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CNN Tonight

Catastrophe in Haiti

Aired January 13, 2010 - 19:00   ET



KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight -- the scope of destruction in Haiti becomes clear. Most of Port-au-Prince destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people believed dead. Help is now rushing to Haiti from all over the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the hospitals collapsed (INAUDIBLE) maybe some hospitals, some medicine, and some doctors.

PHILLIPS: Search and rescue teams, warships, food and medical teams all racing against time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need more people down here.

PHILLIPS: And 45,000 Americans are in Haiti. What's being done to find and help them?


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN TONIGHT live from New York. Here now Kyra Phillips.

PHILLIPS: It's been 26 hours since the quake hit Haiti and possibly one of the most stunning developments, Haiti's prime minister telling CNN that he believes the quake has taken hundreds of thousands of lives destroying or damaging all of Port-au-Prince. However, Haiti's president says it's just too early for a death toll.

When you hear witness descriptions, they're bone chilling. Just imagine only 35 seconds of shaking and shattering and then a cloud of dust in the air signaling enormous destruction. CNN's Ivan Watson is in Haiti tonight, joins us now on the phone. Ivan, give us -- give us an update, Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Kyra, the sun has set here and the city has been plunged (INAUDIBLE) -- there's no electricity in town. And as Port-au-Prince, it's very eerie. It seems like the entire city, the (INAUDIBLE) is out in the streets. Entire families sitting at street curbs because they're too scared to go into their own homes (INAUDIBLE) are still standing because we are still feeling after shocks (INAUDIBLE) and those truly are terrifying.

In the square right near where I'm standing, there are thousands of people out, they're going to spend the night under the stars and you can hear them chanting and singing, clapping hands, praying sometimes. The scenes throughout the course of the day were really devastating, Kyra. Bodies literally stacked up on the sidewalk. I must have seen at least 50 or 60 corpses just laying outside, in some cases outside of medical centers which are completely overwhelmed by the huge number of victims as a result of last night's catastrophic earthquake -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And Ivan, I just saw your piece. It's the first time that all of us actually got a glimpse of those bodies. And it was heart-wrenching. How are the people caring for the dead because right now it looks like they just don't have the capability to do that? They just want to work on the living and trying to find those that are trapped.

WATSON: Well, I just think that whatever services the city has, whatever government there is here it has been completely overwhelmed by this disaster. We saw a few police out on the streets. There is no concerted effort to clean up rubble, concerted effort to treat the wounded. This is through volunteers and, in fact, in one case, there was a hotel of volunteers, they turned their parking lot into a makeshift (INAUDIBLE) and they had an EMT treating people with critical wounds. So there is no system in place to treat the living much less the dead and collect those bodies. And in the meantime, you have people here (INAUDIBLE).

PHILLIPS: As you can imagine, it's hard to keep contact with our...


PHILLIPS: OK, we got you back, Ivan? OK. As you can imagine, it's hard to keep in contact with our reporters. We're trying to bring you live coverage through our began (ph) operations. Those are tough to fire up, as well. As you can hear, it's hard to keep cell phone connections there as you can imagine, what Haiti is going through.

Our Anderson Cooper is also there. And he actually spoke today with former President Bill Clinton at the United Nations. Clinton is the special envoy to Haiti through the U.N. Anderson asked Mr. Clinton what the greatest needs are on the ground and what sort of aid is in the pipeline right now.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the greatest needs from the point of view of government support are for more search and rescue teams and more medical teams. And then we need logistic support for munista (ph) so that we can handle all of these people coming in and out and put them where they need to be. We're looking now for space for shelter.

We need more clean water and we need food. We have some food stuff pre-positioned in El Salvador that the U.N. Program is bringing in, the World Food Program. But I think getting organized to manage this is really important. We need more helicopters because some of the roads are closed. And we need to get the moving equipment that -- the earth moving equipment that the Haitians have in play and then some more from the Dominican Republic and elsewhere to clear up the big debris and free up as many roads as possible. But the most urgent thing is to get people into these buildings and find as many people who are still alive as possible before they die from exposure or dehydration or the impact of wounds that would otherwise not be fatal.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In terms of the Haitian people, they have been through so much as you well know because you have been here often, they are survivors. Can they survive this?

