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Morocco Earthquake Left Over 2,000 People Dead; After Quake, Rescuers Having Difficulty Reaching Mountain Areas; Survivors of Moroccan Earthquake Spend the Night Outside; Countries Offer Assistance to Morocco in the Aftermath of Devastating Earthquake; Biden to Travel to Vietnam for One Day of Talks; In Coming Days, Hurricane Lee, a Category 2 Storm, May Regain Strength; In Iowa, Trump and DeSantis Court Football Fans; Deadline for United Auto Workers' Strike is Approaching; Week Two of Manhunt for Escaped Convicted Killer Continues; Russia Claims Drone Attack on Crimea was Thwarted; Final Day of Voting Underway in Ukraine's Occupied Territories; Putin Encourages Voters to Trust Online Voting. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired September 10, 2023 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: And welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and all around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.
Ahead on "CNN Newsroom". Right now, rescuers in Morocco are digging through the rubble, desperate to find survivors of that massive quake. We'll have the latest on what it's like in Marrakesh.
Plus, President Biden has left the G20 Summit and is now on his way to Vietnam. We'll look at what he hopes to accomplish from this overseas trip and --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my goodness. I just watched a young lady win her very first Grand Slam. I'm so excited for her. She's so young. She's so --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Coco Gauff stages a dramatic comeback to win her first career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom with Kim Brunhuber."
BRUNHUBER: And we begin this hour in Morocco where rescue teams are racing to find more survivors of the country's deadliest earthquake in decades. More than 2,000 people have died, and close to 1,500 are in critical condition. The king has instructed officials to set up a commission to provide relief. Many countries are also offering help, including Algeria, which is reopening its air space to Morocco to allow humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, the Moroccan government has declared three days of mourning as the region tries to recover.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Mellah is one of the poorest areas in the city, and those people need help like food, water, and blankets, or whatever. Whatever you can help.
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BRUNHUBER: Right now, emergency crews are going through the worst-hit areas to find survivors. Earlier, a person was pulled from under a collapsed building and carried away to safety. And afterward, workers breathed a sigh of relief and hugged each other to celebrate the rescue.
We'll get more details now from CNN's Sam Kiley in Marrakesh.
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SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Morocco's King Mohammed has declared three days of national mourning here in Marrakesh, and that is because his country has been completely devastated by an extraordinary earthquake, totally unexpected in cities like this, Marrakesh.
This has been the scene here in the Medina, the most ancient part of this ancient city. Here, a building clearly ripped away by this earthquake. But the scenes have been even worse in the interior of the country where one woman who was trapped for some 12 hours was pulled from rubble in a remote village. Now, there are 13 people dead here in Marrakesh. Across the country, more than 1,300 people have died. And the authorities here expect those numbers to climb with some rapidity.
Their problem though is getting out into the areas that are worst affected. The epicenter is about 45 miles south of Marrakesh, but the areas that have been really badly devastated, according to the local authorities, have been villages in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. These are villages that aerial photographs have already showed have been completely flattened with one or two houses remaining, looking as if they've been built on scree. Now, that scree, that rubble was once villages, and it's in those areas where the authorities are most concerned that the numbers of casualties, of the dead and injured will climb.
But of course, the other problem for the authorities is that getting to these locations is really going to be very, very difficult because they're saying large numbers of the roads, the communication networks have been severed by this earthquake, which is completely unanticipated. No locals I've spoken to here in Marrakesh can remember any history of earthquakes here. Elsewhere in the country, yes. But here, they say they've never experienced, no tell, no history, they say, of any kind of earthquake.
But this is the result. Bedsteads, bedding, carpets left hanging over the edge of walls that have been utterly sliced away as this ancient city has been rebuilt over the last few decades. Enormous amount of effort has been put into the reconstruction of Marrakesh, particularly here in the Medina, one of the prides of Morocco. Very much a tourist destination, but also a location of one of the king's major palaces. It is very much the cultural center for many Moroccans, and this is what this latest earthquake has done.
Sam Kiley, CNN, in Marrakesh.
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BRUNHUBER: Earlier, CNN's Michael Holmes spoke with Benjamin Brown, a CNN researcher who is in the city of Marrakesh, and he described what he's seen in the 24 hours since the earthquake struck. Here he is.
