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U.S. Debt Deal Could Be Reached Today; Turkiye Votes In Runoff Sunday; Missing Migrant Boat May Have Been Pushed Back To Libya; Boy Shot By Police Was "No Way" An Adult; U.S. Beachgoers To Beware Of Sharks This Summer; Millions Of Passengers Push Air Travel To Near Record Level. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 27, 2023 - 03:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from the United States and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak.

Still no deal to extend the United States debt ceiling. But negotiators hope to have an agreement later today. What a possible default could mean.

The search for survivors at a medical facility in Dnipro. Officials say at least two people are dead and 32 are injured after a Russian attack.

And Turkiye heads to the polls again. A presidential runoff election gets underway later today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Laila Harrak.

HARRAK: A deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and avert a financial catastrophe appears closer than ever. A source familiar with negotiations said an agreement could be reached as soon as today. We're told it's likely to raise the debt ceiling for two years.

But it's not clear how they will resolve the issue of work requirements for social safety net programs. That's been a key sticking point for Republicans. Listen.


REP. GARRET GRAVES (R-LA): If you're really going to fall on the sword for that versus actually negotiating something that changes the trajectory of the country for spending, that's crazy to me that we're even having this debate.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you willing to drop that work requirement? GRAVES: Hell no. Hell no. Not a chance.


HARRAK: The Treasury Secretary now says the U.S. will run out of cash on June 5th. That's four days later than previously thought. Jeremy Diamond reports from the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As the White House and Republican lawmakers continued negotiating on Friday over a potential deal to raise the debt ceiling and cap spending,

President Biden on Friday sounding downright optimistic about the possibility, the potential for reaching a deal, even as early, he said, as Friday night.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a negotiation going on. I'm hopeful we'll know by tonight whether we are going to be able to have a deal.

DIAMOND: The president saying he thinks things are looking good in those ongoing negotiations.

Now the president's comments come just hours after the Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has finally set an exact date for when she believes the U.S. government will run out of money to pay its bills and pay its debt obligations. And that new date is June 5th, according to the Treasury Secretary.

In a letter to congressional leadership, including the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, Secretary Yellen writes, quote, "Based on the most recent available data, we now estimate that Treasury will have insufficient resources to satisfy the government's obligations if Congress has not raised or suspended the debt limit by June 5th."

A senior White House official telling me on Friday that this new timeline doesn't fundamentally change the negotiations but it certainly does inject a new sense, added sense, perhaps, of urgency to those talks.

This official also said that they are now in the final stages of negotiation and that they believe they are on track to reach a deal to avoid default by June 5th. We know that one of the major sticking points in that final stage of negotiations has been this issue of work requirements for those social safety net programs.

I asked President Biden on Friday, as he was leaving for Camp David, what he says to Democrats, who tell him that they don't want him to bow to McCarthy on work requirements.

The president told me, "I bow to no one." -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


HARRAK: Joining me now is Katheryn Russ. She is a professor and chair of the economics department at the University of California/Davis. She's also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Professor, it's very good to have you with us. Everyone is watching the U.S. debt ceiling crisis very carefully and very closely. The deadline has now been moved. So the U.S. has bought itself some time and there is some optimism coming out of Washington.

But still what are some of the global implications that you are most concerned about?

KATHERYN RUSS, PROFESSOR AND CHAIR, ECONOMICS DEPARTMENT, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA/DAVIS: I think there are two different sets of global implications. One is on the national security side and then one is financial. But that is, of course, also linked to the national security side.

So you've got national security and then finance with national security mixed in. The national security piece of it is that we've seen that president Vladimir Putin of Russia, president Xi Jinping of China, they've really joined together in a --


RUSS: -- campaign of disinformation to weaken U.S. diplomatic power and military alliances worldwide.

They're trying to position us in the world as someone that people look at as an instrument of chaos and injustice and themselves as a savior to bring stability and justice against a hegemon in the world.

