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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Erratic Airline Passenger Killed in Miami; The Role of the Federal Air Marshal; Supermodel Petra Nemcova's Mission One Year After the Tsunami

Aired December 7, 2005 - 23:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: Nearly one year since she lost her boyfriend and nearly died in the killer wave. She sits down with Anderson to talk about life, death and her determination to never forget the wave that changed her forever.
From across the U.S. and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Petra Nemcova -- a dramatic story of survival ahead.

But first, another woman and her story of fear and terror. It happened today on a Miami airport tarmac, when a passenger confronted sky marshals and died in a hail of bullets. You're about to hear from a woman on the plane. Her name is Ellen. She doesn't want us to use her last name. She was on the American Airlines flight from Ecuador, along with the man who died, Rigoberto Alpizar. Ellen joins us now by phone from North Carolina.

Ellen, what did you see when this man got up?

ELLEN, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT: On the plane, Flight 932, from Ecuador this morning, he sat in front of me with his wife. And I observed his behavior throughout the flight, about four and a half hours.

COOPER: And what was his behavior?

ELLEN: He was seemingly not cooperative. He wasn't noisy. I don't believe I ever heard his voice. But when an attendant came to serve him breakfast and asked him what he wanted, he apparently either couldn't make up his mind or didn't talk or whatever.

COOPER: And so how did you see that? Did the flight attendant get annoyed? I mean, how did you -- if he wasn't talking, how did you see that he was non-cooperative?

ELLEN: Well, the first incident with breakfast being served, the flight attendant, I think, asked him maybe five times did he want an omelet or crepes. And finally she said, listen, I'll just serve the rest of the people and I'll be back.

COOPER: And did -- he was sitting with his wife, I understand, on the flight. Did you hear her talking to him at all? ELLEN: No. I sat behind him and I could observe their faces because I was at the window and they were the center and aisle in the seat above me. So I could look across and see them.

COOPER: Did it concern you? I mean, did it make you uncomfortable?

ELLEN: By the end of the flight, and there had been numerous occasions where his behavior seemed quite abnormal. I finally was so concerned that I started studying his facial features in thinking I sure want to know if I ever had to identify this man, so I obviously was very concerned.

COOPER: And did you -- this is the flight that this man was on from Ecuador that flew into Miami. The incident where he was killed was on a flight transferring from Miami to go to Orlando. You weren't on that flight? You were just on the first flight, correct Ellen?

ELLEN: Yes, that is.

COOPER: Okay. You said there were several incidences where interactions with the flight attendants. Were there others that jump out at you now? I mean, you talked about the meal incident. Were there others?

ELLEN: Yes. At the very end of the flight, when they were going through the aisle way, picking up your drinks, or whatever trash so you could put your tray table up, she stood beside him. I never heard his voice, but I heard her asking him repeatedly, sir, I need to take your drink now. And again and again, and saying things like, but sir, it might spill during the landing. Finally, she said, but sir, it's the law. I must take your drink now. And then she said, sir, do you know what a law is? And then she left and she said, listen, I'll go collect the rest and I'll be back.

COOPER: Now, to your knowledge, did the flight attendants report any of his behavior?

ELLEN: You know, that's, that's where I am most concerned. I think because his behavior throughout the flight was so unusual, abnormal, whatever, that I would have hoped she reported it. Or one of them reported it. Because several attendants dealt with him.

COOPER: That, of course, is what a lot of people are going to be looking into in these next couple of hours and well into tomorrow. I mean, what security checkpoints did this man have to go through before getting on that plane? Obviously, we know you check for what you're carrying, but is there anyone who's really checking at how you are behaving?

I know how disturbing it is, Ellen, when you're on a flight -- I was on a flight recently. The man sitting next to me was very drunk and sort of odd and inappropriate and belligerent with flight attendants and it's very uncomfortable when you're on a flight like that. We will be checking -- we'll try to check up for you whether or not they did make any kind of report. ELLEN: Well, in addition to that, after the flight, after the flight was over and I paid no attention to what happened to he and his wife, I went through Passport Control, and I was leaving, you walk back across -- Passport Control, you can actually look through the plexi-glass at others waiting in line.

And all of a sudden, I see him again. This time he is trying to push his way to the window when somebody else is already there. And you know how carefully they try to keep you back behind the line and call you when your turn is next. And so some security guards came over to him and started telling him, no, no, back in line, or whatever, motioning to him. And instead of getting back in line, he went to the next window and pushed his way up to there also. And there is another incident where I consider that pretty abnormal behavior that should have been noted or reported or dealt with.

COOPER: And just so we're being clear, that was in the Miami airport after this long flight from Ecuador, correct?

ELLEN: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: So as he was entering the United States, he was acting, according to you, in a strange way, in a belligerent way, trying to jump the line basically; and you're right, they are very strict, always saying, you know you have to stay behind that -- it's often a yellow line.

