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Tornadoes Threaten Southeast; Brownback Dropping Out of Republican Presidential Race?

Aired October 18, 2007 - 15:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in today for Kyra Phillips, at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
DAN SIMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dan Simon, in today for Don Lemon.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: And we are watching a lot of severe weather sweeping much of the country.

But, first, we want to tell you about something that's just in. It's becoming a scene all too familiar. We understand that there is a school shooting that has taken places in Brazil, Indiana. And we understand that, according to police officials there, at least one bullet was shot, and it was shot through the cafeteria door at the Van Buren Elementary School in Clay County, Indiana.

No one was reportedly injured. You're looking at the Google Earth images right now. And we're getting a lot information from our affiliate there on the ground, WISH. And now CNN has actually confirmed that this kind of activity has taken place at this elementary school now in Clay County, Indiana, a shooting taking place.

It means now that the entire Clay community schools have all been put on lockdown, as the search is under way for the source of this weapon being fired, looking for a suspect as well. And police are also looking for a vehicle that has been described to them by eyewitness accounts.

So, more information as we get it out of Brazil, Indiana.

SIMON: We're also following the weather, dangerous, potentially deadly storms taking aim at the eastern half of the country. Right now the Florida Panhandle is on alert.

One tornado has already touched down, and several more have been spotted. Pensacola, it took a direct hit just before lunchtime. A historic church, its day care center, and part of a major shopping center all damaged. At last word, the kids are OK and only minor injuries are reported elsewhere in town.

In Oklahoma, dozens of people are recovering after a huge tent collapsed on them. They were enjoying an Oktoberfest celebration in Tulsa when, in the words of one person, the winds just really came out of nowhere.

We're going to take a look at what's happening across the country now. We're going to turn now to Chad Myers in the Weather Center.

Chad, we looked at that radar earlier, and just so many different spots there.


SIMON: I see the pink behind you. How is it looking right now?

MYERS: Really, this thing is going to -- these storms are going to pop up in random areas. You think, oh, that storm, that must be 40 miles to the west of me, and then one may go right on top of you.

These are going to be popping very quickly. Columbus, Mississippi, you're now in the gun sights of a storm to your southwest. West Point, you just had a storm just move over the -- it seemed a little bit maybe to the east of your town.

And there was a public report of that tornado being on the ground. I still don't have any reports of any damage with that, but here you go with the tornado warnings until about 2:30 Central Daylight Time.

And here is the storm that was up over Sulligent and then over Beaverton. It's moved off to the east a little bit, 4,000 people affected right now with this -- it says meso. That's a short term for mesocyclone, which means on the backside of this storm, it's rotating. And that storm has been rotating a very long time.

I'm going to switch, go now -- we're going to kind of take you a little bit farther down to the south. The storm behind me over my head, that's the one that moved through Panama City. We have got beach patrol reports of that cell coming on shore as a tornado in Panama City Beach. And that was at 1:35, so 30 minutes ago.

I have a lot of calls in here trying to figure out what happened. My best guess, from where the rotation was, probably somewhere near it -- I know, if you have been there, it's the Casa Loma Hotel area where the two highways kind of come back together right there at Panama City Beach.

I have tried to get ahold of the sheriff's department. They're still on their way out there. Obviously they are busy. We do know that that tornado was on the ground. And according to the Bay County warning that just came out, it very well may still be on the ground headed toward Crystal Lake here in about the next five or six minutes.

This was a very -- this was a spinning storm. We had what we called a couplet on this. We look at Doppler radar. and the reason why we use the word Doppler is because of the train. The train as it comes to you has a different pitch than when it leaves. The wind and the raindrops have different signatures if they're coming or if they're going. If one drop is going this way and a mile away it's going this way, it's spinning for some reason. And there was a lot of spin on that Panama City Beach storm. We will see if there was damage. I assume that there probably was. We will get to it as soon as our affiliates can get there -- guys, back to you.

SIMON: Yes. You often hear about that freight train analogy. We heard from somebody in Florida who said it really felt like an earthquake. And, boy, it's a tough situation down there in Florida.