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BENJAMIN BROWN, CNN RESEARCHER: The scene in Marrakesh are really -- obviously, quite, quite heartbreaking when we look at material damage but also personal injury. And at the same time, there's also a feeling that some parts of the town are getting a sense of normality back. It's really -- there's really a split in the city.
If you look into the old town, in Medina, it resembled a ghost town in large parts. Residents have actually blocked off parts of the city because it's too dangerous, lots of rubble. But if you're in the newer suburbs of Marrakesh, you see that there's a sense of people attempting to return to normality. That, obviously, is in stark contrast to the scenes that we're seeing outside of Marrakesh. I was at a hospital yesterday where people have been brought in from these rural areas, and there, their emergency operation was very much still ongoing.
So, Marrakesh, at the minute, kind of stuck between these two realities of, to say it so, more modern areas that haven't been struck as hard, in some cases have no damage visible at all. And the old city that's been, in part, flattened.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL NEWS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Much of the damage, and we're looking at some of it now from outside of Marrakesh and some of it is just devastating. What are you hearing about that and what the Moroccan government is doing for these people? Because a lot of the roads and infrastructure to get to these places has been damaged.
BROWN: Yes, that's a conversation we were having as well yesterday at the hospital where people had been -- where only been brought in earth (ph) into tomorrow's noon and after that even. Many people at the hospital, Marrakesh, the emergency unit we were at weren't actually from Marrakesh. The victims from here were those injured had been treated. But it was mainly those people who have been affected in these rural areas, freed by the rubble, and then transported there in this massive ongoing rescue operation that were being seen to show.
In terms of the response, it seems to be a very much ongoing operation. And many of the people that we saw, including with very, very bad injuries outside this hospital had obviously been stuck on the rubble, in some cases for hours. We spoke to people who had family members still remaining under the rubble, some hopeful. One woman we spoke to said that her husband and her daughter were stuck under the rubble and she said she had no hope.
So, heartbreaking scenes outside this hospital, obviously, as the news also comes in from the rural area. But the rescue operation there still continuing.
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BRUNHUBER: And for more information about how you can help victims of the Morocco earthquake, you can go to cnn.com/impact.
President Biden is expected to arrive in Vietnam in about an hour from now. It's an incredibly important diplomatic trip that's been in the works for years, and it comes on the heels of the G20 Summit in New Delhi. Now, earlier, Biden and the other G20 leaders paid their respect at the memorial in New Delhi for Mahatma Gandhi, it's a revered site that's often visited by dignitaries.
CNN's Kevin Liptak joins us life this hour from New Delhi. So, first, Kevin, just getting back to our top story, we're hearing the U.S. delegation made some comments about the earthquake. What were they saying?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, we heard from the Deputy National Security Adviser, Jon Finer, aboard Air Force One, and he said that the U.S. is prepared to offer significant assistance to Morocco. He said that the U.S. has search and rescue teams that it's prepared to send. And they would be able to assist, not only in the search and rescue efforts, but also in the medical response. And he said that the U.S. is also preparing significant amounts of funding when the time is right to help that country recover.
President Biden did issue a statement yesterday voicing sadness at the loss of life. And he did say that American officials were in touch with their Moroccan counterparts. We are told that Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has also spoken with Moroccan officials as the U.S. prepares for what will be a significant response effort, along with other countries around the world, Kim.
BRUNHUBER: All right. So, back then to the president's diplomatic trip. He heads to Vietnam with reports swirling about a Vietnamese arms deal with Russia. So, will that make it more challenging for Biden to sell the U.S. as a viable alternative to Russia and China?
LIPTAK: Well, in the view of American officials, the answer is no, because what they say is that Vietnam is detecting -- they're detecting some dissatisfaction in this historic relationship between Vietnam and Russia. And of course, it goes back decades. Moscow has long been an arms supplier to Vietnam. And they aren't necessarily surprised that Vietnam would continue looking for weapons from Russia.
[04:10:00] They do note that the timing of this report is interesting, they say. That it's coming just as President Biden is heading to Hanoi. But I am told by a senior administration official that as part of the announcements that President Biden will make there, one of them will be these efforts to help Vietnam diversify its arms supplies. Essentially, trying to help it detach from Russia when it comes to purchasing weapons. Of course, President Biden is in the country to really elevate the U.S. relationship with Vietnam.