ELLEN: Yes. Then coincidentally, after I cleared Passport Control, I made a stop at the restroom and came back out to walk to Customs now. And coincidentally, I'm right behind him -- directly behind them, walking. And because I had noted his abnormal behavior, maybe being a bit nosy, I walked closely behind him and listened to their conversation. And that was the key to it all for me.

The man had a mental problem. His wife was talking to him as if he were a person who was under a great deal of stress. Perhaps the trip was being very difficult for him, and she was saying things to him like, we're going to be home pretty soon and everything will be alright. She also said to him, please do one more thing for me. Just help me through -- we only have to do one more thing, Customs. Please, help me through it.

COOPER: Oh, that is fascinating. And then that was the last you saw of them?

ELLEN: Yes, I believe so. I listened to a bit more of their conversation as they walked. There were a number of other things she said to him.

COOPER: But they were along those lines?

ELLEN: Oh, they were very nurturing and caring things, like, are you hungry? Would you like to stop and eat? I know you must be very tired. Oh, I want to thank you for -- and I can't remember what she said or I didn't hear it. So, she was very much, it seemed to me, trying to manage a man who -- and he wasn't talking back to her much. COOPER: Well, that is certainly, you know if you haven't taken your medication and you are -- have a bipolar disorder, it is very -- you often very quickly can start to show signs of the disorder. And for loved ones, it is a very difficult thing to deal with and it sounds like that's what his wife was trying to deal with.

ELLEN: At one time on the plane, I saw her turn her head completely away from him and I could see her from behind through the cracks in the seat and she was wiping tears from her eye. So I know this was a tragic thing for her.

COOPER: Oh, that is just horrific. And I mean, for all families who deal with any kind of a mental disability, I mean, we all know how hard it is. And certainly this woman has just got to be distraught tonight. Ellen, I appreciate -- I know it's been a long day for you. I appreciate you joining us and telling us what you saw and what you heard in these many hours today before this terrible incident occurred. Thank you very much, Ellen.

For the very latest on the shooting, let's go live to CNN's John Zarrella at Miami International Airport. John, I don't know if you've heard any of what Ellen was just saying, but some really very fascinating details. And from what she was saying, there's got to be videotape out there at Customs and at the immigration checkpoint of this man acting, in her words, bizarrely.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no doubt, from what she described, as you come through Miami airport, and again her encounters with him were primarily on the flight from Ecuador that he was on. When he arrived at Miami International Airport, clearly he had to go through U.S. Customs here and Immigration in Miami where she again, that passenger telling you what she witnessed.

And then once he boarded the plane, as we all know now, at about 2:10 p.m. on a flight -- the connecting flight to Orlando, is when he apparently became very agitated and at that point got off the plane and that's when the U.S. Marshals, the teams here had to go ahead and subdue him with the fire and shoot him and kill him in the jet way.

Now we're not learning a whole lot from the federal authorities here as to what the air marshals had to do, other than the fact that they identified themselves when they thought that and overheard him saying something on the order that he had a bomb. At that point they identified themselves, according to authorities here, as air marshals, tried to get him off the plane. He ran off the plane and that's when the shots were fired in the jet way.

We're learning far more details tonight of what happened on the plane, not from federal officials, but from passengers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE IRIZARRY, EYEWITNESS: He was okay when he first came in and sat down and then after a few minutes, he had become agitated and he was talking to his wife. He had gotten agitated and just ran out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you understand anything he was saying?

IRIZARRY: No. They really didn't -- you know, they weren't arguing very loudly. They were just talking about going home originally and then just out of nowhere he jumped up and ran out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you didn't hear what he was saying, either?

IRIZARRY: No. He just kept saying, I got to get off, I got to get off. And he ran off the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's when you heard the gunshots?

IRIZARRY: That's -- yes. You know, like two seconds after. He ran off the plane, his wife ran after him. And then as the wife kept coming back, you heard the gunshots and everybody, you know, they were telling everybody to get down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the wife saying?

IRIZARRY: Oh, she was saying, don't get off, don't get off.

MARY GARDNER, EYEWITNESS: I heard her say he's bipolar. He doesn't have his medicine. I heard the shots. She screamed, my husband, my husband. And they detained her. They would not let her go. So apparently marshals came on the plane. I couldn't see it. I was three rows behind first class. First class saw the whole thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First time you've ever had to go something like this, I take it?

GARDNER: And hopefully the last.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now the passengers are saying that while he first got on the plane, he appeared to be calm, but that it was after a few minutes sitting on the plane, when he became agitated and that's when he ran off the plane and the incident ensued. At least two, maybe three shots fired from the air marshals on the jet way.

We are learning some details. What may have concerned the air marshals, was that he was wearing a backpack, Anderson, but it wasn't around his back. He had it around his front and he also had a fanny pack on. And we are being told by sources that that was one thing that really heightened their concern that he might indeed have a bomb. And also we are told that that airline, the Flight 924, still here in Miami, has not been released by authorities, that that plane is being kept here as evidence -- Anderson.

