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Croatia Closes Borders 24 Hours After Opening Them To Refugees; Elton John Gets Pranked; Chile Picking Up After 8.3 Magnitude Earthquake Offshore; How Do Iranians Feel About Trump?. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired September 17, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:07] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Another country overwhelmed after 24 hours of what was an open door policy. Croatia begins to signal there are


We are live on two borders for you in just a moment, one firmly shut, the other open for now as the EU struggles to act.

Also on this story...


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where they come in Lebanon, a country literally bursting because of the war in its

neighborhood where one in four people you meet will be a Syrian refugee.


ANDERSON: The first steps of a trip they hope will end in Europe. We're on the docks in Lebanon as hundreds of Syrians start their journey.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, Elton, hello.

JOHN: Hello, Dmitry, how are you?


ANDERSON: Pranking a Putin critic. Gay rights campaigner and pop star Elton John falls victim to a hoax call. We've got the details a

little later this hour.

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

ANDERSON: We begin with some dramatic new scenes from the latest flashpoint in the refugee crisis in Europe. Thousands of people are now

pouring into Croatia, desperate for a new route to western Europe after Hungary sealed its southern border.

Police are having trouble controlling the crowds who at one point broke through the barriers in the town of Tarvanik (ph).

Our Ivan Watson was right in the thick of things and filed this report just a short time ago.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are scenes that Croatia probably did not anticipate when they opened their border on

Wednesday. Chaos here at a train depot very close to the border here in Croatia as the sheer mass of migrants and refugees desperate to push

through are heaving against lines of riot police. It's hot here, you can see the perspiration on people's faces, and they're trying to push their

children through one by one past the police who are having to try to hold back the masses of people on the other side.

And come take a look over here. Crowds gathered behind fences here, passing their children over the fence. Clearly the Croatian authorities,

overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people who crossed more than 5,000 people in the first 24 hours. There are buses waiting to take people to

administrative centers where they can apply for asylum in the capital Croatia, in other cities as well.

But for now, this is a situation that has rapidly grown out of control. Again, just a little bit more than 24 hours after Croatia

announced that the migrants and refugees would be welcome to enter this Balkan country.


ANDERSON: Well, Ivan is joining us now on the line from Tarvanik (ph) in Croatia. Ben Wedeman is in Serbia along the Hungarian border watching

refugees head for Croatia by the bus load.

Let me come to you, Ivan, first. What's the latest from there this hour?

WATSON: Well, shortly after we filmed that moment, the mass of people pushing against the police broke through. And I estimate more than 1,000

people kind of charged forward into Croatia passed the staging area where the Croatian authorities had been organizing buses one by one to take

people to registration centers. And many were then asking as they ran in this completely chaotic scene of pandemonium, where do we go now? But they

overwhelmed the Croatian authorities who kind of shrugged their shoulders and didn't know what to do with this mass of people.

The scene is much calmer now right now. The police are standing side by side with migrants who did not go charging in. And more people are

arriving from the Croatian border.

There were signs that some of the migrants raided a Red Cross aid station that had been distributing diapers and tins of tuna and made a mess

of it. And I saw some of the migrants trying to clean it up, in fact.

The Croatian president has put out a statement suggesting that maybe things have moved too far too fast. She went on to say that Croatia has

showed a human face, but the safety of Croatian citizens and stability of the state must come first. Too many refugees entered in an uncontrollable

way. And the Croatian president barely -- 36 hours after Croatia opened the border, is now calling for tougher surveillance on the border.

So, yet another European state very quickly overwhelmed after it opened its arms to the wave of migrants and refugees heading in this

direction -- Becky.

[11:05:15] ANDERSON: It does seem absolutely remarkable that having offered or extended the hand of friendship and an open door policy to be so

ill-equipped and ill-prepared for those who are making this long journey.

All right, Ivan, for the time being thank you.

Ben, is with us as well. Ben, where you are what a difference a day makes.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed. What a difference a day makes in terms of the sheer number of people here.

We've seen hundreds of people boarding buses provided by the Serbian authorities to take them to that now obviously chaotic Croatian border.

Now behind me you see just a small group of those who are remaining. They are protesting yet again at just about 70 meters from the fence that

separates Serbia from Hungary. But you see there Serbian police situation very much under control.

