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Aid Needed in Haiti; Searching for Survivors; Saving the Children

Aired January 18, 2010 - 23:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to our coverage of the situation here in Port-au-Prince. The latest death toll climbing, now estimated 100,000 to 150,000 in the city of Port-au-Prince; 200,000 nationwide, according to the European Union. But I mean those are numbers; those are estimates.

Tonight we're going to show you individuals. We're going to tell you stories and try to get a sense of what is happening here. Are the decisions that are being made right? Have mistakes been made?

And if so, how do we correct those mistakes so that more aid gets to those who need it? Because there are so many people here in desperate need.

If you've been watching our coverage over the last week and by tomorrow will be exactly one week since this earthquake hit. I mean look, the park behind me is still filled with hundreds of people; still not organized. Still not receiving, you know, really any instructions from their own government.

I've seen probably in the last six days I've seen maybe ten Haitian police officers in the entire six days that I've been here. Most of them just -- most of them seem to be guarding gas stations.

And I saw two of them today trying to ward off looters. And you're going to see that story in a moment.

More aid is flowing into the airport; 180 flights a day. That's up from 40 at a certain point last week. It is piling up though. There are distributions problems, there are also complaints that aid and doctors were being turned away to make room for troop and evacuation flights.

There's also question about, why has it taken so long for medical care to get to even outlying areas? But also to get to places where it's needed in Port-au-Prince? Has too much time been focused on early on, on logistical and have big bureaucratic aid organizations been waiting for bureaucracies to make decisions on assessments and logistics and not just getting aid to those who need it?

We're going to look at all those questions tonight "Keeping them Honest". Former President Bill Clinton was here in Port-au-Prince today. His daughter, Chelsea, I'm told was with him. He talked to Dr. Sanjay Gupta; we'll have their interview ahead.

But first aid drops took place today, a C-17s from Pope Air Force Base in North California; 40 palettes of food and water. Out of the backs of cargo jets that's 42,000 MREs; 6,900 bottles of water. Is that something that could have been done earlier; need is enormous; supplies are limited.

Security is increasingly -- you hear lot of aid organizations talking about security and concerns over security.

I've got to tell you, it's amazing that there have been few -- as few incidents as we have seen so far of any kind of widespread looting. Given all the Haitian people have had to endure over the last six days.

But today in the streets of Port-au-Prince we did see something. Some -- an ominous development -- just again, one slice of what we saw today in Port-au-Prince. This is not widespread throughout the day but it was an ominous development and may give a lesson of what could happen if -- that things don't get in the pipeline fast enough and if more thought isn't given to getting some security on the ground, getting the Haitian police force up and working; getting maybe some U.N. personnel or even U.S. personnel on the ground, boots on the ground here in the city.

Here's a look at what happened in the downtown Port-au-Prince today.


COOPER: On Center Street in downtown Port-au-Prince, today a warning on how bad things can get. Haitian police fire in the air trying to scare off looters who've broken into a damage sewer to (INAUDIBLE).

There are two Haitian police officers on the street corner but they are kind of just standing by and watching. They're protecting a building over there. They don't really want to get involved in what's going on over here at this point. They just don't have enough police officers on scene.

So it's become kind a free for all. Kind of word is spreading in this neighborhood that there are items available. They're climbing up and grabbing whatever they can. This could turn ugly very, very quickly.

They're not taking food. They're stealing boxes of candles. The young men on the roof take control and start charging others on the ground to receive the stolen goods.

Tony Bennett, an American businessman, tries to keep the looting from spreading.

You own one of these stores?

TONY BENNETT, AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN: I own two stores but I think they're both (INAUDIBLE); this is why I came down with some weapons. We're just trying to shoot into the air. I'm going to have them shoot a couple of rounds.

COOPER: Where will they do that?

BENNETT: Just here in the air, yes. This is getting a little out of hand.

COOPER: Tony signals for the police officer to fire in the air. It seems to work for a few seconds, but not much more than that. The policeman then tries to use a piece of wood to control the crowd. Haitian police officer -- this police officer is trying to insist they return the candles they've been stealing and that they come down, but they're not listening.

The looters are just sitting on top of the building and they are still waiting for this police officer to leave.

It doesn't take long. The block is now in the hands of the looters. The American businessman, Tony, has blocked off the street in front of his business, which is just about 300 feet away from where the main looting is occurring right now.

So he's used whatever debris he could find here. An old table, some crates. Pieces of vehicles and they've closed off this entire street. He has those two Haitian police officers with him here protecting his store.

And look, they've been able to bring in a truck and they are as quickly loading as many of the food supplies from his store into the truck and then they're going to take it away before the looters can get to it.