COOPER: Alright, John, thanks for the report and good job, all day.

You know, we'll never know exactly why Rigoberto Alpizar made the lethal threat that cost him his life today. But the details are coming out. And we've just heard Ellen, another passenger on the earlier flight for the first time, talk about what she overheard. The wife clearly trying to keep her husband under control, you know, sort of imploring him to just behave as he went through Customs, just a little bit longer so that they could finally get home.

This man's history of bipolar disorder, his wife's assertion that he hadn't taken his medication -- that's what she said on the flight after he was killed -- may provide the explanation.

I talked to our senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta about bipolar disorder a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay, a lot of people know bipolar disorder as manic depression. What exactly is it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CENN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's probably a chemical imbalance in the brain. We don't know exactly what causes it. A lot of people looking into that. But it's exactly probably what it sounds like, sort of extremes of behavior, one pull to the other; manic and depressive, as well.

It's a form of depression, Anderson, but only about one percent of the population has this particular form. Some of the particular signs of manic depression are pretty characteristic with the mania: Can have excessive energy, rapid speech, distractedness, restlessness, extreme irritability and aggression; and some of the symptoms, some of the ways that this might manifest itself: Poor judgment, unrealistic belief in one's powers, increased sexual drive, minimal sleep, and I'll add to that as well, denial sometimes that their disease even exists, which is why a lot of times these people go off their medications.

Also a lot of times they enjoy that manic sort of feeling. Lots of ideas coming full and fast, ability to get things done, less sleep. But obviously a disease that can be treated as well.

COOPER: Well, it's treated by medication. How effective is the treatment?

GUPTA: It's pretty good, Anderson. I mean, you know, the way to treat this and the goals of treatment are to basically try and stabilize the mood. So you don't want these sorts of big manic phases or the low depressed phases either.

Try and stabilize the mood. Lithium is a good medication for that -- also serves to prevent relapses, recurrences of this particular, you know, manic or depressive phases as well. There's also antipsychotic medications that seem to work pretty well and there are a lot of people who are very functional, I should say, who also have bipolar disorder.

COOPER: Apparently this man did not respond to the federal marshals' instructions. He acted erratically. Would that be typical of a bipolar patient's behavior if they weren't on the medication? GUPTA: Yes. You know, a couple things -- I've been thinking about this a lot, talking to some people. A couple things -- one is that some of the psychiatrists will say, look, it's worse to have been on medications and then to come abruptly off than to never be on medications at all. So stopping the medications can cause extremely erratic behavior, such as the behavior that was possibly displayed tonight.

I don't know exactly what the status of his medications were. Lots of people saying different things about that. But also, yes, just the bipolar disease itself can sometimes give people sort of an unrealistic expectation or belief in their own powers, themselves, and it could leave to this sort of erratic behavior. Not listening to law enforcement, for example.

COOPER: Right. It's so sad for this man, obviously, and his family as well. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Every year police officers across the country respond to thousands of calls involving the mentally ill. And every time, in a matter of seconds, they have to size up the situation in front of them. It's the key to preventing disaster. CNN's Randi Kaye now looks at a program that police departments around the country use to train their officers to do just that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): August 1989. Miami police officers shoot and kill a mentally ill machete-wielding man outside his home. The 59-year old was shot through the heart after failing to surrender and swinging his machete at officers.

SAM COCHRAN, MAJOR, MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Often times the perception of people who happen to have a mental illness is perceived to be always violent, always dangerous and always out to kill somebody.

KAYE: At the time, Minneapolis police weren't using what's commonly referred to as the Memphis Model; techniques now used by as many as 500 police departments. Officers receive 40 hours of special training. Major Sam Cochran, with the Memphis Police Department, helped create the model, an instant psychological evaluation.

COCHRAN: We you have multiple courses that specifically target their verbal skills, their mannerism and working with the individuals in crisis. The officers have to slow their speech down. They have to use a calm voice. They have to present themselves as one that's trying to help the individual overcome some of the fears that might be present.

KAYE: The Memphis Model spread quickly to other states after a spade of fatal shootings of the mentally unstable. March 2002, six Minneapolis police officers fatally shoot a 28- year old Somali immigrant, who was mentally ill and wielding a crowbar and a machete. Officers fired when he refused to drop his weapons.

That same month, near Gainesville, Florida, deputies killed a man threatening them with a samurai sword after he slashed one of them.

July 2003, Denver, Colorado police fatally shot a mentally ill 15-year old after he refused to drop a kitchen knife.

COCHRAN: The individuals that officers are faced oftentimes are experiencing a tremendous amount of fear and may not be perceiving the law enforcement officer as a law enforcement officer, but as something that's not real and something very threatening.