I think, you know, as speaking to people all day today, they've been discussing the possibilities of going to Croatia, hearing that perhaps they

can get to Slovenia through Croatia, so many of them have simply left. But there is still a few hundred people left here who are still hoping --

really I must say against hope -- that the Hungarians will open this border. But there's no indication whatsoever that that's going to be the

case. And obviously the Hungarians watching the chaos now ensuing on the Croatian border may perhaps be saying we told you so -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, I want to bring up some images of what was going on where you are this time yesterday. And if you can just allude to that

border crossing behind you. Are there still Hungarian forces behind that wall, that barrier looks like sort of -- which is a disguised as it were

with barbed-wire?

WEDEMAN: Yes. Yesterday, the scene was completely different. We had these ongoing clashes between the Hungarian riot police and the refugees

and migrants who had managed to force open the gate. And of course the Serbian forces, rather the Hungarian police responded with tear gas, with

water cannons and it was just utter pandemonium, as we saw for about two- and-a-half hours before the crowd calmed down and Serbian police were brought in to establish a buffer between the fence and the migrants and the


But the situation moves on. And this is what we've seen now for weeks. This is how this crisis works. It's like a river that finds a way.

And when it runs into a dam, so to speak, as is the case at this gate that separates Serbia from Hungary, that water, the flow has been redirected,

directed towards Croatia. And of course now Croatia is experiencing what we were seeing here on the border just 24 hours ago.

Many of the people here are insisting that they're going to stay here if they have to for years until they finally get through. Of course, when

you speak to people they'll say, you know, there are difficulties. We're disappointed that we're not getting through to those northern European

countries we wanted to reach. But at the end of the day they don't have the resources to go back home. And of course many of them have no homes to

go back to. So they stay.

And this is going to be the reality for months, perhaps years, ahead. You have tens of thousands of people who can't go forward, can't go back,

increasingly angry and frustrated as their hopes for a better life are dashed -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman in Serbia.

Let me get you back to Croatia. That's the new flashpoint, of course, as we have seen in Europe's refugee and migrant crisis. And officials

there say they are struggling to cope, as Ivan just suggested, especially in the capital Zagreb.

Now, Reuters reporting that police have taken up positions outside a hotel. Inside, as you can see, there are hundreds of migrants and

refugees, some of them chanting freedom.

Well, for more let's bring in Tihomir Ladisic who is a reporter with TV Network N1 and is in Zagreb for you this evening.

Tikomir, yesterday Croatia was seemingly welcoming refugees. Today, a very different picture. Why?

[11:10:03] TIHOMIR LADISIC, N1 CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Becky. Even with enormous amount of confidence coming from Croatian government

officials within the last few days, what's happening today on the crossing border is quite opposite.

We took a heavy hit having not been prepared for the flood of refugees just one of the quotes from Croatian parliament session this morning.

Croatia's official numbers of refugees entering Croatia today is 7,000 people, but there is many still coming and the number are higher every


Croatian ministry of health here stressed today how emergency red light will light up with 20,000 people expected in next week or so.

ANDERSON: Tihomir, what do Croatian people think of these migrants and refugees, especially given Croatia's recent history?

LADISIC: Many refugees get angry with fact that they are not allowed to move toward the north with many of them are keen to get to Germany or

Sweden. Croatian immigrant centers is almost full with around 5,000 past capacity. Croatian ministry of defense said that the army could be --

might be calling to help with addition 6,000 people could be temporarily accommodated with tents.

Croatian capital Zagreb to already significant numbers of people placed in refugee center. Major of Zagreb just right now speaking to

reporters having said that Zagreb fair center with one representing bigger fair trade in this part of Europe will turn to refugees shelter.

ANDERSON: Tihomir from Zagreb, thank you.

Also ahead tonight, you're watching Connect the World. Aside from this, which is and continues to be our top story, a key decision that could

have a big impact on the U.S. economic engine. We're going to break down what may be in store for U.S. interest rates by taking a look under the


First up, though..


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I would set this deal aside and I would get you a better deal.


SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.


ANDERSON: Strong language during last night's Republican presidential debate in the United States. We've got reaction from Israel and from Iran

up next.



DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER: But the qualification is that I've dealt with people all over the world, been successful all over the

world. Everything I've done virtually has been a tremendous success. When markets changed, when things turned, I heard Governor Pataki, who by the

way was a failed governor in New York, a very serious...


