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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
Desperate Search For Survivors After Mexico Quake; Crews Race To Rescue Little Girl From School Rubble; Fury Of Hurricane Maria Unleashed On Puerto Rico; Maria Weakens To Category Three Hurricane; Hurricane Maria Pummels U.S. Virgin Islands. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 20, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. We begin this hour with two breaking fast-moving stories. I'm Hala Gorani. We are
coming to you live from London.
In Mexico, it is a race against time to save those still alive after an earthquake. We will have the very latest for you on rescue efforts ongoing
specifically at an elementary school in Mexico City.
Plus this --
GORANI: Hurricane Maria storming across the Caribbean. We are live for you this hour in Puerto Rico.
But we begin in Mexico. We have been watching the desperate scene play out all day. It's hard to tear your eyes away especially when you know what's
at stake. It is slow work, the work of rescuers.
They are sifting through the rubble of a collapsed school in Mexico City toppled by a powerful earthquake yesterday. They've managed to find a girl
inside alive and they're now trying to pull her out.
The building is one of many destroyed by the earthquake, and these are live images coming to us from the school. It's called the Enrique Rebsamen
School. Twenty one children were killed in that collapsed building, four adults, dozens still missing.
Rescuers according to one of our affiliates say they are, quote, "very close" to getting the little girl out. This is what were all hoping will
happen very soon for sake of the child, for the sake of her parents, who are there waiting to be reunited with their child.
The rescuers are telling our affiliate they just need a type of bridge to pull her out of the rubble and of course, anybody who was been in an
earthquake situation will tell you, especially a rescuer, you can't just pull someone out.
You need to make sure that if they have any limb injuries that you do this very carefully, very painstakingly. We have joining us now Enrique Acevedo
who is a Univision anchor with more on this.
First, what can you tell us about this rescue effort at the school? This is a primary school. Those who were killed were little children and there
are many more missing, Enrique.
ENRIQUE ACEVEDO, UNIVISION ANCHOR (via telephone): That's correct. It's been going on for more than 24 hours now since the earthquake hit yesterday
in Mexico City affecting not only the city, but parts of -- the other states.
In that school, we know that there was the structural damage in preschool and the elementary school area of that education center. We know that many
families are still there, hoping that their loved ones (inaudible) are still alive.
Search and rescue operations have been going on throughout the tonight and throughout the day. Many times the rescue team they hold their hands up
and try to get people to remain silent so they can hear what's going on inside the collapsed structures.
Unfortunately, we know that 20 minors are reported dead, and like you said many more are still missing and this ongoing effort to find and rescue as
many people as possible.
GORANI: How many more are missing? Do we know?
ACEVEDO: Well, that is part of the problem. The school authorities give one figure (inaudible) the federal government are giving another number,
but we know that's anywhere between 10 to 15 more people missing here within that school.
GORANI: And I imagine families are desperate for information. Those whose children or relatives might be stuck inside that collapsed building,
ACEVEDO: It's a parent's worst nightmare. To leave their kid at that school, but they usually school around 2 p.m. and the earthquake hit around
1 p.m. here so just an hour before those kids will be picked up from school.
And parents got there, they are getting the news. Some were right on the spot and others remain -- they are trying to remain hopeful and to get good
news before the day is over.
[15:05:05] GORANI: Now when I look at the images, it seems as though the building has completely collapsed, right? I mean, and the hope at this
point is that there are air pockets where some of these kids could have survived like that little girl we are hoping to see pulled out very soon.
ACEVEDO: The golden safety triangle, and it's something that happens when a wall collapses over a large piece of furniture, for example, so there is
a space in between those two structures that allows (inaudible) children to have a bucket of hope, a bucket of life.
And that's what rescue teams are trying to take advantage of and what everyone else around the city, volunteers and emergency teams are hoping
GORANI: All right. Enrique Acevedo, if you could just hold for one moment, our Miguel Marquez is at that school. I understand Miguel, you're
not too far from where we hope this little girl that rescuers said they heard and located will be pulled out soon.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the hope. I can tell you the last half hour, 45 minutes has been a huge uptick in activity
here, and by activity, I mean silence. The rescue workers -- I want to show you what's happening back here.
That is sort of the busy end of this, where the building has actually collapsed. They've just started moving in heavy machinery and working
again after about a half hour, 40 minutes of off again, on again, off again silence.
