tv CNN Newsroom CNN August 23, 2011 10:00am-12:00pm PDT
of this country, and what the future is. >> that fellow looks like he's having a bit of a rest, actually. yeah, it is difficult to know. the rebels' credibility got a little dent when saif al islam gadhafi popped up yesterday after these claims that he had been captured. in fact, the rebels were saying they held three of his sons, another one of the sons, mohammed, apparently escaping rebel capture after being held for some hours. let's listen some more. [ speaking in a foreign language ]
>> hello, everyone. this is randi kaye here watching the live events unfold in libya here along with michael holmes. it is 7:00 p.m. in tripoli, where the fight to oust moammar gadhafi just took a potentially momentous turn. within the past 90 minutes, libyan rebels penetrated gadhafi's compound which nato war planes have bombed off and on now for months. >> the rebels now have the run of the place. we have seen them celebrating, confiscating files and weapons and ammunition as they go room by room through what is a large compound with multiple buildings. we are hearing about pockets of fire, in fact, we have actually seen that. you can see now a fire that appears to have broken out in one part of the compound there. until he pulls out, it's difficult to know what part this is. we have been seeing that domed building which has been to the left and to the right of that domed building is the famous gadhafi tents, where he would meet with people.
sarah sidner is there, i believe you're still in the vicinity or inside the compound. where are you, what are you seeing? >> reporter: i'm inside the compound. an historic day. the rebels feel this is a massive victory, psychologically, over gadhafi. they are yelling and screaming that libya is free. they have been coming, running into this compound just over my right shoulder. that is the second gate. we have passed through the first gate. let me move just a tiny bit here with my photographer getting these amazing pictures. that is the east gate there where rebels were able to blast through. you'll see cars coming through with these massive guns. there's a fire that is now burning in another part of the gadhafi compound. people are running in and what you see coming out, when they run out of the compound, we have seen a police car come out, we have seen huge cannons come out.
>> we appear to have lost sarah. sarah, we have lost your audio there. we will try to reconnect with you right there at the compound itself. we can see people going in and out. let's see if we can get one of those other pictures up while we get sarah back on. certainly dramatic stuff, randi. >> yeah, absolutely. you see the people running. what's remarkable is how they were able to get inside that compound. we don't know if moammar gadhafi was inside. we have heard, as you know, rumors that there are tunnels underneath which may be used as an escape route by the leader there in libya. but it is remarkable given the fact that you have even traveled with these rebels and you have seen what they're made of, who they are. does it surprise you they have been able to get this far into the compound without much resistance? >> yeah, there obviously was some resistance but one imagines that there would have been more.
these guys have boundless enthusiasm and boundless momentum, too, over the last two to three weeks as they swept down from the western mountains and gone into tripoli and now into the compound. they are heavily armed. they are still ragtag. the discipline's not there. but what they have achieved has been remarkable. apparently sarah is back with us now. pick up where you left off, sarah. we are seeing these rebels and presumably civilians scurrying around in there, taking what they can, but still gunfire. >> reporter: they are absolutely going nuts. that gunfire is celebratory gunfire. we have been listening to it all day. it's actually quite dangerous. now you're hearing a large blast. what we have been hearing ever since they said they have taken this compound are gunfire everywhere and the celebratory gunfire is now becoming extremely dangerous because it's coming from all parts of this
massive compound. what they have not found are gadhafi and his family. what they have found is lots and lots of guns. again, celebratory gunfire going on just over behind me. what we are seeing that's different in this hour that we didn't see an hour ago when we first rolled into this compound is that there's now smoke coming from another section of the compound over my left shoulder. there was smoke coming from a section when we first drove in and also smoke coming from deep inside the compound. this is a day when the rebels feel they have made sure the world knows and libya knows that moammar gadhafi no longer has a grip on this country and no longer even rules tripoli with an iron fist. >> sarah, if you can, give us an idea of just how many rebel forces there are that have made it inside that compound and are they gathering, does there seem to be any type of uniformity to what they're trying to do here,
or are they just running around celebrating? >> reporter: there's a lot of running around celebrating. we're not only just seeing rebel fighters, we are actually starting to see residents of surrounding neighborhoods run in and grab things, mostly ammunition. there are a lot of we're seeing clothes that the gadhafi forces left behind, uniforms and that sort of thing. it doesn't seem as organized here, but we know that inside, they're trying to go house by house or building by building to try and find anyone who might be left over from the gadhafi regime inside. we earlier today saw loads of folders that were obviously taken from inside of one of the gadhafi buildings. it had his son's name on it, his son's wife's name on it, and it was their medical files so very personal information, they are now taking from the gadhafi regime to prove that they have completely crippled this regime. a lot of celebrations going on here in tripoli and they say actually, the city is now almost
100% safe but i have to tell you, with the gunfire going on around us, very tense situation still here in the capital. >> sarah, we were saying earlier, those bullets come down somewhere. it's always a bit of a mystery why more people aren't hurt by that celebratory gunfire. that was anti-aircraft celebratory gunfire we heard before. one thing i'm curious about, i watched the civilians in particular scurrying in, scurrying out, taking stuff with them. obviously take cover if you need to. but it's reminiscent in some small way of baghdad. this is a tipping point in terms of law and order as well. are you getting a sense of chaos there on the civilian side? >> yeah. there is a bit of chaos in the streets. but let me explain to you what happened in our neighborhood and the neighborhood where we were just near this area.
when people started firing in the air and there were children about, people had come out of their home, they were trying to celebrate. when that happened, we actually saw some of the people in the neighborhood and some of the rebels, the older commanders, telling people to stop this shooting in the air, to stop firing, to stop being crazy with their guns, and they actually did stop. so in some places, they're recognizing that they have to start creating some order in this city. people will feel free to do whatever they want and you are definitely seeing i guess we can call it looting. they are inside of a compound and they are pulling out items and taking them out of this compound, although we have not seen any sort of stuff, we're just seeing ammunition and guns being taken out. most of those being taken out by the rebels. michael and randi? >> what about elsewhere in the city? you have been in and out for the last couple days. have you seen any other evidence of law and order issues or is it just the sort of chaos of post-battle at the moment?
>> reporter: we are definitely seeing a few other issues of law and order, but today, that changed. yesterday, we did see looting in at least two buildings and what we were told when we first came up with our camera was that one of those buildings belonged to one of the gadhafi regime officers and they were going in and they were taking chandeliers out of the building, clothes, whatever they could find, but they swept our cameras down because nobody wants to be looked upon as a criminal. but certainly, we were seeing those issues over the last day or so but now, in the last few hours, people are just celebrating. i think there's a general relief from those who supported the rebels and thought the gadhafi regime should fall. they never thought this moment would happen in a matter of hours as opposed to a matter of weeks. people thought this would be an extremely fierce battle. it is a battle where people are getting injured. we know that. but this battle did not go on as everyone thought it would. this is a significant moment for the rebels.
however, moammar gadhafi, his sons and his family, have still the no been found by the rebels. >> sarah, we know this is historic as we watch the rebel forces, the opposition forces, make their way into tripoli. many people never expected that would happen. why is this compound in particular so significant for these people? >> reporter: this would be equivalent to breaking into someone's home. that's how people see it. they feel like they have now busted through this iron fist of moammar gadhafi, they have broken through his home -- that is more celebratory gunfire. they feel they have literally broken into his personal place. so they feel that if this man really had a clinch, a grasp on the city like he said he did, why can they break into his personal space, get his personal items, get his most personal details of his and his family's
lives. that is why this is psychologically significant and it will also help the rebels in any other fight because you should see the weapons they are pulling out of these buildings. >> sarah, i don't know if raja is with you behind the camera. paint a picture of where you are. just take us on a little tour here, will you? >> reporter: okay. i'm going to try but i want to warn you [ inaudible ]. there you see the rebels. we'll have to be careful here because this breaks up when we move a little bit. we'll try to do the best we can. that is the eastern, the first part of the eastern gate. there are large blast holes in that gate. the sun is setting in this area just behind us so it's starting
to become darker. over here, you're seeing them, these are cars that belonged to the gadhafi regime. that is obviously [ inaudible ]. i'm going to try not to get hit by any of those rounds. then if you go just over here, you see the people streaming out the main gate. you see people streaming into the main gate of the compound. a lot of smoke coming from the compound. you see these huge walls. these were supposed to be protective walls. this gives you a sense of the power of the gadhafi regime. this honestly is the nicest part of the city. you're seeing these large, very nicely [ inaudible ]. [ gunfire ] >> reporter: let's pull back a little bit, let's pull back just a little bit.
let's pull back. i'm getting hit by some of the shells. it's getting a little bit too loud for you guys to hear me, and a little bit too much -- we're trying to get away -- i just got hit a little by one of the shells. >> sarah, we can hear you just fine but maybe you should take some cover here. go back to the wall where it's safe, possibly. >> reporter: yeah. we are. we are. we are back behind a wall. we are between two walls right now. what i can tell you is, would you mind picking up the uniforms back there -- >> sarah -- >> reporter: we're okay. we're between two walls now. we're fine. >> yeah. carry on. >> reporter: we're between two walls. >> yeah.
