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Will Hurricane Dean Strike Again?; Survivor of Airliner Turned Inferno Speaks Out

Aired August 21, 2007 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lisa.
Happening now, Hurricane Dean wrapping up for a second pass over Mexico after hitting land with maximum force. We're live in the path of destruction waiting for Dean to strike again.

Plus, the panic, the terror, the amazing escape, a survivor of an airliner turned inferno tells his story.

And mourning in the Utah mining community, for those who died and the trapped miners who may never be found. Tonight a spokesman for the angry families is speaking up.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Hurricane Dean is on the move right now, a massive storm about the size of Texas, it is plowing towards central Mexico and it could unleash major flooding and mudslides. The threat from the storm that's killed at least nine people is not over yet by any means. In fact, the next landfall -- get this -- could actually be worse.

CNN's Chris Lawrence and Karl Penhaul are standing by in the Storm Zone, but let's go our severe weather expert Chad Myers. He is standing by at the CNN Hurricane Headquarters. Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: Wolf, It could be worse because of the population density of where it's going now. As it moves through Chetumal and just to the north, this was a biosphere, a national wildlife preserve, very few people living there. In fact, the people that were living there, they were all evacuated.

Then it went over to Campeche and that's where our Chris Lawrence is. Now it's right over the oil field, the main oil field for the Mexican government right here with winds of about 85 to 90 miles per hour. And where is it going now? North of Veracruz, and into the Sierra Madre. And this is the Oriental occidental on the West side, the Oriental Mountains on the East side, 7,000 feet, 8,000 feet it's going to rain and that mud is going to slide down to the coast.

As it makes landfall for tomorrow, about 2:00, 110 miles per hour and it may be even stronger than that. Dean's first landfall was here on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is now on the other side back in the water. It is gaining strength. This is very warm water. And the second landfall is exactly where our Karl Penhaul is right now. Notice the mountains behind it. The water is going to go up, the rain is going to happen and the mud is going to go downhill -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So I just want to be precise, Chad. When it made landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula, it was a hurricane Category 5, which is the most severe category. The next time it might be a two, maybe a three. But what you're saying that it could be a lot worse going into central Mexico than it was going over the Yucatan Peninsula.

MYERS: Yes. There are very few rivers, Wolf, in the Yucatan Peninsula. There are senotes (ph). The rivers are actually underground in that peninsula. A lot of limestone, the water goes straight down, it doesn't flood. Well here in the Orientals, this is all going to be a flooded mess and a mud-sliding mess as the water and the rain comes downhill into these very large towns that are on the basin. We'll just consider this the front range. This is like Denver. This is the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Mexico.

BLITZER: We'll stand by and watch it. You're saying it's going to make landfall tomorrow after about 2:00 p.m. Eastern, is that right?

MYERS: That's right.

BLITZER: All right...

MYERS: Where our Karl Penhaul is right now.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. We're going to go to Karl in a moment. One official describes Hurricane Dean as a creature that is simply tormenting Mexico. It's bearing down on the Bay of Campeche where most of Mexico's oil is produced. You just heard Chad report that.

Let's go to CNN's Chris Lawrence. He is out there on the coast, the western part of the Yucatan Peninsula. What's it like now?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're standing, literally maybe about 20 feet from the Gulf of Mexico. And although the winds are whipping up, we are not seeing a whole lot of rain at this point. It's pretty much just a drizzle. We're getting a wind, but nothing like we had down in Champoton just you know an hour ago down there, about 40 miles to the south where that wind was whipping up so hard.

It was starting to peel away the aluminum roof that we were standing under. And we had to kind of get out of that area. So this wind it is whipping up but nothing to the extent that we experienced about 40 miles south about an hour to two hours ago -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And what do they expect? Do they expect -- is it the worst where you are now, is the worst over with?

LAWRENCE: That's what we expect. You know, we thought that a few hours ago when everything died down to almost nothing. You know no breeze, hardly any rain at all. And then come to find out we were pretty much kind of caught in the eye there. And then the big wind came in behind it. But I think at this point, the folks here who have kind of seen the worst, feel like, at least they dodged a bullet here on this side of the Yucatan Peninsula.

