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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Desperate Search for Survivors of Mexico Quake; Tracking Maria's Path of Destruction; IMF Can Help Quickly with Natural Disasters; Iran's President Says U.S. Risks Destroying Its Own Credibility; Airbnb Responds to Natural Disasters. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 20, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: And a very good day to you. I'm Richard Quest. We've got a very busy hour to bring to you. As we look at
the various natural disasters at the moment. And bring you up to date. You see immediately on the screen, both at the screen, what's happening in
Mexico as result of the powerful earthquake. And in the lower part of the screen, hurricane Maria, which is barreling its way through the Caribbean,
causing death and destruction.
Both of those stories we will be coming to throughout the course of -- pretty much the whole program. We'll be taking up tonight with that.
Let's start, though, with the earthquake. Mexico's President says finding survivor of Tuesday's deadly earthquake is the priority. As he's declared
a new national emergency across the country.
Rescue operations are going around the clock, as you would expect. That's taking place in the capital. It saw almost half of all the confirmed
deaths from the earthquake so far. Now, we may only know that number simply because, obviously, it's a metropolis, it's getting to people. So,
we're still waiting for more details from rural areas of how bad things were. We'll talk about that in a second.
Rescuers stopped for moment of silence. Some with fists aloft, and then they went back to work. Some of the most dramatic rescues have been at
schools across the country. The quake hip during the school day. Dozens of school buildings collapsed. The Mexican President says many of the dead
are schoolchildren. Some of those who survived enjoyed a long night who were trapped waiting to be rescued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (text translation) There are Children Here. Hey. There are children here. Help. There are children here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take her. come here, honey. Over here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ambulance is over there. Ma'am, the ambulance is over there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calm down, calm down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The scale and the tragedy is quite -- almost unbearable. At one school, search teams say they are close to freeing a little girl that they
found alive in the rubble. They used thermal scanners to find her. Her teachers helped the search teams managed to get her some water through a
hose. The girl's family is on-site waiting for her to be freed. We'll have more on that story later on.
While we attempt to communicate and get in contact with our correspondents there who are having their own difficulties getting in touch with us.
Let's turn to Maria. The hurricane that's ravaging islands desolated by hurricane Irma.
Now, the storm is currently west of Puerto Rico where it made direct landfall as a category 4. At least eight people have been killed across
the Caribbean. Thousands more, people are, hunkered down in emergency shelters. Puerto Rico is asking President Trump to declare the U.S.
territory a disaster zone. The entire island is without electricity.
And still the misery continues, as Maria weaves a path similar to hurricane Irma so far. It is the U.S. and British Virgin Islands -- I'll show you on
the map, of course. And you'll get a good example of where exactly we are. Well, we've just been through Puerto Rico here. And it's the U.S. Virgin
Islands over here, and the Dominican Republic and indeed Haiti that once again that's going to bear the brunt.
To give you an idea, let's just remind ourselves where it's been. First of all, Dominica, where on the island of Dominica, look at the scale of
devastation. Seven people have been killed. The Prime Minister describes this as widespread devastation, and indeed the Prime Minister's own
official residence was destroyed.
Then it comes up to Guadalupe, the French territory of Guadalupe, where one man is missing -- one man killed, I beg your pardon, two people have been
declared missing. And 80,000 people -- 80,000 are without power. And you see the level of water, for example on that car.
And up through Puerto Rico, which had the rain. I mean, these palm trees barely able to withstand the ferocity of the wind. 10,000 people are in
shelters. And as I say, 100 percent of the island without power. And it could take months to restore, at least for the whole of Puerto Rico. There
is also been reported flash flooding in San Juan.
[16:05:00] So, we have reporters spread out across the Caribbean. In many of these are reporters or colleagues, like Michael Holmes, for example,
were in position as a result of Irma. We brought more people in to bring her the magnitude. Nick Payton Walsh, for example, has been brought in.
But we've got at the moment -- let's go to the Dominican Republic and Polo Sandoval from the DR. When I spoke to you a few hours ago, you were
getting the first out of bounds of the hurricane. What's been the latest position?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): What's remarkable here, Richard, is as look out over the -- what would be the eastern coast of the
Dominican Republic, some of those waves, you can see them crashing. Officials are making sure that people are staying off the beaches. Because
now what we are seeing, as you mentioned, more of these outer bands sweeping across the Dominican Republic. I'm not seeing any Moore flights
taking off. I'm hearing now that the airport is shut down until at least tomorrow.
