Return to Transcripts main page
Hurricane Nate Threatens Gulf Coast; Interview With Biloxi, Mississippi, Mayor Andrew Gilich; Incident in London Involving a Vehicle Driving into Pedestrians Draws Large Police Presence. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired October 7, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:17] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. We're so glad to have you with us, I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Welcome to CNN Newsroom. And we're beginning with breaking news.
PAUL: This morning hurricane Nate is what we're watching. It's gaining strength, it's taking aim at the Gulf coast, and the people there are getting ready for another round of what they are expecting the wind, the rain, and very possibly the storm surge and the flooding.
BLACKWELL: Yes, and this will be the third hurricane to hit the U.S. in just six weeks. This morning hurricane warnings are in effect for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. Nate left parts of Central America devastated. At least now 25 people killed, hundreds needed to be rescued from floods and mudslides. Many more are still without power, and they have no clean running water. We are tracking the latest forecast, of course.
PAUL: And in just a few hours, Vice President Mike Pence is going to be in Las Vegas. He's joining that community there as they heal, as they remember and honor the 58 lives that were lost in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
BLACKWELL: It's been almost a week since that shooting at the concert and investigators are still digging through thousands of leads, they say, about the killer, but what they have not found yet is the motive.
PAUL: And new this morning, is President Trump taking another swing at health care? He's tweeting about it this morning, a late night phone call he talks about with Chuck Schumer. We just got word from the Senate minority leader about what's going on, what's off the table when it comes to the future of Obamacare.
BLACKWELL: But first, let's go to hurricane Nate, and we'll be speaking with the mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi, about their preparations for the storm in just a minute, but we have our correspondents and experts standing by. Let's start with CNN meteorologist Chad Myers for the latest on the forecast. Where's it now, and where is it headed? CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Still a couple hundred miles south
of the mouth of the Mississippi. Now, that's not New Orleans. New Orleans is not on the mouth of the Mississippi, it's up river about 60 miles or so. But the storm is now over very, very warm water. That's its location. Over the loop current, the warmest water in the Gulf of Mexico. And it is trying to strengthen, 85 miles per hour right now, trying to get to 90 at landfall. Now, most of the 90 mile per hour winds will be east of the eye because we already have that forward motion. This thing is moving 22 miles per hour. You have to add the speed of the wind to the speed of the hurricane itself and the direction, the forward motion. So New Orleans may be on the easy side of the eye, where on the right side, which would be Biloxi, Gulf Port, Dauphin Island, even into Mobile Bay, that's what would be hit the most and hit the hardest at a 90 mile per hour spin.
Here's the water, middle 80s, 86 degrees right now. That's the fuel to this storm. When you lose the fuel, like over land, that's when the storm dies. But right now we still have at least 10 hours of uninterrupted potential strengthening as this thing makes landfall, five to nine-foot storm surge.
Now, that's not Katrina. Katrina was 20, 22 feet from base St. Louis, to Biloxi and Gulf Port, but nine feet plus the waves on top will be a significant surge to places that are very -- they're fragile. I mean, we're talking about lowlands, we're talking about wetlands, we're talking about beaches and also even some offshore islands that may get completely over-washed.
Significant wave height, we're talking about waves 10 to 15 feet as this moves onshore. The wind, especially on the east side of the eye, this was 8:00 tonight, Biloxi, Gulf shore, 68 miles-per-hour. That could already do damage, and the storm is still hours away from really making landfall. Biloxi, Mobile, Gulf shores, somewhere there, 90 to 95 mile per hour gusts.
And then it moves into Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, knocking down trees, power lines, and the like. A lot of power outages with this storm, even inland, not just along the beach.
BLACKWELL: Do not be deceived by this being a category one. It is a storm that will cause damage. Chad Myers, thanks so much.