B. CLINTON: Oh, sure they can. But right now, they're really hurting. I mean we have no earthly idea how many people have died from this. There are all kinds of numbers are being thrown around. But the truth is, nobody knows. And what we had to do is to help them survive by saving as many lives as possible, trying to preserve with some dignity those who have died so they can be identified with our loved ones and properly buried.

And then trying to help those who have been injured and make sure that those who are homeless, who have no income have the food and shelter they need. If people want to give money, right now that's more important than sending anything. Unless you're part of a medical team or part of a search and rescue mission, the most important thing you can do is to contribute, even if it's just $5 to the food, the first aid we need, and to the shelter we need and to clean water.

We've lost all that down there. And I set up a Web site for the work I do at the U.N. -- it's -- so we can move money there. So if you don't know anywhere else to send it, send it to me and I'll give it to them right away because we've got to save as many lives as we can and care for the wounded and try to preserve the people who have perished and give them to their loved ones. That's the immediate thing we have to do now.


PHILLIPS: Much more of Anderson Cooper's interview there with Bill Clinton tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Haiti's presidential palace took a huge hit, as well. Take a look at these side-by-side images. On the left, the palace before the quake, on the right, what's left of it now. Haiti's president and first lady survived the earthquake, but other government buildings were destroyed including the main prison, a cathedral, hospitals, and schools. Now CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the ground in Haiti as well and he spoke with a number of homeless people. But there's one that will stand out, Haiti's President Rene Preval.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What are you doing here at the airport?


GUPTA: So you don't have a home? PREVAl: So I came here to work, but (INAUDIBLE) I cannot work here because it's not safe. So I'm going home.

GUPTA: You're going to go back to your home. Are you able to live in the palace or is it completely destroyed?

PREVAL: I cannot live in the palace. I cannot live in my own house because (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA: Where are you going to go tonight?

PREVAL: I don't know.

GUPTA: It's striking, the president of this country doesn't know where he's going to sleep tonight.

PREVAL: No. I -- I have plenty of time to look for a bed. But now I am working how to rescue the people, but sleeping is not a problem.


PHILLIPS: Preval also made a plea for medical help for his people saying they need medicine and doctors. President Obama is promising a swift coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives in Haiti. Dan Lothian joining us now live from the White House -- Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this administration really trying to convey a sense of urgency, the president really leaning on his staff to be aggressive in their response not only providing humanitarian aid but military aid, as well. Within the hour the president expected to sit down with his national security team and throughout the day, the president has been working the phones.

This obviously is a global response to the president reaching out to leaders from Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Canada -- U.N. secretary- general trying to convey to all of them that the U.S. is willing and able to help Haiti. This is not only a mission from the United States here to reach out to the Haitians, but also make sure that the 45,000 American citizens who are there are safe and that they can be safely evacuated. Earlier today, president making some remarks here at the White House, also leaning on the American people to help.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share with just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and long history that binds us together. Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home, so we have to be there for them in their hour of need. Despite the fact that we are experiencing tough times here at home, I would encourage those Americans who want to support the urgent humanitarian efforts to go to where you can learn how to contribute.


LOTHIAN: Now Kyra just to give you a sense of how all of this has been playing out here at the White House, the president has been holding high-level meetings with Democrats here, trying to hash out the whole health care reform issue. At the same time, he's been shuttling back and forth between those health care meetings and also meetings on Haiti. So that's how it's been playing out here at the White House and the president even interrupting his schedule. He was supposed to have had a meeting on green jobs, an event on green jobs in Maryland. That was canceled. That he could really focus not only on the health care issue, but also on the rescue situation and what's going on in Haiti.

PHILLIPS: Dan Lothian, thanks.

And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cut short her Pacific trip and is heading back to Washington. Priority one number -- or priority one right now is dealing with the crisis in Haiti. She and her staff are working around the clock to ensure the safety of Americans in Haiti. Foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty at the State Department -- so Jill what's the latest on finding and evacuating Americans?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, that's that a major point because it's a major clarification by the State Department. You know, a few hours ago, the State Department was saying that they were sending out a message to American citizens in Haiti that if they wanted to be evacuated they should go to the airport in the capital. Now they are saying that is not correct.

