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Rescues Underway After Morocco Earthquake Kills Nearly 300; World Leaders Convening In New Delhi For G20 Summit; Grand Jury Recommended Charging Wider Web Of Trump Allies; 13-Plus Million Under Excessive Heat Alerts Across Southwest; Ukrainian Troops Train For Future Fight For Crimea; Cuba: Arrests After Human Trafficking Ring Discovered; North Korea's "Paramilitary Parade" For Anniversary; Mount Fuji's World Heritage Site Status Under Threat. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired September 09, 2023 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: We'd like to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Paula Newton. And we begin with breaking news out of Morocco, where rescues are underway at this hour as dawn breaks. And authorities hoped to get a much clearer picture of the devastation from a powerful earthquake overnight.
The government says nearly 300 people were killed and more than 150 others injured as the tremors brought down buildings and sent residents running into the streets for fear of aftershocks. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 6.8 magnitude quake was the strongest in the region in more than 120 years.
CNN's Larry Madowo has been tracking all of this for us. And he joins us now live from Lagos, Nigeria.
I mean, Larry, things are becoming a bit clearer in terms of the devastation here. But what more do we know about rescues that may be taking place at this hour?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that now. The rescue operation kicks into high gear as it just become done in Morocco. Part of the problem overnight when this earthquake hit about 11:00 P.M. local, is that visibility was limited because it was at night. Some people spent the day -- spent the night outdoors, afraid of aftershocks and this epicenter of this earthquake was in the Ighil Region in the High Atlas Mountains.
The worst impact was felt south of the historic city of Marrakesh, but the actual aftershocks and the tremors felt as far as Rabat and Casablanca and other parts of the country.
So far, the interior minister saying nearly 200 people dead, 296 -- 153 wounded. But as now they begin to assess the damage when they can see clearly, the fears, is that those numbers could rise. The U.S. Geological Survey has just updated its guidance that significant casualties are possible.
They say there's a 34 percent chance that between 100 to 1,000 people could have been killed in this earthquake. That is consistent with what we've seen so far with this turning 296 people dead. And we're also seeing some buildings totaled damaged, some buildings completely collapsing near the High Atlas Mountains where the worst impact was felt.
But it's been felt even in the historic city of Marrakesh, which has some historic buildings. I'm going back to the 12th century, the walls one most goes back to the 12th century. And there's been some damage there, partly because they've been around for a long time. That's about the elements. But these are narrow streets. These buildings have been around for a very long time, and they're not as strong as maybe they used to be.
So I want to hear -- I want you to hear from one person who is not in the epicenter of this earthquake. They're in Casablanca, and even there, they could not sleep overnight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMED TAQAFI, WITNESS (through translator): The house rocked aggressively. Everyone was scared. And I was shocked and didn't understand what was happening. I thought it was only my house that was moving because it's fragile and old. I heard people screaming. Everyone went out of their houses. The street is full of people and women screaming, that's what happened. Even now, people can't go back home because they're still afraid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADOWO: It's been a very anxious night for so many people across Morocco after this earthquake, especially when authorities warned of possible aftershocks. The depth of this was just 11 and a half miles. So that's 11 and a half miles under the Earth's surface. But these shallow earthquakes can be just as dangerous. That's why we're seeing this impact and the likely that those casualty numbers, the number of the wounded will be higher once they started pulling people from the rubble, try to run rescue operations, Paula.
NEWTON: Yes. Certainly worrying, especially as you say, as dawn breaks there, and they start to learn more about people who may be trapped in some of those mountain communities.
Larry, I know you're going to stay on top of the story for us. Thank you so much.
Now, earlier, we heard from Benjamin Brown, he's a CNN researcher who happened to be in Marrakesh, when the quake struck. Here's how he described what happened. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN BROWN, CNN RESEARCHER: There wasn't a lot of panic, no real rush, people were very calm making their way into plazas, into parks, anywhere really away from high walls and tall buildings.