ANDERSON: That was going to let him speak, but you know what, I'll carry on.

That was U.S. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump there in his typically brash style at CNN's Republican debate on Wednesday. He

spend a lot of time defending himself in what is his own unique way as rival candidates focused many of their jabs at him.

It wasn't all just grandstanding, foreign policy issues were a major feature of that debate, because all those candidates are vying to be

commander in chief, of course, at a time when the U.S. is involved in situations across the Middle East, one of them targeting ISIS.

Now all candidates agree that the terror group must be eliminated, but they disagree in terms of how.

Meanwhile, all 11 who shared the main stage expressed strong support for Israel. Most also took turns slamming the Iran nuclear deal. Some of

that opposition runs deep.

Listen to what Senator Ted Cruz had to say.


CRUZ: If I am elected president, on the very first day in office I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.


[11:15:54] ANDERSON: Well, other candidates, including John Kasich and Rand Paul, suggested that they'd take a more measured approach for the

Iran deal if elected.

Well, nowhere are shifts in American foreign policy felt more acutely than right here in the Middle East, of course.

For the regional reaction to the debate, CNN's Oren Liebermann joining us live form Jerusalem. and CNN's Fred Pleitgen is with us out of the

Iranian capital Tehran. Welcome gentlemen.

Oren, what have you been hearing over there?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no surprise here that most Israelis agree with the Republican presidential candidates

in terms of their opposition to this Iran nuclear deal. We spoke with a number of Israelis who said that they oppose the deal. Most Israelis do.

But there is a disagreement there in that as some of the Republican candidates said they would tear up the deal or work against a deal somehow,

most Israelis, or at least the ones we spoke with, don't agree there. They see the deal here as a fact. They see it as something that's already done

and you can't get rid of it. Instead, Israelis say you have to learn to live with it, have to learn to work with it. Here's what some of the

Israelis we spoke with had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question of Israeli and Iran, question rise up every debate. I don't think anybody can make the difference in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a kind of uncertainty. I mean, that they weren't so altogether as it was in the previous one. The impression

was that to be against the Iran deal they were altogether, but now that it's there they don't have a clear idea of how to move forward. I mean,

there's no agreement among them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're right about Iran, I think it's nothing to say much more about it. We -- it's over and we have to live with it.


LIEBERMANN: We asked a follow-up question, who do you favor among the Republican candidates to see in the White House. There was no consensus

there, but there was consensus on the one person nobody here wants to see in the White House, in the Oval Office, and that was Donald Trump -- Becky.

ANDERSON: All right.

Let's get the response, then, from Tehran. Fred, word on the street there.


Well, here in Tehran, aside from doing political coverage I'm actually doing severe weather coverage as well. There's a huge storm actually over

Tehran at this point in time. And surprisingly, I have to say, many, many people here in Tehran that we spoke to throughout the course of the day

knew a lot about the presidential debate, knew a lot about the candidates and many of them also quite negative towards Donald Trump. Let's listen



PLEITGEN: Do you know this man?


PLEITGEN: Who is it?


PLEITGEN: What do you know about Donald Trump and his policy towards Iran?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that he's not -- how to say it -- doesn't know anything about politics. Is he the one who is real estate or?

PLEITGEN: Do you know who he is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not actually, but the presence. It's the face, the hairstyle, the features not.

PLEITGEN: You don't like the hairstyle?


UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: I don't like this picture.

PLEITGEN: Do you know who this man is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I know. I don't like him.

He don't care about the poor people.

PLEITGEN: This man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. His father and his brother did a big mess.

PLETGEN: What does he look like?


PLEITGEN: Which Bush?


PLEITGEN: Jeb Bush, maybe?

This man.

No, you never seen him before?

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: Is he Bush brother?

PLEITGEN: This man?

UNIDENTFIED MALE: That's Jeb Bush. His policies more a bit more moderate than Trump.

PLEITGEN: This lady.


PLEITGEN: Everybody keeps saying that. Her name is Carly Fiorina.

This woman. Do you know who this is?


[11:20:03] UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: Hewlett Packard manager.

PLEITGEN: Hewlett Packard, yes, she's a former Hewlett Packard manager. Do you know her name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I forgot. This is also (inaudible) same as Mr. Trump.

PLEITGEN: Have you ever seen this man?



PLEITGEN: No idea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't know him. Second after the Trump in the second one.