KAYE: Cochran remembers the fear he felt when he was on the other side in these confrontations. Last year the Memphis P.D. responded to over 12,000 calls involving individuals with mental illness. When a suspect is mentally unstable, officers are trained to back off and call in a crisis intervention team. Backing off a threatening individual is counter-intuitive. But when police make the right assessment, it can save lives. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I want to give you a quick look at some of the other stories we're following right now.

Former Iraqi Leader Saddam Hussein failed to show up at his trial today, just as he threatened to do yesterday. The trial went on anyway with two witnesses testifying from behind a curtain. They described a grizzly incident, some of the torture that happened under Saddam Hussein's regime. The trial resumes in two weeks.

President Bush says quiet steady progress -- those were his words -- as happening in Iraq, though he concedes that reconstruction hasn't gone as smoothly as the administration had hoped. In the second of four speeches designed to boost support for the war, President pointed to the upcoming elections as one of many signs of improvement and vowed that U.S. troops will stay in Iraq until there is complete victory.

Democratic Congressman John Murtha says he hasn't seen the progress President Bush talks about and he wants the troops out as soon as possible. Murtha says Iraqi electricity and oil production are behind pre-war levels and billions in reconstruction funds still haven't been spent.

And the U.S. Army is planning to spend big bucks to get more soldiers. Army officials say it could spend $1.35 billion to plan and execute an advertising campaign to improve recruiting over the next five years. The Army failed to meet its recruiting goals last year.

A split second and fatal decision. How much training and experience did the two air marshals who fired today really have? And what did the fast-moving drama look like from their perspective? Also ahead, new technology that could replace this: Could it make it easier to tell if a bomb threat is real? Could it have made a difference today? That's the question we'll look at.

Plus, it began as a vacation in paradise. It ended in disaster. Now the supermodel's also a tsunami survivor with a remarkable and painful story to tell. A conversation with Petra Nemcova, coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And before the September 11 terror attacks, there were only 33 federal air marshals patrolling the skies. Tonight there are perhaps thousands. Each one trained to blend in. Each one trained to kill, if necessary. They won't say the exact number, for security reasons. And since 9/11, not one of those marshals has ever had to use deadly force. That of course all changed today. CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A federal air marshal's job is to stop threats with a gun if necessary. A spokesman for the Federal Air Marshals Service said in the Miami incident, the air marshals identified themselves to Rigoberto Alpizar, but he repeatedly ignored their orders to drop his bag and put up his hands. Instead, walking towards them with his hands in the bag, saying I have a bomb. Officials say Alpizar's mental state, whatever it was, was not a factor.

DAVE ADAMS, FEDERAL AIR MARSHALL SERVICE: We have to take every threat very seriously. And if an individual says they have a bomb in their bag, we have to believe that that's a potential possibility there is. So we have to act in a law enforcement mode to try to neutralize the situation.

MESERVE: This is the first time federal air marshals have fired on the job. But because there is a possibility they will have to fire in a confined space at 30,000 feet, their training is extensive. Tom is a federal air marshal, whose identity must be protected because he works undercover.

TOM, FEDERAL AIR MARSHALL: The work in air marshal is in my opinion better than most federal agencies out there. Our standards are higher. And the amount of training that we have on it is more frequent.

MESERVE: One of the two air marshals who fired in Miami spoke Spanish. Both were experienced.

ADAMS: One of them was four years with the Border Patrol and the other FAM was a customs inspector for two years and they both joined the FAM service in 2002.

MESERVE: There are not enough air marshals to cover each of the 27,000 flights made each day by U.S. carriers, but their numbers have grown dramatically since the hijackings of September 11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We fly more missions in one month than the accumulative history of sky marshals and air marshals in this country prior to 9/11.

MESERVE: As for the quality of their training, aviation experts and members of Congress say it may have proved itself in Miami.

REP. JOHN-MICA (R), FLORIDA: These air marshals acted appropriate and I don't want any second-guessing. I support their actions today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: But, of course, the full story is not yet known. Both air marshals have been placed on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted by the FBI, the Miami Dade police and the Federal Air Marshall Service -- Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks very much. Appreciate it, Jeanne.

My next guest helped create the Sky Marshal Program for El Al, Israel's high security national airlines. Rafi Ran was also the director of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. He says the marshals did what they were trained to do. I spoke to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Rafi, do you think the federal air marshals' response was appropriate, given what we know of the circumstances thus far?

RAFI RON, NEW AGE SECURITY SOLUTIONS: Yes, I think that based on the information we have this far, I think the response of the air marshal was a very sensible one and I think that the public can feel comfortable that the air marshal was able to respond to this situation in a way that in case this was a real terrorist, they would have protected the public.

COOPER: Do you think enough is being done to screen the behavior of passengers before they get on the airline at security checkpoints? I was on a flight recently in the past -- it was an international flight. The passenger next to me was just completely drunk and acting very erratically throughout the entire flight. It made me very nervous and the other people around me. I mean, is enough being done early in the security process?