BLITZER: All right. Let's go to the other side of the Yucatan across the Bay of Campeche. Chris, stand by. We're going to get back to you. Karl Penhaul is over there in central Mexico along the coast. What's it like there? Because we heard Chad Myers say, Karl, by 2:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow afternoon, this is the area that could get the bullseye of this hurricane as it gathers power going across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico there.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Wolf. We've actually been traveling up and down the coast as those forecasts have shifted and become more precise to try and find the area where the eye in fact will come across. And the area where we are now is a sparsely populated area. Over the last two hours, we've seen winds pick up significantly. We've also seen waves pick up significantly out there in the ocean, but still 12 to 18 hours out.

Now, what civil protection officers are doing is going from beach to beach and bay to bay telling people to go home and to make preparations. They say that this part of the coastline is particularly prone to flooding. There are a number of rivers that flow down from the Sierra (inaudible) Mountains and they say that if the waves are in the right position the water won't flow down from those rivers and could cause even more wide-spread flooding.

And there's another danger, Wolf. About a mile from here just down in this direction, there's a nuclear power plant that supplies a lot of northern Mexico with its power. I've been talking with the civil protection authorities. They say that it is a very safe facility, but nevertheless, it could affect -- the winds could affect some of the power pylons that carry the electricity away from that, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by. We're going to be watching this very closely. Be careful over there, Karl even though it's coming in a Category maybe 2 or a low 3, as we've been reporting, it could actually be worse than it was when it was Category 5 given the topography of where it is heading in central Mexico. Karl Penhaul is on the scene for us there.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He is in New York with "The Cafferty File". You know whenever we see these hurricanes, there's a tendency for people to say you know what, it wasn't so bad over there in the Yucatan. And that was a Category 5. We'll take it easy now because it's a Category 1 or 2 or 3, but you know what, it could be a whole lot worse.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. And you don't want to get complacent certainly when one of these things is churning around anywhere regardless what number they assign to it.

Here's an interesting statement, Wolf. Impeachment proceedings suck all the oxygen out of the room, so says Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd. "The Des Moines Register" reports the Connecticut senator told a political group in Iowa yesterday that it would be a mistake for Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush and could jeopardize their control of Congress.

He thinks Americans would object to Congress focusing on impeachment for 14 months instead of other problems facing the country. I wonder if he's right about that. Dodd also said this.

"If we become preoccupied with an impeachment process, I think we could turn off an awful lot of people who might otherwise be willing to support Democrats and be willing to change the direction of the country in the fall of 2008", unquote.

So, Senator Dodd is putting the election prospects of the Democratic Party next year ahead of whether or not President Bush might be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors of the kind which might mandate his removal from office. Congress' job is oversight of the executive branch, unless of course that oversight interferes with getting elected.

Here's the question, then. Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd says it would be a mistake for Democrats to impeach President Bush. Is he right? E-mail CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. It's a pretty amazing statement to come out of Senator Dodd's mouth, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see what our viewers think about that. Thanks, Jack, very much.

Plane explodes on the runway. We showed you the dramatic pictures yesterday. Today we're going to hear from an American Marine who was onboard when the jet caught fire and he made it out alive. A dramatic story coming up.

Also, dog treats made in China, Wal-Mart quietly pulling two brands after customers complained. Find out why the company has decided to do their own testing.

And opening up to Cuba. Senator Barack Obama explains why he thinks it may be time to ease restrictions.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's some of the most dramatic video of the year. We showed it to you yesterday. A huge fireball erupting from a plane at an airport in Okinawa. The plane had just landed. All 165 people aboard got off safely only seconds before the explosion. Now we're getting first-hand accounts of those terrifying moments.

Let's go right to our Carol Costello. She's got the story for us. And it is a pretty terrifying story.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Really terrifying story. You know there were Americans aboard that plane. It took just three minutes to evacuate the plane. The pilots jumping out of the windows only when the last passenger was safe, but according to U.S. Marine Sergeant Bertrand, who was on the plane, the evacuation was anything but calm.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): It was downright amazing no one died aboard this plane.

(SCREAMS)

COSTELLO: Minutes before the plane exploded, passengers were pushing and shoving to get out. Sergeant Shane Bertrand was sitting near the wing when a fellow Marine noticed the flames.

