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CONNECT THE WORLD

Tensions Rise In East of Ukraine; Interview with former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili; 300 Still Missing After Ferry Capsized of South Korean Coast; At least 100 Girls Kidnapped From Boarding School In Borno State

Aired April 16, 2014 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: We are following what is an agonizing wait for families in South Korea. Hundreds of passengers are unaccounted for after a ferry sinks most of those on board are students. We're live from the rescue scene coming up.

Also ahead, CNN is there as pro-Russia militants take control of an armored vehicle in eastern Ukraine. We take a look at where the balance of power may be shifting.

And the frantic search for more than 100 girls believed to have been taken by this group, Boko Haram. We examine the fight against extremism is northern Nigeria.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to you. It is just after 7:00 here in Abu Dhabi.

South Korean families anxiously wait for news about their loved ones hours after a ferry sank off the southwest coast. Now, precise numbers are hard to come by, but authorities say nearly 300 are still missing.

Most of the passengers were students and teachers from Seoul on a school excursion.

So far at least four people are confirmed dead.

Now searchers say this is still very much a rescue mission. Journalist Andrew Salmon is in South Korea. He says the survivors are giving a harrowing account of what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREW SALMON, JOURNALIST: What happened, we now know, is the ship for some reason -- it's unclear why -- perhaps hit an object, some internal problem, but tilted very, very suddenly at a very, very sharp angle. So those people on the upper decks had some chance to get up and get out. Those people on the decks that was tilting down into the water, they're facing a tilting deck, things are falling down on top of them, luggage is falling down, people are falling down. The lights also went out, so they're trying to climb up this very, very sloping deck. Water is gushing in, a nightmare situation to be in at sort of 9:00 in the morning when you're just waking up or maybe you've just had breakfast.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: We're going to have more on that with a live report from South Korea in just a few moments, so do stay with us for that.

Turning now to the crisis in Ukraine. And the government's anti- terrorist operation is in the east and it is continuing. But the situation on the ground remains very fluid at this hour. We're going to get you the latest developments as things stand. Agence France Presse reporting Ukraine says it has intercepted communications which reveal the same pro- Russian forces who led the takeover of Crimea are doing the very same thing in the east.

Meanwhile, columns of military vehicles are moving across the region, but in Slovyansk some of the tanks are flying Russian flags.

Now Ukraine says six of its military vehicles were seized by pro- Russian separatists. Meanwhile, NATO has agreed to beef up its military assets in Eastern Europe in response to this crisis.

Well, Nick Paton Walsh watched as some Ukrainian military vehicles were taken over right before his eyes in Slovyansk. He filed this report just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What you are seeing is one of those many pro -- sorry, Ukrainian-armed vehicles which seem to have changed hands a few hours ago. That has now had Ukrainian soldiers go into it, take out their stuff, and now it's loading up with pro-Russian militants.

Let me tell you how we got here. We saw Ukrainian troops moving in armored vehicles around these towns in the past few days. Some of them moved into the town south of me. They met a lot of local resistance, people getting in their way. And then somehow pretty fast those armed personnel carriers changed hands, five or six of them. Then they came in Slavyansk with the Russian flag and Ukrainian paratroop unit from Ukrainian soldiers defected or surrendered, not sure, are inside the building behind me being fed lunch. Some have come out to this vehicle behind me, taken out their stuff.

And now you will hear a chant in the crowd, pro-Russian crowd, as the armor we personnel carrier begins to move away. These pictures are the worst nightmare for the Kiev central government. We seeing here the force they sent in to take on these pro-Russian militants effectively giving up their armor within hours of being here.

And now these pro-Russian militants moving this vehicle out. Let me tell you a little bit more about who they are. Some of them extraordinarily well-trained, good modern weaponry, serious modern weaponry, some of them. Others seemingly more local, less well equipped, less well organized. One of them telling me in fact he's from Crimea, the part of Ukraine Moscow now considered part of Russia that changed hands a manner of weeks ago.

It seems here quite remarkable because people have been wait for the Ukrainian government or army response. It seems like they tried moving in today, and that armor now in the hands of pro-Russian militants. It feels very calm here. We wouldn't have been able to do this, broadcast like this to you a couple of days ago. People I think really feel now the tensions have past, perhaps the moment is over.

Really what happens now? Does this stay part of Ukraine or a separate republic or part of Russia? Those are the big questions. But this armor changing hands without violence quite a nightmare for the Kiev central government.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And we're going to have much more on the crisis unfolding in Ukraine coming up shortly on this show. Diana Magnay is joining us from Moscow. She will examine the personal rapport between Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and how that could play a role in calming tensions.

