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Special Report: Devastation in Haiti

Aired January 16, 2010 - 07:30   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. Dr. Sanjay Gupta was to bring you this program, his program, live from Port-au- Prince. But he spent the night caring for patients left behind at a field hospital when U.N. officials ordered their medical teams to evacuate because of security concerns.

Betty and I will be here with you, stepping in for him while he continues his work on the injured there in Port-au-Prince.


Also, Ivan Watson joins us with the latest on the search and rescue efforts. Is it running out of time? Are the people running out of time? We're going to try to answer that.

And Elizabeth Cohen reports on the children left behind.


HOLMES: We do want to start with our Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Hours ago, while reporting on a new field hospital that was set up in Port- au-Prince, our Dr. Gupta ended up taking on the care of dozens of patients.

Let's show you how this played out as it happened last night on "AC360."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a remarkable situation and a very frustrating one for sure, Anderson. There were these tents put up earlier today, something that people have been waiting for for sometime. You and I talked about this quite a bit.

Come with me over here, to give you an idea of what's happening. So many of these patients have been waiting for so long to try and get care, Anderson. Just coming around the corner here, you can see patients just lined up all through here. Some of them did get care throughout the day today. In fact, about a couple hundred patients did get care.

But now, what we're hearing is that because of security concerns, all of the doctors, nurses, everyone is, in fact, packing their bags and they're leaving. Anderson, it's kind of dark out there. I don't know if you can see over there, but trucks actually are going to be taking these doctors and nurses away.

What is so striking to me as a physician, Anderson, and reporting this story for sometime now, is that patients who just had surgery, patients who are critically ill, are essentially being left here and nobody to care for them. It's really just a hard to believe what's happening right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: How bad can the security situation be? I mean, you were there last night past midnight.

GUPTA: I know. And we, obviously, as you know, have our own security team with us. And they're doing assessments continuously. And Haiti is -- Port-au-Prince in particular, does have some levels of violence that we've been hearing about over the last couple of days. There's been concerns about a mob mentality. There's been concerns about looting. I haven't seen any of these things with my own eyes.

But apparently, it was enough to, to have the U.N. essentially try and evacuate these doctors. And so many patients who have been waiting so long to get care are not going to get care. And patients who just received again major operations on this operating table over here, right behind me, are essentially just being left here. They have I.V.s hanging.

Literally, one of the doctors came over to me a little while ago and said, "Here's where the I.V. bags are, here's where the stethoscope is, we have to go."

And that's -- they have to go. And I don't think that they want to go. And I'm not trying to imply that at all. I think they want to stay and take care of their patients. But they are being told to go.


NGUYEN: Well, this just in: the medical team that was evacuated by U.N. personnel overnight are now returning to the field hospital.

I want to show you some new video that's coming into CNN. Dr. Gupta has been updating the doctors with the status of the patients who he treated throughout the night. He filed this report just moments ago.


GUPTA: Well, it's around 7:00 in the morning now outside this field hospital. And as you know by now, we had an unusual night. The doctors that were caring for these patients were asked by the United Nations to leave. And we decided to stay and try to take care of these patients, who would otherwise have been abandoned.

We didn't quite know how this was all going to end but we know that more patients even came in throughout the night -- patients with head injuries, patients with legs that had been either fractured or even amputated. These are the types of injuries that are happening here. But just a little short time ago, the doctors did return, these Belgian doctors, and they're back to taking care of the patients. And I gave a sign-out on what was going on with all of these patients. They can go forward with their care for the future.

So a lot of discussion is going to come out of this, but this is the most important point for me: the patients are all doing great, and they're going to get great care.

Back to you.


NGUYEN: Just a little bit of hope there in a desperate situation. Thankfully, Sanjay Gupta was able to stay the night and work throughout the night, hasn't been to sleep at all, to make sure that he cared for those patients.

Now, we're bringing in CNN contributor, Lieutenant General Russel Honore. You've had a lot of experience with desperate situations like this with Katrina. Watching the situation in Haiti, how does it differ?

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's different in that the getting into Haiti is a lot harder than getting into the gulf coast of the United States. That being said, the concern, what it's like, the concern over security many times prevent actions from happening that can actually save lives.

