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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

After the Tsunami

Aired January 2, 2005 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I suppose what's most gotten to me is the number of children who've lost parents. And also the number of parents who are still standing at the edge of the waves waiting for their children to come back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is completely different. You know, a year and a half, two years ago, I was in Iraq dropping bombs as a part of Iraqi Freedom. Now I'm over here, you know, trying to save lives and give food to people (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's - the destruction and the stuff that I've seen here is much more horrific than anything I've seen in combat.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUGH RIMINTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Hugh Riminton. Welcome, as we come to you live from Sri Lanka. Over the course of the next hour, in this CNN special report on the tsunami disaster, we'll be talking to our correspondents right around this tsunami zone.

We're coming to you from Beruwala, a resort and fishing town in southern Sri Lanka. Behind me, the shattered remains of a beach hotel. It was called the Bayroo Hotel. It looks more like something from Beirut, circa early 1980s: completely shattered, empty now, apart from some pretty awful smells, I can tell you. And a few guards - armed guards around, have been posted to keep watch against any looters. None have been sighted.

It's 1:00 in the morning in Sri Lanka. Most of the island is either asleep or trying to sleep; many Sri Lankans have said to us that over the last week, sleep has suddenly become a very difficult commodity to find.

In Indonesia, so hard hit by the earthquake and the tsunamis that followed, it's not just sleep, it is nightmares that are the big issue, nightmares that will last for a generation to come.

We begin our coverage this hour with this report - an extraordinary report - from John Irvine (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, ITV NEWS (voice-over): It is early morning, and Kestam Hospital (ph) reverberates to screams of agony.

(SCREAMING)

RIVERS: This woman has two broken legs. She's been in excruciating pain for a week.

(SCREAMING AND CRYING)

RIVERS: The wounded are being carried in from outlying villages. Many have been trying to get here for days.

The chaotic operating theater is already in full swing. There's no anesthetic, just immediate surgery to try and save lives. I watched survivors with bones jutting from their limbs endure medieval surgery, hands bound to stretchers to hold them still.

The surgeons say many wounds are now festering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes we found there is a larva in the wounds.

RIVERS (on camera): There's maggots in there? The little worms.

UNIDENTIFIED: Little worms in the wounds.

RIVERS (voice-over): We visit the wards. It's lunchtime. There appears to be only rice and foiled egg on the menu. But some haven't eaten for days.

There are orphan children in the corridors, traumatized at all they've seen, screaming for their parents.

And there are many more.

By mid-afternoon, an Australian army field hospital is being set up in a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wing. It will mean more people can be treated in safe, sterile conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If any of you are sick, we'll see you inside shortly. We'll just set up, OK? We won't be long. We're here to help.

RIVERS: But many have had limbs amputated because injuries have gone septic.

(on camera): As you can see, these wards are packed to bursting point. The patients are crammed into every available space. The doctors are working flat out. They're completely overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of injured.

(voice-over): There is also widespread psychological trauma.

Foreign medical supplies have arrived. Even so, there are still shortages of the most basic kind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're really low - we're really low on hydrogen peroxide, really low on scalpels right now. There could be other things as well. Heavy painkillers - the painkillers we're using right now are basically aspirin.

RIVERS: This hospital is filthy, stiflingly hot, and desperately overcrowded. Each day, 4-500 new patients are arriving.

Later, we found this woman calling out for her children. We left the ward for just 10 minutes, but when we returned, she was dead.

Dan Rivers, ITV news, Aceh.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIMINTON: Absolutely rending scenes there.

Well, aid of a more general nature, other than simply medical aid, the water, the other material that needs to go into Banda Aceh - it is starting to get through.

To catch up with the latest, let's join CNN's Mike Chinoy.

Mike, what can you tell us.

MIKE CHINOY, CNN SR. ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Hugh.

Well, all day long, helicopters have been flying out of Banda Aceh airport. They've been heading down to the stricken west coast, where a whole coastline, 150, 200 kilometers just completely devastated.

Those helicopters began operating yesterday - U.S. Navy helicopter, some Australian also - bringing food and water and medical teams to those area, trying to figure out which communities have enough survivors that they can sort of manage to stabilize them, which ones were so completely wiped that there's nobody left at all.

