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Storm Florence: Heavy Flooding Cuts Off Wilmington; Civilian Fear Worst Ahead Of Likely Idlib Assault; UK Police: Novichok Did Not Sicken Two Diners Sunday; Vontae Davis Retires From NFL During Games Halftime. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 17, 2018 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:09] NATALIE ALLEN, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: A woman publicly accuses Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. We have new details about her story ahead here. The worst flooding is yet to come from parts of North and South Carolina. Rivers are rising to dangerous levels, and more rain from what is left of Hurricane Florence is on the way.

And a health scare in Salisbury, England rattles nerves once again. Months after two poisoning incidents shocked the U.K. These stories are all ahead here this hour. Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Natalie Allen, and this is CNN Newsroom. Our top story, a new revelation could derail the confirmation of Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, now that the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has come forward.

The previously anonymous woman detailed allegations in the Washington Post. U.S. Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue has more for us.


ARIANE DE VOGUE, U.S. SUPREME COURT REPORTER, CNN: Christine Blasey Ford has publicly come forward in the Washington Post and alleged that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party more than 30 years ago when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh categorically denies her allegations. She said she attended a party in a suburban Maryland home in 1982. Kavanaugh and a friend were drunk.

She was allegedly corralled into a bedroom. At one point, she said he tried to take off her clothes and he put his hand over her mouth. I thought he might inadvertently kill me. She told the Washington Post. She only shared the details years later in 2012 with a therapist and her husband. According to the article, the husband recalls his wife using Kavanaugh's name but the therapist notes, which was reviewed by the Washington Post do not mention him.

The other man who she alleged was in the room back then told the Weekly Standard last week that he never saw Kavanaugh act that way. Senator Chuck Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh for Thursday. Ariane de Vogue, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: The Democrats and some Republicans want Thursday's senate committee vote on Kavanaugh to be postponed. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted this. Senate Republicans ran a transparently partisan confirmation process, and then immediately insinuated that Professor Ford is being untruthful. They cannot impartially investigate these disturbing allegations.

That must be done by the FBI and the vote must be postponed until it is complete. CNN's Boris Sanchez has more on the White House response to these claims.


BORIS SANCHEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The White House not really saying anything new when it comes to these detailed allegations from Christine Blasey Ford in the Washington Post, in which she alleges that Judge Brett Kavanaugh inappropriately sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. Now Kavanaugh has denied those accusations.

Last week, through the White House, he put out a statement essentially saying that it never took place. Today, when I asked White House Spokesperson Raj Shah about these detailed allegations, Ford coming forward her name on the record. He pointed to that previous denial by Brett Kavanaugh. The White House apparently feels that denial is sufficient to deal with some of these new claims that Ford is making, including that she took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent back in August, which she claims that she passed.

Now, Democrats are suggesting that any confirmation vote to move Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court should be delayed until the FBI completes the probing of these allegations. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are pushing back. The Chairman of that committee, Chuck Grassley, openly questioning why Senator Feinstein had this information back in July from Ford through an anonymous letter, and chose to hold it back until these later stages in the confirmation process.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had a notable statement as well. He essentially said that he sympathizes with Republicans on judiciary committee, but that he would like to hear from Mrs. Ford himself. In that statement, he effectively invites her to testify before the committee, something that is unclear whether it will happen or not.

We should point out that President Trump has remained uncharacteristically silent. On Twitter, the President has tweeted multiple times Sunday afternoon, congratulating Mexicans on their national independence day, and tweeting that if Democrats are elected to Congress, the economy would tank. But he has not said anything about these allegations into his Supreme Court nominee. Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.


[02:05:02] ALLEN: Let's talk more about what is going on here with Natasha Lindstaedt. She's the Government Professor at the University of Essex in Cardiff, Wales. Thanks so much for talking with us about this. Let's first discuss the fact that the accuser did not want to come forward. She is Christine Blasey Ford. She was quoted in the Washington Post saying why suffer through the annihilation if it is not going to matter.

Of course, in 1991, Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual misconduct, and he was eventually confirmed. Here's what Ms. Hill, now a college professor, had to say about Ms. Ford's reluctance. Here is her quote. The reluctance of someone to come forward demonstrates that even in this MeToo era, it remains incredibly difficult to report harassment, abuse, or assault by people in power.

