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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Extreme Weather Pounds United States; Two Illinois Children Struck With E. Coli; Passenger Captures Inside of Plumetting Airliner on Camera; Pakistan Still Reeling from Enormous Earthquake
Aired December 28, 2005 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again.
Nature can be a lot of things, including random and deadly and cruel. Tonight, there's water where no one needs it and none where they do -- a recipe for fire and rain and pain.
ANNOUNCER: Drought and wildfires in the heartland, flooding on the coast -- not just bad weather, but the wrong weather in the wrong place. The timing couldn't be worse. So, when will it get better?
They counted on the government to clean up after Katrina. Here's what they got instead.
FRANK LEACH, SUPERVISOR, JACKSON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI: Every time we began to communicate, guess what? Red tape.
ANNOUNCER: "Keeping Them Honest." Why can't the government get the job done that private contractors are doing right next door?
And a school where graduation means taking it off. 360 takes you inside the first boarding school for obese teens. Meet one of America's fattest teens, but not anymore. He's lost over 300 pounds.
ANNOUNCER: From across the U.S. and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Live from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: And good evening. Thanks for joining us.
The latest on the dangerous weather shortly, but, first, the headlines at this moment.
New details tonight on that deadly police shooting in New Orleans. Video captured at least a dozen officers confronting a knife-wielding man on Monday. He was killed moments later. Today, Police Chief Warren Riley said three officers fired nine shots at the man after he lunged at one of the officers. Riley, who says the man had a long criminal record, insists the shooting was justified. It remains under investigation. Terror on trial -- the case of suspected terrorist Jose Padilla heads to the Supreme Court. The White House wants the high court to allow Padilla to be transferred from military custody to civilian custody, so he can be tried on conspiracy-to-commit-murder charges. Last week, the lower court denied that transfer.
And more trouble for FEMA -- this time, it's coming from within the Department of Homeland Security. An internal audit says that FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, remains inadequate in several areas, including emergency response programs, distribution of aid to disaster victims and management of contracts and contributions.
And, in Houston, a major plea deal for a former Enron executive. Richard Causey pleaded guilty to securities fraud today. The former chief accountant for Enron is going to serve seven years behind bars. He's going to -- he's expected to testify, also, against the two former Enron CEOs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling -- the trial, set for January 30.
In a country as large as the United States, you are always going to have drastically different weather from one place to the next. And variety can be a good thing. It is not, however, tonight. Tonight, parts of the country are burning or drowning or buried in more snow than they have seen in years.
And, whatever the conditions, wherever you look, in any of those screens, in any part of the country, people are bracing for more -- the forecasts in a moment, along with the deadly fires.
We begin, though, with the monster storms hitting the West Coast.
Reporting for us tonight, CNN's Jen Rogers.
JEN ROGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Waves up to 25 feet high are pounding the coast near San Francisco, keeping all but the most daring surfers at bay and providing a spectacular show for those willing to venture out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is amazing. I had no idea. The water is just -- it is incredible.
ROGERS: The series of storms sweeping across the West Coast are not only churning the ocean, they're also dumping inch after inch of rain. And with the ground already saturated after a week of wet weather, rivers are fast approaching flood stage. Officials in Napa County say they're ready. They've been working to restore the Napa River to a more natural state, leaving it better able to handle high water.
NEIL O'HAIRE, NAPA COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES: We've raised the bridges in Napa, which has kept debris from piling up against them. We've widened the river. We've done marine and flood terraces on both sides of the river. And that's given the river room to grow and breathe like a real river would. ROGERS: To the north, the rain is causing street flooding in Portland, Oregon. And the waters seem to be coming down as fast as road crews can work to remove it. All that precipitation is bringing heavy snow to the western mountains. Up to a foot of snow was forecast today alone in the Snoqualmie Pass, outside Seattle.
Heavy snow and a series of accidents close a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 90 here yesterday. So far today, clouds have been able to keep up with the snowfall. Those who live in the area know to pay close attention to conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We kind of keep an eye on it and watch the roads. And if the weather's going to get really bad, then, you know, we'll adjust our times a little bit, come back a little bit earlier.
ROGERS: Nearly all winter storm warnings have been canceled for Northern California tonight. The next big storm is expected to hit tomorrow evening, with more storms forecast all through next week. It's going to be a very wet start to the new year -- Anderson.
COOPER: What a miserable way to begin the new year.
Jen Rogers, thanks very much.
They could use the rain, though, in parts of Texas and Oklahoma tonight. The sad fact is, they could have used it even more just a few days, before the flames broke out. During the worst of it, said one emergency worker, it looked like the whole world was on fire. Thousands of acres were. Some still are.
