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CNN INTERNATIONAL: Dnipro Ceremony Marks End Of Search & Rescue Operation; Wagner Claims To Capture Main Train Station West Of Soledar; World Economic Forum Begins Amid Recession Fears; Police: Crews Recover Bodies Of 71 People After Crash; Why Is China's Population Shrinking?; Eight People Injured In Shooting At Florida Park Event; Father Arrested After Indiana Toddler Seen Waving Handgun; Life In Bakhmut Upended As Fighting Intensifies. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 17, 2023 - 08:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max foster in London.

Just ahead, more bodies including another child found in the wreckage of this Dnipro apartment building as Ukraine's President calls Russia's attack on it's a war crime. And Ukrainian First Lady speaking at Davos warning that Russia won't stop at just her country. And a baby bus. China's population declined for the first time in 60 years as the government struggle to convince people to have more kids.

We begin though Southeastern Ukraine where more bodies are being pulled from the rubble of an apartment building following Russia's deadliest civilian attack in months. A ceremony was held in Dnipro earlier marking the end of the search and rescue operation. The mayor says 44 people are now confirmed dead and dozens more remain missing.

Several hours ago, the Ukrainian First Lady addressed the Davos World Economic Forum with a warning that Russia won't stop at anything. Since then, the death toll in Dnipro has increased even further.


OLENA ZELENSKA, UKRAINIAN FIRST LADY (through translation): There is nothing off limits for Russia. As we speak in our city of Dnipro, people are still working and sorting through the debris of a residential area, of a house that was destroyed by an anti-ship missile. This missile was built to destroy aircraft carriers and was used against the civilian infrastructure.

This morning, we heard about 43 casualties. Since we started this forum, it grew to 43 casualties. These ordinary people at home on a Saturday, and that's enough reason for Russia to kill.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOSTER: CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins me live in Dnipro. Russia saying they were aiming at the building and the Ukrainians calling a war crime.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly are. And you're absolutely right, Max, the Russians have denied that they were behind the attack on this building, claiming instead that it was a Ukrainian surface to air missile possibly trying to take down the Russian rocket that actually hit this building.

The Ukrainian saying that is absolutely not true. They actually say that they tracked this cruise missile, the Kh-22, which is a very powerful cruise missile from the moment it was launched in the Sea of Azov to all the way here, but they simply don't have the means to shoot such cruise missiles down. That's one of the reasons why the Ukrainians are calling for further international assistance and especially for further surface-to-air missile system from Western nations.

We know, of course, that the Ukrainians already training on Patriot systems in the United States, they're going to get one from the U.S. and one from Germany as well. But, you know, the scene here, Max, is certainly one that now is very eerie. You can see behind me that the search and rescue work has indeed stopped.

We just saw some of the video that we filmed earlier about the crews with that ceremony putting on their sirens, putting on their lights themselves being honored for a really 72 hours working around the clock to try and save anybody who might be buried alive underneath the rubble. But then, of course, ultimately, also unfortunately, pulling a lot of bodies out from under the rubble as well.

The rescuers then themselves paid tribute to the victims, honored the victims themselves. And now what we have is this gaping hole right here in Dnipro, where of course, just a couple of days ago, dozens of families had their home. And, you know, you've been speaking a little bit about the anger here in Ukraine. It certainly is very palpable here on the ground.

We still have people who are laying down flowers, who are weeping a lot of people, who are angry as well. And then, of course, you have the Ukrainian President who has vowed that an investigation into this has already been launched in the Ukrainians are saying they wants to bring those who are behind this in front of an international court.

Of course, whether ultimately that is going to be possible is a whole different matter. But it certainly is something that the Ukrainians say they want to do, they want to have a very accurate investigation into all this.

Meanwhile, there are actually still people missing. The search and rescue operation has stopped, but there are people still who are missing. So it's unclear whether or not more bodies will ultimately be found. But for now, the crews here are shutting down their operation. They're coordinating off the site and what you have now here in the city, is this really memorial to this devastating strike that took place and took dozens of lives, Max.

FOSTER: Fred Pleitgen in Dnipro, thank you.