We met some people who had sailed from one of the towns there, Chalong. They hid in the mountains for five days after surviving the tsunami. Managed to find a boat, and it sailed. They were in terrible shape: many of them injured, dehydrated and traumatized.

And yet, amidst all the suffering, over and over we hear these extraordinary survival stories, people who, against all the odds, made it. Now we've got one to tell you about. This is about a surfer who was drawn to Aceh because of its beautiful beaches, but - and who ended surviving the biggest wave of all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID LINES, SURVIVOR: I paddle across the river to go surfing. I saw that thing starting to break, and it would be 1 meters high. It was relative to those tree.

I'm looking at this big, green barrel. It was actually barreling. And part of me was going, "That's not a bad-looking wave." But of course, we had to get out of there.

CHINOY (voice-over): Exactly a week later, David Lines' neighbors, the few who survived, weep over the ruins. Lines, a surfing fanatic, born in Canada, educated in Hawaii, now a naturalized Australian, came to Aceh because of the waves.

He met and married a local woman, Nurma (ph), and built his dream house. On December 26, they outdrove the tsunami.

LINES: We had to go towards the wave to get out of the property, through a gate, up a little laneway (ph), up through the side, and then get out.

All the girls were screaming and crying out to Allah, and it was all happening (ph). We'd gone out, come around, picked up some people, and then we - there's a main road that goes down to - it's like a 2-lane bit of asphalt. It goes down to the beach. When we turned right there, then I looked in the rear-view mirror for the first time. And then I saw the wave pushing through the trees - it was a broken wave - pushing through the trees - taller than a man - it was a quite - quite a bit taller than a man. And it was just pushing through with sticks. It was yellow and white, and stick figures running in front of it. And I'm just going....

(CROSSTALK)

CHINOY (on camera): And what happened to the stick fingers (ph)?

LINES: Well, they're all dead.

CHINOY (voice-over): Lines' adopted hometown, Lochnah (ph), was obliterated. When he returned to look for his house, this is what he found.

LINES: So right now, we're standing on the - my house, the foundations of my house.

CHINOY (on camera): Show me around. What was what?

LINES: This - actually - this actual area is sort of my front room. My TV was over there.

CHINOY (voice-over): The wave drove Lines' things hundreds of meters inland. David' wife, Nurma, lost 17 relatives.

They scour the rubble for anything. They don't know what they're going to do.

In the end, this was about all there was.

LINES: Wow, it's still OK. Here you go.

CHINOY: Plus a surprise.

LINES: Oh, there you go. There's the fin.

CHINOY: Memoirs of a surfer's dream life...

LINES: This is probably come to where I grab stuff so I can give them to kids...

CHINOY: ...washed away by the waves.

LINES: Well, there you go. There's a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) souvenir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHINOY: Keys to homes that no longer exist. A telling symbol of the fate facing so many who survived the tsunami here - Hugh.

RIMINTON: An extraordinary story there, Mike.

I just wondered, listening to that story, how much we need those survival stories at a time like this. You've seen so much misery there yourself over the space of the last week. It must be a relief just to hear a story from someone who's got something, you know, extraordinary good to tell.

CHINOY: Well, I think there is something in that. And in fact, one of the things that is striking amidst all the misery is a kind of core toughness among an awful lot of survivors. You see people who are weeping, who are distraught. But there is a kind of grim determination among an awful lot of people to carry on.

When we were out taking picture of David and his wife, Nurma, going through their belongings, their neighbors were around doing the same thing. And in the end, their belongings are just a pile of a few bits - bits and pieces. But out of that, people seemed determined to give themselves the foundation to try and rebuild something, although the reality is, in all of these devastated communities, where do you begin? Many of this rubble is going to have to razed to the ground. The whole question of the rebuilding of that town and even Banda Aceh, very, very complicated. Should it be done? How should it be done? How long will it take? What will happen to the people? And in the meantime, so many questions.

But right now, the main issue is not that kind of long-term future. The issue is basic survival - Hugh.

RIMINTON: They're certainly going to need all that resiliency that you speak of. Mike Chinoy there in Banda Aceh. Once again, thank you very much for joining us.