So far, at least five people have died. A number remain missing. In hard-hit portions of Texas, a state of emergency in effect. So's a state of shock, not to mention a terrible sense of loss.
COOPER (voice-over): At the United Methodist Church in Cross Plains, Texas, today, they picked through the rubble -- melted pieces of stained glass and memories all that remain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Been coming here for 22 years. So, both my kids were baptized in this church, and lots of weddings, and good friends' funerals. And it's just all here. This is home.
COOPERS: Next year, the congregation was to celebrate the church's 120th birthday. In Cross Plains, nearly 50 homes are gone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to see all that they have worked for all the years, and pictures and -- and things that they will never have again.
COOPERS: A terrible toll in a town with a little more than 1,000 residents. Orange X's are everywhere, sprayed by firefighters, checking to make sure neighbors have been safely evacuated. This was Cross Plains yesterday, at the fire's peak, homes burnt to embers and ash, trucks to shells, children's bikes abandoned. Governor Rick Perry declared a state of disaster and sent additional emergency personnel into action.
Firefighters continued to fight blazes, search for hot spots, and hope for the winds to end. Rain isn't in the forecast. More heavy wind is. In Cross Plains, they are still picking up the pieces, struggling to make sense of what has happened to their town.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had the tornado back in '94, I believe. And I thought that was bad. But this is so much worse. It's like -- like I said, a war zone. And I have never been in a war zone, but it looks like what I can imagine one might look like.
COOPER: It is just terrible. They haven't see a drier December in the area since the 1950s.
With us now in Atlanta, severe weather expert, meteorologist Chad Myers.
Chad, this surely qualifies as a severe drought, doesn't it?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely.
And, rarely, Anderson, can we ever see the smoke from a fire on a satellite, 22,000 miles in space. This was yesterday. And these are the smoke plumes coming off the fires. Here's Oklahoma. Here's the Red River. There's about Dallas, right about there -- and all of the smoke plumes coming up. You can tell the difference between the clouds that are white and the smoke plumes that are kind of yellow, kind of gray and ugly out there.
And the weather got better today. Yesterday, at this time, we were still seeing some of the fires on radar. The smoke was so thick yesterday that the fires looked like rain to the radar pictures. We were watching where the fires were starting and where they were going out by the radar returns on the Doppler radar. That's how thick the smoke was. The radar couldn't tell the difference.
Now, today, here's what we have, one storm into the Rockies, another one that made the rain moving away from Atlanta into parts of Charlotte and also on up into North Carolina. That same storm made the wind yesterday, while this storm is going to make wind tomorrow. I know folks there don't want to hear that, but it made a lot of rain in San Francisco today. It made rain in the Russian River Valley, also made a lot of snow in the Sierra -- some spots, 50 inches of snow already.
Here's the spin to the storm that is moving away from the East Coast now -- eventually, some light rain into New York City, and -- and even into the Hamptons later on this evening. But the good news is, this storm is moving away -- no snow. It's kind of odd how warm this storm was and how warm the storms have been, that this is such a large storm, especially the one that moved through Oklahoma yesterday with the wind. It certainly could have had a snowstorm in Chicago, or at least somewhere up there. Nope. All rain.
Here's the story, rain showers into Columbia, all the way through Charleston, right on up into the low country of South Carolina -- the swirl to the storm, with rain in Indianapolis, rain in Toledo, rain in Detroit and Buffalo.
And then, back out to the West, the rain is over. As Jen was telling you, the rain is over for San Francisco for 24 hours. But, by this time tomorrow, Anderson, another six inches of rain in the forecast between tomorrow night all the way through Friday morning.
COOPER: And -- and I have heard talk about rain on New Year's Eve as well, at least in New York.
MYERS: That's absolutely going to happen. And I will tell you -- I know you're out there.
COOPER: It's absolutely going to happen?
MYERS: I know you are -- I know you are out there. I don't think it's going to happen at the midnight hour.
COOPER: All right.
MYERS: But I will keep you up to date.
COOPER: All right. Please do.
COOPER: We are on for, like, two hours. So, we will...
COOPER: We would like to know well into the evening.
Chad, thanks very much.
MYERS: We will get you a tarp.
COOPER: All right. Thanks. Yes.
COOPER: Nearly four months after Hurricane Katrina, one Mississippi county is still covered in debris. Well, there are a lot of them that are. The Army Corps of Engineers promised to clean up in this county. So, what happened? The people struggling to live there would certainly like to know the answer to that one. Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest." And a medical mystery we hope will have a happy ending -- how did these two kids wind up in intensive care because of a food-borne bacteria? And how easy is it for kids to catch that bacteria?
All that and more when 360 continues.
COOPER: In a disaster, a great deal depends on the choices you make. One road leads to safely, another to peril. What we are learning now, after Katrina, is that a great deal depends on the choices you make after a disaster as well.