The Senate Judiciary Committee should put in place a process that enables anyone with a complaint of this nature to be heard. I have seen first hand what happens when such a process is weaponized against an accuser and no one should have to endure that again.

So Natasha, let's talk about the era of MeToo. Do you think that will make things different from when Anita Hill accused a nominee of sexual harassment?

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Definitely. I think this is a completely different era than when Anita Hill came forward. And people weren't taking these types of allegations very seriously. Now there is a whole different political climate, social climate about wanting to support victims, wanting to support women coming forward.

But I think the other thing that we have to mention is that the allegations by Ford are really, really serious. And even though it was many years ago, this is about sexual assault, one that was very violent, one where she felt he was going to kill her, in her estimation. And so it is a little bit even going further than someone who is sexually harassing someone else, which is also very serious.

It is something -- these allegation that she's putting forward, it is very, very serious.

ALLEN: Right. And the question is how will members of the Senate Judiciary Committee deal with this? One editorial in the New York Times said absolutely this should be investigated before the vote that was set to take place by the committee happens on Thursday. But at the same time, this is a deeply partisan Washington. How might that factor in?

LINDSTAEDT: Right. So I would think that they would want to investigate this further, because they have a couple of senators like Susan Collins and then Murkowski who might -- and even maybe even Jeff Flake or Bob Corker who might vote differently. And they could end up -- this thing could end up being completely derailed. And it sounds like there are enough senators that are pushing for an investigation and to delay the vote on this, that they need to take these allegations very seriously.

Had she not come forward, Kavanaugh would have probably gone through and he probably would have been confirmed by the end of the month. But having a name on the victim, a name who was accusing Kavanaugh of some really serious acts and allegations, and a lot of the details in her story are things that are very easy to understand that it probably could have happened.

Something that is very probable. And so I could see that they should try to delay this vote and investigate this further.

ALLEN: But what about Judge Kavanaugh himself? He has issued a statement vehemently denying that this ever happened. Should he come forward now and confront it in front of cameras or stand back and just see how the process pans out.

LINDSTAEDT: I don't see him coming forward in front of cameras and saying that this was something that happened or trying to provide his version of the story. I see him sticking to his line that this, you know, never happened. It never had anything to do with him. And I can't even imagine him coming to -- come forward and address that this even happened.

A lot of the candidates and candidates that Trump has picked and Trump himself have stuck to this strategy of just completely denying that anything happened.

ALLEN: Well, we will wait and see what happens, because again, this vote is set to take place Thursday, and now it is Monday. Thank you so much, Natasha Lindstaedt. We appreciate your insights. Well, in other news that we're following very closely, it is the storm that keeps on going in the southeastern U.S. after massive flooding and relentless rain.

[02:09:56] We still have not seen the worst of Florence, which has now been downgraded to a tropical depression. At least 18 people are dead in North and South Carolina. And the rain likely will not let up until at least Tuesday evening. That means the worst and most dangerous flooding is yet to come.

Our Polo Sandoval reports from Lumberton, North Carolina, where officials are afraid a levy may not hold the river that's rising very quickly.


POLO SANDOVAL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The residents of Lumberton, North Carolina very familiar with the damaging potential of flood waters that come after these tropical systems. It has been only two years since Hurricane Matthew swept through the region, sending flood waters to the neighborhood, and here it is again.

Many of the residents here told me they feel history is repeating itself. This time however, they tried to get ahead of the storm. Last week, they came together, strangers with city officials to create a manmade, a makeshift levy if you will in a certain part of town that they say is where the water swept in after Hurricane Matthew in an effort to try to keep that from happening again. They created that levy. However, on Sunday, it was compromised. We

were there with the U.S. Coast Guard as we noticed the water began seeping in, breaking part of that barrier. It did buy them time however, an opportunity to evacuate some of these neighborhoods that were hardest hit by Matthew, get to higher ground.