i think we've lost your audio again, sarah. let's see if we can reconnect the audio. what you're telling us is great. we still have the picture. obviously showing us one of the uniforms that has been left behind. that's a gadhafi uniform, i believe. gadhafi's soldier may have shed that on the way out. sarah, are you back? carry on. carry on. >> tell us about the uniform. >> reporter: can you hear my audio now? are you guys hearing me? >> we've got you. carry on. you're the best judge of your own safety there. carry on. >> reporter: we're okay. please don't shoot, sir. we are in between two walls so we're fine. but as people drive by in their trucks, they are so excited. this is something that has become a bit of a problem in the city as they blast these guns through the city. we don't know where they're going to land. it is surrounded by a
neighborhood. we will put this down. there's a bunch of more of these in the back. there are even guns that are back there that we are seeing some of the rebels pick up. do you want me to move out a little bit? i will let you see the scene just behind me of some of the rebels. now you're seeing some of the other media come into this area. to show what is happening to this compound. this is just, i have to tell you, one of those moments where you realize you are watching history being made right before your eyes. i know both of you have been in these situations throughout your many years of reporting, and it gives you a sense that you're seeing things up close and personal. it is an astonishing, amazing day here in the capital, tripoli. >> as you mentioned, they're taking souvenirs. we are watching them right now roll out what appears to be possibly one of gadhafi's cars. give us an idea there, though, does it appear to you as far as you can tell that the rebel
forces, the opposition forces, are setting up camp there, or are they just taking what they can and leaving? or are they making this compound their own? >> reporter: it sounds like they're still trying to go through the city. it really seems like a city inside this compound. it's a very large area, large encampment. if you'll look behind me, they're setting up their trucks. their trucks are just also outside of the city, where they have got a lot of their weapons kind of strewn around the gate, and now they're starting to set up a bit of security. they almost stopped us from coming in but then they knew we were cnn, they said we've seen you, go in, show the world what we've done. >> have you seen any type of security for gadhafi at all? >> reporter: i can't hear them anymore, guys. >> all right. sarah, if you can hear me now, have you seen -- >> reporter: i can't hear them anymore. >> all right.
unbelievable atmosphere there from sarah. i have 25 years of covering the middle east, heard celebratory gunfire all over the place. i have never heard that volume of celebratory gunfire and i have never heard anti-aircraft guns being used as celebratory gunfire as well. >> let's get back to sarah. i hope you can hear us once again. if so, i was just asking a moment ago, if you need to take cover, let us know. i was just asking a moment ago if you've seen any type of security for moammar gadhafi there at all, or are these rebels, have they taken anyone captive, if you will? >> reporter: very good question. yes, they have taken some of gadhafi's forces captive. we are told. we have not seen them ourselves but we know they were telling us just as they broke in that they took some captives. i want to mention something.
michael, you had a very good observation. it's very rare that you see anti-aircraft missiles being used as celebratory but we have actually seen that in the streets of tripoli. [ gunfire ] >> reporter: this is becoming completely out of control with the gunfire because people are just going off, they have so much ammunition they have taken from the gadhafi regime, they feel like they can waste it now. [ gunfire ] >> reporter: let's get back. let's get back. let's get back. come on. pull back. let's go. little bit. little bit. okay. all right. all right. yeah. all right. i got you guys. i got you guys. one second. one second.
let's pull back. let's pull back. all right. we're all right. >> sarah, that's fine. back up between those two walls. >> reporter: are you still there? >> we've still got you. back up between those two walls. >> reporter: we're in between the walls. >> these are extraordinary pictures but let's keep away from the street. i was talking earlier that the thing is with this celebratory gunfire, it does come down and people do get hurt. you know, i saw this at arafat's funeral. 16 people were wounded by falling bullets. it's crazy in some senses. >> reporter: okay. we're behind the wall. we're behind the wall, both of us. we are behind the wall. we are behind the wall. >> sarah, walk us through, if you can, just stay put where you
are, but you've had a chance to talk to some of these rebel forces. what were they telling you today? >> reporter: they were telling us that this was the end. that if we ever wanted to prove that we had control of the city, this is the end. what you're seeing in front of you right now are cars coming out of the gadhafi compound, they are loaded with men holding guns, holding ammunition. people are celebrating. if you can just show to the left here, there's a great group of people who are pulling out guns from a large cache of weapons they were able to get from gadhafi forces. they are completely excited about the fact that they have gone into this man's personal area, a place where people were not allowed to easily go, unless they were a close friend or a close ally of gadhafi, and get
into this compound. to them, this is like going into his personal house and people were saying you know what, we're going to go swimming in gadhafi's swimming pool. we can do whatever we want. we can do whatever we want in this compound, and they are doing whatever they want. they are blasting off more rounds than i have ever seen in my life. >> sarah, i know one of the rebels had told you earlier that they had burned one of gadhafi's historic buildings. can you talk about it, do you have any idea which building that was and what made it so historic and so significant? >> reporter: it was supposed to be his personal building, one that represented him, and i think sometimes it was shown on state tv, so for them, it's symbolic. all of this is really symbolic. if they have gotten into this compound, what they're saying to the rest of libya and to the world is that gadhafi is finished, his regime is over. we were even able to get to his most personal space and area and
tear it apart. there are still fires burning in this compound right now. some of the fires may have well been started by blasts. it might not be just that the fires were started by throwing in, for example, lighters and that sort of thing and blowing things up. a lot of these were started by blasts. >> sarah, keep the picture going. we are going to leave you for a moment and come back. if you can perhaps grab someone we can talk to when we get back to you. right now, we have matthew chance on the line. he has been at the hotel where international journalists have essentially been held prisoner in many ways. matthew, take it away. tell us what you're seeing, what you're hearing, what you know. >> reporter: i haven't been hearing what's been going on at the compound. i haven't come to hear about what sarah has been reporting. i can tell you what the situation is around this hotel which is a short distance from the compound.
i can tell you there's a lot of gunfire around the perimeter of the hotel, inside the perimeter of the hotel as well. some of the windows have been smashed by bullets in the hotel. all of the journalists that have been basically kept here under supposed government supervision have moved on to the upper floors of the hotel. we have hung banners with tv written on them, television. we've got white flags. we have all put ourselves in one room without any windows to try and find a safe place, because the expectation is, remember we haven't got -- we've got a very narrow perspective on what's going on outside the hotel in the rest of tripoli here. the information flow has been virtually cut off from us here. what we do know is there is fighting outside the hotel now. we still have the forces or at least some gunmen loyal to colonel gadhafi in the hotel, in the lobby, and there are exchanges of gunfire with
opposition fighters outside and near the hotel and on its perimeter. i have to stress that the fighting hasn't come into the lobby itself yet. but the expectation is that it may very shortly and that's certainly the point of view of all the 35 journalists or so that have been corraled in this hotel for the past four days under this very tight lockdown. of course, many of us have been here for several weeks. >> indeed, it's a very concerning situation, obviously, matt. for you and the team there and the other journalists. not right now, obviously, because there are exchanges going on, but in the last 24 hours or so, have you been able to communicate with those who are essentially holding you there as to why and what they are up to? >> reporter: well, for the most part, we have been trying to avoid the gadhafi loyalists that are policing the lobby of the hotel. at some point, we felt a lot of hostility from them towards the
international media. briefly yesterday, when we spoke to saif al islam gadhafi, when he showed his face at the hotel to prove [ inaudible ] also amongst gadhafi [ inaudible ]. there was a lot of tension that was defused over that. this morning with the fierce fighting that's been taking place around colonel gadhafi's compound with the gunfights that have been breaking out outside the perimeter of the hotel, the mood has turned very ugly again. we're basically trying to avoid those gadhafi loyalists who are just walking around the lobby of the hotel with their assault rifles. >> i got to ask you, too, that was great reporting last night when i was on air with you and you reported on saif al islam, i think you went up and knocked on the window of his vehicle to check that it was him.
describe that mood. he seemed effusively comfortable. you describe it. >> reporter: well, yeah, in fairness looking back on it, he seemed like he was a man in a hurry. he didn't want to stick around, didn't want to come into the lobby of the hotel. he just has a knock on the door of his car, he opened it up briefly, gave me a few comments saying it was all a trick and we have broken the backbone of the rebellion, and drove off. he was looking pretty relaxed but he obviously wasn't comfortable enough to stay around. he did also say when he was asked about where his father was located, he said all of his family was still in tripoli, again, trying to lay aside some of the rumors that colonel gadhafi and his sons may have fled to other countries in the region or elsewhere further afield. >> yeah. in terms of the mood of you guys there, obviously just anticipatory, i would imagine.
