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Morocco Quake Kills Over 600; African Union To Become Permanent Member Of G20; Hurricane Lee Now Category 3; Ukrainian Troops Train For Future Fight For Crimea; G20 Members Divided Over Ukraine War; France Defeat New Zealand At Rugby World Cup. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 09, 2023 - 03:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A warm welcome to 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 the death toll from a powerful and devastating earthquake has just risen dramatically. State TV says more than 600 people were killed and more than 300 others injured. They cite the interior ministry.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 6.8 magnitude quake was the strongest in the region in more than 120 years. Rescues are underway in the country at this hour. The tremors brought down buildings throughout the region. Officials say there is an urgent need for blood donations for the victims.


NEWTON (voice-over): And take a look at this. This is video that shows the moment that the quake shook a mosque in Marrakech late Friday night. It's incredible. And what appears to be dust rising off the building as people fled for safety on the streets.


NEWTON: CNN's Larry Madowo joins me now live.

Sadly, Larry, it seems this death toll has gone up. Day has broken there.

What more can you tell us about rescue efforts and what authorities are saying about where this earthquake struck?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, the Moroccan government says it has deployed all resources available to it to respond to this earthquake, the strongest that the country has seen since 1900. And the epicenter of the earthquake was in the high atlas mountains.

This is south of a popular tourist destination of Marrakech. The impact was felt a lot further than where this happened. The depth of this is relatively shallow, just about 11.5 miles under the Earth's surface.

But even a shallow earthquake like this can still do extensive damage. That's why you're seeing this number of 632 confirmed dead so far, more than 300 wounded.

Authorities fear that, when the full account is done, those numbers could be a lot higher, because as they now to begin to move in the regions in the mountainous areas, some of the roads are blocked.

This happened about 11:00 pm local. Some people could have been trapped in their homes or under these buildings that have collapsed. The worst damage has been in these mountainous regions, which are very hard to reach. But they will be trying to sift through all that and get to them.

I want to show you this incredible CCTV footage of the moment this earthquake hit. You see people scampering for safety and the debris starting to fall. This explains just the impact of this earthquake, not just in the epicenter but so much further away.

That's why you saw so many people sleeping rough on the streets, afraid if they stayed in their homes, their homes might collapse on them. You see people being pulled away in all kinds of -- whatever they can really to get them to safety. So many people dead.

Some of this video shown on social media, harrowing video, bodies lying on the streets, just speaking to how bad this has been, especially happening at night, when some people were probably asleep.

I want you to listen to this one gentleman who was further away in Casablanca. Even there, a lot of fear.


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.


MADOWO: It's been a harrowing night for so many people in Morocco. The U.S. Geological Survey just updated its guidance. It expects there's a possibility up to 1,000 people could have died here.

This is obviously consistent with what we're seeing so far by the number of the casualties and the wounds. As they begin to do the rescue operations, those numbers could likely rise.

NEWTON: A very tough day ahead, as many here certainly gather to try and mount those rescue efforts. Larry Madowo for us, thanks for the update.

We want to go now to CNN's Benjamin Brown. He is a CNN researcher and was there in Marrakech when the earthquake struck. He joins us now by phone.

Benjamin, it must have been quite a terrifying night there. Describe what you felt and what you saw during that earthquake.


BENJAMIN BROWN, CNN RESEARCHER: So I was on the rooftop of my hotel when the ground started shaking and, to be honest, it took a couple seconds to realize what was actually happening.

When I did realize that it was an earthquake, I saw a cloud of dust basically covering the sky, rising up from the Earth that had been shaken up by the tremor. And then together with other guests from the hotel, we decided our safest option would be to make our way to open ground farther away from high buildings.

And initially I was quite surprised at how little panic there was in the streets. People were quite calm and organized, making their way through these narrow alleyways. But I think then, at the moment when the dust had settled and when the initial shock and burst of adrenaline had passed, that's when I heard screams erupting.

I think it's when people saw most likely the extent of the damage and injuries. And then standing in that open space next to roads, more and more injured people were arriving, some people being carried out of buildings on stretchers.

