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Geological Facts behind the Earthquake and Tsunami in Chile; Difficult Recovery after Massive Landslide in Washington State; Star Student Accepted to All Ivy League Schools

Aired April 3, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Earthquakes greater than magnitude 8.0 are rare and potentially devastating. They only happen every five to ten years. The one that violently shook part of Chile this week leads off today`s edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS. It happened late on Tuesday, off northern Chile`s Pacific Coast. An 8.2 magnitude tremor that also caused the tsunami. What`s incredible is, the damage appears to be limited. There were landslides and power outages, at least six people lost their lives. Thousands of homes had serious damage or destroyed, and more than 900,000 people were evacuated. But despite that, a quake this powerful is capable of catastrophic damage, so officials are saying, this could have been much worse.

The Pacific region still wasn`t in the clear, though, even a day later. The tsunami waves that hit northern Chile measured around seven feet. What a Chilean official described is like high tide. But you can see from this animation that they don`t just go away. They move across the ocean. And officials in Indonesia were warning people there to be on alert, though the tsunami waves there were expected to be less than three feet.

Both Chile and Indonesia are all too familiar with earthquakes. The two nations are located on what`s called "the Ring of Fire, a horseshoe shape line around the Pacific Ocean where there`s a lot of earthquake and volcanic activity.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is a subduction zone. It`s the line between two plates, the Nazca Plate, the South American plate here, the Nazca Plate here. The Nazca Plate is actually diving under the South American Plate building the Andes Mountains. And they`ve been doing that now for millions and millions of years. The problem with the big earthquakes that we see here - unlike other subduction zones and this is the crease right here, this plate would be diving below this plate here, which is just sitting here. This was a thrustfall, so as this, came together last night, and they`ve been going together for years and years and years, something popped right along this plate boundary right here, and all of a sudden the sea floor lifted. And because this sea floor lifted, that`s how we got the tsunami to go that way and also tsunami to go this way.

The problem with the Chilean sea floor and the Chilean earthquakes, is that they are pretty much shallow. Somewhere less than 50 miles deep. And so, when that shakes, it really shakes hard. A lot of subduction zone earthquakes are 200 miles deep, and there`s a lot of padding between the shaking part and the earth surface where we live. But here in Chile, it is not that way. One great thing about where this tsunami happened, even though it was only about a six to eight foot wave. This is not a very highly populated area, because you look at this cliff. These cliffs here are almost of insanity, as we call them, right down here, there is not a lot of place for people to live there. Now, the people that do live here, live right along the coast because they have to, it`s the only flat land and that`s where - where we saw that, some (INAUDIBLE) areas here, just at the north EKK did see this water coming up and getting right into that community right through here.


AZUZ: A different kind of disaster, a massive landslide recently struck in Washington State. A week and a half later, officials had confirmed the deaths of 29 people, but around 20 others are still missing.

The North Cascade Mountains had seen a lot of rain by March 22 when a hillside just gave way. Recovery officials are struggling to sort through a square mile of mud.


ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is ground zero of the Washington landslide, our first look at the destruction at close. Debris, piled up to 80 feet high in some spots. Tires, twisted cables, large appliances and uprooted trees. The only decipherable objects in the mangled mess. Images don`t fully capture the devastation. This neighborhood was mutilated by the enormous force and power of land and water that ripped through this valley.

LT. RICHARD BURKE, BELLEVUE FIRE DEPT.: Our family`s just gotten bigger, we kind of adopted the town of Oso (ph) or maybe they have adopted us.

CABRERA: A week and a half after the disaster the driving force for workers remains finding victims. Nearly two dozen people are still missing.

(on camera): Would you be able to find all of the victims?

BURKE: We`re going to try. I mean that`s the crystal ball question.

CABRERA (voice over): The debris field is full of a toxic sludge, a combination of human waste, chemicals from households as well as propane tanks, oil and gas making the search effort extremely dangerous.

Every person, animal and thing that comes out of here, has to be decontaminated. Workers are forced to wait for some areas to dry out before investigating.