So unclear who controls the embattled town of Soledar, Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region. Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists the fight is ongoing despite Russian claims of victory. And the Russian mercenary group Wagner now says it has captured the main train station west of the town after claiming claiming control of Soledar last week. CNN has been unable to verify that and the Kremlin isn't commenting.


So we're going to Ben Wedeman, who's on the ground in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine to find out what he knows. Hi, Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Max. I know it's not altogether clear what's going on in Soledar. We've had these conflicting claims, the Russian saying they've taken the town, the Ukrainian say there's still fighting ongoing. What I can tell you what we saw after -- during several days in that area, is that the Ukrainians are in defensive positions.

They are not trying to retake the town. They do seem to be reinforcing their presence around it. Now, the worry is that once -- if the Russians are able to solidify their control of Soledar, that just about 14 kilometers to the south, is the city of Bakhmut, a much larger city much more important, strategically.

And we were -- we spent the last two days in Bakhmut and what we saw is that the Ukrainians, even though they insist that they still hold these parts of Soledar, they are preparing for the possibility of a Russian push from the north toward the city of Bakhmut itself. Now there's still a few people left in the town, but most of them didn't seem particularly concerned about the possibility that the Russians will push south from Soledar toward Bakhmut.

Many of them are sort of shell shocked, having lived through some of the most intense fighting of the war in and around the Bakhmut itself. So really, I think we may be in the final stages of the battle of Soledar, but I think we're about to enter a much more intense period of fighting in Bakhmut itself. Max?

FOSTER: OK. Ben Wedeman, thank you.

You know, the meeting of the biggest minds in the world or the most influential are gathering in the Global Economic Forum, the World Economic Forum in Davos, global leaders discussing the threat of a global recession, the climate crisis and instability caused by that war in Ukraine. The first big speech was by Ukraine's First Lady, Olena Zelenska.

As we reported, she told those attending that Russia's aggression won't stop at Ukraine's borders. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, for that by proclaiming Europe will always stand with you. Anna Stewart joins us with the details. It's interesting that they gave this platform to the Ukrainian First Lady, because it's always that speech that defines the tone of the weeklong event.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It is. And I think the First Lady actually had quite stern words for those participating at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, because she said, you know, you are people who have influence, and I think that was whether it's politics or business, you have influence. And she says, not all of you are using your influence for good. Sometimes it's used in a way to cause divisions.

So really, it was a message directly to those people that can actually make a difference. And it was interesting that we then got the special address from Ursula von der Leyen, the E.U. Commission President, because as you say, she's sort of responded to that by saying Europe will always stand with Ukraine.

Now, the third special address, and they did come thick and fast this morning, was the complete pivot really, because it was the Chinese Vice Premier, very high-profile delegation, post-COVID, post -- the sort of end of zero-COVID for China. And, of course, China having close relations with Russia little surprise that Ukraine wasn't on that agenda.

But the Chinese Vice Premier said China's door to the outside world will only open wide, and I thought that was really interesting, given the context of them ending the zero-COVID policy recently. Also, it feels recently like there's a bit of an easing in terms of their crackdown on tech companies. So I think that's a sign of more of what we could see through 2023.

And the global economy, which is frankly, what has been discussed by delegates throughout this summit. I think we're going to hear a lot about whether or not you can expect a global recession into this year. A majority of economists surveyed by the World Economic Forum said they do believe that we could be in a global recession.

Plenty for our team to get into on the ground and plenty more from Julia Chatterley next hour from Davos.

FOSTER: OK, Anna Stewart in London will be watching, thank you. CNN will be covering all the events at Davos.

Join Richard Quest and Julia Chatterley as they talk to world leaders and CEOs throughout the week. Julia has much more at the top of this hour, about 45 minutes from now.

Now, crews in Nepal have now recovered the remains of 71 people killed on Sunday when a Yeti Airlines plane crashed into the city river, Gorge. Now only one person remains missing. The flight from Kathmandu was close to landing in the city of Pokhara when it went down.


Aviation officials say the pilot had asked air traffic controllers for a change of runway just minutes before the crash. CNN reporter Vedika Sud joins us from New Delhi with the latest. Hi, Vedika?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Hi, Max. So let me just quickly tell you about the latest in terms of the investigations into this crash. Now what we do know like you rightly pointed out is that the pilot did ask for permission to land on a second runway, which is the other runway that Hawkeye Airport has.