Tonight's "Keeping Them Honest" is about a county in Mississippi that put their faith in the Army Corps of Engineers to help them clean up. It's a decision they have come to regret.
CNN's Sean Callebs explains why.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's become a sad routine for Josh (ph) Rimes and his father, Dwight. About once a week, they pick through the splintered ruins of Josh's house, looking for anything that can be salvaged. Today, it's a bit of fence.
(on camera): Are you frustrated that, four months after the disaster, it's just a mess?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely. It's -- it's like -- you know, it is like we can't do anything, until, you know -- whether we build or sell, this has to be cleared.
CALLEBS (voice-over): The Rimes thought Jackson County, Mississippi, would be cleared of trees and rubble by now. County Supervisor Frank Leach says the county had a contract to have the Army Corps of Engineers remove debris from public and private land.
FRANK LEACH, SUPERVISOR, JACKSON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI: One of their representatives made a statement: I have got the checkbook, and, if you do what I tell you, you won't pay any money whatsoever.
CALLEBS: Leach says the county took that advice, but the Corps of Engineers never took any debris from homeowners' property.
LEACH: I got tired of -- of waiting for, it's on the way, or it's going to happen or we are going to get there, because every time we began to communicate, guess what? It was another red tape. It was another issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand the frustration.
CALLEBS: Sam Horton (ph) is with the Army Corps of Engineers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been four months since the Katrina hit, but the magnitude and the scope of this -- this recovery effort and the hurricane -- hurricane itself is just unprecedented.
CALLEBS (on camera): Just how much debris remains from devastated homes is anyone's guess. But Jackson County, Mississippi, officials are convinced that federal authorities simply didn't live up to their repeated promises. So, fed up with the cleanup, Jackson County recently fired the Army Corps of Engineers.
(voice-over): But, surprisingly, it didn't have to be this way. The county was given a choice. So, now, all it can do is look longingly at a neighboring county that made a different decision.
LEACH: You know, it is really exciting, when you stop and look just across the bay, and -- and we can see that here even as we're looking across that way. They went about doing this on their own.
CALLEBS: Biloxi and Harrison County turned its back on the Corps of Engineers to remove the debris and still, using federal money, hired their own cleanup crews.
And, look. Many residential areas are cleared of tree limbs and remnants of wrecked homes. The Corps of Engineers says it did remove 90 percent of the debris from public areas in Jackson County, but says the holdup in cleaning private property results from the need to get permission before working homeowners' land -- more red tape, according to county officials and more disappointment for debris-fatigued homeowners.
The county says it has hired private contractors to begin the cleanup work after the 1st of the year.
DWIGHT RIMES, HOMEOWNER: I don't anticipate it being cleaned up any time soon, not the way it's gone the first four months, no.
CALLEBS (on camera): And what do you think of that?
RIMES: Well, again, it stinks. But it's reality.
CALLEBS: Well, back live now in our Gulf bureau, and while we were in Harrison and Jackson County, we heard a lot from homeowners there.
Many say, since Katrina, believe a great deal of attention has been focused on Louisiana, but not nearly as much has -- has been on Mississippi. There's a certain degree of anger about that, but ,as the residents say, also a sad sense of resignation. They're disappointed. They say that, since the storm blew through, they didn't expect the cleanup would be overnight, but they believed picking up the debris, getting money back from insurance companies and rebuilding is certainly taking a lot longer than they were led to believe in the days and weeks right after Katrina hit -- Anderson.
COOPER: It is just another of those outrages that we continue to follow every night here on 360.
Sean, thanks very much.
A rare, but possibly fatal illness strikes not one, but two children from the same family. That story is coming up.
But, first, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with the latest headlines.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. Nice to have you back.
Today, in Iraq, the latest elections received the U.N. seal of approves. A United Nations official labeled the elections -- quote -- "transparent, credible and good." Some Iraqis, particularly Sunni Arabs, have been demanding a revote. But the official said there is no need for new balloting.
A federal judge in Cleveland, Ohio, has ruled a Nazi suspect should be deported to his native Ukraine. For almost 30 years, 85- year-old John Demjanjuk was -- has denied that he was a Nazi concentration camp guard. His U.S. citizenship was revoked three years ago. Demjanjuk can still appeal today's ruling.
In New York City, the Harlem Boys Choir will not have to find a new home. The choir, founded in 1975, has performed around the world. But it was facing eviction from its headquarters in a New York City public school for failing to address a $5 million shortfall. Now the city says, as long as the group fixes its finances, the choir can stay.
And does this sound familiar? Lose six to 20 inches in one hour. How about, Donald Trump wants you; please respond? Just two of the subject lines that made America online's top-10 spam list for 2005. Trump did grab the number-one spot. While the overall volume of spam has dropped, spammers are getting a little sneakier. The number-two subject line, "Double Standard's New Product, Penis Patch."