And we will be joined by a man who knows all about confronting the Kremlin, former Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili and you'll want to hear the warning NATO's secretary-general has for Russia. All that is just ahead.

Well, an urgent military operation is underway in Nigeria to find and rescue more than 100 girls who were kidnapped from their school by heavily armed men. Now this happened in Borno State in the northeastern part of the country. Authorities say that the Islamist rebel group Boko Haram is behind the abduction.

CNN's Vladimir Duthiers is in the Nigerian capital Abuja. What's latest from there, Vlad?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky.

Well, another brazen attack by the Islamist insurgency group Boko Haram. Young girls, as many as 100, sleeping in their dormitory in a village about 130 kilometers away from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, sleeping in the middle of the night, their parents sending them to school to get an education in what is one of the least educated parts of the country. Armed men breaking into the -- onto campus, storming the school, abducting at least 100 girls, spiriting them away in vans, buses, other vehicles.

What we understand now from a local state senator is that there is some for to a military operation underway. But this is a very remote part of Nigeria. This is a densely -- this is a dense rainforest that actually borders Nigeria and Camaroon. And that is where supposedly the members of Boko Haram have taken these girls.

Now, this is right out of the playbook of Boko Haram. They have done this countless times. Just last November, Human Rights Watch tells us that military did launch a campaign against a Boko Haram enclave. They were able to rescue at least 20 to 25 young women from their clutches. Many of the weapon were pregnant, many had babies, many were forced into marriage, Becky.

ANDERSON: This follows what was only yesterday morning a massive blast at a bus station with many, many victims. Do we know any more about the details on that attack?

DUTHIERS: Well, the president -- President Goodluck Jonathan when he visited the blast site blamed Boko Haram, although have not taken credit for this explosion which happened at about 6:30 in the morning yesterday local time, commuters going about their business ready to go to work, many of them (inaudible) boarding buses in this commuter bus station when this huge explosion took place. At least 71 people killed, up to 130 people injured in this attack.

Now a lot of people are wondering, because typically in the past Boko Haram has over the last couple of years focused their activities in northeastern Nigeria. In fact, the president has declared a state of emergency in Borno state along with two other states, and that has given the military a very wide latitude to pursue them.

But up until the last couple of years, most of that activity by Boko Haram had been centralized in northeastern Nigeria.

There was, if you recall Becky, a very big attack in 2011 on the UN compound. At least 20 people were killed during that attack.

But this attack that happened on Monday is clearly a sign that Boko Haram is trying to step up and widen their campaign of terror beyond the northeastern part of the country and into the heart of the country itself, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah. And that is a significant point that you are making. Vladimir Duthiers for you tonight in Lagos, in Nigeria.

Let's get back to our top story now. And the ferry disaster in South Korea. Rescuers still looking for survivors in what are these frigid waters of the Yellow Sea.

The latest on those rescue efforts with Paula Hancocks now who is joining me live from Jindo in South Korea.

And Paula, still very much a rescue mission, we are told at least. How long do authorities think they have at this point?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not telling us that, Becky, they're not making that public. They are saying that this search and rescue operation is very much ongoing.

Now we're just at the harbor in Jindo, and it is a heartbreaking scene here. This is where many of the families are congregating. And they're basically sitting and standing at the water's edge and looking out into the darkness.

The ship is about 20 kilometers away from where we're sitting -- where they're sitting -- and all they can do is sit and watch and see if anything is happening. There have been some scuffles between some of the parents and police officers, parents frustrated, they believe, not enough is being done to try and find their loved ones and their children.

I spoke to one woman who is sitting here waiting to hear word of her 16-year-old daughter. She hoped that she had been picked up by another boat. She was grasping at straws, hoping that her daughter was OK.

There was also another mother, just about an hour-and-a-half ago who said she had just received a text message from her son saying that there are survivors on the ship. They are in darkness. But tell the emergency services we are here.

Now, it's unclear at this point, according to the other parents around her, whether or not there was some cruel delay in that text message being delivered or whether in fact there is a possibility of an air pocket on the ship, which many of these parents are desperately hoping for. They are clinging on to any hope they can.

Now the police and the officials here are trying to brief them as best they can, but they simply don't have answers for them at this point. So it really is a heartbreaking scene as you see people and parents literally just looking out into the darkness willing their children to come back to them.