Currently, the U.S. is kind of on the lowest rung of diplomatic relations. They are moving up two steps to the top rung. And it is interesting, the other two countries on that top rung are China and Russia. And President Biden certainly looking to expand American influence in that country, provide an alternative to those countries.
Now, we should note, one other thing that the president did while he was here, he did speak on the phone with the U.S. Open champion, Coco Gauff. The president calling her from here in India to congratulate her on her win. So, certainly the president has his eye on issues back home as well.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, what great moment for the U.S. Kevin Liptak in New Delhi, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Ukraine's air defenses shoot down a wave of Russian drones taking aim at Kyiv. But parts of the city still take a hit from the falling debris, that's ahead.
Plus, more on the devastating earthquake in Morocco. How authorities are responding to the disaster and what the country needs to recover. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Hurricane Lee is still churning in the Atlantic Ocean with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour, 160 kilometers an hour. It's a category 2 storm right now, but the National Hurricane Center says, it will likely restrengthen in the coming days. Now, it's expected to move well north of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. But in the next several days, those areas and other Caribbean Islands can expect dangerous surf and life-threatening rip currents.
Forecasters have made the storm -- say they'll -- the storm will make a hard turn to the north in the coming days. It's not clear where or even if it will make landfall, but they say it will create hazardous conditions along the east coast of the U.S.
All right, now to Iowa, where there was a political showdown at the state's biggest football rivalry game. Several Republican candidates, including Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, showed up, trying to score points with voters. CNN's Kyung Lah has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Ames, Iowa, the day all about college football. The big rivalry game between Iowa State and University of Iowa. But for the presidential candidates running in this first of the nation caucus state, it is for them a political opportunity. Both Donald Trump
and Ron DeSantis were at this game. Both sat inside the stadium. DeSantis sitting with the crowd. Sitting beside Iowa's popular Republican Governor and Donald Trump sat in a box, a stadium box. I want you to listen as what the crowd was saying. How they looked as the former president left the stadium.
CROWD: USA. USA. USA.
LAH: You can hear the chanting. You can hear the loud applause. This is imagery that the Trump campaign certainly wants Iowa voters to see. Now, ahead of all of this, going inside the stadium, both DeSantis and Trump were tailgating. Trump stopped at a tailgating party hosted by a fraternity. We saw him flipping burgers, signing footballs, even tossing some of those footballs into the crowd.
Ron DeSantis also was tailgating. But he focused his comments on the political. Saying that he's visited the State of Iowa more times than Trump, far more times, a total of eight visits. And that he has visited more than half of Iowa's 99 counties.
REP. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm actually starting to hear a lot of people saying, because you're showing up, I'm supporting you. Because that's the way you've got to do it. Iowans don't want the campaign to be about the past or about the candidates' issues. They want it to be about their future and the future of this country. And that's what I represent.
LAH: more than 60,000 were at this game today. A game, again, focused on football. A lot of students say they sure did enjoy the spectacle of it, but it was really the game that was their emphasis. And as far as the end score, Iowa topping Iowa State, 20 to 13.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Ames, Iowa.
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BRUNHUBER: Tens of thousands of American autoworkers are waiting anxiously for midnight Thursday. That's when their labor union contracts with the three of the biggest U.S. automakers are expected to expire. Now, if those automakers don't agree to the union's calls for higher wages and better benefits, those workers could begin a historic strike that could cost the industry billions. Vanessa Yurkevich explains.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready to rumble?
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): There's a showdown in Detroit. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want? Fair contract? What do we want?
YURKEVICH (voiceover): The United Auto Workers Union is less than a week away from a possible strike against the big three U.S. automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis.
CROWD: We are the union.
YURKEVICH (voiceover): Teeing up what would be the second largest U.S. labor strike in a quarter century. UAW says, their demands have not been met. Waiting nearly a month on new proposals.
SHAWN FAIN, PRESIDENT, UAW: I'll tell you what I'm going to do with their proposal. I'm going to file it in its proper place, because that's where it belongs, the trash.
