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Investigating Civilian Deaths in Mosul; South Korean Prosecutors Seek Former President's Arrest; Putin Critic Arrested at Protest; White House Regrouping after Obamacare Repeal Failure; New Hong Kong Leader Seen as Beijing's Choice; WhatsApp Encryption Criticize After London Attack; 14 Mexican Inmates on the Run After Tunnel Escape. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired March 27, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:10] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Conflicting accounts in Iraq about what caused the explosion that killed dozens of civilians in Mosul.
Breaking news in South Korea: prosecutors there seeking an arrest warrant for former president Park Geun-Hye.
And the protests in Moscow Sunday that put one of Vladimir Putin's biggest critics behind bars.
It's all ahead here this hour. Thanks for joining us.
I'm Natalie Allen. And this is CNN NEWSROOM.
Our top story: the U.S. and Iraq are investigating claims that many civilians have been killed in recent coalition air strikes in Mosul. The U.S. confirms it did strike an ISIS truck packed with explosives, March 17th in the western part of the city. But there are questions about the collateral damage.
An Iraqi commander says the blast killed dozens of civilians in nearby homes. But Iraq's government says ISIS may have booby-trapped those buildings.
We get more now from CNN's Arwa Damon.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The investigations are still ongoing, but what we have been able to at least preliminarily piece together is that on March 17th, according to one of the local counterterrorism commanders, as the forces were advancing there was a truck that they believe was laden with explosives, driven by a suicide bomber that was advancing on forces and an air strike was called and specifically against that. The force of the explosion then caused a number of homes to collapse.
We spoke to an eyewitness who lived a few houses down, who described a pretty terrifying scene and said that as he and his family were fleeing they could hear people screaming, screaming things like "We're alive. Please save us."
And he said that in at least one of the homes there were around six families that were sheltering there because they believed that it was a fairly sturdy structure. Just the homeowner, himself, his family was made up of 17 individuals.
And it took the civil defense team quite some time, days in fact, to actually be able to reach the site because of the intensity of the fighting. And according to the head of the civil defense team at least 80 bodies were pulled out of the rubble.
One of the Iraqi generals who is the spokesman for the Iraqi military -- joint military command, he said that they believe that in one house alone there were 130 people.
Now the Iraqis are saying that because of how densely populated this part of Mosul is and because of these various reports of civilian casualties, they are going to be modifying their tactics using less air strikes, advancing more on foot -- these are very narrow streets -- using more drones, using more precision artillery.
But this is the ugly reality of the battle that they're facing. ISIS is holding the civilian population hostage. People when they do try to flee based on what we have been told, if ISIS catches them, they turn them back at gun point. They don't allow families to leave houses that ISIS then uses as fighting positions.
And this was one of the big concerns even well before this battle for Mosul even began -- the fate of the civilian population.
Arwa Damon, CNN -- Irbil.
ALLEN: The top U.S. commander in the Middle East says coalition and Iraqi forces are doing what they can to keep innocent people safe. He says in a statement here, "The death of innocent civilians in Mosul is a terrible tragedy. We are investigating the incident to determine exactly what happened and will continue to take extraordinary measures to avoid harming civilians."
U.S. and Iraqi troops have been trying to recapture Mosul from ISIS since October in this latest offensive. Now the U.S. is sending hundreds more soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division to help in the fight. The U.S. military says it is a temporary mission to advise and assist Iraqi forces.
Let's talk more about what is going on here.
CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona joins us now. Rick -- thank you.
So bottom line, we don't know yet what caused these casualties of citizens. And if there was some sort of plot or ploy, by ISIS to use them as human shields.
LT. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Right. But the bottom line is a lot of civilians are dying in the fighting in Mosul. And unfortunately, there is little to be done.
As long as ISIS continues to hold these people hostage in the city -- as Arwa said, this is a very densely populated part of the city, the old town. The very narrow streets, a lot of people there and as long as those families are kept there against their will, and there's fighting, unfortunately there is going to be these kinds of incidents.
