TERENCE SMITH: Steve Levitt, welcome. Tell us, if you will, what you have been able to see and learn as you traveled around the area today.
STEVE LEVITT: Everybody is working very hard here. We've got... when I got up this morning, I walked... went over to where the market previously was. It reminded me of photos my father had brought home from Hiroshima. That's the only way I can describe it. Just completely decimated areas; there were still bodies along the road, only they're in bags. They're waiting to be picked up, perhaps like somebody might leave out garbage. There's still a strong smell in the air, but as the day progressed, we saw the markets open up.
We saw people moving around. We saw vehicles and petrol. Australian soldiers have got clean water running into the town's water tank. There were masses of volunteers from all over Indonesia arriving to go through the wreckage, looking for bodies. And of course, everywhere you look, the TNI are also around, cleaning up, doing parts of the cleanup-- the T.NI being the Indonesian military. We did food delivery today. We've got another 60 metric tons coming in.
The people who are displaced, the survivors, are all in the mosques. Every community has a mosque, and these people have gone to these mosques, often in communities. They often ran from one area and stuck together. And they're in need of everything.
The typical survivor's story is that they were the one adult, or they were the adult that grabbed a few kids, got them on a motorbike, got out of the way, and invariably they have lost the rest of their family -- like one woman today at this mosque, who had... when the first wave hit, she hung on to a fridge. When the second wave hit, she'd hung on to some trees. She finally ended up hanging on to a palm tree. You could see where her arms were all cut. As the wave went down, she came down the tree, descending with the water, only to find everybody around her dead. So she lost her House, her husband, her family, and everything.
And so, these are the kind of people that... all they have is what they're standing up in, that the 21 NGO's, the major NGO's here, are trying to support.
TERENCE SMITH: And you say you're still turning up bodies from the wreckage, so that suggests the number of casualties, already so great, may become even greater.
STEVE LEVITT: Look, it's a certainty that the numbers would have to be seriously a lot higher than we could estimate at this stage. That's our trucks starting in the background, so we're off to an early start. Yeah, it's going to be much higher. As you're in America, let me just tell you a little about what your forces have been doing over here-- a fantastic job day after day.
The Abraham Lincoln has been sending out helicopters every morning. You get up, and you see wave after wave of helicopters going out. They're going down the West Coast. Now, the West Coast was the closest to the epicenter. It's completely cut off by road. All the roads... the earthquake finished the roads off, and the only way to get down there is by these helicopters. And they've been... so they go down, they drop... they're throwing out food aid today. They've done food aid runs.
They've done medical runs. They dropped down the... they dropped down medical teams. And then they pick up people who are now-- I think it's day nine or day ten-- have been injured for quite some time, are in very poor condition. They fly them back here. And because of that now, the hospitals here are overflowing. And we're starting to have to then put them on cargo flights down to Padang, which is the next major town down. It's about 15 hours' drive from here. But they've done a sensational job.
TERENCE SMITH: It sounds devastating. Have you been able to measure some progress in getting relief and aid out to people, particularly in some of those remote areas you were talking about on the western coastline of Sumatra?
STEVE LEVITT: It's a bit hard to measure progress, actually. There's this... even though there's some organization here, the scale of the thing, it's like the Tower of Babel. You've got many, many nations here -- even in Indonesia, you have many languages and groups -- plus the huge international effort, plus all the different expertises and paradigms that people are doing.
So measuring things is... but by the eye, yes, you know, I can see change. Many of the roads are clear. There's... the graders are working all the time. Like I say, there's fuel, people moving around. There's electricity running. There's... yeah, every day you can see things progressing a little bit, a little bit, a little bit. So it... and like I say, we're moving... today we did four metric tons. Tomorrow we'll do 60, and then we'll keep ramping it up.
We've got... in our sector, there's 21,000 people that we're going to be feeding, or World Vision will be feeding, and all the... and other agencies, you know, are all here, as well. So things are progressing, but we have... you know, the issue... there are choke points, for example. Just today, the airport is one of the few places where you can actually get food in, short of driving up from the 15-hour drive. And these choke points are because the port is completely wrecked.
TERENCE SMITH: Right. Well, Steve Levitt, thank you very, very much for giving us that report. And obviously, this is a huge job that's going to continue for quite a while. Thank you very much.
STEVE LEVITT: My pleasure. Good night.
JIM LEHRER: In Sri Lanka, the relief effort is taking place in a land divided for almost 20 years by civil war between the government and the rebel group known as the Tamil Tigers. Alex Thomson of Independent Television News has this report.
ALEX THOMSON: Even now the daily search for bodies continues. Yet another human torso left at the edge of this estuary. And moving anything, anyone, along this coast remains a laborious process -- yet another obliterated road bridge. That now means we know of four or five just in this 20 or so miles in the East Coast which we've been visiting in the last few days. That means obviously every single item of aid, unless it can be dropped by helicopter, has to be brought in literally by hand.
And when you get to the other side, you're in Kumari, an eerie, shattered ghost town, now given over to the dogs and crows. And just two miles to the North, there are tigers. Refugees fled from the beaches to these high boulders and are terrified of going back home, so the Tamil Tigers came here from halfway across the country, some of them, to provide help with what's available -- rudimentary shacks -- but they have been here since it happened. On Boxing Day, Kumari's village leader, Raji, not only lost his entire settlement, but was also bitten by a snake. But even on that day, the Tigers pitched up to give him anti-venom.
RAJI: -- anti-venom injection --
ALEX THOMSON: So they had anti-venom.
ALEX THOMSON: As Raji visits some of the 137 refugee camps in this province alone, he says both the government and the Tigers, after a long war and fragile cease- fire, are quietly cooperating in the face of this disaster. He could be right, because not far away, a sight all but unthinkable before the tsunamis: A government minister, Mrs. Ferial Ashraff-- in this case, the housing minister-- face-to- face with Tamil Tiger Vasanthan Suntharamoorthy at a refugee camp.
SPOKESPERSON (translated): Are you keeping well? After the tsunami, this country really must come together. We can't continue at war. We've destroyed everything.
MAN (translated): We were hit by the wave.
ALEX THOMSON: Reporter: It's all very new, especially for the minister.
FERIAL ASHRAFF: I have no relationship with the LTT. But for the first time in my life, I have been able to communicate with some of the girls who are working in the camps, and for first time we have been introduced to each other, and we at least have started communicating with each other. And that, I think, is a great step forward.
ALEX THOMSON: New territory, too, for the Tamil Tigers.
VASANTHAN SUNTHARAMOORTHY, Liberation Tamil Tigers Official (translated): I don't think like that. What I think is, we must all unite and work together.
ALEX THOMSON: Political reconciliation is not at the top of the refugees' priorities, obviously. They need medicines, food, and shelter, and if it's not available, they're not averse to telling their minister that. This man saw the ministerial car and went for it.
He said, "We're not getting our share of the stuff. We're about 30 families, and we haven't got any goods. We were given the phone number of the police, but we haven't got the provisions; it's still with them." Some people, though, aren't waiting for the politicians.
By chance we came across this food handout-- an NGO perhaps? The government? The Tigers maybe?
No, simply Surinda Perera, a Sinhalese Colombo businessman who had driven two trucks into the supposedly enemy Tiger territory here to the east to feed Tamils. In the minds of many, the tsunamis have the potential to build peace here as surely as they destroyed buildings and lives.