YURKEVICH (voiceover): Tensions have been high between the two sides. The union representing 145,000 workers at the three automakers even filed unfair labor practice complaints against GM and Stellantis, accusing the companies of not bargaining in good faith, which they deny.
GERALD JOHNSON, EVP OF GLOBAL MANUFACTURING, GENERAL MOTORS: These negotiations are serious and they matter. The outcome impacts all of us. Every team member, and quite frankly, every stakeholder across the country.
YURKEVICH (voiceover): GM sent a new offer, Thursday, with higher pay raises. UAW says, it doesn't come close and to quote, "Stop wasting our members' time." Ford also sent a new offer the UAW is reviewing. The union called their previous proposal an insult. Stellantis says, it will have a counter by the end of the week.
FAIN: This trash can is overflowing with the bull -- that the big three continue to peddle.
YURKEVICH (voiceover): For the first time ever, the UAW could strike all three automakers at once. The last strike in 2019 against General Motors cost the company $2.9 billion over six weeks. A strike against all three could mean $5 billion in losses in just 10 days.
JULIE SU, ACTING U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: We respect their process and are hopeful that they are going to grapple through some hard issues, and hopefully come to an agreement that's a win-win.
YURKEVICH (voiceover): President Joe Biden and the acting labor secretary have stayed out of negotiations. But Biden appointed trusted White House Senior Advisor Gene Sperling to keep tabs. Despite talks coming down to the wire, the president said he believes a strike can be avoided. The union has some ambitious demands. Asking for a 40 percent pay raise over the course of the four-year contract. Restoring cost of living increases. And pension plans for all workers.
FAIN: They've had our demands from the outset and we told them that we expect to get there by September 14th, and that is September 14th's a deadline, not a reference point.
YURKEVICH (voiceover): And as the big three pivot to electric vehicles, they're planning 10 new battery plants not under UAW contracts. The union is hoping these next contracts protect their members in the future.
FAIN: Workers can't be left behind in this transition. You're talking about 20 percent of the power train workers in the big three that stand to lose their jobs down the road if we go from ice engines to the battery power.
YURKEVICH (voiceover): Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.
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BRUNHUBER: New Mexico's governor has ordered the suspension of laws allowing the open and conceal carrying of guns in Albuquerque. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared gun violence and drug abuse a public health emergency after a string of recent deadly shootings, some involving children. Emergency order temporarily bans the carrying of guns on public property and it's effective immediately. Grisham cited the recent shooting deaths of three children, as well as two mass shootings in May. Some in law enforcement and election officials say, the order goes too far.
Pennsylvania authorities are still locked in on their manhunt for an escaped convicted killer. The inmate crab walked up a wall, got through razor wire, and took off from a prison near Philadelphia more than a week ago. CNN's Polo Sandoval has the latest on the search.
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POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, since the August 31st escape of Danelo Cavalcante, authorities here in the State of Pennsylvania have confirmed sightings almost on a regular basis. One of the most recent ones to happen was on Friday afternoon as the 34-year-old convicted killer was spotted, according to authorities, inside of the search perimeter here in Chester County, Pennsylvania, which is about 40 miles west of Philadelphia. That is promising for authorities as it tells them or at least suggests to them that this individual is potentially still inside of that area that has been locked down and has been searched now for well over a week and a half.
On Saturday, the Pennsylvania State Police also updated their search perimeter. Now, most of it actually covers some botanical gardens or at least it includes some botanical gardens that on any other weekend would normally be packed with families. But that facility which is about a thousand acres of gardens and meadows is actually been closed because of this manhunt that continues.
In terms of what we heard from authorities, Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens saying recently that this particular fugitive had actually been able to elude authorities in Brazil after he allegedly committed his first murder. Actually, hiding out in the jungles in South America and eventually able to get away. The lieutenant colonel insisting that that is likely not going to happen here. This is what he said with some confidence.
LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: I will keep up this search at whatever tempo is appropriate for as long as we need to. He is a dangerous individual. We'll keep this up. We've done it in the past. I would think that history should allow people to see that we mean it when we say we're here to stay until we capture him.
