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Mexico Struck with 7.1 Earthquake; Monster Hurricane Maria Heading to Puerto Rico; President Trump Calling Out on North Korea and Other World Leaders. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired September 20, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and of course all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.
We are following two major natural disasters right now. Another powerful hurricane churning through the Caribbean. And a deadly earthquake in Mexico. At least 216 people are dead in central Mexico after Tuesday's catastrophic 7.1 magnitude quake.
Dozens of buildings have collapse in and around Mexico City. Rescue teams and volunteers are digging through rubble well into the overnight hours, hoping to find survivors.
Meanwhile, hurricane Maria is tearing through the Caribbean, on track for a direct hit on Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands are feeling the brunt of the storm right now. Maria has killed at least one person in Guadeloupe, two others are missing.
And we will go live to San Juan in Puerto Rico in just a minute. But first, the death toll is expected to climb after that major earthquake in central Mexico. Dozens of buildings collapsed in and around Mexico city as the ground shook for more than a minute.
This is exclusive video of rescue operations Tuesday in the capital at one elementary school, more than 30 children are still missing. President Enrique Pena Nieto says 22 bodies have been recovered from that site. He is urging people to stay indoors and keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles as rescue operations continue.
And CNN's Rosa Flores is in Mexico City, she joins me now on the line. Rosa, you've just arrived there in Mexico city. What is the scene on the ground there as you survey the area after dozens of buildings collapsed in the city?
ROSA FLORES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Rosemary, I actually just landed and so I'm making may way through the airport at the moment. But as you mention, there have already been death and destruction and the desperation in Mexico City continues at this hour as dozens of buildings in the Mexico City area have reportedly collapsed and turned into mountain of rubble.
Attendding dozens, hundreds, thousands of people in and around the area to dig through that rubble to find signs of life. We heard that at some point people have asked volunteers and people around these mountains of rubble to be quiet, to listen for signs of life, so that the volunteers who have been digging through these rubbles can continue finding individuals, people who are trapped.
But this is a race against time because the more time that passes by, the odds are against the people who are trapped in these buildings. As you mention, one of the more heartbreaking stories that we're hearing at this hour is about that school where 30 children are still missing, 22 bodies have already been recovered and there are more than 700 individuals there trying to find signs of life in the midst of the rubble that is left after that school collapsed.
So, a lot of very tense moments here in Mexico City and we are about to make our way to the streets of Mexico City to bring you live pictures and you to bring you the stories that we're hearing of just what volunteers and what neighbors and friends and family are trying to do to save others.
CHURCH: Rosa, so many heartbreaking stories as we cover this, and of course, you have brought us up to date there on the latest on the search and rescue and recovery operations in the city. What will be the major challenges as they try to pull these survivors from the rubble and eventually rebuild?
FLORES: You know, one of the biggest challenges right now is just the darkness of the night, and so, you know, as soon as daylight -- we see daylight, you know, that will help because at this point -- I covered breaking news in Mexico City in the past and I've seen people dig through rubble through the night, they don't stop. They keep going. They bring out lamps and lights and anything that they can to make sure that they can keep looking for signs of life.
But that's one of the big challenges at this hour, is just daylight would be so helpful and cooperate in trying to find these signs of life.
[03:05:04] Once we do get daylight, of course, the delicate, almost dance of trying to get as much rubble out of the area of that building without hurting the people that are trapped below, that's always one of the biggest challenges because of course people want to make human chains and keep moving that rubble out.
But they know that it's a very delicate dance trying to both move that rubble out as fast as they can and also not add more weight to the rubble and perhaps with more people who are trapped inside.
And then, of course, there's always the desperate search for family members and friends. In what we've seen on social media, it's just heartbreaking to see this image of people who have either been rescued or who are missing.
And pictures of children that are being shared on social media with desperate parents and friends and family asking about their loved ones. The emotional tolls on people both to dig through the rubble to find their family members and loved ones, and of course, those who find them also get just the news that their loved one has perished.
CHURCH: It is simply horrifying. And, Rosa, as we've been talking to you, we've been looking at this file footage. Of course, we need to remember it is 2 o'clock in the morning, this footage we are showing is in the daylight. But of course, many hours from the sun coming up.