That they are working on plans for evacuation. They're evaluating the airport as a possible evacuation route, but not to go there yet. In fact, they say right now they're encouraging Americans to seek shelter, avoid damaged structures, obey any orders and directions from the local authorities, and stay in a safe place until further notice, so again a clarification and an important one not to go to the airport yet. That's one place that is being evaluated. There could be others -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now, we're, of course hearing from our own correspondents on the ground, but from your sources there at the State Department, what are they telling you about the situation on the ground?

DOUGHERTY: Well the latest and we're getting a lot of briefings over here during the day. The latest is that -- excuse me -- the search and rescue, of course, is really, really key. And right now you have these disaster assistance teams evaluating where the search and rescue teams that are now coming in should go. And those search and rescue teams, we already have one we understand from Fairfax, Virginia, another one from Miami, another one from L.A. about to arrive.

They actually could be on the ground but expected to be there shortly. And then, finally, the British and the French are sending teams and there could be more. So these will be cycling in over today, tomorrow, and the days in the future. But it's really, Kyra, you'd have to say still an evaluation of where they should go. And then finally on the 45,000 Americans who are in Haiti, there are three people we understand dead, possibly Americans that has not been confirmed yet. And some have been evacuated -- actually injured -- have been evacuated to Guantanamo.


PHILLIPS: We mentioned also Secretary Clinton cutting her trip short. She's heading back to where you are. What will be the first thing that she does when she gets there?

DOUGHERTY: You know a lot of it is this evaluation and coordination because right in this building on the seventh floor, there's a task force that's made up of State Department, USAID, the military and other organizations and groups I should say -- departments. And they are coordinating this huge effort that's going to be taking place in Haiti. So you would have to say that probably her first thing will be as she's been doing by phone from the road out in Hawaii is coordinating and working with them to make sure that they get the plan of how they will deal with all of these different agencies that are going to go in and try to help the people of Haiti.

PHILLIPS: Jill Dougherty from the State Department -- Jill, thanks.

And more on the unfolding catastrophe in Haiti straight ahead -- we're going to go to the biggest Haitian community in the U.S. who are trying to reach loved ones in Haiti right now has been a heart wrenching struggle.


PHILLIPS: The death and destruction in Haiti has been gut wrenching and tonight, survivors of the massive quake share their thoughts on what it was like to walk the streets of their homeland in ruins.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody was scared because like it just happened and for 30 or 40 seconds, nobody even know and nobody even realized what is happening. The ceiling came down, the railings got broken. On the walls there were so many cracks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every two step I saw like a house collapsed. Every two step, I saw people bleeding, every two step I saw young children (INAUDIBLE) in their head. I saw -- that was a lot of traffic. Everybody was on the streets. And I see that some place I used to go collapsed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houses that collapsed -- three-story houses just each floor collapsed on to the one below it. I saw fences, (INAUDIBLE) fences that had fallen on to motorcycles. One woman, I could only see her head and the rest of her body was trapped under the fence under a block wall. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I can hear is very distressed people all around in the neighborhoods that we are in. There is a lot of distress of obviously people trying to find loved ones who are trapped under -- under building and rubble.


PHILLIPS: Well, more than 350,000 Haitian Americans live in Florida. And they're all too familiar with disasters that have hit their homeland over the years. John Zarrella reports on how this earthquake is sending emotional shock waves throughout the Haitian community in South Florida. And I can just imagine it's probably gut wrenching not to be able to make -- just pick up the phone, John, and call them.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kyra, absolutely. And you mentioned all of what they've dealt with over the years, every one of them that you talk to they talk about the political unrest going back 20 years, the dictatorships, the boat lifts, the people trying to make it to this country. Coast Guards rescuing thousands of them as their boats have tipped over in the waters, hurricanes, and now this on top of that.

One thing after another and nearly every one of those 350,000 people, largest Haitian-American community in the country, they all have relatives, and none of them have been able to get through to their family members or very, very few have had any luck at all. There's a little corner store over my left shoulder here. And all day today people were gathering there watching what -- CNN.

They were telling us it was the only way, absolutely only way they were getting any information about Haiti at all was by watching our coverage of the Haitian earthquake crisis. And I spoke to one man who had been trying since last night with no luck to reach his family.