And then it kicks in a couple of minutes later, screaming began, I think when people realize, obviously, the extent of the damage and some of the injuries. Obviously, this has happened in the night. So many people just waking up people in the streets in their pajamas as well.
And when the extent of the injuries became apparent, that's really when the panic kicked in. I saw many people actually go out of bed homes in stretchers or wrapped actually in carpets being brought into the street. Some of them with what appeared to be quite serious head injuries with a lot of blood.
And actually so bad to an extent where I saw at least one instance of an ambulance having to turn away an injured -- an injured woman because they were at full capacity. The ambulance just full of injured people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Can you imagine an ambulance at full capacity? Obviously, we will stay on this story for you. We'll bring you more coverage in the minutes, in fact, and hours ahead.
We do want to take you back now though to New Delhi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a, short time ago, that the African Union will become a permanent member of the G20. The Prime Minister has been pulling out all the stops as he welcomes the U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders to this year's summit.
Now parts of the city have undergone significant makeovers in preparation for this event, but two key players were not there; Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, and that is significant. Divisions over the war in Ukraine have some observers wondering whether the leaders will be able to issue a joint communique this year.
CNN's Kevin Liptak joins me now live from New Delhi. Kevin, really good to see you there on the ground as this summit gets underway.
I mean, Biden is there with his set of priorities, of course, but it is a crowded agenda. I mean, where does the White House believe they're likely to make some progress?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, certainly, I think their main goal at this summit is to speak to the developing world. And that is what Prime Minister Modi has tried to put at the center of this summit that he's hosting and President Biden is coming armed with certain proposals to try and convince members of the so-called global south that the U.S. can be a good partner and will be a good partner, particularly when it comes to things like infrastructure.
And the president does have an opening here, because certainly, he is challenging in some ways, China's role in the developing world. The U.S. really trying to make the case that the U.S. can be a better partner, not involve the coercive lending practices that the U.S. accuses Beijing of engaging in, in the developing world.
And so you will see him armed with proposals, including proposals to reform the World Bank, invest more in that body. The White House says that could unlock potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants for developing countries.
But you'll also see him today announced this major new transit corridor coming from Asia through the Middle East and eventually onto Europe. This would potentially unlock a massive amount of global trade. And that is also indirectly a challenge to China's attempts to expand its trades -- trade relationships around the world.
So President Biden certainly has an affirmative agenda here, but that's not necessarily papering over the very real differences that the leaders of the G20 still have when it comes to Ukraine. And that is the big issue that's looming over the summit. And we are told President Biden will speak about that when he is -- it's his turn to speak in the larger summit gathering that's underway right now.
Of course, President Biden has had a lot of success at other forums like the G7, NATO, and trying to convince countries to punish Russia, to supply Ukraine with military aid. That hasn't necessarily been as convincing for some members of the developing world, the so called Global South, including members of the G20.
Countries like India, where we are, which continues to purchase large amounts of Russian fuel, but also countries like Brazil and South Africa. And certainly President Biden's message, I think is that defending democracy in Ukraine is a global imperative and that it is in these countries own self-interests to take that stance and to take a stance against Russia aggression.
They are under -- there's work underway now trying to draft this joint communique that could potentially come out of the summit. We were told this morning that that hadn't been finalized yet. Diplomats are working furiously to come up with some kind of consensus language around that.
But remember, Russia is still a member of the G20, even though Vladimir Putin is not here. They would still need to sign off on any language in a joint communique at the end. So it does remain to be seen how successful they will be on that front at the end of the summit. Paula.
NEWTON: Yes. Certainly the language important there indeed, if they do come up with any kind of a statement at all.
Kevin Liptak for us. You will stay on this in the coming hours as we continue to watch that G20 Summit in India. Thanks so much.