RON: No, I don't think so. Actually, I think that this is one of the weakest points in our aviation security program, where we do not pay enough attention to passengers' behavior on the ground before they board. And the security checkpoint, as we know it today, is focused on the use of technology for one purpose, and that is the detection of weapon or explosive devices. The elements of behavior are not part of that program in a very clear and strong way.

COOPER: It also raises the whole notion of air marshals. I mean, it's remarkable that there were air marshals on this flight. The majority of flights, as I understand, do not have air marshals aboard and then it basically would have been down to the flight attendants' responsibility.

RON: Yes, I think you are correct, and I think that there's no questions that this incident indicates to the importance of the air marshals program and that the presence of the air marshal on board is a critical factor in fighting the possibility of an attack against the aircraft and the passengers. But I think that with the situation right now, when we do not have enough air marshals to cover 100 percent of the flights, the fact that one can never know whether there will be air marshals on board or not is still yet a strong deterrence.

COOPER: Also, I mean these are split-second decisions that these air marshals have to use, just like a police officer does. Do you think -- I mean, how is their training? Is it -- are they trained to know the difference between a terrorist and someone who may have a mental disorder? Or is that even possible to know?

RON: Well, I'm not sure that this is really possible to do that kind of a distinction, but I think that the idea is to train the air marshals to detect behavior that creates enough suspicion that would cause them to react. And this is a basic part of the air marshaling training. I could tell you that having been an air marshal myself back years ago, this is the critical element, the decision-making of whether to actually pull a gun and use it against a human being.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well more on the incident on the plane in a moment. But first, Christi Paul from "HEADLINE NEWS," tells us what else is going on. Hi Christi.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson, good to see you.

The Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, headed by Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, announced today that it will distribute $90 million in grants; much of that directly to state to help the Gulf Coast rebuild. The charities raised $110 million from 60,000 donors. That's according to Mr. Clinton, who said that at a ceremony at the University of New Orleans. They've ranged from $16 from a child's lemonade stand, to multi-million dollar donations from foundations, corporations, even foreign governments.

Now out of the South Pacific, a volcano on one of the islands that make up the tiny nation of Banawatu, blasted steam, gas and ash today, forcing thousands to evacuate, and medical teams stood ready just in case of a major eruption.

A red zone has been declared around Mount Monaro, which has been erupting since November 27. And several ships are ready to evacuate islanders if the situation worsens dramatically.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been hospitalized for tests in London after falling ill this afternoon. Conservative party sources said the so-called "Iron Lady" is expected to go home tomorrow. Baroness Thatcher is 80 years old and retired from public life three years ago after suffering a stroke.

Does a bear sleep under the porch? Well, this one was doing just that in the town of Effort, Pennsylvania. It was sedated and pulled out by rescuers. The 600-pound bruin was moved by sled to a more suitable place to hibernate. Good news is no one was hurt. Hopefully he'll have nice long nap.

COOPER: All right. Good news on that. Thanks very much.

Ever watch something spectacular on television and say to yourself, gee, how did they do that? We had one of those moments today as we saw the bomb squad taking care of that suspicious package on a tarmac in Miami. Tonight, we're going to take you through the video, show you how the bomb squads operate. It is a fascinating inside look. You don't want to miss it.

Plus, she barely survived the tsunami in Asia, her boyfriend did not. Tonight we talk with supermodel Petra Nemcova about her life and her struggles and her determination to live after the tragedy that nearly killed her.

You're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, today, as we were glued to our television screens watching the drama unfold in Miami, after a passenger was shot and killed by federal marshals, we saw a lot of things. But how much of it do you really understand? Exactly what were those bomb squad officials doing out there on the tarmac. Earlier I went through the tape with Michael White, and FBI certified bomb technician, former commanding officer of the NYPD bomb squad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: All right. Let's take a look at this image. First we see passenger disembarking on flight 924. If you look over here, they're all coming out with their hands up over their heads. What's standard procedure in a case like this?

MICHAEL WHITE, FMR. COMMANDING OFFICER, NYPD BOMB SQUAD: Well, first thing you have to understand is it's a very difficult situation for everybody involved. And the first thing that the responding law enforcement needs to do is actually gain control. So in part of the problem with doing that is you don't know who is on the plane, you've had an incredibly stressful situation, where law enforcement had to use deadly physical force.

COOPER: And we see police have responded, fire and rescue have responded. There are a lot of different law enforcement agencies here.

WHITE: That's correct. It's not only is the situation difficult, but the location is very difficult.

COOPER: Let's go to the next picture. This is a SWAT team, from Miami, disembarking. They had to search the entire aircraft, correct?

WHITE: That's correct. The first thing they're going to do is take everybody off. As you see they made them come off in a non- threatening manner with their hands over their heads. Also, you'll notice that they weren't carrying any of their baggage off the plane. So the first thing they had to do is go on board, make sure that everybody did in fact get off the plane.

COOPER: So all the bags that are onboard this plane all have to be searched, in those overhead compartments.