ZARRELLA: You've been trying to get through all morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since last night...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just rings, but nobody answers, so that means, you know, we have no communication right now in Haiti.

ZARRELLA: And you're clearly very concerned about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm very concerned about it. Because if I talked to somebody and they told me that somebody, you know, is lying, I would be OK because I know what's going on, but right now I don't know what is going on, you know. It's...

ZARRELLA: It's worse not knowing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's worse not knowing, you know. That's my problem right now.


ZARRELLA: Now, many of the community leaders here, Kyra, were meeting a couple of times during the day. They're trying to put together a task force to figure out what they need to be doing in this community to help their friends, their loved ones, their relatives down there, but the problem for them is it's such an incredible disaster they don't know where to begin themselves.

Should they be collecting donations? Should they be collecting money? What's going to be the best thing for them to do? So it's a terribly frustrating situation for them here. Coupled with the fact they cannot reach out to their family and they do not know whether friends, family are alive or have perished in this terrible earthquake -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's find out where they can begin. John Zarrella, thank you so much. Because with us now the man who represents more Haitian Americans than any other member of Congress, U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek of Florida. Congressman, you just heard John Zarrella's report. Where do your constituents begin? What can they do to try and help and get in touch with their loved ones?

REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D), FLORIDA: Well, there are a number of meetings going on throughout the country and Miami and South Florida being the place of many of those meetings. There are a number of people that have reached out to not only American Red Cross but also Yele (ph),which is ran by Jean Cliff (ph) -- Jean Cliff (ph) -- Jean Claude (ph) and (INAUDIBLE) -- I'm sorry -- who has -- Jean Cliff Jean (ph) -- I'm sorry -- who has worked very hard in Haiti for so many years.

I think it's important for us to remember that communications is key, but it's very, very difficult right now. Darkness has fallen over Haiti now. There are very little cellular phone traffic or land line traffic that has taken place. And I think that it's important that everyone gives an opportunity for the emergency response teams to get there, to be able to continue to search and find individuals that are still trapped. That's what we've been working on all day, trying to relieve families in -- not only in South Florida, but throughout the country and not only in the United States but also abroad of their family members that are trapped right now.

PHILLIPS: Is there anything that you can do to try and facilitate a better mode of communication? As you just heard John Zarrella say that your constituents are watching CNN hoping to get a glimpse of one of their loved ones because they can't get through. Is there anything in the works that you're going to be able to do to help them make communication?

MEEK: I think -- I think day by day we're going to see communications get better. Haiti is a very difficult country to communicate in and a number of the families that are missing right now don't have power. And so if they had cell phones, cell phones are no longer -- have the battery power that it needs to be able to communicate with them. I've talked to a number of groups today, Haitian leaders in South Florida by video conference of trying to even set up some sort of twitter or Facebook account or some sort of Web site that family members can post the names of loved ones that are missing and hopefully either governmental agencies or non-governmental agencies will be able to feed names in of individuals that they've treated or located on that Web site.

I don't -- I know that the government doesn't have anything in place right now in Haiti. I know that Wyclef Jean has really worked very hard in trying to deal with this communications issue there. The Red Cross is placing this as a priority because the peace of mind is important. Starting flights back to Haiti, commercial flights are going to be important to this recovery process in bringing families back together.

I've talked to the president of American Airlines and -- that covers the Caribbean. He is very, very concerned about the airport being closed because they have a number of families that are calling the American Airlines wanting to get to Port-au-Prince, wanting to find their families if they can't reach them by phone. So that's going to be important.

PHILLIPS: Congressman Kendrick Meek, we'll follow up on all the efforts, appreciate your time today.

MEEK: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, more than 100 United Nations workers are missing after this devastating earthquake. We'll tell you about the search and rescue efforts under way right now.


PHILLIPS: U.N. contention in Haiti was hit hard by the earthquake. Fourteen U.N. staff members were killed when their headquarters collapsed. About 150 members have been reported missing. CNN U.N. correspondent Richard Roth has more for us now from the U.N. -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, this is shaping up as the -- simply the worst day in the United Nations history arguably, the biggest death toll ever. They're still counting. U.N. peace keepers and other personnel scrambling, trying to go through the rubble of what's left of the United Nations Peace Keeping Headquarters and staff headquarters in Port-au-Prince.

