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Sexual Harassment Issue Taints SCOTUS Nominee; Carolinas Still Under Flood; Southeast Asia's Grim Pictures Left by Mangkhut. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired September 17, 2018 - 03:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation could be in danger after a bombshell revelation. The accusation against him and what one senator is saying about the upcoming vote this here. That's ahead here.

Plus, we're following the aftermath of hurricane Florence in the U.S., why the worse could still be yet to come.

And an actress has vanished amid reports of a tax evasion investigation in China. We'll have more on that real life drama later this hour.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, coming to you live from Atlanta, GA. And this is CNN Newsroom.

Our top story is from Washington. Disturbing new revelations could throw a wrench in the confirmation of Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Republican Lisa Murkowski is the latest senator to suggest delaying Thursday's vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation. This after a woman publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault dating back to the 1980s.

Her name Christine Blasey Ford. She shared her story with the Washington Post newspaper alleging that "Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes grinding its body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it."

Now Kavanaugh denies the allegations.

CNN's Boris Sanchez has more from the White House.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The White House not really saying anything new when it comes to this 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 the White House spokesperson Raj Shah about these detailed allegations, Ford coming forward with her name on the record, he pointed to that previous denial by Brett Kavanaugh.

The White House apparently feels that's denial is sufficient to deal with some of these new claims that Ford is making including that she took a polygraph administered by a former FBI agent back in August which she claims that she passed.

Now Democrats are suggesting that at any confirmation vote to move Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court should be delayed until the FBI can place a probe into 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 the 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 the national Independence Day. And claiming that if Democrats were 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.

ALLEN: Let's talk more about this with political analyst Scott Lucas joining us from Birmingham, England where he teaches international politics at the University of Birmingham. Scott, as always, thank you for joining us.

First of all, let's talk about the fact that we've been here before in another case, 1999 Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in the workplace. He went on to be confirmed. But we are in the era of Me Too. How could the senators not investigate this before just going ahead with this vote on Thursday?

SCOTT LUCAS, POLITICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, you're absolutely right to point out that almost 30 years after the Clarence Thomas case, we're in a much faster cycle of media. Not just 24/7, but almost minute by minute. And that puts a different spin on where we are now.

Beyond the legal issues here which still have to be determined, there is a second major factor, however, and it's, you know, quite -- it's there, elephant in the room.

And as Republicans need this confirmation before the November midterm elections because they fear they could lose a majority in the Senate during that vote.

[03:05:00] The problem right now for the Republicans is not that Professor Schwartz's statement will necessarily block Brett Kavanaugh's vote, but it could delay until after November and until the New Year and at that point, that will raise further questions whether he can get through.

Because, remember, we're only at, you know, at a later stage. We already have questions which have been raised by critics of Kavanaugh about whether or not he was, let's say, fully straightforward in answers to the committee, for example, over the improper acquiring of Democratic Party document documents 15 years ago and in his relationship with lawyers from a law firm that represents Donald Trump.

So at this point we wait to see the White House reaction. We wait to see the reaction, more importantly, of the individual senators.

But you're quite right to know that Lisa Murkowski who along with Susan Collins was seen as one of the two key votes on whether or not Kavanaugh gets through, by just saying that she wants in effect wants to hear out Professor Ford and by pointing to the fact that there may need to be an investigation that could take this process well beyond November which is what the Republican leadership does not want.

ALLEN: All right. Well, some Republicans are questioning why this came in so late, that this was politics on the behalf of the Democrats.

However, Miss Ford, Professor Ford who brought the allegation, said she feared being annihilated in the news media and that's why she was reluctant. But the question is, this did come in at the last minute before this vote was taking place. Do you think there is any politics at play here?

LUCAS: First of all, speaking personally, there should be no criticism of Professor Ford on the timing of this. No criticism -- you know, we'll see what happens, but any woman who comes forth with accounts of what she believes is sexual misconduct should not be questioned about her motives.

Now, should Senator Feinstein have produced this letter weeks ago, there's various considerations here. It's uncertain that Professor Ford would have wanted story to come out and so the senator may have delayed because of that reason until recent days. There may be other motives that she has and I'm sure she will explain them.

But whatever the politics here is the point here, you know, the fundamental point is we have a claim. If you want to call it an allegation, and you've got the choice here. Forget the politics. Do you or do you not investigate this allegation? If you do not, I think the overriding political message is it doesn't matter what is said about a Supreme Court nominee. We don't want to hear it if we believe politically we need to get him through.