The workers at the rubble will ask the entire crowd to stay silent so they can hear any signs of life under there, and I'm talking hundreds if not
thousands of people standing around out here become to pin-drop silent in an instant waiting and hoping that they get some sign of life.
What we understand is that there is a little girl they have seen using thermal cameras that they've seen an arm move and they've been able to get
a tube down to her mouth so they can get her water.
The difficulty is getting -- extracting her from a building that is still in a state of collapse, and that is the difficult thing. They were asking
for carpenters earlier. It is a model of activity and organization here.
They asked for carpenters and certainly wood and carpenters appear at the gate and they marched in and they help shore up whatever area -- this is
another moment of silence. I want to give a sense of how quiet it becomes here.
There is one truck moving right now, but everybody else has become quiet and they will probably stay this way for several minutes. Silence is hope
in Mexico today and this scene is being replayed and played out in hundreds of places across Mexico City and large cities to the south like Morelos and
Puebla. They were also hit very hard and those are cities of millions of people -- Hala.
GORANI: Miguel, we can listen in for a moment there so we can sort of get a sense of how things are unfolding during these few moments of silence as
MARQUEZ: To dump some debris into a dump truck so we will get loud. I will also tell you that they had thousands of aftershocks in the area so
there is a concern about already weakened buildings coming down as well.
But literally every few seconds in the area there's another aftershock so that is high on officials minds as well and we just saw a family looks like
a husband and wife brought out of this area in complete anguish, barely able to walk being held up by others as they left the scene.
I don't know if that is just -- if they have found out that their loved on has died, or if they just have to get out for a while, but it didn't seem -
- it certainly cast a pall over the crowd here and that is my concern.
Here we go, another moment of silence. It is incredible to see how quiet it gets -- quickly it gets quiet.
(Moment of silence)
[15:10:29] MARQUEZ: You could hear dogs bark in the distance.
(Moment of silence)
MARQUEZ: And now they are back to it.
GORANI: I just want to let our viewers know that what they are seeing here is the attempted rescue of a little girl and there is silence right now
because the crews on the ground raised their fists and that is a signal to those at the rescue site to be silence so they can listen out for any sign
of life under the rubble of the collapsed building.
Miguel, are we back to being -- are you back to being able to -- is the moment of silence over?
MARQUEZ: We are back. We are back to being able to speak at the moment and we've just gone back into a moment of -- that's how quickly
(inaudible). We had about 20 seconds of speaking and being able to make noise and then back to silence again as soon as rescuers hear something.
(Moment of silence)
GORANI: So, during this moment of silence, and just to bring our viewers up to date on what they are watching. This is a school in the outer
suburbs of Mexico City, a primary school that collapsed when the earthquake hit yesterday.
Twenty one children killed, four adults as well in the rubble of that collapsed building, but there is hope, hope, hope, hope for one little girl
that rescuers told one of our affiliates is very close to being pulled out.
The reason they're calling for these moments of silence is because it allowed them to listen -- to listen for any tap, any sound coming from
under that mound of rubble that can give them some sort of indication of where to look or whether or not there are more survivors.
Enrique Acevedo is a Univision anchor. We were talking about these safety triangles because this is the hope, Enrique, that when the building
collapsed little kids, adults, you know, crawled under furniture or desks and that they are somewhere safe where there is air they can breathe.
ACEVEDO: Yes. And it's a very complex operation. I spent most of the morning with a search and rescue team at a textile factory in another point
of the city and they were trying to (inaudible) how difficult it is for them to start actually working.
First, they have to clean the debris around the collapsed structure then get the equipment, and to lead and create the space, the channel
(inaudible) for these search and rescue teams to start (inaudible) and try to find the victims.
And then if they are lucky enough to find a victim trapped inside the rubble then, you know, they have to create again a space to retrieve that
victim. So, it's a complex operation that requires patient and it's just amazing to hear that in a city like Mexico City, one of the largest in the
world, that is always very noisy today. It's silence that people are looking for hope.
GORANI: We are still seeing raised fists of the rescuers and this is a signal to the people assembled there at the site of this collapsed school
to be silent. Explain to us, Enrique, what rescuers are hoping to hear during these moments, minutes of silent.