Officials here in New York say they've had to be very cautious. They don't have the proper equipment and they're not experienced in doing this type of search and rescue. The death toll still undetermined, U.N. officials all day have been saying that at any time there might have been 100 to 150 people in the building at this hour. Just within the last hour and a half the U.N. chief, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that some of the missing and unaccounted for are with the United Nations Development Program. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAN KI MOON, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: It is our estimate that around 100 people were still walking inside the building of the Minister Headquarter at the time this earthquake struck. Therefore it will be in the range of 100 to 150. That's quite -- I'm quite, you know, concerned about that.


ROTH: Sixteen U.N. dead so far according to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. He has a special envoy -- the U.N. does, in Clinton who has been in Haiti three times since being appointed to that post. The two men met all day, then Bill Clinton spoke along with the secretary general to the world represented by all of the nations of the General Assembly who quickly came to various microphones to promise relief aid. Bill Clinton says and the U.N. says they need a lot of medical supplies and relief and shelter and clean water.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the donors could move to fulfill their commitments, it would help us. Haiti's in trouble now. It wasn't just the U.N. -- we haven't accounted for every member of the Haitian Parliament. The presidential palace was damaged. It was only today that the prime minister could get on CNN and talk about what needs to be done. We need those commitments.


ROTH: The U.N. in the next few days, Kyra, is going to issue a massive appeal for aid from other countries. But right now, the U.N.'s top two diplomats in Haiti are missing in the rubble.

PHILLIPS: We'll follow up with you, Richard Roth, from the U.N., thanks so much. And as you can imagine relief organizations move quickly to send aid to Haiti. Samaritan's Purse is one of them. Not a surprise because its team members know disasters all too well. It's their mission. There's going to be help with water, shelter, medical care, and other emergency needs. And with us now the president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Reverend Franklin Graham.

And it's a shame, Franklin, that we -- the times that we talk are usually around a disastrous time like this, but then again, that's why your ministry's there. Tell me what you're doing right now at this moment to send help.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT, SAMARITAN'S PURSE: First, Kyra, our prayers are with the people of Haiti, especially the families that have lost loved ones. The government there, I just spoke with the ambassador from Haiti to the United States Raymond Joseph. And he's asking that we pray for his nation. This is the greatest, one of the greatest disasters that we've seen in our hemisphere. And so we need to pray for god's help. Samaritan's purse has a team right now on the ground. We have planes scheduled charter planes going in tomorrow. Just understand that the U.S. has closed that air space. I hope and pray that they will open that air space first thing in the morning because these planes have to get in. It's vital.

We're doing shelter material, we have water purification systems that were taken in. We can do 12,000 to 15,000 gallons of fresh water a day with these systems. We want to get them in there tomorrow. I'm planning to go down tomorrow. We're working with churches in that country. These are churches I've had a relationship with right now for over 30 years. Hospitals that we have been working with for the last 20 years. These are our friends and partners. They called us today, they are already out -- we have that scheduled to go in tomorrow. I hope if anyone from the government's watching, they will open that air space early so that flights like ours can get in there. It's extremely important.

PHILLIPS: This is not the first time that you'll be going to Haiti. You have been there a number of times in the past. Your ministry has been very involved in Haiti. Why are the Haitians so close to your heart?

GRAHAM: This is the poorest country in our hemisphere. And this is a country that has been mismanaged. It has been overlooked. The poverty there is just incredible. And so when it's something like that is in your backyard, you cannot ignore it. We have been working there for a number of years. And we'll continue to work there. But now it seems as though this whole nation has been just leveled to rubble. And it just breaks my heart. But we have just a few hours to get shelter material in there. We have just a few hours to get clean water to these people. If we don't get this in there immediately, you're going to see more deaths. And you're going to see disease. We have to get in there immediately. And I do agree with President Clinton. The world needs to step up. The United Nations needs to step up. But everybody who is watching can be a part of this. Not only can you make a contribution, we need help at Samaritan's purse, you can go to Samaritan's, but every relief organization that is going needs not only your financial support, but we need to pray for the responders that are going down for their safety, for their strength, for their help. This is going to take all of us -- all of us need to do something here.