Now a setback for Mark Meadows, the former Trump White House Chief of Staff. On Friday, a judge rejected his bid to move his Georgia election subversion case to federal court. He, along with Donald Trump and 17 others, are charged with trying to overturn the state's 2020 election results. Meadows has argued that his case should be moved because his actions were connected to his official White House duties. But the judge determined the charges were largely, in fact, related to political activities. A move to federal court could have paved the way for him to try and invoke federal immunity and get his case dismissed altogether. The ruling doesn't bode well for Donald Trump, who is also expected to try and get his case moved to federal court.
So a newly released report reveals that a special grand jury in Georgia recommended indicting more than twice as many Trump allies as prosecutors eventually ended up charging. Sara Murray explains.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Fraud.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
GRAHAM: That was my focus is how do you verify signatures.
MURRAY: Former Georgia senator, David Perdue,
DAVID PERDUE, FORMER SENATOR OF THE UNITED STATES: There are huge irregularities in Georgia. They need to be investigated and they need to be corrected, in my opinion.
MURRAY: And former Georgia senator, Kelly Loeffler.
KELLY LOEFFLER, FORMER SENATOR OF THE UNITED STATES: That's right, every legal vote will be counted.
MURRAY: All on a stunning list of 39 people that a special purpose grand jury recommended for indictment, after the panel spent months investigating efforts by former president Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
EMILY KOHRS, SERVES AS GRAND JURY FOREWOMAN: It's not a short list. We heard a lot of very compelling things. Like a lot of very compelling evidence.
MURRAY: The special grand jury's final report now public. They recommended indictments for 21 individuals who did not end up facing charges in Fulton County, including the current and former U.S. senators, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, Trump advisor and attorney, Boris Epshteyn and Trump's former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. But Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, did ultimately charged the others on the list.
FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: A Fulton County grand jury returned a true bill of indictment, charging 19 individuals with violations of Georgia law.
MURRAY: Including Trump and 18 co-defendants. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't ever accept when they steal and rig and rob.
MURRAY: Another man, Trump 2020 campaign official, Mike Roman, was charged but was not mentioned in this special grand juries recommendations. Those who were charged have pleaded not guilty, while some recommended for charges are criticizing the prosecutors.
GRAHAM: It's very bad for the country.
MURRAY: Graham called Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger in 2020. Back then, Raffensperger told Wolf Blitzer that he thought Graham pressured him to toss legal balance.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, he asked that the ballots can be matched back to the voters. And then I got the sense he implied that then you could throw those out.
MURRAY: The South Carolina Republican has denied that, insisting he was carrying out his legislative duty.
GRAHAM: We can't criminalize senators doing their job when they have a constitutional requirement to fulfill.
MURRAY: Purdue had urged Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, to call a special legislative session to aid Trump's quest to overturn the election results in a meeting also attended by Loeffler, all as Loeffler and Purdue were facing a Senate runoff election in January 2021.
LOEFFLER: My number one objective right now has to be winning on January 5th, so that we can get to the bottom of what happened in these elections.
MURRAY: Both Loeffler and Purdue lost their runoff races.
NEWTON: All right. Thanks to Sara Murray there.
Now, Hurricane Lee has lost a bit of its punch, thank goodness, but it's still a major storm and may re strengthen yet again.
The National Hurricane Center says Lee is now a category three storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour or 185 kilometers per hour. Lee is expected to pass well north of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in the next few days, but the region will experience swells that cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Dangerous surf is also expected along the U.S. East Coast beginning Sunday and Monday.
Now take a look at this video with constant lightning flashes. It was recorded from Hurricane hunter's flight inside the eye of the storm, Thursday night, when it had strengthened to a category five storm. Now, the number of people still missing after those deadly wildfires in Maui, Hawaii has come down again. Authority say 66 people remain unaccounted for. Hawaii's Governor stressed on Friday that the number was initially more than 3,000. You'll remember that. That was in August when the fire struck and a little less than 400. That's how far the number went down last week.