And this is where the commander on the ground, General Keen, is going to have to coordinate with the U.N. Where is that U.N. commander? We know they took a lot of losses in the command structure, but somebody's in command.

And they need to communicate through the press, because as was the case in Katrina, many times our headquarters in various branches of the service, found out what was going on, from interviews being done with the commanders on the ground.

And when there was a need, I would look around and there was an Air Force plane coming in because they saw me talking on the news, reporting we needed help someplace. And I think that's the kind of open collaboration because they do not have the communication system to be able to pick up the phone and at the right place and the right time.

So using the media as a part of getting your message out is something that the U.N. needs to get involved with and start letting people know what's going on so the Haitian government can start telling their people.

HOLMES: But, you, also, in the situation about -- I mean, there are security concerns. But at the same time, we hear the possibility of riots. We hear the possibility of violence. But we haven't seen it. And that was kind of the case in New Orleans as well.

HONORE: That doesn't sit well with my war ethos.


HONORE: You know, on D-Day, we lost 9,000 casualties to go save people. These U.N. teams need to man up. They need to get out there and save lives.

And there may be some risk involved. But I can tell you, I -- there are very few situations where you're trying to save somebody's life or you're trying to hand them a meal -- yes, control around those situations we saw yesterday, that's minor actions. But that's why these soldiers are trained.

The U.N. needs to step up, get the security in, and coordinate with the U.S. military so we could bring those Marines and the 82nd Airborne in to help them.

NGUYEN: But doesn't that go back to your point of communication, perhaps they're getting bad information about riots and gangs with machetes coming toward the field hospital so they're called to evacuate.

HONORE: Watch CNN. Gupta has been there two nights in a row. Watch CNN.

We used to call in the First Army, CNN intelligence. You can learn a lot by watching the media and all the media. They're all over the place and that becomes a part of your operation plan. That's what I used in Katrina. Until we've got the command and control structure. And they will have to get more helicopters in there immediately.

NGUYEN: Because they need food, they need aid immediately.

HONORE: They need to be dropping it and then working with the Haitian people to clear drop zones so they can bring that medical equipment and come in and evacuate these critical patients that need to get to the aircraft carrier until the Comfort gets there.

NGUYEN: Yes. That's not going to be pretty. It's not going to be organized. But at this point, is that the best way to get what they need?

HONORE: Absolutely. They've got to adapt and overcome.


HONORE: You know, there's a lot of people out there who want to play football. You're playing soccer here. You've got to go off the information you have, take some risks to go in and save lives. And I'm telling you, those soldiers are ready to do it and those sailors and marines. We just got to let them go and let them work with the U.N. and get this done.

HOLMES: General Honore, we're so glad to have you here. You know this stuff. Unfortunately, you have this experience, but it's good to have the knowledge to lean on. We're going to be talking to you plenty. You're going to be here with us on CNN throughout the day.

So, thank you, General. We'll talk to you again shortly.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

All right. So, straight ahead, Ivan Watson joins us live with the latest on the search and rescue efforts. It is a race against time.

HOLMES: Also this morning, a lot of you all out there who want to help the victims of this quake -- log on to our Web site at to find a full list of agencies providing emergency relief and accepting donations. You'll also see a find your loved ones module with the State Department's toll-free number. Also, a link to the iReport's "Looking for Loved Ones" photo gallery.



IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: OK. She's telling me that she's a single mother with one daughter. And the daughter is trapped here right now. She's talking and there's nobody out here to help her.


HOLMES: Just one of the many stories we are seeing from that earthquake zone. That was coming to us from our Ivan Watson, who has been doing a lot of great reporting there for us. And I want to bring Ivan in right now. He's joining us live.

Ivan, so much of the story seems to be turning to trying to just keeping people alive, a lot of those survivors. But there are still search-and-rescue efforts going on as well.

WATSON: Yes. We're into our fourth day now, T.J., the beginning of the fourth day here. And the chance of finding a survivor, that is diminishing rapidly.

However, despite that, on Friday, our colleagues from Channel 9 Australia, they were -- they were walking around in the rubble. And some locals heard the sound of a baby's cries. And they actually stumbled on an 18-month-old, they believe, a little girl in the bottom of a hole.

And their translator, D.B. Cicero (ph), a young Haitian man, he crawled into the hole, spent about a half hour and pulled out a live, little girl named Winnie (ph), 18 months old, and handed her off to her uncle. And she looked surprisingly strong, considering the ordeal.