So, what's interesting here too, Richard, is that this is obviously a very popular tourist destination for people around world. I'm hearing that
there are thousands of tourists that are basically stranded here. Now there were many that were trying to make it back to the United States,
parts of Europe. There were flights that were coming in from Europe that had to be diverted, as well. So many of those tourists instead heading to
Santo Domingo, because this part of the country is expected to perhaps see the worst of Maria.
QUEST: How far off is Maria from you? It hit Puerto Rico overnight and in the early hours. So how long before you're starting to feel what you
expect is the worst of it?
SANDOVAL: That certainly will perhaps be a couple hours, Richard. The eye itself is predicted to essentially skirt past the island, which means we
may not see a direct hit. So, what we're hearing from Dominican officials here, Richard, is that people need to worry more about those outer bands.
What we're about to begin to feel right now. That wind. This particular island here has experienced plenty of flooding before. Irma, for example,
left the ground saturated already. So, the concern is more about flooding. Not necessarily those wicked winds that we're likely to see.
And finally, Richard, when you're hearing the word horrific being used to describe the damage left behind by Maria and other islands, they're
certainly now going to take that storm lightly here. Much of the hotel staff here that we're using this facility. That we're using to remain
safe, much of the staff has already called it quits, gone home, not expected to come back until perhaps Friday.
QUEST: So how prepared is the Dominican Republic? I'm thinking back to Irma. And knowing how things went with Irma. Would you say that -- I
mean, as bests as they can, they're prepared. But it is a good preparation? A shoddy preparation? How would you describe it?
SANDOVAL: I would certainly say good preparation. The -- many of the people, for example, in the hotel we're staying in, all of the ocean-front
rooms, have been -- those guests pushed into interior rooms, for example. When you push it out or at least bring it in a little wider, in terms of
the rest of the country. We have seen them stockpile food. They have opened up shelters, dozens of shelters across the country. And they have
also transferred many people, for example, many tourists, back to Santo Domingo, which is expected to perhaps not see the full effect of this
So, yes, I have seen preparations, whether it's here in the facility in the hotel that we're staying at, or also wider. Some of the municipal
buildings, some of the potential debris has been removed. Light fixtures have been taken inside. But ultimately, we'll have to see exactly how
prepared they were. We'll have to ask that question tomorrow when it comes to potential damage.
QUEST: All right. Polo, keep communications up. Come back to us as the situation changes. Thank you, sir. Good to see, you, and stay safe.
Now, the issue of what's happening in Mexico City is the other major story that we are following for you. We'll obviously come back the hurricane in
just a moment. Let's go to Mexico City. Miguel Marquez is in Mexico City. He joins us on the line. -- on the phone. Now, Miguel, what is -- what's
the current situation?
SANDOVAL: Well are have just gone back into a period of silence here at the scene of the school where they believe they have a little girl who is
fighting for her life. Stuck, sandwiched into this collapsed building, a collapsed school, where 21 of her classmates died yesterday. For several
hours now they meticulously going through this building, trying to get to her. There's a picture from the defense ministry of Mexico that is just
heartbreaking. Where you can see one of the rescue workers holding a small hand of a little girl who is reaching out from the rubble.
[16:10:00] They just called the signal now. I can speak in a normal voice, because the rescues have signaled they can continue on. For hours now, we
have at rescuers at the scene, asking the hundreds or thousands of people who are gathered here to quiet down so they can hear what is happening at
the scene. And it becomes pin drop silent across the entire area for blocks around here. It is an amazing scene. The little gird still
clinging to life. They believe she is alive and doing well. But it's a matter of getting to her before that building collapses. Keep in mind, we
have had thousands of aftershocks since the big quake.
QUEST: And if we take the situation, Miguel, and say the rest of Mexico City and those other areas that have been hit by the earthquake, to put it
sort of crudely are we expecting the number of fatalities to rise dramatically?
SANDOVAL: It is interesting because it was rising very quickly last night. There are a lot of people still looking for family members. So, it may go
up some. But it seems that perhaps, maybe, that the bulk of the damage has been done, and the number of dead will not go up as many as feared. It is
disturbing to see the number of people being searched for on social media. Pictures of them, families, begging for any information about their loved
ones. At this particular scene, we have people coming by with bullhorns on occasion, announcing to anybody in the crowd if they -- we have gone back
into a silent moment here. So, I will have to whisper, but I will hand it back to you.
QUEST: Right. Well, since it is silent, and out of respect for the searchers that are continuing, I'll say thank you, Miguel. Because
obviously, let's not make their jobs any more difficult than necessary. Miguel Marquez joining us from there.
We will update you as indeed further details become clear. Not only on the hurricane, but obviously what's happening with the rescue.