We're going to look at that situation again where you had damage to a day care center. You also had a mall that was damaged. We are told that no children were injured, but, of course, reporters there are still trying to assess the damage, take a look and see if in fact there are any injuries elsewhere in town.

We're going to turn now to Molly Barrows (ph) of our affiliate WEAR.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here again video, we're looking at video of the Rock Child Development Center. This is where we parked.

Almost immediately when we came along this intersection, you could see very scary moments for parents. And you're looking at one now. This is minutes after the tornado went through. The employees at the day care center called parents to let them they had been hit and to let them know to come pick up their children. They didn't know what they were going to find.

It's one thing to be told that your child is OK. It's another to know that a tornado hit and to see that child for yourself. And that's exactly what some of these parents had to do. They just were inconsolable until they could get their hands on their children. And that's completely understandable, because when you see the outside of the building, it's gut-wrenching, especially to know that there were small children in there.

Take a look at the inside of this place. We went inside. Ray is shooting from the door there, but we went in through the back door. And there's a room set aside entirely for babies. And when it went through, one woman was in there with the babies. She snatched them up as quick as she could, and they all kind of moved into the kitchen area, which is in the center of the house and bunkered down on the floor and sang songs.

And you can see parents there grabbing their children and just tears pouring down their face. And it is just hard to watch, but fortunately no children were injured. Yet another parent again coming up to get their child. And it's just very scary moments. You don't know until you can actually get your hands on your child and see for yourself that they weren't hurt.

And we're told again that there were some bumps and bruises, a few scratches. Again, the windows were blown out. The roof was gone, but the kids responded relatively calmly according to the employees that we talked to there. They said that they herded them back, kept them all together, and sang songs to them. And the kids just sat pretty much quietly, didn't cry.

And it's understandable, too, because it all happened so quickly. We're talking a matter of just a few minutes. And they heard the wind. They heard the rumbling. Again, it sounded a lot like a freight train as some would say, as we have heard so often when describing the sound of a tornado.

But they said that it was just incredibly loud. Then they could hear the damage, they could hear the roof, and that's when they just moved quickly to get all the kids into a back area.

SIMON: That was Molly Barrows (ph) of our affiliate WEAR.

And, Fred, just a scary situation there in Florida and all over the country.


And that really was just kind of the springboard event, didn't it seem, because after that we heard reports of a possible twister that touched down in Missouri, in Paris, Missouri, specifically, which is right outside of Columbia.

And so on the phone with us now is Beth Hadley. She kind of lived the entire experience in your area of Monett, Missouri, right?

How far away was that from what is believed to be kind of ground zero of this possible tornado?



So, what did you hear, feel, or experience? And I understand some of these I-Report images are coming from your fiance, who shot a lot of this video. But why don't we just talk over it. Tell me what you experienced when this tornado pummeled your area.

HADLEY: We were actually inside our apartment at the time that the tornado sirens went off. So we said, OK, well, we have nothing better to do. Let's go chasing this. So, we did.


HADLEY: We went up to a high part of our town. Up at the movie theater, they have a huge parking lot that's clear of trees, and we saw all sorts of craziness.

WHITFIELD: Yes, well, not advisable to get in your car and drive to see a twister or a possible tornado up close.

HADLEY: True. Yes.

WHITFIELD: But that's exactly what you guys did. Now, how did you make sure that you stayed safe? Weren't you at any moment kind of fearing for your life, worried that you had made a dumb decision? HADLEY: No.

I mean, where we were in the part of town, we could have gone to any restaurant, building, and probably knocked on their door and said, hey, can we go to the back, and they probably would have taken us.

And, actually, shortly after that, I had to go to work. And we had another storm hit us that was almost as powerful. But -- and I had to go through the same procedure. OK, you know, if you're going to go to the back, you better go to the back now.

WHITFIELD: Now, have you lived through tornadoes or twisters, high winds like this before?


HADLEY: This is actually my first storm that I have been here. I moved here about a year-and-a-half ago from Virginia.

WHITFIELD: From? From Virginia?


