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Rescue Hopes Fade After Russian Attack On Dnipro; Search, Rescue Operations Resume In Pokhara; China Reports Nearly 60,000 COVID-Linked Deaths Since Lifting Restrictions; Peru Declares State Of Emergency In Lima After Weeks Of Protests; Wagner Mercenary Group Playing Increasing Role in War; Indonesia to Relocate Capital as Jakarta is Sinking; Buffalo Beats Miami after Hamlin Visit. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 16, 2023 - 01:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all of our viewers watching from around the world. I'm Laila Harrak, ahead on CNN Newsroom.

Rescue and recovery operations ongoing in parts of Ukraine at this hour lit another wave of Russian attacks. And Ukraine's President vowing that those responsible for the terror will pay for their crimes, plus time and hope running out to find the few people still missing after a deadly plane crash in Nepal. And with Jakarta sinking at an alarming rates, note everyone is convinced that Indonesia's plan to build a brand new capital is a good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with Laila Harrak.

HARRAK: At this hour, the search for survivors presses on in Dnipro, Ukraine. That's where Russian missiles slammed into an apartment building over the weekend at least 30 people were killed and dozens of others are still missing. Many are holding out hope for more scenes like this, the rescue of a woman from the rubble following Saturday strike. But Dnipro's mayor is acknowledging the harsh reality.


BORYS FILATOV, DNIPRO MAYOR (through translator): Though chanson I think the chances of saving people now are minimal. My version is that the missile hit the building because there's a thermal station across the river meaning they tried to hit the thermal station with a missile flew by and hit residential buildings.


HARRAK: Ukrainians present president says the search will go on as long as there is a chance to save lives. And he had this message for Russians remaining silent amid the violence.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I want to say to all those in Russia and from Russia, who even now could not utter a few words of condemnation of this terror although they see and comprehend everything perfectly. Your cowardly silence, your attempt to wait out what is happening will only end with the fact that one day the same terrorists will come for you.


HARRAK: CNN's Scott McLean is in cave where he's tracking the latest on Russia strikes across Ukraine.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): A day after a barrage of Russian missile strikes across Ukraine that killed civilians and damage energy infrastructure in five regions. The Russian military is calling that a success saying that all of its intended targets were hit, though they made no mention of the strike on an apartment block in Dnipro.

President Putin told Russian media that his so called special military operation was showing a positive dynamic almost two years into the war. The Russians claimed to have captured the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, though President Zelenskyy insists that the battle there continues without respite.

The Russians are also dealing with another mysterious explosion on their own territory. According to Russian state media at least three people were killed and more than a dozen injured when a fire broke out at a cultural center in Belgorod, that was being used to store ammunition which then led to an explosion. Soldiers were among the injured it is not clear whether they were also among the dead. Ukraine has not acknowledged that explosion.

And in southern Ukraine officials there say that the recently liberated city of Kherson has been taking heavy shelling from the Russian side. They say that a dormitory for students and a red cross facility were among the places that were hit. Scott McLean, CNN, Kyiv.


HARRAK: CNN military analyst retired General Wesley Clark spoke with CNN about the Russian strike in Dnipro, and whether he thought the apartment building was the intended target.


GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This is not only straight terrorism. This is an example of, of what is unfolding as a policy of Russian genocide against the Ukrainian people. From the beginning, Putin has said he wanted to eradicate Ukraine and he wants to get rid of the language, the people and he's doing it bit by bit piece by piece. This is just the latest example of this.

So probably that wasn't the target but it doesn't matter to the Russians or to Putin.


He's absolutely relentless and going after what he wants and the Russian people are -- they're just passive. They accepted. In fact, many of them have been so propagandized by the by the state media, but they don't like the premiums.


HARRAK: Four people remain missing in western Nepal after the country's worst air disaster since 1992. But one police official warns the chances of finding them alive are extremely low. Search and rescue operations resumed early Monday after pausing overnight. Of the 72 people on board, 68 are confirmed dead including six children and 15 foreign nationals.

The government is investigating and has declared a day of national mourning. The Yeti Airlines flight went down Sunday while approaching the city of Pokhara. One witness described what he saw.