PLEITGEN: He's the second in the polls right now.

UNIDENTFIED MALE: In nomination.

PLEITGEN: Exactly.


PLEITGEN: So, as you can see, a lot of people actually did know quite a bit about the candidates, might have not known the names, but certainly

known who these people are at least sort of known the outlines of a lot of the policies.

One thing, of course, that was the overarching topic there was the nuclear agreement. Many Iranians of course the vast majority believe that

the nuclear agreement is a good thing for their country. They want it to go forward. And they are quite worried about the fact that so many of the

Republican candidates, Becky, are saying that they want to tear the nuclear agreement apart, is something that many people here are quite concerned


ANDERSON: Yeah, that may have been the overarching topic. The overarching response to your question about who this was and whether they

liked these characters or not seem to be more about hairstyles and features.

Anyway, there you go. Thank you. And a big old storm there in Tehran, which isn't that far away from here in the UAE, so let's hope it's

not headed this way.

Thank you, sir.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. Coming up...


JOHN: The violence towards LGBT people they don't feel safe.


ANDERSON: That was Elton John talking passionately about gay rights, but to whom? Find out why the pop star may have been left a little

embarrassed after a prank call.

And, Chile tries to recover from a powerful earthquake, but the danger there and elsewhere isn't over yet.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. 23 minutes past 7:00 in the UAE.

Chile is dealing with the aftershocks of an 8.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked the South American country late on Wednesday.

Now, the emergency services director there says that 10 people have lost their lives. This is just a glimpse of the damage that was done.

More than a million people have been forced from their homes. Thousands of kilometers away, that same earthquake now posing a threat to two U.S.

states, Hawaii and California.

The National Weather Service warns both are experiencing dangerous waves and strong currents.

Well, let's get more. Shasta Darlington has been monitoring the impact from her base in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Joining me now.

What do we know about the possibility of more of an impact at this point?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, there are number of things that we should be watching.

As you mentioned, not only do certain countries further afield, further from the epicenter, have to worry about tsunami advisories, in

Chile itself a really difficult period has started. So we had that strong quake. In fact, Chilean officials are calling it the strongest quake so

far this year anywhere in the world.

Then we had those big waves for over 4 meters crashing onto the shore. So some parts of Chile have been declared a disaster zone.

But on top of that, hundreds, literally hundreds of aftershocks, and we know from personal experience this is really one of the biggest

challenges. We were in Chile last year for a major quake. And what happens is those million people that you mentioned who were evacuated from

their homes, well, they set up intense cities on the hills overlooking urban centers.

They don't have running water. They don't have electricity, limited access to food. And many of them can't go home, because their homes were

destroyed, others won't go home with all of these aftershocks. They're afraid their roofs will come crashing down on them.

So, you've got this potential health situation with again no running water, no toilets, and people just terrified that they could lose

everything they've had. And those who are most affected tend to be the poorest, so the people with the homes with the really shaky structures --

you know, Chile is very good at a number of things. Their main buildings have been built to prepare for these earthquakes. They have a long history

of earthquakes, and they're very good at evacuating people ahead of tsunamis.

This was after the 2010 earthquake when they were slow and 500 people lost their lives.

But it's -- the next few days, even a week more than that, when people refuse to go to their homes that they really face the biggest challenges,


[11:26:19] ANDERSON: And it was, what, some 10 years ago now the awful tsunami in Aceh.

Just how well did the warning system work? I know that we've reported, and you first stood up the fact that some, what, 1 million people

were evacuated from their homes and your obviously pointing out that what happens next will be interesting.

You know, just how well did the warning systems work?

DARLINGTON: You know, the warning system in Chile is very efficient. Again, we saw it in action. We were part of it. They have alarms that are

set up across all of these coastal cities and towns. As soon as they go off you know where to go, because they've had so many practice runs. So

people just -- they take their evacuation routes. They're followed by police cars, emergency vehicles, pointing them in the right direction. But

they really know where to go. And you'll just see streams and streams of people carrying sleeping bags, their documents, really the bear

necessities. Water, food, heading to higher ground. And they'll stay there until they feel like they're ready to go home.

But it's very efficient, Becky.

ANDERSON: Great. All right, thank you very much indeed.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. Coming up, we've seen images like these countless times. But what are the real stories behind

Syrian refugees arriving in Europe. A new documentary give us an intimate look at one family's journey.