[15:15:08] ACEVEDO: Yes, I think people are just trying to hold onto a little hope as possible at this point. It's been over 24 hours and it's
difficult to stay in those areas that have affected by the earthquake because there is the possibility of more and probably less intense
They got at least 22 (inaudible) after the earthquake yesterday according to the authorities here in Mexico. So, there's uncertainty at points about
what's going on, going to happen with the search and rescue efforts. And also fear and people (inaudible) about the possibility of getting another
GORANI: Miguel Marquez, if you're still with us, what's the situation now? Are you able to speak in a normal volume or is it still -- are they still
MARQUEZ: Well, they just went back to a period of requesting silence. There is a lot of activity down there. I can see them pulling out debris
in small boxes and it looks like trash cans.
The rescuers down by the school are sort of waving frantically for absolute silence. Some of the guards walking out into the crowd here so that they
could even underscore the point of how quiet they want it to be right now. So, we may be getting close to hopefully a young person perhaps a little
girl pulled to safety.
GORANI: Do we know how many are missing? Because I can only just begin to imagine the anguish of the parents, who haven't heard from their kids in 24
MARQUEZ: It is disturbing to look at social media here, to be on the scene here, to see the postings of various people -- their families asking for
information about how they're doing.
There was a woman who came by here a short time ago with some family members and a bullhorn asking if anybody in the crowd had heard anything
from the Adyana's (ph) family just hoping against hope that they make some random connection that they find somebody. In this particular building,
there are still three children and one adult missing.
GORANI: Miguel Marquez, we'll stay in close touch. Thanks very much. He is in Mexico City. Just heartbreaking to hear three kids still missing,
one adult as well. Families -- the families of 21 children and four adults going through the worst really literally the worst days of their lives
having lost their children in this earthquake at the school, this primary school in Mexico City collapsed yesterday after that 7.1 earthquake hit.
Thank you as well to Enrique Acevedo, we will get back to you as well. Thanks for updating us on the very latest.
Still ahead, another natural disaster, Hurricane Maria knocks out power to the whole of Puerto Rico, the latest on that response coming up.
GORANI: Well, we'll have a lot more on Mexico in a moment, but now to the Caribbean where Hurricane Maria has unleashed its fury on Puerto Rico
ripping roofs off some houses, bending trees to the ground. Take a look.
GORANI: Maria made landfall on the island this morning as a Category 4 hurricane. This is the strongest to hit in nearly a century and also take
a look at some of this video.
GORANI: It shows floodwaters raging through the street after Maria swept ashore. Officials say Puerto Rico is now a 100 percent without electricity
and the governor has asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster zone.
The storm has now weakened to Category 3 as it turns toward the Dominican Republic. Much of Puerto Rico is still feeling hurricane force winds.
Maria is leaving a trail of destruction across the Caribbean.
At least nine people in all has been killed and compounding the misery the storm is battering some of the very same islands already hit by Hurricane
Irma just two weeks ago.
We have a team of reporters covering Maria's devastating path. Let's start with senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh. He's live in
Humacao, Puerto Rico. What's happening where you are right now, Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, this -- one of the common moments frankly we've had since last night (inaudible)
into this (inaudible) now this hotel pretty much (inaudible) the brunt of it making landfall about 6:30, 7:00 this morning.
Incredibly strong winds that blasted their way through this hotel behind me you can see the trees and in fact also (inaudible) the extent of -- frankly
the manager to break into tears when she first saw it.
They have a long (inaudible) of rebuilding ahead of them. You mentioned the 100 percent power outage in Puerto Rico. The generator never really
went off while (inaudible) -- we were here.
(Inaudible) for this other that's otherwise devastation you can see station behind me heavily damaged, but the issue now, of course, how quickly can
people rebuild. Another we just passed down here we see some more of the devastation.
This is where we saw some of the most ferocious winds tearing off the orning (ph) and much of the roofs of the buildings around here. You can
see a grand piano spattered by leaves and also a white leather sofa that sort have been unceremoniously dump in the middle of the walkway here.
And in fact, too, a sign frankly of the damage done by these two successive hurricanes, the kitchen, the back's roof was already about the buckle
because of Hurricane Irma and now it looks like it might fall down at some point.
This hotel evacuated across street homes that still have people in them as far as we could see and this incredibly small snapshot of an area, which
really bore the absolutely brunt of that storm as it made landfall this morning.