SANDOVAL: And as helicopters continue to circle overhead in the community, there's certainly a growing sense of not just frustration but also bewilderment that now well into a week and a half of this search, that Cavalcante still remains out of the reach of authorities. But when you hear from the Pennsylvania State Police, they will say with confidence they believe that he is still here and that they will find him sooner or later.
Polo Sandoval, CNN, Chester County, Pennsylvania.
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BRUNHUBER: Russia claims its air defenses have foiled a Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea. The Russian defense ministry says, eight drones were shot down near the peninsula in recent hours. But further north, have a look at this.
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BRUNHUBER: So, that's one of the drones Ukraine says it shot down over Kyiv this morning. Military officials say air defenses intercepted 25 of the 32 drones launched by Russia. Some drone debris crashed to the ground in Kyiv and left one person wounded.
Meanwhile, it's the last day of elections in Russia and occupied parts of Ukraine that the Council of Europe says are a violate of international law. The elections in the occupied territories are widely dismissed as a sham, both by Kyiv and internationally. A pro- Ukrainian resistance group claims some polling stations in the ministry of capital of Crimea have largely been empty.
But in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to make people believe the elections are legitimate and he's urging people to take part in the process and have faith in online voting.
So, for more, Fred Pleitgen joins us from London. So, Fred, these so- called elections, the context behind them is still important, right?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's absolutely important. And I think the reason why these elections are being taken so seriously by Vladimir Putin and why he commented on the fact that he believes people should have trust in online voting as well is because the Russians are trying to portray that normalcy is heading into Eastern Ukraine. That the people there can now essentially go and vote and have a fairly regular life.
I mean, one of the things that we have to keep in mind is that Vladimir Putin started this war. Claiming that there was a genocide going on against the Russians in the eastern part of Ukraine. Back then, it was Donbas, it was Luhansk, and the Donetsk People's Republic that, of course then were recognized by Russia. But he was claiming that there was a genocide going on there, and that these people urgently needed help from the Russian federation.
Now, as we know, the war for Russia has not been going as certainly many of their commanders would have planned, even though the Russian government still claims that everything is going according to plan. But the Russians simply had a -- haven't had any real victories on the battlefield for about a year now.
And so, one of the things that it seems as though Moscow is trying to portray is, look, the people that we set out to save in the first place are doing better. They're able to vote in these elections. They're getting elected officials. Of course, the Ukrainians are saying, all of this is a complete sham. They say that the people on the ground there are essentially being coerced to vote. The ones that are actually going to the polling stations are being made to go to the polling stations, even though Russian officials claim that this vote is very important and are urging people to come out.
So, the Ukrainians are saying that this is not only, as they put it, a violation of their territorial integrity, but that this is also a violation of the rights of the people who are living in those occupied areas. And the Ukrainians are saying many are being coerced to go to the polling stations. Of course, we heard from international organizations also calling these elections a sham. Saying it's a flagrant violation of international law.
Again, the Russians, more and more really, and I have to say I've seen this over the past year and a half, since the war started, trying to make it more and more normal to have these eastern parts of Ukraine be part of the Russian Federation, and at least in Russia, treat them as regular parts of the Russian Federation. While at the same time, the Ukrainians are saying, obviously, this is an integral part of Ukraine. Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, appreciate the background there. So then, another story we're following, Fred, Elon Musk making headlines because of decisions that he made over access to his Starlink network. So, what more are we learning there?
PLEITGEN: Consequential decisions over the Starlink network. Essentially, Elon Musk came under a lot of fire when it came out in a book, really, that he was giving an interview with Walter Isaacson, where he said that he had been asked by the Ukrainians to turn on the Starlink network over Crimea because they were in the process of conducting a sneak attack on the Port of Sevastopol, that is the most important Black Sea port for the Russian military. And there were a lot -- of course Russian ships that the Ukrainians wanted to attack with drones that needed Starlink in order to be able to get to that area and find their targets. Now, Elon Musk said that he denied that request and that attack did not end successfully. And he came under a lot of fire over the past couple of days, obviously, on social media, but from Ukrainian officials as well. Saying that he was essentially responsible for protracting the war by not allowing that sneak attack to happen. He's since, sort of, couched those remarks and said it was a bit different than it had been portrayed at the beginning.
