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At Least 2 Dead in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Fiona; Powerful Earthquake Strikes Southwest Mexico; At Least 2 Dead in Japan at Typhoon Nanmadol; Iran Protest Turns Deadly; U.S.-Afghanistan Prisoner Swap; Texas Sheriff to Investigate Migrant Flights to Martha's Vineyard; Biden Facing Pushback for Declaring Pandemic Over; COVID Quarantine Bus Crashes in China; 17-year-old Ukrainian Wins Award for Developing Mine Detector; BLACKPINK Urging Action on Climate Change; Symbolic Jewelry Worn at Queen's Funeral. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 20, 2022 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Studio 7 at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Ahead this hour. As Russian soldiers fleeing Ukrainian counter offensive, they're leaving behind thousands of booby traps in the form of landmines and other explosive devices.

Queen Elizabeth II has been laid to rest. Her nation pays tribute to a life of service, duty, dignity.

And Puerto Rico's power grid offline water services cut. Buildings and homes left badly damaged. All of this destruction from Hurricane Fiona.

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

VAUSE: Ukraine's counteroffensive is pushing deeper into Luhansk region while elsewhere Ukrainian forces tried to hold recent territorial gains. Ukrainian military leaders in Luhansk claim another village has been liberated. One official saying it's a hard fight for every centimeter of land.

And the Russian military base in a still occupied part of the Luhansk was destroyed Monday. That's according to Ukrainians. And President Volodymyr Zelenskyy now 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Meantime, a flat denial from Moscow to accusations of war crimes in parts of Northeast Ukraine, where their soldiers have retreated. The Kremlin claims the alleged evidence of torture found a masquerade in Izyum is a lie.

Ukrainian authorities say Monday that they -- they've issued more than 140 bodies, two of them children.

Meantime, new video from Ukraine's defense ministry shows damage to a 16th century monastery in a town in the Donetsk region. The area was recently liberated from Russian forces and destroyed Russian tanks and armored vehicles (INAUDIBLE)

In the past 24 hours, the Russians have once again targeted the Kharkiv region with you -- while Ukrainian officials say the shelling has injured at least two people, including an 11-year-old boy. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh was there. A shelling hit nearby.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): There's no respite, 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 last in the past weeks. So, this is about vengeance and spite. This prisoner has claimed to be local that they think is a Russian soldier deserting or left behind. What else must go left behind is far uglier. These tiny rooms with their detention center where as many as 400 prisoners were held at one time we are told. Eight or nine prisoners per cell. Booby traps now in their place, a warning written next to this room.

WALSH (on camera): 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 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.

WALSH (voice over): 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. He was once a cook in the army.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (text): They put me in this chair. There the investigators 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 his interrogator was experienced from the Russian security services. [02:05:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (text): 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 (text): The main thing is to survive and to withstand. It 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 the minefield.

WALSH: Elsewhere, signs of the mindset fueling the Russian invasion. They found time to paint this mural. A Russian soldier see the 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 tattooed 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 Paton 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 irpin, 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: CNN's Clare Sebastian live now for us from London. So Clare, no surprise, Moscow has denied allegations of torture and all these other war crimes. But if they offered up any credible evidence to back up that claim?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, John, not really. Interestingly, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson said this is the same situation as Bucha. I think on that he and the Ukrainian side can agree this is denial deflection in the same way that we saw with Bucha saying that it didn't happen with Bucha. And we're seeing signs of this again, they said that the images is created of the event were fake and was staged.

A method of deflection clearly designed for the digital age when records of events like this multiply and it's impossible to pretend that nothing happened at all. So that's the Kremlin's position giving no weight to this at all. I think one interesting, perhaps difference. We don't know if it's a difference yet. But one thing to watch for here is, in April, when the reports of Bucha emerged, the Russian media really sort of played ball took up the propaganda baton, called these images fake and all of that.