PAUL: And hurricane winds and storm surge are the big concerns for New Orleans, specifically. This is the city under a state of emergency right now. Certain areas are under mandatory evacuations, and CNN's Kaylee Hartung is there live in New Orleans. Kaylee, who specifically is being told to leave at this hour and how is the weather holding up? It looks like it's starting to rain there, or no?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, it's just starting to rain, the first rain all morning long after being up early with you and Victor. Irish Bayou where I'm standing now among the places under mandatory evacuation. It's Irish Bayou, Lake Catherine, the Venetian Isles. But here you can see, it's a very low-lying area. This is a way of life for the people in this part of town just to the east of the middle of New Orleans. [10:05:02] So you're talking about the area, the land between Lake
Pontchartrain and where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. People here are no stranger to these conditions, this life-threatening storm surge that we talked about, maybe six to nine feet in this area. It's as bad as it has been projected.
But when we were in the middle of New Orleans earlier today, you don't really see many of the storm preparations under way there. There's no mandatory evacuation even being discussed in that area, at most a curfew that will go into effect at 7:00 p.m. tonight. But it's an area like this, just 20 miles east of New Orleans that could be severely hit. We've seen one man just ahead of me up the street packing things to head out. They will be closing flood gates around noon, and that's when people here need to get out.
After hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans spent more than $14 billion to build a storm defense system. So if you're somewhere like Irish Bayou here outside the protections of that system, it's time to take the precautions and get to safety. Christi?
PAUL: All right, so good to get the update, Kaylee. You and your crew stay safe there, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: On the phone with us now is the mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi, Mayor Andrew Gilich. Mr. Mayor, good morning to you. Thank you for being with us. Mr. Mayor, are you with us? All right, we will get back to the mayor in just a moment. As soon as we get the mayor on the phone, but let's talk now about the investigation into that Vegas massacre.
PAUL: Yes, because there are still so many leads coming in. I think they said something about 1,000, and yet the motive is what is still the big mystery here. What you're looking at there is a note that was left in the hotel room. It was not a suicide note, it was not a manifesto. There are just numbers on it. The question is, what do those numbers mean? That's one of the things investigators are starting to hone in on there, including, of course, the arsenal of weapons and 50 pounds of explosives that were found in his car.
Plus, we'll get the mayor back on the phone. But Hurricane Nate barreling towards the gulf coast. The cities that will be impacted, you'll follow that path on the maps, but the impact will be broad. We'll tell you what to look out for.
[10:11:00] BLACKWELL: All right, pushing forward on our coverage of hurricane Nate now in the Gulf, headed towards the Gulf coast. With us on the phone is the mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi, Andrew Gilich. Mr. Mayor good morning to you. Do we have you this time?
MAYOR ANDREW GILICH, BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI: Good morning, yes. Yes, we're here. I can hear you loud and clear.
BLACKWELL: All right, Mr. Mayor. Let me ask you first. You have some low-lying areas there in your beautiful city. You've been under a state of emergency since Thursday. Are there any evacuations that are in place this morning?
GILICH: At this point we're paying attention to the emergency operations of Harrison County. Of course, you know, we're all located on a peninsula, and surrounded three sides by water, and at this moment I'm looking shrimp boats evacuating through the back bay to safer harbors. But there are low lying areas for people who feel vulnerable to shelters will be open, I think five.
But we have significant number of visitors with our crews in the coast. And that's why we are looking ahead of the curve a little bit. We have about, I guess, 8,000 classic street rides and cars once a year, this is the 25th year for this event, but we were concerned about everyone leaving for about seven, eight days prior to this event. The storm, anyhow, they kept trickling in. Everybody is expected to leave today. And they've done, you know, a real good job of evacuating and going to the 40 something states that they came from.
So this is a little bit of a storm later than usual. We used to call it, old-timers, we call them September storms, but here we are in October. But, again, not to downplay anything, we're ready, I think, in the way you can prepare for it.
BLACKWELL: And that's important not to downplay this, because a lot of people hear category one, and after the storms that we've seen with Harvey and Irma and Maria, they think that they'll be OK or they can ride this out with very little preparation. But what are your biggest concerns as the storm approaches your state?
GILICH: Again, you know, the storm surge and people being trapped in areas they can't evacuate, you know, things really -- you never know about tornados and those things will cause a lot more than the 100 mile an hour winds. But the storm surge is a big thing that really traps everyone, you know, even with Katrina. And it was category three as it hit, but the storm surge was category five, as you know. So we're hopeful that, you know, it's moving in the direction and with the speed that I think 20 miles an hour plus, that will, you know, ease the blow. I think we'll sustain.