We've seen continued bouts of very heavy winds. The tail of it at about 9:00 was very ferocious taking our signals out at that point and for much
of the day, we've seen it during heavy tropical storms, horizontal waves of water frankly blowing through this hotel here.
This is just one story of frankly millions of an island of 3.5 million people now waking up, trying to come to terms at exactly what two
devastating hurricanes. The first one frankly just a glance and blow that still causing a billion dollars and the second one, the biggest they've
seen in about 90 years. What that's going to mean for daily life moving forward -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. An island that's having issues, financial issues as well. This is just adding to the problems for Puerto Rico. Thanks so
much, Nick Paton Walsh in Puerto Rico.
Well, another part of the Caribbean that really did not need at all another lashing was the U.S. Virgin Islands. It took a beating from Maria. The
winds were so fierce that it appeared that the rain was coming in sideways. Look at the images.
GORANI: Those are trees bent horizontally. The island of St. Croix was especially hard-hit and widespread damage is reported.
[15:00:02] We are joined now on the line by Chuck Britain, the owner of a popular cafe in St. Croix. What's going on where you are now in terms of
where the storm is in St. Croix?
CHUCK BRITAIN, RESIDENT OF ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (via telephone): Well, things has cleared up and we are just sort of getting out of our
houses and seeing the extent of the damage. It was brutal last night. It came down around 7:00 last night and the brunt of it was around 3:00 to
And I've got to say that, you know, people actually don't know much about the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are three islands, St. Croix, the southern
most island, St. Thomas and St. John were hit badly by Irma and St. Croix was spared.
Well, we were the center of all of the support going to St. Thomas and St. John. So, we are in fear right now because most of our supplies have been
transferred over to those other two islands.
Then this storm came so bad that we have limited resources right now and we are devastated.
What kind of damage are -- can I ask you -- I know you have a cafe and your home and other structures that you are able to see, what kind of damage are
you seeing in St. Croix?
BRITAIN: I took refuge up (inaudible) at a friend's corporate apartment at Delidon (ph) Beach down the road for me and Keith and his family evacuated
to Puerto Rico. So, he gave us the keys to this in case we needed to evacuate.
We came up to the apartment and then the storm exploded last night to 175 miles per hour and it's heading straight for us that -- you know, we are a
community here. We are 500 people in this small town and a lot of people know each other.
And the people next door invited us in to go to the basement to ride out the storm because we were on the top floor of the apartment building. We
were scared the roof is going to go off.
So, we rode that out with the people we did not know and we came out this morning and there are trees down everywhere. Most of the power lines are
down. Most of the power on St. Croix is above ground.
And so, we have 100 percent power outage here. We are grateful to AT&T for keeping the service going. It's the only thing we have going right now,
but there are so many people who are trapped in their homes because of roofs being torn off and are trapped in their bathrooms.
So, there are very little emergency management people doing protection right now. They're all doing rescue. So, the town of Frederick just like
we have seen in the other islands over the past few weeks was hit by looters this morning.
So, I tried to take it down to my restaurant about 12:00 and there's a lot of looters around. They are not -- they don't appear to be dangerous to
other people. They are just looting but I have --
GORANI: Were you able to make it to your restaurant? Were you actually able --
BRITAIN: No. I got within a half a block and someone with a mask on, who I didn't recognize, but probably recognizes me because of being a business
owner here said, I recommend that you turn around and go back. There's some bad things happening up there.
And we turned around and went up the hill and then I heard the alarm for the banks going off. They had broken into the banks.
GORANI: That's scary, yes.
BRITAIN: Yes. So, this all happened morning and it seems like since about 2:00 this is all diminished. I'm starting to see some police cars and
moving around some light, but it's hard to get around on the streets. Most streets are blocked by trees or polls or downed lines. My house on the
beach is a mile away.
GORANI: Your immediate needs I want to -- because you are saying a lot of supplies went to other islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands, do you have all
you need in terms of water and food and just the essentials at this point?
BRITAIN: For me personally, but this island does not. We are out of tarps. We are out of plywood. We don't have generators. The food shelves
were restocked last week, but I'm sure they are empty now.