[00:05:05] One of the things when the Iraqis make these advances and they see these fighting positions oftentimes they will call in air strikes. If you have troops in contact and you call for an air strike, most likely you are going to get it.
So it is up to the commander on the ground to gauge how much danger he is putting the civilian population in. And a lot of times they err on the safety of their own troops because this is no-win situation for these commanders.
They're being faced with these booby-trapped cars. They come rushing at them. They have to act very quickly.
ALLEN: Right. So it's the Iraqi leaders on the ground who call in the air strikes but now as we just said, the U.S. military says it's sending in troops to help assist in Mosul. And it will be advise and assist. Could that be to help Iraq again figure out what to do in different situations?
FRANCONA: Yes, this would be a good step. Especially if they bring in trained air controllers who can work very closely with the coalition air power. Advising on what the situation on the ground is, lays the targets better, maybe call for different kinds of weapons loads.
But in any case as long as you are putting heavy weaponry into heavy populated area there are going to be civilian casualties. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done. The only thing to do is stop advancing. And if you stop advancing, you are playing right into ISIS' hands because they will immediately begin to regroup, reinforce, and redeploy.
ALLEN: I remember way back when this started -- the offensive in Mosul, Rick -- and I've talked to you many times throughout it. They drop leaflets to try to help people know what to do and such. But I guess -- all of that is over now as they're in the area that, you say is very closely contained. And there's really not much direction they can give the citizens that are stuck in the middle.
FRANCONA: Yes, that -- that's exactly right. You know, when they were fighting on the eastern bank, much wider area, a bigger area. People had the chance to flee. The city hadn't been compressed as it is now.
Now over 60 percent of the city is in Iraqi government hands and they're compressing ISIS into a smaller pocket every day. And as they do that, of course, ISIS is fighting harder and becoming more vicious. They're becoming more desperate.
They know, this is going to be over and they're not going to win this. So they're going to exact the highest price they can. Unfortunately that highest price is the death of all these civilians.
ALLEN: Exactly. They're ruthless -- we all know that.
All right. Thanks so much, Rick Francona for us. We appreciate it.
FRANCONA: Thank you.
ALLEN: Other news now: South Korean prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for ousted president, Park Geun-Hye. She was impeached earlier this month as you know for her part in a corruption scandal. Prosecutors have accused her of abuse of power and their investigation of that alleged corruption.
CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now with more on this from Seoul. Paula -- was this expected?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie -- there was a general assumption that this could happen. What this means is that prosecutors believe they have enough evidence against Park Geun-Hye and they have concerns, they said in a statement today that she may try and destroy some evidence.
So this is why they have gone to the court and they have asked for an arrest warrant, why they are seeking this arrest warrant.
Now a judge will hear the reasons for this arrest warrant. He will then, he or she will decide whether or not it should go ahead. And that could be later on this week. That could be in the next two or three days, a judge will decide whether or not the former president should be arrested.
But what we have heard from the prosecutors is that they do have concerns at the possibility of destroying evidence. They also say because her confidant Choi Soon-sil who's at the center of this massive corruption scandal has been arrested because others who have been part of this corruption scandal, and have had allegations made against them, have also been arrested. They believe it is fair, that the former president is as well.
Now certainly this will please many people in this country who believe that she should have been impeached and believe that she should face justice. But of course there is that core as well that does support the president, the former president. And Park Geun-Hye up until this point has denied all wrongdoing -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Right. So are there some legal scholars there in the country that think this is overreaching on the part of the prosecutors, that this action isn't warranted? HANCOCKS: Well, there have been two former presidents before Park
Geun-Hye who have also been arrested on corruption charges and allegations. For example, the Samsung chief, remember, Jae Y. Lee just earlier this month, there was an arrest warrant issued for him.
The previous times prosecutors have attempted it though, the judge denied that arrest warrant. So it's very difficult to tell whether or not the judge will agree with this.
[00:10:02] But it does show that prosecutors are moving this investigation forward after speaking to her for 14 hours last week. There was a 14-hour interrogation with Park Geun-Hye. They believe that they have enough evidence to push this forward -- Natalie.
