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Great Britain Prepares to Bid Farewell to Queen Elizabeth II as State Funeral Begins; Security Precautions in Place for the Queen's Funeral; The Queen's Final Resting Place is Windsor Castle; Queen Rania Of Jordan On Queen Elizabeth's Legacy; Zelenskyy: Military Preparing To Liberate More Cities. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired September 19, 2022 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, a very warm welcome to our viewers around the world. Wherever you are watching, you are more than welcome. I'm Becky Anderson in London where the time is 7:00 in the morning. And in just a matter of hours, Britain and the world will say final farewell to Queen Elizabeth.
Her state funeral steeped in royal tradition and somber pageantry will mark the last day of national mourning for Britain's longest serving monarch. While the public viewing of the Queens coffin has now officially ended and Westminster Hall is closed to the public as preparations begin for her funeral.
Over the last few days, thousands have waited for hours in lines stretching several miles along the River Thames just to pay their respects. Well in the hours ahead, a procession will take the Queen's coffin from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abby where the funeral will take place.
That service will be conducted by the dean of Westminster. Following the funeral, the Queen's coffin will be moved in a procession through central London to Wellington Arch where it will be placed in the state hearse and travel on her final journey to Windsor. From, there a committal service will take place at St. George's Chapel.
Well, CNN correspondents are following all of the developments for you. Scott McClean standing by in London where the final mourners had been waiting to pay their respects to the Queen. Nina Dos Santos is live outside Buckingham Palace. Let's start with you Scott. Hundreds of thousands of people started their queue. It's a line of duty, I guess.
Back on Wednesday, at 5:00 p.m., that line has now finished. The queue is over. And the hall is closed to the public. You've been speaking to people over the last few days. Your reflections on what you've heard?
SCOTT MCCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, a line of duty is a pretty good way to describe it, Becky. Other people have been calling the queue, which has now wrapped up, the Elizabeth Line. Not to be confused with the tube line that just opened in London in the last couple of months. It definitely was not a necessarily a somber in the line. It definitely wasn't celebratory either.
I think the best way to describe it was almost like a national bonding experience where people spent you know, 10, 12, 14 hours, however long it was, getting to know the people around them. Forging new friendships and trying to keep yourself sane. Trying to keep yourself warm, fed, water as best you possibly can as you creep towards the front of the line.
People were given numbered wristbands when they first got into the line and when I was here on Wednesday, before they had even opened the Westminster Hall to the public just to view the Queen lying in state, they were giving them out and they were single digits, one, two, three 3 et cetera.
The first American to go in for instance, I interviewed him, he had a wristband that said 12 on it. By the time we get around to today and this morning, these wristbands, the highest number that I saw was 243,000. Just an enormous number of people who managed to file past the Queen's coffin.
And I actually spoke earlier with the very last woman in line. Her name is Christin. And believe it or not, this was the second time she had been in the line. So, she had gone around once already, waited for six, seven hours. Got in there at around 1:30 in the morning. And then when she got out, she figured, well that was a little too quick.
So, then she walked to the back of the queue again and went in a second time and she was the last person, her and her friend that she made in line, that she met in line, they were the last two to view the Queen's coffin lying in state, at least the last two members of the public.
In fact, if you look over here, they're still doing press interviews because there is so much attention. But we managed to speak to her earlier and here's what she told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Everybody wants to come. Everybody wants to be there. It doesn't matter how long it will take. I mean, they just want to get in there and show their respects.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCCLEAN: And it was remarkable. We also managed to speak with them briefly after they came out and her friend (inaudible) was actually quite moved, quite emotional. And that's really not uncommon based on the people that we spoke to just describing the atmosphere inside.
So, just to give you the lay of the land here, obviously parliament is just behind me. This is right in front of it. This is parliament square. You can see there is police, obviously, uniformed officers. There are police in their ceremonial uniforms as well. The square itself is empty. But, if you just look over to the right, they have set up these barricades and people are already lining up to catch any glimpse of the Queen's coffin as it goes by.
In fact, some people had been camped out here since yesterday. In fact, they just made an announcement not long ago that politely asked people to take down their tents so that other people could get into this line. That is how many people are here lining the streets.
And a lot of people of course, Becky, who are inside queuing for 10, 12, 14 hours to file past the Queen's coffin, are also going to be trying to find a place here on the street to see the procession go by after the funeral wraps up.