Now, over the course of the past week, people who have never heard of Banda Aceh have gotten to know it intimately, in many ways, as we've reported the terrible events that have happened there. Not many people have heard of the place, Kinniya. It's a tiny island off the east of Sri Lanka.

CNN's Harris Whitbeck went there. We believe he was the only journalist so far to have got in there. He found a society that had been appallingly badly hit by the tsunami, but where the survivors had found they pretty much had to rescuer themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kinniya's district hospital on Sri Lanka's east coast, its principal wards completely turned upside down.

In the maternity ward, only a vase of plastic flowers is left in tact. Lab and diagnostic equipment is strewn about, rendered useless. Dozens of doctors, nurses, mothers and newborn children died here.

(on camera): All of this occurred in less than 20 minutes. It's a testament to the incredible destructive power of the tsunami. Now, days later, many people on this island feel that an equally powerful force is manifesting itself among the population. That force is the will to survive. To clean up. To move on.

(voice-over): Hours after the disaster, a contingent from Doctors of the World arrived in the country. Volunteer professionals from Spain and France, they expected long days of arduous work among severely affected victims. Instead, they found a population that had decided on its own to take immediate action.

"We saw that people were organizing themselves; people joined together to build an important network of solidarity. Even private companies pitched in."

The doctors say the main threat they now see in this area is the lack of infrastructure for public sanitation. But there is no lack of manpower to clean up. This group of islanders has been working non- stop for over a week, first removing dead bodies, now cleaning streets.

"We're doing all we can," they say, "but we need machines to move the heavy pieces of debris."

All they need, they say, is a bit more solidarity.

Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Kinniya, Sri Lanka.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIMINTON: Now, so far away from the tsunami disaster zone, Sweden is itself mourning. When we come back for the - when we come back after this break, we'll learn how Sweden is coming to terms with what is its worst-ever natural disaster.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RIMINTON: Welcome back. We're coming to you live from Sri Lanka.

Well, the Swedes are world famous as travelers. Anyone who travels anywhere will encounter a Swede, and particularly when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and that tends to coincide with Christmas time. They go down so often to Asia to travel, to celebrate, to enjoy the sun. And it's for that reason that so many people are dead and missing from Sweden in this disaster, that it's now being called Sweden's worst-ever natural crisis and disaster. CNN's Robin Curnow reports on Sweden's pain.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBIN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The end of another day in Sweden, thousands of Swedes still missing far away in Asia.

(on camera): The global scale of this catastrophe is becoming increasingly clear. Before last week's tsunami, who would have imagined a natural disaster that affected so many people around the world? The grief stretching from those remote areas in Indonesia, all the way to these northern Scandinavian countries.

(voice-over): Here in Stockholm, it seems as if everybody knows someone caught up in the tsunami. This newspaper headline says even the prime minister has a friend missing.

To help people cope, churches are staying open late, offering people like Fatina and Tobe Lissnus (ph) some quiet time, away from the stresses of trying to find missing relatives lost in Thailand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were just sitting at home waiting and waiting to get any (UNINTELLIGIBLE), any phone call. And then the second day, I gave up hoping for them. But on the evening of the second day, on the Monday, my mother got through on a phone they had survived.

CURNOW: But three members of her family are still missing: her niece, Thria (ph) - she'll be celebrating her first birthday on Monday. Also gone, Thria's paternal grandmother and uncle. Posting these picture on the Internet, along with other Swedish families hoping for some news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My brother and his wife, they have been searching everywhere. Get up pictures from their little baby daughter everywhere so that if someone finds her, they can get in contact with us.

CURNOW: Just one of the thousands of family tragedies playing out in the Nordic countries, who are linked in grief with communities on the other side of the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Swedes, it's a national catastrophe. But it's also global catastrophe. And we have to think about, pray for - for other people who have no homes to go back to. We must never forget the people down there.