So when we start kind of messing around with things like the credibility of U.S. Treasury bonds, which are held by some of our closest allies and many countries of key geostrategic importance in the world, that really plays right into their narrative.

HARRAK: Now let's focus on the economic perspective as well.

What happens if investors around the world start doubting the U.S.' reliability as a lender?

RUSS: So what that does is decrease the attractiveness of U.S. Treasury bonds as the world's premier asset, which it has held that position for decades. If that happens, people lose their confidence in U.S. Treasury bonds. That reduces the demand for dollars.

That can introduce volatility in the value of the dollar and make other dollar-denominated assets less attractive also. This can lead to an increase in borrowing costs for the United States.

And it also weakens our ability -- as I told you just a minute ago that this was related to national security, too -- it weakens our ability to use sanctions as an instrument in this new age of non- traditional warfare.

HARRAK: If, in the case that the U.S. were to default, how would that impact the world?

And, you know, what do you see in terms of what countries are doing to protect themselves and their economies from a potential fallout?

RUSS: So if the U.S. were to default, you would see, most likely, immediate panic globally. Many commodities are priced in terms of dollars, like oil for instance.

You know, any lack of confidence in the dollar, in U.S. Treasury bonds, which are denominated in dollars, that would really start to create uncertainty in asset markets globally.

It would be much harder in this case for the Federal Reserve to intervene because, in 2020 when they did and they were able to calm market panic as lockdowns set in, you know, U.S. Treasury bonds were still the most reliable asset in the world.

HARRAK: And, Professor, a final thought from you. We see this happening every couple of years. You know, the debt ceiling is reached and then frantic crisis talks ensue; wash, rinse, repeat, essentially.

Why does the U.S. find itself in this situation time and again and what does it do to the country's global reputation?

I mean you touched on it from the start when we started this conversation.

Does it matter what other countries make of what's happening in the U.S.?

RUSS: It matters very much for our reputation. It makes us look politically dysfunctional. And it's a strange thing in our legislative process that Congress can approve spending, undertake the spending but then we have to go through this separate process to approve the borrowing for the spending that may have already occurred.

And so we really need to fix that problem in our system. But in general, this is a reflection of the increasing polarization in our politics.

And so I think that, if we really want to maintain the confidence of the world as a financial superpower and as a reliable geopolitical ally, we're going to have to heal some of that polarization and dysfunction in our country and our politics more broadly.

HARRAK: Katheryn Russ, thank you so much.

RUSS: Thank you, Laila.


HARRAK: Officials say search and rescue operations are still underway after Russia's rocket strike on a medical facility in Ukraine in the city of Dnipro on Friday. More than 30 people were wounded.

Officials say rescuers have found more human remains during their search. Forensic experts are checking if they belong to any of the three people who are still missing. Fred Pleitgen has more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The horrifying aftermath of another Russian airstrike, a medical facility hit in Dnipro, killing two and wounding scores, as Moscow launched another round of drone and missile strikes at targets across Ukraine.

But Kyiv says this time they managed to take down all the cruise missiles and nearly all the Iranian-supplied Shahed drones.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): CNN got rare access to a key component of Ukraine's air defense, the German-made Gepard antiaircraft system known as the Shahed Killer.

"Time is essential," radar operator Oleh tells me.

"There may be three to four targets and we need to destroy them one by one. The computer system makes it as easy as possible for the gunner to succeed."

Ukrainian forces gave us this video they say shows a Gepard destroying several Iranian made drones. And this one even shooting down a cruise missile late last year.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): It's part of Ukraine's increasingly effective, mostly Western supplied layered, short, medium and long-range air defense, including the U.S. made Patriots, that both Washington and Kyiv say have managed to even take down the feared Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, that can travel 10 times the speed of sound and which Putin claimed were invincible.

The commander of Ukraine's joint forces tells me systems supplied by the U.S. and its allies are making all the difference.

"We have the means that can fight Kinzhals and ballistic missiles as well as cruise missiles and strike drones," he tells me, "and the percentage is constantly increasing. Now the efficiency is over 80 percent."