MEHMOOD KHAN, EYEWITNESS (through translator): We heard a loud thunderous crash and reached our terrace to see what had happened. We saw a lot of smoke and realized it was an airline crash, and we rushed to the site. Though I stayed back from where I could see the debris. My friend went down to look for survivors and took out at least 35 people.


HARRAK: A video from social media shows the Yeti Airlines flight tilting badly as it approaches Pokhara's airport. More now from CNN's Vedika Sud.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER (voiceover): A video appears to show a passenger plane tilting to the side moments before it comes crashing into the ground in central Nepal. At least 68 people died when the Yeti Airlines operated flight crashed on Sunday, making it Nepal's deadliest plane crash in decades. Dozens of bodies were recovered by rescue workers searching among the wreckage until darkness settled in upon.

On Sunday morning, the aircraft embarked on a roughly 30 minute flight from the capital of Kathmandu to Pokhara the country's second most popular city, but the flight was lost in contact with the Pokhara airport about 18 minutes after takeoff before it came crashing down in the nearby city River Gorge.

The Himalayan country has a record of crashes due to its mountainous topography and sudden changes to the weather.

Nepal's Prime Minister announced an investigation would proceed to determine exactly what happened.

PUSHPA KAMAL DAHAL, NEPALI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The incident was tragic. All forces have been deployed for rescue operations. The investigation is going on now. I have called an emergency cabinet meeting.

SUD: The passengers on board were mostly Nepali, but included 15 foreign nationals, Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority said. Yeti Airlines canceled all regular flights on Monday morning for the passengers who lost their lives. The Nepali government also declared Monday a public holiday as the nation continues to grapple with the tragedy. Vedika Sud, CNN New Delhi.


HARRAK: CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul with the very latest. Paula, what can you tell us about the investigation into this a yeti Airlines Flight?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laila, the latest we're hearing from regional police chief is that they have at this point managed to retrieve 68 bodies. They've managed to bring those victims out of the gorge where this plane crashed using a crane. They've told us they're now sending them to a hospital and the loved ones are being told that they can come and identify their relatives.

Now of course there were foreigners on board as well. They were being told will be airlifted to Katmandu to the capital, there will be a post mortem and then they will be handed over to loved ones. But of course, the question is what exactly did happen?

We know there is a five-person committee at this point that has been set up by the government to find out exactly what happened. They have to report back to the government within 45 days. And they will be looking at a number of different elements. Of course weather is always looked at.

We did hear from a spokesman for the civil authority that the weather appear to be clear at the time of the crash. And also we know that there will be social media that will be scoured over to give any indication of what may have happened you saw in Vedika's report there that there is social media video showing the plane moments before it crashed flying very low over a very populated area, then tilting to one side before it disappears from view shortly afterwards, you hear a loud explosion that is certainly going to be something that investigators will look at very closely.

Now this is an area that that has a record of aircraft disasters and there are many reasons for that.


One is the fact bit of inclement weather the fact that weather systems can change rapidly in this area, it is an extremely mountainous area eight of the tallest 14 mountains in the world are in this particular area, including Everest. And also many of the runways are very difficult to access they are nestled in between mountains and very precarious areas.

So this particular region is no stranger to these kinds of accidents. But of course, this is devastating for both the area and of course, those relatives that have lost loved ones. So, what the government is trying to do at this point, the Prime Minister giving his condolences is to find out as quickly as they can what exactly the cause behind this particular crash was, Laila.

HARRAK: Paula Hancocks reporting live. Thank you so much.

And the near miss between two passenger planes at New York's a busy JFK International Airport is now being investigated by U.S. authorities. It happened Friday evening and this animation shows just how close it was to being a tragedy. The FAA says the crew of a departing Delta Flight with 151 people on board a boarded its takeoff stopping within 300 meters of an American Airlines jet that was taxiing on the same runway. Here's some of the audio from the control tower.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delta 1943 canceled takeoff plans. Delta 1943 cancelled takeoff plans.


HARRAK: Luckily, no one was hurt in the incident. Travel to and throughout China is picking up ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday starting next week while Chinese officials say more than 42 million people traveled across the country on Saturday. I estimate more than 2 billion journeys will be made before the holiday travel period is over and that's twice as many as last year's celebration.

Many feared the influx of travelers could increase the number of COVID infections across China. Infections and COVID related deaths already have been surging since the rollback of Beijing's zero-COVID policy.