Rosa Flores, joining us there on the line. She's just arrived in Mexico City. Many thanks to you for that live report.
One man was getting ready to shoot a video in his Mexico City hotel room when the quake hit, and he kept the camera rolling.
He was on the 11th floor there. And you can hear the building creaking. The man says he wasn't allowed to go back into the hotel without signing a waiver. And I spoke to him a little earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was horrifying because we couldn't walk through the door because we cannot walk down 11 floors and I truly be recommend not to take the stairs because it's probably the first place that will collapse on the building. So we just like very much tried to be next to a wall and like just try to stand still until it was over. But it was terrifying. We were seeing water falling from a pool and in the building next to our hotel. And we were seeing the smoke and the dust from the building that just collapsed next to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And Tuesday's quake came on the 32nd anniversary of another devastating natural disaster in Mexico. An 8.0 quake struck on September 19th back in 1985, killing an estimated 9,500 people in and around the capital. Now, that prompted officials to tough toughen building codes and require greater protections against earthquakes.
We now want to turn to hurricane Maria on a collision of course with Puerto Rico which has yet to recover from its brush with Irma just two weeks ago. Right now the storm is pounding the Virgin Islands with forceful wind gust and significant rain. The category five hurricane has top sustained winds of 165 miles, or 265 kilometers per hour.
It has weakened slightly in the past hour, but is still very powerful. Now, millions in Puerto Rico are likely just hours away from Maria making landfall. The island hasn't had a direct hit from a storm this strong in more than 80 years.
Our correspondents are covering this storm in Puerto Rico and across the region. We want to go now to Nick Valencia who is live in San Juan. So, Nick, Puerto Rico avoided a direct hit from hurricane Irma, but it's a different story this time around with an official offering a dire warning, evacuate or die. Talk to us about those evacuation efforts.
NICK VALENCIA, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Much different story, much different tone even from the local officials, Rosemary. A lot more anxious of a tone by the governor in his proclamations to the residents here. Get out now or potentially face death.
The evacuation efforts were well underway yesterday. We saw people here in our hotel trying to book last minute flights to try to catch some of those last flights off the island.
[03:10:02] We know at least one airline, American Airlines added additional flights to try to allow for those people who wanted to get off the island to do so. But there are still many people who were not able to get out of here. The airport closed about 6 or 7 p.m. last night depending on which through the airports we're talking about.
And people here are nervous, Rosemary. You talked about how they just got over hurricane Irma. That storm sideswiped the island, this one is expected to make direct landfall here in the island territory. Just a little while ago we saw flash flood warning issued for the northeast part of the island territory.
It was about 30 minutes or so ago that the governor tweeted about 10,000 people are currently in shelters. And we're not even anywhere near the worst part of the storm.
Just in the last 10 minutes or so, you can just see how conditions have worsened and we're not even on the bad side of it. Just behind our camera position is where the beach is, and the street that leads up to the beach where we are, it's completely blacked out right now. There's no lights there.
Some of those lights went out a little earlier. We lost power in our hotel a little while ago. But that was just briefly for about 10 second before the generators got back on.
One of the bigger outstanding concerns, however, is infrastructure here. Many of these buildings are only built to withstand a category three-type storm. This, of course, is expected to be much stronger than that, perhaps even a category five and then that makes a lot of people including our news crew quite nervous, Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes. Understandably so. And of course, a lot of the power is still out from Irma, never mind Maria. Do take care of yourself there, and of course, people taking shelter at this hour. Many thanks to you, Nick Valencia.
Well, I want to go to Pedram Javaheri now. He has been covering both hurricane Maria and the quake in central Mexico. So, Pedram, what's the latest on the path of hurricane Maria, and of course, what news do you have for people in Mexico on those terrifying aftershocks that they are now experiencing?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Yes, let's start with this, with the earthquake, with the hurricane, I should say, with Maria now sitting there at 160 mile per hour winds. And we're seeing the winds kind of shift a little back and forth still a category five system just skirting the southern tier of St. Croix into the Virgin Islands. And of course on direct approach about four hours away from landfall into eastern Puerto Rico. But radar imagery shows you one glimpse of good news. The eye wall of
this storm where 215 mile per hour gusts are observed skirted just south of the island. So we think this did not make direct landfall, does not look like it made direct landfall onto parts of St. Croix. They did have wind gusts of 137 miles per hour. Of course, 215, 137, significant difference.