ANDERSON: Well, in the queue they were united in mourning. They braved the cold, they waited patiently for hours to pay their respects. Estimates of upwards of a million people for the events of today. We haven't seen proceedings like this of course in London since 1965 when Winston Churchill's state funeral.
Scott, thank you. Scott McClean is just outside the palace of Westminster. Well, security in London is at its highest level in memory as dozens of world leaders gather for the Queen's funeral. You can see preparations happening at Buckingham Palace on Sunday.
In a few hours from now, the Queen's coffin will leave Westminster Hall as Scott reported, carried on a state gun carriage. It's the same carriage that was used during the funeral for her father, King George VI more than 70 years ago. That carriage was first used for the funeral of Queen Victoria back in 1901. It was also used for Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965.
And you can see troops rehearsing with the carriage for the Queen's funeral in this video here. Here's what a senior naval officer had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN KEY, FIRST SEA LORD AND CHIEF OF NAVAL STAFF, BRITISH NAVY: Each of them felt a combination of personal pride of being involved and deep obligation to get this moment right. Not just because we're going to be doing this in the eyes of the nation and the world, but because actually this is the last act of the armed forces in recognition of her late majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, these plans have been years in the making. They are meticulous, the logistics, the security, quite overwhelming when you consider them from a layman person's point of view. But not for authorities, not for the military. I am joined by Nina Dos Santos at Buckingham Palace with more, Nina.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Becky. Well, this is all part of a very sophisticated operation that has been, as you said, decades in the making here, called Operation London Bridge. The death of a monarch and the period of mourning culminating in this state funeral.
The logistics are enormous as you pointed out, as Scott was saying. About an estimated at least a quarter of a million people queuing up during that period of lying and state -- 500 foreign dignitaries with all of their attendance, security needs, not least the U.S. president in town, Joe Biden and the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, as well.
But we also have thousands of people congregating upon the streets, if not hundreds of thousands. I've been witnessing them from west London all the way lining the street there because when eventually the Queen's coffin will be transferred towards the state hearse, it will then travel in a funeral procession that will be motorized and people already lining the highways there outside of London as well, to catch a glimpse of that.
Here in Buckingham Palace as you can see, these are the types of crowds that were gathering on Sunday. We've got more recent images that we can show you, I believe, that are live of all the television cameras preparations to get the right spot.
All the tens of thousands of people lining the Mall, which is the street that links Buckingham Palace with, obviously, the rest of the area. These are pictures we're showing you at the moment that were on Sunday of that massive line that is now closed.
But we have lots of people on the Mall, various streets that link this -- essentially the royal precinct of London, Buckingham Palace, with of course what is the political district, just a short few streets away, which culminates in the palace of Westminster. And the royal family will be exiting the gates of Buckingham Palace in about three, three and a half hours from now. Lots of people will be desperate to see them either on their way to Westminster Abby or during the funeral procession that comes thereafter, Becky?
ANDERSON: Nina Dos Santos is outside of Buckingham Palace. It is ten past seven in the morning, thank you. Prince George and Princess Charlotte, William and Kate's children will join me the royal family for the formal procession through Westminster Abby later, ahead of what will be an intensely personal service at Windsor.
Well, King Charles is once again expressing his gratitude for the messages of condolence since the death of his mother. In a statement, the new monarch said he and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, have been quote, "moved beyond measure by the public outpouring of love and affection."
He also said, quote, "as we all prepare to say our last farewell, I wanted simply to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those countless people who have been such a support and comfort to my family and myself in this time of grief."
The monarch's message was released ahead of the Queens state funeral which begins in the coming hours. Queen's final journey will be to one of the monarch's oldest castles where people have been camping out to witness what will be a historic procession. We'll have a live report from Windsor in just a few moments.
Plus, remembering the Queen as she marked her diamond jubilee. We'll get insights from someone who worked on that momentous event. I'm Becky Anderson in London. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: It's a quarter past seven here in London. Welcome back wherever you are watching in the world. Queen Elizabeth's coffin will be taken to Windsor for a committal service after the state funeral in London this morning. Some people camping out overnight, perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of the procession. We are expecting an intimate service there later today. CNN's Nada Bashir is in Windsor, just west of London of course, with the details, Nada, of what we can expect going forward.
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, that's right, certainly it won't be the grand state affair that we are set to see at Westminster Abbey later this morning. This one will be slightly more intimate, somewhat more personal. We're expecting around 800 people to gather at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle just behind me, including members of the royal family, of course, and also members of the royal household and the Queen's personal staff from across her estate, past and present.
