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Taking Care of Sick and Injured During War; Israeli and Lebanese Hospitals Operating Under Difficult Conditions; Children in War Suffering Physically, Emotionally and Psychologically; Cyprus Having Difficulty Keeping Up With Evacuees

Aired July 22, 2006 - 08:30   ET


RICHARD LUI, CNN ANCHOR: If you're just joining us this hour, we're following breaking news in the Middle East this morning for you. Here's what we know at this moment. Israeli warplanes struck a television and cell phone relay tower north of Beirut. And so far it has not affected the TV feeds we are monitoring out of Lebanon.
Now, south of Beirut, Israeli military sources confirm that some Israeli troops are inside Lebanon and are holding positions there. Now, most of the Israeli force remains inside Israel along the Lebanese border at this moment. The Israeli military says it has called up 6,000 reservists as reinforcements there.

All right now we're going to go to Randi Kaye who's been watching everything happening out of the Middle East at the international desk -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Our staff here at the international desk has been working the phones and working the feeds and we're trying to confirm a location which we've now been able to do for that crossing into the Lebanon area from Israel. Israeli tanks entering Lebanon we're being told they've moved across the border there to an area called Maroun Al-Ras. This is a Lebanese border village. You're looking at pictures from that area.

For the last 10, 15 minutes or so, we've been watching the Israeli tanks roll through there. You're looking now at live pictures. You can see some tanks there in the area. We've also been watching live shelling, some explosions.

This is the Lebanese border village across from Avivim in Israel, where there already is a presence, we're being told by our editors here on the international desk, of Israeli soldiers, although Hezbollah does deny that there is any Israeli presence there.

Just a few moments ago, Israeli tanks, bulldozers, personnel carriers knocked down this border fence at the U.N. observation post in Lebanon. They entered the area of Maroun Al-Ras. They brought with them about 25 soldiers, we're told, according to the Associated Press, raced past a U.N. post and headed into this village, where we have learned that other Israeli soldiers have been present.

This is not a storming. It's not being called a storming by our editors here. But we have been seeing the tanks rolling through and the live shelling. Richard? LUI: OK, Randi Kaye at the international desk, thank you very much for keeping us on top of everything happening out of the Middle East.

Now starting a special edition of "HOUSE CALL." That starts right now.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Beirut, Lebanon. Welcome to a very special edition of HOUSE CALL.

Today marks the 11th day of intense fighting between the Israelis and Hezbollah, but as you know, as you've been hearing and viewing and seeing, it is often civilians that pay the greatest price.

So far to date, approximately 297 people have died. Several hundred more have been wounded. It has been intense fighting going on.

So how do you take care of the sick and the injured during the war? Well, the best way to find out sometimes is to actually visit the hospitals as I did. Here's what we found.


GUPTA: We're hearing stories, I mean dramatic ones, of doctors being unable to practice medicine in the hospital itself, actually having to go underground, being unable to do the operations they normally perform -- again, only being able to do small operations underground.

(voice-over): We arrived at Mount Lebanon Hospital in an area close to heavy Israeli air strikes. And that's where met 36-year old Zagad Melon (ph).

He'd been taking an early morning walk south of Beirut. In a flash, he became another victim of an Israeli bombing, thrown 30 feet through the air with shrapnel piercing his feet, hands, and his intestines. He will live.

Things look more grim for 27-year-old Lebanese soldier Lahud Lahud. Also the victim of an air strike. He lost his right leg. He may lose the left one as well, a mangled face concealed behind tight bandages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very deep wound here.

GUPTA: If he does survive, Lahud, like many others here, have Dr. Nazih Gharios to thank. He's the leader of Mount Lebanon Hospital.

(on camera): I mean, you've had explosions all around this hospital.

NAZIH GHARIOS, DR., MOUNT LEBANON HOSPITAL: Yes. GUPTA: You have a bridge over there, which is a target. You've had actual explosions over there. We're two kilometers from Hezbollah. We're a target here.

GHARIOS: Yes, of course. We are a target and we are very afraid. It's like a Russian roulette. You don't know if you will arrive safe at the hospital, or you will have some air strike. Or I don't know.

GUPTA: Just standing on that roof made me nervous. But Dr. Gharios made sure his hospital stayed open when every other business around had been shut down.