And, again, Anderson, welcome back. Yes.
COOPER: Why -- why do you look at me like that say when you say penis patch?
HILL: I'm not looking at you like anything. I'm looking at the camera.
Hey, you are going to join me for New Year's Eve, aren't you?
HILL: I am. I'm looking forward to it.
COOPER: It is going to be fun. It's going to be...
HILL: It is.
COOPER: We got an amazing, like, lineup of people.
HILL: It is a pretty cool lineup. I -- I don't really get to talk to most of them. You do, but I'm not jealous or anything.
COOPER: Well, they're also going to be performing.
HILL: Because I got the people in the crowd.
COOPER: John Mayer is going to be there. Who else we got?
HILL: We got John Mayer, Brooks & Dunn, I think.
COOPER: Barenaked Ladies. Yes.
HILL: The Barenaked Ladies.
COOPER: It's going to be cool. James Brown, I mean, you can't beat that -- Harry Connick Jr. as well.
HILL: Love it.
COOPER: It's going to be a great night.
HILL: Hey, you know what? Count me in.
COOPER: Well, you know, we are also live, not only at Times Square, not only around the world, showing you how people are celebrating the New Year's, but also in Chicago and in New Orleans. We're going to be live on the air when it's -- when it's midnight in Central Time Zones as well.
So, you know, we are not forgetting about New Orleans and all...
HILL: Pulling out all the stops.
COOPER: All right.
COOPER: Erica, thanks very much. See you -- see you later.
Ever wonder what it would be like to be on a plane when the oxygen masks come out? Caught on tape, what happened on board a jet that suddenly lost pressure at 26,000 feet. You will see for yourself.
Also, earlier this year, we met a dieting teen who once weighed nearly 600 pounds. He was one of the heaviest kids in America -- tonight, his remarkable transformation. He's dropped 300 pounds. We will show you how he did it and how his life has changed -- that story when 360 continues.
COOPER: Every so often, a story comes along that puts a face on a deadly health threat. Tonight, we have a sobering one about the E. coli bacteria.
Now, according to CDC, the most deadly strain of E. coli infects approximately 200 people every day. On average, there's at least one fatality every week.
CNN's Keith Oppenheim visits an Illinois family that is coping with a rare double hit.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the small city of Effingham, Illinois, it is Christmas Day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it time to go to (INAUDIBLE) house yet?
OPPENHEIM: Tina and David Lustig are playing with their two oldest kids, 10-year-old Charlie and 7-year-old Michael. On the mantle, two stockings hang for their youngest, Claire and Christopher. They're not home. They're both in a hospital, fighting for their lives.
TINA LUSTIG, MOTHER: Like the doctors said, you know, surely, you can't -- this can't happen to two children in the same family. And -- but it did.
OPPENHEIM: Two-year-old Christopher and his 4-year-old sister, Claire, got sick from a potentially deadly strain of E. coli bacteria known as O157:H7. It's a strain that can be picked up from unpasteurized milk or unpurified cider. But it's most often found in ground beef that hasn't been thoroughly cooked.
T. LUSTIG: I have made Hamburger helper, but I don't undercook anything, because I'm a bad cook, unfortunately. And...
OPPENHEIM (on camera): But you don't -- so, you don't really have an idea of...
T. LUSTIG: No.
OPPENHEIM: .. how they got it.
T. LUSTIG: No.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): On December 2, Christopher became sluggish. There was blood in his stool.
DAVID LUSTIG, FATHER: I told Tina, I said, you know, I haven't heard him talk. He hasn't talked in -- in -- all day. OPPENHEIM: Doctors diagnosed Christopher with a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, where the toxins of the E. coli strain cause red blood cells to rupture and kidneys to fail. He was taken to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in Saint Louis, where he received dialysis.
Then, 10 days after he was diagnosed, his sister, Claire, started to show the same symptoms. She, too, was diagnosed with HUS. While it's common for siblings or playmates of E. coli-infected children to get exposed, it is uncommon the infection would progress to the point that both kids would get critically ill.
DR. ROBERT LYNCH, CARDINAL GLENNON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Very unusual. It's scary enough with one. To have both kids affected in this way is a -- a catastrophe.
OPPENHEIM: Just as Claire was admitted to the same hospital, Christopher became unresponsive.
D. LUSTIG: His head was, like, locked to the right. And his eyes were locked to the right. And he wouldn't -- you would talk to him and he wouldn't look at you. His eyes wouldn't follow you.
OPPENHEIM: Christopher had a stroke, always a potential danger with HUS.
T. LUSTIG: I felt like, in that room, in intensive care, that death was in the corner and just going to come out and take over.