VOICE OF SGT. SHANE BERTRAND, PASSENGER ON JET THAT EXPLODED: We were already getting our carry-on baggage out. And one of my fellow Marines that was traveling with me actually pointed out that there was fire on the wing because we were on the wing seats.

COSTELLO: Sergeant Bertrand figured emergency crews on the ground were standing by to take care of it. Then passengers noticed the fire spreading and they did not hear any sirens approaching.

BERTRAND: As the flames got closer to the cabin and the windows started to melt and people could smell it inside the plane. Obviously panic spread extremely all throughout the plane. They were screaming, yelling, obviously some in Chinese, some in Japanese and a couple actually in English. But for the most part, none of the Americans were yelling that I noticed of the 13 Americans that were there. And finally when we actually got the opportunity to start stepping forward, that's when you could see the smoke coming in.

COSTELLO: The Marine sergeant says there was a passenger ahead of them who sprained his ankle and was having trouble getting out. People were jumping over the seats to get around him. Finally Sergeant Bertrand got to the exit, jumped on the chute, and he says...

BERTRAND: I was off the plane less than 25 seconds when the first explosion went.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: That's how close it was. That's how scary it was. Japan's transport ministry says a fuel pipe was damaged on the landing, causing a massive fuel leak and then of course the explosion. Other reports say Taiwan who owns the plane, offered passengers 100 bucks to replace their luggage which of course burned up with the plane, Wolf.

BLITZER: And what is really amazing, this Marine, he actually served in Iraq.

COSTELLO: He did, three tours. He thought to himself, wow I'm going to die going back to base in Okinawa. He has quite an effective guardian angel on his shoulder, Wolf.

BLITZER: He certainly does. In fact, all 165 people got off that plane alive. What an amazing story. Thanks very much. Still no cause, no reason given why that plane simply exploded. But we're watching that part of the story as well.

There's a new scare for pet owners involving pet food imported from China. The world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart is yanking two products from store shelves.

Let's go straight to CNN's Deborah Feyerick. She's in New York. Why has Wal-Mart, Deb, decided to stop the sale of these products?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wal-Mart has not given a specific reason as to why they're pulling the treats. But with consumer jitters over all things made in China, the mega store today voluntarily stopped selling the dog treats -- two kinds -- Chicken Jerky Strips from Import-Pingyang Pet Product Company and Chicken Jerky from Shanghai Bestro Trading. Wal-Mart released a statement today saying, we will continue to work with the supplier to assure that the highest safety standards are met. More importantly, Wal-Mart says our thoughts are with anyone whose pet may have become ill after consuming this product.

Now, the list of potentially dangerous products includes toys, toothpaste, tires, fish, pet food and now the dog treats. And the move comes just as toymaker Mattel faces a lawsuit stemming from its huge recall of Chinese made toys including Dora the Explorer play sets and Barbie dolls because their paint contained excessive levels of lead. And more and more U.S. companies have been outsourcing productions in China and industry analysts say poor oversight there is exposing American consumers to greater safety risks. So again nobody taking any chances as to what they're leaving on their shelves and what they're taking off -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This list growing and growing and growing. I suspect more products probably are going to be emerging soon. Deb, thanks very much for watching this story for us.

Meanwhile in Utah tonight, frustrations of mining families run deep. Their spokesman shares their anger about trapped loved ones who may never, never be found. They could be lost forever. We'll tell you what is going on today.

And Democrat Barack Obama blasting the Bush administration's restrictions on Fidel Castro's Cuba. Is he going out on another limb over foreign policy?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Presidential candidate Barack Obama is plunging back into some very sensitive issues involving foreign policy. The Democrat is blasting the Bush administration's decision to tighten restrictions on relatives of Cubans who want to visit the island or send money back home. In an opinion piece in "The Miami Herald" Senator Obama calls that policy a strategic blunder and says he would reverse it if he's elected president.