WHITE: Well, unfortunately, the gentleman involved in the situation got on, was in a seat somewhere, so I'm sure his seat area, any other areas that he may have been to, the lavatory, any of the galley areas. Everything on the plane probably had to be re-swept and re-checked.

COOPER: Let's take a look at the next image. This is a bomb detection officer? Is that fair?

WHITE: He is a bomb technician.

COOPER: Bomb technician. He's wearing protective suit. How strong is this suit?

WHITE: Well, the suits, and there are several different styles, different manufacturers, most of them are rated to a certain explosive standard. There is some excellent research and the bottom line is they are blast protection, nothing is 100 percent blast proof. And they are difficult and stressful to work in.

COOPER: I want to draw attention again just to what this -- the technician is holding. Looks like a water bottle. What is it called? What does it do?

WHITE: That's one of the many tools that is in the bomb technician's tool kit. It is a form of disruption. He's going to use it, he selected that tool to go against the target that he is examining in his investigation of the luggage on the plane.

COOPER: I know you don't want to go into too much detail in exactly how it works. In general, it's called a disruptor. And it looks like it is filled with water and it is in fact.

WHITE: In general, it is a form of disruption. The term disruptor applies to several different tools. This is one that is called an MWB and it is used in a general disruption category.

COOPER: Let's watch as the officer actually approaches in the video, as he approaches the device. When you're approaching a device like this what is going through your mind? I mean, your heart has got to be beating out of -- out of that suit.

WHITE: Well, if you notice. Notice he'd looking around. He wants to make sure that there is no unexpected presence that are going to pop up. You always have to maintain -- you see, he's basically going down range to put the tool in position to use it. And by using this style of tool against that suspected package, you have to have an area that's clear.

COOPER: He has set out three -- there are three different bags they have set out, he has the MWB in his hand, he's kneeling down to it. What's he doing now?

WHITE: He's placing it. He's placing it in the manner and in the position he decides and he selects as best against that target.

COOPER: You can barely see it in this picture, but that is attached to a cord of this device. This is actually the cord, it's kind of lit up because this is actually the moment the pulse is going through the cord, correct?

WHITE: That's a still shot of that tool being activated. It's actually a very still shot of the controlling mechanism, non-L (ph), which is used to initiate the tool, the MWB, that the bomb tech selected in this particular case.

COOPER: Let's take a look at the video of what that detonation looks like. Looks quite effective. Now that big burst there, that's water?

WHITE: So you can see, it did its job. The bottom line is, again, the term disruption has two different styles, you can be precise, you can be general. The MWB is a general, it is going to kick that bag wide open, spread it's contents out. As it did, now we can go up and examine them further.

COOPER: And if there was a device in there, a bomb device, would there actually have been another explosion?

WHITE: There may have been, which is part of the reason why the bomb technician can't safely operate if there is anybody else in his area.

COOPER: Let's just take a look again at the still photo here. This is controlled -- do you call it an explosion?

WHITE: There is definitely an explosion involved.

COOPER: OK.

WHITE: That tool is explosively driven, yes.

COOPER: And that -- which looks like smoke, when I first saw it, that's water.

WHITE: That's water.

COOPER: Amazing. It is fascinating. Everyone got out OK, and again, there were no devices inside either of these carry on bags. And we're still learning a lot of the details. Michael White, appreciate you joining us.

WHITE: No problem. You're very welcome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was Michael White, with Michael Stapleton & Associates.

More from passengers who watched it all play out, when we come back. Also, technology that might just save lives the next time it happens, or stop it from happening at all. You're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We continue to get more sound from passengers who witnessed the bombing scare and shooting at Miami International Airport today. Here's what one passenger saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was chasing after him. (INAUDIBLE)

She just kept saying her husband was sick, her husband was sick. And he kinda went out. And she came back in. She kept saying the same thing over and over and over. And as soon as she came back in that's when they shot him. That's pretty much it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, at every step along the way officers had to proceed on the assumption that when Mr. Alpizar said he had a bomb, he did in fact -- have a bomb. Of course, he didn't.

But what if they had a more sensitive tool for sniffing out what is and what isn't dangerous. How many lives could have been saved or could be saved in the future when the bomb in the bag is real. The technology, it turns out, is out there. CNN's Tom Foreman is out near Dulles Airport with a preview -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson, the fact is it would do a lot to help air marshals and everybody else in security if they had a greater degree of certainty that there were not a bomb involved in all of this.

And this system may help. It is called the Pin Point System. I want to show you how it works. I'm going to take a container of potato chips, pack it in a bag like you'd normally pack for a simple trip.

And send it through an X-ray machine, exactly like the one that you see in your airport. As it goes inside here, you get the image that you always see; a lot of images, some of them a little bit hazy, some of them dark, some not. But over here on the Pin Point System, watch what happens. It specifically identifies that there is something inside the potato chip container and it tells you what it is, an explosive.