Right now, we might be seeing a bit of a tone shift in Russia. I think it's still early days to know for sure, but it'd be interesting to watch how the Russian media handles this. So far, from what I've seen they are sort of picking up the government line on this. But there are also pockets of evidence that there might be this tone shift. There was one editorial in one newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a pro-Kremlin newspaper this week that talked about Putin under pressure. So something to watch from that side as well.

VAUSE: Back to reading tea leaves and what the Moscow -- what Moscow is up to and what -- who thinks what, that kind of stuff, like the Cold War days. This Ukrainian counter-offensive continues, it seems to be moving a little slower than it was in those first few days. What's the latest now on the Luhansk region. Where does all of this stand and what sort of resistance are they getting from the Russians?

SEBASTIAN: Yes. So the slower is definitely the word for the Luhansk region. We're hearing from the Ukrainian head of the Luhansk military administration now. He literally said there will be a hard fight for every centimeter of Luhansk land. One key victory that they have declared the Ukrainian side is that they've taken the village of Bilohorivka which is near the Twin Cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

You remember the Russians took over Lysychansk in the beginning of July. That was really what opened up the whole Luhansk region to them where they claimed victory at the beginning of July. So this is Ukraine edging back towards that but it will be a hard fight. That's what we're hearing from the Ukrainian side. They apparently destroyed a Russian weapons, a depo military base, also in a village near the Russian border.

As for Moscow's response when you saw from an extra boarding they continue to shell the areas that Ukraine has retaken. They also fired a missile, John, at a nuclear plant, a different nuclear plant this time in the Mykolaiv region.


So, clearly trying to put pressure on Ukraine in that way as well.

VAUSE: Clare, we appreciate the update. Thank you. Clare Sebastian there live for us in London.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has been laid to rest at Windsor Castle after a state funeral we saw more or less from across the world. This private farewell by the royal family mark the end of Monday ceremonies as well as the end of her reign, the longest in British history.

Now comes a new era and the King Charles III. He said a final goodbye to his mother before she was buried alongside her husband.



VAUSE: From a point of service at Westminster Abbey to this spectacular military procession, the funeral is marred by deep respect for a monarch who served her country at the commonwealth for more than 70 years. The state funeral also means 10 days of national mourning and now over marks the end of possibly the most intricate, well- planned and detailed operation ever in British history. CNN's Max Foster has our report.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Prime Ministers, presidents, leaders and dignitaries from around the world, more than 2000 inside London's Westminster Abbey joined together in chorus. The Lord is my shepherd reputedly the queen's favorite hymn. Sung 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 join the procession.

Their attendance, something the Prince and Princess of Wales took time to consider. CNN understands. Decades of meticulous preparation and centuries 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 sovereigns orb and scepter.

Amid the reef, a handwritten note from the king in loving and devoted memory, Charles R.

MOST REV. JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: 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 all fell silent. Big Ben told 96 times. Guns unloaded as the procession continues 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 -- or Perceptor 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 and the monarch 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 for Her Majesty's request.

Max Foster, CNN, Windsor Castle, England.


VAUSE: Live now to CNN's Scott McLean outside London's Buckingham Palace. We also have Nada Bashir standing by at Windsor. So, Scott, first to you. Clearly planning pays off, despite all the moving parts from the Royal rituals, to the security to like protocol, crowd control, that sort of stuff. All seems to have gone off without a hitch.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you're absolutely right, John. There were 36 kilometers of police barricades that had been put up to facilitate all of the crowds and it was absolutely remarkable to see just how many people showed up the long walk in Windsor (INAUDIBLE) is, you know, from a bird's eye vantage point, it was impossible to imagine them packing any more people in to that area in the long walk up to Windsor Castle.

Just to catch a glimpse of the passing procession here in London, they cut off people from some of the viewing areas for the procession, then of course there's the line of duty or the Elizabeth line as some people put it. The 12, 14, 16-hour wait that some people were enduring just to file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth for a few passing seconds. That line stretched for five-plus miles, that several points they actually had to shut it down.