Now, I don't know how widespread this is in this commercial area of Port-au-Prince. I've only been on this one spot. But from here I can tell you, I can see about 400 feet in that direction and they're looting there as well.

As supplies start to dwindle at the store of the candles, the looters become even more determined to get what they can.

The mood here is definitely starting to shift. Early on there were a lot more women. Now it's really young men and we're starting to see people walking around now with weapons which we weren't seeing before.

A fight breaks out between a gang of men trying to steal from another man. One looter uses his belt to whip the man.

Now if somebody takes away something others will try to grab it. It's basically a battle between to see who's stronger.

You can just see a chunk of concrete or rock thrown by one of the looters from the roof. The young boy is hit in the head. That's him there on the ground captured on my TV camera.

If he stays there he might get killed. I pick him up. I carry him to the barricade. Blood is pouring from his head. He's clearly stunned and can't walk. I hand him over the barricade. He's carried away.

In the end the store is emptied. The looters move on just down the street. We don't know what happened to that little boy. All we know now is there's blood in the streets.


COOPER: And that was the scene for a few hours today in downtown Port-au-Prince. And that's the thing. You realize there's no police to call. There were two police officers on the scene. They were basically -- they'd been given their weapons by a businessman. They were given water. I'm not sure if he was paying them for their efforts today or not. I frankly don't know.

But it would be understandable if he was. He was trying to protect his store and frankly he was doing a great job as much as possible of trying to control other stores from being looted. He was essentially trying to rule that area of streets.

He was hoping Marines come or that the U.N. comes and actually has a presence in downtown to try to prevent looting, because if what we saw today spreads, if word spreads that the rule of law does not exist on the streets of Port-au-Prince you're going to see a lot more problems. You're going to see a lot more young men coming out with knives, with things and taking from those who are weaker. And that's what we began to see today.

So hopefully somebody can put a stop to that by getting some -- just putting out the word by example that there is law and order still in the streets of Port-au-Prince. And there has been. Over the last six days we have seen remarkable level of calm, remarkable level of understanding among people working.

I want to talk to Dr. Irwin Redlener, he's an expert in disaster preparedness at Columbia University. He joins us now.

Doctor, what has gone wrong here? I mean, why is it that nearly seven days after this thing began, you know, is a plane from Doctors without Borders, not able to land right now? They were supposed to land at 8:00 tonight. They are not sure why they're not allowed to land. Their mobile set -- their mobile surgical unit wasn't allowed to land yesterday. They had to go to Dominican Republic.

And yet, a plane from a governor in a democratic state is able to land and take out, you know, several orphans and, I mean, we all love orphans and want them to be ok, but I mean, does -- are the right decisions being made?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, DISASTER PREPAREDNESS EXPERT: And by the way, we have teams, Anderson, of pediatric surgical specialists still waiting in the United States for permission to go down there and do what needs to get done and hospitals here in the U.S.

COOPER: Wait a minute, wait a minute...

REDLENER: Yes, yes...

COOPER: There are pediatric surgical experts waiting for permission to come here?

REDLENER: As we speak. Yes. And so this has been an incredible six days. These last few days since this disaster struck has really been striking.

It started with a very dramatic and appropriate response from the president, which was really clear and definitive and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the two of them have organized a massive amount of U.S. assets. And I think we need to be clear and proud about that.

The reality is, though, that the actual deployment of resources and materials and expert and personnel has been hampered and starting with the fact that the disaster unfortunately occurred in this horrendously impoverished fourth poorest country in the world with a single damaged airport and destroyed port and trying to move the supplies and people through here has been a nightmare.

That said, we knew from the beginning that we had a three-day window to really help the survival rates of people who were trapped under this mountain of rubble which is from the collapse and absolute destruction of the capital city of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. We're now beyond that three days. Yes.

COOPER: So are these groups just too bureaucratic? I mean, are some of these groups like the U.N. just too bureaucratic and too -- I mean, I keep hearing from a lot of big relief agencies, they say, well, you know what, we're right now in the assessment phase, we're assessing things and we're in the logistical phase and we're assessing things, we got an assessment team.

You know, I mean, they're doing hard work and they all have good intentions but are there too many assessment teams running around and not enough people with vans of medicine just driving to a place and setting up a clinic?

REDLENER: Yes. I think we've gone beyond and in fact we went beyond the period of assessment really within hours of this event happening. We knew what happened, that basically that a city collapsed and in the collapse, in the rubble, were hundreds of thousands of people that need to be extricated.