And that will be the service taking place after the Queen's coffin arrives here following that procession later this afternoon. There will be a service really giving a nod to the Queen's personal life, her family life, a hymn sung that was sung at her late husband's funeral, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh in April of last year, as well as prayers are read at the funeral of her father, King George VI back in 1952.
This really will be a personal affair for the family. This is in a state that was deeply loved by the Queen. It's a place where she spent much of her time in her later life. Well, we've seen people gathering already down the streets of Windsor, waiting for that opportunity to catch a glimpse of the procession, to pay their final respects to the Queen.
The sun has just risen in the last hour, but we are already seeing people gathering on the streets and walking through now with camping chairs, some blankets to keep warm as they prepare for what is set to be a long day. We've heard from some of those who are actually already camping earlier this morning and overnight waiting for that opportunity. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA YATES, HOSPITALITY WORKER: She's has just been amazing for 70 years and I'm 57 and it's all I've ever known. It's all a lot of people have ever known. And she's just given up her whole life to, you know, dedicate to her, her country and she's just been fantastic and everyone is going to miss her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: And of course, we will see that procession in length today and there will be that committal service. And at the end of the committal service, we'll see the Queen's coffin being lowered into the royal vault, which is below St. George's Chapel behind me.
But later on in the evening, there will be a private burial service attended by close members of the royal family. And this will of course be the Queen's final resting place beside her parents and the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband. Becky?
ANDERSON: And if Windsor is anything like London has been over the past few days, Nadir, it will be busy. But it will be quiet. And that's this incredible sense that you have. And you've been working with me here in London. You know, thousands upon thousands of people, this has been the sort of quiet contemplation, which has just been remarkable to witness. Thank you.
There are so many highlights from Queen Elizabeth's historic reign, including her diamond jubilee, which marked 60 years on the throne, during what was a momentous occasion in 2012. Our next guest was working for the Queen. He was tasked with working on communications for the event. Surely a tall order for anybody.
With me now is Zaki Cooper, the former press secretary to the Queen. I remember that event. It was the summer of course of the London Olympics here, which the Queen very famously played a significant part in, with James Bond. Of course, before we talk about what goes into the sort of day that we are about to witness in these last 10 days.
You're a Londoner, Zaki. You and I both grew up in London. I just want to get your reflections of what you've witnessed over the past 10 days because it really has been a moment in time, hasn't it?
ZAKI COOPER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY TO QUEEN ELIZABETH II FROM 2009 to 2012: It has indeed. It's been a momentous time. Almost hard to digest. Almost, I think, we need the passage of time, we need weeks and months to pass before we can really process what's taken place. It's been incredibly moving to see the reactions to her majesty's death.
The quiet dignity of people in London and Britain, all around the world, reacting to the Queen's death. And the respect, the esteem, and the love in which she was held has come through. It's been a really momentous time.
ANDERSON: Westminster Abbey has been releasing details about the service and I just want to pull up a tweet here. We see James O'Donnell, the Abbey's organist and Master of the Choristers, so many people involved in the preparations for this day. And you will know, you know, none of this happens without, you know, months, years of planning. Years of planning has gone into what will be happening today. Just sort of reflect on the experience that you had with the jubilee and celebrations and how they compare to this.
COOPER: Yes. Well, obviously, huge amounts of planning go into these big British state occasions. For the diamond jubilee, we had the useful template of 10 years earlier as we had had a golden jubilee just 10 years before. We have that as a relatively fresh reminder of what could take place and things, we could improve from 10 years previously.
In terms of the monarch's funeral, we haven't had one for 70 years. We have not had a state funeral since Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965. So, this is really new territory for lots of people. But the plans have been in place as you say, for many, many years and they've been refined overtime.
Of course, they were approved by her majesty. But this is the British state at its best. The amount of planning that goes into everything, the hours and hours of detail that go into every, perhaps one minute of output is really astonishing. And I think today we're going to see a really suitable fitting and hopefully moving sendoff for her majesty the Queen.
ANDERSON: You knew the date of the jubilee celebrations. Of course, that's been the difficulty. This has been such a moving feast, isn't it? And in the end, the Queen of course dying peacefully at Balmoral, her summer state, allowing for, you know, Scotland to really play a part in these -- in what will have been celebrations of her life. You know, it has to be said, of course, you know, the event you are most involved in was a big celebration, wasn't it?
