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Queen Elizabeth Laid To Rest After Solemn State Funeral; Queen's Great Grandchildren Say Goodbye As New Era Begins; Russian Forces Shell Recently Liberated Town In East Ukraine; Iranians Protest Woman's Death In Police Custody; At Least 2 Dead in Puerto Rico and Power Out; Hurricane Fiona Heads for Turks and Caicos; Biden Declares End of COVID Pandemic; 27 Killed in China in COVID Quarantine Bus Accident. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 20, 2022 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: All around the world, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

In the hour ahead, Queen Elizabeth II has been laid to rest. The nation pays tribute to a life of service, duty, dignity.

Puerto Rico's power grid is offline, water services cut off, buildings and homes badly damaged. The destruction from Hurricane Fiona.

And who gets to decide when a pandemic is over? Well, it's complicated.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE: For 70 years in 214 days, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II was a steady constant presence for the people of Great Britain and countries of the realm. But now comes a new era with a new monarch, new uncertainties of what the future will hold.

Her Majesty was laid to rest at Windsor Castle on Monday, alongside her late father, mother, sister and husband.

During the committal service her reign came to a symbolic end as her crown was removed from her coffin, placed on an altar.

Those within the royal family close to the queen were there, including her son and heir King Charles III, who was also by his mother's side as her procession moved to Windsor from London, with thousands of mourners lining the streets to pay their respects.

Britain's new prime minister honored the queen with a reading from the Bible.


LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.


VAUSE: The state funeral for Queen Elizabeth means 10 days of national mourning are now over, also marks the end of possibly the most intricate well planned and detailed operation ever in British history.

CNN's Max Foster begins our coverage.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Prime ministers, presidents, leaders and dignitaries from all around the world, more than 2,000 inside London's Westminster Abbey, join together in chorus.

The Lord Is My Shepherd, repeatedly, the queen's favorite hymn. Sang during her wedding to Prince Philip in this very hall when she was a 21-year-old princess. The younger royal generation, Charlotte and George, were also in the procession. Their attendance something that Prince and Princess of Wales took time to consider, CNN understands.

Decades of meticulous preparation and centuries of sort of tradition. The queen was instrumental in planning this funeral. Her family escorted the coffin drawn by 142 royal navy personnel. The short journey from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey.

Draped in the royal standard and topped with the imperial state crown, the sovereign's orbit, and the scepter. Amid the wreath, a handwritten note from the king, in loving and devoted memory, Charles R.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.

FOSTER: After readings and blessings for two minutes, the attendees, the choir, and the nation each fell silent. Big Ben tolled 96 times. Guns unloaded as the procession continued on its final journey. Crowds lined the streets all the way along the route from London to Windsor.


The military flanked the three-mile-long walk leading to the castle.

At the end of the ceremony, the crown, the ore, the scepter were removed by the crown jeweler. Separating the queen from her crown for the final time.

For the first time performing the ritual on camera, the most senior official in the royal household, the Lord Chamberlain, broke his wand of office and placed it on the coffin, symbolizing the end of his in his monarch's service.

As the coffin lowered, the sovereign Piper, who for decades played for Elizabeth every morning as her personal alarm clock sounded the final lament at her majesty's requests.

Max Foster, CNN, Windsor Castle, England.


VAUSE: CNN's Scott McLean is outside Buckingham Palace, he joins us now live.

So, Scott after all the tears, all the grief, the incredibly long lines to walk past the Queen while she was lying in state, I guess what's the mood there this morning? What's it like?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Hi, John, yes, well, there's far fewer journalists here outside Buckingham Palace, the streets are also reopened today. Stores will also reopen after the holiday yesterday due to the queen's death. And you would not believe how many people over the last 10 days have said to me, we've just got to carry on. And I imagine that that's what the vast majority of British people will be doing, though the official royal mourning period will carry on for another seven days.

After that, I suspect that the monarchy has some work to do to really shore up the reign of King Charles III, there is at least one referendum scheduled or set for the Commonwealth realms likely others to follow to decide whether they want to keep the queen or the king, I should say, as their head of state.

And even in this country, there was a poll commissioned just before the Platinum Jubilee earlier this year that found that two thirds of Brits support keeping the monarchy and while 86 percent of people were satisfied with the job that Queen Elizabeth II was doing. Only 65 percent were satisfied with the job that then Prince Charles was doing, his son, Prince William was far more popular, almost as popular as the Queen.