He said Starlink never -- really never had coverage in Crimea to begin with. And he was contacted by the Ukrainians while that attack was already in progress because they didn't know that there was no coverage over Crimea and was asked to turn it on immediately. He said he didn't do that because he feared that if attack went through and many Russian ships would have been destroyed, that the Russians could have answered with nuclear weapons and the war could have turned into something a lot bigger than it already is.
I want to read a quick quote from Elon Mush which he tweeted out. He's, sort of, have been changing around his tweets a little bit. He said, "At no point did I or anyone at SpaceX promise coverage over Crimea. Moreover, our terms of service clearly prohibit Starlink from offensive military action, as we are a civilian system, so they were again asking for something that was expressly prohibited." That is Elon Musk's line at the moment.
Some Ukrainian officials have voiced anger but also, we had the head of Ukraine's military intelligence come out yesterday and say, yes, this was an issue. However, Starlink is so important to the Ukrainians on the front line that they really want to remain on good terms with Elon Musk, Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely invaluable, as you say. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
All right. Still ahead, much more on the devastating earthquake in Morocco. We'll have a look at the help victims are getting from their government and their neighbors, and even their national soccer team. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: And welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and all around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is "CNN Newsroom."
More on our top story this hour. Authorities in Morocco say, more than 2,000 people have been killed in the country's deadliest earthquake in decades. Thousands more have been injured. Many of them are in critical condition and in urgent need of help. The Moroccan national soccer team has been stepping up by donating blood for the victims. Players are also urging others to do what they can to help.
Now, the government has deployed rescue teams to help those in need. But on Saturday, some places were still waiting for support. A Canadian tourist in the City of Marrakesh spoke about the immediate response in that area.
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JANA MERMAN, CANADIAN TOURIST IN MOROCCO: There's no official guidance coming from anywhere that we've received. We don't know what to do next. Some people are starting to make their way into the Medina and see their shops, as you've seen those damage everywhere. Some people are opening their businesses and trying to get on with their day. Nobody knows if there's more aftershocks coming. So, at the moment, we're just really unclear about what to do next. Everyone's, kind of, wondering around and trying to figure out where they feel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Moritz Schmoll is a professor at the University Mohammed Vi Polytechnic and he joins us by phone from Marrakesh. Thank you so much for speaking with us. So, first of all, just tell us more about where you are? How badly the damage is there. You heard the Canadian tourist there talking about what she's seeing. Does that reflect what you're seeing there as well?
MORITZ SCHMOLL, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY MOHAMMED VI POLYTECHNIC: Yes. So, I'm currently in Marrakesh. I live in Rabat. And so, we drove to the affected areas yesterday to try to bring some food and water to people. So, we bought some supplies like around the -- around Marrakesh and then drove about an hour south to Amizmiz and some surrounding localities. The situation there is really bad, especially, you know -- I mean, people often cannot travel to places where there's more help.
So, we've seen people from the Red Crescent in Amizmiz. They're trying to help and distribute food and water and other important necessities. And -- but there are other parts that are, you know, more remote, and you know where we try to basically reach families that have had their houses collapsed or partially collapsed, or in any cases they're afraid to stay in there. And so, they're basically camping outside. And even Marrakesh, to be honest, there's thousands of people who are camping in the public areas and the green spaces because they're afraid of sleeping in their homes.
BRUNHUBER: Those more rural areas that you've been to, obviously, the needs are far greater there. Give us a sense of what those areas actually look like and how they're so hard to access. Why it's been so hard to get aid up there.
SCHMOLL: Well, these regions are some of the poorest areas of Morocco. And so, even before the earthquake, the infrastructure wasn't particularly good there. And so, the population is, you know, quite scattered throughout the mountains. Some of the, like, villages and hamlets and -- yes, we basically took some unpaved roads but we weren't even in the -- we weren't even close to the hardest-hit areas.
I mean, these areas were affected badly but, I mean, some of the pictures that I've seen from the real mountain villages that are deep in mountains are really horrific. And these are places that even with, sort of, like unpaved roads are really, really difficult to access. And so, it's just a lack of basic infrastructure even before the earthquake.
BRUNHUBER: Yes. And presumably, most of those clay houses are made of clay and so aren't, you know, resistant to, you know, to earthquakes like this. Talk to me about the people themselves, I mean, how desperate are they right now for help. What are the biggest needs?