COOPER: Well, I think the events around the Queen's death that have been a mixture. Of course, there is sadness and sorrow. And of course, she leaves a huge gap in the nation's life and in the life of the Commonwealth. But there is also gratitude. There are also thanks for everything she has done.
The remarkable 70 years of service. The over 21,000 public engagements. All the garden parties, the receptions, the investitures, the credentials. Everything she did day-to-day at the quality she did it was truly astonishing. So, this is farewell, but also thank you for everything she did.
ANDERSON: I've been struck by how people have felt. And we've talked to so many people who have been queuing over. More than 100 hours, these queues as we've been reporting, snaking along the River Thames. Most of those people will never have met the Queen in purpose. She did do over 20,000 actual events. And so there will be some people who've met her over the years.
But there is a sense, you know, that the Queen has played a role in so many people's lives and you and I were just talking before we started here. I remember the silver jubilee back in 1977. You can remember where you were, what you were doing, how old you were, which members of your family were around and of course, the older generation, you know, very much more sort of imbued in the life of the royal family as it were, possibly (ph) Second World War.
That is, I think what has struck people the most. They've got a lot of memories about either having met the Queen or having been involved in an event which was associated with her. And that can speak to pretty much every single person in the United Kingdom.
COOPER: The Queen and the royal family are the mirror which we hold up as a nation and we look in that mirror and hopefully we see the best of ourselves. And the Queen I think allowed us to express the best of ourselves. Someone once said, it was not the example of her power, she is not a politician. She's an -- her power, but the power of her example.
And it was simply the incredible, immaculate standards of her behavior. Her politeness, her humility. Her curiosity, her interest which she maintained. No matter who she was meeting, whether it was another foreign royal or someone, a member of the public. Whoever she was meeting, she maintained those standards. So, of course, everyone in this country references their lives by the Queen and the royal family. That's naturally --
ANDERSON: My sense is it was an honor to work for her.
COOPER: An absolute honor and privilege and something that I will remember until to my dying days, no doubt.
ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. Zaki, it's good to have you on. It is a remarkable day here in London. It's 25 past seven. Still to come, my one-on-one interview with the Queen Rania of Jordan. She pays tribute to the late monarch and reflects on the positive contributions Queen Elizabeth made across the region particularly in the Middle East. You're watching "CNN Newsroom." Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. In just a few hours, Britain will say final goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II. Her long reign and her service will be honored at Westminster Abbey in a state funeral attended by world leaders.
It has been carefully planned for years and will cap of for almost 10 days of public memorials. Well, thousands upon thousands of people have been paying their respects at Westminster Hall over the past four days where the Queen has been lying in state.
Just moments ago, those public viewings came to an end. You are looking at the very last mourners who are allowed to say their farewells before the funeral.
Well, here in London, I had the opportunity to speak to Queen Rania of Jordan about the remarkable life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II from her perspective. She says the late monarch was symbolically the queen of the world. Here is more from our conversation.
RANIA AL-ABDULLAH, QUEEN OF JORDAN: The first time I met the queen, I think I was just a few months into my role. And she was quite sensitive to the fact that I was new. And she could tell that, you know, I wasn't too sure of myself. And I did ask her, you know, her advice and she told me how important it is to always be there, to have that sense of duty and discipline, to pay attention to the little details.
And I've always taken advice very seriously. To me, she was public service personified. You know, she is a woman who pledged her life to the service of her people. And for 70 years never once fell short of that promise. And, you know, I think today, you know, she is the -- she was the queen of England, but she's also symbolically the queen of the world. She means something to all of us. And no matter who you are, you feel a sense of affinity and closeness to her.
ANDERSON: You've been struck by the atmosphere, I think, and the crowds and the British public and those from around the world who've taken the opportunity to come here. You know, just this sort of coming together since.
AL-ABDULLAH: Look, it's been a rough couple of years to U.K., you know, trying to negotiate a deal with Europe post-Brexit, a pandemic, a cost of living inflation, it has been tough. But I've never felt sense, the sense of togetherness that I feel today in the U.K. So, she was a unifying force in her -- during her lifetime but she's also unifying in her passing. Today, she reminded people of what it means to be British.
She gave everybody a sense of perspective. It's been so heartening to see how everybody has come together, politicians from all sides have sort of closed ranks around their new king. And today we mourn the life. But we also celebrate the life and we celebrate the start of a new chapter for this country. And I'm very optimistic.