And I have to say, I've talk and -- I've spoken to a heck of a lot of people over the last 10 days. And while some told me that they wish that the crown were passing directly to William, the vast majority of people said that they were more than satisfied with Charles and especially over the last 10 days, he has really acted like a king, sort of taking on a new heir of regalness or authority based on his actions.

I also suspect, John that we're going to be talking a lot more about politics in this country. Remember that Liz Truss, the new prime minister was only on the job for one full day before the queen died. She's now going to be facing a lot more scrutiny as to what she does about the energy crisis and the cost of living crisis in this country.

VAUSE: We know that the lines were incredibly long to get into Westminster to pay respects to her majesty. But at one point, it seems they were so long that the police didn't set to tell people to stop coming.

MCLEAN: Yes, I had several points because they -- the lines stretched all the way along the Thames for about five miles. And then there was a park sort of in southeast London, called Southern Park where the line stretched snaked back and forth, really taking up as much space as they possibly could.

But then once that park got filled, they essentially had nowhere else to put people other than out on the street where they didn't have the resources necessarily to keep people safe while they were standing along what was a busy roadway.

So, they effectively shut down the line. They also shut it down just to discourage people from coming because they didn't want people waiting in line for 24 hours. There were so so many people, hundreds of calls at last count for people who felt faint or had fainted in the line. And so, they didn't want to see a situation like that.

But it seemed like people were pretty content to wait 12, 14, 16 hours in that lineup John, and actually spoke to the last two people to file through that to see the queen's coffin, and one of them had actually been through a second time. This woman waited seven to eight hours, filed past the coffin and then went to the back of the line to start over again and waited another five or six hours.

And what really struck me about that line John is just how many people were genuinely emotional either before they had reached the queen's coffin, or certainly after they had come out and left the Palace of Westminster.

VAUSE: Scott, thank you. Scott McLean there live at Buckingham Palace, we appreciate it.

Queen Elizabeth's funeral was attended by a long list of global leaders, more than 500 dignitaries including kings, queens, and emperor, presidents and prime ministers were there.


On that high profile list was U.S. President Joe Biden and leaders from Commonwealth nations like the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Just to name a few.

Joining me now is CNN's European Affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas, good to see you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR (on camera): Great to be with you, John.

VAUSE: OK, so while the British monarch has virtually no authority, no real involvement in the affairs of state, the influence the queen had was simply for being there, a constant presence, now she is gone. It seems like there's another layer uncertainly on top of what, you know, an untested new prime minister, on top of the uncertainty of an economy which is heading for some very tough times. And Britain hasn't really seen anything like this before.

THOMAS: No, you're absolutely right, John. And I think that in so many ways, what happened over the past few days was sort of acting out or acting on that.

You're absolutely right, no matter what people thought of the monarchy. The fact was that the Queen was a constant present through a whole range of historical moments and including all the way up to this latest round of political uncertainty.

And I think that what was we with this sort of outpouring are the ways in which so many people in this divisive and political environment, this environment, defined by the sort of polarizing politics of Brexit over the last few years, came together to share together in some kind of experience that is defined, and Britain for essentially, their lifetime.

And I think what was so paradoxical about it is of course, it shifted the focus away from the new Prime Minister Liz Truss, who is of course emerged from this embattled internal Conservative Party and affair.

And as we wake up tomorrow morning, the focus will be back on politics and the distraction will now be the opportunity for the royal family and primarily, the new king to find his feet and to define and map out what that new role will be. And those will be big shoes to fill, John.

VAUSE: Absolutely. We also know that there was this incredible respect from world leaders, we saw that obviously at the funeral.

She was monarch for 14 U.S. presidents, meeting all of them except for LBJ, I want you to listen out to President Joe Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She was the same in person as her image, decent, honorable and all about service. And our hearts go out to the royal family, King Charles and all the family. It's a loss that leaves a giant hole.


VAUSE: And that decency that stoicism I guess was not for some of the 15th members of the Commonwealth to, you know, put off declaring independence or even sort of talking seriously about becoming Republics.

But in Australia, for example, and other places, there is now serious debate about their future under King Charles as a monarch.

THOMAS: These are very important questions, John, I think that the key word really in the first part of what you were doing there in the segment is about duty. And once again, whatever one thought thinks about the monarchy, the fact is that she devoted her life to public service.

And the looking over, the legacy of that comes at a time when so many political leaders around the world are in office for the sole purpose of serving their own particular interests.

And let's not forget that the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was essentially ousted eventually, because he was such a terrible public servant, he put himself ahead of taking care of the British people. And I think that's an important aspect.