>> reporter: it's -- we're pretty frightened, to be honest. we're all kind of like, this is a sort of silence that's come over us. we're upstairs, it's very hot in the hotel. we've all got body armor on. we don't know what to expect. again, we've hung these white flags with tv written on them. you know, we're kind of like a few people talking to each other, talking about this experience compared to other experiences they've had. there's a real sense that we've kind of been, i don't know, difficult to say, there's a sense we feel we have kind of been used, that we're stuck here, not able to go out. we don't want to be here. we want to get out of here. but we are unable to do that. it's almost like a situation where we feel we are being kept against our will. what the government says is they're taking care of us, what the gadhafi loyalists say is they're here to protect us but it just doesn't feel like that sometimes up here.
>> yeah, i can imagine. good to hear from you, my friend. matthew chance is one of our more experienced guys. i have worked with him in afghanistan and iraq. he's been around. that is the worst situation than being on the front line, because you are trapped. >> oh, yeah. >> they're basically prisoners. that has got to be a worse feeling than being out there, you know, being shot at. >> sure. there's a lot of concern. wolf blitzer was on air earlier asking the u.s. ambassador to the u.n., susan rice, about the 35 journalists or so, including our matthew chance, that are trapped in that hotel. >> nothing the u.s. can do. >> no. she said of course they're concerned just like the rest of us. we're all concerned. yesterday we spoke with him on this show and he was saying that they were running out of water, there were a lot of people there to try and feed and keep hydrated and they were at that point, they didn't have electricity. it's a very concerning situation. >> it is concerning.
like i say, i know at least hfl a dozen of the people in that hotel at the moment, having seen them in various field situations. it's a very experienced crew there. our producer there has spent more time in baghdad over the years than just about anyone else. these are guys who know what they're doing. in fact, we've had viewers calling in concerned for the safety of our people as well, including sarah there outside the gadhafi compound and others. of course, precautions are being taken and from experience, you know, on the spot, you've got the best sense of what your security is like. speaking of sarah, i think we have her back. sarah, i don't know if you were able to in that break while we were talking to matthew, grab someone to have a chat. looks like you have. let's hand it over to you. >> reporter: we have been with habob coming into the city of
tripoli, we were with him 48 hours ago when we got into the city. tell me what you're seeing inside of this -- hold on -- of this compound. tell me exactly what you're seeing inside this compound. >> [ inaudible ]. >> reporter: shot a lot of gadhafi soldiers. you're telling me you are inside of gadhafi's compound, that you have control of the entire compound. have you taken any of his soldiers and detained them? >> yes. >> reporter: what was this fight like inside this compound where the gadhafi regime has kept people out? what was it like inside? >> we found nothing inside. they all run away. i don't know where.
>> reporter: they left their weapons? they left their cars, their weapons. what else? what are you seeing inside? what does it look like? are you seeing any people, any of the gadhafi family members? >> no, there is no family. only group of soldiers and they run away from here. >> reporter: okay. so you're seeing just soldiers, soldiers are running away. you didn't see any gadhafi family members. what do the buildings look like, inside the buildings, are they filled with things like chandeliers and clothes? >> it look like they just run from here. >> reporter: it looks like they left things behind, they ran away as soon as you came to the gate. you can actually see tea still on the fire. so obviously when you are coming up to this gate, they could hear you and they ran away, whoever was inside. >> they run away. all of them. >> reporter: do you believe that gadhafi and his family is or was inside this compound when you first came in?
>> we didn't see anything. we didn't find anything. >> reporter: you were told gadhafi and his close special forces, the people that protect him, were inside this compound but you did not ever see him? >> maybe they are under the ground. >> reporter: you think they might be in tunnels under the ground. that's the latest. thank you so much. what do you think about this day? >> okay. we control tripoli. the center of tripoli now. we cleared the militias. >> reporter: thank you. thank you so much. there you heard it from one of the rebels who was in and around the compound. >> it locked up there. extraordinary. i'm glad we got that interview in. i was going to ask her to ask
him what he did before this war because he was probably a school teacher or something. that's my experience, many of them were. >> amazing when he said there was still tea on the fire. think about how close they were. we don't know who was inside there, of course, but how close they were when they actually heard the rebels coming through that front gate. >> i would be stunned if gadhafi was in that compound from the moment the rebels got to the outskirts of tripoli. it would not have been the smart place to be. >> yeah. although there are those that say maybe his ego might have gotten in his way and allowed this to happen. >> okay. we'll be right back after a short break. we continue to cover these absolutely extraordinary scenes live.
welcome back to our live coverage of tripoli and events as they unfold in libya. we want to get right to the airport in tripoli. arwa, can you help us, set the scene for us there? >> reporter: there is actually a fair amount of dark smoke that is rising over to the eastern part of the airport. there have been clashes ongoing here for just about the last five hours. the battle is still ongoing between rebel forces that have been occupying, holding this airport since they took it over around midday monday, and gadhafi's forces, especially from the east. there are two military bases the rebel fighters are telling us to the east, and they say they have been coming under constant assault from that location. they have been doing all that they can to try to drive gadhafi's forces further back. they want to, on the one hand, continue to protect the airport, protect the infrastructure they say, but they also want to keep control over this vital and strategic location. the airport is located just to
the south around 22 kilometers, 15 miles to the south of a compound that sarah has been reporting from. while the rebel fighters that are here have been rejoicing at the news that they have been able to breach the compound, they are fully aware the battle here still continues. in fact, some of them have been going so far as to say that this could be the final battle between gadhafi's forces and these rebel fighters. >> do you get the sense that they feel as though this is the victory, because some of the rebel fighters, at least just hours ago, were saying that until they actually find and possibly even kill moammar gadhafi, this is not a victory. >> reporter: there is the sense that victory is very, very close. we also have to remember that there is still fighting on a number of front lines. there are still areas around this airport compound, for example, where rebel fighters say they still do not have
control, gadhafi's whereabouts still remain unknown, so they say victory is absolutely incredibly close. it is an historic moment, especially given the intensity of the fighting that has taken place over the last five, six months, and they know that it is so close and yet, there still could be a number of intense battles lying ahead. most certainly what we are hearing around this compound, this fighting that has been lasting for hours now, there is one young commander who appears to have been one of the youngest commanders leading this fighting force, just 26 years old. his father was killed early on in the fighting in this uprising. he was describing just what it meant for him to continue to go to battle every single day, because he said he felt as if his father was standing right next to him, as if he could see his father every single time he risked his own life to go to the front line. he was saying that he was carrying this out because he felt that he had to move in his father's footsteps and take this all the way to the very end. >> michael here.
i just want to explain to viewers, stay there, we're seeing on the right side of the picture sarah sidner there on the field, just heading in it looks like to the main part of the compound, cautiously, of course. arwa, i wanted to ask you this. it's obviously way too premature at the moment but have there been any suggestion -- first of all, is the airport, have you been able to tell if that airport is functional? is the runway in order and has there been any suggestion of folks from benghazi, the tnc, actually trying to make a move up there to start to run things? >> reporter: you know, michael, this airport is still very much a full-blown battle zone. a lot of the shooting that you're hearing much is outgoing but the incoming artillery from the gadhafi forces actually landing right around the runway, where there are a number of
planes that look like they have been grounded for quite some time now. rebels say the airport hasn't been functioning since the no-fly zone went into effect. the terminal's completely abandoned. they did find a significant number of weapons buried underground in massive containers. >> arwa, sorry to interrupt. i appreciate that. sorry about that. we are just going to go back to sarah sidner. they are resetting. she's back again. this is live. we just have to explain, this is dramatic, it's live. let's listen in. >> reporter: they're telling us okay, okay, we can go inside to the compound. [ shouting ]
>> reporter: gunfire going off. they feel very, very excited. we're trying to go in to see, we are told the whole place has been secured by the rebels, and there are cars driving in and out easily but there is still quite a bit of gunfire. the gunfire, celebratory gunfire. we see another large fire burning now inside of the compound. but this is, this is an historic day. psychologically speaking, this is an important day, especially for the rebels who gadhafi said would never be able to break his
spirit, would never be able to take the city. but they have taken gadhafi's compound. you can see now some of the press coming out. so clearly, they have it. clearly, they have taken this over and clearly, there is extreme excitement here in tripoli. hi, how are you? your face is familiar. >> how are you? >> reporter: i'm fine. >> how are you? >> reporter: hello. walking into the compound. okay. i can hear you. i can hear you. >> just to clarify for viewers, this is tape sarah and the team fed in just moments ago as they were walking into the compound.