WHITFIELD: OK. So, this is very foreign, very new to you.

HADLEY: Oh, yes. This is hitting way close to home.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And certainly very scary.

Beth, we really appreciate your time and the sharing of the images from your fiance. And next time I'm not advising you to go chase after a twister.

HADLEY: No, I'm going to be in a basement.


WHITFIELD: Find a safe place in the home or that building that you're in.

Beth Hadley, thanks so much.

HADLEY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And so, when weather becomes news, count on CNN to bring it to you first. And if you see severe weather, you don't want to get in your car and start chasing it, but hopefully from a safe place, you can send us an I-Report. Go to, click on to I- Report or type into your cell phone, and share your photos or video. But do not put your life in jeopardy while doing so.

SIMON: Here is some frightening news to think about the next time you fly. Undercover agents, they were able to sneak fake bombs past security screeners at three of the nation's busiest airports.

One of those airports is Chicago's O'Hare. And that's where we find our Susan Roesgen -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Dan, if you flew out of the Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco in the last year, you might have been standing in the carry-on line with an undercover government investigator.

And while you might have been worried about the bottled water you forget in your luggage, those government investigators were able to smuggle fake bombs and bomb parts through the carry-on screening process 75 percent of the time in Los Angeles, 60 percent of the time here in Chicago, and 20 percent of the time in San Francisco. Sounds pretty darn bad, but still the passengers we talked to here in Chicago say they generally trust the security and they think those screeners do the job well.


CAROLINE ACOSTA, TRAVELER: Every time I forget like tweezers or something, they always get me. So, I'm guessing that they are to trust.

DAVID CASEK, TRAVELER: I can imagine sitting at one of those monitors looking at just image after image after image going across the screen. It's got to be a little numbing after a while. Maybe they could do something to rotate those people in and out a little more quickly to give them more breaks to keep them fresh and keep them alert.

GWEN KHUNS, TRAVELER: What, I'm not going to fly? I mean, getting in my car is dangerous. Crossing the street can be dangerous. I think that, you know, yes, we're fine to fly.


ROESGEN: Now, tonight on "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER," you're going to hear from the national spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, who says that she defends her agency, because she says they're much better now than they were a year ago when those undercover investigators did those testings, and she assures us that every day, Dan, in every single carry-on line, like a long one behind me here at Chicago, in every carry-on line, every shift, every day there is testing going on of those screeners.

So, we will hear more on this tonight in "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER."

SIMON: We will look for the report.

Susan Roesgen, live there in Chicago, thanks a lot.

WHITFIELD: And sadly it's becoming all too familiar, a shooting in a school, this time in an elementary school in Indiana, and new video is coming in. Here's a taste of some of the new images coming in.

Much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: All right. Here are some new images just now coming into CNN.

A shooting taking place at an elementary school in Brazil, Indiana. It's hard to believe, but officials say, and CNN has confirmed that somehow a gunshot was fired right through the cafeteria, no reports of any injuries, but this has led to the lockdown of all schools in this area. This is the Van Buren Elementary School in Clay County. And now all Clay County public schools are on lockdown. And the search is under way for the person responsible for firing that shot right through that elementary school -- more when we get it.

SIMON: And some new information to report in presidential politics.

John King, he is in Rindge, New Hampshire.

And John, the field of Republican contenders getting a little smaller today?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It will shrink, Dan, by this time tomorrow, we're told. Perhaps eight is enough will become the theme for the Republican race for president.

The field grew to nine when Senator Fred Thompson, former Senator Thompson, joined the race about six weeks ago. But CNN is now told by two sources, one a Republican on Capitol Hill, one a source closely involved with the campaign of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, that Senator Brownback plans to exit the Republican race. And we're told to look for that announcement back in home tomorrow.

Now, why is Senator Brownback getting out at this time? Simple political reality. He has been just a blip in the polls, sometimes just registering, perhaps 2 percent sometimes in the polls out in the early states of Iowa and here in New Hampshire. And we are told Senator Brownback has a little under $100,000 left in the bank and believes he has little prospect for additional fund-raising, because he remains so low in those polls.