To the second point, Liz Truss tomorrow heads to the United Nations, she's going to be mapping out there yet again, this Conservative Party Plan for global Britain.

And I think you're absolutely right, both when it comes to the U.K. government and to the future of the monarchy, that in many ways that U.K. has become the periphery for these areas of the world, they are no longer the center that was occupied when the queen came to the rein in 1952.

And I think there's a great disconnect between that aspiration of a global Britain today, and the desires politically for people for climate change, environmental issues, and so on. And it's reconciling those two that are going to be important both for the monarchy and for the U.K. government moving forward, John.

VAUSE: It does feel as if this is a moment in history that there is some -- that there is a turning point, if you like. We have -- the Queen is now gone over Brexit and as you say, there is so much happening within Britain, it's similar to around Britain, which is taking place.

It does seem that we're emerging from a period where Europe is moving in one direction, and the U.K. is moving in a separate direction.

THOMAS: It is and that goes with the government and it goes with the monarchy.

And what you talked about here of historical change, you're absolutely right. I mean, we've witnessed in the past just say the last 10 years, a seismic change culturally, politically, socially with Me Too, with Black Lives Matter.

And these European countries, whether they are E.U. member states or the U.K., have still not fully reckoned with that history of colonialism or the history of empire, to which once again, the royal family is inextricably linked.


So, there's a reckoning there once again, as to what is the pertinence of Britain today? What is the pertinence of the -- of the monarchy today, as we make our way into the 21st century?

And the success of both, the country and the monarchy will depend on their capacity to look at that particular history, to look at themselves in the mirror and to find a way of mapping out their pertinence and relevance for the 21st century. If not, they will be threatened with extinction, John.

VAUSE: Dominic, thank you. Good to see you. Joining us there in Los Angeles.

THOMAS: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Queen Elizabeth's great grandchildren were the youngest generation of royals to participate in the funeral. Prince George and Princess Charlotte form part of the procession behind the queen's coffin. Seeing (PH) the more prominent and evolving role they'll play as descendants of the throne.

CNN's Anna Stewart reports.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The youngest generation of the royal family joined in the solemn ceremonies to say one last goodbye to their great grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte both in attendance for the church services morning the beloved matriarch. The pair remain close to their mother Catherine, the Princess of Wales throughout the day.

The two participated in the procession, as the coffin was escorted from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, and after they attended a more intimate ceremony held at Windsor Castle.

MOST. REV. JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: We pray today especially for all her family, grieving as every family at a funeral, but in this family's case, doing so in the brightest spotlight.

STEWART: The Queen's death comes at a time of change for the children. Her death was announced on the same day the children started at a new school after the family relocated from London to Windsor in the summer.

The children often spent holidays with the queen and attended her Platinum Jubilee celebration earlier this year.

Both Princess Charlotte and her mother paid tribute to her majesty by wearing symbolic items of jewelry. The Princess of Wales honor the queen with her pearl necklace and earrings, the same set she wore to Prince Philip's funeral.

Princess Charlotte wore a diamond brooch, a gift from the Queen and in the shape of a horseshoe, signifying her love for horses.

That passion was underscored as the procession past Windsor Castle, where the Queen's beloved horse and corgis awaited.

The day holds particular weight for the young family. With the passing of the Queen, Prince William is now heir to the throne, making Prince George and Princess Charlotte second and third in line.

Now the youngest members of the family begin to bear responsibility, representing the future of the British monarchy.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Liberation for parts of Ukraine's Kharkiv region, but Russian soldiers have left behind a deadly legacy there, booby traps.

Coming up, the scars of Russian occupation.



VAUSE: Ukrainian counter offensive is pushing further east into Luhansk region as the military tries to reclaim territory elsewhere.

Ukrainian military leaders in Luhansk say they have liberated another village who one official said was a hard fight for every centimeter of Luhansk land.

Russian military base in a still occupied part of Luhansk was destroyed Monday, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the military is digging in.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are stabilizing the situation, holding our positions firmly so strong that the occupiers are really panicking.

Well, we have warned the Russian soldiers in Ukraine have only two options, to flee from our land or surrender.


VAUSE: Moscow denying accusations of war crimes in recently liberated territories in the northeast of Ukraine. The Kremlin claims the alleged evidence of torture found in a mass grave in Izium is a lie.

Ukrainian authorities say they exhumed more than 140 bodies on Monday, two of them children.

New video from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense shows damage to a 16th century monastery in a town in the Donetsk region. Here it was recently liberated from Russian forces and destroyed Russian tanks and armored. Vehicles are littered in the streets.