But again, a better end at least to portions of, say, St. Croix here with this not being directly impacted. But it is going to go right directly into eastern portions of Puerto Rico. At this point it looks almost impossible for this to miss Puerto Rico on approach.
Areas indicated in white those are 100 plus mile per hour winds. Notice impacting portions of eastern Puerto Rico the most densely populated region of the island there. Sometime between 8 and 9 in the morning, local time, and then pushes offshore by the afternoon hours of Wednesday.
This storm system pushes offshore, but tremendous rainfall followed sued upwards of a foot in some areas going to come down, and then skirts off into the eastern United States coastline which we'll watch careful.
But notice this, 7 to 11 foot storm surge. This is not the water level over the open waters. This is 7 to 11 feet above what is typically a dry ground. So this would be up in the first storey of a lot of homes. Six to nine foot storm surge would bring water as high as nine feet into places like downtown San Juan. So that is going to be a significant story across this region.
And then you look at the power outage forecast going into the next couple of days. Almost the entire island could be into the dark here. We're talking over four million people. This could be an extensive event here that could last several weeks potentially with the ferocity of the storm system.
But, how about this? Ten to almost 15 inches of rainfall some areas nearing 20 inches of rainfall. Hurricane Irma did not have a rain forecast remotely similar to this storm.
So certainly, that's a big story out of this as well with flash flooding being a major concern on a mountainous island as well.
Now another natural disaster we're following of course is the 7.1 earthquake, 30 or so miles deep. This is an extremely shallow quake. So, very little buffering provided by the earth to be able to absorb the energy. This was felt hundreds of miles away from the center.
Magnitude of at least 6.1 or greater is typically expected with a quake of this original magnitude. And then you work your way down into the hundreds, if not thousands of aftershocks into the threes, Rosemary. So, certainly, going to be a very, very scary situation here for a lot of people across central Mexico for the next potentially several weeks or months of aftershock across this region. Rosie?
CHURCH: And the worry, of course, is the infrastructure where people can actually shelter and be safe and sleep and rest and do all of those things that they need to do as they try to get back some sort of normalcy.
Pedram Javaheri, many thanks to you for all those details. We appreciate it.
CHURCH: We'll take very short break. Evacuate or die, a dire warning from a Puerto Rico safety official on hurricane Maria.
[03:15:05] The latest on what could be a catastrophic storm for that tiny island. That is next.
And President Trump keeps up the saber rattling rhetoric, his fierce warning to North Korea. We're back in a moment.
CHURCH: Hurricane Maria is on a rampage through the Caribbean and on track for a direct hit with Puerto Rico. The deadly category five storm has sustained winds of 165 miles or 265 kilometers per hour. If Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico as category five hurricane it will be the strongest storm to ever hit that island.
One official there issuing a dire warning evacuate or die.
And our reporters are across the region covering this storm. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is in San Juan, Puerto Rico and joins us now live. Derek, good to see you. What are conditions like on the ground there as Puerto Rico awaits the inevitable direct impact from hurricane Maria and what's the speed of those winds right now?
DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Rosemary, just within the past hour we have seen conditions deteriorate very quickly. The National Weather Service out of San Juan reporting that hurricane wind gusts have reached the far eastern sides of this island territory.
[03:19:58] And where I'm standing now easily tropical storm force 50, 55 miles per hour.
Just so you know and our audience know, we do have safety measures in play. We're protected by the buildings, but you can see even these little circulations of wind that wrap around some of the heavier rain bands impacting us still across this area.
We also have various people on the roof looking out for the potential for debris across the region. Winds here have picked up, but we do not expect the worst of the storm until daylight, roughly even 8, more or less 9 o'clock in the morning here in San Juan because as that eye wall approaches closer and closer, we know that's where we find the strongest category five hurricane winds. Rosie?