Let's get you more now with CNN's Anna Coren. She joins me live from Hong Kong with more. And with the Lunar New Year travel already getting underway. What impact is it having on the COVID outbreak?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laila, we don't know just yet but we can expect that will be absolutely huge. Now the reason is that people in China have not been able to travel and see their loved ones now for almost, you know, three years. That strict zero-COVID policy meant that, you know, often people couldn't travel to see their loved one certainly over Chinese New Year's because of this epidemic and the strict policies that were in place.

We saw harsh lockdowns, quarantine measures, mass testing. This went on for years until the end of last year, following weeks of protests, you know, people absolutely fed up with having to live under these draconian conditions are also obviously that the strain on the economy China basically cut off from the rest of the world.

So the government made the decision to do a backflip on zero-COVID policy and health officials, Laila, was saying that from the eighth of January for a month, only 37 deaths. This is while COVID was ripping across China. That number was revised over the weekend after the Chinese health minister and other officials melt met with the WHO and someone from the National Health Commission came out and said the number was more like 60,000 deaths.

Now they are taking into consideration that COVID deaths with underlying illnesses. That was a figure that wasn't normally accounted for. They also said the delay in reporting was due to quote, a comprehensive examination of hospital reporting.

Now, Laila, there are global health officials who do not buy that number of 60,000 deaths. They think that the number is in fact, much higher. Certainly it doesn't correlate with the scenes that we've been seeing coming out of China at hospitals and morgues and crematoriums completely overwhelmed and that's why officials believe that the number could be much, much higher.

Add the further complication of Chinese New Year, you know, people have already begun traveling and you mentioned that number of 2 billion. I mean, that is extraordinary. People we traveling from the cities to the provinces, to rural villages now, you know, the inhabitants of these villages many of them are of the elderly, you know, these are places with a very poor health infrastructure.


So Laila, the concern is that COVID will spread that that will see an increase in hospitalizations and unfortunately deaths.

HARRAK: Anna Coren reporting live from Hong Kong, and I thank you so much.

Protests have nearly paralyzed Peru says they began a month ago and now a state of emergency has been declared. I'll speak to an expert about what can help solve the crisis. That's ahead.


HARRAK: The U.S. president has paid tribute to civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. ahead of the national holiday honoring his legacy. Joe Biden on Sunday delivered a sermon at the Atlanta church where King used to preach. He urged the crowd to continue pursuing the reverence of vision for more human rights across the country. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez reports.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (on camera): President Joe Biden became the first sitting President to deliver remarks at a Sunday service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. It's the same church with Dr. Martin Luther King preached at and it was an opportunity for President Biden to remember King's legacy ahead of MLK Day. During his remarks, he reflected on the State of the Nation saying that it is at a critical juncture and that it is at an inflection point, take a lesson. JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: But battle for the soul of this nation is perennial. It's a constant struggle. It's a constant struggle between hope and fear, kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice against those with traffic and racism, extremism and insurrection. A battle fought on battlefields and bridges from courthouses and ballot boxes, to pulpit puppets and protest.

ALVAREZ: The President also talks about economic justice and civil rights all in a state that Biden narrowly flipped in 2020 and was buoyed by black voters. It is a critical time as the President and his advisors consider his political future and whether he decides to launch a reelection bid.

Now of course, it all came against the backdrop of a week where there were regular disclosures from the White House about documents marked as classified found at President Biden's residence here in Wilmington, as well as at a former private office that he used after the vice presidency.

The administration has been contending with those disclosures, as we learn more about the documents that were March classified found in these private spaces. Now the President did not speak to the matter during his remarks on Sunday. But those questions loom as he goes into the new week. Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, Wilmington.


HARRAK: State media in Peru report the government has declared another 30-day state of emergency because of the ongoing protests in the country.


The declaration applies to the capital city of Lima as well as three other regions. It went into effect on Sunday at least 49 people have died since the protests began. This protester blames the police for the violence.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Police are corrupt because the government pays their salary and they hit and kill people. That should not happen.


HARRAK: Meanwhile, Peruvian President Dina Boluarte has apologized for the deaths but says she will not resign. She has called for general elections. The state of emergency suspends some constitutional rights, including freedom of transit, freedom of assembly and personal liberty and security. Protests broke out last December following the impeachment and removal from office of then President Pedro Castillo.