BLACKWELL: That's what we're hearing from Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center, that this storm will move through quickly, it will not be like Harvey which kind of just sat there for a while. Once it makes landfall, it's going to keep going. Mayor Andrew Gilich of the city of Biloxi, we wish you well. We'll check back in as the storm hits and after to make sure that everybody there is OK. Thanks for being with us this morning.
GILICH: Thank you. Thank you very much for calling. Bye-bye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
PAUL: We have some breaking news this hour. Just moments ago we are being told police began investigating an incident in London. This is something that happened near the Natural Museum. Here are some of the pictures we're just getting in. There are a number of people who have been injured we believe when a car drove into a crowd of people, I believe.
[10:15:00] Nic Robertson is joining us on the phone right now. Nic, what are your learning about this incident that metropolitan police are referring to?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the police are just beginning to release the first details. They say that they have arrested a man at the scene. They say a vehicle drove into a number of pedestrians. They haven't given a number of casualties yet. They say the medical services, the London ambulance service is on the scene. It's a very early stage, so they are not at the moment, they don't know what caused this. They are looking into what caused this particular incident.
But this is a very popular area in the west part of the center of London. An area that's very popular with tourists, and a day like today, Saturday at this time of year would very likely be quite crowded and quite busy with people around that museum area. But at the moment the police are saying they don't know why this happened, that they are investigating. But, obviously, with the recent -- with the recent incident, this in London, everyone here, particularly the emergency services and the police are on a heightened alert.
PAUL: Nic, are there surveillance cameras in that area that could eventually help police discern what happened? And did they give any indication as to the number of injured? You said that they didn't talk about how severely they might be injured, but the number of people in that crowd.
ROBERTSON: Sure. No numbers we released yet by the police. Surveillance camera footage is very, very likely. London, the U.K. in particular, London exceptionally has a very high number of surveillance cameras for road traffic management and also for incident at this particular nature, as well as stores having their own cameras. And this is an area that there's a high likelihood there will be a lot of -- to be able to -- police will be able to review that footage --
PAUL: I apologize, I think we're having a hard time --
ROBERTSON: -- from the person they detained.
PAUL: Nic, I'm sorry, your phone seems to be coming in and out for us right now, so I'm going to let you go, maybe try to reestablish that phone call in just a bit, as we continue to learn more. But again, the video that you're looking at here, some of the latest that we're getting from London as the metropolitan police are reporting a car or a vehicle ran into a crowd of people, that there are injuries.
BLACKWELL: And let's go to Patrick Greenfield, who's on the phone. He's there on the scene. He's an intern here with CNN. Patrick, describe just for us what are you seeing there.
PATRICK GREENFIELD, CNN INTERN ON THE SCENE IN LONDON: Hi there. In front of me right now there's a sea of police. Excuse the sound, there's more people coming. I'm still outside the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was walking to the museum with my girlfriend to see an exhibition there on Wales and we saw a stream of cars come past us. I mean, obviously, it's not confirmed from the metropolitan police yet, but we heard someone on the ground say a car had been driven into people.
I can say it's a very calm scene, as often is the case in London with these things. Emergency services right now in front of me are going about their work. I think the armed police, local police interviewing witnesses at the scenes. And I heard you say in the introduction there were injuries. We did see someone get put into an ambulance beforehand, but, obviously, terrifying thing to happen.
BLACKWELL: So, obviously in these situations they keep a perimeter for safety reasons and to protect their investigation so people don't crowd around. Give us an idea how close you are and if you can ascertain, if you can see, how many people there potentially are injured, if you can see any of the people there.
ROBERTSON: So, I'm 200 meters, I'd say, away from where it happened right now. I can see the Natural History Museum in front of me, it's quite an open, wide road. I can only see lots of security services. I can't see people on the floor. I can't see the car or the van. In fact, I'm not sure which it was. It's quite confusing, but I can see armed police standing around. And they are moving vehicles and people away from the scene and interviewing witnesses.