I'm going to back this up and show you exactly what we're talking about, because this is something unique in airports right now. This system is being tested right now at some other airports in the world. It is not operating at airports in this country yet, but the company that makes it hopes it might be.

Look at the can of potato chips. If you take off the top and peel away, it looks like normal potato chips. But when you dump it all out, there in the middle is an approved simulation -- this is a simulation of an explosive. But it is made of material that chemically, and in terms of density, mocks explosive material very well, TNT, or plastic explosives.

And this type of thing can be hidden in many ways. We are checking for explosives at airports now. Your bags, your big bags are going through much bigger systems than this, which check for explosives. Some airports now have these puffer machines that blow air over your body, to see if there is explosive residue on you, which shows that you might have had a bomb at some point.

You've seen, probably, some bags pulled off the line, that have carried on, and have a swab rubbed on them. And they pull off some explosive residue from that. But right now, nothing is checking all of the hand-held bags, except for a visual inspection like we talked about. And plastic explosives, these days, could be hidden in any one of these products quite easily. You could put them in a swim fin. You could certainly put something inside of a computer, that would be molded to sit there.

That's why this system, which is now 85 percent accurate. By scanning the way the X-rays pass through this bag, 85 percent of the time it can tell you definitively if there is an explosive inside the bag and if this were installed throughout the country it could check every single handheld bag.

The result being that you would know very explicitly and clearly, if there was an explosive inside and whether or not that item that you have in the bag that looks perfectly normal, in fact, should be looked at a lot more closely -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, on the original machine, on the original X-ray, that's still up there, that doesn't say explosive. Does it show it? I mean, doesn't show it as much.

FOREMAN: It doesn't show it nearly as much because -- here's the thing. What people are largely looking for when they're look in these machines, the scanners, they're trying to look for things, but they're looking for metals a lot. Metals show up as very dark items. Well, guess what, explosives aren't metal. They're organic.

So the tennis shoe looks kind of like the same thing that is in here, the square thing that looks kind of like the explosive.

COOPER: Right. Amazing.

FOREMAN: This is what makes it clear that you've got an explosive inside the bag. They're hoping maybe this technology might catch on in airports. COOPER: Wow, amazing technology. Tom Foreman, thanks very much.

One of the most remarkable of all survival stories coming up next. Petra Nemcova, she clung to life by clinging to a tree for days. Remembering the tsunami and catching up with Petra, 360 next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In a moment supermodel Petra Nemcova talks about life after the tsunami, but first Christi Paul from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we're following.

Hey, Christi.

PAUL: Hey, Anderson, good to see you.

We begin tonight in Washington where the House of Representatives today approved just over $7 billion in tax subsidies to help rebuild the battered Gulf Coast. They also authorized up to $14.8 billion in tax exempt recovery bonds for the same purpose. The bill provides a variety of tax incentives to encourage employers to rebuild in or relocate in the region.

And at a ceremony in New Orleans the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund headed by former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton announced today it will distribute $90 million in grants. Much of it directly to states to help the Gulf Coast rebuild.

In California, the Govern-ator's heart was racing last night, not because he was chasing down Democrats, though. In fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger went to the hospital to check out a possible rapid heart beat. Doctors said it could be the result of a stomach flu and determined his heart rate was normal.

This morning, Anderson, he was back at work. Back to you.

COOPER: Certainly good news that. Thanks very much, Christi.

The supermodel Petra Nemcova was already famous around the world for her great beauty, when she came to be well known for something else entirely. It was almost a year ago now, she was on vacation in Thailand and then came that earthquake and the terrible wave that would drown in water, or in mud, hundreds of thousands of people, one of them her boyfriend.

Petra Nemcova survived and continues to work to focus attention on the needs of tsunami survivors in Thailand and elsewhere. You're going to meet her in a moment, but first, Petra's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice over): It began as a vacation in paradise. Petra Nemcova, whose face has graced the covers of some of the world's most famous magazines and her boyfriend, fashion photographer, Simon Atlee were together in Thailand. It was her fifth visit, his first. They were packing to leave the resort town of Kay Loc (ph), on the day after Christmas, when the unimaginable happened.

PETRA NEMCOVA, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: I catch from my eye, like people running and I looked out of the window and the people were running away screaming trying to jump into the pool.

COOPER: Seconds later a wall of water crashed through their room, carrying the couple out the window and away from each other.

NEMCOVA: He was just screaming Petra, Petra, what's happening? And I didn't know what was happening.

COOPER: Simon vanished under the rapidly rising waters. Petra clung for her life to whatever she could find, a roof rushing by and finally the branch of a tree. Despite a broken pelvis, severe internal injuries, and a body that was bruised and battered. She hung on to the tree for eight hours. Hearing only the screams of other victims.

NEMCOVA: One of the worst things -- just you hear people and children screaming and after half an hour you don't hear them anymore and you know that they didn't have the strength to hold on.

COOPER: Hospitalized for six weeks, with countless hours of physical therapy, Petra slowly recovered from her injuries and came to terms with her loss.