And what really struck me is, you know, I spent the last 10 days talking to people. And it really struck me just how genuinely emotional. Many people who filed past that coffin actually felt. And especially felt to a person that most of them had likely never met. I spoke to the very last two women who filed past that coffin, the very last two were in line yesterday morning. And here's what -- one of them told me when I asked how it was.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Astonishing, absolutely astonishing. And as we went through the snake, it just got more emotional and more emotional and it builds up. And the realization of that seeing her again, not having her around sunk in. And when I went up, and I bowed, I didn't want to leave, I kept trying to look again just one more time.


MCLEAN: And that reaction, John, I have to tell you is really, truly not uncommon amongst the people that I met over the last week and a half or so. Now, though, people here are going to have to carry on. That's what many people have told me when it comes to the Caroline era, the reign of King Charles III. And, of course, he's a man who comes into this role with a lot more baggage than his mother, Queen Elizabeth did. A man who's not as popular as his mother, not even as popular as his son, if you look at recent polling, but the vast majority of people that I met, said that, look, King Charles has looked a lot more like a king over the last 10 days. And he's acted a lot more like a king and so they think that this country and this monarchy will be just fine.

VAUSE: Scott, thank you. Let's go to Nada. Nada, please talk to the significance of where the queen was buried. Why did they decide the Windsor Castle?

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Looked, John, this as a place that was very dear to the queen and is of course very dear to the royal family. It's where she spent much of her time later on in life. It is with the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was of course buried in April of last year. It's where the queen's parents are also buried. This is a deeply personal spot for the late Queen Elizabeth II.

And she was of course buried alongside her late husband and parents. We spoke to many people yesterday who gathered on the streets of Windsor. As you heard that Scott saying thousands lining the long walk just ahead of Windsor Castle waiting for that moment to pay their respects. And while people have traveled from across the country, even across the globe, many of those who were in attendance were local to Windsor.

And many of those who we spoke to said that it was simply a moment of mourning for them, for somebody that they had become so accustomed to in their local area. Some even describing the rural farm because their neighbors saying that they've seen them very often just go for a walk through the park, through the gardens around Windsor or perhaps even driving. And one lady telling us that she's seen the queen driving her Land Rover in Windsor.

So this is a family that has become very familiar to those who live in Windsor. And of course they are now seeing in this change, King Charles III taking the throne now and of course this is a moment of change for the town of Windsor. Of course. This is still an important point for the royal family. The Prince and Prince of Wales have now relocated to Windsor, hoping to give their children George, Charlotte and Louis more of a normal ordinary life here in this small town.

And of course, this will be somewhere that perhaps King Charles III and has been Consort Camilla will spend much of their time. But I have to say, this is a town that is now getting back to normal after those days of mourning that we have seen over the last 10 days. There are the garbage trucks now picking up some of the debris from yesterday's procession. We saw thousands lining the streets.

Many people of course returning to work now after yesterday's day of mourning, a day of holiday for many across the United Kingdom. But the barriers are still up. The police is still present here in this town. There is still a sense of a moment here, not only celebration of the queen's life, but of course a historic event. And this is an event that this town will remember for many days and years to come. John? VAUSE: For people who've been to Windsor, they'll know that it is a typical British sort of countryside town with narrow streets and narrow sidewalks (INAUDIBLE) so many people in such a small area. You mentioned the cleanup is underway, that how long is this expected to take? And essentially -- I mean, how much damage has been done across the town?

BASHIR: I have to say it is already looking pretty orderly and I've been around Westminster and around Buckingham Palace in the last few days. There has been a significant amount of infrastructure being built across London and across Windsor to accommodate the thousands of people descending on these towns and cities to pay their respects. And also of course for the media, hundreds and hundreds of members of the media from across the globe have traveled into London and to Windsor for a chance to really take this live, to cover this momentous and historic events. So this has been a huge operation for both London and for the town of Windsor.


And we're still seeing police and other authorities present, hundreds of stewards and volunteers are present yesterday, ambulance staff of course. This was also of course a large scale security operation. We saw that very much in London. Significant security and police presence of police forces from across the country coming in to London to secure the area. They are still present now but that cleanup operation is underway.