For me, I had left the island Saturday to go on vacation and when I got to Atlanta, I found out the storm had blown up and I got back on a flight and
came back down here, and I was on the last flight coming back down.
It was amazing to me that it was full of local people who are coming home to ride out the storm with their friends and family. That's what the
community is about here and we are helping each other out.
But my point of this is we need to be recognized and I appreciate CNN reporting on this because as the Virgin Islands are not getting a lot of
attention, most of it is going to Puerto Rico, or it's going to Florida from the last storm. We need some attention for getting supplies here.
GORANI: Well, we are certainly happy to -- you know, certainly inform people that your island, St. Croix, in particular with this particular
storm, Maria, is getting battered and is in need of help. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Chuck Britton, who owns a restaurant on St. Croix,
who hasn't been able to get to his restaurant because he was half a block away when someone wearing a mask said turn around, there's some ugly things
happening down the road.
A power outage across the island. And certainly, according to Chuck, supplies - basic supplies that were sent to the other Virgin Islands, US
Virgin Islands after Irma might be lacking on St. Croix this time. We wish you the best of luck, Chuck, and thanks for sharing your story.
After a break, we'll have a lot more, in particular Iran's president has spoken at the UNGA. He is hitting back over the nuclear deal, saying
America's credibility is at stake.
And we will return to the scene of an unfolding rescue operation in Mexico City. A school where many children are buried, a tragic scene, parents
praying that their precious children managed to survive this disaster.
We'll be right back.
GORANI: Welcome back. Let's take you live now to New York. The Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May and the US President Donald Trump are
meeting. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: But some other issues, foreign policy issues, security and defense relationship, which, of course, is the
closest UK and US - it's the closest we have and great that that continues.
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what will you tell to (INAUDIBLE)?
What would you tell the prime minister?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what would you say to allies who (INAUDIBLE)?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. That was a brief little what we call pool spray in the business. So, you have cameras there, a quick sort of set of comments from
both leaders before their meeting. We heard from Theresa May at the United Nations General Assembly podium a little bit earlier.
She was speaking about terrorism, about on finding a way to take down extremist material online before it has an opportunity to circulate widely,
and perhaps radicalize people online.
So, one of the, I should say, if I could just sum up what we heard from Theresa May, she said that she was hoping that the close relationship
between the United States and the UK would continue. And, of course, after the Brexit referendum, it is very, very important for the UK to maintain a
very close relationship with the US.
You'll remember the Prime Minister May was one of the first world leaders to visit the White House after the inauguration of Donald Trump as these
Brexit negotiations, in some case, seem to not be going as quickly as the UK would hope or, in some cases, in the direction that the UK hoped that
these talks would go.
So, we're going to talk about that. But also, Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, he did not hold back in his speech at the United Nations General
Assembly. Elise Labott joins me now with more.
So, Elise, let me first talk a little bit about what Donald Trump and Theresa May might talk about here. Because Theresa May can't officially
negotiate any trade deals or any bilateral agreements with the United States. The UK is still a member of the European Union. But what is she
hoping to get out of this?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, first and foremost, and you heard her right now talking about that special
And certainly, as the first world leader to meet with President Trump and talk with President Trump, I think this kind of signifies what she's hoping
that relationship, the very like-minded and very similar in their kind of outsider approach.
I think in terms of the trade, she's certainly looking, once this whole Brexit is behind them - and, I mean, look, we're talking about a couple of
years if and when it ever comes to fruition. I think they'll talk in very general terms about what they want the trade relationship between the US
and UK to look like.
Obviously, the Brexit will determine that, but I think the security issues they had a little bit of snafu last week when after that attack in London,
President Trump took to Twitter and started talking - making suppositions of who might have been involved and some sort of information and she kind
of took him to task a little bit.
GORANI: She said it was unhelpful.
[15:35:01] LABOTT: It's unhelpful, which is diplomatic terms for don't do that again. And so -
GORANI: Which is British for that - don't do it, not a good idea, obviously.
LABOTT: And I think that they want to - sorry, go ahead.
GORANI: No, no, finish your thought.
LABOTT: I just think that this relationship between the US and the UK on so many issues is really important, but I think like one of the things that
- whether it's Theresa May or whether it's French President Macron or Angela Merkel, I think they're all trying to keep Donald Trump in the kind
of fold of responsible world nations.