Well, earlier I spoke about the ongoing crisis in Peru with Michael Shifter, the former president of the Inter-American Dialogue, and I asked him what's behind the ongoing unrest. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SHIFTER, FORMER PRESIDENT, INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE: It was brought about really by the attempted coup by the former president Pedro Castillo, who was elected in 2021, representing some of the poor communities in Peru. And he was challenged by the Congress. And so he decided to suspend the Congress, to close down the Congress, to take over the justice system. And that provoked a reaction by the Congress to get, you know, to get rid of him to basically to impeach him, so that he would leave office.

And the problem is the Vice President, the current president took over as the president Dina Boluarte. And she basically said that she would finish Castillo's term which ends in 2026. And of course, there were a lot of people that were angry because she wasn't elected president. And they wanted immediate elections.

HARRAK: How is law enforcement justifying this brutal crackdown? Who orders this type of repression?

SHIFTER: Well, there's an investigation that's underway to see who is responsible for ordering this. The President Dina Boluarte says that she is not she's also gave a speech on Friday night, and she said she has no plans to resign because of her commitment to Peru.

But there are clearly -- there is clearly some evidence or signs that the excessive force was used, and by the military to repress these poor many indigenous communities in southern Peru. And, of course, their argument, their defense is that they were provoked. They also were the targets of violence. Some of the -- there was a police officer who was burned alive.

And so it's a very complicated situation. And they asserted that they had a right to defend themselves, which obviously do and to restore public order. But they need to do so within a democratic framework and respect for human rights. And it's clear that those rights were violated.


HARRAK: And many thanks to Michael Shifter for his analysis on the ongoing crisis in Peru.

This year's World Economic Forum begins Monday in Davos, Switzerland, and various protesters are already there marching in the streets to make their voices heard amongst the world's elite.

One protest group is called Patriotic Millionaires UK. They say economic inequality is one of the biggest issues facing the world today.


PHIL WHITE, MEMBER, PATRIOTIC MILLIONAIRES UK: Were in favor of wealth taxes, we really want to reduce this level of wealth inequality in the world. It's so corrosive to society. My message for those guys meeting would be think to yourselves and talk to your friends. Are you sure you're not the problem, rather than thinking you're the solution?


HARRAK: Well, that protester believes in taxing the rich because he says governments can do more useful things with the money then wealthy individuals. Organizers say Ukraine will have a high level delegation in Davos and several sessions will be held on the war. Russia will not be attending the conference. Some of the topics will include how to avoid the risk of a global recession in 2023 as well as the global effort to tackle the climate crisis.


BORGE BRENDE, PRESIDENT, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: There is no doubt that our 53rd Annual Meeting in Davos will happen against the most complex geopolitical and geo economic backdrop in decades. So much is at stake. How can we avoid a global recession, soaring energy and food prices, and also how to really avoid further escalation of the global crisis.


HARRAK: Well, organizers are expecting a record turnout this year of more than 2,500 people 52 heads of state and government will be in Davos as well as 56 finance ministers, 19 central bank governors, and 39 leaders of international agencies.

And CNN will be covering all the events in Davos and join Richard Quest and Julia Chatterley as they talk to world leaders and CEOs throughout the week.

Now an essential part of life in France is under threat from the rising cost of energy and other daily necessities. As Melissa Bell reports some bakers are resorting to desperate measures to save the baguette.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): It is before dawn that France comes to life. In 33,000 goulashli (ph) across the country, the baguette continuing to rise despite the soaring costs of flour and butter. But Julien Pedussel now starts his day in partial darkness trying to save money. His electricity bill tripled in November. December's was simply too high to pay.

JULIEN PEDUSSEL, MANAGER, LE FOURNIL DE RIEUX: (through translator): Can you imagine you lose everything just because there's an energy supplier who's decided to multiply your bill by 10? It's outrageous. It's totally outrageous. It's theft, literally theft.

BELL: In January, Pedussel did something he never thought he'd have to take into the street to draw attention to the plight of bakers across the country. The French government has ordered modest measures to help baker's deal with a spike in energy costs. But many say it's nowhere near enough. DOMINIQUE ANRACT, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FRENCH BAKERIES AND PATISSERIES (through translator): What we're talking about a really small businesses 80 percent have fewer than 10 employees. They're solid businesses that have never complained, but they are being hit harder.