And, find out why Saudi Arabia is paying out almost $60 million after that deadly crane collapse in Mecca. The latest on the investigation is up



[11:30:27] ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. These are the top stories for you here on CNN.

And dramatic images from Croatia, the latest flashpoint in the refugee crisis in Europe. People blocked from entering Hungary now using a new

route to reach western Europe. At least 7,300 migrants had entered Croatia by midday. Interior minister just announced the Croatia is at, and I

quote, full capacity.

Police officials in Iraq say at least 13 people were killed and dozens injured after two suicide bomb attacks in the capital Baghdad, Thursday.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the two attack say was targeting Shia militia and security forces there.

Chile has left its tsunami warning -- sorry, let me do that again -- Chile has lifted its tsunami warning after a powerful earthquake and

aftershocks struck off the coast late on Wednesday. And that's blamed for at least 10 deaths so far and close to a million people have had to

evacuate. Tsunami warnings have been issued for places as far as California and New Zealand.

In Burkina Faso the military says it's now in control of the country after guards seized the president and former prime minister from a cabinet

meeting. The United States, UN and former colonial power France condemned the coup and protesters gathered in the capital. It all comes a few days

ahead of planned elections in the country.

We're less than three hours away from what could be, could be, a major decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve on whether to raise interest rates

for the first time in nine years. Well, you can see that the markets are also waiting for this, almost level just less than a tenth of one percent


Quite a lot of expectation on this, and uncertainty, and these markets don't like uncertainty. So rather than being particularly volatile today

it looks as if everybody has left their finger off the button awaiting that decision.

Let's find out what we think might happen. Maggie Lake has been awaiting the decision from New York. And she joins me from there.

What's the betting at this point?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Becky, if you look at the bond market, actually most people think the fed is not going to -- that

they're not going to raise rates, they're going to sit tight.

But when you talk to people, that's a different story. And a lot of them are saying it's really too close to call. And a lot of the

uncertainty, of course, is we haven't been here for a very, very long time, almost a decade.

And there's sort of an argument for everyone, and this is fueling the divide. On the one hand, people recognizing that the American recovery

looks solid, have seen a recovery in housing, employment really is where the fed wants it to be. You're getting pretty close to what they'd

consider full employment. But on the other hand, you don't see any sign of inflation. And you've seen a lot of volatility and instability in global

markets. And even though the fed's mandate is the U.S. economy the certainly understand that we are all interconnected and they're concerned

about that. They're keeping it on the radar.

So it sort of left them in a quandary what to do.

When I talk to people on Wall Street they say let's just get it over with. Let's just get one on the books, especially if they communicate it's

one and done, then we'll know what do to. I'll take away some of this uncertainty and it'll show the fed is confident about the U.S. economy.

But a lot of other economists say there's no reason that they should be in a rush and they shouldn't do it just to do it. So that's sort of the

debate that's been going on here for months now leading up to this. There is a press conference today, which is going to be key, which is why a lot

of people think if they're going to do something, they might want to do it today, because it would give Fed Chairwoman that you're looking at there

Janet Yellen a chance to explain the fed's thinking.

So, either way, everyone on the sideline waiting for the decision and then very importantly waiting for that press conference that's going to

follow, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah. And that's three hours from now, Maggie.

Briefly, it'll be those comments that are crucial won't it?

LAKE: It is, because it's not just what they do today, what's the trajectory? Do they -- is this a series of rates even if it's gradual or

are they going to just put one on the books, or if they're not doing it, why aren't they doing it? What are they worried about. That's what

investors want to know.

ANDERSON: Maggie is in New York awaiting that decision. And when it happens, you'll hear it first on CNN.

Returning now -- thanks Maggie -- returning to our top story, the refugee crisis in Europe. It's largely fueled, of course, by Syria's civil

war. Syrians seeking asylum have already made a difficult decision to leave their homeland, but that is, of course, just the beginning of the

hard choices that they'll make on what is, as we've been reporting, a dangerous road to a better life.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more from Lebanon.


[11:35:07] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where one agony ends, and another may begin. Syrians queuing en amass at

their border to get far away fast from regime-held areas. Tough to film here. Many Syrian passports checked are shiny and new, the coaches full.

The route out is direct, and the tickets mostly one way to Turkey.

And this is where they come in Lebanon a country literally bursting because of the war in its neighborhood where one in four people you meet

will be a Syrian refugee.

Now no longer are they allowed to stay, it seems, but instead transit gathering here until they get to about 500 in number when they're then put

on these ferries paying for the transit to Turkey, some hoping, dreaming, to go on further to Europe.

Five times more leaving on Tripoli's ferries, say officials so far this year, than all of last about a thousand a day.

These young men, bound from Homs this morning for Germany.

How is Homs?

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: It's OK right now, but...


WALSH: Their choice, join the Syrian army or run. Both mean they hide their faces.

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: If there's somewhere better, of course we will try, but for now we are headed for Germany.

WALSH: Amar (ph) is 20. And hours earlier was in Latakia onto which rebels are advancing.

UNIDENITIFED FEMALE: I can't find my future there. So, I will go by this journey to Germany by the sea from Turkey to Greece. It's the more


WALSH: Why can't you stay in Lebanon or Turkey?

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: It's so bad. Make so -- you will work so hard and just live for eat and sleep, eat and sleep. You can't do more than


WALSH: Here, one family from Damascus who rushed their 9-year-old to Lebanon this morning for urgent cancer medicine. It was too late. He

died. They buried him near the port two hours ago, but they continue on.

550 board, all the choices they have are bad, but this one's gamble has the highest payoff.

Ask yourself if you were bright and young, which one would you make?

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Tripoli, north Lebanon.


ANDERSON: IN Saudi Arabia preparations for the annual Hajj pilgrimage are going forward despite the deadly crane collapse at Mecca's grand mosque

last week. 107 people were killed in that accident, more than 2 million pilgrims are expected at Islam's holiest site by next weekend.

Well, the investigation into that deadly crane accident has ramped up as CNN's John Defterios reports.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Only days after this horrible tragedy at the holy site of Mecca, the kingdom's royal court

imposes sweeping ban on one of the country's most high profile companies Saudi bin Laden group. The royal decree, issued by King Salman, bars the

group from taking on new projects and bans executives from traveling until a government investigation is completed.

At the same time, the finance ministry will conduct a sweeping review of all the company's existing projects. MEED tracks construction spending

throughout the region.

RICHARD THOMPSON, DIRECTOR, MEED: What's very unusual is to have the king decreeing, issuing a decree publicly that reflects, I think, the high

profile nature of this accident and the location of the accident.

DEFTERIOS: The bin Laden group's projects are sizable. It was the lead contractor on a $27 billion redevelopment plan of Mecca. The Jeddah-

based group is also working on the $7 billion King Abdulaziz International Airport in their home city.

The investigation committee in its preliminary finding said the main reason for the accident was strong winds, but noted the crane was in the

wrong position. At this stage, they say, there's an absence of criminal suspicion.

CNN reached out to the bin Laden group which said it had no comment at this time. The company has a long history in Saudi Arabia. Established in

1931 five years after the founding of the kingdom. The family name became known worldwide after the 9/11 attacks masterminded by renegade son Osama

bin Laden. Under the reign of King Abdullah who passed away earlier this year bin Laden group was key beneficiary of $100 barrel oil that fostered

an era of record spending.

Beyond addressing the tragedy in Mecca, Saudi business leaders say the ban gives leverage to the new leadership to potentially define the

landscape for future contracts.

THOPMSON: I think the futures of bin Laden will change quite significantly not just as a result of the accident, but they've already

been changing throughout this year and with the new leadership in the kingdom.

[11:40:12] DEFTERIOS: In a new era of oil at $50 a barrel or less, construction spending is being reduced, and the pressure to deliver on time

and absent of tragedy will no doubt increase.

John Defterios, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


ANDERSON: Well, following the crane collapse, the Saudi government has moved quickly to announce compensation for the victims. The king says

the families of those who died will get about 260,000 dollars each, that's almost 28 million dollars in total. And those who were injured will get

half of that amount, or about 30 million dollars in all.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Coming up, a romance that blossomed amid the chaos of war. A new

documentary gives us an intimate look at one couple who fled Syria, but never fully managed to escape the horror.

Also, they are fast and they are furious, but this is no movie set. The real life street racers and their super cars disturbing the residential

streets of L.A.


ANDERSON: Syria's civil war is now mercilessly grinding towards the five year mark. In this amateur video, dust and panic fill the air after

what's said to be an attack by Syrian forces in the city of Aleppo.

The country's conflict is now a toxic and tangled mess with fighting between the army, opposition rebels, al Qaeda-linked Jihadis and ISIS

militants, all this against a backdrop of weapons, money and airstrikes for many international sources.

It's a war that we've been following closely on this show, and one we will continue to cover in the days ahead. We make no apologies for that.

You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson, because it has caused a human catastrophe. Scenes like those

you've just seen, of course, more than a half of all Syrians to leave their homes. Just consider, wherever you are watching in the world what that


But as millions flee the fighting, its easy to forget that amidst the countless faces like these, each person has their own unique story.

Now a new documentary filmed over six years shows how one family deeply entangled in this conflict made their way to freedom.


BOY: Mr. President, Bashar Assad, his voice take my mother.

ANDERSON: Amma (ph) met Ragda (ph) in a Syrian prison cell 21 years ago. Amma (ph) was a Palestinian activist, Ragda (ph) a Syrian

revolutionary and member of a banned Communist Party.

Through a hole in the wall, they spoke and fell in love. When they were released, Amma (ph) after two years and Ragda (ph) after three years,

they got married and had two children. Then Ragda (ph) was thrown back in prison for writing a book critical of the Assad regime.



GIRL (through translator): What's wrong with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I miss you.

GIRL (through translator): But what is wrong with you?

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I love you so much.

GIRL (through translator): What is wrong with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm fine, but I'm sad because I don't see you.

GIRL (through translator): I want you to come home.

ANDERSON: On Ragda's (ph) release in 2011 after 16 months in prison, the family was reunited and the revolution was in full swing.

Filmmaker Shawn McAlister (ph) had started filming their story two years previously. In October 2011, he was arrested by the Syrian regime.

His footage of Amma (ph) and Ragda (ph) put him and the family in terrible danger.

SEAN MCALLISTER, FILMMAKER: I mean, that's a very tactical thing throughout the night they'd always, always have somebody being beaten so

that all you can ever hear is the howls and howls. And that actually is a lot more haunting than actually seeing somebody die, just hearing them cry

in these beating, beating, beating way. It's the sort of thing that plays on you.

Amazing, really, to think that some of these people would go in and back in to this process that would keep risking and knowing what they would

face by being picked up again, but they were still going through it.

I mean, real amazingly strong people.

[11:46:52] ANDERSON: Sean was released after a week and the family fled to safety in Lebanon.

But Ragda's (ph) passion for the revolution drove her back to Syria, leaving her family behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened in my heart? It's broken every day.

ANERSON: Four months later, Ragda (ph) returned and the family was granted asylum in France.

But under the strain of a move and the distance from the revolution, Amma (ph) and Ragda's (ph) relationship started to break down with

devastating consequences for the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She tried to kill herself.

MCALLISTER: What did you do?

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: What? I cleaned it off of her.

MCALLISER: Lots of blood. Was it dangerous?


MCALLISTER: Was it dangerous?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very dangerous.

MCALLISTER: A blood like...shhhh.

ANDERSON: As hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees flee to Europe, the story of this Syrian family in exile shows that challenges are far from

over once they reach European shores.

MCALLISTER: These poor guys that have been through these horrendous things that we don't really know and appreciate are catapulted into another

part of the world. They're expected to just get on with it. And I think we need to understand that distance between where refugees are at

emotionally and where they are when they come to our shores.

ANDERSON: For Ragda (ph) and Amma (ph) the freedom they so desperately hoped for came at a high price. But despite everything, there

is still hope for the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot change. Many wives take me to strange places. But inside me still I have this hope for humanity, for freedom,

for my country. I have many questions about myself inside. I need answers. But now I start.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN has been bringing you in depth reporting on the war in Syria every since it started for a look back at how the country got

to where it is now. You can find this photographic slide show on the website, a warning it does contain graphic images. It shows how popular

protests in the country transformed into what is now this sickening horrific civil war.

For all that and more, do head online to

Well, a bit of good news from that (inaudible) refugee crisis in Europe. You may remember the man who was tripped by a Hungarian

camerawoman last week. Well, Osama Abdul Mohsen has landed on his feet. It turns out he was a soccer coach in Syria before he fled the war, so a

football school in Spain has given him a job. Here's what he had to say after he arrived in Madrid.