However, officials fear that there are still many people who decided to stay in their homes, even though these -- the water level continues to rise. Authorities say that they expect the Lumber River to crest Sunday night into Monday, possibly even reaching record heights. In the meantime, authorities say that there is still one main levy that runs along the Lumber River that is still holding up.

It is still doing OK, doing the job it is supposed to do. But officials say, and they fear that if that gives out, that all bets off, Polo Sandoval, CNN, Lumberton, North Carolina.


ALLEN: Well, that Lumberton and now this is Wilmington. Earlier, the mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina said the city was effectively cut off by flood waters. Let's discuss this with Zack Wicker, Deputy Director of New Hanover County Emergency Management in the region. He joins us on the telephone. Zack, this is just hard to fathom that Wilmington has been cut off.

We know the number of boat rescues has been the hundreds. What is the situation right now and are there still people that need rescue?

ZACK WICKER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NEW HANOVER COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Hey, good morning. We are hopeful that there's not many more rescues to go on in the coming days. We are hoping that, you know, that the safety of the public has been kept by evacuation or done previous to the flood waters coming in and people heeding the warnings about them coming hurricane.

And, you know, they have -- the rescue teams have been hard at work over the past couple of days. Boat rescues transporting evacuees and transporting to shelters so they're at a safe location.

ALLEN: Let me ask you, Zack, if Wilmington is cut off are there still people in homes, in apartments in Wilmington then that are kind of stuck there?

WICKER: As we're getting 911 calls, we are responding to those persons that make those emergency calls. I am not aware of any right now.

ALLEN: There was a report that the 911 system went down for a time. Is everything working OK now?

WICKER: Yes, Ma'am. You know any time that 911 service, you know, is -- goes down in a certain location, there's contingency plans in place. The lines automatically forward to another jurisdiction.

ALLEN: That's good to know. As far as the people who have been helping out the rescuers on standby, do you still have people that are able to assist, enough hands to assist considering this has been going on for so long.

WICKER: Our teams have been supplemented by -- through a federal request for a task force team. So we have federal and state partners in the county right now that have been assisting with this. So everybody has been working hard to keep everyone as safe as we can.

ALLEN: And Zack, is there any idea when Wilmington will get back to life as they knew it before Florence?

WICKER: You know in the next several days, you know, the rivers are cresting. Still, they're at flood stage. But nearly every river in the region is in flood stage right now. And so, you know, we want to maintain our message that -- to the public that when the rivers are cresting, when the rivers continue to rise, as water flows down the Cape Fear in other areas, other bodies of water that it is still dangerous.

[02:15:13] We don't want you out on the roads. Stay home if you can. We just want you to stay in a safe location until the waters recede, until it's safe to do so to get emergency crews in the area to restore utilities and power.

ALLEN: All right. So many people still without power, and yes, it is likely going to get worse before it gets better. And there's a video there on the screen of the situation, rescuers helping a baby into a boat there. Zach Wicker in Wilmington, North Carolina, we know you're so very busy. Thank you so much for your service and for taking the time to speak with us.

WICKER: Thank you too.

ALLEN: Well, let's get more on the storm with our Meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri. We just heard from Zach, and you could tell how tired these workers are. And they're sitting there cut off, Wilmington is. And they're just waiting for more water.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: It's 600 roads too, Natalie, across North Carolina that's been completely cut off. So literally traveling across the state becomes almost impossible at this point. And the system made landfall 72 hours ago nearly, and still producing rainfall. And guess what. When you look at the southern trajectory of it, it's producing rainfall here where it made landfall not far from Wilmington.

And of course, the center of the system hundreds of miles to the north right now, so tropical depression pumping in tremendous amounts of moisture still into the Carolinas. And we know that the soil here has been absolutely saturated in the past couple of days. The ground water pushing up and up and finally eventually in the last couple of days, we've seen the water now come to the surface.

So any additional rain that does fall becomes surface flooding. And of course, across to the west, we're talking about the Appalachians. So a lot of that water wants to all revert back into the Atlantic Ocean where they originated from. So if you're getting all that water that's rushing back down onto the ocean and the flooding concern really across much of these river gauges.