This is a town that is getting back to normal. It does feel like that now many on their way to work. Of course it is quite early in the morning. Right now children will be returning to school. But the flags are still up and there is still a sense of history, a sense of celebration here. The flowers are still lining the walls of Windsor Castle behind me. So many people gathering yesterday to leave flowers behind. It's likely they'll keep them there for some time now. Of course the moment to remember the queen's passing, John?

VAUSE: Nada, thank you. Nada Bashir there for us live at Windsor. And also thanks to Scott McLean a little earlier. Still to come. Hurricane Fiona has moved on but Brian in Puerto Rico continues to have a recovery. A look at where the storm is headed. That's next.

A coincidence or curse? Mexico struck by a major earthquake on the same date as two other deadly quakes years ago.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. Fiona is our category three hurricane and heading to the Turks and Caicos after leaving behind a trail of devastation in the Dominican Republic. Heavy rains and strong winds destroyed buildings and homes. More than a million people without running water. Officials say it's too soon to know the exact number of power outages. Let's go to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri with more details on this.

So Pedram, I guess where can we expect it next and its category three clearly is a lot more powerful getting stronger.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: It is. It's getting stronger and really has all the elements in place here to get a further strengthening over the next couple of days, John, and rapid intensification potential in play as well. But you'll notice 115 miles per hour. So now a healthy category three storm system. Recall this made landfall as a category one across areas of southwestern Puerto Rico left behind quite a bit of damage in its wake.

Again, significantly stronger storm system with a significantly lowering -- lower lying landscape in the Turks and Caicos that are going to be impacted in the coming hours. So, we do have hurricane warnings that have been prompted across the eastern portion of the Turks and Caicos and this will be in effect here through at least much of the afternoon into Tuesday, before conditions gradually begin to improve.

And even across Puerto Rico, conditions have not improved in its entirety yet. We do have some rain showers in place there. Some heavier periods of rainfall across the western periphery of Puerto Rico and the weather service still leaving some of the flood alerts in place here because the amount of rainfall that came down as impressive as you'll ever see it upwards of 32 inches or 800 millimeters in a few observation sites that really left this region decimated and notice by 90 percent of the islands still without power at this hour.

So here's what we're looking at with the storm system. Quick -- strengthening over the next say 12 to 18 hours, possibly up to category fourth -- four and that's exactly where the system is expected to maintain that intensity for at least the next couple of days and notice, makes it close right here towards Bermuda sometime late Thursday afternoon into Thursday night, some of the models bring it closer to the island.,


The vast majority of the models want to keep it west of the island. That's what we're following next year beyond the Turks and Caicos because we know the flood threat going to be significant. And of course, the storm surge threat, also going to be significant as well. Notice about a quarter of a meter of rainfall in store here, across portions of the Northern Turks and Caicos and about one, 1-1/2 meters to even 2-1/2 meter storm surge potential in place there.

And some of the highest elevations on the Turks there are about 50 meters. So we're talking about a very low lying landscape. And anytime you see a storm surge threat that kind of pushes up to the one to two meter threshold, you know, water will begin encroaching on some of those coastal communities. And that's the biggest concern. It's the water elements, John, that we often fear the most when it comes to these tropical systems. And with a storm surge of one to two meters, it is going to be problematic as well.

VAUSE: Yes. Pedram, a big problem too for Puerto Rico. So more than on that, thank you. The National Guard in Puerto Rico has rescued more than thousand people since Hurricane Fiona made landfall, including nearly two dozen residents of a senior care facility. At least two people have died since the storm hit the region. Puerto Rico's governor says most of the damage is because of that torrential rain. Here's what he told CNN's Anderson Cooper.


PEDRO PIERLUISI, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: Damage relates to flooding all over the island. I'm talking about primarily the mountain region of Puerto Rico but urban areas in the north are being impacted as well, because the rivers are discharging towards the north. And that's causing flooding. We got a total blackout when the hurricane hit us, and we still only have roughly 150 -- 15,000 customers of our power authority with power.