As we continue tonight, Christine Lagarde says the International Monetary Fund is ready to help those countries affected by hurricanes and
earthquakes. If they want it, and if they ask for the assistance. My interview with the managing director, coming up next. QUEST MEANS
QUEST: The managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde told me tonight, that the IMF is ready and willing to help those affected by recent
earthquakes and hurricanes. Christine Lagarde says the fund can act swiftly in sending help, but only if help is requested by the governments
and sovereigns involved. Earlier she told me she had been personally moved by the images of devastation.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, IMF: First of all, we together at the fund are really saddened and sorry for what is happening. On a very
personal note, together with staff, we raise our own, you know, funding for the victims of the both hurricane and earthquake. It's limited, but it's
just that the whole staff is concerned when something happens like that.
Now, in terms of financial instruments, we have something called the rapid credit facility, which we can disperse very quickly, which is not
associated with conditionality's and which can help right away. We do that if the country asks for it. For the moment, we have not been, asked by any
of the islands, any of the countries that have been affected., and what's more, on Mexico, we have a flexible credit line, which is available to
them, which they have had more to do with balance of payment issues. But they can draw it if need be.
QUEST: Is your message that you are -- these facilities are available. But is your message really, you're waiting to hear from them. Come on,
make an application.
LAGARDE: All right -- no, no, no. This is the -- this is always the deal with the IMF. We can only help if a country wants to be helped. We're not
a charity. We are not in the business of giving grants. We can give very low-interest facilities in those circumstances. But the country has to ask
QUEST: A what about those territories that are part of other countries. You know, for example, the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico, which is
comes into the auspices of the United States. St. Martin on both sides. These islands would have to go through --
LAGARDE: The sovereign --
QUEST: -- the U.S., the sovereign, the U.K. or France.
LAGARDE: Yes, absolutely.
QUEST: Is there any stigma for those larger countries or powerful G7 countries to basically say, oh, we would like the IMF to come in.
LAGARDE: I don't think it would be a stigma. But I think it would be maybe a bit of an embarrassment.
QUEST: Isn't that the same thing?
LAGARDE: No. Because the embarrassment has to do with who asks. The stigma is associated with who provides.
QUEST: In which case I'll rephrase my question then. Is it -- would you encourage those wealthy nations like the U.S., U.K. and France and the
Netherlands, to make applications on behalf of their territories that may devastated, even if it's embarrassing?
LAGARDE: They don't do I on behalf of. They do it as a sovereign, because the sovereign is a member of the IMF. And I think that they would have the
common to use some of the public funding actually look after their territories.
QUEST: It's a difficult one, isn't it? Because the scale of what we're facing in the Caribbean and -- Mexico may be less so, just at the moment.
We don't know how bad. But the Caribbean -- I mean, the tourism industry is devastated.
QUEST: Agriculture such as it is, wiped out. It will take years, if not decades, to recover.
LAGARDE: It is going to take a lot of time for those countries to recover. Yes. They are in highly sensitive zones. And they are usually the victims
of all possible catastrophic weather developments, yes. And by the way, they are countries that are not under either British, French or U.S.
sovereignty. Which eventually are members of the, institution. That could ask for help, a well.
QUEST: Christine Lagarde and you can hear more of the interview with Christine Lagarde where we talk about trade and economics and perhaps more
of our normal diet of conversation with the managing director on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS later throughout the course of this week.
The damage in Puerto Rico is of historic proportions. That's how Carlos Mercader, the spokesperson for the Puerto Rico's governor, describes the
situation and the devastation. He joins us now from Washington. Sir, thank you for speaking to us and putting it into perspective. I don't
really know where to start. I mean, in terms of asking you just how bad is it? The reports you're getting at the moment. And I don't just mean San
Juan. I'm talking about out in rural areas. Do you have a handle on how bad it is?
CARLOS MERCADER, SPOKESMAN FOR PUERTO RICO'S GOVERNOR: Yes. Well, first of all, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. Yes. We he -
we've been getting information from all of the different municipalities. Like you know, the hurricane came into Puerto Rico from the northeastern
part of the island. And that coastal area, all of the municipalities in that area were battered heavily. Remember, this is a historic hurricane.
It's historic in the sense of the strength of the winds. And so, we have communities that lost about 80 or 90 percent of the homes are devastated.
Are declared like disaster zones right now. But the thing is that we're still facing the remnants of the storm. And that's why it's been so
difficult to assess the damages right now.