ANDERSON: Paula, I mean, it's absolutely traumatizing just to watch the pictures that were clearly shot earlier on today. It's now 10 past midnight your time. And it's going to be very difficult, one assumes, to get any more information this evening, although as you suggest this is still a search and rescue operation. But just listening to the way that you describe what's going on there is absolutely heartbreaking.

Paula Hancocks on the story. She will be there through the night and into the wee morning hours as we'll get more light on that situation and hopefully more good news for those parents standing by.

We're going to have more on the situation that we told you about in Nigeria in about 15 minutes. And we'll examine how the threat of violence there comes against a backdrop of huge economic growth in the country.

And, a powerful prince in Saudi Arabia's government is suddenly removed from his post. The latest on that story, its significance and the possible consequences when Connect the World continues. I'm Becky Anderson. We're in Abu Dhabi. It is 12 minutes past 7:00. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson out of the UAE at 15 minutes past 7:00. Lots and lots of moving parts in what are a number of stories this evening.

I want to get you the very latest on the Ukraine crisis now. And the Ukrainian military is moving east by land and by air. Their mission is to remove pro-Russian separatists holed up in the government buildings in at least 11 towns and cities. Now amateur video from the region that you're looking at now shows what looks like local pro-Russian residents trying to block Ukrainian tanks from entering their town.

Meanwhile, NATO is pledging more planes, more ships, and more military resources on the ground.

Let's go live to Moscow and Diana Magnay with more on Moscow's take on all of this.

Diana, as I say, lots of moving parts on this story. What's the narrative from the Kremlin today?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Kremlin is insisting on various things. And it's interesting, because President Putin has been really taking the initiative to make calls to these various leaders. It was on his initiative that he had this telephone call with President Obama on Monday. He's been speaking to Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general. He's been speaking to German chancellor Angela Merkel.

He asked Ban Ki-moon for the international community to condemn these actions by the Kiev authorities, this anti-terror operation however successful or unsuccessful that appears to have been.

Clearly the international community have not done that.

He also has been characterizing the situation in Ukraine as a country on the brink of civil war.

That said, though, his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov who is currently touring Asia and will be en route to Geneva for these very, very important talks on Thursday says that the talks are still on irrespective of the fact that over the past few days Russia has said that force may derail the talks.

And he's been saying that what we are going to do when we sit at a table with these various parties in Ukraine, the U.S., the EU and Russia is that we will try and make Kiev understand and take into account the constitutional demands of the citizens in the south and east of Ukraine. And that is the refrain that you will keep hearing from Moscow right now, that the people in the southeast have their own very specific demands that Kiev has not paid enough attention to, that is why the unrest is going on there. It has nothing to do with Moscow, they say. Our agents are not on the ground. But what Kiev has to do is start a national dialogue and allow these people to have their say in what kind of constitution they want.

And in Lavrov's words, he wants a true constitutional reform, not a cosmetic one, Becky.

ANDERSON: Diana, very briefly, because I've got a guest coming up after you, but very briefly at this point, you have the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who has an awful lot on his plate, not least what is going on between Ukraine and Russia, then Russia involved in the Iranian talks. Of course, he's got the Syria situation bubbling under. And ofttimes, and regularly he is meeting with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Now we've seen their relationship develop over the years. How do they get on? And could their relationship, if it's good enough, do something positive to sort of move this sort of story on and dissipate the sort of -- you know, this fiery rhetoric we're hearing between Washington and Moscow?

MAGNAY: Well, the fact of the matter is this is the worst phase geopolitically that Russia and the U.S. have had since the Cold War. It is frosty. That said, the relationship between the two is fairly good, especially if you compare it to Sergey Lavrov's relationship with Condoleeza Rice or Hillary Clinton, which was famously frosty, even though times were better and Clinton was trying to have a reset with Russia.

So, you know, in that context I've been talking to analysts about it. They say, you know, the two understand each other in that kind of old school graceful diplomatic way. They're both true diplomats. And, you know, they go for walks together. They seem to understand each other.

So even though they come from sort of polar opposites in terms of their political views, their way of going about diplomacy is a sort of shared basis and that's why they have quite a good working relationship, which you really need in this situation, Beck.

ANDERSON: Sure.

All right, Diana Magnay in Moscow for you. As ever, Di, thank you for that.

Well, the biggest uncertainties in this crisis are Vladimir Putin's intentions in Ukraine and just how far he might go.

Well, one man with firsthand knowledge of dealing with the president is the former president of the former Russian Republic of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili who joins me now from Kiev.