VAUSE: CNN's Leyla Santiago has late details of the storm's aftermath. She reports are from San Juan.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Almost the entire island of Puerto Rico remains in the dark after Hurricane Fiona slammed into the south western 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. We've been just working to get back this neighborhood, get back from Maria that everything was destroyed. Restaurants, houses, everything was destroyed. And we're just -- we're just not all the way back but we just have way back. A lot of people more than Maria lost her house has now. Lost everything under houses because the floating.

SANTIAGO (on camera): This is the backyard, the neighborhood where the National Guard had to come and rescue people. Still a lot of flooding. I can hear generators powering the home 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 (on camera): She says this was worse than Maria.

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 2500 families that she says are impacted by this fear.

SANTIAGO (voice over): About 1000 people rescued from floodwaters, hundreds more rescue efforts still underway as emergency responders tried to navigate through difficult to reach areas. In (INAUDIBLE) the interior part of the island 25-year-old Leomar Rodriguez (ph) watch 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 VON ESSEN, FEMA REGION 2 ADMINISTRATOR: 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: Sunday morning, President Joe Biden approving an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico that authorizes all emergency measures needed including FEMA.

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


SANTIAGO: 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 into 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 islands.


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

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 (INAUDIBLE) the coastline Monday and was felt as far away as Mexico City. It also coincided with the anniversary of two other powerful quakes, one in 1985, which killed thousands, another in 2017. Some Mexicans believe this could be a sign from God. And now, say September 19th is cursed.

Typhoon Nanmadol has claimed at least two lives moving through Japan, the storm continues to head north after carving a part of destruction across the region. Hundreds of thousands of people are without electricity and travel has been a nightmare after hundreds of flights were canceled and bullet train services suspended. Meteorologists are expecting more rain over the next 24 hours.

Still ahead on CNN, let's make a deal, one navy veteran for a convicted drug dealer, more on the prisoner exchange between the U.S. and the Taliban.

And a deadly bus crash in China has sparked widespread anger and stinging criticism of Beijing's zero-COVID policy.


VAUSE: Welcome back. You're watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm John Vause.

Student debt protest in Iran appeared to have turned deadly with reports of at least five people being shot and killed by Iranian security forces. The reports from a human rights group monitoring the protest, which began days ago over the suspicious death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, while she was detained by the Morality Police.

They deny witnessed police reports that the 22-year-old was beaten inside their van. State media released an edited video of Amini collapsing in a reeducation center where the police say the 22-year- old had a heart attack.

Demonstrations has spread around Iran over the past few days. In one video shared by Free Union of Iranian Workers, protesters marched to the streets chanting, death to the dictator.

U.S. Navy veteran Mark Frerichs is a free man after months in captivity, 31 months, in fact, in Afghanistan. The Biden administration agreed to swap him for a convicted drug trafficker, Bashir Noorzai, a prominent member of the Taliban. CNN's Kylie Atwood has details.



KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The release of Mark Frerichs was a result of prisoner swap that was signed off on by President Biden himself. Back in June, he granted clemency Afghan drug's trafficker who was serving time in U.S. prison. And according to U.S. officials, during their back-and-forth negotiations in recent months with the Taliban, what they discovered is that that man, Noorzai, was the key to securing Mark Frerichs, and that is why President Biden moved forward to greenlight that released, which then led to the release of Mark Frerichs.

Now, Frerichs himself is currently on his way to Germany. He is going to undergo some medical treatment. We're not sure exactly how long he'll stay in Germany. But, of course, his family is welcoming this news today, they said they had been praying every day for the last 31 months that he was held hostage in Afghanistan. And of course, the Biden administration is doubling down and saying that they will continue to work on the cases of all Americans who are held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad.

Kylie Atwood, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: A Texas sheriff has opened an investigation into flights which carried 47 Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Javier Salazar says he's been told one of the migrants was paid to recruit others for a center in San Antonio, they were flown to Florida then to Massachusetts where they're dropped off on a wealthy resort island.