However, officials have also told CNN that they saw no reason to ask the pilot why she wanted to land on that runway since there are two options and they will know technical challenges that the air traffic controllers faced in granting permission for this. What's important to note here is that the official has also said that there was no distress call from the pilot just before landing, but within moments the crash took place.

Now as you know, this crash is inside a gorge, the remains, the wreckage of the plane is inside a gorge. And in both sides of this gorge, people live. It's really a miracle that there was no collateral damage when this plane crash landed in that area.

Now we do know that more than 40 bodies have been airlifted to capital Kathmandu where families will have to identify the bodies of their loved ones. And those bodies will be handed over. More than 20 bodies were handed over to family members in Pokhara earlier today.

Search operations continued into day three, which is Tuesday, but there were foggy conditions this morning which posed to be a challenge for rescue efforts. Drones were deployed to find the last body which is missing still. And according to these officials, there's very less chance -- there's very less likelihood of that body being found today and search off have been called off and will resume Wednesday morning.

Survivors at this point, we're just talking about one looks highly unlikely, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Vedika Sud, thank you for joining us with that update.

Still to come, China's population shrank in 2022 for the first time in decades. What are the consequences that this historic decline could have on the world's economy?


FOSTER: Welcome back. In 2022, China's population sharply declined for the first time in more than 60 years. We're asking why is it shrinking? Well if we look at some of the data released by China's National Bureau of Statistics, it tells us that the population fell by 850,000 from 2021 down to 1.4 billion people.

The birth rate is down to a record, 6.77 births per 1,000 people. Now let's look at the comparison, 9.56 million babies born in 2022 compared with 10.62 in 2021. And it's also an aging population. And this is a problem because the working part of the population is shrinking.

[08:15:14] But there are more older people to support, so it's a big issue. According to the U.N., India is set to surpass China as the world's most populous country this year. And the difference there lies in the fertility rate of both countries. So it needs to be more than two per woman of childbearing age for the population to grow.

That is the case in India, it's not in China. You can see there, just 1.17 children being born to a woman of childbearing age. So there's an issue there.

We're going to speak now to Marc Stewart, who is our correspondent in Hong Kong. Thank you for joining us. I mean, there was a one child policy in China, but it went away years ago. So why is the population still shrinking?

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Max, really good to see you. Look, you went through a lot of math. Let me just break this down in more tangible terms. First of all, let's just talk about personal issues in people's lives. Many couples are choosing to get married later in life, that has an impact on fertility.

Some people are saying they don't want to have children at all. And then as you mentioned, the one child policy, it was in place until 2015. And then even in 2021, it was relaxed. So people could have three children. But that still did not move things forward.

And another reason was because of price. So the second category would be price, that's a deterrent. Having a child is expensive, you have to pay for, you know, just the basics, like food and shelter. A lot of Chinese families spend extra for educational programs, like after school tutoring, in addition to maternity leave, and all of these other expenses. So, Max, it's not just one thing that is contributing to it, it's a long list of factors.

FOSTER: And it's a problem, isn't it, because it is an aging population. So you need more people working to support that aging population. And all of that is dragging the economy down.

M. STEWART: Right. You know, one thing as business journalist we talk a lot about is GDP, gross domestic product. But in everyday layman's terms, we're talking about productivity, just how productive is a nation. And productivity is tied directly to the workforce. If you have a workforce that is older, if you have a workforce where people are retiring, it is just not as competitive as other parts of the world.

So China needs young workers to really maintain its strength as a manufacturing center, as an export center. So that's why young and able-bodied population is so important.

FOSTER: What do you make of the comparison to India? Two very different countries, of course, but India are about to become the most populous country?

M. STEWART: Right. I think that is just a simple issue of mathematics and equations, if you will. That is a projection that is coming in from the United Nations there. They've done some forecast and sometime this year, they are expected to say that, yes, India will become the most populous nation.

But it is important to stress these declines that China has seen, this is not something sudden. I mean, the alarm bells on this were first sounded in 2015 with the relaxation of the one child per couple policy. And it's something that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has even addressed in recent months. This is going to be a priority for China.

FOSTER: But where does this place China then in the world economy? What's it mean for everyone else?