ALLEN: We often hear in this era of partisanship polarization that everyone should be above politics. But again and again, Scott, that does not happen. If, if this vote were to go through, if Republicans pushed it through despite this allegation, how might that hurt them in the midterms?

LUCAS: Natalie, you and I are sharp people. We know that as much as this should be a legal process based on the law, based on the independence of the Supreme Court, the politics is always shot through this.

It was shot through the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas case now a generation ago. In this case, the same Republicans who blocked for months in 2016 the Obama administration's nomination of a justice on the court, merely so they could get a five-four conservative majority, those Republicans are the same one saying we can't have any delay here.

You know, it is what it is, and at the end of the day there should be a judgment based on the Supreme Court nominee's record, based on his statements. But right now the political imperative for the Republicans, that's what's going take precedence. We just have to see if they can hold up against the latest, basically the latest challenge that could delay what they hope to achieve.

ALLEN: And we should mention Judge Kavanaugh vehemently denies the allegations. Scott Lucas, we always appreciate your insights. Thank you, Scott.

LUCAS: Thank you.

ALLEN: The other major story we continue to follow, because it continues to be a major storm, it is the storm that keeps ongoing in the southeastern U.S. We still have not seen the worst of Florence, which has been downgraded to a tropical depression, but at least 18 people are dead now in North and South Carolina, and the rain likely won't let up until at least Tuesday evening.

That means the worst and most dangerous flooding is yet to come.

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

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The residents of Lumberton, North Carolina are very familiar with the damaging potential of flood waters that come after these tropical systems. It's been only two years since hurricane Matthew swept through the region sending flood waters into the neighborhoods. Here it is again.

[03:09:59] Many of the residents here told me they feel like history is repeating itself. This time, however, they tried to get ahead of this storm.

Last week they came together, strangers with city officials to create a manmade, a makeshift levee, if you will in a certain parts of town they say is where the water swept in after hurricane Matthew in an effort to keep that happening again, they created that levee. 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 people to higher ground.

However, officials fear that there are still many people who decided to stay in their homes even though this water, 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 levee that runs along that Lumber River that is still holding up. It is still doing OK, doing the job that it's supposed to do. But officials say and they fear that if that gives out, then all bets are off.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Lumberton, North Carolina.

ALLEN: And that's not the only place that is under threat of something even more catastrophic than the flooding. More flooding from levees breaking.

Pedram Javaheri is watching the latest for us from the area. Pedram, it's just hard to believe that this is even worse when it was a hurricane. Now it's a tropical depression.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, we always say, Natalie, when it comes to tropical systems it is the water element that's most concerning. That's what takes the most lives. That is certainly what causes the most damage. The storm system far from over.

Satellite presentation doesn't really look all that impressive, but when you look at what's happening in the southern periphery where it's tapping into all that tropical moisture just off the coast of the southeastern, United States, that's essentially where all the damage has already been in place and still getting thunderstorms at this hour where the storm made landfall 72 hours ago near Wilmington, North Carolina. And guess what? The center of it several hundred miles to the north.

And here we go the tropical pressure is going to be present at least another day. The storm picks up some forward progression over the next 24 hours. And we think it will finally begin to ease across this region.

But when you look beneath the surface we know the water table certainly has taken on quite a bit of water. That essentially has been rising7 over the next couple of days. So any additional rainfall that becomes surface flooding but it's not even that additional rainfall that is a concern right now across the Carolinas. It's what's happening upstream.

Because if you're familiar with the geography across this region, we know certainly the mountains of the Appalachians rise off towards the west here. So al that rain that fallen across the higher elevation, guess where it want to ends up. Back into the Atlantic Ocean.

As it does so it goes right through portions of the eastern regions of the Carolinas but the heaviest rain has come down, and in fact, some 36 36 gauges reporting some significant flooding at this hour.

And getting reports now that these gauges are also beginning to malfunction because of the tremendous amount of water. Some of them certainly not reliable because of how much water has come down.

So current radar at this morning shows you the rain shower is pushing off towards this region. Watching about 17 million people that are underneath the flood alerts at this hour, and quite a bit of them right there where flood warnings are in place.

In Fact, 600 roadways across the state of North Carolina have been completely shut down or inundated by waters. When you look at how much has come down, we're talking about 33 inches or over 800 millimeters in a matter of three days.

In fact, that has broken the all-time state record for a tropical system which was from hurricane Floyd in 1999. That brought a couple feet of rainfall.