BELL: A cruel irony that the crisis is struck even as UNESCO's given the baguettes culture, special status.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): In these few centimeters of craftsmanship passed from hand to hand, like is exactly the spirit of French know how is that is something inevitable. It seems to be just something material. But it's not.

BELL (on camera): It isn't just that the baguette is the staple of the French diet, but that the bakery is also such an important part of the social fabric of life here in France. You will find one on most Parisians feet corners. But in the countryside in villages, they're often the only businesses around.

BELL (voiceover): But that ubiquity is also what makes it difficult for bakers to pass on their costs.

CHARLES YE, CO-OWNER, UNION BAKERY: We prefer to not do that. And most of the bank we are not doing that. Just because it's so crucial. It's like the price of the coffee, like gas, like a rise by two or three it would be like revolution.

BELL: Which leaves French bakers sandwiched between the soaring costs of baking and the bread that is so much more than a symbol, but rather the way of French life. Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


HARRAK: All rising prices are also being acutely felt in the United States inflation caused Americans to spend on average, about $370 more in December than a year ago, for rents and groceries, utilities and other goods and services. Well, that's according to Moody's Analytics. But it says inflation does appear to be easing and paychecks are starting to catch up. And another bright spots the typical family save money on gasoline compared to the year before.

Still ahead, as Moscow tries to make gains in Ukraine a rift and mergers between its forces and Russian mercenaries details on the complicated relationship with the Wagner group.



LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Laila Harrak.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the battle for Soledar and Bakhmut continues nonstop in the east. Ukraine's army on Sunday said it fired rockets toward Russian troops

as they tried to storm Ukrainian positions around Bakhmut. This comes days after Russia claimed to have taken control of the nearby town of Soledar. Moscow's defense ministry says it did so with the help of the private military company, Wagner. But the group's boss says his mercenaries deserve all the credits.


YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, HEAD, WAGNER GROUP (through translator): Firstly, Wagner mercenaries have been fighting for many years. They may be the most experienced army there is today in the world.

Secondly, they fulfill all the tasks on their own. They have warplanes. There are heroic pilots who don't fear to perish. They have multiple launch rockets systems of all types. There are air defense systems which have downed a huge amount of any B-planes. They have artillery systems of all calibers, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles.


HARRAK: Joining me now to discuss this topic is Rajan Menon, a director of the Grand Strategy Program at Defense Priorities and professor emeritus of international relations for City College of New York.

Sir, thank you for taking our questions. Let's start with the role that the Wagner Group plays in the war. What does their prominence tell you about the fitness of Russia's own military in this fight?

RAJAN MENON, PROFESSOR EMERITUS-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK: Well, Russia's problem is that it set out to conquer what -- setting aside Russia -- is the largest country in all of Europe, meaning Ukraine. And it is about the fifth or sixth largest in population.

They have the armor and the (INAUDIBLE) and the missiles and the howitzers, and all that do it, but not the necessary number of troops and only troops infantry can take an old plan. So they ran it (INAUDIBLE).

So we have the Wagner Group enter, lately they've been prominent in two places, in the Ukrainian -controlled area the Republic of Donetsk, the province of Donetsk, Soledar and Bakhmut, and they have been prominent in that battle, but they are vying with the regular Russian armed forces for credit as to who really is really doing most of the fighting in many of those places.

HARRAK: Who is the man behind the Wagner Group? What can you tell us about his relationship with the Russian army and with Vladimir Putin himself.

MENON: His name is Yevgeny Prigozhin. He's 61 years old. He spent some time in a Soviet prison. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he went into the catering and restaurant business, made a lot of money, became a close associate of President Putin, which he still is. [01:34:55]

MENON: And although he didn't found the Wagner Group, the Wagner Group's name is now associated with him. It is essentially his private army, that he runs with his money, that he raises in various ways including by using this group of mercenaries in different parts of the world -- Syria, Libya, Central African Republic -- to name but a few.

But they are now active in the fight in Eastern Ukraine, but they were also first involved in Ukraine in 2014.

HARRAK: And his star is on the rise right now?