Here is our chief national correspondent John King. John. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that Obama essay has stirred up a debate faced by every president and every presidential candidate dating back to Dwight Eisenhower.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

KING (voice-over): Fidel Castro's failing health adds emphasis to a debate that stretches back to five decades and 10 U.S. presidencies, gaining steam as a campaign issue when Ronald Reagan made Florida's Cuban American vote a key target in the 1980s. As he might put it, here we go again. Whether and how to isolate the Cuban regime is again a debating point in the 2008 campaign.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Even though it is not the number one issue in the majority of voters in Florida, for a very vocal minority, it IS an incredibly passionate issue that has a lot of history.

KING: Stirring the issue now is Senator Barack Obama. In advance of a weekend fundraiser in Miami he wrote this op-ed saying he favors reversing Bush administration policy and granting Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island. Republican candidate Mitt Romney was quick to pounce, saying unilateral concession to a dictatorial regime are counterproductive and that Obama's position proves the senator does not have the strength to confront America's enemies or defend our values.

Current restrictions allow Cuban Americans to send family members no more than $1,200 a year and limit visits to up to 14 days once every three years. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was already on record favoring unrestricted family visits and remittances. Going beyond that, Democrat hopeful Senator Chris Dodd favors allowing all Americans to travel freely to Cuba.

Dennis Kucinich would lift the Cuba Embargo outright. Most interested in this debate is a tiny slice of the electorate. Cuban Americans amount to less than one percent of the U.S. population. But they are heavily concentrated in a critical presidential battleground, Florida, adding up to about eight percent of the electorate in a state decided by just 537 votes in campaign 2000. Cuban Americans are the most reliably Republican of the nation's Latino voters leading many to wonder why Obama would want to stir up such an emotional debate.

CARDONA: Non Cuban Hispanic voters don't appreciate a presidential candidate coming down and making -- once again making Cuba the issue. They want to hear about other things.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Some of his rivals though suggest Obama might be trying to steer attention away from that controversial debate promise he made to meet with Fidel Castro and leaders of other so-called rogue nations in his first year in office. In the op-ed Obama says he would very much like bilateral relations but with a post Fidel Cuba -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, John. Thanks very much. John King reporting.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 1.6 million Cuban Americans. Only slightly more than a third of them were born in this country. And more than half of all Cuban Americans, 833,000 live in Florida.

President Bush is tending to relations with Canada and Mexico today. As is often the case, the subject turned to Iraq and the embattled government of the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But this time Mr. Bush was unusually open about the level of frustration.

Here's our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a rare moment of candor. President Bush publicly criticized the Iraqi government for not making the political progress he hoped as more U.S. troops work to secure the country.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there's a certain level of frustration with the leadership in general, and ability to work -- come together to get, for example, an oil revenue law passed or provincial elections.

MALVEAUX: The president was asked about the state of Iraq at a North American summit with the leaders neighboring Canada and Mexico. On a conference call with reporters the day before, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, who just returned from Iraq called for its Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to be replaced saying he is incapable of unifying his country.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHMN.: I hope that the Iraqi Assembly when it reconvenes in a few weeks will vote the Maliki government out of office.

MALVEAUX: When asked if he agreed, far from giving his familiar vote of confidence, President Bush suggested regime change would have to come from the Iraqi people.

BUSH: A fundamental question is, will the government respond to the demands of the people. and if the government doesn't demand -- respond to the demands of the people they will replace the government.

MALVEAUX: Striking here, this is a familiar message the president often delivers, but to Iraq's neighbor, Iran.

BUSH: My message to the Iranian people is you can do better than this current government.

MALVEAUX (on camera): President Bush is facing increase in pressure to show progress in Iraq. His administration's assessment due to Congress in just a couple of weeks. Susanne Malveaux, CNN, Gitano (ph), Canada.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Caught in the floodwaters, a first-hand account of what it's like to be swept up by the water and the danger in the Midwest right now and get out alive.

Plus Hurricane Dean's path of destruction. We're going to show you the damage done so far, and as we track this storm's next move. It could be a wallop -- get this -- that could even be worse.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg trying to quash speculation he's eying the White House. The Republican turned Independent says he's not running nor does he plan to run for president. And he adds, quote, "nobody would elect him".

Space shuttle Endeavour is back home. It touched down at Kennedy Space Center a day early because of Hurricane Dean. The landing was smooth despite a gash on Endeavor's belly.