The storm system, Natalie, is on the move again. It will begin to improve as far as the weather is concerned down toward the south. But unfortunately, that water does want to eventually end up down towards the Atlantic coast line. So as it does it will continue to flood that region.

And as a result, you can actually follow the river gauges. We're expecting it to crest sometime, say Tuesday into Wednesday. So, still a couple of days of rising flood waters before approach, say next weekend, we'll see the waters want to begin recede across some of these regions.

So some forecasts we're going to follow and hopefully we'll begin to see some improvement in the next couple of days, Natalie.

ALLEN: Yes. How many roads did you say were impassable in North Carolina alone?

JAVAHERI: Six hundred. Yes, officials are saying they're literally saying avoid driving through the state right now if you can avoid it in its entirety. So that's how serious of a situation it is especially on the eastern side.

ALLEN: All right. On top of that, so many don't have electricity. Not a good time for the Carolinas. Such beautiful states. Pedram, thank you.


ALLEN: Well, earlier the mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina said the city was effectively cut off by flood waters. We spoke with Zak Whicker, deputy director of New Hanover County Emergency Management.


ZAK WHICKER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NEW HANOVER COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: We are hopeful there's not too many more rescues to go on in the coming day. We're hoping that, you know, that that the safety of the public has been kept by evacuation were done previous to the flood waters coming in and people heeding the warnings about the incoming hurricane.

[03:15:10] And, you know, the rescue teams have been hard at work over the past couple of days. Boat rescues, transporting evacuees and transporting the shelters so they're at a safe location.

ALLEN: I want to ask you, Zak, if Wilmington is cut off, are there still in homes, in apartments in Wilmington then that are kind of stuck there?

WHICKER: As we're getting 911 calls, we are responding to those persons that make those emergency calls. I'm 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?

WHICKER: Yes, ma'am. You know, any time that 911 service, you know, goes down in a certain location, there's contingency plans in place and 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?

WHICKER: 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 us with this. So everybody has been working hard to keep everyone as safe as we can.

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

WHICKER: You know, in the next several days, you know, the rivers are cresting still. They're at flood stage. 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 and other areas, other bodies of water, that it's still dangerous. We don't want you out on the roads. Stay home if you can.

We just wants 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Zak Whicker talking with me a bit earlier. That is the U.S. East Coast. Now we go to the other side of the world for another devastating storm and it's still a desperate search for survivors in the Philippines. Coming up, digging out from the landslides triggered by typhoon Mangkhut.

Plus, a nerve agent scare in Salisbury, England, put residents on edge once again months after two run-ins with the deadly poison.


ALLEN: Welcome back. The danger from Southeast Asia's super typhoon Mangkhut is far from over. Rescuers are searching for any survivors of a land slide in a mining town in the northern Philippines.

At least 36 people are feared buried under the thick mud. You can appreciate the scope of the effort there.

Landslides are the primary cause of fatalities in the storm in the Philippines where at least 54 people are confirmed dead. The full extent of the storm's damage is still being assessed.

Hundreds of homes are destroyed and there is widespread crop damage from flooding.

For more on the clean-up, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins from us Hong Kong. Of course Hong Kong hit, also mainland China. So, this is a storm that is unfortunately kept on giving. Hello, Kristie.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN HOST: Absolutely, Natalie. A day after typhoon Mangkhut hit Hong Kong, this major city of seven million people is slowly returning back to normal, schools are still closed, many businesses as well, and the cleanup has begun.

You see scenes like this behind me all across the territory in Hong Kong. Felled trees that have crushed many buses and cars blocking major roadways, as well. We've also seen the scenes play out on air and online of those windows being sucked out of skyscrapers, major structural damage across the city as well.

For some of the most heartbreaking scenes have been picked up in the low-lying and outlying areas of Hong Kong. Earlier this say we had a CNN crew go to a fishing village, the village of Shek O, and they look at the damage that was caused by a storm surge there. They saw a woman who return to her home to see what was left wading through her debris. She had lost her home of 65 years and she was in utter tears because of everything that she lost. But Hong Kong has thankfully escaped the worst of the storm.

According to the Hong Kong government, no fatalities as a result of typhoon Mangkhut. About 400 people they did have to seek emergency assistance and hospital assistance during the storm. About 1500 people had to seek temporary shelter.

A very different story in mainland China across Guangdong province where we know 2.5 million people evacuated. The death toll there stands at four. No official death numbers from Macau, we are awaiting for that.

But a very grim and difficult picture continuing to emerge out of the Philippines where, as you recall, it was a super typhoon Mangkhut that swept through equivalent category five hurricane speeds and just brought about total destruction.