So, Dan, look for Senator Sam Brownback, we're told, to drop out of the race. That would get the Republican field back to eight candidates, just a little more than 11 weeks to go under the Iowa caucuses. And, of course, we're still waiting for the exact date for the leadoff primary here in the state of New Hampshire -- Dan.

SIMON: Right. We knew money was a problem for him.

And what about Mike Huckabee? I understand you had a conversation with him today?

KING: I did. And it's quite a different dynamic. Mike Huckabee has been in the so-called second tier with Senator Brownback throughout the Republican race. But if you talk to sources out in Iowa, look at the polling date, talk to people here in New Hampshire, Mike Huckabee is inching up, still modest standing in the polls, but he is moving up. And because of that, he says he's in this race. He says his fund-raising is improving.

We had a conversation today on the CNN Election Express. Now, before he was the governor of Arkansas for 12 years, he was a Southern Baptist preacher, led a congregation. So, his views are interesting as we head into a weekend conference in Washington, Christian conservative leaders from all across the country coming to Washington to hear from the candidate. Some of those leaders have said, if Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination, they might splinter off and launch a third-party candidacy, because Mayor Giuliani supports abortion rights.

So, one of the questions I put to Governor Huckabee, would that be a good idea?



I think what that does is similar to what happened in 1992, when Ross Perot came in. It would ensure the election of yet another Clinton. We potentially have 28 years of only two families in the White House. I don't think that's a good idea either.

I got a better idea. Just coalesce around Mike Huckabee, and you have got the candidate that meets the criteria and a candidate that can clearly win Democrat votes and win the election. That's what we have to have in order to be competitive in 2008.

KING: And if push, though, comes to shove on that issue, and say Mayor Giuliani did win the nomination, and there were some saying maybe we should splinter off, obviously, people would be looking for cues from other leaders. And you're a pastor.


KING: Come out of the Southern Baptist ministry. Would you speak up and say, no, we have an obligation to support our Republican nominee, even if it were Mayor Giuliani?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think we have, I think, a reality to face that a third-party candidate is not going to win. And I'm not sure why we would put the effort, when the effort ultimately results in the election of somebody that we want even less than we may want Rudy Giuliani.

I don't think America is looking for somebody who can take a sword and hack up the other candidates. I think they're looking for a president who can take the banner and lead this country forward. That's what so frustrating to many Americans. Politics has been totally horizontal. KING: Even in the primary you feel that way, though?

HUCKABEE: Even in the primary.

KING: Republicans are scared and demoralized. They lost last election cycle. They have a president who they know is unpopular. And it's more...


HUCKABEE: All the more reason that they need somebody who is for something, not somebody who's just against somebody.

And you know what? If the country is looking for somebody whose hallmark is that he can slice and dice other people, they probably will find another candidate they really like. I want to lead this country far. And I'm not interested in tearing everybody apart in a demolition derby to get there, because the problem is you still have to live with the blood you have shed of other people in order to make it.


KING: Despite that, though, Governor Huckabee says he can be tough as a candidate when need be.

Because of his experience in Arkansas, he says he thinks he believes he has the most unique insights into the strengths and weaknesses of Senator Hillary Clinton. He also talked about the role of God in his life and in his politics.

As we noted, he for a dozen years was a Southern Baptist minister, so an interesting conversation with a candidate, Dan, who right now is struggling, but believes, with a strong performance in Iowa -- he says, if he gets out of Iowa in the top three, he believes he can build and move on from there.

SIMON: John King, part of the best political team on television, we will look forward to seeing more of your report coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.

John, thanks.

KING: Thanks, Dan. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: We continue to watch some pretty nasty weather sweeping much of the country.

Panama City now seems to be the latest place or bullseye.

Chad Myers is in the Severe Weather Center.

What's happening in Panama City?

MYERS: Really, yes, Panama City Beach, really. The beach patrol saw this waterspout actually coming on shore. It may have dissipated a little bit, but there it is. That's an amazing picture. That's by Jeanine Swift, Panama City, Florida -- this was actually from Laguna Beach, I believe, looking the other direction. But you can see that's not just a small, little, wispy waterspout. That thing has a solid structure from left to right.