BLACKWELL: Also, this is just about an hour after this happened, according to the statement from the Met police, and you correct me if I'm wrong, they say 14:21 local time, which would have been about an hour ago at 2:21 local there. Give us an idea, you were on your way to the Natural Museum for an exhibit there.
[10:20:00] Is this a stretch of road that would typically be crowded at this time on a Saturday afternoon?
ROBERTSON: It's obviously right by the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well, so it's a popular area with tourists and people enjoying their weekend. But, I mean, really it's in west London, so it's in the wealthier area. It's near where a lot of the embassies are. But it's not particularly full of people or a residential area.
What I must say, as well, is right now in the center of London there's a large group intending to walk on parliament, anti-extremism protesters, members of the far right, football hooligans in some, and they were going to be met by a counterdemonstration. So, really, it's really quite the dramatic scene. And that's probably about a mile away right now. I'm not sure what metropolitan police are doing with that, but there really is a lot going on in such a small part of London.
BLACKWELL: OK, Patrick Greenfield, CNN intern who is there at the scene. Stay close for us. We'll likely come back to you before the hour is up. Patrick, thank you so much, and we'll push forward on this breaking news of this incident, as it's described, by Met police there near a museum in London. Several pedestrians injured. A man, we're told, in custody.
PAUL: And we're going to get more information here. We'll be back with you in just a moment. Do stay close.
[10:25:51] This is CNN breaking news.
PAUL: Breaking news this hour. Just moments ago police, we're told, investigating now an incident in London. This is something that happened near the Natural museum. We understand that a number of people have, indeed, been injured. CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes joining us now, but these are some of the pictures we're getting in from the incident. We understand a vehicle drove into a crowd of pedestrians.
BLACKWELL: Yes, we know that there have been people who have been injured and the Met police, according to a statement, says a man and then in parentheses say no further details has been arrested at the scene. Inquiries to establishment the circumstances and motive are underway.
So that's where we bring in our senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes who is joining us now. And Tom, of course, this comes in the context of other automobile car and van incidents in the last several months. One in June where a man drove a van into a crowd at a mosque, but in March the Westminster attack, what are they doing now, the first hour after this attack, to determine, as they say, the circumstances and motives?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Victor, the main thing is to identify who this driver is. They have him in custody, so they should be able to gain that person's identity pretty quick, and then from there try to determine was this a deliberate act, an act of terrorism, or a mental illness, or some other effect like that, or was it an accident, was it a drunk driver. So there's any number of things.
But the British typically are very close hold on this type of information until they are really certain and will put something out. But, of course, it's very suspicious about 2:00 in the afternoon in front of a crowded London museum on a Saturday to have an incident like this happen. Certainly it has the appearances of being a deliberate act, but we won't know until the British authorities announce.
PAUL: So we see the area here where it's been roped off. We know that ambulances have showed up, that somebody was taken away. At least one person was taken away, based on witness accounts there. How long, Tom, do they usually keep a road like this blocked off? Because some of the video that we're seeing, we don't -- we usually at least see part of the incident, and I don't see a whole lot of the incident here, which makes we wonder how many people we're talking about.
FUENTES: Right. Well, first, Christi, they are going to want to do -- if they think they have a crime scene here, as opposed to an accident, but either way they are going to do the same forensic investigation on the sidewalk, and, of course, create and remove any injured parties, gather all the witnesses that they can for interviews.
So, you know, they are going to be very deliberate, very methodical in their approach to conducting the rescues of individuals that are harmed as well as conducting the crime scene investigation. So they are not in as big a hurry to release that information as we are to receive it.
PAUL: Very good point. CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, thank you so much, Tom, for being with us.
BLACKWELL: We have on the phone with us someone who witnessed this unfortunate incident. We don't know yet whether to call it an attack. We are hearing from Met police that it's just an incident. Will Geddes saw this. Will, good morning to you. Thank you for being with us. Describe what you saw.
WILL GEDDES, EYEWITNESS: Yes, good morning, sir. I didn't actually witness it, but I know the area very well, and I'm from the security community, if that helps.
BLACKWELL: OK. Go ahead.