GUPTA: Why do it?

GHARIOS: I think I am the doctor. I have a responsibility. I run this hospital. And I think people need me, patients need me.

GUPTA: So how does a hospital and its leader practice medicine in wartime? Let me give you a sense of how a hospital works during a war.

First of all, we've come two levels below the ground. That's where all the patients need to be. And everything changes once you get down here.

First of all, that's the radiology waiting area. Now it's a maternity ward. You have pregnant women that actually deliver their babies. The babies are here as well.

Babies arriving in a troubled homeland.

So I guess this really makes it hit home. You see a baby. She was actually born June 8th. She weighed less than a pound. And in the middle of her already very short life, she had to be transported in the middle of a bomb raid to the basement, to the cath lab, which is now her new home.

Both staff and patients feel safer in this improvised subterranean ward, away from the all too familiar whine of sirens and the thuds of missiles.

Dr. Gharios said that his hospital can cope for a few weeks at most. Supplies are running short. Some of his staff are starting to leave, concerned for their own families.


GUPTA: And CNN's Karl Penhaul is on the front lines. He's been in some of the most heavily bombed areas in Lebanon and southern Lebanon doing some remarkable reporting.

Karl, first of all, thanks for joining us. I'm glad you're well. What are you seeing down there in Tyre?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Tyre this morning, unfortunately again, fresh air assaults by Israeli warplanes. That occurred earlier on this morning. And we've heard Israeli helicopters.

We've also heard one of the unmanned drones. And most of those bombing raids have been to the south and to an eastern region. But all those sounds here -- in the last few minutes, we have heard some outgoing fire, what we suspect are missiles being fired by Hezbollah. One person told us these probably are two missiles.

GUPTA: You know, it's -- Karl, I have to tell you here in Beirut, things were kind of quiet last night, but it sounds like the -- it's sort of continuing down there, closer to where you are.

Do you get a sense, Karl, for how are you actually able to take care? How are they taking care of patients who are injured down there? Are there resources at the hospitals available?

PENHAUL: Well, we have spent quite a lot of time in the hospitals. In fact, in front of me is Najim Hospital, Tyre's Najim Hospital, where they've asked us not to set up transmission equipment because there's a lot of paranoia here about the kind of technology we're using, fear and people fear that maybe the Israeli military will use it to target the buildings where we are. That's why we're pointing the camera away from the hospital.

And behind us about 50 feet away is a 500 pound bomb crater, which left a 25 foot hole. And that has to be 100 yards from the hospital. So you can see that it's very hit and miss here.

The doctors and the nurses are continuing to operate in the hospital. We were there two days ago seeing some of the patients. They're working very hard, Sanjay. I mean, they really are working hard.

Now the doctors say to me, they say first of all, we're not trained in caring for combat injuries. They say that we're running out of supplies. They're even running out of food.

While we were there, a 45-year-old man came in on a stretcher. Shrapnel had sliced his left leg off. He had a piece of shrapnel that had gone into his brain. 10 minutes after he came in, he died, Sanjay. So it's been difficult for these doctors. They're trying to work around the clock, but they're really struggling. Sanjay?

GUPTA: Well, that's remarkable, Karl. Please be safe down there. I'm sure the doctors are concerned with their own safety as well. CNN's Karl Penhaul doing some incredible reporting down there. Thank you, Karl.

Paula Hancocks is also joining us. She's in the port city of Haifa, which has been the site of several rocket attacks. Concerns there, as well, about how to take care of the injured. Paula, I know you've done some reporting out of the hospitals down there. What are you seeing?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sanjay, we were down there yesterday. And while we were down there for just a matter of a couple of hours, there were three air raid sirens and also two barrages of rockets that hit the city itself.

Now in one of those rockets, there were many that were injured. We saw one lady come in, who had been very close to the weather missile itself hit. She'd lost part of a leg. She was rushed into the hospital and then in an ambulance behind. Someone had actually brought her limb in to try and reattach it.

Now there's constantly about 20 trolleys, bed trolleys outside the hospital that are waiting for these casualties. And there is a constant stream of people coming in.

It's very difficult conditions as well for the doctors to be working under. One doctor I spoke to did say that if you are in an operating theater, then that is your world. The patient is your world, whether there are missiles striking, whether there are sirens going, you cannot focus on that as you have to focus on the patient.