So urban search-and-rescue needed to be here on the scene in large numbers, and now we have about 30 teams from around the world that are here working on that. And then people ought to be pulled out and brought to urgent medical care, surgical care, mostly for severe head injuries, chest injuries, crush injuries and so forth.

So we knew all that and I'm going to tell you that we know what's going to happen in the next stage as well that there's going to be secondary injuries. There's going to be some chaos and violence. There's going to be public health problems like contaminated water and food supply and so forth. So we know very well what's coming.

The question is can we organize this enormous number of organizations from all over the world, not only governmental, but non- governmental organizations?


REDLENER: Can we organize them in a way so everything can flow properly and people can get the care they need?

COOPER: And that's the critical question.


COOPER: We want to have you on again tomorrow night because there's a lot more to talk about and a lot of detail to go over.

You know, it's just, it's on -- it's tough for me on the ground and tough for us all of on the ground. Because we're only seeing very small slivers of what is going on. We're trying to piece them together.

But we'd like to talk big picture with you tomorrow night. Because our viewers get the sense that it's been six days now. Tomorrow is the seventh day and still we're seeing the same kind of picture.

So anyway, we'll have you on tomorrow, Irwin Redlener, I appreciate your expertise. And we'll talk to you then.

Also coming up tonight: the search for survivors; you know, as you heard from Irwin, 72 hours was the critical time. We went out with a rescue team from Los Angeles Fire Department over the weekend. These men and women are just doing an incredible job risking their lives. You will see there what they have seen, through their eyes, ahead.


COOPER: Well, nearly -- we're a week after the earthquake, the search for survivors continues. As you heard there's some 30 search- and-rescue teams that come from all around the world, they are working around the clock they are desperately trying to find anyone alive. There are a lot of operations going on at the Montana Hotel; that's been the focus of a huge amount of activity.

I know, I've been getting a lot of e-mails from people saying we haven't heard enough information. I can tell you, if there's any spot in Port-au-Prince that has had the most international focus it is that place and probably the U.N. Mission. But the Montana Hotel has many crews working around the clock searching and they have pulled people out over the last couple days.

Today, people were not being pulled out alive. I don't think there were any live rescues but yesterday there were in the supermarket. These things are grueling operations and it takes a heavy toll on the men and women who are doing it.

And I've just never met a more dedicated group who were simply just doing heroic work. And I can't say enough about them. And they come from all around the world. And they -- they want to find people alive. That's what they live and breathe.

And, anyway, you're about to see some efforts made by the Los Angeles Fire Department search-and-rescue team who were kind enough to allow us to tag along with them this weekend. Take a look.


COOPER: Minushka Polinis (ph) believes her daughter, Laeka (ph), is alive, trapped in the rubble of this daycare center.

Have you heard your daughter? Yes, she tells us. She heard her 10-year-old daughter just this morning. She's been trying to get someone to go through the building for four days.

A search-and-rescue team from the L.A. County Fire Department has borrowed our interpreter Vlad Dutier (ph) to call out for her daughter in French.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got somebody. We hear somebody.

COOPER: Believing they've heard a faint cry the firefighters insert a listening device into the rubble. Vlad is told to tell the victim to tap three times on whatever is nearby.

VLAD: Tap, tap, tap.

COOPER: They've heard a very faint tapping sound so they think she's alive. But there's so much noise around. It's very hard to tell. So now they're bringing in one of the dogs to see if the dog will pick up a scent. Jasmine Segwar's (ph) dog is named Maverick, specially trained to pick up the smell of a living human trapped in debris.

What happened with the dog?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Showing some interest but not a strong alert of a sign of live human -- he wasn't giving that to us.

COOPER: But it is possible for a living victim to be so deeply buried the dog can't smell them. So the team decides to go further in.

What they're doing right now is painstakingly difficult and dangerous. It's like moving around pieces of jigsaw puzzle but a jigsaw puzzle that can fall on top of you and kill you or crush the person you're trying to save. They have to be careful about what blocks they remove and what order they remove them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're always thinking aftershocks. I mean, that's our first concern. Second is, is the structure still intact?

COOPER: Unsure exactly which direction to dig, they once again tried to get the little girl to tap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell her to say something.


COOPER: Again, it seems they get a tapping response. A crowd gathers. So do others with pictures of their loved ones they believe may also be trapped inside. Another dog is brought in; a border collie named Hunter.


COOPER: Despite Minushka's (ph) silent prayers, Hunter finds nothing. They've now been at this for about three hours. The last dog that they brought in didn't get any hits.

But around the other side of the building two firefighters have crawled into another small hole and are convinced they've just heard something. What did you hear?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely distinct...