CURNOW: Robin Curnow, CNN, Stockholm, Sweden.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIMINTON: Now when we return, an orphanage. It was destroyed by the tsunami. The children were saved. Now the orphanage is being rescued by help from overseas.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The rescuers brought her here. She can speak, and she told us her name and her father's name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I didn't know she was here. People saw children in the hospital and said, Go and look.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIMINTON: An incredible survival story, a happy-sad story in many ways. The 4-year-old survival of that train that was wiped out in Sri Lanka with the death of 1,000 people - 4-year-old Damani Samantika (ph) was believed to be dead. She was taken to a morgue and she remained in that morgue for three days before it was realized she was still alive.

Damani has been reunited with her grandfather. That's the happy side of it. The sad side of it: her parents and sister were killed in the same train disaster.

So many stories, each one of them that would defy belief.

Another story out of Sri Lanka: an orphanage destroyed by the tsunami. The children saved; the orphanage now being rebuilt.

This report from CNN's Jeanne Meserve.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wish you and your family many prayers throughout this tragedy.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mail has brought Deana Sanders (ph) condolences and checks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a check for $100. For $800. Five hundred. Two hundred and fifty.

MESERVE: In one day, a total of $7,400, to rebuild the orphanage Deana's brother Dayalan Sanders established on a sliver of seaside in Sri Lanka in 1994.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is just 10 years old, and she has been with us just a couple of months.

MESERVE: Dayalan left a comfortable life in the U.S., selling his home to finance the building of the orphanage that helped the children in his native country.

KAMALANI SANDERS, DAYALAN'S MOTHER: He was always a very caring person. He would collect money in a little purse and give it away to beggars.

MESERVE: Twenty-eight children found a home at the orphanage until last Sunday.

DAYALAN SANDERS, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, SAMARITAN CHILDREN'S HOME: There are no words in human speech to describe what we saw. It was a 30-foot wall of sea, just bearing down on us like an angry monster.

MESERVE: Dayalan crammed the orphans and his family into one small boat, which uncharacteristically started on the first try.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The boat capacity was only 15 people. There were, like, 30 to 33 people cramped in there, trying to get across the lagoon to the city. And there were all dead bodies in this lagoon. And there were people holding on to rafters and branches and screaming to them and asking them to help them.

MESERVE: Dayalan and the children survived; the orphanage did not.

KANYA SANDERS, DAYALAN'S SISTER: It's been incomprehensible and just, you know, mind-blowing. But, you know, we are so, so thankful and grateful to God that -- you know, that they were saved so miraculously.

MESERVE: Dayalan's family and friends in Maryland immediately set about raising the estimated $400,000 it will take to rebuild the orphanage. Two newspaper stories have helped generate a torrent of calls....

(PHONE RINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: American Home Relief. How can I help you?

MESERVE: ...and contributions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. One thousand five hundred. Amazing. My sympathy to you and your fellow countrymen from Sri Lanka. I hope this gift will help toward building the orphanage.

MESERVE: An orphanage that Sri Lanka needs now more than ever before.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIMINTON: When we return, we'll follow a British family as they search for their parents missing in Thailand. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RIMINTON: I'm Hugh Riminton. Welcome back to Beruwala, Sri Lanka. We're coming to you live in this half hour, continuing our review of the latest in the tsunami disaster, as we hear from our correspondents right across the tsunami disaster area. And also from so many people who have been touched in so many ways by this terrible tragedy. Now, in India, Rahul Bose is a name that is known to just about everyone. An actor and director in the film industry, the film industry known as Bollywood - he has turned his hand to something else, something that I'm sure he would agree is far more serious right now, and that's the process of relieving the pain of people suffering from this disaster.

He joins us from Port Blair, on India's Andaman and Nicobar Island.

Thank you for joining us, Mr. Bose.

(CROSSTALK)

RIMINTON: What motivated you to get yourself involved in this relief effort?

RAHUL BOSE, ACTOR: I'm sorry. I didn't catch that.

RIMINTON: That's quite all right. What motivated you, directly and personally, in this aid effort?

BOSE: Well, I finished shooting film, and I got back the day the disaster happened. And I was watching the pictures on television and, you know, suddenly I said, you know, This is ridiculous. I'm going to - you know, I'm going to go there and do something.

And so I contacted these two (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I work with normally on work that is not related to movies, but related to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) harmony and gender equality. And I said, Look, you know, I want to go across and do something. And they said, Why don't you go down south to Chennai? And I said, no, I want to go to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands because they're so, so far flung out of the mainland of India that invariably they tend to be neglected.