But the added problem is, in this particular hospital, the Ramban hospital is in the line of fire. The majority of the hospital faces out to sea. It's a beautiful view at any moment. It's facing north. But at this point, it is facing Lebanon. And this is where all the rockets, these Hezbollah rockets are coming from.

And just a couple of hundred meters away, an apartment block was hit by one of these rockets. So this is a serious concern for this hospital that they could actually take a direct hit.

Now the hospital itself has moved the maternity ward, which is facing north, trying to bring it deeper into the hospital. It's trying leave as few patients as possible on that side of the building because the director was saying this is actually the first time in its 98-year history of this hospital they actually feel under serious threat. Sanjay?

GUPTA: Yes, and talk about that a little. It's interesting because you know, Paula, you'd imagine hospitals and ambulances that have the Red Cross in them and the Red Crescent on them are usually immune -- at least somewhat to, you know, being attacked. Is that true? Or did the people in the hospital actually feel as vulnerable as any of the buildings around them?

HANCOCKS: Well, that's the feeling. As soon as you go into a hospital, you assume that you are safe. And you assume that the doctors are going to take care of you.

And of course, the doctors do take care of the more than 150 patients they've had from casualties from these rockets over the past week or so.

But the fact is once they are inside, they are still under threat because they're still in Haifa. They are on the sea front. And these rockets are landing very close by to this hospital itself. Whether or not Hezbollah wants to target this hospital is academic because the fact is these rockets are not accurate. They're very random. And they don't differentiate between a residential house and between a hospital where people are being treated.

So the doctor himself did say that it is worrying even in the past wars that Haifa has been involved in and Israel has been involved in. Never have they been directly in the line of fire.

They're only 20 miles south from the Lebanon border. Now the doctors that I have spoken to, though, did say that they -- once they hear the siren, and we heard a siren when we were in a children's leukemia ward which did face north, faced Lebanon.

And what they had to do, of course, because many of these children were hooked up to drips, they were hooked up to machines and couldn't be moved, they covered the windows to make sure there was no shattering. Those that they could move, even very slowly, had to be moved into a safe room, which is not a bunker. It's just basically a room without windows. Sanjay?

GUPTA: Really remarkable stuff. And again, it's remarkable to think that actually these doctors trying to take care of patients under attack themselves. Paula, thank you so much for joining us.

You're watching a very special edition of HOUSE CALL, live from Beirut, Lebanon. When we come back after the break, UNICEF is here in Lebanon as well and Beirut. How do they take care of the neediest patients of all the children? We'll have that. Stay with us.


KAYE: Good morning once again. I'm Randi Kaye at CNN's international desk. We are following some breaking news in the Middle East developments.

We want to show you some pictures that we're getting in right now from APTN. You are looking at the area of Maroun Al-Ras. This is a Lebanese border village across from Avivim in Israel.

Already Israeli soldiers are there, but Israeli tanks have been entering that area for the last, oh, 30, 40 minutes or so. Israeli tanks, bulldozers, personnel carriers. Apparently they have knocked down a border fence and entered the area of Maroun Al-Ras in southern Lebanon. They've brought in about 25 soldiers.

They've raced past the U.N. outpost. And they're headed into this village, where other Israeli soldiers apparently already had control.

We're also told that artillery based inside Israel, artillery inside Israel was firing into this area. We've been watching the shelling. You're looking at this new video, new pictures coming into CNN from APTN. We will continue to monitor this throughout the morning, throughout the day.

We want to return you now to HOUSE CALL with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

GUPTA: All right. And welcome back to a special edition of HOUSE CALL live from Beirut, Lebanon. I'm joined now by special guest, Roberto Laurenti from UNICEF. He's been living in Lebanon for almost three years.

Now you have a very challenging task here trying to take care of the children not just from the explosions, but children who may have some psychological trauma, as well. What are you doing out here?

ROBERTO LAURENTI, UNICEF: Very correct, sir. Very much so. You can see the scars. You know, you can see the damage, the physical damage that has been done on the building, the roads, and infrastructure.