COOPER: Distinct tapping?


COOPER: This is the best possible news. They've just gotten a tap. Just this little girl or at least somebody is alive down there. It's incredible.

What goes through your mind when you hear that sound after working on this for so many hours?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That it's time to go to work. It's time to go to work and move to see if we can find her. Do our job.

COOPER: The clock is ticking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The clock is ticking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bolt cutters and snips.


COOPER: After seven hours on site, however, they stop hearing tapping. A third dog is brought in, but nothing.

Two hours ago or so when you guys heard distinctive tapping, is it possible that was just ambient noise?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It very well could have been.

COOPER: The other possibility is that a person expires. That they tap at one point and they're no longer able to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is true. This is -- we're four days into it without food or water and we're talking about possibly a 10- year-old girl and there's only -- every human has their limits.

COOPER: Their last hope is to lower several microphones in different parts of the building.

They've now placed four microphones in separate locations on the ground floor in the rubble. This is a critical moment. If they hear something they'll continue working, but if they don't get any response that they're going to stop the operation.


COOPER: In the movies this is when a small sound would be heard; a faint tap, a child's cry. But this is Haiti. And this is real. And despite their best hopes, they hear no sound of life.

They break the news to Minushka and the others. The search is over, they tell them. There's no one left alive. Minushka asks for one more dog search, her wish is granted. It doesn't take long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Jas. Thanks, Caddie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So basically it, basically they are saying there's no hope. At this location, there's no one.

COOPER: After four days of waiting, crying and hoping, trying to get anyone to come to her aid, Minushka refuses to believe her daughter and her classmates are gone.

"The children aren't dead," she says. "They might be in a coma but they're alive. I believe they're still alive. Come by tomorrow and check for us, won't you, please? The kids are alive. They aren't dead. I'll wait for you tomorrow."

Tomorrow the team will not come back here. There are other buildings to check; other families still waiting. The searches go on, but on this site they're done.


COOPER: And a poor mom sitting there waiting, hoping another crew may come by. Other missions have had better endings. Survivor emerged Sunday night from a collapsed supermarket, smiles, waves, whispers thank you to rescuers. He said he ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly while trapped.

Moments later a second survivor, a Haitian woman also from the same area; both are said to be in good condition. Three others pulled from a market including an American woman. Joining me now are Ivan Watson who witnessed that rescue and Chris Lawrence who was on hand for a rescue actually today. So I misspoke. I said I didn't think there was anything in the last 24 hours. You actually saw a person being rescued today?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was literally just in the last five, six hours. We were driving down the street going to our story. And all of a sudden a paramedic just runs in front of our truck and it's like, stop, stop, I need help. We need your truck, we need your truck. They have pulled this girl out of the rubble at the university and they only had one truck there.

So they had to stay to look for possibly other survivors. So the paramedic puts this girl in the flatbed of our truck.

COOPER: That's incredible.

LAWRENCE: Yes, puts her in the flatbed of our truck. He climbs on. He's standing there in the flatbed and holding up the IV the whole time and just go, go, go. And our driver, a Haitian driver is driving this CNN flatbed pickup truck with the patient inside.

COOPER: And I mean, when I talked to the L.A. County rescue workers, I mean, there's a problem where to take people. I mean, normally you would just take them to a hospital, but as we know the hospitals really aren't functioning. So did you just go to a hospital and it was ok?

LAWRENCE: First we went to that U.N. like Field Triage Center...

COOPER: Right.

LAWRENCE: ...right outside the airport. She got some basic treatment there just on the ground, on the sidewalk. Then we took her to an Israeli hospital for some better treatment. They turned her away because they thought she had a broken pelvis and they said we can't do surgery here. Then there was mass confusion, should we go back to the airport?

Finally someone said oh, no, there's another hospital, a French hospital up by the Montana Hotel. So we drove 40 minutes there. By the time we get there it's nighttime and basically they take this young woman off of our flatbed truck and she hasn't had food, she hasn't had water and she's conscious. And she's talking to us.

COOPER: So she -- I mean, Ivan, the folks you saw pulled out of that supermarket, they survived because they had water and maybe even access to food.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Presumably. But some of the other people who came out had not been eating or drinking, had not had access and they were still in remarkably good condition. And it just, it boggles the mind how people can come out after four, five, six days and still be talking. COOPER: Yes, when we first got here, when we first got here people are saying if you don't have access to water in three days, no chance. But the person you saw tonight being rescued had no water, no food for all that time?