D. LUSTIG: yes.
T. LUSTIG: It was all I could -- I -- and people say, I don't know how you do it. I don't know how -- well, I wasn't doing it that night. I wasn't...
OPPENHEIM (on camera): You were breaking down?
T. LUSTIG: Yes. I was breaking down. I wasn't any -- any source of strength for anybody at that point.
OPPENHEIM: In the following days, Claire and Christopher's condition stabilized. At the same time, doctors and health officials still don't know the original source of the E. coli infection.
But, so far, there have been no other cases reported. Authorities believe the Lustig case is isolated. Still, for the children, there are questions about their recovery, particularly for Christopher, who may suffer permanent neurological damage.
T. LUSTIG: I'm worried that he won't walk again and that he won't...
D. LUSTIG: Won't talk.
T. LUSTIG: Won't talk.
D. LUSTIG: Won't see.
T. LUSTIG: And won't see.
OPPENHEIM: In the meantime, all David and Tina can do is go to the hospital and hope, as the new year approaches, both of their children will get a second chance.
Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Effingham, Illinois.
COOPER: It's still a mystery how these kids got the E. coli. It's not a mystery how E. coli is spread.
We wanted to bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta to separate the facts and fiction about E. coli.
Sanjay, thanks for joining us.
True or false, most people get E. coli from eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is true, Anderson.
Most people do get it that way, but there are other ways you can get it as well, including swimming or drinking sewage-contaminated water, drinking unpasteurized milk as well. Those are some of the most common ways.
COOPER: Wait. You can actually get it swimming?
GUPTA: Yes. If it's -- if the water is sewage-contaminated, you actually get some of that water, you drink it inadvertently, you can get it that way as well.
COOPER: OK, but not in a pool?
GUPTA: As long as the pool is not contaminated for some reason. Usually, it's lakes or -- or...
GUPTA: ... or places where there has actually been sewage.
COOPER: OK. True or false, you cannot get E. coli from anything that has been frozen?
GUPTA: That's actually false.
And this is a common misperception. People think, you know, yes, if it's frozen, it's going to kill all the bacteria -- not necessarily so.
Heat can often kill the bacteria, but not cold. And if you get some contamination on ice cubes, people actually putting their hands in ice, and then someone else does, and their hands were dirty, you can get it that way as well. It's pretty disgusting.
COOPER: OK. True or false, you cannot get E. coli from eating organic fruits and vegetables?
GUPTA: That is actually false, Anderson. In fact, you can get it from eating organic fruits and vegetables. Most people think of this bacteria with meat, but it actually can live in the soil as well. So, if these fruits or vegetables come out of the soil, somehow, they're contaminated with a bacteria, you can get it that way as well.
COOPER: True or false that all E. coli is bad for you?
GUPTA: That is false.
In fact, there's lots of different variants of E. coli that are, in fact, not only good for you, but they're perfectly normal. They exist in your gut every single day. But this particular strain of E. coli that we have been talking about is the bad one. That is the one that can get you quite sick.
COOPER: All right, Sanjay, thanks.
GUPTA: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up next tonight, panic at 26,000 feet. Two passengers describe what happened when a hole in the plane they were on nearly led to a disaster.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Most of us have taken memorable photos over the holidays, but nothing like this. Coming up, home video from a passenger aboard a jet that lost cabin pressure at 26,000 feet. First, here's what's happening at this moment.
In Washington, lawyers for terror suspects plan to file court motions questioning the legality of the domestic spying program approved by the Bush administration. They want to know whether the cases against the clients are based on spying that may be illegal. No comment from the White House.
In the Southwest, firefighters in Oklahoma and Texas have been battling wild fires all day. Increasing the humidity and gentler winds made it a bit easier. The fires have left at least five people dead.
A new study published in this week's "New England Journal of Medicine" could change the way U.S. hospitals treat heart attack patients. Researchers say if clot busting drugs fail to prevent a heart attack, the next best hope is surgery. The report says surgery to reopen a clogged artery cuts the risk of death in half.
And in New York City, an internal government review says small businesses near Ground Zero could not get federal assistance they needed, even if the government was supposed to be helping them. The review found that of the recipients interviewed, most weren't even victims of the terrorist attacks.
Well, imagine if you're a passenger on an airplane that suddenly lost all cabin pressure and began to plunge from 26,000 feet. That terrifying scenario came to life for 140 people aboard an Alaskan Airlines Flight 536 and it happened on Monday as the jet was en route from Seattle, Washington, to Burbank, California. In just a moment, we're going to talk to two of the passengers, but first CNN's Kimberly Osias has more on their midair emergency.
JEREMY HERMANNS, FLIGHT 536 PASSENGER: A loud bang and then a rapid decompression. It was extremely loud.
