VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu is in Baghdad. She spoke Sunday with David Weber in our London bureau.
Weber: It has been four days since the toppling of the Saddam regime, what is life like in Baghdad now?
Ryu: Well I think the civilians are quickly getting back to normal. I noticed today the traffic, the civilian traffic, has increased dramatically. I was in the same area a few days ago and there was no one about. Today, coming up on Highway 8, which is one of the main thoroughfares from the south going up to Baghdad, the roads were clogged with civilian vehicles: trucks, buses, pickup trucks, civilian cars of every type out there. People were out and about, and there is a sense that people are getting back to their jobs, getting back to their homes and things are quieting quite a bit.
Weber: The trouble is, Alisha, they still do not have power, they do not have water in the city, so how can they function?
Ryu: This is a big priority right now for the U.S. military. They are doing all they can right now to try to locate those people who work in the power plants, in the water plants and those kind of things, to try to get the infrastructure back in line again. I do know that the 2nd Brigade has set up a security perimeter around a power plant, and they said that the transformer there is in working condition. It has engineers who have come to take a look at it, and they are getting ready to turn it on. So, there is incremental improvement going on. It is going to take a little bit of time, because what happened was the lights, the water, everything was shut down systematically before the U.S. forces arrived. And there is absolutely no guarantee that when you turn the power back, when you turn the water back on, it is not going to create fires and floods and those kind of things. They want to make sure that everything is safe before they turn the power back on.
Weber: Alisha, what about the looting? Is that is still going on?
Ryu: The looting has diminished quite a bit. I took a drive with the 2nd Brigade around the sector that has been heavily hit in the last two, three days. The looting that has gone on with the ministries and the hotels and embassies in that area, that has diminished considerably. People seem to have taken what they wanted and are no longer in that area. Of course, the security is much higher today than it has been in the last couple of days. They are putting in a few more checkpoints to make sure the people do not come in and out of that area without identification and without a reason. They are trying to keep the looting aspect to a minimum, and I think it has worked because what I saw today there was little activity in terms of people carting off things.