CHURCH: All right. Derek Van Dam, look after yourselves, takes shelter there as hurricane Maria approaches. Thank you so much for that live report. Well, the U.S. president set a dark and confrontational tone in his first address to the U.N. General Assembly. Donald Trump laid out his America first philosophy while painting a grim picture of a world at risk.
He mentioned U.S. sovereignty 21 times insisting independent nations instead of international organizations are key to a peaceful future. And he sent a fiery warning to North Korea's leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has great strength and patience but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Mr. Trump also reiterated his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, putting him at odds with most western allies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it. Believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Joining us now with reaction our Ian Lee in Seoul, South Korea and Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem. Good to see you both. Ian, let's start with you. The concern now is that President Trump may very well make things worse by threatening to totally destroy North Korea and calling its leader rocket man. What's being said about his speech there in South Korea and what's the likely response going to be from Kim Jong-un?
IAN LEE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Rosemary, South Korean officials praised the speech. We heard from the president's spokesman who called it unprecedentedly long, speech that illustrates just how serious the U.S. is when it comes to North Korea. It also talked about how they demonstrated how they need to put maximum pressure on North Korea and ramp up the sanctions.
They finished it with the fact that there's close coordination between the Unites States and South Korea. You know the one thing, though, missing in this statement from the Blue House, Rosemary, is any mention of war or conflict, and that's something that has been downplayed by Korean officials. They want dialogue and diplomacy to win the day.
Yesterday when we heard from the defense minister, he said that he wants dialogue and diplomacy, and that military option is just something more of a side note, just shows how much they do not want to go to war with the North. Now, as far as North Korea goes, right now we're monitoring, looking for any sort of reaction. So far they haven't given one. It could be a reaction of words or actions. North Korea could respond with another test. We don't know right now. But we know that speech probably isn't going over too well in Pyongyang.
CHURCH: All right, our Ian Lee, bringing us up to date on reaction there from Seoul in South Korea. Many thanks to you.
Let's go now to Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem. And, Oren, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear he liked what he heard in President Trump's speech. What is being said about that?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: We even saw at one point saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nodding during Trump's speech. It was exactly what Netanyahu wanted to hear, a hard line on Iran. And much of what Netanyahu said echoed that and echoed Netanyahu's speech from last year and the year before to point that out.
It was very similar in terms of taking a hard line on Iran. From what Netanyahu said, it was very much what we expected him to say, and from that perspective. Many of the commentators here are saying there isn't much that was memorable. There was quite a bit of hype before the speech. Netanyahu said that the Iranians would remember this speech for years, or rather the prime minister's office said that the Iranians would remember this speech for years.
[03:25:02] It just seems like there wasn't much to that hype in terms of what was coming out it and there wasn't anything new coming from Netanyahu himself. He did thank Trump quite a bit in his speech, making sure he played to Trump there and showed his loyalty to Trump on his message on Iran.
From that perspective it was what we expected to hear from Trump on Iran and what we've expected to hear from Netanyahu following the speech of President Donald Trump. Very strong words against Iran, but there was very little other than that, beyond that essentially. Netanyahu thanking Trump for his message on Iran.
CHURCH: All right. Oren Liebermann, many thanks to you bringing us up to date on reaction there from Jerusalem. We thank our Ian Lee again, too.
We'll take a very short break here, but still to come, Emmanuel Macron and President Trump disagree on many things. The French president sits down with CNN's Christiane Amanpour for a CNN exclusive.
Plus, a powerful earthquake in Mexico destroys dozens of buildings including this elementary school. Some children were rescued, but dozens were killed or are still missing.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on our breaking news. A powerful 7.1
magnitude quake has killed at least 216 people in Mexico. The epicenter was southeast of the capital.
President Enrique Pena Nieto is calling it a national emergency.
Earlier, some children were pulled from the debris after their elementary school collapsed on them.
Rescuers found 22 bodies in that school. At least 30 other children are still missing. Residents are joining the search for survivors digging through piles of rubble with their bare hands forming human chains to remove piece by piece.
Joshua Partlow joins me now on the line, he is the Mexico City bureau chief for the Washington Post. Now Josh, you were in Mexico City when the quake hit. What happened where you were?