GEDDES: I mean, in terms of the local area, and certainly, I was actually just going for my morning early run, actually, up this particular road, Exhibition Road, which junctures with Cromwell Road which is outside the Natural History Museum. From what I can see from pictures which you're showing on social media right now is that the vehicle approached from a westerly direction east of it towards Nice Bridge, and this road is actually a very, very fast road. There are two lanes on either side. There are very few risk mitigation measures on the pavement or sidewalk, obviously, to a degree to protect, obviously, members of the public.
[10:30:04] Now, there could be, and again it's too early to call quite yet as to whether this could be a terrorist-related incident, but because, obviously, there are a number of vehicles and road traffic collisions which happen with regular frequency on this road. However, from the pictures I've seen, the vehicle and individual that was apprehended was positioned into the side turning which is a road called Exhibition Road, which is semi-pedestrianized, so there's a lot of members of the general public, certainly a lot of tourists and businessmen in London which will congregate on this particular road, which is shared with traffic but is primarily pedestrianized.
Now, from what we can see or from what I've seen from some of the pictures on social media is if an individual has actually been detained and apprehended by police officers, there is a very large emergency response mechanism that's, obviously, being treated by this. The entire area around it has actually been closed off. Now, there are also a number of foreign embassies, in fact, around this particular locale, as well. So there is by general standards a very high police presence, so I'm not entirely surprised to see such a quick response. BLACKWELL: And we know from our intern there, Patrick Greenfield, who
we'll speak with in a moment, that the area is cordoned off and people, as you see from this video, being kept back at a considerable distance. Will Geddes, thank you so much for being with us. We will come back to you in a moment. I believe we have on the phone Nic Robertson.
PAUL: Nic, can you tell us what you have learned in the last couple of minutes here as we continue to watch all of this unfold?
ROBERTSON: Well, we're still seeing police, what we believe is a police helicopter over the scene. Obviously, as our previous guests have been saying, it's a crime scene, but the police will also be making sure there isn't a follow-on type of incident. Again, they haven't said what type of incident it is.
What we have from the police so far are very few details. The preliminary assessment, the police in London, the Met police who deal with all the issues in London, including the terrorism-related issues, have a very efficient communications system now that they've had in place for a while. It's very effective. But when they don't want to say something, they don't say it.
So right now all they have said is that the car drove into a crowd of pedestrians, that there have been a number of causalities, that a man has been detained at the scene. They are not releasing any details about that man, but we do know that it was a man that was involved. They say that the ambulance service has been at the scene, and they continue to investigate to try to find out precisely what happened here. The metropolitan police, as we've seen with various police bodies across Europe now, can when they decide that something is terrorism, they will make that announcement very quickly, very swiftly.
We're still in the time window for the police to be going through this process of trying to figure out precisely what happened, but if this was to be what people will worry about now, was it terrorism, was it just a rogue traffic accident, we can expect the metropolitan police to try to say that clearly because they want people to be informed as much as possible on precisely what's happening.
But, you know, this is -- London has witnessed a number of these incidents, a march earlier this year at the Westminster Bridge to the Borough Market attack a couple of months ago at the beginning of June. And what we've seen there is police flood the area with a highly visible police presence, as well as if you will sort of Special Forces. Police on the scene, that sort of thing. A similar scenario will unfold now.
What we have seen subsequent to those attacks on the bridges in London where pedestrians were the target and were the target because there was a lot of people, a lot of tourists, and the car was able to get off the road and plow into those pedestrians quite easily. We have seen heavy metal barricades put up on those bridges to make it much harder for people to approach those areas. This is an area that doesn't have that sort of protection. This is an
area where there are a lot of tourists. And in particular, because this is a museum district and because the museum that it's close to one that is very popular with children, it has a dinosaur exhibit, a whale exhibit, it is one of the most popular museums for children in London, one can expect that the people close to the vicinity there, there would have been children, perhaps a higher proportionate number of children than in an average street gathering. There will have been children very likely in amongst those people.
[10:35:01] We don't know, because the police aren't saying, but again, the museum, the Natural History Museum in that vicinity is very, very popular with children.
BLACKWELL: Nic, I want to before we get to one of our producers who is there, clarify one thing you said, Met police have said there are several causalities and some people may think causality and think fatality, but they are not making that question, are they? It can also just be injuries, correct?