Russian forces launched fresh attacks in the Kharkiv region in the past 24 hours. Ukrainian officials say the shelling injured at least two people including an 11-year-old boy.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh was there as the shelling hit nearby.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There's no respite and victory here. An artillery battle still shaking the liberated city of Kupiansk. This occupation slogan, we are one people with Russia seems comic now the Ukrainians have chased the Russians across the bridge, and further south. Shell has landed under 100 meters from us. Another swiftly follows.

It's unlikely Moscow can retake places lost in the past weeks.

So, this is about vengeance and spite. This prisoner is claimed to be local, but they think he's a Russian soldier deserting or left behind.

What else must go left behind is far uglier. These tiny rooms were their detention center, where as many as 400 prisoners were held at one time we were told, eight or nine prisoners per cell.

Booby traps are now in their place, a warning written next to this room. So, he's writing grenade there on the wall. Because as they move through these cells, they're finding booby traps left it seems by the occupying forces, that one in there a grenade left under a tray of half eaten food and it just shows you the hazards that ordinary people are going to find coming back.

A place like this shore used as a key detention center by the Russians. But across this town, the damage is extraordinary. But also too is the risk of unexploded ordnance and potentially booby traps.

They're discovering two other scars from torture. This former prisoner is introduced to us by the Ukrainian Security Service. He says he was imprisoned about a month ago as he was once a cook in the army.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the room where I was interrogated. They put me on this chair. There the investigator sat and there was the guy with the telephone and another one who helped.

WALSH: The telephone was an old wind up model used to send electric shocks into him. He thinks the interrogator was experienced from the Russian security services.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They told me, you think you are tough, let's find out how tough. I was also shot with some kind of pistol. Here and in the leg.

WALSH: They asked him who he was in touch with from the army. The Russians burned their interrogation records hurriedly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main thing is to survive and to withstand. I took me a week and a half to recover when I got out. They promised I'd only see the sun and sky again if they forced me into a minefield.

WALSH: Elsewhere, signs of the mindset fueling the Russian invasion, they found time to paint this mural. A Russian soldier with a Z on his arm next to a pensioner and the flag of the former Soviet Empire burnished in flames. Pause a moment here in the bloodshed and ruin and consider how truly odd this is.


They were only here a matter of months yet so speedily tattoo this building with their machinery of pain. So much here clearly beyond use. So few locals huddle in its empty husk.

Winning does not heal the wounds, just gives them enough time to feel them.

Nick Payton Walsh, CNN, Kupiansk, Ukraine.


VAUSE: CNN spoke with Ukraine's prosecutor general about the evidence of torture and war crimes carried out by Russian forces. He says Russia is repeating the atrocities committed in Bucha.


ANDRIY KOSTIN, UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL: The main response is that what Russians did in Bucha and European. They proceed and they do the same in other places in Ukraine.

So, this shows pattern of Russia's behavior and treatment over Ukrainians. So, the same stories, the same -- the same -- how to say it, the same tortures, the same rapes and the same people killed.


VAUSE: Andriy Kostin there, Ukraine's Prosecutor General speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper.

Well, a rare display of public unrest in Iran notably students marching in protest over the suspicious death of a young woman while in police custody.

The semiofficial (PH) news agency quotes police is saying Mahsa Amini's death was unfortunate, but they deny allegations she was harmed. Iran's morality police which enforces the strict hijab rules, detained Amini last Tuesday. They denied witness reports that she was beaten inside their van.

State media released an edited video of Amini collapsing at a reeducation center. Police say she died of a heart attack, 23 years old.

Demonstrations have spread across Iran over the past few days.

In one video shared by the Free Union of Iranian Workers, protesters marched to the streets chanting death to the dictator.

When we come back, Hurricane Fiona may have moved on but rain in Puerto Rico continues to make recovery difficult. How the territory is coping in the aftermath of another hurricane.

Meanwhile, at the U.N., an inspirational speech from American poet Amanda Gorman, as world leaders gather for the 77th Annual General Assembly.


VAUSE: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

At least two people have died in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona batters the Caribbean and now heads into the Atlantic.


Puerto Rico's National Guard says more than 1,000 people have been rescued from life-threatening floodwater. Much of the island remains without power. The governor hopes full services will be restored in the coming days.


PEDRO PIERLUISI, PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR (through translator): Our goal, is in a matter of days, to restore electricity back to a majority of users of LUMA. That's the goal. What can't be answered is when will it be 100 percent. That is impossible to answer, because we are still assessing the damage, and damages could be happening right now.