JAVIER SALAZAR, SHERIFF, BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS: I believe that they preyed upon, somebody came from out of state, preyed upon these people, lured them with promises of a better life, which is what they're absolutely looking for. And with the knowledge that they were going to cling to whatever hope they could be offered for a better life to just be exploited and hoodwinked into making this trip to Florida, and then onward to Martha's Vineyard for what I believe to be nothing more than political posturing.


VAUSE: Florida governor and Republican presidential nominee wannabe Ron DeSantis has claimed credit for the flights which are paid for with taxpayer money. He says the migrant signed consent forms, but maps of Martha's Vineyard, they were treated well, he says.

According to Joe Biden the pandemic is over. Here is the U.S. president speaking to "60 Minutes."


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: 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 those comments. One saying, there's no change in COVID policy. The public health emergency is still in place until at least October 13th. But Republican leaders in Congress say president's remarks will make approval for additional COVID relief funding more difficult.

But it's not just President Biden who is optimistic here. This is what the World Health Organization director-general had to say just last week.


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

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Earlier I spoke with cardiologist medical researcher, Dr. Eric Topol. We discussed how he would define the end of a pandemic.


DR. ERIC TOPOL, CARDIOLOGIST AND PROFESSOR OF MOLECULAR MEDICINE, SCRIPPS RESEARCH: 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 back, when you say, hey, we went several months, and thing were, you know, in good shape. We had some outbreaks but, you know, we didn't lose a lot of people and we don't have a monstrous number of infections. So, you can't make the definition and proclamation ahead of it, 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 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 hug -- get hurt? How many more could 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: China's zero-COVID policy has already caused anger and outrage in China. Now, after a bus crash, with patients heading into a quarantine center killing 17 people on board, there is been widespread and stinging criticisms with much of it online and centers struggling to block all of it.

CNN's Ivan Watson now has more on that reporting from Hong Kong.



IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): A deadly bus crash in Southwestern China sparking anger over the country's strict COVID policies. The vehicle carrying dozens of residents from the City of Guiyang as well as their driver seen dressed in a hazmat suit to a faraway quarantine center.

Hours later, the bus overturns, killing at least 27 people and injuring at least 20. A worker later seen spraying disinfectant on the wreckage.

WATSON (on camera): The bus departed the southwestern City of Guiyang shortly after midnight on Sunday, with the goal of reaching a quarantine center in remote Libo County located more than three hours' drive away. Authorities say the vehicle tumbled into a ravine at 2:40 am, raising the question, why was it so important to rush suspected close contacts of COVID patients, such a long distance, so late at night, especially in a province where officially, there have been only two deaths from COVID since the start of the pandemic?

WATSON (voiceover): The Chinese government is obsessed with eliminating all traces of COVID from the country. Locking down entire cities for weeks and even months. Authorities can find nearly 2 million residents in the City of Guiyang in their homes starting on September 2nd.

Days later, trapped residents suffering from food shortages voiced anger and frustrations. Where is the communist party, one man yells, we've trusted the party and the government.

Things are worse in more remote areas. In the Western Xinjiang region, a desperate mother films her children sick with fever and complains COVID restrictions prevent her from taking them to a hospital.

Recording of another call for help to the authorities and Xinjian's capital, this from a gastric cancer survivor who says he is dying from lack of food. The man who we won't name for his safety shows CNN pictures of his empty refrigerator. He says he needs frequent small meals since doctors remove most of his stomach for cancer treatment. And says, police detained and beat him after he went out on the street looking for food.

In the Capital Tibet this month, officials marched residents off to quarantine camps. The Chinese government sends suspected COVID cases all mass to sprawling makeshift facilities, where some say complain of wretched conditions.

After Sunday's deadly bus crash, deputy mayor apologized and promised an investigation into the accident. But even on China's heavily censored internet, critics are chiming in.