SCHMOLL: Well, you know, again, these are some of the poorest areas, so -- and you know, now, they can't even sleep in their homes. So, there's -- I mean, a lot of people have lost everything. The frustration (ph) is slightly better the farther, you know, you go away in some, sort of, like smaller towns that have also, you know, lots of buildings that are built a bit more -- in a bit more stable fashion.
But it's true that if you go into the remote villages where, sort of, the houses are built sort of like in a more makeshift manner, you know, there's lots of instability. And the people there are just, you know, in need of everything. Basically, of food and water and blankets, and you know, medication, transportation. Yes, they're -- at the moment they're camping outside and if -- and waiting for people for help to reach them effectively.
BRUNHUBER: You said aid groups are helping. I mean, volunteers like yourself driving out to those remote areas to try and bring food and water. I mean, it's extraordinary. Do you get a sense though the government is able to deal with the catastrophe this size? Should they be more aggressive in trying to get all of the international help that's been offered from around the world?
SCHMOLL: I mean, I wasn't able to follow much of the news. I've heard that many countries have offered and I've heard Moroccans complain about the fact that, you know, the government isn't accepting its help quickly enough.
On the way between, sort of, Marrakesh and Amizmiz, the areas where we went yesterday, there was a constant stream of ambulances going back and forth.
So, you know, the government, the state is, you know, helping with the rescue efforts and it's trying to do a lot to help people. I've seen also, lots of army trucks. But it's true that also we've spoke to one military officer and, you know, he was, I think, quite impatient to wait for more orders to be able to move to a more remote areas and help people sooner.
BRUNHUBER: You're in Marrakesh. People there in general are obviously better off. But as you say, people are still camping outside, many people scared to go back in. Is it just the fear of aftershocks? Is it still a lot of lack of, you know, electricity and water, things like that?
SCHMOLL: I mean, I'm not sure, because we didn't spend much time in Marrakesh yesterday. We just basically got some supplies and then left to the rural areas. But we spoke to some people and they said, I think, also that, you know, some neighborhoods where I think the buildings were quite badly affected, I think the authorities might have also told some people to, you know, to leave the homes for now.
So, you know -- but I think, obviously, like if you see that you're building is damaged and you see some cracks in the wall, you're going to be very reluctant to sleep in it, especially, you know, with the possibility of aftershocks.
BRUNHUBER: Well, listen, we wish you all the best. Stay safe. And I want to commend you as well for what you've been doing to help others there in need. Moritz Schmoll, thank you so much for speaking with us.
SCHMOLL: Thank you.
BRUNHUBER: All right. Up next, more on the humanitarian crisis that's developing in Morocco and what can be done to help those victims. Please stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Offers of assistance are pouring in to Morocco for around the world. Germany's offering rescue teams with sniffer dogs to help find victims. France has activated local government funds. Its embassy has opened a crisis center and is working with Moroccan authorities to determine the best ways to help. The UAE has also offered humanitarian aid and to establish an air bridge to help deliver critically needed supplies. And Algeria, which severed diplomatic relations with Morocco in 2021, has agreed to open its air space to aid flights. In the U.S., deputy national security adviser told reporters aboard Air Force One that the U.S. is prepared to provide, "Significant assistance."
Hossam Elsharkawi is the regional director at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. And he joins us now live from Beirut, Lebanon. Thank you so much for being here with us. So, the priority right now must be, you know, search and rescue, getting to the hardest-hit areas, those remote mountainous areas. How hard is that right now?
HOSSAM ELSHARKAWI, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES: It's extremely difficult. And we've seen people try to move large boulders with their bare hands off the access roads while aftershocks still continue to unnerve and rattle people and stop the search and rescue operations, of course.
And of course, it's not just about getting people out, it's providing the urgent medical and emergency medical assistance they need. That has to work in parallel. Some of those injuries are very serious. A lot of broken bones and head trauma, internal injuries and lacerations, and so on, and some not. So, we have to work in parallel on this.
On a third front, we have to also minimize further injuries because people, no matter what you tell them, they want to be there by the collapsed home. They want to dig for, perhaps, loved ones. They want -- as they await search and rescue teams, they want to get pictures and valuables and belongings. That's human nature.