All of this heavy equipment is helping to clear the debris off the road to provide more access for rescuers, but the debris is staying put. Until hand crews can come and go through these piles to pull belongings for family members who`ve lost everything.

Two American flags fly among the men and women working here. One recovered from the debris hangs in reverence for lives lost. Another flag at half- staff on a lone tree left standing in the slide zone.

A source of strength and a symbol of hope for better days ahead. Ana Cabrera, CNN, Arlington, Washington.


AZUZ: Next up today, money and politics. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday that would allow people to donate more money to political campaigns. But this may not make a huge difference, simply because most people don`t have this much money to donate.

Here`s the deal: under current law, you can give up to $5200 to a candidate during an election. This ruling doesn`t change that. But what if you wanted to give that $5200 to a whole bunch of candidates? Previously, the limit for that was just over $123,000 per election cycle. That limit`s gone. The decision, a close five to four ruling on the high court. Supporters of it say campaign spending is a form of free expression, protected by the First Amendment. The court majority agreed. Opponents say it undermines campaign finance laws and their private money could now have a greater influence on elections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this legit? In the U.S., the Ivy League consists of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell and Pennsylvania. This is true. Ivy League colleges and universities are known for academic excellence and social prestige.

AZUZ: They are also known for high tuition. At Harvard, costs of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, room and board is $60,000 a year. Can you say scholarship? It`s also selective. Last year`s acceptance rate was less than six percent. So, Ivy League acceptance is an accomplishment in itself, especially if it`s to the whole league.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kwasi Enin is a 17-year old student a William Floyd High School who now has the biggest decision of his life ahead of him. Enin applied to and was accepted to all eight Ivy League Schools.

KWASI ENIN: My dream came true, basically.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kwasi says he hasn`t picked which one he wants to attend yet. As expected, he says he`ll do his research and select the one he really wants to go to. He says his parents have been the driving force behind his academics.

ENIN: They are very proud because the whole journey, I mean, of childhood here and hoping for the best and then the best becoming like this level.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kwasi got a 22-50 out of 24-50 on his SAT score, which places him in a 99 percentile for all students taking the exam. But for him, it`s not just about SAT scores.

ENIN: I think I have the newly well-rounded - when it comes to academics, music, sports and just like - doesn`t always been like the very best in all of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His principal Barbara Butler says his accomplishments have inspired other students in the school.

BARBARA BUTLER, PRINCIPAL, WILLIAM FLOYD HIGH SCHOOL: He`s been an inspiration for other kids, even just walking down the hall today. Kids have said things like I want to do that. I want to try that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In addition to his achievements, Kwasi just has a great attitude towards life.

ENIN: I mean knowing that I`m going to have a happy day because of the things I`m doing in this day. Because I love doing all of them. So I think that`s what really pushes me.


AZUZ: First school in today`s Roll Call is in the northeast. Glenn Mill`s Pennsylvania. Not too far from the capital, we`ve got Garnet Valley High School, the Jaguars are on today`s roll. Moving south to the volunteer`s day to Beavers of Karns High School who are watching there in Knoxville, Tennessee. And in Pavilion Wyoming it`s good to see the cougars on the prow. They are online at Wind River Middle High School.

The world`s tallest building is in United Arab Emirates. The tallest mountain is in Nepal, the tallest Fair`s Wheel? At the moment, it`s this one. On the Las Vegas strip. The high roller - it`s Vegas. What did you expect? It just opened. It stands 550 feet high and it gives Fair`s Wheel aficionado`s views of well, pretty much everything from the city to the mountains around it. Tickets start at 25 bucks, and it can fit more than 1100 people at a time, which might be a tight fit, but also a profit. One spin around takes 30 minutes - a gandalot (ph) of time. It has 200 bulbs, 2 LED light and give riders a full kaleidoscope of color. Less vibrant wheels would say it`s just not fairest. CNN STUDENT NEWS will be back around tomorrow, and wheel hope to see you then. I`m Carl Azuz.