M. STEWART: I think it remains to be seen, Max. I heard from an economist though today who is actually not so down upon China's role in the global economic stage because, perhaps, of technology, a new advances that can make productivity even more faster without necessarily dependent on people to get the job done.

FOSTER: OK, Marc Stewart, really appreciate your time. Thank you very much indeed.

Coming up, we'll take you to one Ukrainian town where the cold is just as deadly as the war that's raging there. After the break, we'll show you how they survive.



FOSTER: Eight people were injured during the shooting at an event celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Fort Pierce, Florida on Monday. People ran for cover that they heard the sound of gunfire during the block partying car show. Here's what one witness said.


CHARLIE FRANK MATTHEWS, WITNESS: I was standing on just to look ways from here and the crowd start -- the first two shot of bang, bang. But then it started getting more shots. And then about 1,500 people start running.


FOSTER: Police say so many people were running in different directions. When they arrived, they weren't sure who was hurt and who was simply taking cover.


CHIEF DEPUTY BRIAN HESTER, ST. LUCIE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: As our deputies were arriving and going to entering the scene, you know, it was mass chaos there. There were people laying behind cars, laying behind anything they could lay behind. It was kind of hard to tell who was a victim and who was just hiding at that point. That our deputies did start to render aid on multiple people. There were people in the crowd that were rendering aid as well. And then there were some people that were loading people up in cars and taking them to the hospital as well.


FOSTER: Well, authorities added they're following up on several leads but don't have any suspects in custody right now.

Now, to a disturbing story from the state of Indiana, a father has been arrested after footage was shown on live TV of a toddler said to be his son, waiting around a handgun and pulling the trigger. It aired last Saturday during the Reelz TV series On Patrol: Live.

We're told the video was captured by nearby security camera. A neighbor says she called 911 after the child pointed the gun at her son.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he was standing in the middle of the hallway and he just kind of was holding it behind his back and I thought, like, that's a real gun. And he kind of looked down just from the opening of the stairway and was like, look what I got, ha ha. And then when we've seen the video of him pulling the trigger, and knowing that he had pointed that gun at my son.

Lucky to see him, to find him. And we were so blessed that that gun was not chambered.


FOSTER: The police report says the father Shane Osborn is now facing a neglect charge and is expected in court today. He denied owning a gun, and said it belongs to his cousin. And Ford (ph) also says a 9- millimeter gun found at the scene had 15 rounds in the magazine. But there were none in the guns chamber. It's not clear if that was the same gun seen in the footage.

Now next month we'll mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. The months of incessant fighting have understandably weighed heavily on many Ukrainians is evident in their walk and talk and yet they try to carry on with life.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from the frontline city of Bakhmut.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Near Bakhmut's front lines, lost souls wandered the streets. Those who can't leave, won't live or have given up caring.

I put some food on the fire, I chop some wood, says Fitlana (ph), and decided to go out for some fresh air.

Dmytro pays no heed to the shelling. This is my land, he says, I won't leave. The fighting echoes through the fog.

(on-camera): As the Russians seem to be gaining control of Soledar, north of here in Bakhmut, the fighting seems to be intensifying. One local resident told us whereas before mortars were flying over their heads, now it's bullets.

(voice-over): Soldiers prepared trenches inside the city, new defensive positions if the Russians push forward.


There would be sandbags with wood on top, says Valentin (ph) and three firing positions.

On the ever so slightly safer western side of the city, a makeshift market offers basics. With no electricity or running water, commerce is conducted in the open.

My two shops were destroyed, says Denise (ph), so I'm selling on the street. But this food is only for those who can afford it and said he isn't one of them. I'm living like an f-ing animal, he says.

Evan (ph) returns home after collecting firewood. The bitter cold is deadly as the shelling. People have frozen to death in their apartments, he says.

On a bluff overlooking Bakhmut is artillery officer nicknamed Pilot, says they're up against troops, many of them convicts, with the private military company, Wagner. We're fighting against soldiers brought to the slaughter, he says. These Wagner guys have no choice. They're sentenced to death.

And then the order comes to open a fire.


Ben Wedeman, CNN, Bakhmut, Ukraine.


FOSTER: Thank you for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. World Sport with Amanda Davies is up next.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: From deportation to dominating on court.