JOSHUA PARTLOW, MEXICO BUREAU CHIEF, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I was in Mexico City. I was in the suburbs of part of the city in the neighborhood called Cuyutlan which generally fares better in earthquakes because of rock. Even so, my house, my office started swinging dramatically, the lamps hanging from a ceiling where it (Inaudible), you know, both separating my house from the neighbor was swaying.
So, I ran out into the yard and then just quick tour of my neighborhood and already saw a lot of damage, older colonial buildings had damage, some had fallen into the street. A (Inaudible) shop with, you know, shelf with wine bottles crashed down onto the floor. And then I (Inaudible) I went into some of the areas which I knew would be harder hit.
CHURCH: Josh, we want to show viewers some video that you shot earlier. It shows people digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings. It's tough to see people digging with their bare hands, right? What sort of other recovery efforts are you seeing?
PARTLOW: Yes, I was in the neighborhood called (Inaudible). It's the central part and one of the harder hit areas. There's a block where I was taking that video where this two multi-storey building completely collapsed and there was this massive amount of people just frantically trying to just pickup concrete and rubble and trying to see if there's any survivors.
It was -- it was really chaotic. I mean, there was people looking for, you know, people were trying to pitch in any way they could. Initially these are the authorities, some of the authorities were there, there are marines and soldiers and some police, but it was mostly regular people volunteering to help.
And they would send in buckets or plastic crates or barrels whatever they can find down a long line of people and the people on the opposite side will fill it up. And another group of people would carry those out to try to clear the area. And that went on, you know, for hours that is still going on, as far as I know.
CHURCH: Forty four buildings are around that, certainly more than 40 buildings have collapsed with people trapped in the rubble there. We're not seeing any of that footage any heavy earth lifting equipment. Have you spotted any at all? Is it available there in the city?
PARTLOW: Yes, there was some showing up at the scene where I was later this afternoon. There were big backhoe, I guess, and some dump trucks and that kind of thing. There were lots of rescue medical workers and lots of fire by the end. But I don't know -- I don't know is they have the type of machinery they need.
But I think, you know, regardless it's going to take a long time. These are massive buildings. Some are climbing on the wreckage trying to look through the concrete to see if they could hear any voices and periodically people were screaming for silence to try to see if they could hear or hear any voices inside. But I mean, it's massive, massive project and it's very precarious because these buildings are leaning out and look like they could fall further.
CHURCH: Yes, this is the worry, isn't it? The infrastructure totally collapsed here, and where people take shelter in the aftermath of something like this.
[03:35:00] Josh Partlow, thank you so much for joining us and sharing with us your experience there. I appreciate it.
PARTLOW: Thank you very much.
CHURCH: And we will of course continue our coverage of the earthquake there in Mexico City. But we'll take a short break now and still to come, Donald Trump sends a message to the rocket man, the escalating rhetoric at the U.N., that's next.
CHURCH: Donald Trump called his speech a message of peace, but in his debut address to the United Nations, he said he would totally destroy North Korea if he had to.
The U.S. president warned that evil will triumph if the world does not stand up to a small group of rogou nations. He blasted Iran, calling it a murderous regime, and also criticized Venezuela and Cuba.
CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde joins me now to talk more about the speech. David, always good to talk with you. Thanks for being with us.
DAVID ROHDE, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: Thank you.
CHURCH: Now, in his address, President Trump again referred to Kim Jong-un as rocket man and threatened to totally destroy North Korea.
[03:40:00] How does language like that impact a delicate and tense diplomatic relationship with a country led by such an unpredictable leader and has a U.S. president ever spoken to the U.N. like this?
ROHDE: I don't think a U.S. president has used such a language before. I think it reflects a sincere belief I think, you know, among President Trump himself and his advisors, that more delicate language, more threats of force will actually work. That President Obama was too soft-spoken and that if you do threaten military action that will lead to a change in behavior in North Korea. Others disagree with it, but I think that's what the president sincerely believes.
CHURCH: Does that work?
ROHDE: There is much evidence of that and the danger that after you make this kind of threat of military force, you know, Kim Jong-un and other leaders that are threatened could, you know, will think that it's an empty threat of force.