ANDERSON: How important is this royal family to the Hashemites?
AL-ABDULLAH: The relationship goes back several decades and spans several generations. His Majesty King Hussein and her majesty ascended to the throne in 1952. And they've enjoyed almost 50 years of a close friendship with the more special by their common experience as monarchs. And my husband, King Abdullah, inherited and cherished this relationship but he was also very fond of Her Majesty as was I.
It's impossible not to be and we have a very close relationship with His Majesty, and the Queen Consort Camilla. And my son now is very close with Prince William. So, it's a relationship that goes through generations and one that we really hold close because it's based on common values. My husband, as you know, has served in the British Army as well. And my son also graduated from Stanford. So it's, you know, it's multifaceted and it goes back a very long way.
ANDERSON: Her Majesty's reign was during a period where the end of colonialism was seen, and there is a respect for the British monarchy intertwined with some issues that came from that era. How do you see the relationship developing going forward?
AL-ABDULLAH: Her Majesty was always led by principle and was willing to change and modify policies as she so fit. And so, I think people understand that where the monarchy stands today is very different than vis-a-vis these issues than it was. Every era has its own circumstances. And moving forward like I said, His Majesty has a deep understanding of our region, a deep respect.
ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) he also has a deep admiration for an interest in Islam, which I think is really important as we consider the relationship that the British monarchy has, with the Middle Eastern and wider region gulf region going forward.
AL-ABDULLAH: Absolutely, because he's a very thoughtful person. He is somebody who knows things and studies things deeply. So, when he when -- he deals with the Muslim world, he deals with a sense of nuance and a sense of experience and knowledge. So he knows the region very, very well and really knows how to navigate -- he's a very wise man, I have no doubt in my mind how much he would enhance relations not just with our part of the world, but with every part of the world.
ANDERSON: Queen Rania of Jordan. And I'll have a lot more from London in a few moments. First, let's bring in Michael Holmes in Atlanta with the day's other news. Michael?
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Good to see you, Becky. Thanks for that. Yes, Ukraine's military taking control of a key river as it reportedly rebels more Russian attacks. We'll have details on the effort to liberate more cities when we come back.
Also, Hurricane Fiona moves on to the Dominican Republic after lashing Puerto Rico. We'll track the storm's path and take a look at the damage it has left in its weight.
HOLMES: Welcome back, Ukraine says its military has repelled Russian attacks in the country's northeast over the past 24 hours. Some of the fighting reportedly occurring north of Izyum which was recently liberated after five months of Russian occupation. Ukraine continues to reclaim ground in the northeast as Russian forces retreat from the Kharkiv region. Kyiv says it's -- that some Russian units lost more than half of their troops and hundreds of pieces of military equipment during the retreat.
Ukrainian forces also say they've seized control of a key river in the region. The video you see there shows a military vehicle using a pontoon bridge to cross the Oskil River. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says they're gearing up to liberate more cities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Perhaps it seems to someone now that after a series of victories we have a certain low but this is not alone. This is preparation for the next sequence of words that are very important to us all, and that definitely must be heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins me now from Kharkiv in North East, Ukraine. I mean, Ben it has been an extraordinary counter offensive by Ukraine. Equally extraordinary pace of retreat by the Russians. What are you seeing?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were actually in Izyum yesterday, Michael. And what we saw was a lot of Russian military hardware just strewn around the streets. We spoke to some soldiers who said that the Russians when the Ukrainian forces opened fire on that area, essentially abandoned all their equipment, jumped in civilian cars which they'd commandeered and simply drove away.
This sort of reminds me of the Iraqi retreat from Kuwait City at the end of the first Gulf War. But what we're seeing is that, nonetheless, the Russians still are striking back for instance, just over an hour ago. We heard for explosions as four missiles slammed into another district of the city of Kharkiv where we are.
And of course the Russians we've learned from Ukraine's state nuclear power company have fired upon the south Ukrainian nuclear power plant. According to the company, one of the missiles landed within 300 meters of that nuclear power plant that blast shattered more than 100 windows. Now the Russians certainly do seem to be at best digging in in preparation for perhaps a renewed Ukrainian offensive.
Now, we've seen pictures on social media that would indicate that the Ukrainians are approaching the city of Lysychansk which fell to the Russians last July. So it does appear that perhaps the offensive in the Kharkiv may have come to an end. But perhaps the Ukrainians are just gearing up for offenses in other areas. Michael?