I saw one person wrapped up in a carpet who had been brought out of the house and several people with what appeared to be quite bad head injuries with a lot of blood. Ambulances obviously coming to treat the injured.

Unfortunately, I did also see one incidence in which an ambulance had to turn away a woman. They were simply full. There were so many injured people in the back that they couldn't fit her in. And, yes, that's basically how long the hit in Marrakesh started yesterday (ph).

NEWTON: Ben, just absolutely terrifying scenes. We have seen video, where people were literally running for their lives as debris was falling. So obviously unfortunate that many people were injured or perhaps killed by that falling debris. I want to ask you what you've seen in the last few hours.

Have you felt any aftershocks and what's it been like?

Is there power?

Are people still panicking? Are people still in the streets?

Have they tried to return to their homes?

BROWN: So I haven't felt any aftershocks. Power is up and running in the part of Marrakech I'm in. Things are relatively calm. A rather unusual sight is people are still sleeping in the streets. Definitely not as many as last night.

Many people decided to camp out in the streets on open areas and parking lots just to avoid having to go back into buildings for fear of aftershocks or simply because their homes had been destroyed. So that's obviously a rather unusual sight this morning, seeing people sleeping on the streets on makeshift beds, too scared to return home.

And the other thing is people lining up for public buses with suitcases packed. Many people trying to leave the city last night on motorbikes and cars, some even on horseback, just trying to make their way out of Marrakech. There are far fewer people going to the buses but still people with suitcases trying to leave the city.

NEWTON: Yes, people just trying to go to where they believe it will be safe, obviously assuming there will be aftershocks. The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed to us last hour there was at least one at 4.9, perhaps relatively mild compared to what they've just been through. Obviously the risk of aftershocks are still there.

What more are you learning about what people went through?

Because in some of the video and some of the descriptions that we heard, this was violent shaking. I mean it really was something else, 6.8. And given where the earthquake struck but people even in Marrakech would have felt the violence of this.

BROWN: Yes and I think there's two different types of effects I saw it had on people. The material ones. We've seen the images of buildings being torn down. But obviously one is the physical injuries.

I saw people with bloody injuries, some of them through direct hits, for example, from glass shards that just burst. I saw people with cut legs, that they had glass stuck into them. Obviously others then falling, trying to get out of the Old City.

But also another aspect of it is the psychological injury, the trauma. Even this morning, still walking through the city, there's people in tears, people hugging each other. So that's definitely something that's still quite visible in the streets this morning.

NEWTON: Yes. A real struggle there still as we await more word on what rescues might be ongoing in those mountainous regions where the epicenter was. Benjamin Brown, thank you for your reporting. I know you will stay on top of the story for us and please stay safe. We appreciate it.

Now we want to take you back to New Delhi.


NEWTON: And the other big story we're following this hour, the annual G20 summit being hosted this year by India.

In his opening remarks, prime minister Narendra Modi announced that the African Union will become a permanent member of the G20. That marks a significant achievement for Mr. Modi, who has been pulling out all the stops for U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders.

But two key players, as we've been reporting, are not there -- Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. That, of course, is significant for this summit. Divisions over the war in Ukraine have some observers wondering whether the leaders will even be able to issue a joint communique this year.

CNN's Kevin Liptak joins me from New Delhi.

I know you are well versed in Joe Biden and the White House's priorities on this. At this hour, Reuters is reporting from a source that they have reached some kind of consensus on language for that communique. The sticking point was Ukraine. I'm not exactly sure what you've heard from your sources.

But what does the White House want to come out of this summit if they feel that they could come up with a win?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. American officials did say this morning that work was still underway on that communique.

I think what is most likely -- and I think what I've heard from folks who are involved in this, what is most likely is some sort of compromise language in that document, something that would most likely reflect the document that came out of last year's G20 in Bali, which stated most members of the G20 condemned Russia's war in Ukraine.

And the implication there is not all G20 members condemned Russia's war in Ukraine, most principally Russia. I think the work is probably continuing.

Of course, the leaders themselves will have to sign off on this document before they put their names on it at the end of this summit. There has never been a G20 that did not result in a joint communique.