What you actually don't see very well is the emotional scars, the psychological scars. You're talking about 250,000 young people having been displaced in the last week. Some of them have been finding, you know, refuge in shelter in public schools. You're talking about 90,000 out of whom 30,000 are here all in Beirut.

They occupied more than 78 public schools here in Beirut, public schools, public schools that usually housed one-third of the students. So I try to let you imagine how crowded these places are. And these kids have to be immediately taken care before the trauma from acuity turns to chronic.

GUPTA: Well, here's the thing, though. I visited a bunch of hospitals here. And it seems like it's hard enough to take care of people who have been injured from the explosions...

LAURENTI: Correct.

GUPTA: ...people who have heart disease or diabetes. Where does psychological trauma sort of fall in the pecking order in terms of things that get taken care of?

LAURENTI: I would say contrary to, you know, different school of thoughts, and I think differently for us, it's extremely urgent. We immediately act because living in such environment with the shelling, troubles with the others can only but inflate their trauma. The trauma every other day if it's not properly taken care, is going to deteriorate. And from, you know, acute to chronic is just question of time. Timing is essential also to immediately attack.

GUPTA: So what is it that you do exactly? So you have these displaced children living in schools.


GUPTA: Now UNICEF actually goes in, does counseling? How does it work?

LAURENTI: Well, we will do several things at the same time. I mean, we don't forget obviously about the injured, OK? We don't forget about the other displaced -- the other needs of the displaced in terms of sanitation, in terms of soap, in terms of shampoo, in terms of water.

These schools have been conceived to serve 350 kids. Just to give you an example, the school that I visited the other day. Now they house 900. And their water system, the sanitation system can't absorb this demand that has tripled just overnight.

GUPTA: Right.

LAURENTI: Obviously for us, it's extremely critical to pay attention to the psychological issue, because while the other elements are very visible and therefore attractive to many other (INAUDIBLE), the psychological has always been considered as a softer kind of impact, you know.

GUPTA: Right.

LAURENTI: So for us, timing is of essence. And what we do, actually, we try first of all to keep the children busy, playing. Let them enjoy the right to play. Should we bring in recreational kits? The recreational kits with a kit not only then visible (ph), but would allow social workers to spot among the kids, those that are suffering more than others from trauma, and refer them to counseling.


LAURENTI: Timing, as I said, is optimum essence.

GUPTA: It's so critical to get in as early as possible.

LAURENTI: Correct.

GUPTA: Dr. Robert Laurenti from UNICEF, our guest. Very important information.

Randi Kaye, back you. I understand we have an important update.

KAYE: We do, Sanjay. We are watching an area called Maroun Al- Ras. This is a Lebanese border village, where Israeli tanks have rolled in earlier this morning. We want to show you some new video coming into CNN here at the international desk.

This border village is right across from Avivim in Israel. Apparently, according to the Associated Press, Israeli tanks and bulldozers and personnel, you can see right there, have rolled in. They have knocked down a border fence at the U.N. observation post. This is in southern Lebanon. About 25 soldiers apparently racing past a U.N. outpost and heading into this village where other Israeli soldiers do have control.

Hezbollah denies that there is an Israeli presence there, but we are told that there certainly is. Artillery based across the border inside Israel is now firing into this area. And we have been able to watch the shelling live and also watch the tanks roll through.

We'll continue to watch this area Maroun Al-Ras. A special edition of HOUSE CALL with Dr. Sanjay Gupta live from Beirut will continue in just a moment.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: If you are just joining us, we are following breaking news in the Middle East this morning.

Here is what we know so far. Israeli warplanes struck a television and cell phone relay tower north of Beirut. So far, it has not affected the TV feeds that we're monitoring out of Lebanon.

Now south of Beirut, Israeli military sources confirm that some Israeli troops are inside Lebanon and are holding positions. Most of the Israeli force remains inside Israel along the Lebanese border.

The Israeli military says it has called up 6,000 reservists as reinforcements.

Now it's not known if all of those Israeli troops will move into Lebanon, but Lebanese leaders vow to defend against any invasion. At least 261 people have been killed in Lebanon by the Israeli strikes. That is according to official Lebanese sources.

Now in Israel, at least 34 people have died from the Hezbollah rocket attacks. 15 of those were civilians, 19 Israeli soldiers.

We want to stay with CNN throughout the day for the latest information from the most trusted name in news.