The death toll there standing at 54. About four dozen people remain missing. That means the deaths toll number may very well rise. We are closely monitoring that live rescue operation that's taking place right now in the northern Philippines.

Typhoon Mangkhut when it was a super typhoon sure go to landslide, many, many people believed to be buried under the mud alive. Time is of the essence to try to find them before it's too late.

[03:24:55] As for the storm itself, it continues to move westward. It has weakened significantly. As for people across the region here, they have to face all that they lost and they have to pick up the pieces. Back to you.

ALLEN: Absolutely. And Kristie, you know in the Philippines, they are still searching for people there as you mentioned. China is still under threat from this storm. So the people of Hong Kong must be feeling a lot of relief today.

You were out in this storm for hours, 24 hours ago, covering it. You've been in Hong Kong for a very long time. Even though Hong Kong didn't see the damage, it was perhaps a storm to be reckoned with. How would you compare it to other storms you've been in in the past?

STOUT: Yes, absolutely it was a storm to be reckoned with. It was the mostly powerful storm of the year, one of the most powerful storms to sift through Hong Kong since they started recording typhoon activity in 1946. Equivalent to a T-10, that's at the very top level according to Hong Kong government measurement systems.

This is a storm that I've never felt that strong before. Wind speeds between 100 kilometers per hour to 230 kilometers per hour. It had the punch. The debris is everywhere, the clean-up is still underway after this monster storm.

Back to you.

ALLEN: All right. Kristie Lu Stout for us. We thank you so much.

Let's go now to Pedram Javaheri in the weather center at 2.5 million evacuated in this one area of China. So, this is definitely still a threat, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: You know it was a big deal when the storm system makes landfall a couple days earlier as a strong category five, Natalie, and it goes over land for about eight hours, interacts with the mountains of Luzon, reemerges still as a category four, three categories stronger than the storm system that impacted the portions southeastern -- southeastern U.S. So really it puts it in perspective what we're dealing with this

particular Mangkhut that moved ashore into western and southern China. But damage across Hong Kong pretty remarkable when you take a look at this. And of course any time you have tall buildings they tend to not only funnel wind speeds and increase the wind speeds right through them. Significant damage is often left behind. And that was the case.

But winds within the city, hurricane force, 80, 75 miles per hour which is about, say, 115 to 130 kilometers per hour. There is still some rain in the forecast and it's really important to note this is the latter half or the latter portion of the wet season.

About 300 or so millimeters or roughly eight inches comes down in the month of September in Hong Kong. Guess what, six inches or so came down over the past 24 or so hours across the region and still expect some heavy rainfall to continue as the rains push off a little towards the west.

We'll expect conditions to want to improve over the next couple of days here. You'll notice Hong Kong gets on a dryer end of the storm now as the system pushes off towards the west, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Pedram, thank you. Continue to watch it.


ALLEN: The doctors and nurses demand protection in Syria. How Idlib residents are getting ready for what could be a final assault. That's coming up here.

Plus, a mystery in China. One of the country's most recognizable women, an actress with 3.8 million Instagram followers hasn't been seen in months. What's going on? Where is she? We'll have a live report from Beijing.


[03:30:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. You're watching "CNN Newsroom" live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on our top stories this hour. Top U.S. Senate Democrats want to delay a planned vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after a woman publicly accused him of sexual assault dating back to the 1980s. Kavanaugh denies the accusation. The Senate Judiciary Committee is still set to vote on his nomination Thursday.

Brazil's presidential candidate is blasting his opponent from his hospital bed. Jair Bolsonaro addressed the public Sunday for the first time since being stabbed during a campaign event earlier this month. He is now out of the ICU and in a semi-intensive care unit.

Pope Francis has expelled a Chilean priest accused of sexually abusing children. Cristian Precht Banados is among the many clergymen under investigation in Chile but has not yet been criminally charged. The defrocking comes as the church faces public outcry or a peddling (ph) of abuse scandal dating back decades. River flooding is just beginning in parts of North and South Carolina. The slow-moving remnants of Hurricane Florence are expected to dump even more rain through at least Tuesday evening. Eighteen people are dead from the storm. Hundreds are still trapped. Our Kaylee Hurtung is in Wilmington, North Carolina. That city now essentially cut off from the rest of the state by water.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN 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 the 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. 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 are able to do maybe though the necessity to dodge a downed tree or power line.