I think it would be striking if this one didn't. It would reflect the fractured nature of the world at this moment, when you have the U.S. and Europe on one side and you have Russia and China on the other and you have all these other countries in the middle, who aren't necessarily taking a side.

One of the objectives for President Biden, when he speaks to this gathering today, is to talk about the war in Ukraine and to sort of make the case that it is an imperative for global democracy for these countries to come out and forcefully condemn Russia's aggression. So certainly I think work still continuing today, Paula.

NEWTON: Absolutely, as they continue through their sessions there. We've noted the Chinese and Russian leaders are not there. We've had experts on both sides saying for Joe Biden, this is an advantage. Other people say it's a disadvantage.

What do you think?

What have White House officials told you, especially when it comes to making progress on things like climate?

LIPTAK: Well, I think we could take President Biden himself at his word. He said it was a disappointment that president Xi wasn't here. But at the same time, you do hear from White House officials that there are opportunities in these absences.

It certainly allows President Biden to make the case, particularly to the developing world, that the U.S. is a more reliable partner when it comes to things like investments. And certainly, by showing up here, he is making that case and he is coming armed with certain proposals, things like reforming the World Bank.

He does also plan to announce this major transit corridor from Asia to the Middle East, eventually on to Europe, that could challenge China's global trade ambitions. So certainly, President Biden is trying to make the most of these absences.

What it does prevent is any sort of interaction with these leaders. You'll remember at last year's G20, the major centerpiece was President Biden's hours-long summit with president Xi. He is trying to restore more normal channels of communication with China. He has been sending his top officials to Beijing over the last several months.

U.S. officials do still hold out hope that there could be a meeting between these two men in the coming months, potentially at the APEC summit in November in San Francisco. But certainly there won't be any of those discussions here. President Biden sort of on his own as he represents U.S. interests on the world stage, Paula.

NEWTON: It is noteworthy; sometimes the backroom discussions in these meetings are as significant as what is done in public. Kevin Liptak, thanks so much. Really appreciate your insights there.

Hurricane Lee has lost a bit of its punch but it's still a major storm and may restrengthen yet again. The National Hurricane Center says Lee is now a category 3 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 could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Now dangerous surf is also expected along most of the U.S. coast beginning Sunday and Monday. Take a look at this video with constant lightning flashes.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEWTON (voice-over): It was recorded during a hurricane hunter's flight inside the eye of the storm Thursday night when it had strengthened to a category 5 storm.


NEWTON: The number of people still missing after those deadly wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, has come down again. Authorities say 66 people remain unaccounted for. Hawaii's governor stressed on Friday that number was initially more than 3,000. That was in August when the fire struck and a little less than 400 last week.

But officials have made a great deal of progress, they say, locating people. The number of deaths, though, remains at 115. Officials plan to reopen West Maui to visitors and end all travel restrictions likely by October 8th.

Still to come for us here on CNN NEWSROOM, the race to save lives after a Russian missile hits a city in northeastern Ukraine and survivors are trapped under the rubble.





NEWTON: We have dramatic video of rescue efforts after a Russian strike in northeastern Ukraine. It shows emergency workers putting out a fire and then 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 a building destroyed by the strike.


NEWTON (voice-over): Earlier in the day, this footage shows the moment when another missile hit President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown. The missile hit the city center of 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.


NEWTON: Meantime, Ukraine has received the first batch of Leopard 1 tanks donated by Denmark. The Danish military says 10 tanks similar to the ones you see there have already been delivered and 10 more should arrive soon.

Ukraine is expected to receive more than 130 Leopard 1s from allies. But those tanks first have to be refurbished because they've been decommissioned and sat in storage for nearly 20 years.

Voting, meantime, is underway in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, as Moscow tries to exert control in the elections. The international community has widely dismissed them as a sham.

Kremlin-backed candidates, some of whom are running unopposed, are widely expected to be installed after that process. It represents yet another attempt by Moscow to enforce a narrative of Russian legitimacy in parts of Ukraine that it holds but not all of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson and Luhansk regions.

For more on all of this, we're joined by Fred Pleitgen from London.

Fred, good to have you weigh in on this. We'll turn firstly to those so-called elections. Russia's tried this before. They claim it's successful for them. I find the timing rather odd.