VAUSE: CNN's Leyla Santiago is in San Juan, and she has this report.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost the entire island of Puerto Rico remains in the dark after Hurricane Fiona slammed into the Southwestern coast of the island Sunday afternoon. Pounding rainfall causing catastrophic mudslides and flooding, the storm coming just as parts of the island were finally recovering from Hurricane Maria's destruction five years ago.

JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ, SAN JUAN RESIDENT: It's been rough. And we've been just working to get back this neighborhood, get it back from Maria, that everything was destroyed: restaurants, houses. Everything was destroyed. And we just -- we just -- not all the way back, but we're just halfway back. A lot of people, more than Maria, lost their houses now, lost everything in their houses because of the flooding.

SANTIAGO: This is the barrio, the neighborhood where the National Guard had to come and rescue people. Still a lot of flooding. I can hear generators powering the homes. And it is still pouring down with rain. Neighbors looking out, wondering exactly what will come next as Hurricane Fiona, the remnants of it, continue to demolish this area.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The family rescued overnight, now safely in a shelter.


SANTIAGO: She says this was worse than Maria.


SANTIAGO: She's pointing out that they've already been underwater for 24 hours, and the rain is still coming down. So she's concerned about the 2,500 families that she says are impacted by this here.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): About a thousand people rescued from floodwaters, hundreds more rescue efforts still underway as emergency responders try to navigate through difficult-to-reach areas.

In Duado (ph), the interior part of the island, 25-year-old Leomar Rodriguez watched this bridge come apart in just minutes and wash down the river.

On the West side of the island, rainfall swelling the Guanajibo River in Hormigueros, surpassing its previous record height at 28.59 feet, set during Hurricane Maria. Now, gauging to over 29 feet, the National Weather Service said. While a few hospitals have regained power, emergency workers are racing to get electricity back to the island.

THOMAS VAN ESSEN, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR FOR PUERTO RICO (via phone): It takes so long to get things back up, because so many of the systems are connected. And some of the main lines go through the hills there. And, if those main lines get damaged, they don't have the ability to get the other sections up and running.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Sunday morning, President Joe Biden approving an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico that authorizes all emergency measures needed, including FEMA.

ANNE BINK, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR RESPONSE & RECOVERY, FEMA: There's 300 responders on the ground for FEMA working hand in glove with the commonwealth and their emergency management structure.

SANTIAGO: And it's not just the flooding, the mudslides or the power outages. Also, a lot of folks dealing with not having water right now either.

So, the big question will be how quickly can crews get in to work on the power lines. to restore that power and open up some of the roads that have been damaged by the flooding?

Now, another big thing to mention: It has now been five years since Hurricane Maria struck the island. So a lot of folks that are seeing these images, that are seeing it right before them unfold are sort of having flashbacks to Hurricane Maria the disaster that really decimated this island five years ago.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.


VAUSE: Frankie Miranda is the president and CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group The Hispanic Federation. He joins us this hour from Washington, D.C.

Thank you for taking the time to be with us.


VAUSE: OK, so, Fiona made landfall two days short of the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which caused more damage to Puerto Rico than any storm ever. That was five years ago. How can it be that thousands of homes on this island still have blue

tarps for roofs, and thousands are still living in damaged homes? Why haven't they been better prepared? Why isn't the -- you know, the repairing after Maria been done and dusted by now?

MIRANDA: Well, we need to remember, of all the billions of dollars that Congress approved for the recovery of Puerto Rico five years ago, there was a federal administration, the Trump administration, that was determined to block any funds to actually reach the people of Puerto Rico by creating barriers and creating an artificial barriers to anything that has to do with, like, disbursing these funds to Puerto Rico.


So we can actually say that the recovery of Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria is three years behind. And it's evident with the impact of Hurricane Fiona.

VAUSE: A general with Puerto Rico's National Guard actually talked about the difference between these two storms on Monday. Here he is. Listen to this.


MAJ. GEN. JOSE REYES, ADJUTANT GENERAL, PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD: The biggest difference between Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Fiona is the amount of rain that this hurricane brought to Puerto Rico, in many areas, over 30 inches of rain.

Yes, Hurricane Maria brought about 40 inches, but it was in a specific area along the center of the island. That's not the case with Hurricane Fiona. It brought rain all over the island, and many of the areas and suburban areas were completely flooded.