And as Ukraine's army gears up for a large-scale counter offensive, strong protection against threats from the skies will be crucial.

PLEITGEN: The Ukrainians say they fully understand that effective air defense will be critical to their upcoming counter offensive, not just to protect critical infrastructure and ammunition dumps but to defend advancing forces as well. PLEITGEN (voice-over): "The enemy will throw all available forces to reduce the combat potential of our offensive," the general tells me.

The success during the advance and liberation of Ukrainian territory will depend on high quality air defense. And civilian lives on the ground depend on it as well to prevent attacks like in Dnipro, where, once again, so many were harmed -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kyiv.


HARRAK: Pro-Russian officials are accusing Ukraine of striking a city it once fiercely defended.


HARRAK (voice-over): They say two long-range missiles hit Mariupol on Friday. Ukraine is not officially claiming responsibility.

But a Ukrainian political adviser says the target was the city's Azovstal steel plant, one of the symbols of Kyiv's resistance to the Kremlin. Ukrainian troops put up a grueling fighting against Russians in that plant for weeks before surrendering last May. For more, Clare Sebastian joins us now live from London.

Clare, what more are we learning about the situation in Mariupol?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laila, we don't know officially what the target was and Ukraine hasn't officially claimed responsibility for this.

But an adviser to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol saying there was an ammunition depot that was set up by Russian forces near the Azovstal steel plant.

If that was potentially the target, that would fit a pattern that we've seen in recent weeks, that some are interpreting as a softening or shaping operation by Ukraine ahead of the potential upcoming counteroffensive, efforts to sort of probe Russia's defenses, hit logistics, transportation nodes, things like that.

We saw just this past week, in the last few days, Ukraine claiming it hit a Russian reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea with a maritime drone. Russia says there was no hit there. There was a mysterious derailment of a train, a freight train, in Crimea just over a week ago.

And, of course, we've seen incursions, that recent incursion into Belgorod; other strikes across the border in Russia's border regions. All of this potentially fitting that pattern.

And, of course, Mariupol in itself very significant, the first city, big city that Russia managed to take over in this war. The only one, in fact, that it's managed to hold on to. Of course it lost control of Kherson in November.

And we know that it's an important staging ground for Russian forces in the south of the country. So significant that this was hit again. It was, by the way, also hit by explosions just about a week ago. So I think this is a pattern that we're seeing, of more and more strikes, more and more incidents behind Russian lines.

HARRAK: Clare Sebastian reporting for you.

Thank you so much for your continued coverage, Clare.

Turkiye goes back to the polls for a second round of voting Sunday in a runoff election that will determine the next president. We'll go live to Istanbul after the break.

Plus, Super Typhoon Mawar is churning in the Pacific Ocean and expected to turn away from the Philippines. Coming up, the latest foreclose for this powerful storm.





HARRAK: Turkiye is a day away from its presidential runoff election. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan got the most votes in the first round of voting two weeks ago but failed to cross the 50 percent threshold needed for an outright win.

Well, he and challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, were both on the campaign trail on Friday, hoping to win over undecided voters. CNN's Nada Bashir joins us live from Istanbul.

What are people telling you as they prepare to cast their votes for a second time?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laila, with less than 24 hours to go until the ballots open here in Turkiye, the campaigning is still ongoing. People are still out there on the streets, handing out leaflets, taking part in these rallies. And there is a real push to get voters out.

This is, of course, the second round. We did see a high turnout in the first round, maybe 90 percent. Turkiye typically does have a pretty high turnout when it comes to the presidential elections. In the second round, we've already seen advanced voting by Turkish citizens living abroad. That turnout has actually increased --


BASHIR: -- since the first one. So we do get a sense, of course, people are very impassioned, wanting to get out to the polls. Those supporting the opposition, many of them feel like this is an opportunity for change in Turkiye.

We've seen president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in power for more than two decades and there is a sense this could be a moment, if the opposition does come into power, to change the course of politics and, of course, foreign policy here in Turkiye.