KIMBERLY OSIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the pressure inside the Alaska Airlines jet plunged, oxygen masks fell and passenger Jeremy Hermanns started to snap pictures with the camera on his cell phone. He says no one knew what was happening. And he says the scene inside was horrifying.
HERMANNS: A lot of panic. There was just fear in everybody's eyes because we didn't know what was going on.
OSIAS: Neither did the plane's crew. Who Hermanns says performed admirably nevertheless.
HERMANNS: They were walking up and down, they were trying to help people put the masks on, babies and elderly people who had twisted them.
OSIAS: The plane managed to returned safely to Seattle's SeaTac Airport where the problem was soon discovered. A 12 by six inch hole in the plane's side between the front and middle cargo holds. About four feet below the passenger windows. A ramp worker later came forward saying his vehicle had bumped the plane earlier, an incident he failed to report immediately.
Federal investigators say that bump dented the plane. In turn, that dent opened into a gash as the jet gained altitude. Both the NTSB and the FAA are investigating the incident.
OSIAS (on camera): Alaska Airlines is also investigating. It reported the incident to Seattle police as a possible hit and run. If you can believe that. The airline says it's reviewing safety procedure and protocol with ground crew, emphasizing the importance of immediately reporting any incident with the planes.
Kimberly Osias, CNN, Washington.
Well, Damon Zwicker and Leslie Comstock were passengers onboard Flight 546. When the oxygen masks came down they grabbed their camera. I spoke to them earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Leslie, when you look at the video of yourself, I mean, you are incredibly scared. What was it like?
LESLIE COMSTOCK, ALASKA AIRLINES 536 PASSENGER: It was breathtaking. You know? Never in my life have I experienced something so scary. To know that your life is in the hands of somebody who's not talking to you. You just don't -- you just don't know. I mean, it was -- it was the scariest thing we have been through.
COOPER: And I guess -- We always imagine what we're going to feel like if those breathing devices pop down from the ceiling. Those are the kind of things I think, Damon, in the video, you say you never want to see that. When you actually saw the oxygen come down, what did you think?
COMSTOCK: Well, you know, it is funny. It just a little flap that comes down and then you actually have to reach up and grab it. They don't tell you that. So, it flaps down. We're like, whoa. You grab it. At that point, it was very scary. You know? We obviously knew that things were really bad if the oxygen was going to drop.
COOPER: Damon, you heard a popping sound. What happened after that?
DAMON ZWICKER, ALASKA AIRLINES 536 PASSENGER: There was a pop and then cold air starting to rush through the vents and people shutting the vents off quickly. I turned to Leslie and we knew something was wrong at that point. And we both just kind of shook our heads like, oh no. Something's definitely wrong.
COOPER: Leslie, I understand also you are a big fan of those like shows of second from disaster and in particular, flight accidents. Does it help having watched all those things to actually go through? I mean, when you're going through it, does it help to see the shows?
COMSTOCK: I think a little bit. You know? It was one of those situations where I was starting to kind of mentally go through all these different things that would happen. I really was waiting for the next bang, the next shudder. And luckily, nothing happened and it really calmed my nerves. I think that's ...
COOPER: So when you didn't hear the stuff you had seen on those programs, that actually helped you?
COMSTOCK: I think so it did, yeah, yeah. I just didn't feel like we were at the critical point that I had seen on those shows.
COOPER: And was there a moment, Leslie, when you suddenly decided everything is fine or was that not until you were on the ground and off the plane?
COMSTOCK: Pretty much when we were on the ground. You know, at that point, I mean even some of the footage where I'm just, you know, not clapping when we got on the ground. Because it was just too overwhelming, too amazing.
COOPER: I guess there's a certain level of anger at -- I mean, apparently a ramp worker dented the plane, didn't report it until after all of this had happened. Are you angry?
ZWICKER: I'm disappointed. I think Leslie was a - she used to work on the ramps so she is more familiar with what goes on down there. And I think she is a little bit more angry than I am.
COOPER: Why is that, Leslie?
COMSTOCK: Well, you know, it is just inexcusable. When you, you know, push something up against the airplane, you should say something to somebody right away. You don't know severity of the situation and even though -- I mean, I don't know. If he knew what he had done -- but it just seemed like any time you hit an aircraft, you need to tell your supervisor. That's just what needs to be done.
COOPER: Well, are you still watching the shows, by the way?
COMSTOCK: Yeah. I think I will.
COOPER: All right. And you're not going to believe this. Just this afternoon, another Alaskan Airliner with the exact same flight number as the one in Monday's emergency reported pressure problems. Flight 536 was still on the ground this time in Seattle. All the passengers were removed after no problems were found, they were able to board again.