It's backlit. That's kind of a little bit helpful of why it looks so impressive. And if that came on shore, and we think it did somewhere -- it actually rebuilt, regenerated itself just around Panama City Beach -- there's some damage there. We're still looking for it. Our affiliates are just kind of scrambling for that as well.

We also know about Beaverton, Alabama. And this storm is still on the ground in Beaverton, Alabama. What's going on today? I mean, the whole storm system looks like it just spun up, and now it's moving to the east, but it's going to regenerate back out to the west again. And the storm here moved through Beaverton. That was the Sulligent storm.

If you were with us an hour ago, I was yelling for people in Sulligent, take cover, take cover now. That storm is still on the ground. Almost 40 minutes later, they're still reporting that storm on the ground near Pea Ridge, Alabama, still moving to the north at about 40 miles per hour.

So, any storm you see today could have a tornado on it. If it gets close to your house, take cover. Make sure the kids get inside, pets as well.

Guys, I will be back with more.

WHITFIELD: All right. Will do. Thanks so much.

SIMON: Watching that situation out of Indiana, a shooting outside of an elementary school. Apparently a shot was fired through the cafeteria. We're told that nobody was injured, but police are on the scene, trying to figure out exactly what happened. We're told that all Clay community schools have been put on lockdown. Again, police on the scene trying to make sense of what happened there in Indiana.

More of CNN NEWSROOM after a break.



WHITFIELD: All right. This is a pretty fiery debate, birth control prescriptions for middle school students? Some angry parents say it effectively gives 11-year-old girls permission to have sex.

But school officials in Portland, Maine, approved the plan on a 7-2 vote. We have two of those folks who voted with us today.

Lori Gramlich, well, she voted yes. And John Coyne voted no. So, Lori, let me begin with you.

Why should young girls, as young as 11, get the pill?

LORI GRAMLICH, SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER: Well, first, let's clarify what we're really talking about here.

What we're talking about is giving authorization for middle school students to access oral contraception. And, yes, middle school students do include girls ages 11 through almost up to 15. But what we're talking about is preventing pregnancy.

We know that in the state of Maine, in Portland over the last four years, we had 17 pregnancies in our middle schools. If this will prevent one of those pregnancies, then it's money well spent.


WHITFIELD: What has happened to the more universal lesson of preventing pregnancy by teaching abstinence? By now doling out permission to get contraceptives, are you now sending a mixed message of, yes, it's OK for you to have sex, but maybe you just don't want to get pregnant while doing it?

GRAMLICH: I think what we're really saying is that we recognize the fact that our young people are having sexual intercourse.

We live in an accelerated society. It's happening everywhere. Everywhere we turn, we are seeing innuendo about sex. I think it's extraordinarily naive of us to think that our young people are not engaging in sexual intercourse. Do we want children to be abstinent? Do we want our young adults to be abstinent? Absolutely.

But given the fact...


WHITFIELD: Are the numbers extraordinary there in your community, that you feel like there are so many young girls who are dealing with early pregnancy, that this is a solution?

Your 2006 school year numbers indicate that five, five of 134 students reported having sexual intercourse. So, are we saying that the numbers are just that much more exorbitant when you're dealing with teen or, you know, preteen pregnancy?

GRAMLICH: We're talking about 17 pregnancies in our middle schools over the past four years. And we're talking about giving people the tools they need to be safe and protected.

We're also talking about assuring that we're providing our young people with the information they need to be safe. And abstinence is always, always the first step.



John, let me bring you in here, because I want to get you some equal time on this.

Yes. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Seventeen pregnancies that Lori was mentioning here. And the problem here is, pregnancies are taking place with these young people. So, prevention is the key. And that's what the pill is all about.

Why did you object to this plan?

JOHN COYNE, SCHOOL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I objected to it, because if you do the math over the four years, that would break down into four pregnancies. This program that's being initiated is at one of our middle schools. There's not an equity amongst the two other middle schools that don't even have this student-based health centers in them.