And the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has scored a key political victory, one that potentially could keep him in power for decades. Venezuela's National Assembly has preliminarily approved Chavez backed reforms to the country's constitution including lifting presidential term limits. The final say would be up to the voters in a referendum.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, Hurricane Dean is moving west, headed for central Mexico. Forecasters warn it's likely to regain its strength and cause even more damage -- yes even more damage the second time it strikes land in Mexico.

Our meteorologist and severe weather expert Chad Myers is back with us once again. Chad, first of all, update our viewers on the latest and explain why the second hit against Mexico could even be worse than the first one even though it's going to be a smaller category.

MYERS: It will affect more people, Wolf. That's the major thing right there. Not so many people on the coast but it is going to affect more people because of the rivers and because of the mudslides. Where it came on chore north of Chetumal. This is wildlife refuge. This is a biosphere. Nobody lives there. Now the animals, I'm sure, were in grave danger and I suppose they still are. When we try to get aerials, every tree is going to be flattened for miles and miles. But then it moves over Campeche. Now it's in the Bay of Campeche and this is a very warm water area. This storm will regenerate into a category two, possible a category three storm. Right now it's still interacting with the land. That's stopping a little bit of the regeneration. But you can see the eye, there it is right now. It's moving off to the west. It is going to be south of Tampico and north of Veracruz. Probably somewhere very close to Puerto Rico. And this, as it moves on shore at 110 miles per hour, will have enough moisture with it when it gets in the mountains, Wolf, it's going to cause mudslides. It's going to cause flooding and people are going to get in the way of this water, fresh water flooding. Not a storm surge, fresh water flooding because of all the rain this storm will bring to mountains.

BLITZER: As bad as it's been, the worst will be yet to come.

MYERS: It will affect more people, Wolf, in the days to come, absolutely. Because of the densely populated people in the Oriento mountains compared to the sparsely populated Yucatan peninsula.

BLITZER: Thanks, Chad, very much. And Chad will be watching this from the CNN hurricane headquarters.

CNN's Chris Lawrence is in Campeche. Chris, where you are right now, what are you seeing, what are you hearing?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing a lot of activity. We're seeing cars starting to come up and down the main boulevard. A very light breeze blowing very little rain. It's interesting to hear what Chad had to stay. Because we actually started our trip way back in Mexico City about 700 miles away. We drove from there to here. It was interesting, as we drove for hundreds and hundreds of miles, people acted like the hurricane was never -- had no bearing on them whatsoever. Even a few hours from here, we saw little kids standing on the side of the road waiting for the school bus to pick them up, a few hours before the hurricane was due to hit. As you got closer, you started seeing boarded up windows, the boarded up doors. People really hunkering down for what they thought was a major hurricane. So now it's interesting to see, that now as you go back west again, some of the areas that may have thought were in the clear, they may be in danger as this moves on into tomorrow.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to watch this storm continue to stay on top of it. Chris Lawrence is watching it for us as well.

We want to show you how experts figure out just how bad a storm is. Imagine being in a plane with howling winds, blinding rain and weather so powerful it violently shakes you up and down. That's what hurricane hunters are doing. They do that for a living. While many people escape a storm, hunters fly right into it. They're one of a kind air force squadron that's based in Mississippi. They sliced through the hurricane's violent eye wall before felling relative calm in the eye of the storm. The hunters affect storm data by dropping canisters tied to small parachutes. And that information is sent to the National Hurricane Center and directly used in forecasts and warnings that could keep you safe. Very important work that's being done. We're also getting some remarkable pictures right now, the flooding that swamped parts of northern Ohio. Our I-reporter, Vicki Smith, is telling us she had to wade through chest-deep water just to get across the street. The water was rising that fast. She's joining us on the phone now in Mansfield, Ohio. Tell us it was like.

VICKI SMITH, CNN I-REPORTER: The water came up so fast, it was really unexpected. We had looked out the door at about 4:30 and it was raining, obviously, we could see it was raining. But there wasn't any noticeable flooding. At 5:00, when I opened the door actually to walk the dog, the street was -- you know, there was really fast rushing water. And it was rising so quickly, that we decided -- we were trying to make a flight, so we decided to do it as quickly as possible. And unfortunately, we only got about a block away. The water had risen so much faster than we thought, the van that we were driving got stuck in the water.