It is very prevalent as well. Some 36 gauges reporting flooding, a lot of these gauges now stop working the last couple of hours, because they're essentially becoming overwhelmed by the tremendous (Inaudible) of water across them. Rainfall still in the forecast the next couple of days, we have now upwards of 17 million, Natalie, that is underneath these flood alerts at this point.

We expect the rain, as you were mentioning, to begin to finally die down over the next say 24 or so hours. But the damage has been done. This is the wettest tropical system in state history beating what Floyd did back in 1999 with over 30 inches, Natalie.

ALLEN: It is hard to fathom, isn't it? Really feel for the people there, Pedram. Thank you.


ALLEN: Now to the other storms. And it is race against time there to find survivors. We're talking about the Philippines, coming up, the rescue efforts after Typhoon Mangkhut.


[02:20:00] ALLEN: We've been focusing on the storm on the eastern U.S. seaboard. Now we want to turn to the storm barreling through Southeast Asia. Typhoon Mangkhut is moving inland now across mainland China where it is blamed for at least four deaths. Nearly 2 1/2 million people are in Guangdong Province. They've been evacuated from their homes.

That's how many have been evacuated. The storm clean-up has begun in Hong Kong, where fierce winds, uprooted trees, and smashed windows there. And rescue effort are underway in the Philippines still, where at least 54 people now are confirmed dead in the typhoon's aftermath. Land slides cost many of those deaths, and you can see that seems to be what they're working with right there in that video.

Our Matt Rivers joins us now from Beijing. Hello to you, Matt. The storm has been extremely dangerous from start to finish.

MATT RIVERS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yeah. That's exactly right, Natalie. Three different landfalls now for this typhoon now in southern China where it continues to dump rain and flooding, is a major concern in southern China at this point. As you mentioned, four people so far confirmed dead in mainland China as a result of this storm. Three of which -- three of whom were killed when trees toppled on top of them.

And a fourth was actually inside a building when it collapsed. Those numbers could rise though, as flooding remains a major issue in Guangdong Province. That is a province that is actually quite used to flooding this time of year. But this is -- this storm is actually talking about record levels of flooding in some parts of Guangdong Province, and the worst is certainly -- well could be yet to come for certain places.

But talking more specifically about the Philippines, which is really the area that got hit the worst by this storm. As you mentioned, 54 people confirmed dead, 33 injured, and 42 missing. And we have those live pictures to show you of an ongoing rescue operation on Luzon Island. That's the northern Philippine island that really got hit hardest by this storm.

It came ashore as the strongest storm on Earth in 2018. And the Philippines is where it first made landfall. Those landslides happen all of the time when these typhoons hit the Philippines. They're a constant threat to the people there, and that is the main reason for these deaths. You see rescuers there going through those landslides hoping to find people alive, Natalie. But they certainly have their work cut out for them.

ALLEN: Yeah. Absolutely, and so many of the people that were in the brunt of this storm in the Philippines worked in agriculture, and many of their crops have been destroyed. So that is another unfortunate situation they have to deal with. Back to China for a moment, Matt, how long might this threat last for more flooding for the people of Guangdong.

RIVERS: Well, you know, similar to what you're seeing on the southeast coast of the United States, as a result of Hurricane Florence. You know part of the issue here is when do the rivers crest in that area, the flooding that's obviously being created by the rain. But flooding risks remain. And so you're looking at least a number of days before those floodwaters really start to recede for the people in Guangdong, and the system continues to rain in certain parts of southern China.

So they are by no means out of the woods, even though the winds are not a problem anymore. Thankfully, that's the case now. But the flooding threat will remain and this could produce more deaths as the days go on.

[02:25:09] ALLEN: Matt Rivers for us in Beijing, Matt, as always, thank you for watching the story. Now let's go back to Pedram, who is tracking the storm for us from the weather center. Perhaps you could address more of the threat for flooding there, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Yeah. (Inaudible) pretty high across this region, Natalie, you know, the last couple of days we were watching a storm system that essentially was healthy category five. In fact, if there was a hypothetical category six, this would be there approaching portions of the Philippines. And of course, as it approached there around Hong Kong, significant damage left in place.

