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Other News: Two Survivors Rescued from Quake Rubble

October 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, earthquake rescue teams in Indonesia found two women alive underneath the rubble. Officials said there could be as many as 3,000 more still trapped in the area around the port city, Padang.

We have a report from James Mates of Independent Television News.

JAMES MATES: They know there are people still alive in these buildings; they can hear them. But can they get to them while they still cling to life? The rescue teams are determined, but very nervous, and right to be so.

Here, a part of the structure collapses, fortunately not where the teams have been digging.

Nearby, doctors are talking to a 29-year-old woman entombed under what had been a five-story school building. She’s called Suu Kyi and has been there for two days now. A few hours earlier, her colleague had been pulled out unhurt, but Suu Kyi’s legs are trapped. After several hours, the operation watched by both her father and her husband, she is finally free.

More than 48 hours under the rubble, she is conscious, she could be heard to speak, and she’s now on her way to hospital.

Loesie Handajani taught English at this school. At least four of her teenage students are dead, but she clings to the hope that one of her young charges may yet be found.

LOESIE HANDAJANI, teacher: Last night, they still hear the sounds, the scream asking for help.

JAMES MATES: So they’re still looking now?

LOESIE HANDAJANI: Yes. And they said that they are going to work now, to find.

JAMES MATES: For those who have survived, medical care is, at very best, basic. All Padang’s hospital buildings suffered terribly in the quake, so children like Gonbrasal lie on camp beds, under canvas, waiting another day for an operation to repair his shattered leg. His sister told me, so far, they haven’t even been able to X-ray him.

But just a few yards from the medical tents, the scene is even worse. Rows of body bags lying in the heat of the equatorial sun. The families of the missing must look inside each one hoping to end their uncertainty and yet dreading what they might find.

At the gates to the makeshift morgue, they’ve listed the identified dead being held here. It is a list that has grown all day and seems certain to keep growing for many days yet.

JIM LEHRER: In the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific, the death toll from a deep-sea quake and the tsunami it triggered rose to 169. Grieving survivors began burying family members, and officials considered plans for a mass funeral and burial next week. The search for bodies was set to continue for at least another three weeks.

In Afghanistan, two American service members were killed in a suicide bombing on their convoy in the south. Earlier today, President Obama met with his top commander in Afghanistan aboard Air Force One in Denmark. General Stanley McChrystal talked with the president for 25 minutes, as Mr. Obama weighs whether to send more troops into that conflict.

A video released today gave the first proof an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas more than three years ago is still alive. Sergeant Gilad Shalit is seen holding an Arabic-language newspaper published in mid-September. The 23-year-old said he’d been treated well, but he appealed for his release.

The video was handed over to Israel by Hamas in exchange for 19 female Palestinian prisoners. After they were freed, they met with Palestinian President Abbas in Ramallah. Leaders from both sides expressed encouragement from today’s swap.

NIR HEFETZ, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister (through translator): Even though the path to the release of Gilad remains long and full of difficulties, the information that he is well and healthy is encouraging to us all.

ISMAIL HANIYEH, Hamas leader in Gaza (through translator): We see that what happened was a small step in the hard process we are going through, but it brings hope to achieve a good deal between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli occupation.

JIM LEHRER: Israel will release one more female Palestinian prisoner as part of the deal on Sunday.

A CBS News employee pleaded not guilty today in an extortion plot against talk show host David Letterman. Robert Halderman, a producer for the program “48 Hours,” allegedly blackmailed Letterman for $2 million to keep information on his personal life secret. Letterman exposed the plot on his own show last night; he admitted having sexual relationships with female employees. Letterman said he had turned the extortion information over to the New York district attorney, who’d launched an investigation.

On Wall Street today, stocks slipped slightly on the job news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 21 points to close above 9,487. The Nasdaq fell 9 points to close at 2,048. For the week, the Dow lost 1.8 percent; the Nasdaq fell more than 2 percent.