LAWRENCE: No. And I think, you know, you talked a lot about aid. In the very first days, remember when we got here, I asked USAID, what is the priority here? And they said our priority is bringing in search-and-rescue teams. The humanitarian aid is secondary to getting these search-and-rescue teams with the dogs on the ground.

And I think even though there are tremendous problems with the aid I don't think we would be seeing these survivors being pulled out of the rubble a week after the event and if all those search teams had not been on the ground.

COOPER: Well, there's no question. I mean, these search teams have the equipment, they have the know-how, they have the knowledge. I mean, there is no Haitian search-and-rescue teams that I can see.

WATSON: No. And there are so many people in this city, Anderson. And I'm sure you've both encountered them, walking around, coming up and asking, do you know where I can find a list of missing people or of people who have been found, their bodies?

COOPER: Like, why, I mean, right.

WATSON: There is no master list...

COOPER: Right.

WATSON: ...and when we were watching, when we were waiting yesterday, 14 hours...

COOPER: Right.

WATSON: these Turks and Americans were trying to pull out these two people, somebody came up and he said, I lost my niece. She went to the university that day and then the supermarket. Is there a list here to say who has come out? Who got pulled out?

COOPER: Right.

WATSON: And we weren't supplied with the names. They aren't really being released. And cell phones aren't working too well. And everybody is missing someone.

COOPER: Well, I mean, you sort of wonder, I mean, there is some sort of Haitian government. You kind of wonder where they are. Are they in a bunker somewhere?

Because I mean, they could put -- they could start compiling a list, they could start putting together some photographs. Everyone is sort of like pretending like, you know, oh, you can't say anything about the Haitian government because, you know, they can't be expected to actually do anything.

But I mean, you know, they're adults. They know how to do this. You would think they could at least come out and make some announcements to these people in the park about where to go, what to do.

I haven't heard any sort of official government -- even if the President drove around in a pickup truck with a microphone and a speaker I think an awful lot of people here would be happy. A lot of Haitians would be glad to see their president and glad to hear that you know -- get some actual information because there's not a lot of information being disseminated.

That's my rant.

Coming up, stories about the orphans: there's so much interest on this all around the world; some already waiting for families. Also the newly-orphaned kids of this quake; it's part of our special report as we continue throughout this hour live from Port-au-Prince.




COOPER: That's the moment the earthquake struck; frightening video from an orphanage. This video was shot by an American missionary here in Haiti that shows the moments it struck. We're told everyone in the building is okay.

There are more than 60 orphanages in the country. "The Washington Post" reports 800 and 900 kids were actually in the process of being adopted by parents in the Americans. But as you can imagine, in some of these places, paperwork has now been lost. It can be a real mess.

Soledad O'Brien is at the house of the Children of God orphanage in Port-au-Prince; it's home to about 125 boys and girls. Gary Tuchman has an update tonight on another orphanage just outside the capital.

Soledad, you've visited two orphanages today. Are the children safe? I mean, what sort of food supplies do they have; water supplies do they have?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The food supplies are dwindling; the water supplies sort of come and go. They were worried today, the guy who's the director here, Pierre Alexis (ph), told me because they had four days left of supplies.

And then a guy showed up with a truck load of supplies; it will probably give them another two days. Turns out that one of the children here has a woman who's in the process of adopting her, so the little girl is 3 years old; and she sent out an e-mail, was able to connect with a friend who knew somebody who was already in country and he literally drove to the Dominican Republic, filled up his car and brought it here.

We're not seeing sort of the official relief coming into the orphanages but just people swinging by. Salvation Army did drop off they tell me Ensure and crackers. But it's really touch and go and people here are very worried.

COOPER: Gary, what's the update on the orphanages that you reported on, on Friday? A number of -- there are so many parents in the pipeline waiting. I talked to two parents; we're going to talk to them in this hour to get an update on their story. How many orphans have been flown back?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, last week we did a story about this orphanage that's run by two women from Pennsylvania; they're sisters. They're from Pittsburgh. They run this orphanage.

Six orphans got clearance to leave last night. They left last night, they flew to Orlando, Florida, and their new parents, people they'll be living with the rest of their lives, met them at the airport.


TUCHMAN: It was such an amazingly emotional reunion. It was wonderful.

One of the amazing things about this story when we did the original story at the orphanage, when I was talking about the kids, one little girl was sitting in my lap while I was talking.

It turns out that the mother of that little girl was watching CNN that night and was watching the story and said, "That's my daughter sitting in Gary Tuchman's lap." That girl got the clearance to go and that mother, Elizabeth, lives in Colorado, had this great reunion with her daughter in Florida last night.