So it's sort of a dangerous step by making this threats so openly and so publicly on such a global stage. You know, it will -- I expect more defiance from North Korea and then what does Trump do then, how does he respond?
CHURCH: Yes. I mean, that's what we'll wait for now to see how Kim Jong-un does respond to being called rocket man and of course, this threat to destroy North Korea. Overall, how did the U.N. General Assembly react to Mr. Trump's speech that target that not only Kim Jong-un but also the leaders of Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba?
ROHDE: There is this general feeling that it was a speech for a domestic, you know, U.S. audience. It continued the theme of seeing international alliances as bad for the United States, so that's an inherent sort of repudiation of the United Nations and this whole, sort of post-World War II system that so many American presidents have worked so hard to create.
So, I think it alienated many diplomats, but I think President Trump's goal was to, again, appeal to his American political base and he alienated foreign leaders and that's his calculus that's more important to strengthen his base.
CHURCH: So, what's expected to be the next step now in Mr. Trump's game of brinkmanship with North Korea and of course with the Iran nuclear deal?
ROHDE: There is a deadline coming up in the next few weeks where President Trump can decide whether to certify that Iran is complying with Iran nuclear deal. He could decide to not certify that and that would instantly add to tremendous tensions with Iran.
Most European countries don't want him to do that. That's the next clear state. And then if there is another North Korean nuclear test or missile test, that will again call his bluff, so to speak.
So, it's a very tense situation. To be fair to Trump, I think North Korea has -- hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. He has inherited a very difficult problem, but his strategy is saber rattling and it hasn't work so far. We'll see if somehow the speech finally causes a change. But I'm not sure it will.
CHURCH: We'll be watching for the next step. David Rohde, great to get your analysis. Many thanks.
ROHDE: Thank you.
CHURCH: Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is also weighing in on Mr. Trump's speech at the U.N. She appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert a little earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought it was very dark, dangerous, not the kind of message that the leader of the greatest nation in the world should be delivering. What I'd hoped the president would have said was something along the lines of, you know, we view this as dangerous to our allies to the region, and even to our country.
We call on all nations to work with us to try to end the threat posed by Kim Jong-un. And not call him rocket man the old Elton John song, but to say it clearly we will not tolerate any attacks on our friends or ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And coming up, Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with French President Emmanuel Macron, why he says it will be a big mistake for the U.S. to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran.
We'll have that next.
[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Hurricane Maria is barreling through the Caribbean on path for a direct hit with Puerto Rico in the coming hours. Right now, though, the Virgin Islands are bearing the brunt of this category five storm with heavy rain and sustain winds around 165 miles or 265 kilometers per hour.
The governor of Puerto Rico says more than 10,000 people are in shelters as the country braces for what could be the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the island.
Pedram Javaheri joins me now with the very latest. So, Pedram, this is looking very bad.
JAVAHERI: It is. And you know what, we were just following this on radar imagery as it approaches land here. I want to show what we're observing here. Because the storm itself beginning to show some signs of going through what it's called an eye wall replacement cycle.
You look carefully here and you can see that inter -- eye that we've seen. Such a tremendous eye in its symmetry. It is beginning to break apart. You get a little bit of a wobble with this. That is a sign that the storm system is going to be potentially temporarily weakening before it tries to re-strengthen.
But we know of course as it approaches land, strengthening is not going to be likely with this. So, we think the storm could potentially drop down to a strong category four, maybe remain a category five upon landfall here.
But again, the perspective is as such as it approach portions of Puerto Rico. But talking about this because if it does go from a, say, five to four, the amount of damage you would expect, although it is some 500 times greater than a category one, would essentially be cut in first half it places where it makes direct landfall.
So, again, some significant implications depending on that shift in intensity as it approaches land, but the most destructive element of any tropical system is the storm surge. Now, 7 to 11 feet across the Leeward Islands, that's not the water level over the ocean. That is 7 to 11 feet of water above what is typically dry ground. Six to 9 feet across places such as Puerto Rico.
[03:50:02] I want to show you exactly how that plays out and what that means exactly, too. Because when you think about that, again, you bring the water up to say, one feet or so, that level of water element coming up to a foot can essentially knock you off of your feet. Get up to say, two to three feet that move your car downstream.