ALLEN: And finally, have we heard from her on this, or any of her representatives?
HANCOCKS: We heard from Park Geun-Hye as she arrived for the investigation and the interrogation last week. She gave a very, very short statement, effectively saying "I am sorry" to the people, "I will cooperate fully". And we understand she was answering questions according to her lawyer.
But up until this point, Park Geun Hye and also the lawyer have said that there is -- there is no wrongdoing on the part of the former president. She has apologized a number of times. But apologized for confusion for the people, of chaos for the people; but not having apologized for doing anything wrong.
ALLEN: Paula Hancocks, following developments for us from Seoul. Thank you -- Paula.
A developing story now in Japan: an avalanche has trapped 12 high school students who were taking ski lessons. It happened about 200 kilometers north of Tokyo.
Emergency crews have not reached the area yet but one of the teachers told officials, six of the students showed no signs of life. Three are injured. Three are still missing.
We'll continue to follow that for you.
Police clashed with protesters in Moscow Sunday as planned anti- corruption rallies took place across Russia. Hundreds of people were reportedly detained among them, opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.
Our Fred Pleitgen was at the Moscow protest. Here is his report.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There were many tense moments, and according to state media hundreds of arrests made in Moscow alone; our crew also getting caught up in the pushing and shoving.
There is a massive police presence on hand here at these protests and time and again we're seeing scenes like this with the police pushing the protesters back and even making arrests.
This way -- ok, ok, ok. Ok, ok, ok.
Russia's official news agency put the turnout at around 8,000 people at the march in Moscow declared illegal by Russian authorities. Taking to the streets to criticize what they call wide-spread corruption among the country's elite, the organizers say similar gatherings happened in about a hundred towns and cities across this vast country.
The man calling for the action, opposition activist and Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, was himself detained. But those who follow his call weren't shy to voice their grievances.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm against Putin, against his corruption.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't support our government. They -- they steal our money, using their power.
PLEITGEN: These protests don't pose a serious threat to Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, who boasts approval ratings around 80 percent. But they showed the opposition is willing to take to the streets whether the authorities allow them to or not.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Moscow.
ALLEN: A stinging defeat on Capitol Hill leaves a U.S. Republican leader's role in question. What the White House is saying about Paul Ryan, ahead here.
Plus, Hong Kong has a new leader. Ahead, why pro-democracy activists say her election was a mere formality.
[00:13:38] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: And welcome back.
Last week's defeat of health care legislation in Washington is raising questions about who will shoulder the bulk of the blame and what happens to the Trump agenda now. A Fox News host is calling on the Speaker of the House to step down.
But as Athena Jones reports, the White House says it supports Paul Ryan.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there.
As the White House recovers from this devastating loss last week, the failure to repeal Obamacare after years and years of promising to do so, they're spreading the blame around a bit.
We've heard the President blame Democrats in the House. Also this morning on Twitter, he blasted the House Freedom Caucus. That is the conservative bloc of about 30 members of the house who blocked this bill because they felt that it didn't go far enough to undo -- in undoing Obama care.
One person the White House is not blaming is House Speaker Paul Ryan. Chief of staff Reince Priebus was asked this morning on "Fox News Sunday" whether the President thought Speaker Ryan should step down. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Does he want Paul Ryan to step down or not?
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, he doesn't. He has talked to Paul Ryan yesterday for about an hour. He believes what he said in the Oval Office on Friday. He doesn't blame Paul Ryan.
In fact, he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard. He enjoys his relationship with Paul Ryan. Thinks that Paul Ryan is a great Speaker of the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: So there you heard the chief of staff saying the President feels that Speaker Ryan is a great Speaker of the House. But the question remains how this White House is going to work with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, not just with the Republican leadership like Speaker Ryan and others. But also with the House conservatives the President has been blasting and with moderate Republicans and potentially Democrats.
We heard Reince Priebus say over and over again during that interview that they were open to talking to Democrats. The issue here is that the President whether on Twitter or simply in comments to the press has been blasting both Democrats and that House Freedom Caucus, those conservatives. And is that's conducive to later working with those groups?
We heard House Speaker Ryan say just last week that doing big things is hard and doing big things is going to require the White House figuring out how to maneuver things on Capitol Hill so that the President can get done some of the big things he wants to get done.
Back to you.
ALLEN: For more on this let's bring in CNN political commentator, John Phillips, a Trump supporter; and Democratic strategist, Dave Jacobson.
[00:20:05] Thank you, gentlemen for joining us.
DAVE JACOBSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATETGIST: Thank you.
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.
ALLEN: Let's talk about health care and the failure to replace Obamacare we saw this week.
First, President Trump praised Ryan for his efforts now tweeted "To watch a Fox anchor who says it is all Ryan's fault." She is a friend of Trump's. Let's listen to what she said on her program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Paul Ryan needs to step down as Speaker of the House. The reason: he failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill, the one trumpeted to repeal and replace Obamacare. The one that he had seven years to work on, the one he hid under lock and key in the basement of Congress, the one that had to be pulled to prevent the embarrassment of not having enough votes to pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: All right. She did not mince words there. John -- do you think this is all on the shoulders of Paul Ryan here?
PHILLIPS: Well, I think we can call that a Maddow moment because earlier in the day they were promising new information on the President allegedly wiretapping Trump. And that's what I think motivated Trump to, to put that tweet out there and tell everyone to tune in to Judge Jeanine. I don't think he meant to put the message out there that Paul Ryan should be replaced as Speaker of the House.
And look with health care, success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan. And we don't need Maury Povich to figure out where the paternity is on this thing.
Paul Ryan is the guy that carried the water for this bill for Trump in the House of Representatives. It didn't work out. They're moving on to the next one. And I think that -- that -- that conservatives, specifically conservatives in the House and conservatives in the media made a mistake here.
They were right to hold out until the very last minute to try to fix this bill and make it better. But at the end of the day you've got to be with him because the failure of this bill is not going to produce a speaker that's more conservative than Paul Ryan.
If anything, it is going to push-drop Trump to try to make coalitions with the Democrats. And that's something that these conservative members don't want to see.
We saw it here in California with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was a disaster. And we could theoretically now see that at the federal level.
ALLEN: Right. So the fractured Republican Party does not want Trump going over to the Democrats. But what are his options -- Dave, right now? He's a got a little -- (CROSSTALK)
JACOBSON: Well, let's going back to Paul Ryan dynamic with the judge's comments, right. There is no secret that there has historically been tremendous animosity with Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan. It got so bad during the campaign that at one point Paul Ryan said that what Donald Trump had said was quote, "textbook racism", or the textbook definition of racism.
And more over, I mean this is a guy -- Donald Trump is a guy who will never blame himself, who never apologizes for anything. Whether it was lying about his inaugural crowd size or the fact that there were three million to five million that are so-called (inaudible) -- three to five million so-called voter fraud votes that were cast in the last election.
So, this is a guy who thrives off of dysfunction and chaos. And he's clearly perhaps trying to fan the flames of this existing rift within the GOP conference.
ALLEN: So, how does he move forward then if he likes to seize on the rift?
JACOBSON: Well, look, that's the question, right? I mean you've got this sort of looming budget resolution, continuing resolution coming up next month. And I think that is a real question. I mean the Republicans have the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate; and they couldn't put forward a comprehensive, quote, "repeal- and-replace bill" that they have been campaigning on for seven years. It's what partially led to them getting back in power.
And I think it really raises questions about whether or not a Donald Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress can govern. I think it is going to really -- you know, pose a major question whether or not he can find a way to build consensus within the House, a fractured Republican conference; or, if he makes a pivot and starts to work and collaborate, in a meaningful way with Democrats.
ALLEN: And John -- there's been a lot of talk about this bill wasn't up to snuff, to put it non-scientifically; and that Trump really didn't have the details when pressed about it from, certain factions in the Republican Party.
PHILLIPS: Well, Paul Ryan was certainly the lead on pushing this legislation. And I think we learned two big things from the failure of trying to enact this bill.
One, we learned that Trump is a lot more moderate of a Republican than most people probably assumed. We know he is a hawk on immigration. We know he's a hawk on crime and punishment. But outside of that, he's a fairly blue state moderate Republican and that's what you saw reflected in this bill.
[00:25:10] The other thing that we saw is that he is not afraid to roll up his sleeves to go and try to whip up votes. He met with the conservatives in the House on multiple occasions, was dialing for votes, was doing what he thought he had to do to get a majority. It didn't work out.
But he is going to learn a lot of lessons. He's going to have to help them out when he tries for tax reform, for infrastructure, for immigration, other subjects.
ALLEN: Dave -- let me ask you, after this, this week. And a lot has been written about the falsehoods and the exaggerations coming from this president and his low approval ratings to boot. One to ten, where do you give his leadership so far?
JACOBSON: I give it a one. I mean he is a failed president at this point. It's unprecedented that he's got such low approval ratings. In fact, just last week, a poll came out that Donald Trump had a 37 percent approval rating. More over, Quinnipiac put out a poll showing that only 17 percent of Americans supported the GOP-led health care bill.
And let me go back to the actual substance of the bill. This wasn't a moderate bill. I am going to agree to disagree with my good friend -- John Phillips.
Look, this was a bill according to the CBO that would take away health care essentially for 24 million Americans over the course of the next ten years. It gave massive tax cuts to billionaires and to big insurance corporations; and then it gutted services for poor working people and seniors.
ALLEN: We're going to give the last word to you -- John. One to ten, your friend here gave him a one.
PHILLIPS: Well I think the only thing bigger than the number that I would give him are his hands.
ALLEN: Some would dispute that as well -- John.
PHILLIPS: He told us that he was going to pick the judge from, illegal aliens are not pouring into the country like they used to. They're going to Canada now. TPP was killed. I'm a very happy camper here in California.
ALLEN: All right. Gentlemen -- we thank you both. John Phillips for us, and Dave Jacobson -- thank you.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
JACOBSON: Appreciate it.
ALLEN: Hong Kong's new leader is not expected to have much of a honeymoon period. Next here -- why she was elected over another candidate who was more popular.
Also, more than a dozen Mexican inmates are still on the run after breaking out of prison through that tunnel.
[00:31:05] ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen with our top stories.
An Iraqi commander says the U.S.-led coalition struck an ISIS truck bomb in Mosul earlier this month and the explosion killed dozens of civilians in nearby houses. The U.S. and Iraq are investigating this along with other reports of civilians killed in the city in recent days. Iraq says ISIS is using many people as human shields and booby trapping homes.
U.S.-backed rebels in Syria have retaken key military air base from ISIS close to the country's largest dam on the Euphrates River. ISIS captured the airbase in 2014. The U.N. has warned the dam could collapse from high water levels, air strikes or even sabotage by ISIS.
Clashes with police broke out in Moscow, Sunday, as planned anti- corruption protests took place across the country. State media report up to 8,000 people attended the Moscow event alone. Human rights group said 700 people were detain and opposition leader Alexei Navalny tweeted he was among them.
British police made a new arrest in connection with the Westminster attack. Officials say a 30-year-old man was taken into custody in Birmingham suspected of preparing a terrorist act. Investigators believe the attacker, Khalid Masood acted alone. Police shot him dead after he killed four people, Wednesday.
Pro-democracy activist say the Chinese government has effectively chosen Hong Kong's new leader as predicted. An election committee selected Carrie Lam as the city's new chief executive.
Our Ivan Watson joins us now with more from Hong Kong. Seems like same old tactics to elect a leader. But something new, the first female?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is historic. The first woman to be elected to the top job here in Hong Kong. Carrie Lam, she met with the outgoing chief executive earlier today. And they promised a seamless transition. However she was the number two person in the previous administration. So, not a lot of change there.
Now she won on Sunday in the election with 777 votes. That will put her in charge of a city of more than 7 million people. That's not much of an electoral mandate and it's due to the fact that in Hong Kong, it's not a system of one person, one vote.
There is an electoral committee of just under 1200 people who elect the leader. And Beijing, the single party rule, in mainland China, communist party is believed to have a great amount of control over how people in that electoral committee vote.
In her victory speech, Carrie Lam alluded to some big problems that will face her future administration.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE-ELECT: Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness and has accumulated a lot of frustrations. My priority will be to heal the divide and to ease the frustrations and to unite our society to move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: So she's got some big challenges here because what she's talking about are for example, the Umbrella Occupy Protest Movement of 2014 which took place right where I'm standing here, where tens of thousands of people came out. Many of them frustrated with what they perceive as Beijing's tightening grip over this former British colony. Just how she can bridge the divide will be a challenge given that Carrie Lam seems to be very much as Beijing's choice to govern this city.
ALLEN: Right. There's still a lot of people disillusioned that they don't have more autonomy. So that's a good question, Ivan. How will she do it? We'll wait and see. Ivan Watson for us live there in Hong Kong. Thank you.
Well, a strengthening tropical cyclone is approaching the east coast of Australia.
Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with the latest on the storm's path and the threat.
Pedram, we've been hearing all weekend that this is a serious threat. How is it looking?
There is now word that two workers from an escalator company have been arrested after a terrifying incident at a Hong Kong shopping mall. Look at this.
An upward bound escalator full of people suddenly went backwards. It went into reverse and increased speed, Saturday afternoon, sending some shoppers tumbling. Look at that.
CCTV reports that at least 18 people were injured. The men are said to be held on suspicion of handling mechanical parts that could be part of an inquiry into what happened.
Mexican authorities are searching for more than one dozen inmates after a prison break. And we will show you the elaborate tunnel they used to escape. Coming next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [00:40:23] ALLEN: The UK home secretary called the encryption on WhatsApp unacceptable. After police learned the London attacker Khalid Masood used the app just minutes before his rampage.
Amber Rudd told the "BBC," that WhatsApp, another company, should not be giving terrorist a secret place to communicate. She says she'll be calling tech companies to ask them to work with the government on the issue.
Uber is taking its self-driving cars off the road while it investigates a crash. Police in the U.S. state of Arizona said a vehicle failed to yield and hit a driverless Uber SUV knocking it on to its side. Uber says two people were in its vehicle but were not seriously hurt. Police say the self-driving car was obeying the law, but Uber is suspending its testing for now.
The Sewol Ferry is now being taken to port for inspection after spending nearly three years under water off the South Korean coast. Engineers fully raised this vessel, Saturday, at midnight and loaded it on to this giant barge.
The ferry, you remember, capsized and sank, April 16, 2014. 304 people died. Most of the victims were high school students on a trip. The bodies of nine victims are still believed to be trapped inside. Investigators will search the vessel for remains.
14 Mexican inmates are on the run after a prison break. Authorities say they snuck out through a massive tunnel under a prison wall.
CNN's Leyla Santiago has the details.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): That tunnel has since been sealed with concrete. But the question remains how did something like this happen in the prison in Tamaulipas. So let's go back to the series of events.
On Wednesday night, 29 inmates escaped through that tunnel, said to be 15 feet deep, about 130 feet long. And then on Friday, when authorities went in to search the cells and make sure that they could re-establish order, a prison riot broke out and the inmates set debris on fire. Three inmates were stabbed to death. One was also injured. And upon escape, we also know that one of the inmates is believed to be responsible for a carjacking in which one man was shot.
Then Saturday, that, that tunnel was sealed. And, Sunday, family members were allowed to go in to visit prisoners that were still there, the investigation led authorities to a few other inmates that have escaped. But the big question now, again, how did this happen.
Investigators have remained pretty tight-lipped. When we called the prison, they would not answer our questions. But if you look back, earlier this month. A son of a well-known cartel leader also escaped a prison in Mexico, 2015. El Chappo, a cartel leader, also escaped through a tunnel. So this is something that's not new and speaks to the power of Mexican cartels inside and outside of Mexican prisons.
Leyla Santiago, CNN, Mexico City.
ALLEN: And that is this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. "World Sport" is up next. I'll be back in about 15 minutes for more news from around the world. You're watching CNN.