the headquarters of moammar gadhafi, his official residence. really, a complex that's at the heart of his 42-year rule. absolutely extraordinary pictures. history in the making. >> you can see sarah has been traveling with these opposition forces so they recognize her, they're letting our team in there. let's listen just a little bit more. >> reporter: i can hear you loud and clear. >> all right. amazing stuff indeed. yeah. gadhafi is obviously not there. he probably hasn't been there for some time, because this is a compound that's been bombed by nato since the start of all of this. of course, once the rebels got to the outskirts it would have been the last place he would want to be anyway. there are bunkers there underground. some say they are three or four stories deep. but it still would not be the place to be because nato has
bunker-busting bombs as well. >> right. certainly his family has been saying, his son has been saying he is in tripoli still, moammar gadhafi, of course, but not saying exactly where in tripoli. that compound is really a sight to be seen. certainly we are seeing it here on tv, but there is quite a bit of history there. we were talking about bombing, it was bombed back in, what, 1986 or so and that's that famous clenched fist statue that is still there that some of the rebels were hanging on earlier. that was a monument to the u.s. bombing that took place there, that fist around the u.s. aircraft. quite a bit of history there. let's continue to listen in here. >> reporter: -- green and cream and light brown. we are walking through the area, i'm looking at what appears to be damage right now inside of the compound. i see a lot of smoke coming from one of the buildings. i see people running out of the building with lots of ammunition. i see tanks.
i see people grabbing at gadhafi force vehicles. they have massive guns on those vehicles. people are extremely excited. it looks like they're taking out whatever weapons and ammunition that were inside that they were able to secure. it is safe to say there is no longer fighting that we can see from our vantage point. we do know, though, that people have been injured. we are hearing right now an ambulance that is rushing out of the compound. we are hearing celebratory gunfire very close to us but we are not hearing those huge blasts and booms. there is fire not only in one portion of the compound, but fire in other parts of the compound. we are still holding back a little bit as we walk around and not to go too far in, because it's a dangerous situation
still. okay. okay. i'm going to stay with you. sorry. i just needed to go -- so as everybody runs into this compound, you're seeing people go in and take out weapons. look just over there behind you is a huge box. this box -- can i look? some of the weapons inside of the gadhafi compound, a hand gun and a rifle. this is more guns, more guns these guys have found, and so they have been taking some of these things out.
we are seeing regular people, look to your right, you're seeing regular people just run into the compound. we have seen already looting going on inside of those buildings. we have seen that happen already. people, very happy that this has gone on and also, the weapons that are coming out of this compound are just massive. there are so many of them, boxes of them, just people carrying them, carrying them out. they're even taking some of the trucks that belong to gadhafi forces. if anything, this is definitely a psychological win. of course, we still don't know at this point where moammar gadhafi and his family, where they are. nobody has seen him.
we have seen his son saif in the past 24 hours when he visited the hotel but we have not seen moammar gadhafi or any sign of him at this point. i want to just get you beyond this wall here. seeing ammunition coming through. this is part of the compound. we are inside. you see what looks like an unfinished building that's been hit pretty hard. you see a police car there. that's been wrecked. [ shouting ]
>> you've been watching this video just taken moments ago. that was sarah sidner who we have been talking live to here on cnn. that was her pushing her way, making her way into the compound belonging to or certainly did belong to did belong to at one point moammar gadhafi. now it seems as though sara has been reporting that the rebels have taken over. they've been taking moammar gadhafi's cars, guns, as she was making her way in, looking at some of the guns, even still in the boxes sniem i don't know if you caught it last hour, i think, we saw inside the compound one rebel holding up a -- what looked like a gold-plated ak-47 that he had obviously souvenired from one of
the buildings. most of the ak-47s, there were belgium-made automatic weapons as well. what i'm noticing here too, some of the guys clearly rebels, some of them are equally clearly civilians. you've got guys running around in t-shirts and shorts not part of the rebel movement itself. that comes down to, well, looting, i guess. >> i know you would call it that. we have to get a quick break in. we'll be right back with these live pictures as it all unfolds in tripoli. be right back.
welcome back everyone to the battle for tripoli. i'm randi kaye is michael holmes. it's coming up on 2:00 p.m. in the east coast. we want to welcome everyone. it makes it about 8:00 p.m. in libya. >> it will be interesting watching the pictures we've seen. ramadan is 8 p.m. in the world. there will be the call for the fast. it will be interesting to see how many people get off the street to break the fast. when i was with the rebels, 120 degrees in the desert. under islamic law, if you like,
you are allowed to break the fast in the day in a time of pat will. drink, eat and the like. but so many of these guys were not. they were fighting through the heat, through the day. it's going to be interesting to see what happens. it's almost time for the official, you'll hear it on the -- through the -- the call -- these are pictures by the way from the airport. live pictures where arwa damon is. i have never heard anything like we were hearing with sara sidner a little earlier. >> yeah. she was trying to tell us exactly what was going on at gadhafi's compound in tripoli. at times it was hard to hear her over the gunfire. we want to show you that once again. because it was some amazing television. >> incredible. just listen to this. >> that is the eastern, the first part of the eastern gate. there are large blast holes in that gate. the sun is setting in this area just behind us. it's starting to become darker.
over here you're seeing them -- these are cars that belong to the gadhafi regime. they were sitting on -- they were blowing off rounds on the top of them. that's obviously a security, [ inaudible ] >> i'm going to try not to get hit by any of those rounds. then if you go just over here, you see the people streaming through the main gate. now, that's all the way into the compound. so you see people streaming into the main gate of the compound. a lot of smoke coming from the compound. you see these huge walls. these were supposed to to be protective walls. it gives you a sense of the power of the gadhafi regime. this is the nicest part of the city. you're seeing large, nicely painted -- [ gunfire ] >> i'm going to back up. let pull back a little bit. let's just pull back. i'm getting hit by some of the
shells. [ gunfire ] >> yes. it's getting a little bit too loud for you to hear me. and a little bit too much celebrating. we're trying to get away -- i got hit a little bit with one of the shells from one of those guns. we don't want to -- [ gunfire ] >> absolutely amazing stuff. wasn't that amazing. >> if we were wondering why we're showing pictures of the capitol building in washington, d.c., it's because we're getting reports of a 5.8 earthquake. magnitude 5.8 earthquake in washington, d.c. we understand that our cnn bureau has been evacuated. our folks there felt it. they also felt it at cnn even in new york. that's how far it traveled. once again, a 5.8 earthquake in virginia being felt, of course, in the nation's capitol. we're working on getting some
folks on the line with us from d.c. that is about what we know on it right now. wolf blitzer from our bureau there in washington, d.c. is on the line with us. wolf, i hope you're doing okay and tell us what you felt. >> well, we felt an earthquake, it was really an earthquake. it was obvious it started sort of slow. i'm working in my office on the 8th floor of our cnn building near union station on capitol hill in washington, d.c. all of a sudden the desk starts moving a little bit. then you could feel a little bit of a tremor. then it got pretty intense. i'm guessing it lasted for 20 or 25, maybe 30 seconds. but you could feel that entire floor starting to shake and you could -- people didn't realize what was going on. initially, i thought since they were doing comicon strux on the 11th there was pounding going on. having gone through earthquakes in los angeles, i could tell that this was an earthquake. now they're saying it was a 5.8.
it was, i'm told, southwest of washington, d.c. but we clearly felt it in the nation's capitol. as a matter of precaution, they're evacuating everyone from the building here at cnn. just to get out. it looks like it's over, unless there's major aftershocks. i think it's been resolved. i have no idea if there's been any significant damage or anything along those lines. this is a very strong structure. you've been to the washington bureau, the building here. right here capitol hill. you can tell that the floor was definitely shaking and this was an earthquake. it's sort of unusual in this area. i've lived here for a long time. i don't remember ever experiencing an earthquake in the washington, d.c. area. but it's happened and i'm sure there's damage elsewhere as we go out into virginia. closer towards richmond, i think that's where the epicenter apparently was. >> apparently, wolf, it hit, d.c., new york, ohio. we're looking at pictures of the washington bureau on the upper right hand of your screen.