So, there are still moments like this that were taking place on Friday, moments that kind of give you hope. That perhaps some more survivors could emerge from this carnage, T.J. HOLMES: Yes. And one of the stories, Ivan, it broke out hearts to watch the story a little while ago, that 11-year-old girl who was pulled out from under that rubble. But go ahead and tell the story a little bit. I know there's an update about her as well.

WATSON: Well, T.J., I think this is part of the sad and very tragic reality on the ground here in Haiti, is that even if someone is pulled from one of these awful death traps, and rescued, from being pinned, as was the case of this little, 11-year-old girl named Annika Sanlui (ph), who we've found on Thursday, who had been trapped underneath rubble with volunteers frantically trying to cut her free.

She was pulled out around sunset on Thursday and then sadly, passed away several hours later, as a result of her injuries -- even though she had been very active and seemed very strong under the rubble.

Simply, the medical care is just not here right now, to take care of the vast number of victims throughout this city. This is a massive catastrophe. And this one little tragic case of 11-year-old Annika Sanlui, it kind of sums up the odds that the -- that the Haitians are dealing with right now. And an incredibly difficult and tragic circumstances here.

HOLMES: And, Ivan, one last thing here, I just want to ask you about your perspective, my man, because you've been there for a few days now. Just over days, how has it seemed to be changing a bit, the tone, the attitudes maybe? Also even just the number of supplies and help that's coming in. Just kind of set the scene that you've been seeing over the past few days, how things are changing day to day.

WATSON: Well, I think, T.J., clearly, on Wednesday, this was a city in complete and utter shock. I mean, people were just kind of walking around, they appear dazed. They would ignore us completely. Just -- it hadn't clearly, the scale of this crisis had not quite set in.

Now, people seem to be hitting a rhythm. They're trying to survive basically. Those hundreds of thousands who are homeless now are looking for temporary shelter, trying to feed their children, trying to take care of wounds, trying to just get water to -- just get water is a big challenge right now. Some of them are moving out into the countryside, evacuating the city because the city is a very difficult place to live right now.

And we're starting to see signs of the international efforts starting to arrive.

Just behind me yesterday, we could see a U.S. aircraft carrier cruising past and Coast Guard ships. How do they dock at this port, though, that has been so ruined and is the key lifeline for supplies for the city? That's going to be a big challenge because the port is very damaged, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Ivan Watson, we thank you so much for your reporting and that perspective. We'll be talking to you again soon. NGUYEN: Well, we do want to remind you that Dr. Sanjay Gupta is treating patients at a field hospital in Port-au-Prince. And we're stepping in for him here in Atlanta.

We also want to show you some medicine on the front lines. Sanjay visited a clinic earlier in the week and he called it jungle medicine. You've got to see this to believe it.

Also, Elizabeth Cohen joins us live from a clinic where she is with the smallest victims of this tragedy. Their stories -- next.


NGUYEN: You know, once someone is pulled out of the rubble, another battle begins. And that's how to get medical help in a country that had little medical infrastructure to begin with.

HOLMES: And now, those hospitals are overwhelmed, medical supplies and doctors are scarce. And our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that's exactly why he's not here this morning. Normally, he would be here on SANJAY GUPTA, M.D., his show that airs every 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time. But he is still treating patients at a field hospital in Port-au- Prince. We're stepping in here for him here in Atlanta.

But he did file this report on an overwhelmed clinic he came across.


GUPTA: What you are looking at is a makeshift mortuary in one of the few hospitals that still up and running here in Port-au-Prince, if you can call it that. Over the past few hours, we've seen dozens of bodies come out of this mortuary, and taken to a truck where they're taken to another ground, bodies not even being identified.

So much of the attention is now focused over here. And patients who are alive are in desperate need of medical care.

I want to try and walk through here to give you a different perspective of what's happening in the aftermath of this natural disaster here in Haiti.

Literally, dozens of patients are just lining the halls. Here, you have patients on cardboard boxes like this. They have hardly any resources to care for patients like him. When I say "no resources," I mean, no gauze, hardly any bandages and very few I.V.s. To get antibiotics, to get pain medication is a very difficult thing to do.