And, sir, I want to get a sense from you of what the lessons that we might take from the George situation in 2004 might be? And there is no doubt that the view of what is happening in Ukraine from the perspective of your own rather than troubled experience with Russia. Recently, you wrote that in Ukraine, "Russia's goal is the same as in Georgia. I am fully convinced that Putin is as eager to take over Kiev in 2014 as he was to take Tbilisi in 2008. If the west had reacted properly to Georgia, Ukraine would never have happened."

Do you really believe that? And if so, what do you think the west has learned, if anything, from what happened in your country?

MIKHAIL SAAKASHVILI, FRM. PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: Well, I think -- first of all, Becky, I have full feeling of deja vu. And let's try to describe it in medical terms.

When it happened in Georgia, the Russian invasion, the west proscribed us aspirin and basically it was a cancer and they proscribed aspirin. Then the cancer spread -- metastasized to Crimea, and then the west keeps saying, well, we are exclude surgical option, it is too risky. But at least they should apply not aspirin, but chemotherapy. And chemotherapy means they should switch off Russian oil and gas cash machine.

The point is of course west will also feel the rest of organs will also feel the pain, but if you really want to cure the disease it's not going away. Either you do real stuff, either you cure it and you, by the way, get rid of this unhealthy habit of being dependent off Russia, yes, or you know Europe has two years supply of gas -- reserves of gas...

ANDERSON: Yeah, I get your point, I get your point. Hold on, it's not -- yeah, I was going to say -- I get your point. And with respect, that's not going to happen, is it?

Let's see what has happened and what might happen going forward. We've seen some actions, not really sanctions, but actions from the west. And now we're hearing more from NATO, for example. And I wonder if you might react to what we heard from the secretary general there earlier today. He talked about the importance of countries like Georgia and Ukraine coming under the collective protection of NATO.

This was the warning that NATO secretary general had for Russia today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: We will have more planes in the area, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Necessary at this point, do you think?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, it's absolutely necessary because we've seen some coverage and people are saying, well, pro-Russian protesters. But, you know, I'm standing on this square here in Kiev. And when we saw real, genuine grass root protests it had millions of people, or hundreds of thousands at least.

Now what you see there in eastern Ukraine 1,500, 150 people and basically Russia's special troops.

Of course, Ukrainian army is in a limbo. This is a legacy of Yanukovych and his corrupt crony (inaudible) corrupt regime. While people are disgruntled also in eastern Ukraine.

But I personally have more friends in eastern Ukraine than I do west of Ukraine. They -- most of them are absolutely Ukrainian patriots. These people don't want to live under Putin dictatorship. The only reality is that they are being invaded. This is not a protest grass roots movement, this is not just local political game, this is the full-blown foreign military invasion. We are seeing the largest Euroepan country being sliced up. This is the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of 21st Century what we are seeing right now.

ANDERSON: Listen, how concerned are you that Russia may look to extend its sphere of influence, for example, at this point over Georgia ahead of what is potential EU integration going forward.

The recent decision by the government to summon you for questioning, some say, is a move that could jeopardize Georgia-EU relations.

Is Georgia in play at this point so far as Moscow is concerned, do you think?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, for Moscow, all the post-Soviet space is up for grabs. And of course in Georgia what they did in 2012, they spent heavily on the election polls, brought in $2 billion in a very small country, brought in government that took certain commitments, including the commitment to prosecute me now.

But what happened now when they try to present some charges after the European Union, the United States issued strong warnings, the Georgian present government had to back off. They basically stopped the case and they stopped the case because it was empty and it was basically based on what Russia really wanted them to do.

Now, having said that, one has to understand that the problem is that the way how Russia operates is through in the local corrupt cronies. And what really happened in Georgia and why Russia was so unhappy with the independence in the past there, was that Georgia really succeeded with reforms.

When Georgia's success was -- could not be denied even by Russian propaganda, then President Medvedev said, well Georgia is too small and insignificant, so it doesn't really matter. The problem is that if Ukraine also succeeds after the recent events, if Ukraine, the largest country move to which Russians can relate, can make the same kind of reforms, or at least partly the same kind of reforms which successfully George implemented in terms of cracking down on corruption, in terms of (inaudible)...

ANDERSON: Fairly successfully, sir.

SAASKASHVILI: Then Putin's power will be totally undermined. Yes.

Exactly, Georgia moved all the way up to being like one of the most non-corrupt and successful countries.