also the white house, which brings me to the point, wolf, i guess we should point out that president obama is not at the white house, not in the d.c. area. >> he's the martha's vineyard with his family on vacation. so he's nowhere near the d.c. area. but you know, there's still a lot of people in washington, d.c. we're monitoring it. we have o our crews out there. but they do say officially that it's about the epicenter was about 87 miles south of d.c. you know what, 87 miles, not that far. and we could clearly feel what was going on here in washington, d.c. if you're on the 8th floor of a big office building, you can definitely get nervous at that point. as i said, i wouldn't have realized it if i hadn't gone through some earthquakes in california. but we felt the shaking and the floors were clearly moving. stuff was falling off of counters, stuff like that. that's the normal thing you go through. i'm hoping that there's not
significant damage elsewhere here or in virginia or elsewhere in the region. you can clearly feel it and there's a lot of scared people who work in this building who are now outside. they've evacuated out of precaution. but i suspect unless there are significant aftershocks, the worst of it is probably over with right now. >> we're also getting reports in that this was felt in philadelphia as well. the epicenter was in mineral, virginia. are you at all familiar with that area and also, just let me know where you are, give us a sense of what's taking place on the streets there. >> i'm still inside the building, unlike everybody else, i decided to stay here because i think it's over with. everybody else evacuated our building. as i say, they say the epicenter is about 87 or so miles outside of washington. but 5.8. that's a pretty significant earthquake. it's not just a little tremor or anything. that's a pretty significant earthquake that potentially
could cause some significant damage. so we're going to watch it very closely and see what's going on. right now it looks like the building that i'm in, our cnn building up on capitol hill in washington, d.c., is safe and secure and we're going to send our crews out and see what's going on elsewhere. right now, just out of mere -- out of precaution, we've decided to evacuate this building. there are a lot of other offices and businesses in the building. everybody was told to take the stairs, go downstairs walk outside. the situation like this, you don't want to be stuck in an elevator. the elevator, we decide were not necessarily a good idea. >> we're learning the pentagon has been evacuated. we have barbara starr on the line with us too. wolf, stay safe there for a moment and stand by. let's check in with barbara. barbara, what's the situation at the pentagon? >> just a few moments ago as the
building began shaking violently, hundreds of people started streaming out. their reaction was the same as mine. this building was hit on 9/11 when it started shaking. people did not know what was happening and worried instantly that there was a bomb or attack under way once again. you can't help it after 9/11, that is what comes to people's mind whenever there's a situation here at the pentagon. where we are now, many, many people have evacuated. they are broadcasting messages to the pentagon saying if you have evacuated, please stay outside the building. um be safe if you are -- if you are still inside, as the entire cnn crew is at the moment, chris lawrence, larry shaughnessy and myself. they're telling us to stay in place, that there are security personnel throughout the building making sure everyone can remain safe if they are still here inside. of course, those of us who are
used to earth quakes, i was raised in california. i've been through many of them. we're very cognizant about the possibility of aftershocks. right here in the cnn office in the pentagon, we're already moving things from high shelves out of the way just in case there's aftershocks. but it was quite unsettling for a few minutes there as you saw people once again with very stricken looks on their faces running as fast as they could to get out of here. learning very quickly, thank goodness, it was an earthquake and now, like everyone, i think, randi, we need to see what the damage assessment is in both washington, new york and up and down the east coast where this was apparently felt. >> it's interesting though that you mentioned that is probably the first thought on many people's mind as we come up on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. >> reporter: it was interesting. because actually, i was standing in the press office actually discussing cnn's 9/11 coverage,
the upcoming ten-year anniversary with the officials when the room started to shake. i looked at him and said we're having an earthquake or something else. a lot of very worried people for a few minutes. >> i'm sure. barbara, if you can, stay with us for a few moments. we want to keep wolf blitzer with us. i want to take you to adrian a houser. you felt this 5.8 earthquake in new york city? >> reporter: absolutely. strongly, randi, i was actually in my office right next to a window. i heard a big slam and all of a sudden even felt the window shake a little bit. i ran out of the office to see that my colleagues had also noticed that. the lights over the studios were shaking and i didn't know what it was. it was a few minutes afterwards that we knew it was actually an earthquake that had been felt here and we could all see it. now we're looking outside the windows here in our area. we see people actually left the buildings. people are checking their
blackberries to see what they can find out. some buildings have been evacuated. some courts in lower manhattan were evacuated and some museums as well. obviously, this has come as a surprise. i'm not sure people really know what it was about, but people knew there was enough reason to leave the buildings. i mean, we immediately came out of the offices to see what was going on. that's when we learned that there was a 5.8 earthquake in the virginia area, randi. >> adriana, thank you for the update from new york. we're also getting word that the u.s. capitol buildings have all been evacuated in washington, d.c. we also have chad myers here with us in studio. chad, if you would, just tell us your thoughts on this 5.8 quake that apparently hit the epicenter being in mineral, virginia. >> pretty good quake. we're talking about somewhere from about, i would say a shake that could last a minute or two. i'm on mike 45. sounds like you have a different one on.
from virginia up to and north of the west end. talking about short pump really did see an awful lot of shaking there. i'm going to get a different microphone on in case they can't find this one. back to you guys for just a second. you guys hear me? i think i can't hear myself. because i was working on the headline news for a second. richmond, virginia, up to i-64. here's i-95 in washington, d.c. the shake would be really on the west end of richmond, virginia, to the east of charlottesville. that's where 5.8 is a very strong shake. we're talking about something in california that would really bring some buildings down. i can assume, and i think you all can as well, there's going to be some damage here, either whether it's to buildings, it might be the structures, infrastructure, including some of the bridges and overpasses will all have to be inspected west of richmond on i-64 as a pretty big shake. . we still have the depth. back up here. this is all real time. this is literally just coming in. depth of only 3.7 miles.
that is a shallow quake. that means that you don't have a lot of padding. you don't have, let's say, a 20 mile or 30-mile padding of rocks that maybe won't -- shakes a lot down here but not at the surface. when the surface and the shake is only 3.7 miles away, that was pretty good. go ahead, dave. go on the magic one. see what we have here for you. there you go. there's henrico county. i used to live there, not far from short pump. we're out to to louisa county. when i lived in richmond, i never felt any shaking. six kilometers is the depth at 3.7 miles. that's the shallow quake. everyone out here felt a big shake. you'll see this is a lot of farmland. this is west of henrico county, west of gooch land. the washington, d.c. area, 8 miles away. by the time the shake got to
d.c., it would be significantly less than what you felt here, west of richmond, virginia or into western henrico county, short pump and goochland all the areas there. we'll see the shake. i'm looking at a couple of lakes, no real cities under the epicenter. the farther you get away, ten miles the shake is about half as much, another ten miles, it's half as much from there. out here from spotsylvania and washington, d.c. would be to the north. that's where the big shake is occurring. we're getting crews on the way from richmond, virginia, right now. >> all right, chad. thank you very much. we want to show you this video now. as you know, michael, we've been following this other story today on dominique strauss-kahn. there was a press conference taking place in new york city and apparently as they were speaking about the case, this is video of it. take a look.
>> i've been through earthquakes in seattle. so that was what took place during that press conference in new york. we have a seismologist on the phone with us. lucy jones. lucy, if you could, tell us -- give us your tame on what we're watching here now. we understand this has been felt, started in virginia but was felt in philly, new york city, even martha's vineyard where the u.s. president is vacationing. ohio. please tell us your thoughts. >> that's not a surprise, actually. on east coast, you don't have nearly as many earthquakes as we do here in california. but when you do, the rock is so old and cold that the shaking is over a much wider area. this is one of the largest earthquakes on the east coast in quite a while. in many decades at least. it isn't a location that in the past has had magnitude 3s and 4s. they're east of charlottesville,
virginia. if you look on the seismic hazard maps, you'll see a warm spot in that area. it's not unprecedented. but it's one of the largest we've had there. >> give us an idea for the folks who have been evacuated and some who have chose tone stay inside the buildings, what are the odds of aftershocks in a case like this snoo. >> there certainly will be aftershocks. be rare to have that size and not -- at least magnitude 4s and maybe 5. >> we had a 5.3 is the largest aftershock. a few percent of the time, the aftershock will get larger than the first one. so you have a few percent chance, might have another magnitude 6 or even larger. it can happen. it's unlikely, but it does happen. so people should be expecting, especially over the next hour or two, the probability dies off
rapidly with time. the most dangerous time is the next hour. then you go another few hours, you're half again as likely. much like the way the shaking dies off with distance from the earthquake. chance of aftershocks dies off with time. >> how much damage can an earthquake like this do? i mean, we're talking about it hitting big cities here. >> we had a 5.9 right under -- in los angeles. lots of people right on top. we had $350 million in damage and three deaths. you don't have as many people on top of this but you definitely don't have as strong a building code either. so i would expect that there are downed buildings. especially what we call reinforced masonry. brick buildings are notoriously bad in earthquakes and relatively common in virginia. when you get close to where the epicenter is, i would expect to see significant damage to brick buildings. >> and for those who people who decided to stay inside, what's your advice to them? at this point. >> if you're in an old brick
building, if you didn't have any damage from the last one, you probably aren't going to be getting it in future ones. if you've already got damage, you probably want to -- chance of something bigger. that's pretty significant. and the other thing is that there's probably going to be, i would expect to see damage to water systems. we have an earthquake of this size, we damage -- particularly fragile -- i would imagine -- i don't know if you've gotten contact with people on top of it, they may have lost some electrical service. you should also be aware, if you smell leaking gas, water heaters that are not strapped down can fall over and pull out of the wall. before we had laws requiring water heaters to be strapped down here in california, we would see numerous fires caused that way. >> can you help us confirm the size of this. we're getting mixed reports,
5.8, 5.9, even a 6.0. can you clarify that? >> i looked quickly before i came on the phone at the usgs website and the moment, which is the most reliable type was 5.8. unless it's been updated by the usgs, that would be the official magnitude. >> we're getting word that it's updated to 5.9. let me ask you, one of our producers has some family in richmond. according to his mother, she felt a terrifying jolt, thought it was a gas explosion. would people have been given any type of warning that something like this was coming? how quickly does this happen? >> there is no warning. at this point, we have not found anything that perceives earthquakes. one thing is that the earthquake happens at a location and waves travel out from it. and there's two different types of waves. the larger ones travel somewhat
more slowly. sometimes people will feel the first wave, called the p wave and the time between the p and the s wave goes for five miles per second, much like the time between lightning and thunder. so there might have been first one wave and a couple second later another one. but other than that, there's no precursors. >> let me ask you this. we're talking about the northeastern part of the united states here in terms of where it was felt. but there are some folks here that we work with in atlanta and they're telling us that they think they felt something in atlanta and the surrounding suburbs. is that possible? >> oh, definitely. as i said, on the east coast, you have this old hard cold crust that does a lovely job of transmitting the waves like a solid bell. here in california, the crust is broken up by faults so it doesn't do as good a job of transmitting the energy. this earthquake, 5.9, can
definitely be felt hundreds of miles away. actually, since the location is down there in virginia, i don't think atlanta is that far away from us. >> what would be your greatest concern right now? at this point? >> i think there are probably -- probably the place that is are having the worst problem have lost cell phone service and can't get out and let you know. so they should go and look right at the epicenter, that's where the most likely damage is going to be. in that area, i would think that problems with leaking gas and the potential for fires is very significant. >> lucy, michael holmes is here along with me in studio. i want to bring him in. he has a few questions for you as well. >> it was extraordinary, what you're saying about the spread of this and how far it can stretch. is that a random thing or is that something that goes out on a straight line? how does that work?