We know this region also fully saturated in the last couple of days. We had wind gusts over Hurricane Florence across the city there. Certainly, when you factor in the tall buildings, the mountains not far towards this region, you're really going to produce a lot of damage. And that's the concern across this area with the saturated soil, Hurricane Florence wind gusts, and of course, getting about three to four weeks worth of rainfall in just a matter of 24 hours.

Hong Kong picked up 200 millimeters, which is about 8 inches of rainfall in a matter of 24 hours. And all of that now pushes off towards (Inaudible) off towards northern areas of Vietnam there, and (Inaudible) some heavy rains as well and the flooding in place. But we know the air ports across (Inaudible) were closed. In (Inaudible) island, tourist island, here air ports also shutdown as the threat here was looming yesterday.

But finally, going to begin to see conditions improve I think over the next day or two as the rain begins to taper off in Hong Kong, Natalie.

ALLEN: Those are magical words, taper off.


ALLEN: Thank you so much. Fear and shock along one U.S. coastal area after a shark attack takes a surfer's life. We'll have that story after the break. Plus, an incident in Salisbury, England reminds people there they are still living under the shadow of a deadly nerve agent attack.


[02:30:18] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen coming to you live from Atlanta. Let's update you on our top stories this hour. Top U.S. Senate Democrats want to delay a plan vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after a woman publicly accused him of sexual assault dating back to the 1980. Kavanaugh denies the accusation. The Senate Judiciary Committee is still set to vote on his nomination Thursday.

The worst flooding is yet to come for parts of North and South Carolina. Rivers are rising to dangerous levels and remnants of Hurricane Florence now a tropical depression will dump even more rain. At least 18 people are dead in the storm and rescue crews are rushing to help hundreds still trapped by the flood. Rescue efforts are under way in the Philippines where landslides are the major danger in the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut. At least 54 people were killed in the storm there.

The typhoon is now moving inland across Mainland China after pummeling Hong Kong. Two people are in custody after gunmen dressed as traditional mariachi musicians opened fire in Mexico City on Friday. At least five people died in the shooting. The plaza where the attack happened is known for live music performances. Well, as we mentioned, Florence is not letting up. In the following days will be incredibly challenging for officials and residents in North and South Carolina. They're getting ready for what could be the most dangerous flooding yet. Our Kaylee Hartung has more from Wilmington, North Carolina.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a different kind of phenomena. This is something we've never seen before. That's how Wilmington's Mayor Bill Saffo described to me the situation this city finds itself in now. Flood waters rising quickly in areas that have never flooded before and flood waters moving quickly on to their next target. Last night in Wilmington, more than 250 rescues were performed by the volunteers of the Cajun Navy.

About 500 rescues performed by local, state, and federal assets working together as well. And over the course of this day, that need has subsided but the flood waters remain. This intersection behind me, one example but I'm told this is a flood zone. This is what this area is supposed to be doing even after a good thunderstorm, this area will flood. That flooding helps keep thoroughfares like Market Street just down to my left open for people to pass through the City of Wilmington which they were able to do, maybe though the necessity to dodge a downed tree or a power line.

The bigger problem for transportation around this city, those will be the floodwaters that have cut off this city effectively making it an island. The mayor telling me you can't get closer than 40 maybe 20 miles from Wilmington and its surrounding areas before you come across impassable roads. He says anyone trying to come back home to check on their property after the storm, you will be stopped by highway patrol. You will not be let through.

Those same rules have applied to FEMA trucks coming in for help, even Duke Power Company trucks trying to get power back to this area. The situation continually evolving and the damage that Florence will do to this area, the extent of it is still unknown. Kaylee Hartung in Wilmington, North Carolina.

ALLEN: Well, more from Wilmington now, more than 1,000 people as we -- as we've mentioned have been rescued across the state. Rescue crews are exhausted. They've been working in very challenging conditions. Earlier though, the police chief of Wilmington spoke with us about how his city is preparing for the worst.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the entire department on 12-hour shifts. Most of them are actually embedded throughout the community, so they don't go home. We're calling in assistance from other agencies to be here. They started arriving tonight and during the week we'll have other police state, local, federal agencies here to help us control the response from the local, regional, state, and federal has been pretty impressive so far. The electric companies here I understand have a thousand crews on standby.