So what happens is it's really an ideological issue. Putin cannot back off because he's risking it out of his power base. That's why the west should never back off, because it's not only risking its values, it's basing the whole order of which its principle beneficiary basically.

ANDERSON: All right. OK.

I want to get some news that's coming in to CNN at this point, so let me stop you just for the time being, because this is pertinent to the discussion that we are actually having here. This just in to CNN, the region of Transistria is asking Russia now to recognize it as an independent state, that is according to Russia's state run ITAR TASS news agency. Now this is a very thin sliver of territory along Moldova's northeastern border with Ukraine with a sizable Russian minority. It has its own flag, parliament and currency, even its own passport.

But a Moldovan passport is still required for international travel. No word yet on a response on that from Moscow.

We're going to leave our guest for the time being, but delighted to have the former president of Georgia on the show with his thoughts about what he is seeing and the lessons that might be learned by the west and indeed by Russia since the moves there in 2008.

You are watching Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson, live from Abu Dhabi, 27 minutes past the ours here. Coming up, Saudi Arabia former U.S. ambassador and current intelligence chief abruptly leaves his post without explanation. We're going to look at some of the possible reasons for the move coming up. That after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: The Global Exchange, part of CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, welcome back. We return to Nigeria at this point of the show. Tuesday's abduction of school girls and Monday's deadly bus station bombing have brought divisions in the country into renewed focus.

Now, at least 71 people were killed in Monday's attack, no group claiming responsibility. But when the president visited this scene, he spoke of overcoming Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that as waged a campaign of violence. It has to be said, they haven't claimed responsibility for that.

But this really should be a time of confidence in Nigeria. The country has overtaken South Africa to become Africa's largest economy. In just three weeks, a meeting of the World Economic Forum is to be held in the capital, Abuja, where that attack took place.

More violence, a worrying sign, of course. Our emerging markets editor, John Defterios, with me now. Not only have we had the story of this deadly bombing Monday, you've now got responsibility being taken for the kidnap of some 100 girls from a dormitory in another part of the country, John.

Just more fuel for the fire, as it were as, I've suggested, at a time when Nigeria's economy really doesn't need this sort of news.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes. In fact, we wanted to put it in the spotlight, because this has been the dream child of the emerging markets. Let's take a look at the size of the economy. You talked about the re-basing of this economy. It's now $0.5 trillion, zooming right past South Africa at $350 billion.

If we look at this graphic, it's extraordinary, a growth of better than 6.5 percent since the year 2000. And you look at the foreign direct investment coming up there, $55 billion. And it topped foreign direct investment on the continent for the last two years.

This is the drive to get into the market, Becky, of 170 million consumers. It's running more, now, outside of the oil sector. Financial services, telecoms, banking have all taken off, and that's why you see that re-basing of the economy up to $0.5 trillion.

ANDERSON: We've seen Boko Haram acting up in one part of the country for some time now. The move outside of that one area to the north, significant?

DEFTERIOS: Yes, it is. In fact, we have a graphic showing the stronghold, that northeastern half of the country that we've talked about, are responsible for 1500 deaths, according to Amnesty International, in 2014 alone, 1500 deaths.

But the fact that it's striking Abuja, as you said, they didn't take credit for this, but the fact that it's happening around where the World Economic Forum is supposed to be taking place May 7th through the 9th, the finance minister, Dr. Ngozi, has come out and said categorically, 6,000 troops and policemen, we'll go ahead with the show and we'll provide the security.

ANDERSON: They're determined, aren't they?

DEFTERIOS: Indeed.

ANDERSON: John, thank you. We're going to take a very short break. Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: At 33 minutes past 7:00 in the UAE, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories for you here on CNN this hour.

And a desperate rescue mission underway in South Korea after a ferry sank off the southwestern coast. This is an ongoing situation. Rescuers say they have plucked 164 people from the icy waters of the Yellow Sea. It is after midnight there. Some 300 people are still unaccounted for.

Pro-Russian militants have seized several Ukrainian military vehicles in two towns in Eastern Ukraine. Kiev's efforts to push the pro-Russian element out of the region appears to be falling short. Many local residents blocking the paths of Ukrainian tanks to prevent them from entering their town.

An unmanned mini submarine is back in the Indian Ocean looking for any wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Earlier today, the special Blue Fin 21 was briefly brought back to the surface, due to a technical problem. The aircraft went missing, of course, March 8, with 239 people onboard.