>> well, it goes out in all directions from the earthquake. there's a slight pattern depending on where exactly the fault was. but the main thing is just distance from the fault and you get stronger shaking at bigger distances on the east coast than on the west. just because of the old crust. >> extraordinary stuff. obviously, things are still being worked out at the moment where this is being felt and what's going on with it. actually, the atlanta question came from oun of your co-anchors who was sitting at home and said she felt this jolt and she said we came on with the breaking news. wolf blitzer joining us again from washington. it seems like it's quite a sizable jolt, wolf. >> it was sizable. 5.9, almost 6.0. that's a significant earthquake. about 80 or 90 miles outside of washington. actually, closer to richmond, virginia.
but we felt it here. we're up on capitol hill in our building at cnn in washington, d.c. bureau. i was on the eighth floor and all of a sudden it just started slowly, you felt the ground floor moving a little bit. the desks started to shake a little bit. but then you could really feel the pounding and there was a real jolt and i'm guessing it landed for 20 or 30 seconds. i immediately suspected once that happened that it was an earthquake. although, originally i thought there was construction going on on another floor and that was the situation. but this is an earthquake. we haven't had one here in the washington, d.c. area in a long time. as you've been pointing out, it's been felt all over the eastern seaboard up to new york, ohio. obviously in virginia where the epicenter is. it's a significant earthquake. i expect there will be significant damage, although we have no reports of injuries or damage right now. i'm sure that will unfold in the
coming hours. we'll get a full sense of what happened. we felt it dram atly here in washington, d.c. no doubt about that. >> all right. wolf, thank you. stay with us, though. we'll definitely want to check back with you. i want to take our viewers to jean outside the cnn bureau on the street. jeanne, how are folks feeling about what just happened in their city? >> well, people were unnerved. there were hundreds of people around me here now. this is an area of washington with a lot of highrise office building. in our building, we felt this floor start to move and weave and shake a little bit. everybody beelined for the stairwells, came down. in our building at least an orderly evacuation, they came out of the other buildings and congregated outside. everyone is saying to one another, what was it? what was it? an earthquake, frankly. not the thing that people are expecting to have happen, much less in the middle of the day at the top of a highrise
buildingment people are pretty calm here. we haven't heard any sirens. we haven't seen any sign of police activity. just a lot of people right now milling around the streets. we did see in one of the buildings near us, some people starting to be taken back inside. so that building at least has been given the all clear to re-enter. once again, a 5.9 earthquake centered about 80 miles away from here. definitely being felt here in the streets of washington, d.c. and in these high-rise buildings. back to you. >> let me ask you this, in case the viewers don't know. we know that you cover homeland security issues for us at cnn. is there any type of plan in place to figure out when something like this happens, is there a plan in place to figure out exactly what it is right away and make sure there's nothing more sinister at work? >> fema has had an office in place that does a lot of earthquake modeling and a lot of earthquake preparations. and they have looked at some of
the principal fault lines. what they've really been worried about is the west coast and the new madrid falls. there was a drill in that part of the country earlier this year, specifically to go through the kinds of protocols that you would follow in this sort of event. today i will tell you the first thing that went through my mind was, oh, my goodness, is this some kind of terrorist strike. i wouldn't be surprised because this was washington, d.c. if that didn't go through a lot of other minds also. because there wasn't a feeling of concussion, because there haven't been any sirens, because there wasn't any police presence, i think people fairly early on came to terms with the fact that this was mother nature, nothing else at this point in time. randi? >> jeanne on the streets of washington. thank you very much. we've also been mentioning that this was actually felt at the new york stock exchange in lower manhattan. our alison kosik was there. alison, did you feel this? >> i did, actually.
sitting in the booth, i was actually watching our libya coverage and yeah, felt the booth shake and the interesting thing about where i report from, where i'm sitting right now is this is actually a booth suspended above the floor of the new york stock exchanges. i may have felt it more than someone on the floor closer to bigger walls. but yeah, i knew something wasn't right. the shaking went on for about, i'd say, about 40 seconds. soon after that, the fire warden came on, making an announcement saying no evacuations right now, expect some aftershocks and we heard someone shout out, keep trading. so taking it in stride here at the new york stock exchange. randi? >> and did you get a chance to speak with any of the traders there? >> not yet, actually. i was just asked to come and sit down here. a couple of the reporters from down the hall from where i work here came in and said, did you feel it? did you feel it? one person said they didn't. others said they did.
it really depends on where we were sitting in the building to really feel that shaking that was happening. here in the booth, i knew something wasn't right when i saw the monitors start swaying. i saw the camera i'm talking to you, that was swaying quite a bit. i knew something was just not right, randi. alison kosik, glad all is well on your end. as we've been telling you, 5.9 earthquake hitting the epicenter being in mineral, virginia. but being felt in washington, d.c., new york, ohio, north carolina, martha's vineyard, toronto. many parts of the country. you're looking at some pictures there of reagan national airport there. this is a live picture coming to us from one of our affiliates. we'll continue to watch this. we have a lot of people that we've been speaking with who have felt this. many concerns up and down the coast of the united states here. we'll continue to keep an eye on this and of course, the happenings in libya as well. keep it here on cnn. we'll be right back. on the re,
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breaking news in the cln cnn newsroom. busy day following a lot of big stories. we want to take you to chad myers. he has the latest on this earthquake we've been talking about. this 5.9 chad that started in virginia and rocked much of the northeast coast. >> 5.9 is a pretty big quake. when you get up to 6.0, that's considered much bigger. the whole thing i want to talk about, over the world about 500 -- between 55 and -- not rare. virginia has only had 25 earthquakes since it became a state. just 25. and here is something that the us dpchlt s puts out after every
quake. a very significant map. you can go through everything. estimated number of fatalities. right now it's only been a few minutes since it happened, probably less than one. 78% of less than one fatality. now you talk about how much money from u.s. dollars, from $10 million to $100 million. there's a 5% chance there could be more than $10 million worth of damage. severe shake, 855 felt that severe shake. about 10,000 felt a strong shake and if you get farther away into virginia, 23,000, especially henrico, short pump, into richmond itself, 313,000 people felt moderate shaking. over the rest of the eastern u.s., 11 million people felt this shaking. probably felt to some of you like a truck was going down the street. but it was a very large quake. that was just to the west of henrico county. there you go, washington, d.c., the district of columbia, 80 miles away. richmond, virginia, 50 miles
away. there's a central area up the james river, west of henrico county, west of richmond, up to charlottesville, that's where most of the earthquakes will occur. louisa county, into richmond and virginia, felt an awful lot of shaking and quite a bit of damage in some spots we're assuming. we want to go live to new york where our richard roth is standing by. richard, give us a sense of what's happening there in manhattan. >> basically here, this is lower manhattan in new york city. and certainly, a jittery place. ten-year anniversary of 9/11 coming up. everyone very sensitive. there are subway lines, underground trains running. when i felt this, i felt that's a little bit shaky for the number 6, 5, 4 running up the lexington avenue line. when other people said did you feel that, i think it was a quake. it was a much wider scope. we've had a major evacuation of all of these buildings here. we've talked to several people
who described what they felt. >> bunch of people from the office, take the stairs out. we all decided to follow and get out. downstairs in the lobby. >> i was on the floor, i thought i was woozy because everything seemed like it was moving. i realized it was an earthquake. >> so everybody just started coming outside? >> yeah. i went to the hallway and they said we had to go down the stairs and evacuate. >> have you been in an earthquake before? >> no. >> everything just started to shake a little bit and just like -- >> okay. >> another man, a construction worker in different building thought it was a prank, that his friend was doing something. we were covering the dominique strauss-kahn case which is a bombshell in a different way. we have susan candiotti, cnn reporter covering the press conference by cyrus vance, the district attorney who dropped the case. what happened in that room? >> hi, richard.