NEMCOVA: Still, when I was in Czech, at the first few days, I thought he is maybe somewhere in hospital, unconscious, which was already three weeks after. And then I slowly started to realize that he not.

COOPER: She vowed never to forget the now-battered country she had come to love. The people who pulled her from near certain death. And the youngest victims of this unspeakable tragedy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we are going to talk with Petra Nemcova, herself, about her memories, the year since the tsunami, and what she's doing now to help those who like her made it through an unimaginable calamity. That is next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're joined now by the woman whose mind-boggling story we've just been telling you, supermodel and tsunami survivor Petra Nemcova. She writes about the death of her boyfriend, and her life in a new book, "Love Always, Petra".

Appreciate you being with us. Thanks so much.

NEMCOVA: Thank you.

COOPER: This really has changed your life?

NEMCOVA: Of course, it did. And not just my life, it changed the lives of millions of people and unfortunately there were more than 200,000 people which lost their lives. It has just been a very hard year for a lot of people. Not just because of the tsunami but Katrina and Rita, an earthquake in Pakistan, all these events happening.

And I hear people asking why and I guess it is just a reminder for us that we have to appreciate every moment and live fully. But also, one beautiful thing that it did, it brought people together. And I think, people, they started to realize that maybe today there is somebody in Asia, but maybe tomorrow it's us.

COOPER: And there are so many people still, in Thailand and Sri Lanka, in Banda Aceh, who need help. I mean, there are people still living -- in Banda Aceh, people are still living in tents.

NEMCOVA: Yes, it is -- I think people, sometimes we forget that it is -- it doesn't take one year to recover. It will take them maybe five years, maybe 10 years. And there is a lot of help needed. I just -- I was back in Thailand in October and it was -- you could see the reconstruction in Thailand, it is like a progressing country, but Aceh is really bad. There is still so much help needed.

COOPER: Yes. How has your recover been? I mean, take us back to that day. You were there on vacation, with your boyfriend. You had been to Thailand a number of times before. Did you have any sense that the wave was coming?

NEMCOVA: No. There was nothing. No warning. It was just before -- just screams, and people running away and in a split of a second, the wave coming and causing lots of suffering everywhere.

COOPER: Do you think about that moment, that time? Or do you try not to think about it?

NEMCOVA: Well, I kind of -- I guess the way as I healed, by reliving everything and not trying to put aside anything that would cause more deeper (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSS TALK)

COOPER: Because it never goes away?

NEMCOVA: No, no. I guess, I just try to focus on the good things. I believe, or not, I believe that each event has pluses and minuses. And as a side it brought so much love around and so much unconditional love. All the people helping selflessly and they are going to try to save people which they don't know, strangers.

COOPER: That is one -- I mean, we heard all those stories and we saw it in Katrina as well, people reaching out to strangers, literally reaching out, grabbing them and saving their lives.

NEMCOVA: Yes. COOPER: You've returned to modeling, although, now you call it your second job. Really, charity being your first job. How -- was it difficult to return to modeling?

NEMCOVA: It was quite difficult, because I was just saying to myself, what is the purpose of this? What is the meaning of this?

COOPER: Right.

NEMCOVA: And then I found -- I found the meaning it is just helps what I want to do and I what I want to do is help out the children in any possible way. And as you said, the help is still needed and --

COOPER: I want to talk about your organizations. You have Happy Hearts?

NEMCOVA: Yes.

COOPER: What is that?

NEMCOVA: Happy Hearts Fund, it is a fund which I established just after returning from Thailand the first time, because it was just very difficult and very emotional for me to come back there. And seeing so much suffering and children just living without hope and sleeping on a bare -- on the floors -- and just not knowing four months later -- that they don't know what happened to their parents. Nobody took the time to explain to them. So we established Happy Hearts for them.

COOPER: I want to put it on the screen, just where people can call and find out more information about Happy Hearts. This is a -- this is give2asia.org?

NEMCOVA: Yes. Well, we established Happy Hearts which is give2asia, which is a non-profit organization. And they've been such an incredible help. Without them we wouldn't be able to build schools and dormitories, and provide psychological and emotional programs. So I'm very thankful for them. They've been amazing.

COOPER: You are also at www.portero.

NEMCOVA: Portero.

COOPER: P-O-R-T-E-R-O, dot.com.

NEMCOVA: Yes, you can with Christmas coming up, you can get amazing presents, priceless -- there are priceless auctions items there. And you can get a present for yourself or a loved one and you can do something very meaningful, so check it out.

COOPER: Well, it is great what you are doing and it is amazing work you're doing. Appreciate your joining us. Thank you.

NEMCOVA: Oh, thank you very much. Thank you.

COOPER: I'm glad it's been a good year for you.

NEMCOVA: Thank you, from all of us.

COOPER: All right. Take care.

We're going to have more on 360 in a moment, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Thanks for watching. Larry King is next.

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