MENON: Well he certainly seems to think so. I mean he does not criticize President Putin but it would not surprise me he has contemplated the possibility one day of a post-Putin political older and he certainly one of those positioning himself to demonstrate that he is a patriotic leader, that he is a military leader, that he has won victories for Russia. That is partly what the Wagner operation in Ukraine is all about.

HARRAK: So would you say that they act and he acts with the blessing of Putin?

MENON: You know, that is a very interesting question. The lines of communication are murky as between him and Putin. He certainly wouldn't be doing it if Putin disapproved. One doesn't do that in Russia.

The relationship between the Russian intelligence services and the professional army in the Wagner Group are somewhat more difficult to discern because on the one hand there must be coordination. On the other hand, lately they clearly made it clear that they are not allies. And in fact see themselves as rivals in this war.

HARRAK: Now you just pointed out, I mean the official -- you have -- on the one hand you have an official army, and this private for hire army, the Wagner Group. It's not always clear whether they are always in competition, or whether they complement each other. Are they essentially different actors just both vying for Putin's favor at this stage?

MENON: Both are true. In the battles in Soledar and Bakhmut, (INAUDIBLE) a more consequential challenge. They have tried to achieve the same mission, that is to conquer both of these towns.

But when it comes to the question of who's doing better, and who deserves a credit for recent gains in Soledar, Bakhmut, they have not taken then clearly Prigozhin wants to claim credit. The military does not want to have -- claim credit because after all they're a professional military, and they see fighting for Russia as their business.

HARRAK: So, you know, to turn our focus back to the Russian army, you know, not able to deliver a victory because the objective has never been clearly defined, is that the problem? MENON: Well, one thing is clear, and that is that Mr. Putin really did

not set out to conquer all of Ukraine. My best sense is that he wanted to, and he began this way, make a drive south to Kyiv, take over the capital, change the government. Control the northern part of Ukraine, and (INAUDIBLE) probably as much as of the east as he could, he already have some territory there by virtue of the (INAUDIBLE) that created in 2014 and the south.

But Ukraine being such a large country, even achieving that requires manpower which the Russian army proved not to have. This is why you have private armies such as the Wagner Group, and also the Chechen leader-cum-warlord Ramzan Kadyrov whose fighters have also been active in the war in Ukraine.

HARRAK: Rajan Menon, thank you so much for your time.

MENON: My pleasure.

HARRAK: Still ahead, the government of Indonesia plans an ambitious project to relocate its capital city, but some environmentalists are worried. I will speak to an expert.



HARRAK: Crowds of people in India celebrated the harvest festival by taking a dip in the Ganges River on Sunday. The devotees sent prayers and bathed in the chilly waters to symbolically purify themselves and wash away their sins. The harvest festival is considered one of the most auspicious days on the Hindu calendar.

The government of Indonesia is planning to relocate its capital city as Jakarta rapidly sinks into the Java Sea. The proposed new location is a jungle covered area on the east of Borneo, however some environmentalists are warning the move could endanger the wildlife and rainforest there.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout has the details.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jakarta is a sinking city. Scientists say the sprawling capital of Indonesia, home to more than 10 million people is dropping below sea level at alarming rates mainly due to excessive groundwater extraction.

The government of Indonesia has a plan, to carve a new capital city called Nusantara, out of the dense jungles of eastern Borneo. At an estimated cost more than $30 billion, it's been designed as a futuristic smart city, and touted by government officials as the world's most sustainable.

JOKO WIDODO, INDONESIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The development of the new capital has to become a move towards building cities that are healthy, efficient and productive. That are designed to be a place where the people are close from any destination where they can bike and walk everywhere, because there is of zero emissions.

STOUT: Officials describe the new capital as a sort of Garden of Eden, built along the contours of the natural landscape. Nusantara is expected to be completed in 2045, and the government says it will be more than three and a half times the size of Singapore and home to nearly 2 million people.

Officials and developers claim it will have minimal impact on surrounding rainforest that are some of the oldest in the world.

SOFIAN SIBARANI, NUSANTARA ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNER: We have in our guidelines all the buildings, especially key buildings or government buildings, needs to be green, green building. It needs to be sensitive to the environment, source of futuristic -- it's a future smart city, smart government, smart society, smart infrastructure.

STOUT: But some environmentalists disagree warning of a potential habitat destruction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The area is unique with its natural habitats and native species. And if it's mangrove for us are destroyed, all the native species will be gone too.