The bigger problem for transportation around the city, those would be the flood waters that have cut off the city, effectively making it an island. The mayor telling me, you can't get closer than -- than 40, maybe 20 miles to Wilmington and its surrounding areas before you come across impassable growth.

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 for help, even do 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: Now we turn to a pivotal moment in Syria's civil war. Idlib Province remains a nightmare for the families and citizens who live there.

[03:35:03] It is the country's last major rebel stronghold. Russian and pro-government forces have been bombing Idlib for weeks. That has led to medical workers demanding protection ahead of a likely ground offensive.

They marched on Sunday. Dozens of doctors and nurses, calling on the global community to safeguard hospitals and medical staff. As CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports, families are also preparing for the worst.


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

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

KARADSHEH: The regime's offensive to recapture the last major 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 is an uncertainty.

AL-SHAHHAD (through translator): We made the gas masks to protect our children, god forbid, if a chemical attack happens. To protect their eyes and ears, it is the least we can do.

KARADSHEH: Upstairs 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, 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 hide away. With nowhere left to run when the battle begins, this could be their only sanctuary.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


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 the deadly nerve agent back in March. Here is CNN's Nic Robertson with more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Natalie, it did take the police barely six hours to declare that there was no Novichok involved. They said the precautions that they took -- it was a highly precautionary approach. It was entrusting that the police would call 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 able because of circumstances to deal with the possibility of it being a poison-involved. That appears to be what the police instituted, closing down the restaurants, closing down the nearby streets for the investigation.

The area is now open. The restaurant still 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 quickly. Police are very aware of concerns here.

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


ALLEN: Nic Robertson for us there. Thank you, Nic.

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. Where is she? What could have happened to her? Let's go now live to Beijing and get more from our Matt Rivers.

[03:40:02] He is there for us. Matt, this is a bizarre story and certainly her fans and many people are worried about her.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the equivalent would be someone in the U.S. like Jennifer Lawrence or Meryl Streep just up and disappearing. She may not be a household name around the world, but in China, it really doesn't get more famous than a Fan Bingbing. She is an A-plus list celebrity in this country.

Really when it comes down to at least where all her problems began center on this concept here in China called Yin-Yang contracts. So essentially, in the entertainment industry, according to a source that talked to CNN, these kinds of contracts are basically universal. An actor or an actress signs two different kinds of contracts.

One of those contracts is reported -- the income on those contracts is reported to the government. Another bigger contract is not. And so basically they find two contracts as tax avoidance scheme. Well, Fan Bingbing alleged and has completely alleged Yin-Yang contracts were posted on Chinese social media back in May.

She immediately denied the allegations. But other than a social media post that she put on Chinese social media in June, she hasn't been heard from since. We reached out to the tax authority here. We reached out to the media regulators. We even asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment on this story and none of them had commented.

The only clue that we have to her current status is a social -- a state-run media outlet called the "Securities Daily" that actually posted an article on September 6, saying that Fan had been brought "under control" and is about to receive legal judgment.

But that article, Natalie, was almost immediately deleted after it was posted. So, where this actress is, we have no clue. Could she be in government custody in China is certainly a possibility despite her fame.

ALLEN: And China has different rules as far as how much publicity they will explain there. What about her family? What about her manager? Any of them able to come forward?

RIVERS: Yeah, we have reached out to literally anyone and everyone that we know that could be possibly connected to the actress and no one has responded to us. We haven't been able to get anybody on the record. But, you know, this is China, Natalie, and we should say that people disappeared within China's murky legal system all the time.

You know, human rights workers, for example, are often arrested and their families have no idea where they are for months. We are not saying we can't confirm that's what happened to Fan Bingbing, but the law -- no one is above the law in China really at all.

And so, yes, she is famous. Yes, she is worth tens of millions of dollars. But if China's government is unhappy with her, they will absolutely disappear if they want to. We just can't confirm that that is what is happening.

ALLEN: All right. We know you'll still covering it for us. Thank you, Matt Rivers in Beijing. Thanks, Matt.

Still to come here, he was in his apartment when he was shot and killed by an off duty police officer. Now, Botham Jean's family wants answers, demanding justice. We'll have the latest in that case just ahead.


ALLEN: A haunting scene to show you near Dallas, Texas. Protesters carry two coffins Sunday for two men recently shot by police, O'Shae Terry and Botham Jean. The demonstrators marched outside AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys football team, to demand justice.