But officials have made a great deal of progress locating people. The number of deaths though sadly remains at 115. Officials plan to reopen West Maui to visitors and all travel restrictions likely by October 8th.
More than 13 million people are under excessive heat warnings and advisories in Southern California, Arizona, and parts of Texas, but temperatures are expected to get closer to normal this weekend in some parts of the country.
CNN's Chad Myers has our forecast.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Another couple days of hot weather expected across parts of the country, a little bit better in Dallas for today. But still heat advisories for parts of Central Texas temperatures in Dallas yesterday, 109 degrees. Today, only 98. That's going to feel better. It's still going to be hot, but it's going to feel better.
Houston, you've been above 100 for seven of the eight days in September so far. And above 145 times already this year, 46 ties the record.
There's the excessive heat warning here across parts of desert Southwest. Take a look at Phoenix. You're going to be above 110 for the next two and then finally dropping back down toward normal.
There will be some thunderstorms across parts of the Northeast Saturday and Sunday. Some of those storms, especially this afternoon, could be severe. We'll have to watch that. That could keep temperatures down and likely will. The cloud cover will help. And the rainfall, of course, will help. The cold front is going to come on by, kick off those thunderstorms, but also bring temperatures back down pretty close to normal. I think you can enjoy that.
NEWTON: Thanks, Chad there. Now, more rain, meantime, is in the forecast for Hong Kong this weekend. Adding, of course, more adversity following the record breaking rainfall that's paralyzed much of that city. Flash flooding submerged metro stations, trap drivers in their vehicles, and force schools and some businesses to close on Friday.
I mean look at that damage. Hospital officials say 119 people were injured in the deluge and four of them are still in serious condition. The rain started late Thursday, dropping more than six inches or 158 millimeters of rain in just one hour. That's the highest hourly rainfall since the Hong Kong observatory began keeping records, nearly 140 years ago. Incredible.
Still to come for us, the race to save lives after a Russian missile hits a city in northeastern Ukraine and survivors are trapped under the rubble.
Plus, rescue operations now underway in Morocco after a devastating earthquake overnight. Emergency teams are having difficulty reaching some of those hardest hit areas. We will have the latest for you.
NEWTON: We have dramatic video of rescue efforts after a Russian strike in northeastern Ukraine and it shows emergency workers pulling out a -- pardon me, putting out a fire and digging through the rubble, after a cruise missile hit the city of Sumy on Friday.
Officials say three people were wounded, including two pulled from beneath the building destroyed by that strike.
Now earlier in the day. This footage shows the moment when another missile hit President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown. The missile hit the center of the city in Kryvyi Rih killing one person and leaving 54 others injured, at least 10 buildings were damaged.
Ukraine says Russian missiles have also killed three people in Kherson and wounded four others. Ukraine says it is still making slow, but steady gains in its counteroffensive. But some Ukrainian troops are already training for what comes further down the line when they set their sights on Crimea.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen explains.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Ukrainian troops assaulting Russian positions in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv says its forces are piling on the pressure both here and on the southern frontline and are gearing up for more.
These soldiers practicing mountain warfare specifically to assault a Russian occupied Crimea.
MYROSLAV MELNYK, UKRAINIAN AIR FORCES: If we come to Crimea, there is a big possibility we would really need these skills. We would definitely be fighting in the mountains because there will be partisan warfare.
PLEITGEN: But Ukraine's army is still far away from Crimea and the gains they are making are slow, incremental, and come with a major human cost as the number of dead and wounded escalate.
Kyiv have now specifically telling women with medical education, they must register for military service starting October 1st.
In an exclusive interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Ukraine's president urging the U.S. to have patience while ruling out any compromises with Vladimir Putin.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Did you see any compromises from Putin in other issues? Did you see? Did somebody saw -- did somebody see with Chechnya, with Georgia, with Moldova? He occupied it all these kinds.