once he started to talk, all of a sudden the floors started to shakement honestly, my first thought is, is someone shaking the back of my chair because there were lines of chairs. and then it kept shaking. i quickly turned around and i thought, wait a minute, the floor is still shaking. honestly, my first thought was, could this be a bomb? and my third thought was, is this an earthquake? but having covered a lot of them and aftershocks in new york and -- rather, in central and south america, it seemed unlikely in new york. what we did was quickly mr. vance left the room and the press corps. >> susan i have to wrap you up for more coverage on the quake and other news, back to you. >> richard, our thanks to susan as well. we've been telling that you president obama is on vacation in martha's vineyard. dan lothian is traveling with the president. dan, tell us, has the president been briefed on what's happened and where is he? >> well, look, i can tell you
that we're waiting to find out if, in fact, the president felt the earthquake. he's currently out on the golf course and the pool of reporters who are in a holding area, not far from where the president is, a couple of them actually felt the earthquake. i was on the first floor of the building, right now we're up on the fourth floor. i was down on the ground floor when this earthquake hit. i felt it. i lived for quite a while out in los angeles. so i'm quite familiar with the feel of an earthquake. so immediately, i knew that it was an earthquake. the ground was swaying from side to side. looked up at one of the light fixtures, it has a little piece hanging down from it, that was swaying as well. that was surprising because we were starting to hear the reports of the earthquake in new york and d.c. and then when it starts hitting someplace like martha's vineyard off the coast of massachusetts, all of a sudden you're saying what is this? how big is this earthquake? again, we're waiting to find out if the president himself may
have felt it out on the golf course. i touched base with someone at the white house who was inside the white house when the earthquake hit and they gave me one word. intense. back to you. >> and dan, how soon do you think we might hear from the president or from the white house on this? do you expect he would make some sort of statement on this or what details might be coming out? >> look, right now, it would be just speculation. i sim simply don't know. i think they're trying to gather information much like we are, trying to figure out what's going on, how bad is the situation at the epicenter. i'm getting some information here -- hang on just a second. i'm just getting some information. the president, who is out on the golf course, he just took a phone call. one of our photographers out there, peter morris, just got a shot of the president taking the phone call.
he could be getting filled in on the earthquake. the president while playing golf, did just take a phone call. so we're trying to find out. we're reaching out to folks at the white house to find out,a, what the situation is with regards to the president, did he feel it and will the president be doing anything, talking on camera? will they be putting anything out? or if they have additional information. >> do you have that photo that you just mentioned? >> i don't have it. that's just -- i got it on blackberry. it's my photographer is out there who rolled on this. we'll try to get you that video as soon as we get it here. at this point, we don't have it. >> dan, please keep us up to date as soon as you hear any word from the administration on this one. let's go back to our wolf blitzer. he was actually inside our washing town bureau when this happened. he's now outside on the street. wolf, hello once again. >> hi randi. we're here outside the buildings. all the buildings around capitol hill have basically been
evacuated. although slowly but surely. they're going to start eventually letting people go back to offices. go back to work. capitol hill was evacuated. the u.s. congressional offices. the offices at the pentagon elsewhere in washington. one of our producers is here. you've been in touch, vito, with local security services. what are you hearing about the damage, the destruction, security situation in the greater washington, d.c. area? >> so far, i have no indication of any major structural damage. but the d.c. fire department has done, they've ordered all their units to leave their firehouses and inspect their first-alarm districts. to physically visually survey for damage. no reports of injuries directly connected with the ear quake that i've heard so far in d.c. fairfax county is reporting no infrastructure damage. >> that's in northern virginia? >> that would be in northern virginia. d.c. fire department is reducing the amount of equipment they would normally send on a call because they're receiving so many calls. >> but basically, as of light
now, it's very, very early, we have not received, at least in the greater d.c. area, northern virginia, maryland, district of columbia, any significant reports of injury or destruction? >> not that i've been able to monitor. >> have you checked in richmond, which is much closer to the epicenter, richmond, virginia? >> no. really i've been con concentrating on our backyard here. >> there's a lot of people who felt the earthquake, it was obvious, randi. like everyone else, it started rather slow. a little shaking going on. but then within a few seconds, all of a sudden, you could really feel the floor starting to move. when you're on the eighth floor, you see the desk moving, the papers falling off, books beginning to get rattled a little bit. you realize this is an earthquake. originally i thought it was construction going on. it was a i lot more serious than that. if you felt an earthquake in california, you obviously knew what was going on here. i had felt earthquakes in california.
within a few seconds, i realized that the whole thing, randi, must have lasted no more than 30 seconds. i'm guessing, 30, maybe 40 seconds. people are still bracing for aftershocks. i did feel some slight tremors in the immediate minutes after the big shake that was going on. but we'll stay on top of the situation. meanwhile, a lot of folks are on the streets of washington, d.c. they're worried. they're wondering what's going to happen next. as of right now, no significant reports of damage or injury, at least in the greater washington, d.c. area that obviously could change. >> wolf, let me ask you one question before i let you go. we were speaking with dan lothian who is covering and traveling with the president in martha's vineyard. he said the president is on the golf course. he received a phone call but didn't want to speculate. what would be the procedure here in a case like this. you've covered washington and presidents for years. how would this work if there's a major earthquake that hits. what would be the procedure for the president in making him
aware or safe? >> well, the president first of all would be fully informed. he's got a team of national security homeland security aides who travel with him wherever he goes. military personnel as well. john brennan, the president's counterterrorism advisor is there with him briefing him. he's never far away if he's on a golf course or in the residence or anywhere else. they would immediately tell him what's going on. they would give him a sense of how serious it is. i would expect not necessarily here in washington, d.c. it's about 80 or 90 miles from the ep center, closer to virginia, the destruction, the damage could be more significant. not only in terms of physical damage but in terms of people. at some point the president, if there's a really significant amount of destruction, damage, injury, president could cut short his vacation and go to the scene and see what's going on himself. i wouldn't be surprised if that happens. if in fact, there's significant
damage or destruction or human injury closer to the epicenter in richmond, virginia. in new york, in washington, elsewhere along the eastern seaboard. north carolina, ohio. you could feel this earthquake. this is a big earthquake and it obviously has the potential for causing significant damage. let just hope and pray that that's not the case. i suspect the closer we get to richmond, virginia, and that part of central virginia, we're going to see that the destruction, the damage is a lot more intense than it is here in the greater washington, d.c., area. whether maryland. the district of columbia or northern, virginia. >> we're going to let you go here. you have your own show, the situation room to get started on. it airs in about two and a half hours. 5:00 p.m. on the east coast. we'll take a quick break. when we come back, we'll go live to virginia where this earthquake first struck. where the epicenter hit in mineral, virginia. our jim acosta will be live there for us.
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[ martin luther king jr. ] i still have a dream that one day on the red hills of georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. i have a dream today! [ male announcer ] chevrolet is honored to celebrate the unveiling of the washington, d.c., martin luther king jr. memorial. take your seat at the table on august 28th. welcome back. we want to continue live coverage of this earthquake that rocked the east coast of the country. our peter hamby is in richmond, virginia, close to the ep epicenter. he's on the line with us. peter, can you tell us what folks are saying there? >> caller: this is something very unusual for richmond. people here were preparing for
the possibility of a hurricane this weekend much just a few minutes ago when we started to feel the house shake here where i'm home visiting my family, we weren't quite sure what it was. it lasted for about 35 second 45 second. you had a guest on earlier that described how farther away from the epicenter might have felt like a rolling sensation. here, it felt very much like tight, kind of airplane turbulence much the house shook. it shook violently for 45 seconds. things fell off the wall. nothing major. my father is downtown richmond. he also reports that there was a lot of significant shaking. but he didn't see any damage here. there's local news reports that there's wall collapses and things like that. people in richmond are still gathering information. we're just 30, 40 miles away from the epicenter in mineral. so we're still trying to gather information about what's happening out there, randi? >> what do you north about this nuclear plant in that area where your parents are? >> right. lake anna is a popular vacation
and fishing spot in louisa county. we're still gathering information on what is happening there. you're correct, the power, sort of the big utility in virginia owns the power facility out on lake anna. so we're still trying to gather information. our photojournalist said that her family was vacationing out in this lake anna. she said she just e-mailed a bunch of folks there. but we have reporters traveling to the scene. we're going to try to figure out what's going on there. >> all right. peter, we'll let you go. thank you very much for the update. now we want to check in with jim acosta in mount vernon, virginia. jim, can you tell us what the situation is there? >> caller: randi, we were at mount vernon early yaer today shooting a story. essentially, we started feeling the ground shake underneath our feet. my knees buckled, everybody
around me had the same sensation, like oh, my goodness, i think this is an earthquake. we were actually rolling some video of the mansion at mount vernon as this earthquake was happening. we have video we're efforting to get on the air that shows some shaking of the mansion at mount vernon. you can see on top of the mansion, the bird on top that sits on top of it, it was actually shaking as well. the tourists came rushing out of the mansion as a precaution. the park asked everybody to come out of the house. obviously, a lot of tourists were very shaken up. we talked to a few of them. they were obviously very worried about what was going on. but there was no fear that anybody was in great danger. this was over in seconds. and from what we understand from talking to the folks here, randi, there was no damage here on the scene. they went through the house. obviously, this is a very important house in american history. there was no damage inside.