Well, they actually started working today when the rain would let up. And we think we'll get power back here hopefully within, you know, a week, you know, a week or two weeks. We're using that deep water vehicles to get them and bring them to shelter. The shelters are mostly full right now. I believe there's one that still has some room in it. One of the problems we're having is logistics for our -- all the other crews coming into assist us where we're putting -- put them and where they're going to, how we're going to feed them.

So we're putting all that together right now. And it's a work in progress, but one in which we planned for and it's coming altogether. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:35:23] ALLEN: We'll continue to watch that closely of course. We turn to Southeast Asia now in the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut. Financial markets and offices are operating as usual in Hong Kong and the clean-up on the streets is underway. CNN's Will Ripley describes the scene there.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even though the worst of the rain has passed through Hong Kong, you can see we're still feeling it here and there's a bit of a dangerous situation around town because you have a lot of tree branches like this basically snapped dangling precariously over sidewalks that people are going to be walking on as they head to work this morning. Just to give you a sense of the force of the wind here.

A lot of the trees in Victoria Park have been standing upwards over century, pan up and you can see that giant tree just snapped in half. Another tree over there, a huge tree just uprooted pulled from the sidewalks in some cases. There are trees that continue to block roads here in Hong Kong. And, well, this is a large clean-up that's been happening throughout the overnight hours we'll continue into Monday. You know, there were no fatalities reported here in Hong Kong.

There were more than 200 injuries. There were power outages. There was flooding. There was storm surge. There was a couch that was seen blowing through the streets. On social media, you have a light pole snapped in half there, but this is not a devastating event. This is an event where people can leave their homes after riding out the storm. Some of the skyscrapers in the -- in the city were actually swaying back and forth. People saying that they almost felt sea sick, but they survived.

And that was not the case in the Philippines devastated. 54 people at least are reported dead there. At least two people reported dead in Mainland China where the storm made landfall yesterday early evening. Massive evacuation efforts in Southern China. Some 2-1/2 million people evacuated, nearly 19,000 people staying in emergency shelters. Almost 50,000 fishing boats sent back to shore. You think about all of the people, literally millions of people affected by this monster storm.

A storm that had the power to basically topple trees in Victoria Park that had survived so many typhoons, so many storms over the years, and yet this particular storm, and then it really does go to show just what an intense 12 hours we had on the ground here as this typhoon moves through. Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.

ALLEN: And again, it's still threatening Guangdong Province in China. We'll watch that closely. Another story we're following, a beachgoers nightmare and it has alarmed surfers. This 26-year-old engineering student is the first person to die in a shark attack in the U.S. State of Massachusetts in more than eight decades. Many who were at the beach tried to keep him alive. That is them carrying him but he later died at hospital. This is not the first human encounter with a shark in the area this year. Our Alison Kosik is there. ALISON KOSIK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A vigil was held to

remember 26-year-old Arthur Medici. Dozens showed up to the beach and walked to the water's edge and threw and threw surfer side threw fresh flowers into the water. He's being described as a guy with a bright smile and a bright future ahead of him. But his life was cut short on Saturday afternoon when he was on a boogie board and seriously injured by a great white shark.

The beach was closed after that attacked. But interestingly enough even hours after the attack, aerial video shows sharks still swimming in the water where that attacked happened. Many surfers say that the beach shouldn't be closed and it's really not accomplishing anything.


TIM GORDON, SURFER: The same conditions that we're here yesterday when the person was attacked are the same conditions that are here today. It will be tomorrow. It will be 10 years from now. It's exactly the same. This environment doesn't change for us. It's -- we have to change for it.


KOSIK: Witnesses tell investigators that they think that Medici was attacked just 30 yards from shore. That's 90 feet. Now, great white sharks aren't strangers to Cape Cod beaches. There are certainly been a dramatic increase in gray field lately and their biggest predator is sharks. So many times you will hear people who actually go into the water talked about swimming side by side with seals. But the thing is they don't know if a shark is nearby. In Wellfleet, Massachusetts, I'm Alison Kosik. Now, back to you.

