hit. The woman who wrote and said she is proud of us, I concur.
BLITZER: I as well, and we are behind everyone who is trying to help in the crisis. We have all of the correspondents there to give us reports. We will have continuing coverage.