HOLMES: Yes, indeed. Good to have you there on the scene. Ben Wedeman, thanks so much. Now Ukraine's first lady has paid her respects to Britain's Queen Elizabeth ahead of the late monarch's funeral. Olensko Zelenska has been -- Olena Zelenska has been in London attending ceremony, she and the Ukrainian prime minister visited Westminster on Sunday joining scores of other dignitaries to pay tribute while the late queen was lying in state.
CNN's Clare Sebastian joins me now from London. Yes, Claire, far from the battlefield, a foreign policy role for Ukraine's first lady.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael, I think it's important to note that even at this critical moment in the war for Ukraine, they are keen to emphasize their relationship with the U.K. to cultivate it because along with other western partnerships that have been so critical to the course of this war, she is representing her husband, who, as you know, has not left the country since the war started in February.
He is keenly focused on that counter offensive in the east and the south. But also, as you say, representing her country here. She is someone who has been very clear that she prefers a roll behind the scenes but has really stepped up in recent months taking on this very practical, very public foreign policy role. Just last week, she was in Strasbourg, she was attending the State of the Union address by the E.U. Commission president in July.
Remember, she addressed the U.S. Congress in Washington specifically asking for air defense systems to be added to the roster of weapons that the U.S. has been providing to Ukraine. So she has really been taking on this sort of not only figurehead, but diplomatic role. A contrast to note is that Vladimir Putin of Russia has not been invited to attend to these events in London around the queen's funeral.
He -- according to senior government source to CNN was not invited because of course of the invasion of Ukraine. But this is not just about diplomacy. Ukraine also had a real affection for the queen. I think it's worth noting that just over two weeks before she died, she sent a message of support to Ukraine on the event of its 31st anniversary of its independence day. She said, you know, this is a very challenging year for Ukraine. Her final line, may we look forward to better times ahead. Michael?
HOLMES: All right. Thanks for that. Clare Sebastian there in London for us. All of Puerto Rico is in the dark after being hit by Hurricane Fiona on Sunday. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES (voice over): What you're you hearing there of a strong howling wind, also seen the torrential rain there that knocked out the entire territories power grid, and it might take several days or more to get it back online. The National Hurricane Center predicting life threatening and catastrophic flooding. Flood waters were able to wash away an entire bridge in one town. You're seeing it happen right there. I have video there from social media.
Meteorologist Pedram Javaerhi joins me now with more on where the storm is going next. Where do you see it headed, Pedram?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Dominican Republic is on alert here, Michael, for landfall potentially in the next couple of hours as the system moves ashore again and you'll notice the damage certainly left behind across portions of Puerto Rico.
The system impacted the Leeward Islands and within a matter of 24 to 48 hours making landfall right there. As of Sunday afternoon around 3:20 local time across the southwestern side of Puerto Rico, 85-mile per hour winds, current winds with the storm system sit at that same strength, 85 miles per hour. So very little in the way of weakening and you'll notice wind gusts that were observed across Puerto Rico exceeding 100 miles per hour which explains why we've seen over three million people across this region without power right now.
The entirety of the island remaining without power. There goes the storm system, wind gusts, 105 miles per hour. The system is going to impact the area of Southern and Southeastern portions of the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is certainly on alert with the storm as well. But you'll notice these are all flood alerts that have been prompted nearly across the entirety of Puerto Rico's. We're watching this here for additional rounds of heavy rainfall as much as 15, maybe 20 inches possible across parts of Puerto Rico.
And certainly across areas of the Dominican Republic as well. Now notice, the storm system is forecast to make a sharp right turn head off towards the north and west and within the next 24 hours, potentially impact the eastern side of the Turks and Caicos and it could be a category two storms. So it is going to strengthen and beyond this over open waters. Conditions are conducive for further strengthening.
Because see this get up to a major hurricane, category three strength. Of course, the steering environment continues to steer it away from the mainland of the United States, but our friends in Bermuda certainly going to be watching this carefully because by say Thursday afternoon, Thursday evening, we could have a major hurricane across this areas. We're going to watch this carefully.
Follow the forecast guidance as well and warnings and alerts are certainly in place across the areas of Hispaniola or even mountainous terrain, Michael but the storm system itself because of that sharp right turn should avoid the vast majority of the mountains which is why we think it will have potential to strengthen again and continue strengthening once it clears this area in the coming hours.