ALLEN: Pope Francis is taking steps to remove clergy members accused of sexual abuse as public outrage grows and he is starting with a once popular priest from Chile. According to the archbishop of Santiago, the pope officially defrocked Reverend Cristian Precht Banados.

[02:40:01] Precht was already suspended after accusations that he had committed sexual crimes against adults and children. He denies the allegations. This comes as Chile is undergoing its own purge in March. All the country's bishops volunteered their resignation in the wake of the abused scandal. Brazil's presidential candidate is blasting his opponents from his hospital bed. The far-right candidate addressed the public Sunday for the first time since being stabbed during a campaign event earlier this month.

Jair Bolsonaro accused his opponent of being willing to resort to fraud. Bolsonaro is now out of the ICU and in a semi-intensive care unit. In Russia, new protest Sunday over the Kremlin's controversial plan to raise the retirement age. It erupted in the Russian president's hometown of Saint Petersburg. Vladimir Putin says the system must be reformed or there won't be enough money to pay pensions. As CNN's Matthew Chance explains, even some of his supporters -- Putin supporters are outraged.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The government says it's going to increase the retirement age from 55 to 60 for women and from 60 to 65 for men. The reason -- one the reasons that such an alarming figure for many men in this country is that the average life expectancy in Russia for men is just 66 years old or just over that. And so there is a danger and this has been expressed by many people including the (INAUDIBLE) here, a danger that many men won't even reach the pension age and so will receive nothing. And that's why it's such an explosive political issue for the Kremlin and for Vladimir Putin.

ALLEN: Matthew Chance there. He went on and say that according to some estimates, President Putin's approval rating has now fallen 15 percent. Sheltering in case making gas masks from cups and preparing for absolute horror. How the Syrians are bracing for what could be the war's worst offensive? That story is next.


[02:45:23] ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. The president of Russia and Turkey are set to meet in the coming hours to discuss their next moves in Syria. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin will hold talks in Sochi, Russia ahead of a likely ground offensive in Idlib.

It will be their second meeting in less than two weeks. Idlib province in Syria's last major rebel stronghold and Russian and pro- government forces have been bombing and shelling there for weeks. That has led to medical workers demanding protection.

In this March on Sunday, dozens of doctors and nurses called on a global community to safeguard hospitals and medical staff. Western countries accused Russia and Syria of targeting civilians in Idlib and other areas but that is unlikely to stop a looming ground assault. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has this story of one man doing all he can to protect his family.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are so many ways to die in Idlib. But only the most primitive methods for survival. (INAUDIBLE) al-Shahhad is preparing for a regime onslaught in Idlib, this makeshift shelter may be the difference between life or death for his family.

AL-SHAHHAD: We have moved some supplies, food, and water in case of an emergency God forbid. Because Russia is tracking with highly explosive bombs that houses cannot withstand. God willing, the cave will protect us from that.

KARADSHEH: The regime's offensive to be captured the last major rebel stronghold hasn't officially started yet, but bombs have already been raining down on Southern Idlib. al-Shahhad hopes the cave would shelter his family from the worst of the conventional weapons. But in Syria, even a breath of fresh air isn't uncertainty.

AL-SHAHHAD: We made the gas mask to protect our children, God forbid if a chemical attack happens. To protect their eyes and ears, it's the least we can do.

KARADSHEH: Upstares in their living room, preparing for the worst is all they can do. Residents here fear the possibility of another chemical attack. Following instructions he found online, al-Shahhad uses what he can find. Colorful paper cups, cotton, bandages, charcoal, and plastic bags to create his family's survival kit, these improvised gas masks.

al-Shahhad walks his children down into the darkness to inspect their underground hideaway. With nowhere left to run when the battle begins, this could be their only sanctuary. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


ALLEN: To learn more about how you can help the civilians struggling to survive in Syria, please go to our web site at Stay with us, we're back with more just ahead.


[02:50:33] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri with you for CNN "WEATHER WATCH". We're following what is less double as essentially a historic storm system, one of the wettest across the Southeastern United States in recorded history.