What makes you think we won't be on that late night bus one day? One person writes. They have a point, while the rest of the world moves on from the pandemic, in China, there is no end of the campaign to eliminate COVID, no matter the cost.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


VAUSE: After two-year long break, the beer is once again flowing in Munich for Oktoberfest. The cold and rainy start, but thousands turned up in (INAUDIBLE) to celebrate the return of world's largest beer festival, which was put on hold during the COVID pandemic.


CHANCE ABO, OKTOBERFEST VISITOR: I like the bears here. And the music and everyone, the people is very nice. It's all full of joy and it's really nice.


VAUSE: Oktoberfest runs through October 3rd. It usually tracks around 6 million visitors, very drunk visitors from around the world. Still to come, the 17-year-old from Ukraine who has developed a mine detector that can save lives. The winner of a prestigious global competition, more on that in a moment.



VAUSE: For the past eight years, ever since he was just nine years old, around the same time the Russian military seized control of the Crimean Peninsula, Igor Klymenko has been working on just one project. At first, he used Lego blocks, but not now. His quadcopter mine detector is real and will be honored at the U.N.

It's a drone which searches for and provides information about explosive objects. Igor Klymenko's entry was selected from over 7,000 others which are nominated from around the globe. Klymenko will actually receive about $100,000 as well, this is also from, the people who organize this competition.

Here's a little more from Igor about how his mine detector works.


IGOR KLYMENKO, WINNER, 2022 CHEGG.ORG GLOBAL STUDENT PRIZE: It is a special device which includes drone and metal detector. It's detecting landmines and providing signal to the user. After that, the signal is calculated and we know the exact coordinates of the explosive objects.

So, we are providing complex scanning of the territories remotely. So, we are going to save hundreds or even thousands of lives by using this special device.


VAUSE: And Igor Klymenko joins me now from New York. Welcome to the show.

KLYMENKO: Well, nice to meet you. Thanks. It is a pleasure for me to speak to you today.

VAUSE: Well, thank you for being here. Now, first up, congratulations, I guess, on first place. How important is this win for you and what does it mean sort of in a practical sense?

KLYMENKO: Thank you very much for the congratulations. So, this work to me that I have a voice, I (INAUDIBLE) and speak to the global community, to the global changemakers through (INAUDIBLE) better. Also, I think that each Ukrainian that I know deserves to be awarded. So, I'm dedicating this award to all Ukrainians.

VAUSE: Which is kind of good, in the sense that you now get also about -- what -- a chunk of money, which you can now invest, essentially, in your project.

KLYMENKO: Yes. So, I'm going to invest most part of the money for developing my project drone for detecting landmines. But the thing, it is my mission in life to create this project, to make demining process safer and faster, to save more lives, because life is the most valuable thing that we have.

VAUSE: You had this idea for a drone mine detector since the Russian invasion in 2014. I want to play kind of a clip from the video message which you submitted to the judges and you're talking about the challenges you have faced over the years. Here we are, listen to this.


KLYMENKO: I was living in a basement with eight people and I was continuing working on my device. I was hearing sounds of explosions, planes, rockets but I know that I should continue working, I should go ahead and create my advice to help our military, to help Ukrainian suffers.


VAUSE: How are we able to focus on developing this drone, under those conditions? Because it was quite dangerous times, as well?

KLYMENKO: It was really hard, after the 21st of February, I moved with my family to the countryside, and we were living in a basement for two and a half months. And I just I thought that I shouldn't stop. I should go ahead. I should continue working on my device, because I was working when I heard a plane sound, rocket sound, but I knew that my people are defending Ukraine from the Russians, from Russian attack. So, I should help them. I should create this device faster. So, it motivated me. It inspired me that I can save a lot of lives. I can save the lives of people who are defending my country.

VAUSE: Here's a part of a report from Politico, recording a Ukrainian official on where and how these Russian mines are being used. As Russian forces you retreated from Northern Ukraine, they had booby traps and improvised explosive devices in food facilities, cat trunks, washing machines, doorways, hospital beds and even the bodies of those killed by the invasion, this official said, describing how they deliberately hid explosives in toys and shiny objects that attract children's attention.