BLITZER: Vicki tell us about these pictures that you sent to us, courtesy of the CNN I-report. You can see them on your TV screen but tell us what we're seeing.

SMITH: Actually, surprisingly, I thought that was a van that was floating in the water. But it actually was a van that apparently had some kind of accident and had gone over the curb. So the back of the van was raised up higher than the front of the van. It is actually sitting on the ground, but the water is so high that you can barely see just the roof. That's the post office from across the street from the shop that we own.

BLITZER: And this area, in Mansfield, are these blocks of blocks? How wide spread is the flooding?

SMITH: Pretty wide spread. The area that the shop is in is just outside of downtown. Downtown is kind of on a hill. The streets all run downhill to the area that we're in. We've never had a problem with flooding before. But fortunately the building that we have has about a ten foot rise. It's on a large, like mound of dirt. And a concrete slap. So we didn't actually have a problem. But a lot of people across the street, they had 36 inches of water in the machine shop across the street.

BLITZER: Vicki, is this area prone to this kind of flooding? How unusual is it?

SMITH: Very unusual, we're not prone to this kind of flooding at all.

BLITZER: You've never seen anything like this before. I assume your friends and neighbors haven't either.

SMITH: No, puddles in the streets but nothing like this. I mean this was rushing water that was so strong that we actually got out of the van. I had my dog with me. We were trying to walk across the road, which a lot of the water was coming down so it was moving very quickly. If you raised your foot up instead of sliding across the pavement, it would knock your foot out and you would be in danger of falling.

BLITZER: The water - Vicki, let me interrupt for a second. The water was almost up to your neck at any point. Did you think, you know what, you're in real danger?

SMITH: Yes, absolutely. Especially, because once we went across the street, we were in what is actually just a parking lot. The water was rising so fast that we couldn't go back, and to proceed forward it was even deeper. We really felt like we were stuck in this parking lot. As it turned out, for I don't know why, because we were lucky, the building next to our property, which normally has gates locked on both sides, had left the gates open that night. We could walk through there and get around and get to dry land.

BLITZER: How's your dog?

SMITH: We thought we were going to be stuck with rising water just standing in the middle of the parking lot in the rain with lightning and thunder.

BLITZER: How's your dog?

SMITH: He's fine but he didn't like it much.

BLITZER: I don't blame him. Thank God everything turned out OK. Vicki, thanks very much. Vicki Smith sent us in a good report courtesy CNN I-report. You can always do that. Go to CNN.com. But don't do anything dangerous.

The families of trapped miners in Utah fear their loved ones are being left for dead. Tonight their spokesman speaking out and he'll tell us about the rescue operations that went horribly wrong.

And growing up Diana. Before her fame and her tragic death, the future princess was already in pain. We'll preview a new special investigations unit report. Soledad O'Brien standing by for that.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's been two weeks and a day since six coal miners were trapped inside a Utah mountain. Today about 1,000 people attended the funeral for one of the three rescue workers, a hero, killed in the mine last Thursday. The mine's boss is now saying the trapped men may not ever be found. That's simply not acceptable to the families. Attorney Sonny Olsen is their spokesman.

Give us a sense of their despair, their anger right now.

SONNY OLSEN, SPOKESMAN FOR THE UTAH MINERS FAMILIES: Thank you for having me on. It's difficult for the families right now. They had strong language delivered to them yesterday. However, it's not my sense that the families have not given up hope at this point. This is a very strong community. We're used to disasters here. If you recall the Wilberg incident, I believe it was '84. To say it's despair, I wouldn't characterize it that way.

BLITZER: Listen to what the owner of the mine said. Because I want you to respond on behalf of the families.

BOB MURRAY, PRES. & CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: I don't believe I took away their hope. I believe that whatever happens, the lord already dictated. What's ever happened will be. There's no sense of beating around the bush. You want to be honest with him, you want to be as compassionate as I can be. Sometimes the messenger doesn't get it quite right. But we've done everything to administer to them, and so has the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration for the last two weeks.

BLITZER: All right, Sonny. What do the family members want to say to Bob Murray?