PHILLIPS: We will follow up on your trip. Thanks so much.

GRAHAM: Thank you. God bless.

PHILLIPS: Our breaking news coverage continues live in Port-au- Prince with more on Haiti's devastating earthquake.


PHILLIPS: Tonight the international airlift to Haiti has begun. Planes carrying emergency supplies already on the ground. Still, no exact number, though, of people killed in this massive quake that struck just over 26 hours ago. But Haitian officials are talking about a death toll ranging from 30,000 to the hundreds of thousands. All of Port-au-Prince is either damaged or destroyed, government buildings have been leveled, hundreds of thousands of people are living on the streets. Right now have let's get to Michael Holmes for the latest developments on the disaster.

What more can you tell us?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to bring you an interesting angle, Kyra. It was 24 hours ago this place went crazy sending out crews over to Haiti. We were getting then the first images through social media, Facebook. What has happened in the last 24 hours? People looking for people, looking for husbands, wives, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews. And the number of people who come to and posted there, this is the website here. It's just extraordinary. I can just show you this here. This is a family, they have -- they're missing their daughter and their grandfather there. What people are doing, they're posting the photographs here on this website and pleading for anyone in Haiti who has seen their loved ones to post it and say, yes, we've seen them.

Some of the stories here are heart wrenching. This is an 83- year-old grandmother, people are asking for help finding. This is a family in Peru posted looking for their loved ones. It really is just awful to read some of this. Now, one thing that's interesting, Kyra, this is the page that people come to. Scroll down, you can see all of these different people have posted here. There are 68 pages of this. Now, this has been in 24 hours. I checked this half an hour ago, there were 60 pages. Another eight pages of all of that in just that time frame. And this is on top of and through here too. If you wanted to go to, go to Facebook links, twitter links where there are more people looking for help and posting comments and saying, please, if you see my relative, let me know.

PHILLIPS: And Michael, just to stress to our viewers, John Zarrella was talking about the fact that Haitians in Florida, their only means of communication to Haiti right now is watching CNN. And that's why you're there and everybody around you working the phones through the night, through the day, getting everything they can on the web, bringing us details and bringing them details so they have some sort of in touch feeling with what's happening in Haiti.

HOLMES: Yeah, that's exactly right. And what we found last night and it continues today is all of the traditional or the traditional communication systems down in Haiti. Almost unbelievably, a lot of wireless connectivity is going on. And so I remember sitting here 24 hours ago interviewing somebody in Port-au-Prince on Skype. So they're able to get on wireless like that. And post to Facebook and post photographs to Facebook, which was our first images out of Haiti to be honest. Again, you're seeing the social media I-reporter, you know, citizen journalist if you like providing images and the first news out of places where something like this could happen.

PHILLIPS: We'll be working around the clock. Thank you so much.

Garry Pieere-Pierre is the editor of the Brooklyn based "Haiti Times." What are you hearing right now about the situation on the ground in Haiti? And what will be your first number one priority on your agenda as soon as you hit land?

GARRY PIERRE-PIERRE, HAITI TIMES: Thank you, Kyra. And I want so they that CNN has been doing an extraordinary job of its coverage of the earthquake and I thank you for that.

The first thing we're going to do is just get a feel for the place, what happened, talk to eyewitnesses. We haven't been able to get people's account. We'll try to get to the bottom of that. One of the things we'll try to do like your colleague Michael was talking about. The true ways of getting the stories of people and looking for people on our website, on our Facebook pages. And connected. We'll let them know how people are doing. We have a team of volunteers of about eight reporters and photographers who are coming with me so we could really do the job that's necessary. And interestingly enough, last night it was around 4:00 in the morning, I was on my Facebook page. I got about 20 or 30 responses and about eight of us are going down there to cover the story.

PHILLIPS: Now, Garry, you were born in Haiti. So obviously this is -- you are taking this on not just as a journalist but this is your homeland. I know you have family and friends there, will you be able to attempt to try to find them and to reach out to them, as well?

PIERRE-PIERRE: Well, certainly. I have my own family, my cousins and niece and nephew. And also as you said, I have a lot of friends. In the last ten years, I've covered for the "Haitian Times." I have a lot of people I'm looking for and people I'm concerned about.

