tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC April 28, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
alive. >> the people who saved them and they were honored for tonight on "world news," devastation. pictures from a nightmare. across the southern united states, people are reeling. 164 tornadoes in 24 hours. families, neighbors watching in terror as towns are erased. the loss of life climbing into the hundreds. and in the mountains of rubble, in crushed homes and churches and schools, desperate searches. rescues, heartbreaking recoveries and incredible stories of survival. good evening. we came to london for an historic event tomorrow.
but there is tragedy across a part of america tonight. the terrible tornado disaster in the southern united states. the rising death toll. the towns flattened. the neighborhoods left in ruins. it is a fierce, freak weather assault. 165 tornadoes in 24 hours. one of the tornadoes traveling 100 miles. and, so much death. more than 290 people have been killed across six states. more than 190 in alabama alone. and, meteorologists say they have not seen this kind of destruction in 40 years. here are some of the thundering sights and sounds captured by the people on the ground. >> oh, my gosh. holy crap, guys. this thing is huge. >> look at this thing. goodness, gracious. mind boggling.
be in a safe place now, please. please do not take any chances with this. >> right now, there are sirens going on. >> oh, my god. >> that's over there. >> it's surreal. look at that. are you kidding me? >> this is a very serious situation. that is something that you pray that you never, ever, ever see. this will be a day that will go down in state history. all you can do is pray for those people. >> and our team is out across that disaster zone tonight. we turn first to abc's jim avila, who is in concord, alabama, outside birmingham. jim? >> reporter: diane, this is no backdrop. all around me, as far as you can see, in every direction you can see, there is evidence of an incredibly violent weather event.
entire communities, families, homes across the south, were torn apart as tornadoes described by some as a mile wide, struck in the spring evening. more twisters may have hit america's south yesterday than in any other day in history. estimates of 164 in 14 states. major super cells, the breeding ground for tornadoes, stretched from mississippi to alabama, georgia and up the atlantic seaboard, all the way to new york. reports of serious damage and loss of life from smithville, mississippi, where neighborhoods were flattened and grocery stores wiped out, to rainsville, alabama, where winds tossed around a school bus and left the bank just a heap of brick. and finally, polk, georgia, where entire communities were leveled. gas lines now beginning to form as power outages cripple the pumps. >> these are homes. this is the corner community, and then these are homes. neighborhoods where people live.
>> reporter: in concord, alabama, it was 15 minutes of raw terror. up to 200 homes destroyed. six fatalities. >> i was talking to him the whole time. >> all i heard was screaming. >> reporter: karen mundy is still shaking today. on her first trip back to the house where her brother-in-law died and she survived, by climbing in her bathtub. >> i was just holding on right here. >> reporter: felt yourself being pulled? >> i could just feel it shaking me. >> reporter: let me take you inside one of these terribly destroyed homes. can you imagine what it was like here at the time? the wind is roaring, the sirens are wailing. your house is breaking apart and your possessions are beginning to spin all about you. the mismatched shoes. a motorcycle helmet over there. and your baby's picture. outside atlanta, another survivor, who ted held tight, as
the storm nearly blew him away. >> started seeing stuff flying around. i grabbed ahold of the porch and the porch was lifting up. i thought i was gone. >> this is the roof. >> reporter: in pickens county in northern georgia, more than 30 homes damaged and destroyed. this family hid in their storm shelter with 15 family and friends. >> took four men to hold this door. it was trying to push it open. and they held it together. >> reporter: when they emerged, their house was gone. but somehow, five puppies, scattered by the wind, survived. the fema director is already onsite here in alabama. tomorrow, the president of the united states will visit to try to lend comfort to a region in shock. diane? >> jim, those are incredible scenes. thank you for reporting in tonight. and two hours southwest of jim, the college town of tuscaloosa, home of the university of alabama, where today, the mayor looked around and said, entire neighborhoods have been removed from the map.