OLSEN: Bob Murray had a difficult job yesterday. He had a difficult message to deliver. The families acknowledge that. They don't dispute that. The families are concerned at this point, they are displeased with Mr. Murray, in that the families do not feel that Mr. Murray or Murray Energy or MSHA for that matter has done everything they can, used every asset or means at their disposal to find the family's loved ones.

BLITZER: What else do you want them to do? Three rescue workers, as you know, were killed. They were buried today. It was a memorial service. Going in it is obviously a very dangerous rescue information.

OLSEN: Well, the families' hearts go out to Dale Black and all of the rescuers. They are heroes. I attended Dale's funeral today. It was a very emotional time. I know some other family members did. You ask what do the families want Mr. Murray to do. They want Mr. Murray to use every asset at his disposal to help find their loved ones.

BLITZER: Give us some examples what else he should be doing that he's not doing?

OLSEN: Well, first, I'll acknowledge, I'm not an expert in mine rescue. On behalf of the families, the families have expressed concerns to Mr. Murray and to myself. They wanted and have wanted for some time simultaneous bore hole drilling. In other words, these eight-inch holes that they've been drilling, if it really is a hit or miss approach. The families want to know, why have there not been simultaneous efforts.

Additionally, the families have requested that the larger 36-inch drill be on site so that in the event that life is found that their family members will be retrieved as quickly as possible. The families do not know if that drill is here. They've been told it's on its way. But here we are on week two.

BLITZER: Do they believe that it's possible these six miners are still alive? OLSEN: The family has indicated to me, unequivocally, they feel these miners are alive. And I think that it would be unwise, given that we haven't seen anything to indicate otherwise, to call this -- you've heard Mr. Murray say that he's going to leave the bodies where they lay. He will not use this rescue capsule unless there's life found. The families are very concerned right now that they are never going to know what happened to their loved ones.

BLITZER: It's a heartbreaking story. Sonny Olsen is a spokesman for the Utah miner families. Sonny, please express our hope and our prayers to all of these families. The nation has been watching their ordeal obviously with great, great interest.

OLSEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Nearly ten years after her shocking death, we're finding information about Princess Diana that we never knew. Up next, Soledad O'Brien previews tonight's CNN special investigations unit presentation "Growing up Diana."

And would it be a mistake for the democrats to impeach President Bush? Stay right here. That's Jack Cafferty's question. He has your e-mail. All that coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack Cafferty joining us from New York.

Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the question this hour is democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd says it would be a mistake for democrats to impeach President Bush. Is he right?

Paul writes, "Senator Dodd is dead wrong. I believe a majority of democrats and independents would support impeachment of this entire administration. In fact, it's imperative. The deceptions and abuses of power must be stopped. Impeachment, indictment and incarceration are the only things that can show future power mad administrations they cannot hijack the country."

John writes from Ohio, "If Congress would provide the oversight that is their obligation to our citizens, their strength and numbers would grow larger and larger. It is their cowardice in not providing oversight of the executive branch that has caused their failing approval ratings."

And M. in New York writes, "The Democrats are generally idiots. They aren't stupid enough to try impeaching George Bush. Or are they? We can only hope. The gods destroy those who overreach and punishing an innocent president for imagined crimes would be overreaching indeed."

Brenda in Danielson, Connecticut, "As a resident of Connecticut and a person who is closely watching the president, I declare Senator Dodd to be a moron. I have written to him many times and not once did he take the time to respond to my concerns."

Emmy in San Francisco, "Dodd's right, Jack. We do not need it all now. There will be plenty of time to send George Bush to jail after he leaves Washington and more incontrovertible evidence of his malfeasance comes out. To impeach him now would seen like tit for tat after the Clinton impeachment.

And John writes. "As much as I'd love to see Bush impeached, you have to ask yourself this: who would take over? A man who shot an old man in the face while trying to shoot birds that can't fly?"

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. We post more of them online along with video clips of the Cafferty File.

Wolf.

BLITZER: Let me just remind our viewers Jack, we're counting down to September 10th. That's when your new book "It's Getting Ugly Out There," is available in book stores. Pre-orders already making it a best seller. Jack, congratulations to you.

CAFFERTY: Thank you very much for the plug and let's hope we sell a bunch.