PHILLIPS: Can I ask you something else about the Haitian people, Garry? We've been reporting the destruction of all of these various buildings, including the main prison. You know the Haitian people well. Are you concerned about lawlessness? Are you concerned about that aspect combined with a lot of December prate people?

PIERRE-PIERRE: Well, I think there's going to be some level of that. Level of looting. But I'm not really concerned about, you know, violence or lawlessness. I think we always have to separate the violence in these places. Most of the violence we see here is politically motivated and not related, you know, because the place is naturally violent. So I think there's a distinction between the two. I don't think you're likely to see masses of people just kicking over the streets. No, what you'll see, obviously, some looting as you referred to. People may be hungry who need food, who need water, and it's there and they'll take it.

PHILLIPS: Garry Pierre-Pierre, founder and editor of the "Haitian times." please let us know when you touch down in Haiti and stay in touch.

PIERRE-PIERRE: Thank you very much. Keep up the good work.

PHILLIPS: Coming up, a unique search and rescue effort underway right now thousands of miles away from the earthquake zone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: A massive rescue effort underway right now and thousands of miles away, elite rescuers are preparing to deploy to the island nation. Casey Wian joins us now from the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California with one of the top urban search and rescue teams in the U.S.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, a C-17 military transport plane is expected to arrive at March Air Base any moment now. And it will be filled with tons of search and rescue gear, some of which you can see behind me and is scheduled to depart for Haiti tonight. Earlier today, we spent time with these highly trained firefighters and other personnel and watched them get ready.


WIAN: Minutes after news broke of the massive earthquake in Haiti, 3,000 miles away, the Los Angeles county fire department's urban search and rescue team began to get ready.

INSPECTOR FREDERIC STOWERS, L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: We're preparing for the worst. As you can see, we have these flat bed trucks that are loaded here with all of the gear, water, food. We have a transport here. We plan on being self-sufficient inside these bins and bags, our specialized equipment. There's search cams, jackhammers, saws, all kinds of specialized equipment.

WIAN: What's the manpower of this search and rescue unit?

STOWERS: This search and rescue unit has 72 members that are comprised of doctors and women, canine handlers, structural engineers, there's urban search and rescue personnel, search teams or search and rescue teams. There's -- this is one of only two in the country.

WIAN: Obviously there's a great need for search and rescue teams in Haiti right now. Why is the equipment still on the ground here in southern California? What's the hold-up?

STOWERS: Well, again, like I said, everything has to be done right. We have to account for everybody, we have to account for the equipment, we have to make sure the transportation is adequate to be able to move all of the equipment.

WIAN: You've got to make sure it's safe for your crews on the ground to even land there, right?

STOWERS: Absolutely. We want to make sure of that.

WIAN: What's the information you're getting in relation to that right now?

STOWERS: We're hearing various reports, but again, we're not taking those reports for granted. We're waiting for the proper entail to be given to us, which is a notification that it is okay to go in and it is okay to do what is necessary. WIAN: Jasmine Sagura and her dog Chocolate are one of six canine teams trained to find live victims strap trapped under rubble.

How much information have you received about Haiti on the ground? And how much are you expecting when you arrive?

JASMINE SAGURA, L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: A chaotic situation for sure, obviously. And weather conditions and basically just get in there and doing our jobs because that's what we're trained to do is to go into situations like that and do the best we can to deescalate the chaos and save some lives.

Our dogs are live human scent search dogs. So, for example, earthquakes, 9/11, people who are trapped where we can't see right away, they're unconscious, underneath rubble, wood, mud, these guys will come up and sniff them out, they will stay in that area and start alerting, barking and they'll let us know there's a live human trapped there. Typically sometimes even if we hail, which is L.A. county fire department, can you hear us? Some people are unconscious so they can't hear us, can't respond, but his nose will take us right to a live human being.

WIAN: I imagine some of these folks are pretty anxious to get going?

STOWERS: Our guys are always anxious. We love a challenge and we do expect to be challenged.