And not necessarily listen so much to his tweets or so much to his public statements, but try and keep US policy along with those western nations
that have like-minded values and similar interests.
GORANI: Right. Indeed. And we will wait to hear from both leaders when they're done with their meeting exactly, maybe more detail on what was
Let's talk about Hassan Rouhani because this was interesting. Obviously, we heard from President Donald Trump. This was his maiden UNGA speech.
He expectedly criticized North Korea, but he really, really went after Iran and called the Iran deal an embarrassment to the United States, the worst
deal ever signed.
Hassan Rouhani today said, if the deal collapses, Iran could basically start enriching uranium again, which is - what are both these leaders
playing here. Is this just sort of a war of words or is there a real risk that this deal is going to collapse if the US pulls out?
LABOTT: My personal opinion is that I don't think the US is going to fully pull out. I think what you heard US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley say a
couple of weeks ago is that it's possible that President Trump does what he's been doing with a lot of other domestic issues, kind of kicks it to
Congress, maybe he doesn't certify that Iran is complying with the deal, but he kind of kicks it to Congress for this kind of review period before
deciding to pull out and maybe they think that could give the US some leverage in terms of stricter terms.
You heard Hassan Rouhani today say that this deal is not up for renegotiation. That's not going to happen. I mean, I think he is
posturing a little bit.
Iran doesn't just get things from the United States out of it. The rest of the whole international community is on - most of it anyway, certainly has
signed on to this deal, feels that Iran is implementing it. And even Secretary of State Tillerson had said that they're making these -
So, I think if you see the United States say that they're going to pull out because Iran is not keeping the spirit of the deal, it's going to be
interesting that the US is in a position of not having the moral high ground here. And it would be on Donald Trump if that deal fell apart.
GORANI: And it's not - what's interesting is, as far as Europeans are concerned, this isn't just about the nuclear deal. It's business deals as
I mean, the French carmaker Renault a month ago signed a car-making joint venture inside Iran. These business people and corporations are not
waiting for any certification from the White House that the deal is being respected before they go in there and try to make money.
LABOTT: No, not at all. These deals are going forward. I mean, obviously, the US has its own sanctions and there have been some small
deals on airplanes and airplane parts, but for the most part, the US sanctions are still on Iran.
But the European countries and Russia and China, they're ready to do business. The international community considers Iran open for business.
There is a little bit of skepticism on what kind of investment climate it is.
But, look, Iran is still going to - even if the United States were going to itself decide that it doesn't want to abide by the agreement, I'm not
necessarily sure Iran would go back to enriching uranium because then they would be in default.
They can still get heaps of benefit from the rest of the international community. And I think they see the wisdom in that. And so, I think what
you saw Rouhani do today, which was really interesting, is kind of answer President Trump's speech and say, "Hey, Iran won't be the bad guy if you
pull out of this. The boogie man will be Donald Trump."
GORANI: Right. All right. Interesting. Elise Labott, we'll speak soon again with more on the United Nations General Assembly speeches and the
latest from New York.
And I want to bring you the latest now on our top story. CNN reporter Miguel Marquez says Mexico has been struck by thousands of aftershocks
since Tuesday's powerful earthquake. And right now, rescue workers are trying desperately to pull a young girl from the rubble of a collapsed
primary school in Mexico City.
Now, they have repeatedly called for silence as they strain to hear the voices or sounds of life from the child. The school is one of many
This video is from just moments ago in front of the school. You can see a group of priests waiting. It's quiet and the mood is somber. I'm not
seeing the video there. There it is.
[15:40:07] So, there are lots of prayers there. The priests there praying for a positive outcome for this little girl and a few other children
trapped under the rubble of that collapse school.
Let's go to Miguel Marquez right now. Miguel, I saw your hand over your mouth. So, I take it they've asked for silence again.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have - actually, they've just started up - just as you were coming to me, they just started up work
again. So, I can speak in a normal voice for once.
It is ten hours since the quake. That little girl has been under there for about 24 hours. We have had period after period during the day for the
last several hours where they asked for silence. In the last hour, the pace of it has quickened and clearly they are getting closer.
The secretary of defense for Mexico has just released some pictures. If you wonder why it's so difficult and why it's so hard - now, we've gone
back into silence mode as you can see.