This is the first time that we have seen Turkiye's opposition this unified. We are talking about six very different political parties, when it comes to that political spectrum, coming together behind one single candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. They succeeded in getting around 45 percent of the vote in the first round.

That is a significant feat for the opposition but not enough to get them over the threshold. But on the other side, President Erdogan is continuing to rally for support. The AK Party achieved 49.5 percent of the vote in the first round, just short of that 50 percent plus 1 percent to get over the threshold.

The party that came third pledging its support for Erdogan. Their candidate was successful in achieving around 5 percent of the vote in the first round. So there have been some describing him as a sort of kingmaker. Potentially that 5 percent difference could be enough to get President Erdogan over the line in this second round.

But it's important to note that other politicians from that third party have also backed Kemal Kilicdaroglu on the opposition. So it's not set in stone. It's not a definite switch of votes to President Erdogan. But it is certainly a good sign for President Erdogan.

And, of course, whoever does succeed in this presidential election, there are some significant challenges ahead: the economy, the aftermath of the earthquake and, of course, questions around democracy here in Turkiye -- Laila.

HARRAK: Nada Bashir will be covering the elections for you.

Nada for now, thank you so much.

This programming note for our international viewers, be sure to watch CNN's special live coverage of the elections in Turkiye, hosted by Becky Anderson. That's this Sunday at 8:00 in the evening in Ankara and 9:00 pm in Abu Dhabi, right here on CNN.

Now after lashing the U.S. territory of Guam with powerful winds and torrential rains this week, Super Typhoon Mawar is moving west- northwest over open ocean. It's been the strongest storm on the planet in years, equivalent to a strong category 5 Atlantic hurricane.


HARRAK: Three NGOs operating in the Mediterranean say a migrant boat that went missing on Wednesday with around 500 people appears to have been illegally pushed back to Libya.


HARRAK: The group Alarm Phone is calling it a criminal act, as they believe the boat was in Malta's search and rescue zone. They're demanding clarification to find out who was responsible. CNN is seeking comment from Malta, Libya and Italy, which provides resources to the Libyan Coast Guard to fight irregular migration.

A little girl suffering from seizure-like symptoms was airlifted from a cruise ship off the California coast on Wednesday.


HARRAK (voice-over): The U.S. Coast Guard has just released this video of the medical evacuation. You see there the crew giving the child a teddy bear before she was hoisted onto a helicopter with her mother. The little girl was then taken to a medical center, where she was said to be in stable condition. No word yet on the cause of her illness.


HARRAK: We're going to take a quick break. For our viewers in North America, I'll have more news for you in just a moment. For our international viewers, "DECODED" is up next.





HARRAK: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and Canada. I'm Laila Harrak and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

A deal that would allow the U.S. to keep paying its bills could be reached in the coming day. That's according to a source familiar with talks to raise the debt ceiling.

White House and Republican negotiators have been hammering out the details in late-night talks. Any deal must be finalized and passed by Congress by June 5th. And that's when the Treasury Secretary says the government will run out of cash.

Two more members of the far right group Oath Keepers were sentenced on Friday for the roles in the plot that culminated in the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Army veteran Jessica Watkins got 8.5 years and Florida native Kenneth Harrelson got four.

This comes a day after the group's founder received a stiff sentence for seditious conspiracy. Here's CNN's Katelyn Polantz.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: In court this week, the top of the pyramid of the Oath Keepers, that right-wing group that appeared on January 6th and marched inside the U.S. Capitol building in that riot for Donald Trump, they were sentenced to federal prison.

So the top of that hierarchy of the Oath Keepers was Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the group. He was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison on Thursday.

His deputy, Kelly Meggs, 12 years. And two others, Kenneth Harrelson from Florida four years and Jessica Watkins 8.5 years. The judge who delivered all of these sentences on Thursday and Friday, his name is Amit Mehta. He's a federal judge in D.C.

And he assessed each person differently but recognized that all of these people were not foot soldiers; they were people who played different specific and very important roles within this Oath Keepers group that assembled on January 6th.