And you can add to that just some context here, one instrument has about 62,000 square miles of Ukrainian land potentially contaminated by Russian mines. Even with drones like yours, demining Ukraine is likely to still take years.


KLYMENKO: Yes. So, the development of this device can help us you to demine territories much faster and much safer. So, it was calculated that we need about more than 10 years for demining all the territories of Ukraine. But I think with this device, we can do it much faster and save more lives of our military and Ukrainian people.

After that, I want also to spread this device across the world to solve (INAUDIBLE) mining problem, to demine as many landmines, as much territories connected -- which are suffering from landmines as I can.

VAUSE: And just go back to 2014 for me very quickly, and what was your original motivation? Why, you know, a drone which could detect mines, that seems kind of obscure, if you like?

KLYMENKO: In 2014, when Russia take Crimea, I just started thinking. I heard that from news, I heard that from parents and I started thinking, how can I, a student, help my people, help people who are defending the Ukrainian borders? And I thought about creating simulations and (INAUDIBLE) for problems for the really (INAUDIBLE) and with food problems that are connected to the (INAUDIBLE) the land mining problem is -- has awful consequences, most awful consequences.

Now, that has started -- came up with different ideas and came up with the idea of creating the drone, detecting the land mines remotely.

VAUSE: OK. And an idea which is paying off. So, Igor Klymenko, thank you so much for being with us.

KLYMENKO: Thank you very much.

VAUSE: Sustainable development is gaining a little star power.




VAUSE: You may have heard of the South Korean pop group BLACKPINK. Don't worry if you haven't. Their latest single, "Shut Down." went to number on Spotify over the weekend. The band is also using its global popularity to send a message about climate change to dignitaries the U.N. General Assembly and hopefully beyond.


ROSE, MEMBER, BLACKPINK: We can't deny that the climate crisis is getting worse. There isn't a single moment to lose. That is why SDG13 for Climate Action is so important. It can truly make or break our efforts across all global goals.

JENNIE KIM, MEMBER, BLACKPINK: We must seize this moment and take actions to create a world that is more sustainable and leave no one behind.


VAUSE: The band addressed the assembly via video link. World leaders will take to the podium at UNGA, starting from Tuesday.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, in her own words, Queen Elizabeth describing a lifetime of service and her duty to her subjects.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: In both public and in private, the royal family has mourned and honored Queen Elizabeth with big and small details. And at her state funeral, some paid tribute in the form of sentimental jewelry.

Princess Charlotte, the daughter of the Prince and Princess of Wales, wore a diamond in horseshoe shaped brooch which was a gift from her great-grandmother. The Princess of Wales also paid tribute wearing a pearl necklace and earrings, a jewelry set that once belonged to her majesty. A spokesperson for the Duchess of Sussex said Meghan wore pearl stud earrings, also a gift from the queen.

Never complained, never explained, words to the live by for Queen Elizabeth. And now, in her own words, describing a life dedicated to service, duty, honor and dedication.



QUEEN ELIZABETH II: I declare before you all, that for 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 the kind which makes us stand up for 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 the bring about the most lasting change.

It is my hope that when judged by future generations, our sincerity, our willingness to take the 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, will be with our families again, we will meet again.


VAUSE: And with that in mind, the royal family has released a portrait of the queen with her closest family members who have also passed, including her late husband Duke of Edinburgh, her father, King George VI, the queen mother and her sister, Princess Margaret.

There was however one uninvited guest who gained worldwide notoriety at the queen's funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday. Noted by keen observers, the itsy-bitsy tine spider made it on top of the queen's casket, scurrying across card for the flower bouquets written by King Charles III.

Naturally, all of this went viral on the web, dubbed the big royal spider, as he was known, or also the spider mom. One tweet said, the most famous spider in the world right now. And, yes, it was, just for a moment. Another post suggested, the spider was a good omen, because spiders could symbolize patience, feminine power, and ancient wisdom.

Thank you for watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm John Vause. The news continues with our friend and colleague Rosemary Church after a short break. I hope to see right back here tomorrow. Thank you.