But if you want to see why it's so difficult, you can see in those pictures one of the rescuers reaching out to a little tiny hand buried in a pancake
building and they are bringing in these 4X4s, trying to get in there to shore up that building as they scoop out earth, trying to get to her. They
have used thermal imaging to see how she's doing and get her exact position.
They have been able to get a hose to her mouth, so they can get water to her. We saw a couple of - like a husband and wife leaving the scene a
short time ago, in complete anguish.
It is not clear that they are the parents of that daughter, but we have seen parents coming from the scene throughout the day in various states of
anguish, most of them just stone-faced and very, very difficult for them to even express any sort of emotion at this point.
I will say it is a model of organization here. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people in this area, from police to military, navy, marines,
army and hordes and hordes of volunteers, who are helping with everything from construction to carrying the items into work zone to feeding and
getting water to the rescuers. It is an incredible sight to see all of this for this one hope of bringing out this little girl alive.
They're also looking for others clearly in other areas. This is one scene of many, many scenes across not only Mexico City, but very low cities to
the south, closer to the epicenter, Morelos and Pueblo, that were also hit very hard.
So, it's just an incredible, incredible scene unfolding here and we only hope that that little girl is pulled out alive. Hala?
GORANI: Miguel, thank you very much. We'll get back to you as soon as we have a development there from that primary school in Mexico City and we are
all hoping that she is pulled out very soon.
Ivonne Piedras with the humanitarian organization Save the children joins me now via Skype from Mexico City. Ivonne, what has your organization been
doing these last 24 hours?
IVONNE PIEDRAS, CAMPAIGNS OFFICER, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Hi. Good day to everyone. Well, Save the Children is about aiding (ph) the damage here in
Mexico City. Right now, we are visiting the shelters, official shelters that are being around the city to know how many children are living in the
But also, we are really worried about all the children that live in Mexico City because everyone at that time felt this earthquake.
We felt that they will really need adult support. And right now, for example, you have showed that how many buildings destroyed and collapsed,
many people is inside, trapped.
But also, right now, the authorities are evicted some buildings that are about to collapse. So, we wouldn't know how - what is the real damage
(INAUDIBLE) and we will know in the next coming days.
So, we will be providing child-friendly spaces in some shelters in order to support these children and particularly in the emotional way because we
know that they are really shocked.
And actually, well, this is the second earthquake that we have in the last two weeks. The first one was struck in Oaxaca and our team is still
working in Oaxaca, in Juchitan, supporting all children as they need help.
GORANI: Ivonne, can you estimate how many people are displaced? We have numbers because we know it's - several hundred killed and many more
injured, but how many people are left without a home?
[15:45:08] IVONNE: We don't have official numbers right now. We can say it will be thousands. And at least 45 buildings has collapsed.
And now, we are receiving news that other 50 (ph) buildings are about to collapse. So, we don't know how many people has been displaced and how
many people has been evicted from their homes. So, we cannot speculate, but we can speak about thousand of people that should move from their homes
for several months.
GORANI: Ivonne Piedras, thank you so much, of Save the Children. Good luck there responding to this crisis.
And yet another earthquake, as Ivonne was mentioning. Two big earthquakes in as many weeks, one in another part of the country that killed many, many
And this one, the latest toll I have is 225 people killed, 94 in Mexico City. And what you're seeing there are live images that our crew in Mexico
City are sending back to us of this elementary school, the Enrique Rebsamen School where 21 children lost their lives, four adults as well.
But there is hope because there is a little girl that rescuers said they have made contact with. They told our affiliate just a few hours ago, we
are close to getting her out. We just need some type of bridge to pull her out of the rubble. This is according to our affiliate.
And one of the hopes of that, a few of the other children who are missing have survived because they somehow ended up in an air pocket, what is
called a safety triangle.
And a safety triangle is where a human being can survive for several days if they were lucky enough to be surrounded by furniture or some sort of
masonry that kept the collapsed concrete off of them. And this is the hope that those who are missing are alive and that they can be rescued.
The anguish of the parents is difficult to even wrap your brain around frankly. And Miguel Marquez was describing one couple that was led away in
total anguish and pain.
We don't know exactly what their circumstances are, but our hearts go out to them and everyone waiting for word on their loved ones.
We'll be right back. You're watching CNN.