And speaking of information, let's get straight to Randi Kaye. I know you've been following developments in Lebanon as Israeli troops move in.

KAYE: Yes, Betty. We have some new video coming into us. CNN has been capturing these pictures of this breaking news that we've been following in the area called Maroun Al-Ras. This is a Lebanese border village.

Now these pictures were shot from Avivim, which is on the Israel side of the border. As the tanks were rolling into Maroun Al-Ras, which is the Lebanese border village across from Avivim.

We're told that Israeli soldiers are already present there, although Hezbollah is denying that. Israeli tanks, bulldozers, and other armored vehicles, including personnel, about 25 soldiers raced past this U.N. observation post apparently knocking down the border fence and crossing into Maroun Al-Ras a short time ago.

We've been watching these feeds as they've been coming in here to the CNN international desk. Live shelling. We've been watching the tanks rolling through. You can see some of the explosions there.

But once again, these are pictures from CNN coming into us right now, shot from the area of Avivim -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Randi, we will have more from you at the top of the hour. In the meantime, let's get back to Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Beirut. He's doing really magnificent reporting out of there. Hi, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Hey, Betty. Thanks so much.

And just north of where Randi was reporting from, we are just south of Beirut proper. Remarkable thing. As you've seen for a couple days now, people trying to make their way out of Lebanon. Thousands and thousands of refugees. Many of them end up in Larnaca, Cyprus. We're going to have a live report from there when HOUSE CALL continues.


GUPTA: Welcome back to a very special edition of HOUSE CALL. We're live in Beirut.

It's been an interesting time here. We've been trying to figure out whether or not we're actually developing a humanitarian crisis. People have been saying that for some time. They're injured on the ground. There are also people who just don't have access to medical care.

But thousands and thousands of people are simply just trying to leave. Evacuees to several different places. One of the biggest places is Larnaca, Cyprus.

What we're learning now is that that tiny little island is getting more evacuees in there, than they are getting out. That makes for a very crowded island. And that's where you find CNN's Chris Burns as well.

Chris, as you know, you and I just talked there a couple of days ago. First of all, how are things in Larnaca? Are they able to keep up with the growing numbers?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, it's very difficult. Last number today is 24,000 people having come through here. And of course, yes, many are still here.

Over my shoulder is a French chartered ship. And that came with about 1,000 people early this morning. About 3,000 Americans came on U.S. military ships at the other port in Limassol near here.

And it's a very, very difficult situation for a lot of people trying to process them through. What we are hearing is, it's not a question of people injured, but it's a question of people who are either ill or psychologically affected by the conflict.

We talked to some medical officials, some rescue people here who say that people going through a lot of stress, especially children. And they are dealt with by these medical teams.

I also talked to a Cypriot rescue official, who said that at the hospitals here are handling their caseload, but they're getting full. Somewhere around 80 percent capacity. And if there is continued flood of people, and if it increases, that they would need help.

So he said as far as international help, he said he doesn't need it yet, but perhaps later. Sanjay?

GUPTA: You know, that port area where you are, Chris, I mean, so talk us through it. When the people are actually coming off the ship, hundreds if not thousands of people, is there a staging area where they're quickly assessed to determine if they have medical needs? Or are they taken to hospitals? How does that all work there?

BURNS: Yes, absolutely. They're placed on buses. They're transported over here to a building, a customs building, where they're processed. Passports checked.

But also, there are different desks with different flags of different countries. And that's where people show up, where they're received by their country folk. Medical teams, rescue teams, consular officials, they talk to them, find out what their needs are.

There are some people like women coming with three or four children. They need basic things, baby food, water, pampers. It's -- many of them are absolutely overwhelmed. And that's where they really need that help here.

So that's what they're getting here, but it's very difficult. They're taken on to either hotels or to temporary housing, where they'll be placed before they're put on planes. And that is what people are dealing with here. It is a growing situation.

GUPTA: CNN's Chris Burns, thanks so much.

Thank you as well at home for watching a very special edition of HOUSE CALL. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. We will continue to report to you from Beirut, Lebanon about what some are calling a humanitarian crisis. And keep tuned to CNN for all of your news and the news on the Mideast conflict. "CNN SATURDAY MORNING" starts now.


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