steve osunsami is in one of those, and it took a direct hit. what do you see around you tonight, steve? >> reporter: well, good evening, diane. there is a lot of heartache around this neighborhood. there were supposed to be search and rescues today, but no rescues today here in tuscaloosa. just a few minutes ago, they found a body of a 5-year-old girl buried in that rubble. so far, 36 people in this town have died here. and many of them were found in this neighborhood. on tenth avenue, the rosedale apartments were home to hundreds of low income families who had so little and lost so much. >> it was just five minutes, it was gone. >> how do you explain to someone what this is all about? >> tragedy. >> reporter: every home was leveled. they tell us five people here were killed. >> justin! justin! >> reporter: the sisters of 15-year-old justin thomas were desperate to find him today. he's been missing since the storm. you said this was his car? >> he was in his car. >> it's unbelievable.
it's still not real to me. >> reporter: today, the family peeled through piles of broken homes and checked through hospitals. this evening, they were losing faith. so, what do you think? >> i don't think he made it. i don't think he made it. but you know, we need confirmation of that, though. >> reporter: across the street, claudia key is searching for an aunt and two nieces. >> we heard somebody moaning, but we can't get through under there. >> reporter: you heard someone moaning? >> right up under there. we lost everything. just don't know. just pray that they find them. >> reporter: rescue teams went to search. the neighbors watched. some of them helped. they found nothing, which was good news. today, most of these searches led to yet another dead body. is it tough to watch this? >> it's very tough to watch it. >> reporter: the tuscaloosa tornado came tearing through at 5:00 p.m. and moved northeast, carving a hole through town.
it spared the university of alabama and hopscotched buildings, but it destroyed rosedale. we've had several people come up to us and beg us to help them find their loved ones, diane. but they tell us, they don't have pictures, because the pictures blew away in the storm. >> oh, steve. these are shattering stories tonight. and we'll move on now, east from alabama, georgia was not spared. at least 14 people killed there, and our yunji de nies is in the town of ringgold and found two lucky and very grateful survivors with one amazing story. >> reporter: it started as a simple trip to the store for a gallon of milk, before the storm. but by the time the brewers pulled into the parking lot, it was too late. >> we opened the doors, of course, it started tearing the doors off the car. i said, we got to ride this one out. >> reporter: the tornado swallowed them. >> my husband put his arm through the steering wheel and
grabbed hold of me and i grabbed hold of the steering wheel and we just kind of held onto each other. >> reporter: that's when their car spun around and lifted up into the air -- 15 seconds inside the twister. in those 15 seconds, what was happening in the car? >> well, things were flying around. it broke all of our windows out, the glass just shattered. we had glass in our hair. >> reporter: they smashed back down onto the pavement. >> i said, are we on the ground? he said, yes, we're on the ground. i think what i was waiting for was the car to hit something and make a big thud -- >> reporter: because you still felt like you were spinning around? >> i still felt like we were in the air or something. >> reporter: they escaped through their shattered sunroof. >> it was horrible. >> it's a ride. it's a trip that you don't ever want to do again. and -- i was worried more about her. but -- we're safe.
>> reporter: safe, shaken and thankful. and this is the suv that the brewers survived in. you can see it is completely flipped on its side. and over here, diane, this is the sunroof where they had to cut the remaining glass and then crawl their way out. this suv weighs two tons. so, you can imagine just how strong those winds must have been. >> and the doors torn off, holding onto the steering wheel. we're going to turn now, because so many people are asking about these kinds of tornadoes, what is causing the outbreak? is this a preview of a new ferocity in the climate of this planet? and our weather editor sam champion is with us now. sam, what are the experts saying about this tonight? >> reporter: diane, it's a frightening example of when everything aligns just right. for a once in a 100 year event. let me show you all the ingredients we're talking about. right here on the screen, all that warm, moist air from the gulf. the temperatures in the south had been in the 80s for almost two weeks.