VAUSE: But what was not mentioned is that Maria made landfall as a Category 4 and the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record. Fiona was a Category 1. And it still carried quite the punch, but you know, two-thirds of the island is without water services right now. The power grid's been shut down. It will take days before electricity is restored. So, right now, Puerto Rico cannot cope with a Category 1 storm.

MIRANDA: That's correct. And it's because it makes evidence that the reconstruction of the power grid has not taken place properly. It has been a series of band-aids, because the funding has not really reached the agencies in Puerto Rico.

So, what is important right now is to really focus on the federal government working with the government of Puerto Rico. Just taking away any kind of barriers, to make sure that the power grid in Puerto Rico is restructured, is being re-constructed.

But also, Puerto Rico has a goal of renewable energy by 2050. Right now, the potential of solar power in Puerto Rico on just the roofs of the structures in Puerto Rico can actually relieve the power or everything that -- the charge that the power grid needs are supplying all of this energy to Puerto Rico.

So right now, what we need to ensure is that the biggest threat to Puerto Rican lives right now is the lack of power. And that we need to work vigilantly to make sure that the power grid responds to the needs of what it is right now, the new reality of climate change.

VAUSE: Is there a number in terms of dollars of what is needed to be invested into Puerto Rico's infrastructure so that it will be on par with other parts of the United States?

MIRANDA: Well, the damages of Hurricane Maria alone were around $90 billion, and some other estimates was 100 billion. Congress approved around -- you know, it approved around $63 billion for Puerto Rico. But only $19.8 billion have arrived to the island.

Just for the power grid, it's $12 billion that are allocated. But it has to be done the right way. And that is what Puerto Rican, American citizens that happen to live in the island of Puerto Rico deserve, that we do this right. And that the power grid is -- is basically recovered and being done the right way.

We know that close to 3,000, in some estimates, or 5,000 deaths of Hurricane Maria were because of lack of power. And we're going to see more of that right now, with Hurricane Fiona, if we don't deal with the issue of power in Puerto Rico; which was after Hurricane Maria, the longest blackout in American history, with some towns not having power for over 12 months.

VAUSE: Yes, and these storms are only becoming more intense and more frequent, so it's something for the future which needs to be looked at now.

Frankie Miranda, thank you so much for being with us.

MIRANDA: Thank you so much for this opportunity.

VAUSE: For our viewers who want to help those affected by Hurricane Fiona, please go to Find a list of verified organizations ready to help you make a difference.

Fiona is now heading to the Turks and Caicos after leaving behind a trail of devastation on the Dominican Republic as a Category 2 hurricane.

Heavy rains and strong winds destroyed buildings and homes. More than a million people are without running water. Officials say it's too soon to know the exact number of power outages.

Fiona is expected to strengthen in the coming days.

So with that, let's go to Pedram Javaheri, CNN'S meteorologist, with the very latest -- Pedram.


You know, we're looking at the storm system, because there is very much a potential here. The National Hurricane Center gives a special advisory, increasing this very soon to a Category 3.

Right now, 174 kilometer-per-hour winds, just East of the Eastern Turks and Caicos. And 174 kph is what officially moves it to Category 3 strength, making it a major hurricane. And it certainly is poised to get to that threshold within the coming hours.


And you'll notice, still very much an organized, symmetrical. All quadrants of the storm system very impressive at this hour here, producing these wind gusts that are in excess of 200 kilometers per hour.

So, very low-lying landscape in Turks and Caicos on alert right now. Some of the highest elevations here, only 50 meters. Compare that to areas of Hispaniola, areas of Puerto Rico, where 2 to 3,000-meter-high elevation in place there. Those are the tallest areas of all of the Caribbean. And then you go to some of the lowest-lying areas, just North of it, which are across Turks and Caicos. So we know the impacts here could be pretty significant.

Now, the Southern extent of it, still getting some rain showers across Eastern areas of the Dominican Republic and Western Puerto Rico, as well. Some flood alerts remain in place. The rains gradually becoming more tapered in nature. But you'll notice Near Ponce, say 32 inches or 800 millimeters, essentially a year's worth of rainfall in what you would see in London played out here in the span of 24 hours, with the storm system that moved across this region.

Coverage, as far as power outages, down to almost 90 percent from where we were yesterday at about 100 percent of the island without power.

And again, the system is poised to strengthen to a Category 3 as it skirts the Eastern area of the Turks and Caicos, possibly getting to Category 4.

And then we watch this carefully for later this week as Bermuda in the crosshairs of the storm system. Still quite a bit of time. We could see this migrate a little farther towards the West, but, at this point, a lot of people looking at this carefully from the Turks all the way into Bermuda -- John.