And the next generations can only hear the stories about the species, because they don't exist anymore.

STOUT: There's another concern about the project, the potential displacement of indigenous tribes.

SIBUKDIN, BALIK TRIBE LEADER: The land and the farms are inherited from our ancestors. The land is the biggest asset of our tribe. For us, the farm is the source of life. If our land is taken away how can we farm, how can we live?

STOUT: To that, the government has said it will compensate landowners. And there are also some critics who say, Indonesia should concentrate on fixing the problems in Jakarta, arguing that millions of residents will remain in the current capital, struggling to cope with pollution, traffic and worsening floods.

DONNA POJANI, URBAN PLANNING EXPERT, UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND: Will it relieve congestion in Jakarta. Will it make whatever is left behind in Jakarta a little bit better. I don't think so.

STOUT: As construction ramps up this year, many questions remain. But one thing is clear, the road to creating Nusantara, Indonesia's shining city on a hill will likely be an uphill climb.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN.



HARRAK: And joining me now, live from Jakarta, is Tiza Mafira, the director for Climate Policy Initiatives Indonesia. Thank you so much for your time.

Now before we discuss this daunting challenge of moving the capital, can you describe what the situation is like in Jakarta?

TIZA MAFIRA, DIRECTOR, CLIMATE POLICY INITIATIVES INDONESIA: Sure, the situation in Jakarta is rapidly sinking. And actually parts of it in the north of Jakarta have already sunk.

There are parts there where you can actually visit and you can see beyond the (INAUDIBLE) mosque has already sank to -- you can only see the roof top.

So -- and I think the problem is not just -- well, the problem has been exacerbated now because of rapidly rising sea levels, but it's actually been decades in the making, because of excessive extracting of groundwater by the 20 million people who reside in Jakarta.

HARRAK: Exactly. I wanted to ask you about that and I'm hoping you can elaborate. I mean how much is this due to climate -- to the climate crisis. And how much of it can be attributed to the overuse, or misuse of resources.

MAFIRA: I think that both factors play a strong role and exacerbate each other because the groundwater has been extracted at an alarming rate for decades. And this was even before climate change has become the full-blown crisis that it's become now.

And now that we're at a point where rising sea levels are becoming more rapid, and we have not yet solved the issue of overextraction of groundwater, you can only expect it to become worse at an accelerated pace.

H0: And how is the climate crisis impacting people's lives in the Indonesian capital. Talk to us about those immediately impacted and about their circumstances.

MAFIRA: Well definitely, the climate changing has caused more extreme weather and unpredictable weather. And as a person that is born and bred in Jakarta, I can attest personally to the unpredictable weather and the, you know, the more frequent occurrences of very intense rainfall. So in the rainy season, you know, it happens sometimes during what's not supposed to be the rainy season.

And when it does occur, it's very intense, so that even just one hour of rain can yield a flood. And this has impacted many citizens of Jakarta, some of them who have been used to floods for decades, and some of them who have not actually been used to floods, and have felt that their homes are actually safe from floods, but are now apparently inundated with floods as well.

HARRAK: Now, moving the capital, I mean it's a daunting endeavor. But is it a viable solution? And what is going to happen to millions of Jakartans living in vulnerable areas?

MAFIRA: Well, if the moving of the capital is meant to solve the problem of Jakarta being a sinking city, it's not going to solve that because you're moving the capital city -- government officials will be expected to move to the new capital city. they are only at the number of maybe 2 million, 3 million people tops.

So we still have about 23 to 22 million people living in Jakarta. And so that's not going to make a big dent, actually. And the root of the problem, which is the excessive extraction of ground water and rising sea-levels is not being addressed by that moving of the capital city.

So I don't think we should look at this move as a solution to Jakarta's problems.

HARRAK: So it's not the silver bullet, but how much of a wake up call is this for the entire world, I mean seeing a country from the global south is already starting to pay a very heavy price for the climate crisis.

MAFIRA: Well I think the wake up call is that the solution of creating new cities, right, should take a backseat, and instead people should focus on, but we do with existing cities? How do we retrofit, how do we redesign? How do we refurbish existing cities so that they can become more green and more resilient.

Why do only cities that start from scratch get the privilege of being smart, green cities. Every city in the world is at risk at the moment. And every city deserves a chance to survive, and become a new smart, green city.