WHITFIELD: But when you listen to the parents, most of the them were in unison with your vote, saying we don't like this idea. So, how did this get passed?

COYNE: Well, it got passed because we live in a democratic society. And that's -- that's what happens. We come and we vote as a board.

What happened...


COYNE: ...and part of my beliefs are that some of this is a moral obligation of the parents and some of this is responsibility. And I also feel that the social -- the different -- the social services that are offered and the school...

WHITFIELD: All right, well...

COYNE: ...institutions need to be -- need to be cleared up.

WHITFIELD: And, John, we'll have to leave it there...

COYNE: There needs to be some...

WHITFIELD: ...and hopefully continue this conversation, another time, because we're running out of time on our satellite window.

John Coyne and Lori Gramlich, thanks so much, of the Portland school committee -- school committee.

I know this is not the last time we're going to talk about this. We'll probably have you back at another time.

Thanks so much.



SIMON: We continue to monitor the weather all around the country today. You saw that tornado in Florida, some rough weather in Alabama.

We're going to check in with Chad in just a little while.

But first, a toy maker is hoping you and your kids' curiosity about flight has led them to come up with the next big thing.

Here's Miles O'Brien.


MILES O'BRIEN, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So how do the birds and bees do it?

No, not that.

How do they fly?

For as long as humans have dreamed of taking flight, they've wondered how wings work -- sometimes with limited success.

But technology has come a long way, and now your kids can hold the answer in the palm of their hand.

This is the Flytech Dragonfly, made by a company called WowWee, the first, they say, in a series of flapping winged, radio-controlled toys which your kids will no doubt be bugging you for.

MICHELLE CHOW, WOWWEE LTD.: By flapping its own wings -- and the only thing that's ever done that insects and birds.

O'BRIEN: Well, not exactly. Over the years, some bird-brained inventors have been built flying machines that slipped the surly bonds by flapping their wings -- sort of. They are called ornithopters. Leonardo Da Vinci sketched the first one, although he never build it.

It turns out ornithopters are much more efficient than a fixed- wing plane powered by a propeller. This mechanical dragonfly is good to go about 50 feet for about 10 minutes on a charge. And it flies like the real thing. Too bad it doesn't eat mosquitoes, too.

Miles O'Brien, CNN.



SIMON: We are watching a situation in Karachi, Pakistan. We are We're getting word that there was a big explosion -- a truck explosion during a procession which had former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. She, of course, made her dramatic return to Pakistan. There were lots of supporters in the area when this blast occurred. We are told, however, she was not hurt. The blasts were near her convoy, however. Obviously, a scary situation there. We're trying to get some more information. We're trying to talk to our folks there in the field. And we'll bring you the latest information as soon as we get it here in THE NEWSROOM -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And, also, another shocking incident to take place in this country, and in Indiana, involving an elementary school, where we understand that shots were fired near this elementary school right here. And one bullet actually piercing the cafeteria doors. Van Buren Elementary School in Clay County is the location, but is now a cordoned off crime scene. It's also resulted in the lockdown of all Clay community schools.

Apparently some of the eyewitnesses at that school got a pretty good description of the alleged gunman, as well as the vehicle, and now police are on the lookout for that vehicle, for that gunman.

When we get any more information on this shocking incident taking place now at an elementary school in Clay County, Indiana, we'll bring that to you.

SIMON: Chad, a busy day for everybody here. A lot of breaking news, obviously. A lot going on in the weather department.

You've been watching the situation all day long. We saw the tornado, of course, in Florida. Now the rough patch of weather still in the Midwest -- what's it look like?


SIMON: We're going to continue with the story out of Karachi, Pakistan.

Our Dan Rivers is there now, where just a short while ago there was an explosion which came dangerously close to the procession where Benazir Bhutto was making her the triumphant return there to Pakistan.

Dan, I know you don't have a lot of information about the explosion, but you were with the former prime minister today?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we were with the procession literally only about an hour ago. And since we left the procession, we understand from three sources they have been at least two explosions.