And so we evolved a plan where 20 NGOs in Mumbai got together and formed what they now call themselves as the Solidarity Network. Basically, to raise funds for tsunami-hit victims. And - and I'm here on a sort of a first-hand, fact-finding mission, to see what kind of materials the people here need in the short as well as the medium term.

RIMINTON: What was your reaction to what you saw when you got there?

BOSE: Well, I've just been to one of the worst-hit islands of - which is - it's a group of many islands. In the Nicobar islands, there's an island called Carnicoba (ph). And, I mean, it's - after having spoken to thundering, scores of relief - you know, people in relief camps who were victims, it's just astonishing the kind of trauma they must have been through.

I mean, a little boy told me that he came out of his hut - he thought a jet plan had landed outside his hut. That was the noise that he heard., And scores of victims have talked about how they saw this - you know, this wall of water sort of advancing towards them, after a lull, after the earthquake. And some say it was 30 feet, some say it was as high 60 feet. And then, how they just began to run and climb on to treetops, only to be swept off and watch their loves ones die.

It was - I mean, it's just - you know, it might not be articulate, but you can sense the incredible fear and fright and devastation that they faced in a matter of - what? - maybe five minutes?

RIMINTON: Hmm. So much work to be done. Rahul Bose, from Port Blair, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, thank you very much for joining us and good luck in your work.

Now, there is other work that needs to be done, very personal, intimate work by so many people, searching for people who are missing, searching for loved ones who are missing must be as grueling as anything.

We follow now a British family that is head off to Thailand to try and find the parents who went out there on a holiday.

This from ITN's Keir Simmons.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEIR SIMMONS, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Somewhere in Bangkok is a man who may know whether Tom Hofton's (ph) father is alive.

We arrived in Thailand an hour ago. Now we race to a hospital, where we hope this man is. He's a family friend, who was on the beach with Tom's dad, John (ph), and stepmom, Ann (ph), when the tsunami struck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We always had a Christmas - a family Christmas either before they went on holiday, mid-December, or when they get back in January. And this year, we were going to have one in January. So, I hope we will still have that Christmas and make it back.

SIMMONS (on camera): Got presents for them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got presents still under the tree for my father, yes. Still something under the tree. They're the only presents left that have been unopened.

SIMMONS (voice-over): We arrive at the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got the room number.

SIMMONS: But we're too late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I've come to see a Butch Shap (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Checked out today. All right. SIMMONS: It's not a promising start to our search for a missing mom and dad.

On New Year's Eve, we catch a flight to Phuket. Ann's son, Stacy (ph) is with us, and John's second son, Edward (ph). He says his dead is fit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, me and my father - I mean, he's a great sportsmen, a buck in his younger days. He played rugby for England, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at 21's. I know he represented the country at athletics, and especially - I think it was the 100 yards they used to do.

SIMMONS: Eleven days ago, their parents were on this same flight, beginning their holiday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)..,my brother. We're looking for my father and our mother.

SIMMONS: Early New Year's Day, we've traveled an hour by road when we stumble on a help center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Kalap (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Kalap (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Kalap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: South seas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: South sea by (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

SIMMONS: Edward and Stacy give details, whilst Tom studies a list of names. Then, a blow to our hopes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The report is (ph) people in hospitals in Phuket, and as far as we know there are about 12 people left in hospitals in Phuket, one in Crabbie. That is it for the effects there in terms of British nationality hospital (ph). But we continue to monitor that. And any other hospital listing on a database is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any one alive who - that we don't know who they are?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are people - British people alive that are unidentified, or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Everyone in the hospital, we know who they are and we've listed them on the databases.

SIMMONS: The boys walk away. Every living British person has been identified. Their parents are not amongst them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) definitely no unidentified British people.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS: What had begun as a search for missing parents, now became a pilgrimage to their last resting place. And as we got closer, it was shocking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here. We're trying to walk down there.

SIMMONS: A week ago, this was a five-star resort. Their mom and dad had called it paradise.

(on camera): Devastated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Horrific? Absolutely horrific. I'm surprised even one person survived it. Someone (ph) being here would have been absolute hell.