So Stewart Rhodes clearly was much different than the rest. None of them would have been there if he had not decided to bring his organization together on January 6th and to assemble them. But these others were involved in planning or organization or making sure there were guns stationed around Washington, D.C.

So each were sentenced for different things, all of them being determined by the judge that they had encaged in crimes of domestic terrorism, a pretty significant thing that resulted in those harsh sentences.

But each of these people in court during their sentences developed a very different portrait, too, of what political extremism in America looks like now.

So Stewart Rhodes, he was unrepentant. He was saying that he still believed that the election of 2020 was illegitimate, that it was a regime of the government that was currently in place that he did not agree with or believed should be there.

And he said he would continue to have these beliefs, even while he serves that 18-year prison sentence. Others were much more apologetic.

But there are more sentencings to be done. The federal judge on this case will hear four additional defendants, the arguments for their sentences next week, and determine how much time each of those people in the Oath Keepers' case should be facing -- Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.


HARRAK: Lawyers for Donald Trump are asking a judge to prevent E. Jean Carroll from amending her defamation lawsuit against the former president. Carroll, a 79-year-old advice columnist, wants to amend the suit because of comments Trump made in a recent CNN town hall.

During that televised event, the former president referred to Carroll as, quote, "a whack job," and said the multi-million dollar judgment against him was, in his words, "a rigged deal."

Jurors in that case found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in a department store dressing room in the 1990s and then defaming her when she went public.

A South Carolina judge has temporarily blocked the state's new abortion restrictions. On Thursday, the governor signed a law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know they're pregnant. But that's now on hold until South Carolina's Supreme Court can review the case.

The state's high court has already struck down a similar law passed in 2021. It concluded that the privacy protections of the state constitution require that people have enough time to confirm a pregnancy and to take steps to end it.


HARRAK: The attorney for an 11-year-old Mississippi boy, who was shot by police after he called them for help, says he couldn't have been mistaken for an adult. Aderrien Murry is recovering after being released from the hospital. His family is calling for the officer to be fired and charged with the shooting. CNN's Nick Valencia has our report.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Murry family has now filed paperwork, a written notice to file a lawsuit against the city of Indianola, as well as the Indianola police department.

Family attorney Carlos Moore telling me there's no way a reasonably trained officer could have made such a tragic mistake, saying the 11- year-old Aderrien Murry came within an inch of losing his life.

A new photo shows the extent of his injuries, with a bandage covering the hole in his chest where he was shot by a responding police officer. The family saying all of this unfolded last Saturday at about 4 in the morning, when Aderrien's mother tells me that the father of another one of her children showed up at her house unannounced.

And he was irate. She was so scared for her safety, she said she was able to sneak away momentarily and hand a cell phone to 11-year-old Aderrien, who was asleep in his bed at the time of this incident.

That's exactly what Aderrien did. He called 9-1-1 on behalf of his mother. When the responding officer showed up, officer Greg Capers, the mother says Capers had his gun drawn, ordered everyone out of the house.

And that's when Aderrien came around the corner from a hallway into the living room and she said she heard one gunshot. That shot being fired into the chest of 11-year-old Aderrien Murry. The family attorney telling me there's nothing Aderrien could have done differently to avoid being shot.


CARLOS MOORE, MURRY FAMILY ATTORNEY: This sounds like the boy did everything right. I mean, everything right. He was a good student. He obeyed his mom when she requested him to call the police for her assistance. He called the police and his grandmother. And then when the officers showed up and said, come out with your

hands up, he obeyed the officer's request and still gets shot. There's no way he could have been mistaken for the adult. The adult was over 6 feet tall. This young man, this 11-year-old child, was about 4'10".


VALENCIA: The incident was captured on body camera but the family says they have not seen that yet. Police are referring all questions to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, who has told us that they won't be releasing the body cam footage because of an ongoing investigation.