We don't know what they were caused by. We're just arriving at the scene now. We've seen at least 10 ambulances rushing from the scene. We have word that there are dead and injured. We don't know how many or exactly what happened. But, clearly, the fear that was dominating this (AUDIO GAP)...

SIMON: Well, we've lost Dan Rivers there. But we're continuing to watch this situation here in Pakistan.

Dan was with the former prime minister today and obviously there was a situation there where a blast occurred dangerously close -- wow! You can see that tremendous blast there. But it occurred dangerously close to her truck. And she was uninjured. But, wow!

WHITFIELD: Yes. And look at all the people there. I mean this was a huge turnout for a woman who's been, you know, away from her country for some, what, nine years or something like that. You know, this has been a huge, a very pivotal return for her and perhaps a reigniting of her political career, given that she's been prime minister twice and with aspirations of perhaps doing it again.

But her relationship with General Pervez Musharraf not necessarily cozy and quaint. But it was her hope that maybe this would be a remarkable and welcoming kind of homecoming today.

SIMON: Right. Sure.

WHITFIELD: And it's obviously not.

SIMON: And with all those people there, obviously, she still has a ton of supporters who came out to see her. And we continue to see this new video coming in to us, where you saw that tremendous blast there.

Dan Rivers reporting that apparently there are some injuries. We don't know the extent of it, but we're going to continue, of course, to watch this situation.

More of the CNN NEWSROOM after a quick break.


WHITFIELD: And new images right now out of Karachi, Pakistan. Look at those explosions taking place right there as what was expected to be up to a million people were there crowding the streets to welcome the return of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto after eight years in exile. She's been living in Dubai. And many people were excited about her return. She's even said that she's thinking about exploring the potential of turning what she called a dictatorship into a democracy, by exploring once again a, I guess, political revival for her.

But even at the urging of President Musharraf -- urging that she not make this return visit because of other threats of a potential assassination attempt against her, she decided she was going to make the return anyway. And now you see what has taken place there in Karachi, Pakistan, just a short time ago, just as her convoy was driving by and through the crowds of what are expected to be about a million people. And you see caught on videotape right there that explosion there caught on videotape.

Our Dan Rivers is there. And when we're able to reestablish contact with him, we'll try to get some on the ground accounts of exactly what took place there. And we do understand from Dan's earlier report that there have been some reported injuries.

SIMON: Now we're hearing about some massive casualties. At least 30 people dead.



WHITFIELD: All right, well, that is, indeed, some very heartbreaking information there. A pretty significant explosion taking place there right in Karachi, Pakistan.

More information on that as we get it.

SIMON: Yes. Our reporters on the ground are telling us at least 30 people dead -- possibly more. Obviously a tremendous situation unfolding there in Karachi, that blast. You can tell that there's going to be some people hurt just by virtue of that blast.


SIMON: And all the people who were...

WHITFIELD: And the crowd.

SIMON: Yes. Tremendous crowds there.

Well, we're going to keep watching that story.


SIMON: We're also taking a look at the weather.

Chad Myers, you're there in the Weather Center.

MYERS: Yes, sir.

I'm right here.

SIMON: You're watching everything unfold.

The Midwest still being hard-hit by these storms, huh?


SIMON: Thanks, Chad.

We're going to go back now to the situation unfolding in Karachi, Pakistan, where we are told that as many as 30 people may have lost their lives in that awful explosion that took place just a short time ago.

I understand that Dan Rivers is back with us -- Dan, tell us what you're seeing there on the streets.

RIVERS: There are horrific scenes here of widespread carnage. It appears to have been some sort of explosion. I've counted at least 10 bodies and almost certainly more are dead. Many people are injured. There are rivers of blood flowing down the middle of the streets, body parts strewn all across both sides of this (INAUDIBLE) carriage route.

As you can probably hear in the background, it's a very noisy, chaotic scene with dozens of ambulances and police cars here.

We don't know what has happened, as far as I can see, to Benazir Bhutto. I think her motorcade has stopped. I think I'm looking at the bus that she was traveling on -- the sort of open top bus. There's no sign of her at the moment, but this, frankly, was what everyone was fearing with this convoy, was that it was going to become a target for the terrorists. And that's just exactly what it appears has happened.