SIMMONS: Are you glad that you are here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, I'm glad I've come down, just to - just to - you know, just to see what sort of place it was. And to see where, you know - obviously, where my father died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my father's body is (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I just hope we can - hope we can - hope we can find them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No chance even.

SIMMONS (voice-over): Conjuring strength from who knows where, the brothers make one more journey: to a makeshift morgue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Horrific.

SIMMONS: It brings another disappointment. Pinned on boards are photos of the death, that even if, amongst the photos, were pictures of the parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you said - which one is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no chance.

SIMMONS: This tough, united family, left England facing the possibility that their parents might be dead. They're leaving Thailand fearing that they may never find their bodies.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many thing your friend can do, like he can pick up many thing for people. He can create a house for poor people that can't pay money for - for back home (ph).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIMINTON: We're coming to you live from Sri Lanka.

Well, a short time ago, the U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, and Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, and the brother, of course, of President George W. Bush, took off from the United States. They're now in their air - in the air, on the way to the tsunami zone.

We're joined by CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne, what is that they hope to achieve by this tour?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hugh, first and foremost, what they want to do is really assess the damage, the situation, what kind of need and relief, really, would be most useful there. The president expressing his desire to make this a top priority of the Bush administration, saying first they're looking at short-term, immediate humanitarian relief. But also, what is going to be involved when it comes to long-term reconstruction efforts in that region.

Now, President Bush today have returned to the White House after a week-long vacation at the Crawford ranch, expressing his commitment to this. It was just yesterday that he ordered by proclamation that all U.S. flags around the globe, at military installations, bases and government buildings be flown at half staff. That is starting tomorrow for five days to recognize, to mourn those who were lost from the tsunami.

Also, the president announcing - the White House announcing this weekend that they're upping the aid from $35 million to $350 million. We heard from Secretary Powell earlier today saying that this is really a benchmark and is just the beginning, not necessarily a ceiling, but perhaps even a floor when it comes to the amount of aid that the administration is going to offer.

And Powell, earlier today, before he left for his - for that trip, he actually defended once again the U.S. response. As you know, of course, the U.S. being criticized for what some called a paltry and slow response to this humanitarian crisis. Secretary Powell saying that he believed it was appropriate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are strongly committed to help. And we are helping. I mean, $350 million, two carrier groups, thousands of troops. When you look in television this morning, Wolf, what you're seeing are American helicopters landing and delivering assistance. And the private sector has responded so well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Now, Hugh, here's what the itinerary looks like: They're actually first going to be traveling to Thailand. That is where they'll meet with officials in Bangkok, and then on to survey the damage in Phuket. On to Indonesia - Jakarta first. That is where Powell is going to be representing the United States in an international conference to coordinate the relief effort. He'll then travel to the coastal town of Aceh. As you know, of course, devastating there. And then finally, on to Sri Lanka.

We had asked earlier if the president himself was planning on going. Sectary Powell saying that he did not believe that that was going to be useful at the time, that they wanted to compliment the humanitarian-aid effort, not complicate it - Hugh.

RIMINTON: Suzanne, there are 11 countries that apparently have lost lives to this tsunami disaster. There's so much international politics bound up in this. Is there going to be an attempt to deliver the aid in proportion to the lives lost? How do they apportion the aid that they have in their hand?

MALVEAUX: Well, that's very difficult to really assess, and that is what they're trying to figure out.

One thing that they're doing, however, is coordinating - they're calling this kind of a core coalition, a group of countries that are going to sit down and actually work that out. Among them: India, Japan, the United States - they are going to - Australia - they're going to look at that.

And then, secondly, of course, they're trying to coordinate that with the United Nations. And that is something that Secretary Powell said earlier today that they're working very closely with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. It's one of those things that they're going to be discussing this week at that international conference.

RIMINTON: OK. Suzanne Malveaux there, reporting to us from the White House. Thanks very much for joining us.

Now, across to New York and to UNICEF's Emergency Coordinator Dan Toole.

Dan, obviously, children have been so heavily affected by this. That is UNICEF's brief, is to help the world's children. How do you focus on them specifically?