ROBERTSON: Absolutely. In this case, at this time this is a casual term, while they investigate and, you know, deal with those people that are injured. At this time, the police haven't said whether there have been fatalities, whether the injuries are serious, or the nature of it. At the moment they just have the scene here cordoned off to the public at the moment.
BLACKWELL: All right, our Nic Robertson there reporting the latest for us. Nic, thank you so much. We'll get back to you in a moment.
PAUL: I want to go to our producer now, Mohammed al-Saiegh. He is there I believe in London. Mohammed, what are you hearing, and where are you?
MOHAMMED AL-SAIEGH, CNN PRODUCER: All right, so you're pretty low on the line, but I'll just telling you what we're seeing. We were just driving into South Kensington, and hundreds of people, teenagers and children amongst them, were streaming across the road. It was very confusing. We looked around and they were just closing the tube station. Again, this is just about 20 seconds from where the incident happened. We came around and there was a huge cordon set up. Police are just all over the place.
We spoke to a police officer, said it seemed like a minor incident at the time. She confirmed that one person had been injured with a broken leg. Kind of what we're seeing doesn't agree with that. The helicopters still streaming through the sky above us, rotating around, and since then we've had five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 police cars come streaming through. One was an unmarked van with maybe half a dozen officers jumped out of, all heavily armed, all wearing masks. More ambulances come racing through, all lights blazing, as well. Now they've set up a live cordon and we've spoken to another police officer and described it as a major, ongoing incident. As Nic was saying, it's just a crazily busy area just swarming with police right now. PAUL: So are people -- are there still a lot of people in the area,
as well? I'm assuming that this is probably causing a lot of attention.
AL-SAIEGH: Yes, the Victorian, as Nic was saying, museum district, so you have the science museum, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the French Institute just around the corner, South Kensington is a very busy, very hip area with tons of cafes. So the road now is all blocked off. All the buses are backed up. This is a major thoroughfare. There are hundreds of people outside the Victorian museum.
They've blocked off the other areas on the other side, but I'm sure it's the same way there. It's a huge spectacle. Obviously, journalists are just starting to arrive, but people are standing around very confused why central London yet again in lockdown with police along the streets.
PAUL: Mohammed, I'm not sure if you can distinguish this for us, but we are getting word. Initially we were told a man was arrested at the scene. We're now being told a man has been detained, not arrested, but detained. I mean, we can discern what exactly that means, but there in London, is there a difference between arrested and detained?
AL-SAIEGH: I suppose you would have to send a formal caution, I wouldn't know the legal in-and-outs, I'm sorry to say, but you would have to be under suspicion of something to be formally arrested. For all intents and purposes, they grab someone from the scene. I suppose the thing around that would be the intention. The first police officer told us the police were operating under the assumption it was an accident at that point and because the area, because the number of causalities were so low.
And remember, all along the area, Natural History Museum, is a pedestrian district. It's all pedestrianized, so it's conceivable that if you were to lose control or anything like that, you would hit someone and there would be an event. So I would have thought the difference between arrested and detained at this point would be just figuring out whether there was any intention between hurting and killing people or whether he just simply had an accident.
PAUL: All right, Mohammed al-Saiegh, we appreciate so much you bringing us up to date on what you saw in that area. Do stay safe there.
We are getting some information here that a number of pedestrians are believed injured following a car collision as it is being described on London's Exhibition Road. This happened just a short while ago outside the Natural History Museum, and as our witnesses -- our eye witnesses have been telling us, it's a very populated area, a lot of families, a lot of children, a lot of tourists in this area, and a man has been detained. And, Victor, you brought up a very good point about causality versus injured.
[10:40:02] BLACKWELL: Yes. So we learned from our correspondent there, Nic Robertson, who said met police are saying there have been several causalities. We want to be clear here some may hear "causality" and think fatality, but those terms are not interchangeable when discussing an incident like this. Causality may be just simply an injury. So we'll wait for more details there.