We haven't got confirmation of exactly what happened, but all the evidence points toward some sort of explosion, which has killed, as I say, at least 10 people from the ones I've counted -- probably more.

SIMON: Well, we can really hear the urgency there in Dan's voice, and while just massive casualties there on the streets.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And all of this taking place at what was supposed to be an exciting homecoming for her, particularly among her supporters, after living in exile for the past eight years. And her return she made. And tonight, about a million people were expected to crowd the streets in Karachi to welcome her and encourage what could be a return to her political office or aspirations. And then this is to happen.

But we'll, of course, continue try to and keep tabs on the reporting from Dan Rivers there on the ground, as well as anybody else who can get us information on what's happening there.

Much more in THE NEWSROOM straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: These images right there coming out of Karachi, Pakistan. You see the explosion right there on tape. It may have been one of several blasts to take place there, all at what was to be a homecoming -- a welcoming situation former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto -- two time prime minister there, who has been living in exile for the past eight years.

Her convoy was pulling through there in Karachi, with the expected one million supporters there at hand when these explosions took place. You heard from Dan Rivers a moment ago before we lost transmission from him, that he counted at least 10 fatalities. But other reports indicate as high as 30. But the numbers are just still trickling in. You see this new videotape right here of the emergency crews that are responding.

In Dan's last report, he mentioned that the convoy with Benazir Bhutto on board there -- that convoy had stopped, not necessarily left the area, as this emergency situation is unfolding. So we all are still awaiting some word on where Benazir Bhutto is in all of this and who and how many people may have been hurt by this explosion taking place in Karachi.

SIMON: It's tough to know, of course, if, in fact, she was the target of that explosion. But one would think, with her return...

WHITFIELD: There had been warnings there would be assassination attempts but...

SIMON: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: ...we'll try and put all the pieces together as we get more information.


We've been also watching the situation in the Weather Center all day long. Chad Myers, I understand we've got new I-Reports, some new pictures.

MYERS: Yes. We've been asking for I-Reports for most of the day. And Mike Howell (ph) really came through. Wait until you see this pair of water spouts here. As they came onshore, they dissipated. But the pictures here are just remarkable.

These were two side by side water spouts. One came down first. The other one came down beside it. And then they -- this was very, very close to Panama City Beach. And we -- Panama City Beach is literally one of our ground zeros for any hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. We always send crews down there. Well, Mike, you shot some great pictures today.

Please be careful if you shoot us I-Reports. If you do get something, I love putting them on the air -- back to you guys.

SIMON: Chad, thanks a lot.

MYERS: Sure.

SIMON: We're going to take a look at the closing bell and a wrap of all the action on Wall Street, straight ahead after a break.


WHITFIELD: All right, the closing bell just seconds away.

SIMON: Susan Lisovicz standing by with a final look at the trading day -- Susan, how is it looking?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's looking not bad, given some of the factors that are out there.

But let me just tell you something. We've got an update on a story we've been reporting, Dan and Fred.

Fans of "The Daily Show" listen up. You know, Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central, has sued YouTube for more than $1 billion for copyright infringements, saying, hey, you can't put our stuff out there for free.

But Viacom learned a valuable lesson.

So many people want to see clips online of "The Daily Show," so guess what?

It's putting all 13,000 clips of "The Daily Show" from its inception, 1999, online.

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh.

LISOVICZ: Go to "The Daily Show"...

WHITFIELD: Those "Daily Show" addicts are in heaven.

LISOVICZ: I know. And, you know, you've really made it if you're on "The Daily Show". A certain distinguished anchorman from CNN has been on the show, as has been somebody who reads e-mails everyday -- Jack Cafferty. Both have been guests on that show.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Well, it depends on how you appear on that show, too, by the way.

LISOVICZ: That's true. I think they both got favorable receptions.

WHITFIELD: OK. Go ahead.

LISOVICZ: Yes, that's exactly right.

WHITFIELD: Absolutely.

LISOVICZ: In terms of the reception, Fred.