DAN TOOLE, UNICEF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: First, we look at what it takes to keep children alive. That's our first priority.

Those who have survived need medical supplies, medicines. They need clean water. They need things to get back to school. So we're starting to ship in school books, school in a box. UNICEF has organized already five plans to get into Indonesia, Sri Lanka. We're mobilized our staff on the ground, to make sure the kids have what they need to get through this first really difficult period.

Then we'll start to work with them with counselors. We - in India, we've trained psychologists to go out and talk to them about the experiences that they - that have changed their lives forever.

RIMINTON: What is the level of trauma that happens with children, particularly when it - when it happens so young in their lives, and when they lose parents? Is it irrecoverable, in some cases, for children to come through a disaster like this?

TOOLE: Hugh, it's not irrecoverable, but it takes a very long time.

I think we have to look back to, whether it's 9/11, World War II, et cetera. People, when they experience very difficult things, need time to move on. They need their family. They need their communities. When that also disappears, it becomes quite difficult.

And so I think our role is to bring in -- whether it's outside psychologists or people from other states and regions - to help them work through that. What we've found in other countries, it sometimes takes five, 10 years to get rid of those traumatic problems, to draw, to act out, to move on to a normal life again.

RIMINTON: When we're talking about millions of people who have been directly affected in some way by this tsunami disaster, how in a practical sense, do you get psychologists out in the field to begin this sort of work, let alone to see it all the way through, over many years?

TOOLE: Yes, it's a very good question.

Obviously, we rely on local authorities. The optimistic side, if you will, of this terrible tragedy is that it occurred in countries that have a lot of capacity. So in India, we are mobilizing Indian psychologists. In Indonesia, likewise. Psychiatrists, psychologists. Also, in Maldives. We may also do some inter-country exchanges.

There's no way that UNICEF all by itself can do this. So we're working with non-governmental organizations. We're working, as the U.N., to provide all this assistance.

It takes huge outreach. The logistics are phenomenal, as you're seeing yourself in Sri Lanka. The damage is devastating, and the infrastructure makes it difficult to get there. And that's our challenge to each of us.

RIMINTON: Certainly is a huge job. Dan Toole there, from UNICEF in New York, thank you very much for joining us.

TOOLE: Thank you, Hugh.

RIMINTON: In the course of rebuilding lives and belief, condolences - the business of supporting each other - is enormously important. In Thailand today, Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai prime minister, went and met with tourists, those people who are grieving, those people who are searching for their relatives. In Phuket, he walked among them and shared what words of support that he could do. It was a mutual support effort, I think.

Also, in the last few hours, CNN's Aneesh Raman spoke with the Thai prime minister.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA, THAI PRIME MINISTER: One thing that we see that many united force between the private sector, public sector and the government. And also, international. It's very strong in this area. We helping each others in almost everything. And in this area, I - it quite surprised me that it come back to the normal activity is quite fast.

But anyway, we will have to do - relandscape in (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And also, we will have to take care of those who are still missing, if that's possible.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A large number of the missing are foreign tourists. What can you say about the missing? Are they presumed dead? Do you think you'll find some alive?

THAKSIN: There are some (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the information. Because, you know - for example, Phuket. We (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the names of the missing, and it may involve those who are treated in hospitals. That's (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

So we need to clean the file. After we clean the file, we found out that only one third still missing. So that is more realistic. And also, we probably - it's probably the same case, like, in Panang and in Kabil.

RAMAN: What are the greatest difficulties for the relief efforts right now?

THAKSIN: The - due to these - the incident passed about seven days, already over. And the carcass is quite rotten (ph). That is - we've got to be identifying they are. That's the part.

But anyway, luckily, that we have forensic experts from different countries to help us, to add advice, including the Interpol.

RAMAN: Last question. Secretary Powell is coming from the U.S. on Tuesday. What do you expect from his visit?

THAKSIN: Well, Thailand is not really expect anything from international, expect the understanding and the cooperation. But we now that we receive more than we expect. That is, a lot of expert and equipments that come in to help us.