nobody here at the park, at mount vernon was injured at that time. it was very unsettling. you could certainly tell at that moment that we were experiencing an earthquake. you could feel your knees buckle. you could feel sort of weak and almost queasy on your feet, like what do i do now? instantly, one thing that we noticed here was, when people try to get on their cell phones, nobody could make a phone call. i suppose this is naturally something that happens when one of these disasters occurs. obviously, everybody is fortunate so far this didn't turn out to be much of a disaster, just sort of a scary moment or two. >> jim, i want to make one note here. don't go anywhere. we're getting word from our affiliate, wtop, that two reactors have been taken off line just as a precaution, no damage. we've been talking about this north anna nuclear plant not far from the epicenter.
two reactors taken off line. no damage. jim, if you can pick up with what the situation is. have people been evacuated in mount vernon or are there any plans to do so as they prepare for possible aftershocks? >> you know, not at this point. the folks here at mount vernon told us that as a precaution, they hurried everybody out of the house. obviously, they were concerned about all of the artifacts insides. they went room by room. you can sort of see hiepd me, randi, there are tourists walking around the ground. you talk to anybody who was here during that and they just couldn't believe what had happened. i know peter ham by, he grew up in virginia, i did myself not far from mount vernon. i can tell you, nobody who grew up in this area or from this area, has ever felt anything like this. in our lifetime, it's not been felt in the d.c. metropolitan area. having grown up, going
water-skiing at lake anna, i must tell you that that has been a worry for many, many years for people who live in this area that if an earthquake were to occur and there have been warnings from geologists over the years, that hey, you know, this could be a concern, people are going to be very, very anxious in the coming days. you are mentioned that the precautionary measures were taken at the nuclear power plant. i can guarantee you that lots of questions will be asked. >> i'm sure there will be. jim acosta in mount vernon. glad you're safe. thank you very much. we have one thing that we want to update you on before we take a quick break. word from chris lawrence at the pentagon that there was an announcement there at the pentagon in washington there, there's a considerable amount of standing water in two corridors of the building. i'm going to let crystal you the rest of that. chris, give us an update if you can on what you're finding out about the situation at the pentagon. >> reporter: randi, we just got an update on that.
that situation has now been contained. they were telling the workers in those two corridors of the pentagon to stay where they were and let the repair crews get in there and get that water cleaned up and try to get those pipes repaired. and we're now told that they have been able to do that. so that damage has been cleaned up. really for the most part now, people are starting to come back into the pentagon in full force and go back into their offices. just a little while ago we got the all clear that there doesn't seem to be any further damage to the pentagon and that it was safe for people to come on back to work. >> chris, i spoke with barbara starr earlier from the pentagon. she mentioned that you were there as well. what did it feel like to you? >> reporter: yeah, we all have offices, for people who don't know, all the news organizations from wall street journal to the washington post to fox, cbs, cnn, we're all in a little corridor together in our little individual offices.
and it immediately just started shaking. i was sitting at my desk nest next to one of our producers, larry shaughnessy. it was swaying. we have a tiny window outside. i could see the scaffolding that sets up outside our window, it was rocking back and nort hitting the building. as you stood up, you could feel the pentagon moving underneath you it. went on for a good, probably 10, 12 seconds. it was one of the larger ones. i've felt larger in california and in haiti. but this was definitely one of the largest that i've felt. >> chris, we're just getting word in from the national cathedral in d.c. that pinnacles have fallen off. nobody was injured but we're getting word that pinnacles have fallen off the national cathedral. for those of us who don't know the national cathedral and that area as well as you do, would
that be an area this time of day that would have been a busy area with tourists and crowds? >> just about any tourist attraction is going to be busy in august randi. this is prime tour season in washington, d.c. where the city is literally overrun by tour groups, by students, off on summer vacations, families. the national cathedral is one of the biggest attractions in washington. now, if you haven't been here, it's nowhere near sort of the central part of washington where people think of the smithsonian and the washington monument and the capital and like that. it's in an area of northwest d.c. it's really a residential area. lots of apartments, regular grocery stores. very residential area. then you've got this huge majestic cathedral there. it's the only thing i would say about the cathedral, the danger would be it is so -- in a city
that doesn't have a lot of tall buildings, the cathedral is a sweeping sight. just to get a picture of it you literally have to step back two, three blocks away to fit it all in your view finder. something falling from that height, could be an area of concern especially in an area where you've got normal residential area where people are walking down the street and going to and from the bus stops and metro stops. >> so does it appear to you that folks are streaming back into the pentagon. no more concern, coming back to work? >> it was carry, like barbara said. your first thought unfortunately, is wow, are we being attacked? but then i think after a few seconds, i kind of -- my earthquake sense kind of kicked in and i realized no, this is an earthquake. don't expect to feel one here in virginia. this was a big one. >> yeah.
chris, i appreciate it. glad you're safe. our other co-workers as well and the folks there. thank you so much. we want to listen in now to our affiliate wusa. they're on the line with someone inspecting the tracks on the metro system. >> trying to get cell service back to the station. you could see the e-mails going back and fort. delia, thanks nor joining us. >> you're welcome. i'm so glad we can finally get on the air. it's taken some time. we're on the corner of 14th and new york. we did travel about a block or so to get a better signal. so we can at least bring you some pictures and talk to this woman who worked in the area for 20 years or so. tell me what you felt. start from the very beginning. 2:00 or so? >> yes. >> all right. we lost that interview and those pictures there. i want to update you. we've been talking quite a bit about the nuclear reactors. we told you they were taken off line. two of the reactors taken off
line as a precaution. no damage. we're getting word from david mcentire, the nrc spokesman. i can tell you a bit of information in case you were concerned about that situation. they're apparently monitoring the situation. trying to get as much information as quickly as they can. we're talking about lake anna, off -- it's the closest plant to the epicenter in mineral, virginia. both units were tripped. they were shut down automatically. the plant lost off site power. all diesel generators are working. they've declared an unusual event which the nrc says is the lowest of the four emergency categories. just a precaution there. two reactors taken off line. what do you want to do here? take a quick break? all right. we'll take a quick break and be back with much more on this earthquake. you don't have facetime on your phone, which makes it this easy to talk face-to-face with another iphone.
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earthquake that struck the east coast. we want to tell you that it did, the epicenter occurred in mineral, virginia. there's a long list of cities and places that this has actually had an impact on. talking about detroit, indianapolis, new york city, boston, washington, d.c., north carolina, ohio, toronto, canada, we are watching all of that. we want to tell you that the mayor, michael bloomberg of new york city, he's going to be having a press conference to update us on the situation. that's coming up at 4:00 p.m. eastern time. we're anxious to hear what he has to say. we're also getting word from maryland, wmar, that 1800 houses there are dark, without power. we've been talking with wolf blitzer and many others there in washington. we know the pentagon was evacuated. they're letting folks back in. many of the offices have been evacuated but now folks are going back in. we do have chad myers in studio with us. chad, i know you've been keeping track of what's happening with the airports there. >> for a while, newark and jfk
were not allowing any planes to land. there were not any air traffic controllers in the tower. they evacuated the towers. there's your holding pattern that you love so much randi, all the way back down here. a few planes are being allowed to land at jfk as they put their controllers back in. as you can see, they were in a holding pattern and another one into central pennsylvania. one other thing we've been watching closely is north anna power plant. it's a nuclear power plant. only 11 miles from the epicenter. the plant has been shut down. it is on backup generator power. there is water going through these things. going through the generators, trying to cool them. remember, that's the problem that the fukushima daiichi plants in japan had a problem with. they did not have any backup power or any of this going through. so eventually, they melted down. this is under control. it is a shutdown for an anomaly. for a small little event that they're not worried about at all. but the water pumping through
with, of course, those backup generators helping out a lot. i was on radio reference.com. one of my favorite websites. you should listen to scanners all over the world basically. we have some reports in richmond, virginia, of people smelling natural gas. that's probably not unusual if you start shaking the ground. some of the pipes may start losing some of their structural rigidity. especially the nat gas pipes. >> a lot to be concerned about, chad. thank you very much. let's get to lisa in washington, d.c. set the picture there for us. >> congress is gone. there were at least two separate tremors that i felt. after that, they got the second round that was much more serious. it did feel exactly like the 5.8 that i went through in haiti. that's the point i know i looked at the people around me, they looked at