And Oscar Pistorius looked on as his defense team begins presenting witnesses in his murder trial. After Thursday's session, the trial will be postponed until May the 5th. The proceedings are expected to continue until the middle of may.

I want to dig deeper into our top story today, the ferry disaster unfolding in South Korea. We are slowly piecing together what happened onboard that ship, thanks to report online and on social media. Amara Walker is tracking that angle. She joins me now from CNN Center in Atlanta. What do we know at this point?

AMARA WALKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we, of course, are keeping a very close eye on Korean media as well as social media to really understand the last moments before this passenger ferry sank.

I want to show you some text messages between students on the ship and their family and friends. They're just starting to emerge, and as you'd imagine, they're just heart-wrenching to read.

One son texted his mother, "Mom, in case I don't get to say this, I love you." And Mom, not knowing what has happened to her son, she replied, "Why, of course I love you, too, my son."

Now, many students also sent messages to their friends, and this text message I'm about to show you is from a student -- a message that he sent to his friends in the school theater club. And he wrote, "I think we are all going to die. If I did anything wrong to you, please forgive me." And finally, the student wrote, "I love you all."

Now, in another conversation, a desperate father was texting his teenager. And he said in this message, "I know there is a rescue operation underway, but if it is possible, get out of your room." And the student replied, "No, Dad, the ship has tilted and I can't get out. No one is in the hallway."

And Becky, sadly, we just don't know the fate of these students just yet. Now meanwhile, rescued passengers are turning to social media and other outlets to share their ordeal, the ordeal that they have gone through, and they say things were calm and peaceful, but suddenly the ship completely overturned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We had no idea what was happening. We thought everything was going to be OK, and then this happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Now, in one text, a student on the ship wrote to his older brother, and in it, he wrote, "I'm on my way to Jeju Island, but the ship hit something and is not moving." And the older brother asked, "Is it bad?" To which the younger brother replied, "I'm inside, so I don't know." And then the older brother replied, "Well don't panic."

And that last message from the older brother has not been opened. And again, Becky, we don't know the fate of these students just yet. And of course, we are seeing a lot of reaction on social media on what could be South Korea's largest maritime disaster in 20 years. People, of course, are expressing hope for miracles. They're also expressing their disbelief that this could actually happen.

But we also want to point out that there's also growing anger and frustration with authorities and how they handled the situation, especially when there was initial confusion over the number of who were actually rescued.

Officials initially said that there were more than 300 people who had been rescued. Well, they had to recant that figure because that figure was much lower. Officials said that they had made a miscalculation, and now that number of rescued stands at 164. Becky, back to you.

ANDERSON: This is an absolutely tragic story. And as we were being reminded by Paula Hancocks -- thank you, Amara -- being reminded by Paula Hancocks, who is there on the scene for you, at the harbor with the boat behind, it's past midnight now.

The parents of these students and the relatives of these students, absolutely beside themselves. Information coming extremely slowly, they are telling our reporter on the ground. We will be on this story, and the more we get, of course, we'll bring it to you as and when we do.

But as I say, it is past midnight there now, and one assumes although we know, as certainly as far as authorities are can say, is still -- are concerned, is still a search and rescue operation. One has to consider how long that will still be ongoing before this just is a terrible tragedy.

There's been a sudden changing of the guard in Saudi Arabia. Prince Bandar is leaving his post as intelligence chief.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON (voice-over): For a generation, he's been one of the most familiar faces in the Saudi royal house. Prince Bandar bin Sultan served as the country's ambassador to the United States for 22 years until 2005, and his close ties with President George W. Bush were well documented.

But the prominence of Prince Bandar, seen amongst this group at the 2011 funeral of his father, Crown Prince Sultan, may now be a thing of the past. On Tuesday, he was relieved from his latest role as chief of intelligence by royal decree, officially upon his request.

After being appointed to the post two years ago, Bandar took on the thorny task of building and implementing Saudi Arabia's policy on Syria.

(GUNFIRE)

ANDERSON: He became a staunch supporter of the rebel cause, trying to topple the government of Bashar al-Assad. In doing so, he reached out to his traditional friends in the West, calling on them to arm the opposition.

A lack of action by the international community to act on Syria, combined with the warming of Western relations with Iran, marked a watershed in Saudi's global orientation. Six months ago, Bandar was widely quotes as saying the kingdom would be making a, quote, "major shift in dealings with Washington."

