Police officers load empty children coffins at the Peruvian Air Force Airport in Pisco.
PISCO, Peru -- We took off for the epicenter of the earthquake zone in a transport plane loaded with empty baby-sized coffins. They were stacked all around two photographers and me, clacking against each other and sliding into our knees.
When we landed in Pisco, Peru, it became clear quickly why they needed so many. Tiny bodies lay beneath a black tarp in the parking lot of what used to be the hospital. Children barely alive wailed as they were carted out on stretchers, separated from parents, their tiny arms and legs wrapped in bandages and splinted with slats of wood.
The police escort us everywhere. My dad and granddad were police officers in Peru, so the officers watch over us like worried uncles. The walls of the prison collapsed, they tell me, and the inmates escaped, so it's dangerous here.
In the middle of correspondent Harris Whitbeck's live shot, a family removes a dead relative behind him and a coffin appears from nowhere. We move gently out of the way.
"Mi hijito," cries an old woman clutching a tiny blanket just outside the hospital and police officers help her sit.
"This isn't work for nice young ladies," says a policeman who claims to know my father. "Your father didn't leave here for you to come see this."
In the main square, San Clemente church collapsed atop the worshipers in the middle of a mass. Now, families line-up hoping for a miracle. But body after body is pulled from the pile of bricks. So far 49 bodies have been pulled out and just seven survivors, but authorities expect at least 100 dead in that one spot.
The city appears on the brink of collapse, second floors teetering atop empty spaces with just a door frame or pillar as support. People are dehydrated in the desert heat, their cheeks beet red from sunburn and exhaustion.
Pisco is named for the national liquor. The town is a place to come drink and de-stress, enjoy the latest catch of fish from the nearby sea. I've come here before for vacation, because the people are so friendly and fun. But on this visit, the people shudder from emotional aftershocks, even as destruction from the real aftershocks continues to take its toll.
-- By Rose Arce, CNN Producer