COOPER: Soledad, I visited an orphanage just the other day and, you know, the kids are unbelievably cute, so sweet and within -- you know, one kid ended up sitting in my lap. As I was leaving he said he wanted to come with me.

I mean, it breaks your heart to see these kids -- what is -- the process for adoption is how difficult has it been and I guess now it's got to be all the more complicated because the government is essentially broken down.

O'BRIEN: Yes. We were told that under normal conditions it would take something like three years for someone who's not Haitian to adopt a child. So many of the people who we've been dealing with who are in the United States or in Canada in the process -- have been in the process for two-plus years. And then for people who are Haitian who are interested in adopting we were told that would take them about 12 months. It's a long process anyway.

Yes, when you factor in loss of documents, just the chaos -- as you mentioned that government's in -- that's a real problem and it's unclear to me how they're going to move forward on those adoptions especially if the paperwork is lost.

As we heard the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti telling Wolf earlier he said, listen, they don't want to send children off and make errors. At the same time you don't want to leave children behind and have them die here. They're running out of formula so they feed them milk.

Children get diarrhea, babies get diarrhea when they drink milk. So that leads to dehydration which you can die from if you're a baby, very, very quickly. Terrifying.

It's so frustrating because for my kids, they'd all be in hospitals if they had that. And here they just sit and wait.

COOPER: Yes. And Gary, Governor Ed Rendell is flying out with 20-some orphans tonight?

TUCHMAN: Certainly unusual duty for a state executive, but Ed Rendell, the Governor of Pennsylvania, flew in to Port-au-Prince tonight because of that orphanage we did a story of that's run by the Pennsylvania women. He wanted to take out as many orphans as he could.

The women brought 54 orphans to the U.S. Embassy tonight; 28 orphans had clearance to leave. So 28 orphans are flying to Homestead Air Reserve Base right now; they'll go on to Pittsburgh and then their new parents will pick them up in Pennsylvania.

COOPER: Incredible. Just incredible. Gary Tuchman thanks very much. Soledad O'Brien thank you as well.

By the way, coming up an American couple waiting to adopt a child from that orphanage that Gary visited; we'll talk to them, Ross Haskell and Jean Griffith. They'll join us next.


COOPER: As Gary Tuchman said before the break, Ross Haskell and Jean Griffith saw pictures of their child -- a child they hope to adopt, Alexander David, during his report. They join us now.

Ross, Gary heard that Governor Ed Rendell is flying back to the U.S. with some 28 orphans who have been cleared out of some 54, I believe, from the U.S. Embassy. He wasn't able to tell whether or not Alexander's on that flight. Have you heard anything?

ROSS HASKELL, ADOPTING HAITIAN BABY: No, Anderson, we haven't. We've also heard that there is a plane, but we do not know the details of who's on that plane. We don't know if Alexander is on that or not.

COOPER: How are you guys holding up? I just want to show our viewers the video of Alexander that was shot last week. Just to remind people, you know, not only how cute he is but -- and just how cute all the orphans but just remind our viewers who we're talking about. How are you guys holding up?

HASKELL: Well, it's been really a very intense and difficult time for us. It feels at the same time it's been 100 years. Maybe it's been just 100 minutes. I mean, it has just been incredible, you know?

We've heard that the situation, you know, was dangerous and even though there's been some hopeful news we remain extremely worried about Alexander. We hope that he is safe, but we don't know -- we know that Jamie and Ali have done amazing things to protect the lives of the children there and we owe them debts that we will never be able to repay.

We wish we had some specific news about them and about Alexander but we don't at this point.

COOPER: And Jean, I believe you've been in touch with the State Department and Homeland Security Department. How difficult is it just getting information and trying to get through the red tape?

JEAN GRIFFITH, ADOPTING HAITIAN BABY: It's difficult. There's a lot of variables and a lot of people involved and a lot of kids and a lot of parents. So sorting it all out in such a short time has been difficult for everyone involved in this process including us, but certainly not just us.

HASKELL: We've heard that the people at the highest levels of government are working tirelessly, are doing what looks to be the right things for these kids. We're very encouraged by that. But until I lay eyes on that cutie I'm just going to remain extremely worried.

COOPER: What is the first thing you're going to say to him, Ross?

HASKELL: I think I'll say (speaking in foreign language); which Creole for "I am your father."

COOPER: What's this -- how long has this process taken, prior to the earthquake? How long has this been? How difficult has it been?

HASKELL: Well, prior to the earthquake, you know, we were officially referred to Alexander in I think April of last year. And so actually up until the earthquake -- of course, waiting has been terribly difficult -- but we got a chance to know Alexander in his home country. We visited there in Port-au-Prince four times and those times were great with him actually.