an unusually strong push of cold air dropping through the middle of the country and a jet stream that, boom, is running 150 miles an hour right over this. that's important, because the west winds of the jet stream, the south winds at the base of the storm create a twist or turn and that's perfect for development of tornadoes. right behind that, everybody is asking if climate change played a role here. all winter long, we've been talking about the fact that the leaky arctic fence, that cold polar air, the melting sea ice. the thing is, there's no effort to study what that looks like on climate change. compared to severe weather. so, we don't know the answer to that. >> you say once in 100 years, but you have been saying, you're seeing things that you have never seen before. >> reporter: 28 years of doing weather, diane, i want to show you a picture of something that i have never seen before. this tornado, look at that. that is either a building or the roof of a building and all of the pieces, the same size, flying around a mile-wide
tornado, about 1,000 feet in the air. i have never seen a debris field like that, diane. >> all right, sam, thank you. and i want everyone at home to know, we heard from so many of you, asking how can you help. and we have answers on our website, abcnews.com/worldnews. go there for ways to do it. and, still ahead on "world news," all the news of the day, and, of course, also, the news here in london, as the world searches for signs of hope and possibility. a royal couple, how they spent this day before the wedding. and, we decided to ask some children all around this world, what do they think princes and princesses really do all day? you have to hear what they said. ♪
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prince william shaking hands with well wishers outside buckingham palace. kate middleton waving to the crowds as she entered the goring hotel where she will spend her last night as a commoner and a single woman. and the official wedding program was released, including a new photo. and a lot of people have been wondering, in 2011, would you really choose to spend your life as the windsors do it? well, david muir is here right now and he has been thinking about all of that today. >> reporter: yeah, sort of a big question surrounding this royal wedding. really something when prince william was outside the window a few moments ago. we know william is with prince charles and harry, just the boys tonight, and kate with her family. the last night as the commoner from bucklebury. >> reporter: when kate middleton makes that seven-minute drive from the goring hotel to westminster abbey with her father tomorrow, it's the last time she will be known simply as kate. a their fairy tale wedding scripted to the minute, and much of her future, too. >> it might seem like a fairy
tale wedding to us, but for her things will never be the same. >> reporter: remember charles and diana -- and that required photo op -- in the middle of their honeymoon? for kate, that change is coming too. she'll never have her own job. being a princess will be her job. in fact, every year, a list made public, each royal member, and each one of their required royal engagements. princes charles's sister, anne, long considered the work horse of the family -- 514 events in just the last year. prince charles, though, beat her, with 585 visits. how many appearances did the queen make last year. >> the kwee maqueen made 440 puc appearances last year. >> reporter: and while those appearances appear to be simple and scripted, they are still scrutinized within the palace. the moment you emerge from the car. the words you choose to greet a foreign leader. princess diana had just turned 20, when, suddenly, her every move was dissected. >> it was a crash course. suddenly, she is exposed to the grey men. >> reporter: the grey men -- the name diana privately gave the royal handlers who reported back to the palace. sometimes upset about her choices.
one of them, reportedly, her visits with the boys, to see patients with aids. >> they decided that i'm a nonstarter, because i do things differently. because i don't go by a rule book. >> reporter: but kate has had far longer to learn the rules, >> i wanted to give her a chance to see and to back out if she needed to before it all got too much. >> reporter: and tonight, william -- william's last night as a single man. >> right here in this building. >> reporter: the reluctant prince, who once said, i want to be a policeman, to protect mommy. he now has someone else to protect and someone willing to protect him. now protect his bride to be tomorrow, kate middleton. as we mentioned, the commoner, but just for one more night, diane. everyone says that is the main differences here. she's had eight years to see how the royal rules play out. diana didn't have that chance. so, people are hopeful this will be different. >> very moving to see diana in this context, isn't it? and we have a few notes about the program for tomorrow. kate's brother james, 23, will
be the only member of either family to read a passage, a bible passage, at the wedding. and prince charles, who reportedly chose a lot of the music for the wedding, appears to have selected the march that played at his to diana, to play tomorrow during will and kate's ceremony. here it is. ♪ a preview of the music coming up tomorrow. and ahead still on "world news," a simple questionnaire, just three minutes of your time, could help you detect autism in a child. and i was a pack-a-day smoker for 25 years. i do remember sitting down with my boys, and i'm like, "oh, promise mommy you'll never ever pick up a cigarette." i had to quit. ♪ my doctor gave me a prescription for chantix, a medication i could take and still smoke, while it built up in my system.