Earlier this year, sources reported he was dropped from the Syria brief. The move is the latest sign of turbulent times in the House of Saud.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: So, where does this put Saudi Arabia in terms of the region and its relations with the US, for example? Isolation, possibly. Christopher Dickey is foreign editor for "The Daily Beast." He joins me now from Paris.

You've written extensively in the past when Bandar was in Washington about Saudi, about this man. You've said he was a very accessible man when he was doing the rounds in Washington for all of those years. Was he pushed, or did he jump?

CHIRSTOPHER DICKEY, FOREIGN EDITOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Oh, I think he was pushed. I think he -- he basically had failed in his many missions that he had set for himself. He basically had two objectives as head of intelligence.

One was to fight against Iran and undermine Iran's influence in the region, and the other was to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood's role in the region. So, it was a complicated deal, and it didn't work out very well for him.

ANDERSON: Earlier today, Chris, I was having a discussion about the future of this region -- and we're in the UAE, of course, here with the show -- with a number of experts here. And here's what one of them had to say when we were discussing Bandar's disappearance from the scene, as it were.

(BEGIN VICEO CLIP)

ABDULKHALEQ ABDULLA, PROFESSOR, UAE UNIVERSITY: I think the days of the hawk end, so it is foreign policy is over. Bandar was the prime hawk over there. I think the moderates are coming in, and they are going to set the agenda for the next stage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: "The moderates are coming in," says Abdulla Abdulkhaleq. Do you buy that line of thought?

DICKEY: Well, yes. I think they're moderate in terms of in comparison with Bandar. Bandar was extremely hawkish on Iran, even before he had this official position. Back in 2006, he was encouraging Israel to go into southern Lebanon in the war against Hezbollah. He was out to crush Hezbollah. And that didn't work out very well, either.

He's -- one time and another, he's tried to take on Iran, and he hasn't been very successful in that. At the same time, in Syria, normally the main opposition group to Assad, particularly before the war got really bad, would have been the Muslim Brotherhood, but that was unacceptable --

ANDERSON: Yes.

DICKEY: -- to the Saudis, and particularly to Bandar. So, he was creating a confused situation --

ANDERSON: So --

DICKEY: -- and then he was blaming the United States for it.

ANDERSON: So, I guess the final question here -- and keep it brief, if you will, Chris -- you've talked about the significance of the move. The consequences of the move, now -- how would you describe those going forward, outside of Saudi, as it were?

DICKEY: Well, I think that Yousif Ali Al-Idrisi, the number two guy, was one who had worked for the Americans quite a bit. I think they probably have more confidence in him. I think the American-Saudi partnership in the region probably will be less rocky than it was when Bandar was running the show.

Even though he was ambassador to the United States for 22 years and very close to the Bushes, he was no friend of the United States for the last three or four years.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. All right, always a pleasure, Christopher Dickey for you on what has been a very significant story for, not just this region, but for relations between Saudi and the West, the United States, and those around the world. Thank you, Chris.

And you can get more on my cafe chat with Abdulkhaleq and other experts in tomorrow's CONNECT THE WORLD, 7:00 PM Abu Dhabi time for you. That was a fascinating discussion. We had that earlier on today in Dubai.

This is Abu Dhabi, we are 44 minutes past 7:00 here. Still to come, we are going cricket crazy. The cash-flush Indian Premier League is in town. We're going to get you behind the scenes, up next.

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ANDERSON: Right, that is the Corniche in the UAE in Abu Dhabi. About 15 or so kilometers from there is a cricketing stadium, and one of the biggest cricket tournaments in the world has come to the United Arab Emirates, and it is underway as we speak.

The Indian Premier League now playing part of its 2014 season right here in Abu Dhabi, as well as in Sharjah and in Dubai. Amir Daftari takes a look at what is in store.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMIR DAFTARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's loud, brash, and insanely popular. Now, India's fast-paced, flashy Twenty20 cricket teams are gearing up for a duel in the desert.

DAFTARI (on camera): The world's richest cricket tournament has come to the UAE. The Indian Premier League brings together some of the world's best player, Bollywood superstars and, of course, big corporate sponsors.

Now, these guys behind me, they're the Mumbai Indians, and soon, they'll be facing the likes of the likes of Chennai Super Kings and the Delhi Daredevils.

DAFTARI (voice-over): Only the first 20 matches of the IPL season are being played in the Gulf nation, the official reason being to avoid a clash with India's huge general election. But the fact that the UAE is cricket crazy doesn't hurt, either.