But also in this update from the scene there, the London metropolitan place now say that a man has been detained on the scene of this collision, as they call it. In the earlier statement, which we relied upon, they said the man had been arrested, but now they are using the word "detained." Unclear right now what we can glean from that difference, but again, this is outside of the museum there, the Natural History Museum. Our intern, Patrick Greenfield, says that this is a popular area, where there are several museums. We spoke to Will Geddes, who is a security expert, who said that there are also several foreign entities there in the discussion of embassies on that stretch of road. So there would be a high police presence.
We know there is a large perimeter. You can see that from the video. Our producer Mohammed al-Saiegh says that a tube station, the train station there was closed as he was pulling up near the section. And, again, dozens of police there, also some ambulances there, no clarity yet from metropolitan police if this was an intentional crash into a crowd. They, of course, are still trying to figure out the circumstances and motives as they describe them.
PAUL: And we're going to continue to get more information on this. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with you in just a moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
[10:45:56] BLACKWELL: Welcome back. We're pushing forward on the breaking news of this incident in London being described by Metropolitan police as a collision. Several injuries we know, a man has been detained there on the scene. This is video from moments ago. We have our producer there Mohammed al-Saiegh who is near the scene there.
Mohammed, let me get from you what you're seeing there, because we've seen this change in language from Metropolitan police. Initially saying that a man was arrested and now detained, and they're describing this as only a collision. Are we seeing a corresponding retreat from authorities there? Are police backing away physically as we're seeing them back away from some of this language?
AL-SAIEGH: Again, I've seen the language kind of change on the course of the ground here, as well, but if anything, the number of cars, the number of policemen and the number of people around is just growing more and more chaotic by the minute. As I described a few minutes ago to you, Victor, we've seen police cars come streaming in, all lights blazing. We've seen more officers jumping out in their full riot gear, masks on, guns out. We've seen ambulances come streaming in as well. As soon as we got on the scene, we saw somebody being pushed away on a trolley under a red blanket. So it's, as you say, very confusing as to what's going on. But the
police, I've been down to several incidents now down in London from the attacks on Tower Bridge and then the mosque, I was there within minutes of that as well, and the police response wasn't at this level that I saw at the time. The whole street is just lined with cars and there are flashing lights.
I'm here with my colleague and he pushing in video to you guys as we speak, as well, so I hope you're seeing this as we see it. But as far as the eye can see, I can see down Cromwell road in front of the museum itself, there are police cars with their lights going and policemen arriving every few minutes we have seen. And the last 10 minutes it's died down a bit, but we have to just seen it ramp up for the last, I think I've been here for about 30 to 40 minutes now, and the presence has grown probably by about 50 percent.
PAUL: The presence of police officers?
BLACKWELL: The presence of police officers mostly. We've also seen more ambulances arriving with paramedics riding around to the side of the road here. There are police down on benches with what we presume are eye witnesses taking notes on what they saw happen. And, of course, we'll try to get more information on them as soon as it's available and bring it to you guys.
PAUL: Mohammed, let me ask you a question because you mentioned the Tower Bridge incident, I believe it was back in June, and it seemed that that was an incident somebody went through a crowd of people and continued to drive and there was somewhat of a chase. This seemed to be contained quite quickly. Would you agree?
AL-SAIEGH: It seems to be that way. That's the information we're getting from the police officers on the ground. Everyone seems a bit nervous and a bit uncertain. There are a couple of people walking through the crowds kind of panicked and saying -- of course, we won't repeat what they are, but as far as we can see, the incident was over relatively quickly, and it happened in an area where there are lots of pedestrians. And we're getting kind of mixed reports on how many people were injured.
But the whole street next to the Natural History Museum is pedestrianized. There are cars mixed in there, as well. So it's conceivable that an accident would have taken place. That's the language we're hearing from the police officers as you're hearing in the studio, as well. The only thing that really is throwing a mix into the situation is just the sheer number of police cars and police officers here right now.
BLACKWELL: All right, our producer, Mohammed al-Saiegh, who was there near the scene.
Let's go now to CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson who is also on the scene. And offer some context here, Nic, because as we're seeing this response from authorities, this comes just several months after two vehicle attacks in June. A man drove his van into pedestrians outside of a mosque. Also the London Bridge and Borough market attacks were a vehicle attack, and then in March the Westminster Bridge vehicle attack and stabbing, as well.