That's all what we need. We don't need any financial assistance, I think. But we think that the expertise that they have - because we have no experience like this before. But now, we have a lot of expertise and expert to help us. That is what we really have needed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIMINTON: When we return, staying with Thailand: tourism continues even as the bodies are being buried. How to reconcile the utterly surreal. We'll have that story when we return.

Stay with us at CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RIMINTON: Welcome back to Beruwala, in Sri Lanka. Beruwala is a fishing and tourism town. Fishing and tourism have been both utterly hammoned (ph) - hammered down at the fishing port. They're trying to find a way to get back out to sea, to get the fishing fleet repaired after so much damage and destruction.

I spoke a few hours ago with the port's fishing manager.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than 500 boats. But we have - they have registered only 270 boats in my harbor. But I know more than 500 boats were there.

RIMINTON: So about 1 in 3 - 1 out of every 3 of your boats here...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RIMINTON: ...has been lost?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RIMINTON: Are they insured? I mean, can you get money back from insurance>

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they are no insured, because they are older, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) boats going to deep sea.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the water had gone out. And same time, from the sea, very high water I have seen coming over deckwater (ph). And then, at the moment, I already said, Run away.

RIMINTON: And when you saw the sea go out, did you realize straight away that a wave would be coming in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sure. Because of the experience.

RIMINTON: Now, some fishermen...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RIMINTON: ...when they saw the water surging right at the beginning...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RIMINTON: ...realized there was something wrong, didn't they? And they - and they moved on out of the harbor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Yes. They moved out of the harbor. And when the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fishermens who were boat owners also (UNINTELLIGIBLE), they took the whistles and went out the harbor.

RIMINTON: So they were moving out of the harbor...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RIMINTON: ...as the tsunami was moving in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Sure.

RIMINTON: And where - and how did they go? Are they OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RIMINTON: They made it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a problem. No. Some boats went out (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and all the boats are broken.

RIMINTON: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We can - so (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

RIMINTON: So some of them did not - did not make it, but some of them did?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

RIMINTON: How do the fishermen themselves, the people who work on the boat - how do they feel about going back out to sea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, they are not worried about the tsunami or something like that, because they want to do the job. And they are doing everything they can with the job.

RIMINTON: So not worried at all? No fear?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I think so.

RIMINTON: They have to do the job, though, don't they? Because that's the only way they can...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they have no experience to do another job.

(END VIDEOTAPE) RIMINTON: Things like this proves that having that job, something you do, remains a critical part of what it is to be human.

Jobs in Thailand, of course, are very often tied up with - with tourism. We've been seeing this remarkable scenes here, as well, as in Thailand, of tourists holidaying while the bodies are being buried. It seems grossly insensitive - or is it? In Thailand, they see that's exactly what they want people to do.

CNN's Aneesh Raman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAMAN: It has now been more than a week since the devastating waves devoured the coastline here in Phuket.

This is one of the hardest-hit areas, and you can see that the debris still remains. They have yet to really clean it up. In other places, such as Pi Pi Island, on the coastal area of Choalot (ph), they are only now beginning to get to the hardest-hit areas, getting relief to those people. And as they clean this debris, they are finding more and more bodies. Thousands of people remain missing, a good number of which are foreign tourists.

But amidst this debris, and among these casualties, it is a stark and contrasting image. This, and then there's this: visitors returning to the island of Phuket now, one week later. It is an economic imperative for this industry to be rebuilt and rebuilt quickly. Pi Pi Island is gone. The coastal of Choalot (ph) is devastated.

The only area that is in some semblance standing is Phuket Island. Hotel owners we spoke to say that if they are salvage this season, and keep an essential industry going for this country, they need visitors to come back and come back quickly. So for them, these are the images that are essential to them continuing, to the thousands of livelihoods that depend on this industry.

It is, though, an awkward and surreal transition. Bodies remain unfound, debris still litters this island. Yet people are coming back. But this is the hope: that this situation will begin to stabilize, and begin to move forward.

Aneesh Raman, Phuket, Southern Thailand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIMINTON: And our CNN correspondents remain at work around this region and around the world, covering this momentous story. Stay with us, won't you?

That's it, live from Sri Lanka for now. I'm Hugh Riminton. Thanks for joining us.

CNN news continues. We'll leave you with images of prayer services held around the world. (MUSIC)

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