BLITZER: I'm sure you will.

At the top of the hour, there's a CNN special investigations unit you are going to want to see. It's called "Growing up Diana" and is reported by our special correspondent, Soledad O'Brien. Soledad, your documentary goes way back. You got some incredibly important new details on this princess. Give our viewers a little preview.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know what it interesting to us? We looked into Diana's childhood. One of the things we discovered was that she was 9 years old when she was first saying I will only marry for love. She was truly a product of divorce and felt strongly her marriage would work. Of course, as we know now, it was not to be. Her friends would say later that was so important to her that even later there were efforts by friends of the palace to try to make Diana almost look crazy, she was very concerned that they would take away her children. Because remember that's what happened in her parent's marriage. They had a horrible divorce. Her mother lost custody of the four children. Diana was always very worried that that was something that could happen to her. She could lose custody of her children.

BLITZER: You know we first got to know her when she was 19 years old, about to become a princess, seemingly on top of the world. You've spoken to some of her inner circle that paint a slightly, maybe say a dramatically different picture.

O'BRIEN: There were so many letters and so many friends who said she was really, really worried about what she was about to get into. She didn't have a good idea. She was nervous. She was terrified. She was missing Charles, who was traveling, discovered early on that her betroth was not going to be sitting around the castle hanging out with her. He had a lot of engagements. He liked to travel. And also she was very worried about Camilla Parker Bowls. Before the weeding, she understood the relationship that Charles and Camilla had according to friends. She was very concerned that that was a relation as she even said herself there were three people in the marriage and that made it quite crowded. We learned a lot of details from her close friends who 10 years after Diana's death, I think seemed more willing than ever to really talk about her legacy and life, and what it was like growing up Princess Diana.

BLITZER: "Growing up Diana," Soledad O'Brien has done a terrific job. We're looking forward to seeing it at the top of the hour.

O'BRIEN: Thanks very much.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Also coming up later tonight, our own Christiane Amanpour takes us to the front lines of a volatile battle where religion and politics sometimes collide. Come face to face with "God's Warriors," for an unprecedented event. That airs tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Only here on CNN.

Covering a hurricane is certainly not a joke. But covering the coverage of a hurricane that could be a different story. Our own Jeanne Moos with her most unusual look. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the Hot Shots coming in from the Associated Press.

On Mexico's Caribbean coast, soldiers check a house destroyed after Hurricane Dean passed over it.

On the Yucatan peninsula, skies begin to clear over a house that sits in shambles in the sand.

In the state of Vera Cruz in Mexico, tourists enjoy the water as the hurricane approaches. Dean expected to reach that coast tomorrow afternoon.

And in southeast Mexico, workers take down umbrellas under clear blue skies while waiting for the storm.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots, pictures worth a thousand words.

Like many Americans, CNN's Jeanne Moos is watching the coverage of Hurricane Dean. Some of what she is seeing is most unusual. Here's her take.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When there's a hurricane and they say breaking news. Prepare for breaking waves.

Will CBS's weather man learn from wave? No. Minutes later a couple honeymooners got wet. American honeymooner's had it tough. As one bride's dad pointed out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I noticed Beth's mascara is running. I wish you would fix that.

MOOS: Mascara damage is not what most storm reporters fear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'm moving a little bit out of the way because we have some debris coming down the street here. Matt, I'm just going to step away out of the way here only because I'm getting a sense of unease with this flying around.

MOOS: The bad news getting hit by debris, the good news is being a human billboard demonstrating the meaning of "windy."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was going to say the winds lessened in strength.

NBC's Al Roker managed to stay upright.

At least he didn't have to climb over the guy trying to hold Al in place back when he covered Hurricane Wilma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're OK.

MOOS: Times it's hard to see if things are OK. And even when the sun came up, single situated drop obscure a weather man's head requiring an ever so subtle pan over. Our favorite cameo was by this iguana who kept getting replayed on CNN's storm coverage. We almost mistook him for this guy. Insurance isn't such a bad idea for weather-beaten reporters. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Jeanne Moos reporting for us.

Remember, we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, back for another hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Until tomorrow, thanks for watching. Up next, CNN Special Investigations Unit: "Growing Up Diana."

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