GORANI: Well, let's get back to those dramatic scenes from Mexico City where rescue crews are trying to save a little girl, they believe, is
trapped inside a collapsed school.
Our reporter on the ground Miguel Marquez was saying they were calling for carpenters. I'm sure there were also structural engineers out there. They
don't want to do anything rash because the building itself has collapsed.
But they don't want to jeopardize the rescue by doing something too quickly that would destabilize the structure further. Obviously, what you're
seeing there is heavy equipment to dig rubble out.
[15:50:02] Occasionally, they will clench their fists. And this is a sign to all the people gathered there to be silent, stop talking, don't make any
noise, vehicles stop, because we need to listen out for any sign of life, we need to be able to figure out if anyone is tapping or calling out for
rescue, and so they do that.
And when they do that with increased frequency, by the way, it's usually a good sign because it means they have heard something and that based on what
they've heard, based on the direction they've gotten from the survivor trapped under the rubble that they're able to quickly achieve something.
So, take out a bit of rubble here and there where they know it is safe to do so. Then they'll call for silence again and, hopefully, communicate
with the survivor under the rubble, where that person or the child in this case will be able to tell them, give them vital information that will allow
them to continue the rescue.
So, fingers, fingers crossed that this little girl who we know, based on what the rescuers have told our affiliate, has survived this quake.
Fingers crossed that she's pulled out very soon, in the next few minutes hopefully.
And we have six reporters in Mexico covering this story, including our Gustavo Valdes. He's been on the scene of that collapsed school for much
of the day. Earlier, he explained how the complex rescue operation was playing out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUSTAVO VALDES, 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've 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. They hope the 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 backhoes trying to leave the big pieces of concrete.
Now, they're going to a small operation, using small buckets to remove the small pieces of debris. Not long ago, they pulled a big section of
crumbled metal and concrete and a mom and dad gave the people around here some pause, was when they brought out a playground that - it was used at
this elementary school, a reminder of who the victims are.
Right now, they're asking for silence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: A reminder of who the victims are. This is a primary school. So, we will keep an eye on what's happening there at that school in Mexico
City. And as soon as there is an update, we will go back there live.
An update now, though, on Hurricane Maria. This storm has weakened to a Category 3 as it closes in on the Dominican Republic that is still
powerful, by the way, Category 3. It's life threatening. It's capable of major damage.
Puerto Rico has been battered by Maria all day after it made landfall with really damaging winds and rain.
Take a look at this video.
GORANI: Puerto Rico is now 100 percent without power. If there is power, it means there was a generator. And the governor has asked the President
Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster zone.
CNN reporters have fanned out across Puerto Rico. Our Leyla Santiago went outside in San Juan to survey the damage that Maria left behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These businesses that also - you can see the boards came off of them as well. Doors came off of them. Windows.
And so, we've got heavy winds still in place. But, of course, also heavy rain is in place. So, the meteorologist I just spoke with told me he
believes this is likely the worst of it, but is not the end.
This is our first time heading out. I can tell you when we were inside, there was - the roof was leaking, there was water coming down. The staff
here who has been gracious putting down towels to try to get - try to get control of the water that was coming in.
This is as much as I have been able to see at this point. I suspect once we get out further, we are going to see a lot more damage, especially on
some of these side streets where it's kind of a tunnel, a wind tunnel in those areas
The big concern now, many without power, 60 percent at last check. And the governor continues to say, very open, that it's going to be 100 percent by
the time this is done. So, power will be a huge issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Leyla Santiago, thanks very much. We are going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[15:56:34] GORANI: The earthquake in Mexico has brought misery and destruction, but amid all the frantic search and rescue operations, we've
also seen the best of the human spirit.
Some Pecos (ph) singing a traditional song from the Mexican folklore. It was an act of resilience at a difficult time, just as first responders were
looking for survivors such as this young boy rescued by the police from a destroyed house in Morelos.
These next pictures show thousands of students from the National University of Mexico who gathered in front of the school stadium, they quickly formed
teams and went off to help the emergency services. And the spirit of togetherness was also strong in other parts of Mexico City.
We're looking at exclusive pictures showing hundreds of volunteers joining the search for survivors in a collapsed residential building as we continue
as well to wait for news on that little girl trapped in the elementary school.
We'll bring you the latest as we have it. I'm Hala Gorani. "Quest Means Business" is up next.