[10:0:02] So the London authorities have good cause to be this cautious and respond in this way, although they have not yet determined if this attack was intentional or if this was, indeed, an attack or maybe an accident.
ROBERTSON: The police in the situation like this would move their assets, move their counterterrorism assets, move law enforcement assets on the scene until they've figured it out. They've had this experience. They've had experience, obviously, decades ago with the IRA. That was different. This is entirely something else. This area here is a neighborhood that has a lot of embassies. This is an area that would naturally have a lot of police officers in it. It's an area that police here, the Met police, would have been very well aware could have become a potential target because of the museums, because it's a tourist area. This is a shopping district. They will have had contingency plans for this area, and this is what you see put into effect here.
As my colleague has been reporting to you from one end of what is the crime scene right now, I'm at another corner of the crime scene, and as you've been talking, another couple of ambulances drove in at high speed. There are a lot of crowds here, people walking around, and that's just indicative of how many people are in this neighborhood, and therefore, why if this were an attack of some description, why this might have been chosen, because there are a lot of people here. We don't know that at the moment.
But when we look at the attacks on the Westminster Bridge in March, when we look at the attacks at Tower Bridge in June, both of those the attackers chose to drive vehicles where there was a high density of people. They tried to use larger vehicles. They tried to drive a continuous speed, and then they got out of those vehicles in both those cases armed with knives and then tried to attack people.
In the Westminster Bridge incident, the killing of the police officer, in the Tower Bridge incident at Borough market, then several people were killed. There were three men wielding knives, several of them, they killed several people before police were able to shoot them dead.
So the police were on the scene there in that particular case within 10 minutes. So to see heavily armed police here this quickly this time really doesn't come as a surprise in London at the moment. I was on the scene in both incidents I'm talking about now. We saw a very, very heavy police presence very quickly there where now we're looking at another police trying to, you know, keep the traffic flowing around the area at the same time let emergency vehicles in and out. They have a major job on their hands because this is such, such a busy area, and they are trying to keep it open as best they can.
So when you do compare this to those incidents, the attacks on Westminster Bridge in March, the Borough Market and London bridge attacks in June, there are similarities. Everything is not the same, but there are similarities, and that's why the police have responded in the way they have, flooding the area with not only counterterrorism officers, you know. The situation may be in one of those attacks I'm talking about there were a number of attackers, one in particular a lone attacker. So they cannot take the chance that there isn't a potential of another attacker in the area, or the way they are responding now, as I've seen them compared to when they responded to the attacks on Borough Market with three attackers with knives, the police had us literally running on our heels through the streets as armed officers were running in.
This at the moment feels like more of a crime scene, with the area cordoned off and the assets in place that they need.
BLACKWELL: All right, Nic Robertson there for us on the scene. Nic, thank you so much.
PAUL: Tom, real quickly, only a couple of seconds here, but what do you make of the change in language just in the last half-hour or so from metropolitan police that a man was arrested, now they are saying a man was detained. Does that tell you anything?
FUENTES: No. Well, it tells me they may, Christi, just want to downplay the seriousness at this point. By using the term "arrested," it would imply even though no really indicate that the person is being formally charged with a serious crime. Detention sounds like they are just holding somebody at the scene while they investigate that. But either way, that person's not going to be free to say I'm leaving, have a nice day. So technically it would still be a person under arrest. They are just trying to tone down the language.
PAUL: All right, Tom Fuentes, we appreciate it so much, former FBI there. He's going to stick with us throughout the morning, as Fred is getting ready to take over.
[10:55:00] BLACKWELL: Yes, if you're just joining us, there has been, as Metropolitan police in London are describing it, a collision there on Exhibition Road near the Natural History Museum. There have been injuries. One man has been detained. Our reporters have been describing a large area there that has been cordoned off. Lots of police cars. A train station, one producer says, has been shut down.
We will continue with this breaking news at the top of the hour. Fredricka Whitfield will join you in just a moment. Thanks for watching this morning.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the newsroom and welcome to our international viewers. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.