DAFTARI (on camera): Come game day, stadiums like this across the country will be packed. That's because in the Emirates, the southeast Asian population is huge. Now, Madhukar (ph) and Rajas (ph) have just finished work, and they're watching a practice game. Guys, what are you looking forward to with the IPL?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love cricket, that's all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love, too, the cricket.

DAFTARI: But do you think it's a good idea for the IPL to come here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: UAE is a better place for the IPL cricket because most of the Indians living here and working here.

DAFTARI: OK.

DAFTARI (voice-over): In fact, nearly 2 million Indians live in the Emirates. So, while the IPL may have moved overseas for part of the season, the players, owners, and organizers, are confident they'll be hitting for six.

Amir Daftari, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: I just want to remind you that about a billion people across the world are expected to tune into this year's IPL, that is according to the national newspaper here in Abu Dhabi. Some even suggest the tournament could one day become more popular than England's football league. That is hard to believe.

For more, let's bring in Ajit Vijaykumar, who is from the local daily, "Sport 360." There is no doubt that this is an enormous competition. Compared to the Premiership, though?

(LAUGHTER)

AJIT VIJAYKUMAR, JOURNALIST, "SPORT 360": It would be not so right to compare it with Premiership because the English Premiership has been around for a long time now. The Indian Premier League started in 2008, but in a very short period of time, it has grown phenomenally.

ANDERSON: Remind us why it's here. Why is the IPL, the Indian Premier League, in the UAE?

VIJAYKUMAR: As it happened in 2009, this time the Indian Premier League is clashing with the general elections in India. So, a time slot was not available for the league as the local government could not provide security. That's the reason that's been given.

ANDERSON: Right, OK. Well, that's the reason that's been given, so we'll stick to that one for the time being until somebody tells us something different. It's on the road, and effectively, I know, it worked in 2009. So, is this something for the future, do you think?

VIJAYKUMAR: It's a great concept because not only for the IPL, but Indian cricket as a whole, if it comes to the UAE, it's great news for the locals here because UAE has been deprived of Indian cricket for a long time.

ANDERSON: All right. Tickets are extortion --

VIJAYKUMAR: Yes.

ANDERSON: -- that is the problem, isn't it?

VIJAYKUMAR: Right.

ANDERSON: Many of those who are living and working here who absolutely love their cricket can't afford to go. But they will be watching it on television, of course.

VIJAYKUMAR: Right.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about broadcasting rights here. What are the numbers?

VIJAYKUMAR: The original broadcast rights was for ten years for a total cost of $1 billion. Now, that's a huge deal in cricket because such numbers were never envisioned. And because of those broadcasting rights, the entire valuation of the Indian Premier League now stands close to $3 billion, which is not as much compared to other leagues, but for a short period of seven years --

ANDERSON: Pretty big.

VIJAYKUMAR: It's very big.

ANDERSON: I'm backing the -- Kolkata's team. You?

VIJAYKUMAR: I'll be going for the Chennai Super Kings.

ANDERSON: Excellent. All right, you'll be back during this tournament. Let's see how our teams are doing.

VIJAYKUMAR: Yes, thanks.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. Are you watching the IPL? Do you think about the games being played here? The team here always wants to hear from you, facebook.com/CNNconnect, have your say. You can always tweet me @BeckyCNN. We're on Instagram as well, you can search for us there, that's Becky CNN.

That is the show for you this evening -- no it is not. I've still got another four or five minutes. I'm ahead of myself. Still ahead, fashion forward. How one Dubai-based designer is taking big strides on the global catwalk. Stay with CONNECT THE WORLD, back after this, don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: In Parting Shots for you this evening, I want to take a look at one Dubai-based designer who's gained what is some celebrity following with gusto with international stars like Katy Perry, Beyonce, Shakira wearing his creations. His fashion label Amato now plans to go global. Let's take a look inside his studio.

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FURNE ONE, DISIGNER AND OWNER, AMATO: My name is Funre One. I'm from Cebu, Philippines. I started designing when I was, like, around 15 years old. Amato means beloved, because we started for bridal. And then we ended up, like bridal, doing also party dresses. We started Amato with a very small group, less than 10, and now we're 90 to 100.

This one, Katy Perry wore this one in the MTV Music Awards. The management told us that they wanted us to do the tour. So, we did the tour, the California Dream tour, we did the outfits. So, it's opened doors.

But now, what's the plan is to bring Amato to another level. To bring Amato to be more international, like a brand, not just a tailoring shop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Fashion industry --

(AUDIO GAP)

ANDERSON: -- time Thursday. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching.

END