Lots of types of injuries here after an earthquake. You see a lot of crash injuries, you see penetrating injuries.

You see this gal who we talked to earlier who has a broken leg, and they are literally using some ace wrap and a wooden board to try and keep her leg stable. This is jungle medicine. It is primitive medicine. But it's medicine that can sometimes work, but hardly ever does. You see as well more cardboard boxes over here. You see another splint, again, using a wooden board like that to try and offer a little bit of stability. They are trying to take that off right now. They are trying to examine the leg. The man doing that is not a doctor, it's his friend.

We keep walking through here, if we make our way out of the hospital -- again, one of the few that are up and running. You can just see how busy this place is. This is where you want to be. This is an actual hospital.

Out here is where things get even more challenging. This is where you have areas of makeshift tents. Patients in these little cloth tents who are brought here because there's really nothing else that can be done for them. They have no resources at all, nobody to take care to them. So, the health care personnel bring these patients out here to try and get them out of the way so they try to take care of more patients in the hospital.

To walk through here, you've probably never seen anything quite like this. Stretchers outside, under trees, I.V.s hanging from trees -- that is what is necessary here, that is what is happening here in Haiti, in Port-au-Prince.

Outside on the streets, patients know of this place and they keep coming here. Just take a look at the long waiting line. People are waiting to be seen. They're going to continue waiting for hours and days.

Even as I was telling you about the patients waiting inside, another truck pulls up -- and as you can tell, this is the reality for a lot of people. These are -- these are two patients who are deceased. They are brought to the hospital as their loved ones simply looking for a place, something to do with their bodies.


HOLMES: And coming up next, Elizabeth Cohen is going to be live from a U.N. makeshift medical camp where children are left without their families.


NGUYEN: A reminder that Dr. Sanjay Gupta is treating patients at a field hospital in Port-au-Prince right now and we are stepping in for him here in Atlanta.

But at the United Nations compound, a makeshift clinic is just overrun with victims, including children who have been orphans.

Elizabeth Cohen is there and she's having technical difficulties, but she did file this report.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: After two days in this makeshift hospital, I thought I'd seen it all -- amputations and this side of the road, huge gaping open wounds, but you know what? I haven't seen it all.

I want to introduce you to someone else. His name is Sean. Now, Sean is an orphan, and he can't take care of himself completely and sometimes, doctors and nurses have time for him like now, but not all the time. So there have been times where Sean has come and talked to us.

Now, you'll see Sean has a yellow dot on his head, which means that he's not as critically injured as some of the other children or some of the other people here. But he's still in pretty tough shape. Sometimes, I heard him scream out at night and if someone is nearby, the doctors and nurses nearby, they bring him morphine. But it doesn't happen all the time.

This little girl had no one with her for days. And her hands were injured. So, she couldn't feed herself. So, nobody was nearby. So, I helped her eat and drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, in this country, there are very few orphanages and hundreds and thousands of orphans. That number has been tripled in the last 48 hours. And basically they'll become street kids. Some are used as slaves by families who will take them in and it's just very tragic.

COHEN: I was sitting right here earlier when a woman approached me today frantic. She's saying that mommy and daddy aren't home.


COHEN: But there is no home.

Just when I thought none of these orphans would ever find a home, a man walked in with this photo asking if anyone had seen her. It turns out she's the girl I was feeding earlier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very happy. (INAUDIBLE) for three days, no family around, and we thought she's an orphan. And now, (INAUDIBLE).


NGUYEN: Finally some good stories.

HOLMES: There are some -- there are some of those there, seemingly far and few in between. But still, we will continue to bring you those as we get them.

We also want to give an update. Normally, of course, Sanjay would be doing his show SANJAY GUPTA, M.D. here from 7:30 to 8:00 Eastern. Well, Betty and I have here because Sanjay has been busy treating patients at a hospital that were essentially left because of security concerns by another medical team, a U.N. medical team.

But he's giving an update and we want to share -- at least his Twitter update. He is giving messages out that way. He's simply saying, "So sorry to not anchor my show today. I was still busy at the field hospital," and essentially, just giving a shoutout to Betty and I for being here and taking his place at least for this half hour.

But the news will continue. Our coverage of Haiti is right after a break. "CNN SATURDAY MORNING" continues right after this break.