BRUNHUBER: Yes. They talk about the golden hour, the first, you know, 72 hours after an event like this that are so critical. What kind of time pressure are you under here?
ELSHARKAWI: This phase is always a race against the clock to get people out. We really have a window of about seven days to get people out from under the rubble. Some will survive that long, it depends. It depends how cold it is at night. It depends what access they have in -- particularly to water. If they're trapped in a pocket or so.
But also, in parallel, it focuses on the survivors. There are a lot of people that are homeless now, and we have to get them also water and food and some shelter and blankets. Within those groups, an estimated 300,000 people are in this situation now. We still don't know the exact figures. Within those groups, there are also highly, highly vulnerable ones, pregnant women, children, elderly, sick, disabled. So, we target those as well because those are more susceptible to really further injury than others.
BRUNHUBER: In terms of shelter, I mean, how do you do that when, as you say, the danger isn't over yet in terms of the aftershocks, and so many buildings that have been destabilized?
ELSHARKAWI: Yes. So, it's makeshift shelter. It's tarpaulin. It's under a tree. It's in safer places where the aftershocks are not going to affect you. We don't recommend people seek shelter in existing building that survived the earthquake because you never know what the next aftershock will do. And those are already happening now, three or four a day. So that is a major concern. And those can last for weeks sometimes.
BRUNHUBER: Yes. Looking ahead, I mean, the long-term impacts here, how long will it take before people in all these areas are safe and things are stabilized?
ELSHARKAWI: It takes a long time. We have as the Red Cross, Red Crescent, we have experience dealing with earthquakes for decades. We're still dealing with the federally major earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria. It's off the headlines, but the crises are still there, six months, seven months on.
And it takes not two or three weeks. This can take a year or two of helping people recover, never mind the psychological trauma which can last a lifetime, as well. So, we're working closely with the Moroccan Red Crescent, volunteers and staff, who are actually on the ground. And that's the best thing to do. We need to support the locals. They know the place. They know where to go. They know what to do and they guide us. And the best investment is helping quickly give them the supplies they need.
[04:50:00] And this is why as International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, we released already $1 million for the Moroccan Red Crescent to buy things locally from the existing markets, from other cities, and quickly get the water and the blankets and the food and the first aid kits to those places we're talking about. This is what is critical in that first phase as we await the international surge response with more specialized, longer-term, things like field hospitals and water purification units, and so on.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, the need is so huge and it will last so long, as you say. Really appreciate your time Hossam Elsharkawi in Beirut. Thanks so much.
ELSHARKAWI: Thank you.
BRUNHUBER: And for more information about how you can help victims of the Morocco earthquake, you can go to cnn.com/impact.
All right, while tennis fans at the U.S. Open celebrate Coco Gauff's dramatic comeback win, have a look here.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kudos to Coco. She just got better and better since Wimbledon. A plus. A plus. This is outstanding.
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BRUNHUBER: Up next, a look at the women's finals. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: All right. Now, to Coco Gauff who captured her first-ever Grand Slam, Saturday, at the U.S. Open. She rallied after losing the first set to number two-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and won the title in three sets. Now, even with the loss, Sabalenka becomes the world's number one ranked women's player by reaching the final. Gauff has been close before, but on Saturday the fans seemed to lift her games with chants of "Let's go, Coco."
All right. As we heard earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden is among those celebrating Gauff's victory. Biden spoke to Gauff and her parents and congratulated her on winning the tournament.
Now, later today, number two ranked Novak Djokovic will have revenge on his mind as he faces number three ranked Daniil Medvedev in the men's final. The Russian beat Djokovic in New York to claim the 2021, to claim his only major so far and denied Djokovic a rare calendar Grand Slam. Djokovic has gone on to become the men's career Grand Slam leader with 23.
All right. As we end this hour, we want to take you live to Hanoi. You're looking at Air Force One, the plane carrying President Biden as it just landed moments ago in the Vietnamese capital. Biden is heading there following the G20 Summit in New Delhi. And live reports from both cities coming up on the next hour of "CNN Newsroom."
But that wraps this hour. I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back with the latest on the search and rescue efforts underway in Morocco after a quick break.