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CNN’s Coverage of the Asian Tsumani


Within minutes of the first reports of the devastating Asian Tsunami at 9.32pm ET, Saturday, December 25th on CNN, the network quickly mobilized to the affected area. With four full-time bureaus in the region – including New Delhi, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Hong Kong, China – CNN had correspondents reporting immediately after the tsunami struck the coastline.

As the enormity of the death toll from one of the largest natural disasters in modern history gripped the media and the public around the world, CNN found itself at the very center of worldwide media coverage.

In a demonstration of its power as an international news network, CNN offered unprecedented, live, round-the-clock coverage of the disaster, having deployed to the region more than 80 of its top anchors, correspondents and producers, as well as state-of-the-art broadcasting technology, including numerous DNG kits (Digital News Gathering) and two satellite dishes. CNN’s reports originated from all coasts of the Indian Ocean and were nothing short of extraordinary in their scope, effectiveness and reach.

The depth of CNN’s reporting strength included this rundown of staff reporting on location: Christiane Amanpour, Satinder Bindra, Anderson Cooper, Stan Grant, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Paula Hancocks, Hugh Riminton and Harris Whitbeck all reported from Sri Lanka; Aaron Brown, Mike Chinoy and Atika Shubert reported in Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Mathew Chance, John King, Soledad O’Brien and Aneesh Raman were based in Phuket, Thailand; and Suhasini Haidar and Ram Ramgopal covered the disaster from Pondicherry, India. Meanwhile, U.N. correspondent Richard Roth flew with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on an international mission to the affected countries.

Along with continuous newsgathering updates in the hours and days following the first wave, CNN provided numerous special reports. Within 48 hours of the disaster, CNN presented the comprehensive “CNN Special Report: Turning the Tide,” a prime-time report anchored by Paula Zahn in New York, Anderson Cooper in Sri Lanka and Aaron Brown in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

Just days later, CNN prepared a heart-rending documentary “Saving the Children,” anchored by Christiane Amanpour and Cooper. For this documentary, Amanpour told the dramatic story of Sri Lankan orphans rescued through quick thinking and serendipity, as well as that of a 7-year-old boy reunited with his father after surviving a devastating train wreck caused by the high, rushing waters.

Supplementing live reports of the tsunami aftermath, CNN provided up-to-the-minute coverage of relief efforts, providing exclusive interviews with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; Jan Egeland, emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations and ambassadors from four of the hardest hit countries – India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.

As the number of missing quickly rose, it became very apparent that people around the world had families and friends in the region that holiday weekend. In addition to the timely and in-depth reports online, provided a survivor locator service that reunited more than 100 families and friends. In the aftermath of the tsunami, tens of thousands of people around the world sent e-mails to, many reaching out to find information about family or friends who were missing. Using the power of the Web to connect people around the world (CNN/US and CNN International television notified its audience of this public service), published these appeals. Through this effort, more than 100 people, from more than 11 countries, from Thailand to Tanzania were able to contact loved ones they feared had been lost.


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