WIAN: You can now see behind me that that C-17 military transport plane is finally on the ground. Personnel will begin loading up. They'll also be weighing all of that gear that they've been gathering over the last 24 hours. And this is actually the first time this is actually the first time this particular search and rescue unit has worked together as an individual unit, deployed together, individual members have been worked on previous disasters of this magnitude or close, including the Northridge earthquake in California, an earthquake in Indonesia, 9/11 and hurricane Katrina. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Watching this live picture of the air force aircraft getting ready to take those supplies in, as we watch this unfold live, I also want to ask you about the men and women that are headed over there, not only bringing in supplies, bringing in the dogs to try to find survivors but, of course, they all have medical training as well. Will they be working on the Haitians as they find them, rescue them, and setting up medical facilities which are desperately need right now? Will they be able to do that as well?

WIAN: This particular team, my understanding is, that their main focus is going to be going in and finding people that still may be trapped alive in some of the collapsed buildings. So time is of the essence. These people are specifically trained in the structural integrity of buildings and in being able to get into these buildings that have collapsed, sometimes four-story buildings collapsed on themselves. They're trying to get there as quick as they can to pull folks out of those buildings alive. These dogs are particularly trained to find live human beings. These are not cadaver-sniffing dogs. They're looking for live people, to get there as quickly as they can.

PHILLIPS: We'll follow up. Casey Wian, thank you very much.

And we talk to the head of one of the organizations, next, and the latest on the earthquake.


PHILLIPS: We continue to follow the breaking news out of Haiti right now. Rescuers are frantically searching collapsed buildings. Officials are fearing the death toll from the quake could reach into the tens of thousands, possibly even higher.

Catholic Relief Services rushing $5 million in aid to Haiti's earthquake survivors right now. CRS has offices in Port-au-Prince. Many staffers slept outside last night to avoid building collapses from aftershocks. Ken Hackett is president of Catholic Relief Services. He's here with us.

Now you know Ken, Haiti is predominantly catholic. How does this affect the way you service the people there?

KEN HACKETT, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES: It gives us a network of partners, effective partners in the Catholic Church and their schools and their missions and their hospitals and their health centers. That network in Port-au-Prince will be what will be activated first. Of course, there's been some deaths among the leadership in the catholic church in Haiti. That's troubling and that will be traumatizing.

PHILLIPS: And that leads me to my next question, because we saw just a bone-chilling report from Ivan Watson where we saw the bodies starting to pile up. We saw the dead babies under sheets. They just don't know what to do with all the dead right now. How are you going to prepare for dealing with the dead?

HACKETT: Well, we have to mount a coordinated effort in Port-au- Prince. We have a supply depot in the south, in Laki, that is moving food and water into area. Tomorrow morning at 6:00, we will move supplies across the border from Santa Domingo and that will move south. You deal with a network of people who are not traumatized and able to respond. That's not everybody, that's for sure.

PHILLIPS: That is for sure. You've had a ministry there for a really long time. How do you tell people, the Haitian people, in times like this, how to keep the faith?

HACKETT: Oh, you've got to stay with them. We have a group of about 12 expatriate, working with Haitians. They work as a team and a family. You counsel and console each other. You express concern about their families. You go out of your way to do that extra support. Today in Baltimore where I am in our office, we had a very special mass and moving liturgy to express our concern and solidarity for our brothers and sisters down there. We've been there for 50 years. We know a lot of people and a lot of people know us. We're kind part of the landscape. And that makes it on the one hand somewhat easier to respond, on the other hand, we feel the pain.

PHILLIPS: Of course, you can get involved, donate and take part in what the Catholic Relief Services is doing. It's easy to go online and get involved. Ken Hackett, president of CRS, sure appreciate your time this evening.

HACKETT: Thank you very much, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: We'll have more on the earthquake in Haiti, coming up next.


PHILLIPS: It's now been more than 24 hours since the powerful and deadly earthquake struck Haiti and the full extent of the damage is still not known. But as images of the destruction continue to come in, we're beginning to understand the level of the devastation.

Take a look at this photo. Here's survivors gathering outside of the national palace in Port-au-Prince. The palace along with hospitals, schools and a prison were all severely damaged. Even the president of Haiti not sleeping at home tonight. The streets have now become home for many of the 2 million Haitians living in the capital, the prime minister of Haiti says all of the capital has been damaged or destroyed.

Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Our breaking news coverage continues next with Campbell Brown.