HOLMES: All right, Pedram. Appreciate the update. Thanks so much. Keeping an eye on it for us, Pedram Javaheri there.
Now more severe weather is moving across East Asia this hour. Nearly 10 million people have been ordered to evacuate in Japan has Typhoon Namnadol lashes the island of Kyushu. Japan has issued its highest disaster alert as authorities warn of unprecedented storms and rainfall. Meanwhile, in Taiwan, state media reporting at least one person has died from that 6.9 magnitude earthquake.
The tremor is so strong they collapse this bridge, twisting its supports out of the ground. And officials report more than 100 aftershocks have been recorded. CNN's Blake Essig joins me now from Tokyo with more. You'll get to Taiwan. Let's start with the impact of that massive typhoon were you there in Japan.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, super Typhoon Namnadol will go down as one of the strongest typhoons Japan has ever seen with gusts of wind reaching 145 kilometers per hour at its peak. Now for days, experts had been warning about a potential large scale disaster on Japan's Kyushu island fueled by these high winds -- storm surge and torrential rain. Now the good news here, it seems that at least to this point, that potential large-scale disaster has been avoided.
So far, about 10 million people living in southern and western Japan had been ordered to evacuate as a result of this violent storm. But again, a lot of the potential disaster that we had talked about in the days building up to the storm really haven't come to pass. Now, hundreds of thousands of homes across several prefectures are still without power in NHK. Japan's public broadcaster has reported more than 40 people have been injured.
And according to officials in Miyazaki, one person, a man in his 40s has been reported missing and maybe inside a building that has been buried by a landslide. Police and rescue teams are on site. Now, the slow moving yet powerful typhoon made landfall near Kagoshima City on Kyushu island around 7:00 p.m. local time on Sunday night and is now headed towards Tokyo here and will likely bring heavy rains and strong winds which could cause landslides and flooding.
That at this point is the biggest concern. Now Japan's super typhoon wasn't the only natural disaster to impact this region over the weekend. In Taiwan, a strong 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit off the islands eastern coast. It is the largest earthquake, Taiwan has recorded so far this year, trains were derailed, buildings collapsed. And as of this morning, nearly 700 people remain trapped on two separate mountains in southeastern Taiwan.
Taiwanese officials say that all of those people have been taken to local shelters and will be evacuated at some point today. Now as authorities, with those people on the mountain try to work to actually clear roadblocks. Now so far as a result of this one quake, one person has died after being struck by a machine while working in a cement factory. Nearly 150 people had been injured and since the first major earthquake, a 6.4 magnitude quake that hit Saturday night local time.
More than 100 aftershocks had been felt near the epicenter and across the island with the Central Weather Bureau expecting more aftershocks to follow in the coming days as a result of that, Michael. Taiwan's President set up an emergency operations center and has encouraged residents to stay alert. Michael?
HOLMES: All right, Blake. Appreciate the update. Blake Essig there in Tokyo for us.
We can take quick break. When we come back. Touching tributes for Britain's Queen Elizabeth. We're going to show you how world leaders honored the monarch ahead of her funeral. Stay tuned. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
ANDERSON: It's just before five to 8:00 in the morning here in London. And in a matter of minutes, Westminster Abbey will open its doors to the general congregation for Queen Elizabeth's funeral. The ceremony is scheduled to begin in about three hours. It will be steeped in royal tradition and will honor the monarch's long reign and lifetime of service.
Well, leaders from around the world are here. They've been paying tribute to the queen ahead of her funeral. U.S. President Joe Biden visited her coffin at Westminster Hall on Sunday and said Britain was lucky to have a monarch who was so "decent and honorable." French President Emmanuel Macron was also there to pay his respect. Saudi officials said he would give King Charles a book that honors the queen's visits to France.
Well, the queen will be laid to rest in the King George VI Memorial Chapel which lies within St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. The coffin of the queen's late husband, Prince Philip will also be moved from its current resting place there so that he can be buried alongside of. The queens parents are also buried in that chapel and the ashes of the queen sister Princess Margaret are placed there as well.
And there was a poignant moment here on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. A minute of silence was held in honor of Britain's longest reigning monarch.
Well, a moment was marked across the U.K. from Big Ben, 10 Downing Street here in London but also in Northern Ireland, in Wales and elsewhere across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Even those lined up to view the queen lying in state pause to pay their respects. I'm Becky Anderson. Do stay with us for our continuing live coverage of Queen Elizabeth's funeral. That continues after this short break.