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in medical news tonight, new hope for parents when it comes to early screening for autism. a simple test that could show warning signs when a baby is just a year old. the checklist takes about three minutes. it can be filled out in a doctor's waiting room. and it asking 24 questions, questions like these -- does your child smile or laugh when looking at you? does your child point to objects? does your child use sounds or words to get your attention or help? and there are a lot of other questions that you can download, and it's on our website, abcnews.com/worldnews. tomorrow, the nation will watch as the shuttle "endeavor" rockets into the hech s heavens. its final flight. and at the helm, of course, astronaut mark kelly, the husband of congresswoman gabby giffords, who almost four months ago now, suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
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and finally tonight, a lot of children around the globe will be joining their parents, watching the royal wedding tomorrow. and, we wondered, what do these children think it's really like to be a prince or a princess? from south africa to america, from russia to pakistan. children describe what it must be like to be a prince and princess. >> they sit on the biggest chair. it's very big and it's very soft and it's red colored and they are very famous and they have antiques. >> they sleep in long beds with curtains on the sides. and they do, like, eating. >> do they do lots of work? >> uh, no. because they're famous, they don't like to work. >> they just sit.
>> good morning. >> reporter: good morning to you. when we went to london's st. james school in kensington, they told us they imagined refrigerators and refrigerators filled with -- >> lasagna! >> reporter: and since this is england, they told us they know a lot about prince william and kate, so we asked -- how old do you think they are? >> 86? >> reporter: 86. is that a good time to get married, when you're about 86? >> 66? >> reporter: 66? how much do you want to see them kiss each other on the wedding day? >> no! >> reporter: but what about the more perplexing questions, like, where does the royal family get so much money? >> they get it because sometimes the government taxes people that work. >> reporter: is that a good thing? >> no. >> reporter: how do they get their money? >> they're not limitless. they couldn't just get a rolls
royce and then say, "oh, that's not big enough. i need a bigger one." or get a lamborghini and say, "oh, no, that's not fast enough, i want it faster." >> reporter: and all around the world, we heard something else that struck us. how much they hope princes and princesses are a little bit like, well, superman. for instance, saving the children in orphanages. >> sometimes they even think, "i'm not going to rest until this whole country is perfect." >> it matters how nice you are and how generous you are. >> reporter: so what's the most important thing they can do? >> they can help homeless people. >> you can help the country communicate better with other countries. >> reporter: in other words, metaphorically, making sure every little girl has, well, a -- >> princess dress. >> a tiara. >> reporter: hoping that someone good and generous really just wants to save them.
and "20/20" will have an hour-long special beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern time with a look at all the final wedding preparations. and, of course, don't forget to set your alarm. our coverage at abc news begins at 4:00 a.m. eastern time. the entire team will be here, so, we hope that you'll be watching history, as it is made. and we thank you all for watching with us tonight. we are always on at abcnews.com. don't forget to watch "nightline." and as our concern, the nation's concern, turns to everyone in the devastation in the south, we wish them and you a better tomorr >> a desperate house wife admits having sex with two teenagers. >> a suicide attack claims the life of a contractor.
they may never get out of prison. tonight a bay area couple pleads guilty to protect the young woman they held captive years. right now. abc 7 news gince with breaking news. this is license plate of a car wanted in the state wide amber alert. 58 x f4 3 3. >> the girl was abducted. she is africa-american and 5 foot one and 140 pound and black hair and brown eyesthe suspect is a black mail 270 pounds. >> this is a car. the license plate is