You can see -- he loves the water. So it was always very difficult to leave him, but we were leaving him with Jamie and Ali and we trusted them and we still trust them.

COOPER: Well, I hope you guys are united very quickly and we'll continue to follow it and anything we can help with we'll certainly try. As I said, I visited another orphanage just, I think it was yesterday, or maybe two days ago; it sort of blends together. I mean, the kids are incredible and they're just kids and they just want love and they have a lot of love to give.

Jean Griffith, Ross Haskell, thank you so much. Stay strong.

HASKELL: Thank you very much Anderson. Thank you so much.

COOPER: I appreciate your time for me.

Up next, a young girl's life in the balance, hanging in the balance; the help she got aboard a U.S. warship and the doctor who rose to the occasion, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The story ahead.


COOPER: And welcome back. We're joined by our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, we've just gotten word that a plane, the organization "Doctors without Borders" which is an organization I think is one of the greatest disaster relief agencies in the world, they've won the Nobel Prize. Their plane has been told it cannot land tonight.

This is a cargo plane with life-saving medical supplies. This is the second time this has occurred. Yesterday they had mobile surgical units -- I'm not even sure what they're called but basically operating rooms.


COOPER: Inflatable that they deploy. I mean of all the people who need surgery out here, they employ these inflatable units to conduct surgery save people's lives. That plane wasn't allowed to land here in Port-au-Prince. Had to land in Dominican Republic then be driven over land here. That must have taken -- I don't know -- six hours or at least eight to ten hours extra not including flight time and organization time.

People die because of these decisions and then you hear that, you know, others sorts of planes are getting in taking out, you know, groups of people. I just don't understand how decisions are being made when the most important thing right now besides search-and-rescue teams is getting doctors on the ground here operating, saving lives, stopping infections from spreading, getting medicine to those who need it.

GUPTA: You know, usually when you ask me a question I have an answer for you.

COOPER: Right. I didn't have a question, that was just like a rant.

GUPTA: I know but I don't know what to say. I mean, it's incredibly frustrating.

And I think that, you know, as a doc and you and I have been on the ground longer than most and seen this happen. We're not making this up. I just don't understand how people cannot -- I'm not saying they don't understand it but they're not making the right decisions. COOPER: Again, I don't want to come off as someone who's criticizing, you know, getting orphans out of here and to parents who desperately need them and will love them. That's an important thing. But just in terms of saving sheer numbers of lives. You could send in -- you could send in a plane load of doctors to go out to every orphanage in Haiti and live with orphans for the next week, you know, making sure everybody has their medical attention and that would still bring in -- get in more supplies than having a plane load, you know, plane loads of people flying out. I mean it would take up less airspace.

GUPTA: The impact would be so dramatic. I mean as doctors we relish this opportunities to have that kind of impact. And I'm sure the Doctors without Borders that are watching these reports or somehow hearing about them have got to be saying we're so irritated by what's happening.

COOPER: I mean, it's not only those two planes from Doctors without Borders -- again worldwide recognized as one of the greatest relief organizations, have had their planes diverted and going to the Dominican Republic it just -- it eats up half a day at the very least.

GUPTA: Yes. And they have to drive this big equipment over the border. I'm sure they're going to arrange vehicles over there, they have to try and get across the border. That can be a challenge.

You and I have done this sort of stuff. We know the details and how hard it can be. Just landing here at Port-au-Prince, they probably could have been up and running today.

COOPER: There are probably doctors watching in the United States right now, who could get on a plane, fly to the Dominican Republic, get a van load of supplies at a pharmacy in the Dominican Republic if they wanted to, drive across here and start treating people faster than some of these aid organizations.

GUPTA: That's right. And you know, I've gotten so many e-mails from people saying exactly that. We can get into a DR and come across the border and do that stuff. Wouldn't it be so much faster if they could just start taking care of people now?

Again, going back to this measured in minutes and hours things as opposed to days and weeks.

COOPER: You actually performed surgery today on the USS Carl Vinson which is just incredible. They saw you were here and called.

GUPTA: That's incredible and everything, but you know what, that highlights the point actually. Why was I -- I was delighted and honored to do it. No question about it. But why isn't there a neurosurgeon? There could be by this point; it is a week later.

There could be a neurosurgeon on that carrier. There could be neurosurgeons within the country right now.

GUPTA: I'm delighted to be able to take care of patients, and I'm sure you're delighted to help people as well. At this point...

COOPER: Right. Seven days, tomorrow is the one-week anniversary, and I mean, I'm a broken record on this. But there are people dying from things that -- I don't even understand -- but they're incredibly simple to heal, an infection.