Florence beginning to exit the picture of the tropical moisture far from exiting the picture as a very slow-moving system. Gradually, kind of grinds up towards portions of the Ohio, Valley. You notice the spin is still there, the thunderstorms are still there and look at that southern pull of moisture into the Carolinas over the past several days. And also, the next several days across this region.

From Myrtle Beach out towards Raleigh, that's where the heaviest rainfall is expected. Of course, needless to say across this region, these soil is entirely saturated if there is any soil that doesn't have water on top of it. So, certainly, anything leads to additional flooding.

New York will keep you dry 24, Chicago big-time warmth here as we push on through September. But those changes are going to be felt here. But this week kind of hang on to work for quite a while. But might say Friday and Saturday we'll notice a little bit of cooler air try to filter in. So, certainly, some are still hanging on as tight as they can across the northern tier of the U.S.

Havana, Cuba, how about 31 a few thunderstorms. Kingston, Jamaica also looking at some showers about 29 degrees there. Farther south, we go about the lower 30s from Manaus towards Paranam. Quito, maybe a few isolated storms come back into your forecast. But generally speaking, should be a nice day in Rio Gallegos, the cool spot, highs around five degrees.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ALLEN: Police in Salisbury, England say it is not Novichok that made two restaurant diners mysteriously sick on Sunday. Investigators cordoned off the area for several hours, Sunday evening. It shows how the city is still on edge after a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned by Novichok, a deadly nerve agent back in March. Here's CNN's Nic Robertson.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Natalie it did take the police barely six hours to declare that there was no Novichok involve. They said that the precautions that they took was a highly precautionary approach. And it was interesting that the police were called in initially by the ambulance service.

It was the ambulance service who were called to the restaurant behind me because two people a man and a woman had fallen ill, it was the ambulance service that then called the police because of what they were seeing medically in front of them, of course, this town now is very aware and very and very able because the circumstances to deal with the possibility of there being a poison involved.

And that appears to be what the police instituted closing down the restaurant closing down the nearby streets for their investigation.

The area is now open. The restaurant itself remains cordoned off to the public, police officers remain outside. The reason for that is the police say they are still investigating to see if a crime was committed. The police say it was a man of 40 and a woman of 30 who were taken ill.

No more details yet about what may have caused their illness, but not Novichok. And, of course, that is news here people in Salisbury wanted to hear -- wanted to hear quickly the police very aware of concerns here.

And, of course, during that last incident where a woman died, back at the end -- back at the end of June, the police officer in charge here said it still wasn't clear if there were the possibility is -- the possibility that more Navichok items may be discarded in this town. The police has said, cannot rule that out. So, of course, an abundance of caution being exercise here, Natalie.

ALLEN: Nic Robertson, thank you. But one of China's most popular movie stars has completely disappeared. Fan Bingbing who has starred in Chinese and Western films has not been seen in public since June. Some are worried she's in state custody over a tax dispute.

An article released by state media in early September said she had been brought under control and about to receive legal judgment. That article was deleted and there is no word of charges or where she could possibly be.

Well, talk about a dramatic exit, NFL player Vontae Davis, abruptly retired from the sport, get this in the middle of Sunday's game. His team, the Buffalo Bills were playing the Los Angeles Chargers and during halftime, Davis reportedly pulled himself out of the game telling his coach he was done. In the statement released after the game, Davis said, "This isn't how I pictured retiring from the NFL, but today on the field, reality hit me fast and hard. I shouldn't be out there anymore. Even his teammates were stunned by that move.


[02:55:46] LORENZO ALEXANDER, LINEBACKER, BUFFALO BILLS: I never seen it ever. Pop Warner, high school, college, pros. Never heard of it, never seen it, and it's just completely disrespectful to his teammates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he say anything to you?

ALEXANDER: He didn't say -- he didn't saying nothing to nobody.



ALEXANDER: You know as much as I know. I know I found out going in the second half of the game. Coming out they said he said he is not coming out, he's retired.


ALLEN: Again, we was playing for the Bills, and the Bills lost 31-20. Thanks for joining us this hour. I'm Natalie Allen. I'll be right back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM in our top story.