Well, it is tough enough for anyone to handle obesity. But when you are morbidly obese and you're still just a teenager, takes something special to get you moving in the right direction. A remarkable story about a young man and his determination. He has shed 300 pounds. We'll tell you how he did it and how his life changed.
And a camp filled with refugees from Pakistan. The earthquake there. An overwhelming need for food, shelter and above all, leadership. The winter is coming. Will leadership and aid come in time? Sanjay Gupta will take you there ahead on 360.
COOPER: It is more than 11 weeks since an earthquake rocked Pakistan. Winter is now moving in, thousands there are still without homes and proper medical care. CNN's medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta visited a refugee camp in one of the hardest hit regions and met a man who is using all his skill and all his training to try and make a difference.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On October 9th, just one day after the earthquake, Colonel Ahmad Faraz straight to the epicenter. When he arrived, the Allai Valley was a bloody, muddy, broken mess. Amid criticism that the Pakistani army was too slow to act, Faraz and a small group of troops are assigned to turn Allai Valley into a safe refuge for tens of thousands of people.
The valley is in northwest Pakistan. It is among the most remote and difficult to reach places in all of Asia. To understand what was happening to the people here meant paying the colonel a visit. We started by car. Bone crushing hours in a small van.
(on camera): So we are traveling through the mountains here near a place called Bahd (ph), one of the worst hit areas by the earthquake and you can't escape it. It's inescapable all around us that the devastation by the earthquake. All these buildings.
(voice-over): And impossible to travel by car to areas higher up in the mountains. Landslides have destroyed many of these ancient roads beyond repair.
A helicopter was the only way to get to the colonel. Though these mountains look desolate, hundreds of thousands of people live here. Tens of thousands have already died. Many of them children.
Many more are still alive, but profoundly vulnerable. After surviving untreated injuries, dehydration, starvation and outbreaks of disease, there is now a good chance untold numbers could freeze to death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, you know, first they are saved (ph) and then families and then again and again. I think in the fifth week, fifth week of this camp, I have 16,000 people. And still people are coming.
GUPTA: Many of the people have never left their small plots of land. Getting them to come to the safety of this camp meant thinking like they do. That means Colonel Faraz and the private aid agencies working here are caring for not only for these people but also for their livelihood.
(on camera): A lot of these people would not come out of the mountains to camps like this unless they bring the animals with them. Their livestock. That is the livelihood. And so many places -- we heard this over and over again, they treat the livestock better than their own children in some ways. They're not only members of their family but they are also a significant source of income and what this organization has done save the children, USAID actually create a place not only to keep the animals warm and safe from the element but also to provide them food.
And that was a big incentive to actually allow those families come down here. They continue to come. Make no mistake. There has been a long deep distrust of the military by the mountaineers. Yet they still line up because they believe in Faraz.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look how organized they are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can talk with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, sir. Thank you.
GUPTA: He says thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. He is helping this tent village. Thank you very much.
GUPTA: They're learning Urdu, the official Pakistani language. And the camp is working. This is the largest refugee camp in Pakistan. We saw absolutely no violence or looting. In fact, as soon as I met the colonel, I was reminded of another military leader who changed the tenor of the relief effort in New Orleans. General Russell Honore.
GENERAL RUSSELL HONORE, U.S. NATIONAL GUARD: Put those weapons down. You're delivering food.
GUPTA: Both men have proved a critically important point about relief. Money and resources alone won't promise success. Effective relief depends on strong leadership.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is this? What is this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is this?
GUPTA: Turns out, saving lives wasn't Faraz's only agenda. He wanted to tackle something much more profound. He hopes this tragedy can help bring Pakistan into the 21st century, learning new languages and changing the culture.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Sanjay. OK. She will tell you the national anthem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Urdu)
So this is -- this is the children. This is what I want to show you. The people. Look at their faces. Everybody is happy.
GUPTA: Of course, you are just seeing a small slice of the relief in Pakistan. And surely, not everyone is happy. Forty-five- year-old Reyaz Mohammed (ph) was injured in the earthquake. He began having fits or seizures. The volunteer nurses who will alone see more than 200 patients today are at a loss.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen minutes ago, and I see one just now like this. GUPTA: Everyone is recruited to help.
(on camera): This is a big problem around here. You are seeing patients that have no history. Their CAT scans, all their records were actually destroyed by the earthquake. They show up here, as this gentlemen did, with a seizure and nobody knows what to do in this case.
You can just drink this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. That's good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK?
GUPTA: Tastes pretty good.
(voice-over): Colonel Faraz knows he can't take care of Mohammed and many of the sick and needy in Pakistan. But he will do what he can to provide clean water, warm tents and basic hygiene. Most of the people here use toilets before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never seen any -- I mean, surely, it's a clean area. No smell.