I didn't even know when I came here that if you break a leg, you have an open wound and it gets infected, it can spread through your body and you can die from that. And people have died from that and that's easily healed.

GUPTA: These are called preventable deaths. And that's the worst thing in medicine; a death that could have been preventable because it's something we know how to do. Sometimes it's easy things to do.

COOPER: I'd like to be able to start looking at who is making the decision about what gets to land. Everybody here is doing the best they can and trying as hard as they can. But it's interesting to me that, you know, a governor of a state gets a plane in no problem to take out a couple dozen kids who could be maintained here safely whose lives are not hanging in the balance and they're not dying of disease and they have enough rice and water and basic supplies to last. You could get food aid to them, sustain them for the next two weeks to a month and I know it would be tough for them.

But in terms of sheer number of people whose lives you would save, you would save more lives getting a plane in of cargo supplies for Doctors without Borders than almost anything else I can think of.

GUPTA: Who is making these decisions?

COOPER: I don't know. We should -- I'd like to be able to try to call.

GUPTA: Maybe we'll try to call.

COOPER: Yes. I'm not sure we'll have phone calls returned at this point.

Anyway, again, a lot of good people here doing incredibly hard work, working around the clock, doing touch logistical work and making tough decisions, but I don't know. We got to start asking these questions.

Sanjay is going to stick around.

Bill Clinton -- former President Clinton was here today, his daughter came with him. Sanjay interviewed them. We'll hear his interview ahead.


COOPER: Sanjay is still with us. Former President Bill Clinton was in town today and his daughter, Chelsea, was here. You interviewed him. GUPTA: Yes. He has a great affinity for Haiti. In fact, he honeymooned here -- I don't know if you knew that...

COOPER: I didn't know that.

GUPTA: ... after he got married. He's a special envoy from the U.N. to Haiti. A lot of the questions we've just been talking about, I decided to pose to him as well, specifically about the aid.

Take a listen.


GUPTA: Do you think the aid is come in fast enough?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the aid is coming in as fast as we can get it in by air and a little bit bussing it in. The real -- as you know, the real bottlenecks are the distribution system here.

And that I think is inevitable, given the level of destruction of the government ministries and the buildings and all the things that you know that you've seen here.


COOPER: Ok -- two minutes.

And so he's the special envoy, and now they have this -- he and the former President Bush are going to be fund-raising to try to raise more money to get more aid here.

GUPTA: Yes. And he believes that a lot of the money -- I he asked him about other countries giving money versus private citizens. He's thinking that a lot of the money is going to come from private citizens.

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: Much in the way that happened after the tsunami.

Regarding the aid thing, you know, it was interesting because did sort of say, look, the United States is sort of picking up half the load of things that are going on here. I said, how can it be that the Israelis have already set up these operating tents with ventilators, with pain medications, real pain medications and instruments and we were so far behind?

That was sort of his answer. We're getting there.

COOPER: My sense is that -- what I've heard anecdotally, and we'll have to look into this more tomorrow is that the U.S. military and some of the assets in the United States were sort of waiting for assessment teams to assess what the overall needs are. And because groups are used to working with the host government, in fact there is virtually -- there is no real government here. Not a government that actually meets the needs of its people. You talk to most Haitians, they don't actually -- they've never had a government that actually met their needs or seemed to respond to the things that were important to them.

They've had, you know, generations of dictatorships and now it's a democratically-elected country -- democratically-elected government but it's still not a government that on a level that anyone viewing this program in the United States would expect it actually meets the needs of the people. You know, not enough gets done.

GUPTA: And with medical stuff, you know, what you're alluding to is this idea that you can't wait that long. You know, we're not making -- reinventing the wheel here. We have some data based on previous natural disaster on what the needs are going to be. So to have to come in on the ground and assess for so long, it's simply too long.

And I think maybe people will learn something from this? I don't know for the next natural disaster which will inevitably occur.

COOPER: Again, the point is -- also we have to learn these lessons tomorrow and the next day because this thing is going on. This is not going away anytime soon, and there's still decisions that need to be made. The fact that, again, this plane from Doctors without Borders is denied permission to land tonight at 8:00 when it was supposed to land and apparently it was denied permission totally we're not sure where the planes going to go.

And yesterday this medical -- this surgical medical inflatable medical unit had to go to the Dominican Republic. Again, I just don't understand that decision, and allowing Democratic governor of a state to fly out a group of orphans who weren't severely injured but, you know, who God knows deserved to go to the United States and be united with parents.

Anyway, our coverage continues. We'll be here tomorrow. We'll be here all week. I hope you join us.

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