VAUSE: Pedram, thank you. We appreciate the updates.

A major earthquake in Western Mexico has left at least one person dead, damaged buildings, and knocked out power across the region. The 7.7 magnitude quake struck near the coastline Monday. It was felt as far away as Mexico City.

And it coincides with the anniversary of two other powerful quakes. One in 1985, which killed thousands. Another in 2017. Some Mexicans believe it's a sign from God. They believe September 19

is cursed.

Typhoon Nanmadol has claimed at least two lives as it moves through Japan. The storm continues to head North. Strong winds and torrential rain are leaving destruction in the wake.

Hundreds of thousands of people also without electricity.

There was a travel nightmare, too, when hundreds of flights were cancelled and bullet train services suspended in some parts.

Meteorologists expect more rain over the next 24 hours.

More than 100 aftershocks have been recorded in Taiwan after a powerful earthquake on Sunday. One aftershock was 5.5 magnitude and felt across the island.

At least one person was killed in the larger quake on Sunday. Almost 150 have been hurt.

Well, a parade (ph) of world leaders will speak at the 77th U.N. General Assembly, starting in the day ahead. On Monday, American poet Amanda Gorman took part in an event promoting the organization's sustainable development goals, including action on climate change, gender equality, hunger and poverty.


AMANDA GORMAN, POET: We can either divide and be conquered by the few. Or we can decide to conquer the future and say that today, a new dawn we wrote, say that as long as we have humanity, we will forever have hope together. We won't just be the generation that tries. But the generation that triumphs. Let us see a legacy where tomorrow is not driven by the human condition but by our human conviction.


VAUSE: Well, OK, the Korean pop group, Black Pink floated (ph) a video message supporting U.N. goals. They urged people to decrease their energy consumption, buy local produce, and cut down on food waste. Good advice.

Just ahead, the U.S. president, Joe Biden, claiming the COVID pandemic is over. But not so fast, say lawmakers from both sides on the aisle, pushing back on the president's claim.

Why a deadly bus crash in China has renewed criticism of Beijing's zero-COVID policy.



VAUSE: U.S. President Joe Biden is facing pushback from Republicans and Democrats over his claim the COVID pandemic is over. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it. It's -- but the pandemic is over.


VAUSE: White House aides have scrambled to contain the fallout from what the president told "60 Minutes," one official saying there's no change in COVID policy and the public health emergency is still in place through at least October 13.

But Republican leaders in Congress say the president's remarks will make approval for additional COVID funding more difficult.

It's not just Joe Biden, though, who has some optimism about this. Here's the head of the World Health Organization just last week.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We're not there yet, but the end is in sight.


VAUSE: Earlier, I spoke with cardiologist and medical researcher Dr. Eric Topol. We discussed how he would define the end of the pandemic.


DR. ERIC TOPOL, CARDIOLOGIST AND MEDICAL RESEARCHER: Well, there isn't any uniform definition of what is the end of a pandemic, how is it defined.

It's only really defined when you look backward and you say, Hey, we went several months and things were, you know, in good shape. We had some outbreaks, but you know ,we didn't lose a lot of people, and we didn't have a monstrous number of infections.

So, you can't -- you can't make the definition and proclamation ahead of it. You have to -- you have to achieve that.

The other thing, Dr. Tedros, who is, I think, right about the end is in sight, but that could be a year from now. It's in sight only because we've had -- built an immunity wall from so many infections, so many vaccines and boosters.

And, of course, as you mentioned, John, we have better treatments than we had before.

But the key here is, to the point when we achieve containment, how many more people are going to hurt, get hurt? How many are going to suffer or die? That's what we should be doing, is countering that, rather than just letting more bad things happen between now and whenever that phase is, when we really do achieve containment of the virus.


VAUSE: Stick around. You can see the full interview with Eric Topol in about an hour from now.

There is renewed anger over China's strict zero-COVID policy after a bus taking patients to a quarantine facility careened off the road and crashed into a ravine in the middle of the night, killing 27 on board.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins us now live from Hong Kong with more on this.

So a deadly bus crass. It's sparked all this fury. It's the latest, I guess, outbreak of fury over zero-COVID. So what's the reaction there? How are officials responding to all of this?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this deadly quarantine bus crash has whipped up anger and a furious reaction across China over China's punishing zero-COVID policy.

Censors in China, as you can imagine, they've been scrambling to cover up signs and posts expressing that anger. And yet, there was one post, a hashtag linked to the incident, that managed to generate over 450 million views.