[16:20:00] QUEST: All right. So earlier on in the day I saw pictures from Leyla Santiago, who was showing us what the situation was like. The rain
that has fallen elsewhere in Puerto Rico on to already sodden ground, that is going to cause serious flooding.
MERCADER: Totally. And the issue with the rain is that it will not stop until probably tomorrow night. They're expecting about 25 inches of rain.
I want to say that so the people understand. It's total devastation. This hurricane, we haven't seen something like this hurricane in more than a
hundred years in Puerto Rico. This is total devastation.
And the government was prepared, and the main focus of the government was basically to save lives. They wanted to have everyone in shelters,
everyone that lived in a flood-prone area to be in a shelter. Everyone that would be in an area that would be, you know, in danger of their life,
they were in shelters. And thankfully, we haven't had any casualty up until, like, now. But we know that in terms of material terms, there's
QUEST: I'm just wanting to read a statement from President Trump. The President continues to direct all necessary federal resources. He and the
first lady send their thoughts and prayers. Are you getting enough help from the federal government? The U.S. federal government? Which is
obviously, responsible. And if you heard my interview with Christine Lagarde from the IMF, would you like the IMF help as well?
MERCADER: Well, as you know, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and accordingly we've been collaborating with the federal government.
President Trump has been incredibly good with Puerto Rico. He has been in constant communication with the governor. Same thing with his
administration, his secretaries. I want to highlight the focus that that administrator of FEMA. Brock Long has had in Puerto Rico. He has been to
Puerto Rico. He was after Irma. He has been talking to the governor. He spoke to the governor today. Also, Secretary Price, the Secretary of
Health and Human Services. He has been talking with the governor directly. The president himself, he's talked with the governor of Puerto Rico three
or four occasions. So, yes, we are very happy with the attention that the President has given to Puerto Rico. He knows about what's going on in
Puerto Rico. He's been updated.
QUEST: Right, but let's face it. But let me just jump in there. Let's face it. That's great. Do you -- but with all the island without
electricity, you are going to need -- let's call this as it is. You are going to need billions of dollars of assistance just to just to get things
back up and running again. Now, not being a fully-fledged state with congressional representation, do you fear you might lose out?
MERCADER: What I want to say is that the federal government, on all of the agencies, even Congressmen, they have been in constant communication with
the governor. All of them showing their support. And I've got to say this, we know we are in a devastation phase right now. But we know we'll
come up. We'll rebuild, and we'll rebuild together. And so, we're counting on the federal government.
QUEST: Carlos, good of you to take time to speak to us and what I know is dreadfully busy for you. Thank you, sir.
MERCADER: Thank you.
QUEST: Thank you. So, two big stories, the earthquake and the hurricane. But there's more. The United Nations General Assembly is in session,
where, Iran's president has hit back at Donald Trump's U.N. speech. President Hassan Rouhani took a swipe at Mr. Trump, calling him a rogue
newcomer in the world of politics. Mr. Rouhani warned that the U.S. risks destroying its own credibility if it backs out of the Iran's nuclear deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT NASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (through translator: By violating its international commitments, the new U.S. administration only destroys its
own credibility, and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it. Or accepting its word or promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: CNN's John Defterios has been to Iran. And is CNN's emerging markets editor. He joins me now from London tonight. So, Iran basically
warning everybody else, you know, if the U.S. backs out of its deal with Iran, well, who knows what's next that the U.S. will back out of.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, they didn't roll over, that's for sure, the Iranians today, Richard. The bellicose language was
there. Not to the level years ago with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But President Rouhani was suggesting he'll be collaborative when it comes to
the nuclear agreement. Also, compliant.
[16:25:00] But he did not duck in terms of criticism for President Trump, calling the language disrespectful and ignorant. Let's not forget, 24
hours ago at the same podium, during a prime slot, President Trump said that this is a government that is corrupt and murderous. So, the language
was very, very nasty.
But let's see if we can park that for a second. What's the U.S. trying to do here, Richard? Foremost, they signed on to the waiver May 15th,
suggesting that Iran is compliant with the nuclear agreement, now better than two years old. But at the same time, put on individual U.S. sanctions
against a the revolutionary guards, and the lieutenants of those guards. So, tightening the noose right now and trying to keep Iran off balance.
When asked at a press conference after the speech of President Rouhani, what he think of the deal, President Trump said, he made his decision, but
he's not willing to share the information about the decision just yet. So, it does keep the Iranians off guard. President Rouhani drawing him in a
little bit in terms of the nasty language. But he held his line.
QUEST: So, with the President Rouhani, sells the deal to his own Parliament on the basis of economic benefits. We have seen deals for
Airbus and for Boeing. But that pressure back home on an economic improvement. How strong is that pressure?
DEFTERIOS: In fact, President Trump, Richard, was trying to remind President Rouhani of just that. Saying that it's the Iranian people who
are suffering the most. But let's be clear here, much better off than they were two years ago. An economy growing at 4 percent in 2017, 7 percent
last year after two very painful years of recession. You suggested the contracts being signed by the Europeans, mainly the French, the Germans and
the Italian. But they're being held back by this dark cloud hanging over them, because of the U.S. president's position. In fact, some suggest,
Richard, they're getting one-fifth of the deal. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBIN NIBLETT, DIRECTOR, CHATHAM HOUSE: They've taken the first steps, but I think it's going to be a sort of 20 percent of what it could be. Until
you know the dollar-based financial system will process those transaction over time. So, Yes, you might get some Chinese, some European companies in
and Americans holding back. But the opportunity to really make that GCPRA, that nuclear deal pay, is impossible until the U.S. changes its opinion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEFTERIOS: So, whether the U.S. changes its position or tries to change the deal, Richard, the language emerging from the Trump administration
perhaps trying to phase in some sunset clauses and trying to get French support to do so. But this is widely objected by the Chinese and Russians
who are, part of that six-party agreement.
QUEST: John Defterios in London. Thank you, John, for staying up late to talk to us tonight. We appreciate it.
Markets now know there is likely to be one more rate rise this year as the Fed starts to shrink its balance sheet starting next month. It's a well-
documented, well-planned, well-telegraphed move. A decision that today's meeting was unanimous. Policymakers left the main interest rate with no
change in the range of 1 to 1.25 percent. Now in the anticipated move, they have agreed to begin shedding the banks' 4.5 billion in assets from
next month. There is a cap on the amount each month. A word of caution from the Fed, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, will affect the U.S.
economy in the near term. In the chair, Janet Yellen, signals the bank still expects to raise rates three times next year.
U.S. stocks hit highs. The Dow closed a fraction up after gains and losses during the session. The Nasdaq, -- look at the way the Dow is moving --
the Nasdaq in the S&P 500 ended at record high. Paul La Monica is with me on this. Paul, the Fed -- we knew they were going to start pulling back.
But it's symbolic anyway that they're no longer going to be reinvesting up to a certain cap.
PAUL LA MONICA, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it is symbolic. It's a sign that the U.S. Fed believes that the economy is in much better shape.
It's starting to stabilize, even though, you know, there are some concerns about inflation not rely picking up and that's a problem. Because wage
growth has yet to pick up dramatically as well. But I think the market is interpreting this as a sign of normalcy, and that's why stocks continue to
remain around all-time highs.
QUEST: Just continue?
LA MONICA: I think it does. I actually was tweeting with Mohamed El-Erian during the Fed press conference, and he said to me, by reiterating that the
balance sheet reduction would be gradual, predictable and therefore unexciting, the Fed is keen to deliver to the markets the equivalent of
watching paint dry.
That sounds boring. But boring could be beautiful for the markets. The markets don't want to be surprised by Janet Yellen and the fact that they
weren't is the reason why where we are right now.
QUEST: Just name-dropping. Who you've been tweeting with, and texting. Mohamed El-Erian, always glad to have him on the program. But that's good
to hear. Thank you.
LA MONICA: Thank you, sir.
QUEST: Thank you, sir. Good to see you.
When we come back we'll turn from Wall Street to Puerto Rico where the survivors of a category four hurricane. They're facing two new threats, no
power and rising waters. Leyla Santiago is in San Juan. We'll be with her after the break.
[16:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: I'm Richard Quest in New York. There's much more on hurricane Maria and the recovery efforts in Mexico in just a moment. Now though, I
do need to update you on both of those stories with the very latest developments.
Live pictures from Mexico City, where crews are working to free a little girl found in the rubble of her school. Periodically there is total
silence demanded while they hear what the situation is. We don't know the condition of the girl. We do know that one of her teachers has been
assisting, trying to get water tough a hose. So, we're obviously, following that and we'll find out more details in just a moment.
So far, the earthquake has claimed at least 225 lives, as dozens of buildings collapsed. Millions of people are without power. In the Mexican
government has declared three days of national mourning.
Pro-independence protesters have taken to the streets in Barcelona just hours after Spanish police raided a dozen Catalan government buildings.
They also arrested several senior officials. Tensions have been high for weeks. It follows or planned Catalan vote for independence in early
October. A vote, incidentally, in which a central government in Madrid has banned.
Iran's President has fired back at comments made by President Donald Trump. Hassan Rouhani said that Mr. Trump made baseless accusations during his
speech at the United Nations General Assembly. He also said, Mr. Rouhani said, it would be a great pity if, in his words, rogue newcomers destroy
the nuclear deal. The president has called the al an embarrassment.
Hurricane Maria has weakened as it heads back into the Atlantic from Puerto Rico. But much of the island still being battered by hurricane-force
winds. And the Dominican Republic, Haiti is still to feel its effect as it pushes further up towards Barbados. Now Leyla Santiago is one of our team
of reporters in San Juan, just across the Caribbean. How are you doing Leyla?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Well, actually, Richard, just in the last few minutes, the wind has picked up, and it's been pretty calm.
But let me go ahead and show you around, where we are right now.
[16:35:00] We are on the streets of San Juan, Condado to be exact, and you can see this part of a roof that came off a building. The woman who lives
on the other side tells me that when this came down, she heard it, and she wasn't sure if this was a roof or if it was the entire building. That's
how loud it was when the winds from hurricane Maria brought this down.
I also want too ahead and show you some of the other problems that we're having here. And that is the floods. Take a look at this water behind me.
I'll walk you through and get you there a little closer. But I should also mention, as we show you this, that just in the last hour, the governor of
Puerto Rico has actually issued a mandatory curfew 6:00 p.m. So, just a few more hours before people need to be inside.
But most of these roads are blocked because of not only floods, but also a lot of the trees that are down. The power lines that are down in this
area. That's creating quite a bit of problem. And things did calm down quite a bit. And that has given people a chance to come out here and see
the damage. And it's really sort of caught my attention to see that dazed look that so many people have. This look of a sort of disbelief as they
assess the damage.
I'll bring you right back here so you can see the number of people on the roads right now, just kind of walking around, checking on each other,
looking around trying to see which road. This road where you see this couple turning here to the left is actually blocked completely. The
intersecting road of where we are right now. That why you see them possibly moving around. So, it's not just the flooding. It's not just the
wind that I'm feeling right now. The trees down. It's also the power, 100 percent of the power system now down, according to the governor. So, it's
a mixture of things that are really making things difficult right now for people in Puerto Rico -- Richard.
QUEST: I understand. Leyla Santiago, thank you f for bringing the nature, the gravity, the severity of the situation to us as best -- well, perfectly
with those pictures. Thank you for that.
Now Tom Sater joins us from the World Weather Center in Atlanta, where he's tracking hurricane Maria. And I've got my own little map here, which shows
as it comes off Puerto Rico and heads up toward the Dominican Republic. How strong is this hurricane? And as it goes back over water again --
you've told us many times that it can pick up strength again. Is it going to strengthen?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I think so, Richard. The eye is now going to start defining itself again. It's over warmer waters. The mountains
did a job of it in Puerto Rico. They're up to 1,300 meters. And I'll show you a couple close in images and you'll get an idea of what happened. But
they're going to get lashed in the Dominican Republic. I think it's going to stay away from the Turks and Caicos, maybe by 80 kilometers. But that's
But as you take a look at the system here, what we'll see here, when we show you the eye, we had a couple of factors last night. This was a strong
category 5, and we had win up to 282 kilometers per hour. It underwent some reorganization around the eye. But it also had a little impact in St.
Croix. So that starved it of a little energy. Then and around the Casey island, again, a little interaction. But in the overnight period, it
dropped from 282 kilometers down to 249. I mean, that's just by the grace of God that this moved in, not as a category 5.
But it is considered, of course, as you know, a U.S. territory. So, this would be the third category 4 landfall. That's never happened before.
That's unprecedented. But the mountain terrain really helped chew the system up. Although, completely without power, communications spotty at
best. All the rivers are rising. And here it comes near the Turks and Caicos, Richard. I don't think, Richard, that's going to make landfall
there. Next will be watching it up the, eastern seaboard. But they're still not finished with their heavy rain in parts of Puerto Rico and on the
coast of the Dominican Republic. So again, rivers are going to continue to rise. And that's the next threat, is rivers flooding and still the threat
for landslides. It's not over yet.
QUEST: So just briefly, the potential looking out -- and I can see your map is expanding. The potential looking out for this hurricane to hit the
U.S. mainland, and the only reason -- the only reason I ask this, of course, is because not to lessen the damage in the Caribbean, but there are
very large population centers on the eastern seaboard.
SATER: Well, look at hurricane Jose. It's lived longer than Irma, and it's still spinning in the Northeast. And we've had numerous -- in fact,
hundreds and hundreds of flight delays, even some cancellations from Philadelphia, across Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, up toward Logan. This system
taking a pretty much similar path. Now, the waters do get cooler.
[16:40:00] But once we get it off the coast of the Carolinas, I mean, we're talking six, seven days out here. The models do want to kind of be in
agreement here and take it pretty close to the outer banks. Here's the European model., this has handled these storms beautifully, Richard. The
U.S. is in red. After we get near the outer banks, we'll take a look at it moving out a little bit further. It's still an unknown. So, again, it's
cooler waters. You know, the strength will drop. But there's still a threat. We've got to watch this one over the weekend.
QUEST: Which means you'll be doing good duty over the weekend. Thank you, you'll there in service, thank you.
Now before slamming into Puerto Rico, Maria unleashed her fury on the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Croix. The storm struck there as a category 5 with
winds of up to 280 kilometers an hour. Bob lives on the island and rode out the storm. He joins us on the phone now. Tom Sater was saying it
skirted. What I think you experienced last night and this morning was it doesn't matter if the eye doesn't go over you, you are going to get
BOB PALMATI, RESIDENT, ST CROIX: That's for sure. It was a long night.
QUEST: How bad was it? First of all, where did you take shelter?
PALMATI: Pretty much on the island everybody tries to have hurricane shutters. So, we had the whole house shut up. We were like a fortress.
And so, we were pretty free to move around but then as it got worse, we had a couple things. One is a section of our roof was lost. And then we also
had some shutters were failing. So, we had to cut a screen and tie them with a rope and hold them. So, we were pretty much tied to just keeping
QUEST: I guess - and I don't know, your individual circumstances, but I guess the options are few and far between. I mean, you either leave, you
go to a shelter, or you hunker down and bear it out. Why did you decide, bearing in mind, you had seen what Irma had done? And you knew the
situation from Irma. Why did you decide to write it out?
PALMATI: Pretty much this is home and everything that, you know, is important to us and all of the people important to us are here. So why
would you not?
QUEST: Do you regret staying behind? I mean, you know, in the sense of you see the devastation and roofs off and all that sort of thing. And I
understand that that's your home. But, you know, you're negotiating your home versus your personal safety in these circumstances. In some cases.
PALMATI: No, I don't regret it. And we pretty much felt that we made all the preparations that we could and so we felt fairly safe and it turned out
we were right.
QUEST: Bob, I've been to St. Croix on vacation. A beautiful place. Wonderful people. And I'm just thinking now, the ability of St. Croix to
get itself back together. Yes, it certainly will rebuild, and it will certainly reconstruct, but a working tourism industry or economy, that is
some way off, would you agree?
PALMATI: Way off. Because there's no power on the island, there is like 50,000 people without power, and I would say two-thirds of the poles are
down. So, there's a lot of infrastructure work before we will be back in business.
QUEST: And the significance there is this should be your busiest time of year. OK, Bob, thank you. Very kind you to talk to us and bring us the
magnitude of what took place.
So, we're ping-ponging backwards and forwards between the two major stories in the world tonight. Besides the UN GA, but the earthquake and the
hurricane. Well, let's go back to the earthquake. In Mexico City, it's a case of the sound of silence saving lives.
What you are listening -- the silence is when they need to hear any survivors or to hear anybody shouting out. They're searching bucket by
bucket. Terrified to make things worse, but desperate to ensure that they don't miss anything.
We will be live after the break.
[16:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: In Mexico, it is now believed that 225 people have been killed in Tuesday's violent earthquake, that number may go higher of course. The
clock is running as rescue teams and volunteers through collapsed buildings for anybody who has been trapped, who has survived. Agonizingly slow, 55
bodies were found in a collapsed school in Mexico city's district.
Others have been found live in the same building but there are still some people unaccounted for. Now live pictures from Mexico City where crews are
working for your little girl found in the rubble of her school. We have a variety of correspondence on the scene, six correspondences covering a
story including Gustavo Valdez, he has been on the scene at that collapsed school for much of the day. He explained how the complex operation was
GUSTAVO VALDEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Mexican Marine who is in charge of the operation they are being tightlipped about what is happening back
there, perhaps to prevent spreading any rumors that can give false hope. But we have been able to piece together what the rescuers have been trying
to do. They say they found an L shaped area in which they think there are some survivors. The helping smaller size of the people trapped inside will
give them a better chance to get to them.
And the latest development is that over the early hours of the morning, we saw the big back hoes, trying to lift the big pieces of concrete, now
they're going to a small operation using small buckets to remove small pieces of debris. Not long ago they pulled the big section of crumbled
metal and concrete in a moment I gave the people around here some pause was when they brought out a playground at this elementary school, reminder of
who the victims are.