HARRAK: Tiza Mafira, speaking to us from Jakarta, Indonesia.

Thank you so much.

MAFIRA: Thank you.

HARRAK: A special honor for the Syrian Oud, the musical instrument has been added to UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage of humanity list.

Ouds are played throughout the Mideast, known for their pure notes and unique sound. But in Syria, demand for them declined during the war and the materials to make them became too expensive.

Now enthusiasts are hoping the UNESCO listing will revive interest in the oud.

I'll be right back with more news after this short break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one, engine full power and lift off. (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRAK: The SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. state of Florida on Sunday. It's carrying a national security payload into orbit, for the U.S. military. The Falcon heavy is the most powerful rocket SpaceX has, known for his booster's ability to make synchronized landings.

Well, now the company is aiming to test its new starship spacecraft, and super heavy rocket. If successful, that ship would dethrone NASA's new moon rocket, as the most powerful craft flying today.

The Australian Open is underway, with one of the biggest names in the drought of the tournament, before hitting a ball, one of them the runner up and Ozzie favorite. Nick Kyrgios, has withdrawn with a knee injury. Well this 70 -- while the 27-year-old, fan favorite was coming off the best season of his career, having lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of Wimbledon, and winning the Australian open doubles title. The Aussie came into this year's tournament as one of the favorites to win the title.

Meanwhile, defending champ Rafael Nadal is currently on the court, and his opening match. The Spaniard facing the young Brit, Jack Draper. Look like he was on the ropes for a minute, after dropping the second set 62, but that is just taking the third, and is now up to seen to One.

And Nadal's arch nemesis Novak Djokovic, will begin his campaign on Tuesday, after missing out on last year's Aussie open, and when he was deported for not being for not being vaccinated, against COVID19. But despite the events of last year, the Serbian isn't holding any grudges.


NOVAK DJOKOVIC, TENNIS PLAYER: If I do hold a grudge, I'm probably -- if I'm not able to move on I wouldn't be here. you know, And also, I have to say, the amount of positive experiences I had in Australia, overwhelmed the negatives experience of last year.

So my impression of Australia. My vision of Australia, has always been very positive, and that has very positive and that has reflected on my performance in my results, are a testament to how I feel here.



HARRAK: And do stay with CNN for plenty more updates on today's action.

In the National Football League, it's been an emotional couple of weeks for the Buffalo Bills. On Saturday, the Bills got a shot in the arm before their playoff match against the division rival Miami Dolphins.

Damar Hamlin made a surprise visit to the Bills facility less than two weeks after collapsing on the field against Cincinnati. Well, Hamlin later tweeted that he would be watching the game from home.

And it was a rough day for Bills quarterback, Josh Allen. He had 3 turnovers during the game including this fumble with Miami, recovered for a touch down but Allen and the Bills would recover, beating the Dolphins, 34 to 31.

And after the game, Bills players spoke about seeing Hamlin a day earlier.


JOSH ALLEN, BUFFALO BILLS: I got to say hello to him and his family, give a big old hug, and as big line of guys ready to love up on him. So he was a blessing come true to see him back in the facility.

DEAN MARLOWE, BUFFALO BILLS: For him to be in the building, man, it brought smiles, and happy tears to everybody in the building.

You know, just to see him walking around, healthy, recovering well. You know, we've sat next to him, all around the facility, and just kind of asked him, you know, a couple questions on how he was feeling and all that kind of stuff. And just all we needed was just to see his face and see him walking around.

Once we knew he was healthy, you know, we kind of had a weight lifted off our shoulders but then actually seeing him in person it was amazing.


HARRAK: And there were two other playoff games on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals held on to defeat the Baltimore Ravens 24 to 17. The game featured this fumble that was returned 98 yards, to the other way for a touchdown. Cincinnati advances to the next round where they will play against the Buffalo Bills. They last played two weeks ago but the game was canceled after Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest.

And the New York Giants eliminated the Minnesota Vikings 31 to 24. It was the Giants first playoff victory since winning the Super Bowl back in 2012. They play against the Philadelphia Eagles in the next round.

Thanks so much for watching. I'm Laila Harrak. My colleague Rosemary Church will be back with more CNN NEWSROOM after this short break.

I'll see you next time.