We've made repeated attempts to reach out to the police department as well as officer Greg Capers but have not heard back. The family adamant that they want this officer fired and charged -- Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


HARRAK: New York authorities have filed a charge of second degree murder against the man who shot at a car that pulled into his driveway by mistake, killing one of the passengers; 65-year-old Kevin Monahan also faces charges of reckless endangerment and tampering with physical evidence. He has pleaded not guilty.

Twenty-year-old Kaylin Gillis and three others were looking for a friend's house in April, when they pulled into Monahan's driveway at night. Gillis died just minutes after she was shot.

Still to come, a warning for your next trip to the beach after a wave of shark attacks in the United States. We hear from survivors next.

And a scare in the air has aviation experts wondering how could this happen. When we return, how a midair nightmare became very real.





HARRAK: Authorities in the U.S. are urging beachgoers to stay vigilant in the water after several shark attacks over the past month. The warning comes as people flock to the seaside this Memorial Day weekend. CNN's Miguel Marquez reports.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A tiger shark rammed me.

MARQUEZ: A close call in Hawaii. Shark attacks happening any time, any time.

MAGGIE DROZDOWSKI, NEW JERSEY SHARK ATTACK VICTIM: I realized my foot was in its mouth. I was shaking my foot as hard as I could.

MARQUEZ: Maggie Drozdowski was surfing in southern New Jersey when she was attacked.

In the Turks and Caicos, a 22-year-old woman was snorkeling beyond the reef when a shark attacked, taking her leg. She was saved by a fast acting captain from a nearby tour boat.

ANDY CASAGRANDE, FILMMAKER AND HOST, "SHARK WEEK," DISCOVERY CHANNEL: There's a number of reasons why sharks will occasionally bite people. Sometimes eat people. And mistaken identity is one of these big factor.

ELLA REED, FLORIDA SHARK ATTACK VICTIM: It was like right there, right in the white water.

MARQUEZ: In an attack in Fort Pierce, Florida, a teen was sitting in shallow water near the shore.

REED: It slipped in and got my finger and my arm. It got my leg.

MARQUEZ: New York state is staking no chances this summer, increasing the number of drones and patrol boats.

How much respect do you have if this is their front and back yard?

CLARANCE "TOBY" TOBIAS, SURFER: Oh, 100 percent, 100 percent. I'm playing in their home. So I'm playing by their rules.

MARQUEZ: Toby Tobias has surfed for 35 years.

His closest contact with a shark?

Right here in NYC.

TOBIAS: I look to my side. I saw a fin. He came straight to me and make a big splash and turn away.

MARQUEZ: Just this morning, a suspected thresher shark spotted by this frequent surfer.

NICK SZWARC, SURFER: It looked pretty big. It was the size of my surfboard.

MARQUEZ: You are not going to mess with it?

SZWARC: Yes, I paddled in.

[03:45:00] MARQUEZ: Here we are at Rockaway Beach. There are surfers out there right now. They've been there all day and there is only going to be more as the official starting gun of summer, Memorial Day, is upon us.

Look, it is extremely rare to get bitten or attacked by a shark and officials here in New York are giving a few words of advice for how to make sure that you don't get attacked.

If you see seals or if you see schools of fish or birds diving into the water, stay away from those areas because you do not want to get mistaken for a shark meal -- back to you.


HARRAK: We're learning more about a terrifying incident on an Asiana Airlines flight on Friday. A passenger opened an exit door on the plane while it was still airborne. South Korean authorities arrested the man and, according to the Yonhap news agency, he told police he felt suffocated and wanted to get off the plane quickly.

CNN's Paula Hancocks has details.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is every traveler's worst nightmare, an emergency door opening while the airplane is still in the air.

Asiana Airlines says, two to three minutes before landing, while the aircraft was about 700 feet from the ground, a man in his 30s, sitting in the emergency seat, opened the door.

A less-than-one-hour-long flight from Jeju to Daegu in South Korea turned into a nightmare for 200 passengers and crew.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Maybe the man tried to get off the plane. A flight attendant said, "Help, help," and about 10 passengers stood up and pulled him in.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Police arrested the man, saying he confessed to opening the door but gave no reason.