Friends and family of the two men are also demanding answers. Bothom Jean was shot earlier this month in his own apartment by a police officer who claimed she entered by mistake, thinking it was her apartment. CNN's Ryan Young has more for us from Dallas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Unit 1478 was Botham Jean's apartment. It's where the 26-year-old's young life was cut short when he was shot by a police officer in his living room. A small memorial, flowers, and a photo with his mother adorn his front door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At 26 years old, he had done so much.

YOUNG: With permission from the family, we are getting a look inside Botham's apartment. It's a typical single man's apartment, except for the bullet hole in the wall indicated by an evidence marking more than six feet high.

There is also a pool of blood on the floor which we will not show you. There is laundry piled on the couch and Botham's half-eaten bowl of cereal still had milk in it. He may have been reading one of the many books littering the apartment before he was shot and killed by Officer Amber Guyger.

This is video, witness says, of Amber Guyger pacing around moments after the shooting. Office Guyger tells investigators she shot Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own. Guyger tells investigators that after work, she parked her car on the wrong floor, walked to the wrong apartment that Jean's door was slightly open. Her statement to police, Guyger says she gave verbal commands before firing two shots. Lee Merritt says witnesses tell a different story.

LEE MERRITT, JEAN FAMILY ATTORNEY: They both heard a knock or a pounding on the door followed by a female's voice saying, open up, let me in. She said the voice didn't sound like an officer command, but sound like someone who wanted to be let into the apartment. She said that was shortly followed by the sound of gunshots and the sound of a man's voice saying what she believed to be oh, my god, why did you do that?

YOUNG: The Jean family's attorney and the family are now upset by the leak of a search warrant that indicates officers went inside Jean's apartment looking for drugs. Officers say they did find and removed several items including a small amount of marijuana. The warrant does not indicate who the items belong to. It's unknown if the search warrant was executed at the officer's apartment.

MERRITT: Twenty-six years on this earth, he lived his life virtually without blemish. It took being murdered by a Dallas police officer for Botham Jean to suddenly become a criminal. There is a clear intent here to smear the name of Botham Jean.

YOUNG: During a moving funeral service, we learned much more about Jean and his accomplishments. Family and friends talked openly about his love much people, for singing and the fact that he was a high- achieving employee on a partnership track at the accounting firm PWC.

TIM RYAN, SENIOR PARTNER AND CHAIRMAN, PWC: PWC is hurting, not just in Dallas, but all across our country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was so joyful and we know how much he loved to sing. You know, he was the biggest extroverted accountant you'd ever find.

YOUNG: Amber Guyger is on administrative leave during the investigation. The D.A.'s office will take the case before a grand jury to determine the next course of action. CNN has reached out to Officer Guyger's attorney and they have not returned our calls for heartbroken mother wants answers.

[03:50:05] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I'm calling on the Dallas officials, please, come clean. Give me justice for my son, because he does not deserve what he got.

YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Dallas.


ALLEN: A day at the beach turns into a nightmare. We'll look at the latest shark attack and whether they're on the increase.


ALLEN: It is an ocean swimmer's 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 are at the beach tried to keep him alive. That's them carrying him right there. He later died, though, at the hospital. This is not the first human encounter with a shark in the area this year as our Alison Kosik explains.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A vigil was held to remember 26- year-old Arthur Medici. Dozens showed up at the beach and waked to the water's edge and threw fresh flowers into the water.

[03:55:06] 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 attack. But interestingly enough, even hours after that attack, aerial video shows sharks still swimming in the water where that attack happened. Many surfers say that the beach shouldn't be closed and it's really not accomplishing anything.

TIM GORDON, SURFER FROM NEW JERSEY: The same conditions that were here yesterday when the person was attacked are the same conditions that are here today. It will be tomorrow and will be 10 years from now. It's exactly the same. This environment doesn't change for us. 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. Great white sharks aren't strangers to Cape Cod beaches. There certainly been a dramatic increase in gray seals lately and their biggest predator is shark. So many time, you will hear people who actually go into the water talk about swimming side by side with seals. But the thing is they don't know if a shark is nearby.

In Wellesley, Massachusetts, I'm Alison Kosik. Now, back to you.


ALLEN: A couple in North Carolina did not let Hurricane Florence cancel their wedding. They had planned to celebrate their big day at a farm house, but instead, a hotel hosted their wedding in its breakfast room. The staff stepped in as wedding planners and the bride made her own bouquet. She did a good job. Look at it. And she even frosted her own wedding cake. The hotel's manager said the wedding brought them some brightness during the gloomy storm. Way to improvise.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen. "Early Start" is next for viewers in the U.S. For international viewers, stay with us for more news with my colleague Max Foster in London. See you next time.