Saturday, January 1, 2011
7 News Investigations: 7's Top 7: Earthquake/BP Oil Spill
2010 was a year marked by two major disasters: one natural, one manmade, both devastating. 7's Craig Stevens has the story.
WSVN -- It was Jan. 12, just before 5 p.m. A massive 7.0 earthquake strikes Haiti, about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the country's capital. The quake killed more than 200,000 people.
Cameras caught the terror at the presidential palace. Frightened people are seen scrambling for the exits, trying to avoid the falling debris.
Another camera was rolling when the quake hit. This woman ran for her life as the lights go out. You can hear residents screaming in the darkness.
Man: "It was a very severe jolting. Very scary."
Homes crumbled, businesses collapsed.
Man: "Around our compound, multi-story houses have fallen down."
And soon, the horrifying realization that thousands were trapped under the rubble.
Man: "When I look in front of me, I see a lot of people falling down, and they were crying, crying, crying for help."
President Barack Obama: "The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble."
South Florida was one of the first to lend a helping hand.
Man: "We have the experience to really make a difference. We know that it's bigger than you could ever imagine."
Miami-Dade's Urban Search and Rescue Team was sent to look for survivors.
University of Miami and JMH Trauma surgeons loaded up a plane to help care for the injured.
Man: "We're going to scout out see what's going on, and then we'll take it from there."
Reporter: "Mentally, are you prepared to see what you're going to see over there?"
Man: "I don't know. We'll find out."
And no one was prepared to see this.
Man: "We need more people down here!"
Bodies piled up in the streets, and it was those images that haunted parents of Lynn University students.
Father: "Our Brit is still missing. We are not sure where she is, but we are preparing ourselves for the worse and praying for a miracle."
The South Florida students were in Haiti on a mission to help the country's orphans, but four students and two faculty members were killed when their hotel collapsed.
Then, amidst the horror in Haiti, another disaster. This time, a manmade one: the BP oil spill.
On April 20, a massive explosion rocked an oil rig off the Louisiana coast. The platform burst into flames and set off a frantic search for missing workers.
Coast Guard worker: "We got the call last night about 10 p.m. that there was an explosion, a fire on this rig, and as you can see from the dramatic footage, it's a pretty significant event, and we launched immediately last night."
It would become more significant than anyone realized.
Eleven people died. The oil rig sunk, spilling millions upon millions of gallons of oil into the gulf.
Senator Bill Nelson: "You better just consider that you better take your five-year drilling plan off of the coast of Florida, and you better take it off the table until we get to the bottom of this."
As the magnitude of the spill became known, the feds did shut down offshore drilling.
A few weeks into the spill, the first animals are found covered in oil. Dead dolphins and other fish washed up on beaches and rescue efforts continued for dozens of birds found covered in oil.
President Barack Obama: "BP is ultimately responsible under the law for paying the costs of response and cleanup operations."
As the leak continued, it was learned that BP had no plan in place for this type of spill, and as the oil spill grew, it inched its way toward Florida.
Blake Burman: "Well, I want to show you what we've been dealing with all day. Take a look inside this cup here. These are the tar balls that we saw, some of them earlier this morning. When you stick the straw in here, you can get a better idea of just how clumpy and how gross this stuff really is."
Several attempts were made to cap the leak, but after several failed attempts, frustrations rose against BP CEO Tony Hayward, especially after this now famous and foreboding statement.
Tony Hayward, BP CEO: "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I'd like my life back."
President Obama also came under attack for not responding quickly enough to the crisis. Soon after, the white house met with BP officials.
While Gulf Coast residents found creative ways to express their grief, word came that CEO Tony Hayward was on his way out.
Man: "Every time he spoke, it showed how inept and how incompetent and how distant he was from this whole disaster, and how out of touch he was."
A promise came from the man who was to take his place.
Robert Dudley: "I'm going to focus for the next month and a half on what we're doing in the Gulf Coast, our relationships with the Gulf Coast and Washington."
Five months into the oil spill crisis, after nearly 200 million gallons leaked into our waters, there was word that the well was finally capped.
But the long-term effects of the oil spill may never be known.
Craig Stevens: "As for Haiti, the island nation is approaching it's one-year anniversary of the devastating quake. It's hoped the newly-elected government will help the country continue its recovery."