KIM JONG-CHAN, DAEGU POLICE OFFICER (through translator): We weren't able to talk properly with him. He was not in a good mental state. He could not even hold himself up.

HANCOCKS: Jeju's education office says 48 students were also on board traveling to a junior sports festival.

But for aviation experts, the most pressing question is, how was it even possible for the door to open while still in flight?

GEOFFREY THOMAS, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: It seems implausible that the door could be opened in the first place and then against the airstream, technically impossible. But somehow or other, it has happened. HANCOCKS: Airbus said in a statement, "We are looking into the circumstances of this incident. Aircraft doors can usually only be opened upon touchdown."

Asiana says the cabin was automatically depressurized before landing. Twelve people were treated for hyperventilation, nine of them in hospital. Officials say all injuries were minor, a relatively benign outcome, considering the obvious danger -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


HARRAK: And we'll be right back.





HARRAK: In the U.S., millions are flocking to beaches for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. But the weather may not cooperate in some areas.

Along the Southeast coast, expect heavy rains, gusty winds, rip currents and coastal flooding.

Parts of the Carolina coast are under threat of excessive rain and flooding on Saturday.

And severe storms are possible across the Great Plains from Texas to Montana.

There's some good news if you're taking to the road this holiday weekend in the U.S. The national average for regular gasoline is $3.57 a gallon. That's down more than a dollar a gallon from last year.

And in the big picture, that means Americans are expected to spend $1.6 billion less on gas this Memorial Day weekend when compared to last year. And more than 27 million people are expected to travel by car this weekend, according to AAA. That's up 6 percent from a year ago.

Air travel for Memorial Day weekend has already reached the highest level in nearly 3.5 years. Airports across the nation are expected to be even busier over the next few days. Transportation security officials say they expect to screen about 10 million passengers this holiday weekend. CNN's Pete Muntean has more on the story.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A summer of tests for air travel is already off to a record-setting start. From Atlanta --


MUNTEAN (voice-over): -- to Los Angeles --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are looking at a very busy weekend here at LAX.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): -- with the Transportation Security Administration screening 2.66 million people at airports nationwide on Thursday, the highest number since before the pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just tried to prepare as much as I could with what I can control.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the airport is really busy but, otherwise, no; it has been easy, relatively easy.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): A smooth start after airlines canceled 2,700 flights last Memorial Day weekend, kicking off a summer of more than 55,000 cancelations.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: This weekend will be a test of the system.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is putting pressure on airlines, which insist they are now right-sized and right-staffed, hiring 48,000 workers in the last year, according to a CNN analysis.

BUTTIGIEG: We're doing everything we can to press airlines to deliver that good service. And if there is an issue, we have your back.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Though airlines worry delays could come from the federal government, which is short 3,000 air traffic controllers. This week, back-to-back staffing issues in Denver forced the FAA to slow flights. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby calls air traffic control shortages his number one concern.

SCOTT KIRBY, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: That doesn't just impact those flights; that bleeds over to the whole system for the rest of the day.

MUNTEAN: For now, the FAA has opened up 169 new, more efficient flight routes up and down the East Coast. From its command center in Virginia, the agency is monitoring storms in Florida, warning of delays in Tampa, Orlando, Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as the risk to the Memorial Day weekend, it's looking pretty good.


MUNTEAN: Still pretty busy here at Reagan National Airport. And despite all this demand, travel site Hopper says airfare has actually gone down by 26 percent in the last year. The average domestic round- trip ticket this weekend, $273.

But get this: international airfare has jumped by 50 percent. The average international round trip this weekend, $1,300. The big tip from travel experts: try to book the first flight out if you can. That minimizes your chance of cancellations or delays -- Pete Muntean, CNN, Reagan National Airport.


HARRAK: I'm not going anywhere.

I'm Laila Harrak. Thanks so much for joining me. Paula Newton picks up our coverage after a quick break. Do stay with us and I'll see you tomorrow.