With the forecast taking it to 6 to 9 feet across portions of Puerto Rico, that can go many miles inland. That will bring the water level up to, say, first-storey of your home, potentially push it close to the second-storey of your home. This would be the single most destructive element of the storm as it is again with most tropical systems.
I want to show you exactly how this all plays out, too. Because that's not the only element we're watching. This storm could bring back -- down some impressive rainfall amount as much as 10 to almost 20 inches of rainfall. Widespread across the islands here and a very mountainous island at that.
Now, with the storm system crossing as a strong four or a category five, Rosemary, pretty fascinating graphic to show you the forecast here for power outage. The areas indicated in orange or red are widespread outages. I would not be surprised if the vast majority of this island was left in the dark here after the storm system moved ashore with this intensity.
So, an incredible and sobering thought here when you think about four million people potentially left without power, all of it from one storm moving over the island. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes. And they could be without that power for some time as well.
CHURCH: Pedram Javaheri, many thanks to you for all those details.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
CHURCH: Our Christiane Amanpour sat down with French President Emmanuel Macron at the United Nations on Tuesday just as Donald Trump was making his first speech to the General Assembly.
Mr. Macron says he's developed a good relationship with the U.S. president, but in CNN's exclusive interview, the French leader discusses their disagreements.
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: I think it would be a big mistake. I think if president -- I don't say that this Iran deal, it's a nuclear deal with Iran is the (Inaudible) of everything about how to deal with Iran.
If President Trump considers it's not sufficient, I do agree with that. We have this deal. I think that the outcome of this deal is that now we have the monitoring process with the international agency following the situation. And I think that it's better than nothing, OK. Why?
Because if we stop with this deal, if we just stop within the nuclear agreement so we will enter into a situation very similar to the Korean, North Korean situation before what happens this summer. So think it would be a big mistake.
Now this deal has to be completed. And probably, I will try to convince President Trump that the best way to address his concerns regarding Iran is to work into the direction. First, we have to work in order to have a monitoring process on ballistic missiles and ballistic activity of Iran. That's a concern. It's a concern for the whole region. We have to work on it and we need a new agreement.
And we can work on sanctions and agreements on this ballistic side. And second, we have to complete the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran for the period post 2015 because this agreement just covers till 2025 the situation.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, CNN: But on balance, it makes the world a safer place to have this nuclear deal?
MACRON: Definitely. You know, you have to be some governments not compliant with international rules and trying to get nuclear weapons. That's it. That's the situation we have with North Korea, and that's the situation we have with some other countries.
MACRON: The more you contain the situation, the more you monitor, the more you put international agency and you follow the situation very carefully, it's the more you can intervene and contain sanctions. I want to follow this line.
And I think if we just stop with the deal because it was a deal negotiated by Mr. -- President Obama, I mean, it's not a good reason to stop with the 2015 deal.
AMANPOUR: And what about President Trump at this moment a maximum global crisis over North Korea calling him at the U.N. rocket man, talking about destroying, you know, the capabilities, a very, very provocative language.
MACRON: Look, I think what we have to do and what we need is to be efficient. I think that North Korean president is probably not very sensitive to what happened to the U.N. He's not a great client of the city and the United Nations. The guy is in his own word.
My point is not to increase pressure in words against words. What we have to do is to find the appropriate answer to decrease tension and protect people. People in the region, and I want to think of South Korean people living in the society. I want to think about--
[03:55:05] AMANPOUR: Japanese people.
MACRON: -- all region, and our Japanese friends and I will see a Japanese prime minister doing his trip to New York. And I think the whole world because we -- I mean, we speak about a global threat today.
So, for me, it's hard to decrease the tension, how to contain the North Korean situation and how to increase the pressure to deescalate.
AMANPOUR: Do you think there is a military solution? I mean, sometimes the president seems to indicate that there is a military solution to North Korea.
MACRON: Look into map. You could think there is a many of the resolution. You speak a lot of victims. I do believe in militarism because I do believe in negotiation. I do believe in how to control -- I do believe in building peace. And I think that's what we exactly what we have to do in this region.
CHURCH: And we thank you for watching CNN Newsroom. The news continues after this short break.
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