GUPTA: Right. There is no smell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixteen thousand people. It's a very big community.
GUPTA: He dreams of much more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we are going to have a toilets and bathrooms in the tents. This is going to be the metropolitan city, not Islamabad.
GUPTA: This is going to be a metropolitan city?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
GUPTA (voice-over): Given the need and suffering here, Colonel Faraz is determined to make it possible. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Allai Valley, Pakistan.
COOPER: Well, still ahead, the story of a young man who has more to lose or who had more to lose than you can imagine and who actually lost it, thanks to the life saving school for the obese.
And a devastating look inside a country its ruler would rather you couldn't see clearly at all. Video smuggled out of North Korea making it frighteningly plain why Kim Jong-Il is so intent on keeping prying eyes out.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, it is a safe bet one of your New Year's resolutions is to lose a few pounds. Who in America doesn't want to do that? But we met someone a while back that need, really needed, desperately need to do a lot more than that. More than just a few pounds to lose. Gary Tuchman went back to visit a teen that's now literally half the man he used to be and the school that helped him lose more than most of us weigh in the first place.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terry Henry weighed almost 11 pounds when she was born. Fifteen years later, he was one of the heaviest teenagers in the world, just shy of 600 pounds. Hard to believe this is the same guy.
(on camera): How much do you weigh now?
TERRY HENRY, TEENAGER WHO LOST A LOT OF WEIGHT: I weigh 252 pounds now.
TUCHMAN: I mean, two thirds of you is gone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has to make it look like a complete book.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Terry, who is from Texas, goes to the world's only boarding school for obese and overweight teenagers.
HENRY: Make it like King Kong.
TUCHMAN: We met him a half year ago when we visited the Academy of the Sierras in in Reedley, California for the first time. At that point, he was 85 pounds heavier than now.
(on camera): How are you able to even know how much you weighed? The scales don't go that high.
HENRY: I go on a cattle scale.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): His life had been debilitating. But his 18 months at the school have not. He learned to enjoy academics. He's been taught to exercise properly.
HENRY: Give me some onions and some sauce on it.
TUCHMAN: And he's now dedicated to healthy foods. Most importantly, how the change his life style and mental outlook and it's all led to a total loss of 339 pounds. Much to the delight of the school's clinical director.
MOLLY CARMEL, CLINICAL DIRECTOR, ACADEMY OF THE SIERRAS: I think it's probably in my career, most of the most amazing things that I'll ever see happen.
TUCHMAN: Terry hopes to lose another 50 pounds, a good part of which will come from necessary body tuck surgery for his loose skin.
HENRY: The other day I woke up, I'm like feeling around and I'm like I feel a hipbone. I'm like, whose hipbone is that?
TUCHMAN (on camera): Terry's weight loss coincides with gains, a gain of confidence and self esteem, a gain of knowledge on how to stay healthy and a gain of a girlfriend. Liz Steven, academy student who has lost 80 pounds is the first serious girlfriend Terry's ever had.
How does that make you feel, going through this, losing the weight, changing your appearance the type of person you are, and now having a serious girlfriend?
HENRY: Makes me feel like I'm living a lie.
TUCHMAN: But a good lie?
HENRY: Yeah. It is a real good lie.
TUCHMAN: And this is an especially good day. Because while his classmates jog along the grape fields in the San Joaquin Valley, Terry's mother has arrived for a visit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Didn't I tell you that there was always a really awesome person living inside there?
TUCHMAN: She can be there for his graduation.
CARMEL: We are all really proud of you. I think I speak for everybody when we're glad you're going but you are going to be genuinely missed and we love you very much.
TUCHMAN: Terry is given the opportunity to say some final words to the other 70 students. Who look at him with a little envy and a lot of hopefulness.
HENRY: I came here a low self esteem, superly (ph) morbidly obese, angry morbid teenager barely making it through life. Being here is one of the hardest things I have ever done and my success is one of my greatest accomplishments. I was one of the biggest people in the world. Not many people live older than their 20s who are as big as I was. People thought that even the idea of me losing this much weight was so absurd, it was fallacy. I proved them wrong, though.
TUCHMAN: He paid tribute to his new girlfriend.
HENRY: You have let me over come my fears about relationships and taught me to love again.
TUCHMAN: And then, gave his final words as an Academy of the Sierras student.
HENRY: The secret to success is never give up. Believe in yourself. And you will move mountains. TUCHMAN: Terry Henry will resume his education at a regular boarding school in New Hampshire. His new life is now underway. Hundreds of pounds lighter, infinitely happier. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Reedley, California.
COOPER: And we wish him the best. We want to thank our international viewers for watching. Coming up next, we take you "Inside the Secret State," North Korea, a 360 special. Stay tuned.
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