What do you know?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the timing -- some people see it as being quite odd, because, of course, right now, we see the Ukrainians are on the offensive. And the Russians are clearly having trouble holding ground there.

One of the things that the Ukrainians believe is that the Russians are obviously trying to legitimize the fact that they occupy these territories. We saw one of the big issues in our lead-in here with all of that, in that the Russians don't even control all of these regions where they are claiming to hold these elections.

The Ukrainians are saying two things. They say this is a violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We can see the map there on our screen. Again, Ukraine is obviously saying this is Ukrainian territory. The international community says exactly the same thing.

But they also say this is a flagrant violation of the rights of the people who live in that area because they say the people are essentially being coerced to go and vote in those elections.

The Ukrainians are saying, in some cases, Russian-installed officials are going door to door to essentially bring people to the polling stations.

The Ukrainians say, on the one hand, that is to act as though there were queues in front of some of these polling stations, that people really want to go and vote there, even though in many cases Ukrainians believe they don't.

But it also is, of course, to make sure there are no protests or anything on the side. The Ukrainians believe these votes are sham votes. The Russians take a very different view on all of this. They say that this is part of Russia now, that these elections are very important on a local level.

The international community, as you've also said, Paula, absolutely correctly saying that these elections are not legitimate and are, in fact, a violation, a flagrant violation of international law.

NEWTON: Yes. Fred, you have a lot of experience on the ground in Ukraine. You've heard all the debate in the last few weeks about this counteroffensive and how it's going. We certainly have more evidence that it is going relatively well; I mean, for Ukraine, although slow.

You point out, though, there's a lot of preparations being made for the year ahead.

PLEITGEN: There certainly are. I think that one of the things the Ukrainians are now looking to -- and I think the U.S. and some of the supporters of Ukraine are also looking to as well -- is longer-term support.

We saw that when secretary of state Blinken was just in Kyiv just now, where some of the things they were talking about was supporting the counteroffensive and making sure that the counteroffensive continues to go on.

But then also longer-term support like, for instance, that depleted uranium munitions. We know those Abrams tanks are not set to arrive on the battlefield until later this fall, so that certainly is an important longer-term step.

When we look at some of the F-16s the Ukrainians are supposed to get, the Ukrainians are saying that the international community or its supporters and especially the U.S. should have patience with Ukraine as the counteroffensive goes on. But they do say they are making headway. Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Ukrainian troops assaulting Russian positions in eastern Ukraine.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Kyiv says its forces are piling on the pressure, both here and on the southern front line and are gearing up for more.

These soldiers practicing mountain warfare specifically to assault Russian occupied Crimea.

MYROSLAV MELNYK, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES (through translator): If we come to Crimea, there is a big possibility we would 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 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, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Do you see any compromises from Putin?

Did you see?

Did somebody saw -- did somebody see?

Where's Chechnya?

Where's Georgia?

Where's Moldova?

He occupied it all this time.

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 strongman 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: Viktor Bout there, speaking to international media for the first time since that prisoner swap took place, Paula.

One of the things you mentioned right at the beginning, which I think is really important, is that longer-term support that the Ukrainians are set to receive, if we look at those Leopard 1 battle tanks that we mentioned here at the start of this segment, right now, the Ukrainians have gotten the first 10.

But they're set to receive around 135 of those tanks. Certainly, Ukraine's supporters are signaling they are in it for the long run. The support will continue even as this offensive goes on, Paula.

NEWTON: That offensive obviously will change character in the coming weeks as the colder weather sets in, in Ukraine. Fred Pleitgen, really appreciate that update.

Now rescue teams at this hour working nonstop after a powerful earthquake hits Morocco overnight. The latest on the strongest earthquake to hit that region in more than a century.





NEWTON: Welcome back to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton and you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

We have the latest now from Morocco. The death toll from a powerful and devastating earthquake has gone up dramatically. State TV says more than 600 people were killed and 300 injured. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 6.8 magnitude quake was the strongest in the region in more than 120 years.

Rescues are underway at this hour right across the country. Officials say there is an urgent need for blood donations for the victims. The government says all available resources have been activated.


NEWTON (voice-over): Now the sun is up and officials and residents are trying to assess the damage. This new video shows the harrowing moments late Friday night as residents flee the earthquake, some just barely escape falling debris.



NEWTON: Joining me now is Kishor Jaiswal, a structural engineer with the U.S. Geological Survey.

I thank you for joining us as everyone wants more information about this. 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: 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, a 6.8 occurred around 11:00 pm in the city southwest of Morocco. So this earthquake was one of the largest and deadliest the country has seen in a long time. And as you said, that the depth was pretty shallow.


JAISWAL: What it means is essentially the strong shaking that originates from the source of the earthquake, that can easily reach out quickly to affect the epicenter region. That area could actually experience really strong shaking.

According to our estimate, approximately 2.8 million people experienced strong to very strong shaking from this earthquake. 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 Marrakech, which is about 1 million people, a big city. And, of course, there are several villages and small towns which were heavily affected from this earthquake.

NEWTON: That's a lot of good information that you just gave us. So nearly 3 million people affected, 2.8 as you say, and a 4.9 aftershock.

Given the violent shaking that you describe, how worried are you that there could be more aftershocks that, again, compromise buildings and homes that have already, you know, been damaged from the first earthquake?

JAISWAL: Yes. So for the benefit of viewers, I must say this country is basically has a typical Mediterranean climate. So given the climatic conditions, people often prefer to use clay constructions. The predominant building is brick. And masonry constructions are in the urban areas.

So these buildings are essentially highly vulnerable to seismic shaking. That's what you saw in your videos, that, many buildings, it took only a 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 cave in pretty quickly, killing, unfortunately, all the occupants 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. And these kinds of earthquakes, 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 for the country and an extremely difficult situation, given what we're witnessing.


NEWTON: Turning to India now again, where prime minister Narendra Modi has kicked off the G20 summit with a major announcement. He says the group of the world's richest nations will welcome the African Union as a permanent new member.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Modi invited the A.U. chairperson to take a seat at the table alongside other world leaders. It's part of the prime minister's efforts to bolster the voice of the Global South as well as his own stature as a champion of the developing world. CNN's Vedika Sud joins us from New Delhi.

The prime minister has a lot of ambition for this G20 summit. In terms of things he's working toward, that was one of them of course, making sure the African Union was introduced there as a permanent member.

Going forward, what are you expecting?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the stakes are high for the Indian prime minister, Paula, both at home and as part of the global political order.

He'd want a strong joint statement to emerge from this meeting that takes place today and tomorrow with the global leaders being a part of the G20 summit here in New Delhi, where India holds the rotating presidency.

But there are challenges that lie ahead, which he's very mindful of. Of course, the first one being Ukraine and the splintered and the divide within the G20 over Ukraine.

And not only that, there are other issues as well, climate change being one of them. Regulation of cryptocurrency being another; food insecurity, energy insecurity, those are the other things that Modi has made very clear he wants at the top of the agenda.

He doesn't want these issues to be sidetracked by just Ukraine. But that may just happen. The White House has mentioned that, as part of the summit, Biden will be pushing for Ukraine talks and talking about how it's impacting all those nations, where the leaders are sitting right across him at the table at the G20 summit.

He's going to ask for a strong statement to be a part of the joint statement.

[03:40:00] SUD: However, I don't think China or Russia will be offering any concessions there. But what is obvious is that this is a very divided bloc that we're talking about. Here's what a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution told us some time back.


TANVI MADAN, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The G20 doesn't exist in isolation. It does reflect that we are in an increasingly divided world, one that is divided because of competition between the U.S. and China, because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine but also because of divisions between China and India, for instance.

So it is natural that you are going to see some of those geopolitical tensions kind of spill over into the geoeconomic platform.


SUD: In terms of the joint statement, I see three options really. One, a strong statement on Ukraine being a part of that communique, which looks highly unlikely. The other being something very similar to the watered down version that we saw in Bali 2022 when the G20 summit was held there.

Or no joint statement at all; instead, a chair summary being issued. That's something we've seen, even when the finance ministers met in India as part of the G20 summit and the foreign ministers.

So we just have to wait and watch and see what negotiations take place within the next 24 hours. We're being told there could be a possibility of a joint statement coming out but how strong is that going to be is really the key question here. Back to you.

NEWTON: I don't have a lot of time left but I am curious. Clearly Xi not coming was a snub to the prime minister Modi there.

How is this being portrayed in the media?

SUD: Well, I don't think the Indian government sees it that way. However, yes, a lot of others do, because you had the foreign minister coming out and making a statement during an interview, saying that, well, there have been times when prime ministers and presidents have turned up for the G20 summit.

And whatever they need to relay in terms of their stand is relayed through their representatives. However, the international media has also spoken about how this could be a snub to the Indian prime minister, given the tensions at the border with China.

But what the White House has also told CNN and other media is that the Indian government is disappointed with him not turning up. However, there has been no explanation yet from Beijing on why Xi Jinping is not a part of the G20 summit this year, which is so big on talks on the economy. Back to you.

NEWTON: It is a good point. That's why this whole G20 was brought together in the first place. Vedika Sud for us, you'll continue to cover the G20 summit. Appreciate it.

Fans of the French national team can hardly be blamed for going a little overboard. Their side won the opening match of the Rugby World Cup in rousing style. And, of course, they did it at home. We'll have more just ahead.






NEWTON: Want to be a little louder there?

Friends of the French national team going a little bit crazy. They're entitled after their side won the opening match of the Rugby World Cup in Paris. They defeated perennial favorites New Zealand, 27-13. Yes, that's a big deal, folks.

The 10th edition of the Rugby World Cup will go on until the end of October. CNN Sports' Patrick Snell reports on the opening game and has a preview of the big tournament.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an absolutely thrilling first match of this year's Rugby World Cup in France. The host nation taking on the mighty New Zealand Friday at the famed Stade de France in Paris.

These the scenes ahead of kickoff during the tournament's opening ceremony. This the first of 48 matches at nine venues. Organizers expecting around 600,000 fans to travel for it, a record 2.6 million tickets made available for the tournament as well.

This is the competition's 10th edition and what a curtain raiser we got on Friday in front of a packed house in the French capital. New Zealand seeking a record fourth title and a dream start for them, too, as we pick up the action now.

Barely 90 seconds of play on the clock, amazing stuff. Then it would get even better for the Kiwis as that man striking again in the second half. Another standout moment for the 26-year old straight after the restart.

This match turned on its head, though, on 54 minutes. A stunning try from the French, who now take the lead 16-13 after the conversion. More to come from France, who by now are just enjoying themselves very much.

Nice bounce there. Another French try. He'd only been on the field a few minutes. One huge party on Friday night in Paris as France beat New Zealand emphatically in a sizzling World Cup opener.

Four matches on tap for Saturday at the Rugby World Cup. Top ranked Ireland take on Romania in Pool C. What Australia would give for a win under head coach Eddie Jones during his second stint in charge.


SNELL: The Wallabies taking on Georgia. In Pool D, the 2003 winners, England, beginning their campaign against Argentina. For now, I'm going to send it right back to you.


NEWTON: Our thanks to Patrick.

We will be right back with more news in a moment.




NEWTON: So horror writer Stephen King invented some of the most terrifying characters in American literature: the murderous clown, Pennywise, in "It."


NEWTON: Psychopath Jack Torrance in "The Shining" and Christine, the homicidal Plymouth, to name a few. Now the author is revealing his soundtrack of choice while writing, remember, dark and twisted novels.


NEWTON (voice-over): You have got to be kidding me. Apparently it's Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5," a hit from 1999.

Stephen King tells "Rolling Stone," quote, "My wife threatened to divorce me. I played that a lot. I had the dance mix. I loved those extended play things and I played both sides of it."

Oh, my gosh.

"And one of them was just totally instrumental and I played that thing until my wife just said, 'One more time and I'm going to (INAUDIBLE) leave you.'"


NEWTON: Shocking, apparently, but true. I leave you with that.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Paula Newton. Kim Brunhuber picks up our coverage after a quick break.