PLEITGEN: But the Russians are facing major issues themselves. Short on manpower and ammo, the U.S. believes Vladimir Putin is actively advancing negotiations with North Korea to provide arms to Russia.
This says North Korean strong man, Kim Jong Un, praises his country's alleged military advances, claiming Pyongyang has now developed a tactical nuclear submarine, even though South Korea believes the sub is not even capable of normal operations.
KIM JONG UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): We will rapidly pursue the process of converting all medium sized submarines into attack types in order to turn those existing submarines into nuclear submarines at once.
PLEITGEN: From Russia, convicted arms trafficker, Viktor Bout, who was freed in a prisoner swap with basketball star, Brittney Griner, late last year, speaking to U.S. media for the first time since the exchange.
Bout, who was known as the Merchant of Death and was serving a 25-year sentence for among other things, conspiring to kill Americans, has always maintained his innocence.
In an interview with ESPN, Bout brushing off outrage over his release in the U.S.
VIKTOR BOUT, RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER: The same outrage was in Russia when I was sentenced to 25 years. Many people would say, for what? Just for talking? Are you serious?
PLEITGEN: That was Victor Bout there. And the Ukrainians also getting some more help in the form of Western weapons. The first batch of German made Leopard 1 main battle tanks have now arrived in Ukraine. The Ukrainians set to get dozens more of those vehicles in the coming months.
Of course, those would be very important as the Ukrainians try to sustain those counteroffensive operations.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.
NEWTON: Now you saw a bit of Fareed Zakaria's exclusive interview with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Fred's piece there. Well, you can watch the full interview on "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," that's Sunday at 10:00 in the morning, New York time, 3:00 P.M. in London, only on CNN.
Russia is trying to put a veneer of legitimacy on its occupation of parts of Ukraine. People in four regions began heading to the polls Friday for what officially dubbed regional elections. Voting will be underway until Sunday, even though the international community dismissed the process as a sham.
Ukrainian officials called on people not to participate. One resident of the occupied city of Mariupol is predicting a low turnout because of general apathy among voters. She says the process has nothing to do with normal elections and people know who will win either way.
Cuban authorities say they've busted a human trafficking network. The operation was aimed at recruiting Cubans to fight for Russia against Ukraine.
CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Havana with more now.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN HAVANA-BASED CORRESPONDENT: Cuban investigators say they have arrested 17 people for taking part in an alleged human trafficking ring. It was recruiting Cubans to fight on Russia side in Ukraine.
According to the Cuban government, intermediaries working both here in Cuba and in Russia would recruit Cubans. Sometimes, they said that they knew had a criminal past to take up arms against Ukraine. It worked apparently like this, according to the Cuban government, these intermediaries would promise more than $2,000 a month and sometimes a path to citizenship in Russia to any Cubans who would get on a plane or who are already living in Russia, and would join the Russian military.
Cuba is not directly pointing their finger at their ally Russia for this plot and the Russian government has not responded to CNN's requests for comments. But Russia, of course, is actively seeking soldiers in their invasion of Ukraine.
The Cuban government, while it is a longtime ally of Russia, and has received economic aid from Russia, says that Cubans are not allowed to serve in foreign armies that they're not allowed to be what they call mercenaries. And some of the people involved in this alleged trafficking ring could face up to 30 years in jail for human trafficking and for being mercenaries.
Russia has said tankers of oil has sent vital economic aid to Cuba during the most recent economic crisis. And Cuba in turn has, up until now, backed up Russia's claims that this is unnecessary war in Ukraine, and that the invasion was sparked by the U.S.'s and NATO's actions and is not the fault of Russia.
Apparently now though, Cuba is drawing their line -- or drawing a line when it comes to supporting Russia in refusing to allow Cubans to fight on the frontlines of this war.
Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.
NEWTON: The sun has come up in Morocco. We go back to our breaking news where officials and residents are assessing the damage after a powerful earthquake hit the country overnight. The latest, next.
NEWTON: And new video just into CNN shows the ongoing rescue efforts after a powerful earthquake hit Morocco overnight.
Now, the emergency response started in pitch black darkness. The government says all available resources have been activated. The sun has now come up. The 6.8 magnitude quake destroyed and damaged many buildings in the region. The Interior Ministry says nearly 300 people were killed and more than 150 others injured.
Now, as the sun is rising, officials and residents are now trying to assess the damage and determine how many more rescues they need to mount. This video here shows the harrowing moments late Friday night as residents flee the earthquake some just barely escaping that falling debris, as we just saw there in that video.
Joining me now is Kishor Jaiswal, Kishor Jaiswal, pardon me, a structural engineer with the U.S. Geological Survey. And I thank you for joining us, as everyone wants more information about this.
I mean, in terms of this magnitude of an earthquake, apparently, it's unprecedented in more than a century. This was a shallow earthquake. What does that imply for structures? How might that affect the intensity of the damage and what we're seeing there in that video?
KISHOR JAISWAL, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: A very good morning to you and your viewers. Before I start, you know, I must say My thoughts and prayers goes out to those who are affected by this tragic event in the country of Morocco, as you said, roughly eight hours ago or -- 6.8 occurred, around 11:00 P.M. in the city, southwest of Morocco.
So this earthquake was one of the largest and deadliest as the country has seen in a long time. And as you said, that the depth was pretty shallow. And what it means is essentially, a strong shaking that originates from the source of the earthquake that can easily reach out quickly to the affected epicenter region. And that area could actually experience very strong shaking.
According to our estimate, approximately 2.8 million people experienced strong, very strong shaking from this earthquake. And this earthquake was followed by a magnitude 4.9 aftershock, which occurred, south southwest of the main shock. Again, the epicenter was close to the city of Marrakesh, which is about one million people. A big city and, of course, there are several villages and small towns, which were heavily affected from this -- on this earthquake.
NEWTON: And that's a lot of good information that you just gave us. So nearly three million people, affected 2.8, as you say, and a 4.9 aftershock.
Given the violent shaking that you described, how worried are you that there could be more aftershocks that, again, compromised buildings and homes that have already, you know, been damaged from the first earthquake?
JAISWAL: Yes. So for the benefit of U.S., I must say, this country is basically has a hot and arid climate, typical Mediterranean, Mediterranean climate. So, given the climatic condition, people often prefer to use clay or mud constructions. So, the predominant building stock in this part of the world is essentially mud brick construction, unreinforced brick masonry constructions, or in the urban areas, non- ductile concrete buildings.
So, these buildings are essentially highly vulnerable to seismic shaking. They are -- and that's what you saw in your videos, that many buildings -- it took only few seconds to bring them down. The shaking was pretty strong, but at the same time, these buildings are not really designed to the modern seismic standard that we know of. And thus, they really gave in pretty quickly, killing, unfortunately, all the occupants that that they have.
So this is a very unfortunate situation. And I think one of the important worry that the search and rescue people have is the potential of experiencing aftershocks. And if they're trying to rescue people, what would that lead to.
So a magnitude 6.8 can easily produce sizeable aftershocks, many good size. And these kinds of earthquakes can -- given the vulnerable building stock, can still pull down some of the weaker buildings that are left over from the main shock earthquake.
So this is a very tragic time part of the country and extremely difficult situation, given what we are witnessing.
NEWTON: It certainly does remain a difficult situation. And as you updated us on nearly three million people affected already, one aftershock that you have noted, 4.9. We also hear from Moroccan TV is now reporting that this quake, unfortunately, has killed more than 600 people and more than 300 injured. And I see you, Sir, that you are not surprised, given as you say the kind of construction that we would see in this area.
We thank you for your time. And that was really valuable information. As we say, the sun comes up in Morocco and they continue those rescue efforts. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. JAISWAL: Absolutely. You're welcome.
NEWTON: Turning to India now where the opening session of the G20 summit is underway. Summit host, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, kick things off after welcoming leaders from the world's richest nation -- richest nations, pardon me, including U.S. President Joe Biden.
He also delivered a major announcement saying that the African Union would become a permanent member of the group. The move is part of the Prime Minister's efforts to bolster his statue as -- stature as a global leader and a champion of the developing world.
CNN's Vedika Sud joins us from New Delhi.
And, yes, I think no one would ever excuse Prime Minister Modi of lacking ambition. What did we hear from him in his speech? And what in particular is he working towards in the hours to come because there are still points of contention?
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Well, let's say hectic negotiations will be on for the next few hours, Paula, because what the Indian Prime Minister would want is a successful G20 Summit under the president -- presidency of India since it holds the rotating presidency this year.
He'd want that joint statement to be one with the consensus of all the members who are participating in the summit. But that looks quite unlikely, at least there will be hectic parties, because you do have Russia and China on the table, though the leaders on their deputies are of Xi and Putin.
Now, I want to start with one very key line during Modi's address, opening address at the G20 Summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): After COVID-19, the whole world has faced issues with trust. And the war has increased this trust deficit. If we can defeat COVID-19, then we could also triumph over the trust deficit caused by the war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SUD: This is a splinter G20 that we're talking about, member nations who don't get along, who have different agendas, and they're coming to the table with it. And if this is an indication to go by what Modi said, it is an acknowledgement of just this. It could be a fractured mandate at the end of the day, Paula, and that would be a huge setback for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, because like I said, he wants this summit to be a successful one.
I see only three options really, either there will be a joint statement which could be, you know, some -- something that's more bold than the one that you saw in Bali, or a watered down one like the one you saw last year in Bali during the G20 Summit or no consensus at all. And a chair summary being issued at the end of this G20 Summit.
But coming to what he'd want, he'd also want the global south to get a lot of space during the discussions with the other G20 leaders. And like you pointed out, having the African Union get a permanent space in this block is a huge step forward, something that Modi had been pushing for the last year.
Along with that, climate change is also on the agenda. But, of course, consensus on key areas there would be another challenge that we will face.
But given the next 12 to 14 hours, there will be a lot of negotiation happening just to get a joint statement on the table that Russia and China also will agree to because Ukraine is still the most dominating factor, the most important discussion that Biden and some of the West leaders will be pushing for. They will want a strong statement to come out but, of course, you'll have Russia and China pushing back on that.
Back to you.
NEWTON: Yes, yes, just because they want the strong statement does not mean that we will get it.
Vedika Sud for us in New Delhi, as you continue to cover this G20 summit, thank you.
And we will be right back in a moment.
NEWTON: And we want to update our top story for you. A devastating earthquake in Morocco. Moroccan state TV now citing the country's interior ministry that says the death toll from the earthquake there has sadly risen to 632 with more than 300 injuries.
Now as dawn breaks, authorities hope to get a clearer picture of the devastation and continue with those rescues. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 6.8 magnitude quake was the strongest in the region in more than 120 years. Now stay right here with CNN as we continue to get you updates from Morocco.
Now, meantime, North Korean state media says the country held a paramilitary parade on Friday marked the 75th anniversary of the state's founding. The leaders of Russia and China reportedly sent congratulatory letters to Kim Jong Un who attended the ceremony with his daughter.
CNN's Paula Hancocks is following all of this for us from Seoul. And, Paula, you've covered so many of these events now. From what you can tell from the information that's out, what stood out for you?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: will follow this was slightly different to some of the military parades that we've been seeing recently, we didn't see the the massive intercontinental ballistic missiles rolling through Kim Il Sung Square.
What this parade was, was more, as the North Koreans called it, the paramilitary parade. So it was really paramilitary forces, industrial workers that were showing what they could do, and what they would do to support any war effort.
So the sorts of things that you saw was you did see rocket launchers, but you saw them hidden in the back of trucks. You also saw tractors that were pulling people of the soldiers and also weapons. So it was really what KCNA, statement media called it the, quote, backbone of national defense. So it was different to what we are used to seeing in in recent months, certainly, as Sir Kim Jong Un has been showing off his arsenal.
It was also about diplomacy, though. It was the 75th anniversary of the founding of the nation. There was a Chinese delegation that was there to -- in attendance as well. And as you said, there were letters that were given to Kim Jong Un, congratulatory tweet messages from Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Xi saying that he was ready to strengthen strategic communication. And Vladimir Putin saying he was ready to, quote, expand bilateral ties in all respects in a planned way by pooling efforts. Now that -- these comments are what Washington and Seoul are listening out for at the moment, as there is speculation that there could be a meeting between Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin.
We've heard this from the U.S. side, U.S. officials say that they believe it may come this month and we do know also that in Vladivostok in Russia from tomorrow, the 10th to the 13th of September, there is the Eastern Economic Forum. So, of course, all eyes are on that to see whether or not any kind of meeting does materialize. Paula.
NEWTON: OK. Paula Hancocks, we will leave it there for now. Appreciate your help.
Now, having too many tourists becomes a problem for one of Japan's top tourist sites and now Mount Fuji could lose a badge of honor recognized around the world, that's ahead.
NEWTON: So the climbing season on Japan's Mount Fuji and (inaudible) and that is likely to be a much needed reprieve for the UNESCO World Heritage site where the number of visitors has gone through the roof, so to speak, in recent months. And because of that, the mountain may now lose its World Heritage status.
Kristie Lu stout explains.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: human traffic jams on sacred Mount Fuji. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call that just like a traffic jam.
LU STOUT: An ambulance on route to an injured hiker litter on the mountainside. It decided to Japan's popular tourist site that is not in the guidebooks. But for Mount Fuji Ranger, Miho Sakurai, it's just another day on the job.
MIHO SAKURAI, MOUNT FUJI RANGER (through translator): There are definitely too many people on Mount Fuji at the moment. The numbers are much higher than before.
LU STOUT: Famous for its snow cap volcano, Mount Fuji has inspired artists and been a pilgrimage site for centuries. Less than two hours away from Tokyo, Japan's highest peak attracts visitors globally, and in 2013 became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over-tourism has become a big problem.
This year, a post-COVID tourism boom has brought thousands more hikers to Mount Fuji. According to a Yamanashi prefectural government official, the environmental damage being done could cost Mount Fuji its heritage status, according to the local government.
MASATAKE IZUMI, YAMANASHI PREFECTURAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL (through translator): Fuji san is screaming out in pain. We can't just wait for improvement. We need to tackle over-tourism now.
LU STOUT: Volunteers take away tons of trash each year. Climbers are urged to donate $7 to help keep the mountain clean, but not everyone pays up.
As Sakurai says some behavior is even harder to control.
SAKURAI (through translator): People of all experience levels come here, including first timers. We want to prevent accidents so we give them advice.
LU STOUT: The risk of altitude sickness and hypothermia has been increased by a trend called bullet climbing where hikers begin their ascent at night pushing on until dawn, according to the Yamanashi Tourism Board.
According to the local government, they start their hike from a place called Fuji's 5th Station where the number of climbers arriving here from Tokyo has more than doubled between 2012 and 2019.
The local government also says it wants to shift from quantity to quality tourism. It says replacing the main road to Fuji with a light rail system would be a more sustainable solution.
SAKURAI (through translator): I'd be devastated if Mount Fuji's World Heritage status was taken away. I wanted to have that status forever. So we'll do our best to keep it that way.
LU STOUT: But with no easy fix in sight, Sakurai will keep doing her best to protect the mountain she loves.
Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
NEWTON: And that wraps up this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton.
We will be right back with the latest on that earthquake in Morocco, when we come back.