OSAMA ABDUL MOHSEN, SYRIAN REFUGEE: I love you. I love Madrid. I love Espana, all Espana. Thank you for all. This very, very important for

my life. I am here with you. Thank you very much.


ANDERSON: Hm, I wonder if he's a Real fan.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with a good news story there.

Coming up, he thought he had discussed gay rights with the Russian president, instead Elton John was the latest victim of a celebrity prank.

Find out how up next.


[11:52:06] ANDERSON: Well, it appears that pop star Elton John did not talk about gay rights with Russia's president afterall. Instead, the

reported phone call from Vladimir Putin was actually made by pranksters.

John clearly thought the call was real, even posting a message of thanks to Putin on Instagram. From Moscow, CNN's Matthew Chance reports.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's one of Russia's most popular late night chat shoes with a slick host and what's meant to be

a satirical take on the news. But this week, the British rock star Elton John appears to have been a target ridiculed for his stance on gay rights,

speaking volumes about Russian attitudes.

JOHN: Hello?


JOHN: Hi, Dmitry (ph), how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm fine. I'm -- I'll be interpreter between you and Mr. Putin so...

JOHN: OK. OK. Thank you. And you'll tell me what he's saying, right?


JOHN: We're back in the USSR.

MATTHEWS: It would have been an extraordinary exchange, arguably the world's leading gay rights campaigner and the Russian president behind the

notorious anti-gay propaganda laws, which effectively ban public displays of homosexuality.

But of course it wasn't Vladimir Putin on the end of the line, just two Russian pranksters who say they wanted to simulate a conversation and

perhaps get a laugh.

JOHN: Well, I think the violence towards LGBT people, they don't feel safe. But this is something I don't really want to talk about over the

phone, to be honest with you, Dmitry (ph). This is something I can have a dialogue with the president face-to-face. And I would welcome that,

because you know, things get done better when you see somebody and you meet them. And I -- if both our offices can find a convenient day where we can

convene and have a really wonderful discussion, then I -- that would be a miracle and it will be fantastic.

MATTHEWS: Within a few hours on his Instagram account, Elton John had posted a thank you message to Putin. The Rocket Man was clearly taken in

by the possibility of change in Russia.

For its part, the Kremlin has distanced itself from the stunt, saying there should be an apology to the well respected and loved singer in


But on the show, it was laughs all around. The in-house band pumped out Elton's greatest hits. The host quizzed the pranksters about whether

they, themselves, were gay.

A global issue, he mocked, which is now so widely discussed.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


ANDERSON: Tonight's Parting Shots, then, we're talking fast cars. They are a common sight here in the Gulf. But when -- what happens when

those cars are causing danger on foreign soil with the police unable to step in.

Well, CNN's Amir DEFTARI has more on the latest noisy neighbors in Beverly Hills.


[11:55:29] AMIR DEFTARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Like something out of the Fast and the Furious, million dollar supercars racing

and revving a dangerous (inaudible).

But these aren't scenes from a Hollywood movie, this amateur video was captured by witnesses on a quiet suburban street in Beverly Hills. A

yellow Ferrari and a white Porsche seen blazing through an intersection narrowly missing other vehicles and bystanders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I only live down there. I was scared to go home. Like, any second an 80 mile per hour zooming car can come and hit all of


DEFTARI: Police were called to the scene after one car reportedly blew its engine. But no arrests were made. Why? The men are from Qatar

and police say they may have diplomatic immunity, meaning because of agreements between the two countries, they are free from prosecution.

One local journalist tried to investigate further.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told them that in America we have the free press and we are allowed to film from the sidewalk. And he said, "F America."

And threw his cigarette at me.

DEFTARI: Earlier this month, incidents involving cars from the UAE in two different European cities were also caught on camera. Police in the

Emirates detained both drivers upon their return.

CNN has reached out to Qatari authorities regarding this latest incident. No official comment as yet.

But Beverly Hills police are still investigating and they're reportedly in contact with the U.S. State Department over the matter.



ANDERSON: Well, a noisy nuisance or something to aspire to? As always, the team at Connect the World wants to know what you think about.

That, you can write to us and follow the stories that we're working on throughout the day. You can see many of those on our Facebook page as well

that you've seen this hour. You can tweet me @BeckyCNN. That's @BeckyCNN. It's our close of our week so a very good

weekend to you. I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World. Thank you for watching. CNN of course continues after this short break.