Right now, they are asking for silence.
QUEST: Natural disasters are our main agenda tonight. After the break, bringing relief to those in need. We'll be talking to the co-founder of
Airbnb. The response of Airbnb to the recent crop of appalling emergencies.
[16:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: You see the hands up. The silence required as they continue to search for the little girl. This is a live picture to us now from Mexico
City. The crews are close to freeing a little girl from the rubble. When that fist goes up, they can hear anything. And then of course, people will
continue the search operation.
The search continues, and it's a situation that is sometimes chaotic. At least 225 people has so far been killed. The country has declared three
days a morning for those killed. And it's unclear how anything close to normality can happen. Millions of people across Mexico are still without
power. Many others staying in shelters. Their homes have been destroyed.
It is a similar situation, two devastating disasters, natural disasters. And now the fragile world is really in perspective when you think of the
earthquake in Mexico and the hurricane in the Caribbean. Two pictures are seeing on the screen at the same time. So, the role of companies to assist
and supplement government support is crucial.
Joining me to discuss is Joe Gebbia who is the cofounder and Chief Product Officer at Airbnb.
JOE GEBBIA, COFOUNDER, CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER, AIRBNB: Richard, thanks for having me
QUEST: We need to know. So, Airbnb is basically doing what? Making homes -- well, the homeowners are making their homes available free to whom?
GEBBIA: So Open Homes is Airbnb's way to put a roof over people's head who were in the greatest need. It is a new platform that we have that takes --
does what we do for travel for those who have been displaced. The difference though is that it is free. This is based on host generosity.
As we have seen today this is something that is needed now more than ever. And so those who are in need of a place to stay can go to
airbnb.com/welcome, and what they will find are places that are hosts have volunteered at no charge to house those who have been displaced.
QUEST: Right. So, you're doing it for the hurricane. Are you doing it for the earthquake as well?
GEBBIA: We have been running this platform for a couple of years now, we have serviced over 90 different disasters in over 18 countries, so we are
absolutely active in the Caribbean, in Florida, Texas, as of yesterday, Mexico.
QUEST: what is your criteria or when you activate it?
GEBBIA: There are a lot of disasters going on around the world we look at the concentration of hosts that we have, if there is a disaster that takes
place, and we have community, they can respond sometimes in a matter of hours.
QUEST: It's up to what, the host, how long a person can stay, the way it is managed. Your involvement is to provide the platform.
GEBBIA: Absolutely. And this was actually born from a host during hurricane Sandy in 2012. A host suggested the idea of volunteering her
five bedrooms to those displaced here in New York. So, we took one woman's idea, we went through an engineering marathon and create the technology to
allow people to connect very quickly through our platform.
QUEST: What are the challenges of running this sort of operation? Because you are also running it -- let's take for example Puerto Rico which would
be a perfect place to do it at the moment, except there is no power. I mean there is no power at the moment, 100 percent. So, there is a
challenge of Internet activity, there is a challenge of power, these must be all factored in.
GEBBIA: That's true for any humanitarian aid and response. So Open Homes is available on mobile devices, people can pull it up on their phones. We
try to get it available to as many people as we can. And really the biggest challenge that we have right now is getting more people to list
their places in unaffected areas.
For example, there is a host in Atlanta named Rachel was taken in three families including a family with a two-month-old, three-year-old in both
their dogs. As they have been on the road from Tampa to Atlanta for 16 hours. We need more Rachels in the world.
[16:55:00] QUEST: What is your message? There is a camera. What is your message to those people who doubt, think, consider doing it?
GEBBIA: I would say that for anybody for anybody that has extra space, whether it's the spare bedroom down the hall or whether you're empty-
nesters with your kids off at college, this is the way you can get an impact right away helping people who need it the most.
QUEST: Thank you.
GEBBIA: Thanks, Richard.
QUEST: And on that question of impact, many hurricane Maria victims need assistance, shelter, critical supplies. You can learn how you can help and
the victims of the earthquake in Mexico. Log on to CNN.com/impact. You can donate to one of the charities that we vetted. Volunteer your time and
as you heard from Airbnb, there is also the opportunity to join theirs, as well.
As the hours continue, we will have more on the hurricane and the earthquake. The two natural disasters. We just have word that Maria has
temporarily weakened to a category 2 hurricane. That's significant, but as you can see from what has happened in the Dominican Republic and Puerto
Rico and others, there are still very powerful winds. Because the news never stops, neither do we. This is CNN.