Look, this is what happened. On Sunday, a bus carrying residents of Guiyang was taking them to a COVID-19 quarantine facility, a remote facility based very far away. And the bus crashed in the middle of the night. Twenty-seven people were killed.

I want to show you two images that have been going viral on social media in China. This first image you see of the bus, at night. You see the driver wearing a full hazmat suit. The entire body is covered, except for the eyes.

In another picture that's gone viral on social media, as well -- let's bring this next one up for you -- you see the bus itself completely crushed. And bizarrely, and inexplicably, a pandemic worker in a hazmat suit spraying disinfectant on the wreckage.


CNN cannot independently verify these images. But the license plate number, one of those images, matches the plate number that was reported by authorities.

An investigation is underway. This is what we heard from the deputy mayor of Guiyang on Monday. Take a listen.


LIN GANG, DEPUTY MAYOR, GUIYANG CITY (through translator): The rescue work inside is completed. Treatment for the injured is underway, and we are looking to properly handle the aftermath of the accident. The cause of the accident is under investigation.


STOUT: The crash has sparked a huge outcry across China over the increasingly over-the-top application and implementation of China's zero-COVID policy. There is fury in Guiyang. There is fury in remote areas of China, where zero-COVID lockdowns have been in place, like in Xinjiang and in Tibet.

There is anger, as well, in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan providence. The megacity of 21 residents that only now has just started to wind down a punishing citywide lockdown that was taking place there, despite the ongoing heat wave, despite that deadly earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.

I want to share, finally, one angry post that went viral online by a Netizen, who writes this on Weibo. Quote, "What makes you think that you won't be on that late-night bus one day?"

That post picked up more than 250,000 likes before it, too, was scrubbed off the Internet, off of social media in China. But yet another Netizen commented to that post, adding this, quote, "We're all on the bus. We just haven't crashed yet."

Back to you, John.

VAUSE: That's -- that's pretty defiant, especially for China. So that's still up there, if it is.

I think that there's only three places that has this zero-COVID policy. It's mainland China, Macau, I think, and North Korea. There may be one or two others. I'm not so sure. But there's a reason why there's only three places that has a zero-COVID policy. How does China sort of -- how does Beijing defend this in terms of, you know, the human costs and the economic toll?

STOUT: Yes, this is how Xi Jinping has been rationalizing it, saying that it saves lives. And it has saved lives if you look at the relative lack of efficiency of Chinese homegrown vaccines; the inadequacy of its health infrastructure, especially in rural parts of the country; and also the relatively low vaccination rates, especially among the older members of the population in China.

On top of that, it does bring that order of social order and stability that China, in particular, Xi Jinping craves ahead of the next party Congress, where he will be anointed as the party leader for an unprecedented third term.

But, you are right, John, the human toll, as well as the economic toll is rising. I just want to quickly mention this. According to Chinese government official statistics, only two people have passed away. Not just in Guiyang, but in all of Guizhou province since the start of the pandemic as a result of COVID-19.

Again, 27 people died in that bus crash on Sunday in Guiyang.

Back to you.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. We appreciate the update. Kristie Lu Stout, live for us in Hong Kong.

STOUT: Thank you.

VAUSE: U.S. President Joe Biden is welcoming the release of a U.S. Navy veteran, freed in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban.

Mark Frerichs had been working as an engineer in Afghanistan when he was kidnapped in 2020. He was handed over at Kabul International Airport on Monday.

In exchange, the U.S. freed Bashir Noorzai, a prominent member of the Taliban, who was convicted of drug trafficking in 2008.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Biden administration is committed to freeing other Americans, unjustly detained abroad.

Still to come, the queen, in her own words, describing a lifetime of service and duty to her subjects.


VAUSE: Never complain, never explain. Words to live by for Queen Elizabeth as she served her subjects with duty, honor, and dedication. And here is the queen in her own words.


QUEEN ELIZABETH II, UNITED KINGDOM: I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family, to which we all belong.

Today, we need a special kind of courage. Not the kind needed in battle, but a kind which makes us stand up to everything that we know is right.

On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice. But the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.

It is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

It is my hope that, when judged by future generations, our sincerity, our willingness to take a lead, and our determination to do the right thing will stand the test of time.

A long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.

We should take comfort that, while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.


VAUSE: The royal family has released a portrait of the queen with her family members who have also passed.

The queen was buried at the King George VI memorial chapel at Windsor with her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh; her father, King George VI; as well as the Queen Mother; and her sister, Princess Margaret.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. I'll be back after a very short break with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM.