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Thousands Feared Dead, Missing In Libya Flooding; Death Toll From Morocco Earthquake Climbs Past 2,800; Kim Jong-un Travels To Russia For Talks With Putin; Spanish Court to Investigate Complaint Against Rubiales; Economic Impact of Extreme Weather; Mount Fuji Under Threat. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 12, 2023 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead here on CNN Newsroom, thousands feared dead, thousands more missing in Libya after torrential rain causes two dams to collapse wash its way entire neighborhoods in multiple cities.

Rescue crews reached the epicenter of a devastating earthquake in Morocco. But for many that help has arrived too late.

And role reversal, Kim Jong-un arrives in Russia holding the upper hand and talks to Vladimir Putin over the sale of artillery shells and other munitions.

Good to have you with us here on CNN Newsroom. We begin with another devastating natural disaster in North Africa. Just days after the deadly earthquake in Morocco, Libya is now struggling to cope with major flooding, which has wiped out entire villages reportedly killing thousands. Images from the region show collapsed high rise buildings, submerged cars and torrents of water rushing through city streets.

The Libyan National Army says more than 2,000 people dead, 5 to 6,000 missing. But with communication too many areas cut off. Those numbers cannot be verified. The city of Derna appears to be hit hard by flash flooding, which authorities say was caused by the collapse of two dams.

Three major bridges were also destroyed and phone lines are down. The same storm system which caused devastating flooding in Greece last week, dumped about eight months of rain on the region in just one day. The Red Crescent is leading relief efforts with aid supplies and rescue teams arriving from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has reported extensively from Libya over the years and he followed this update from Rome.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A massive flood in eastern Libya has killed as many as 2,000 people in the city of Derna according to Osama Hammad, the Prime Minister of the breakaway government based in Benghazi. Hammad who did not cite a source for the death toll also claimed that as many as 5,000 people may be missing.

Earlier, the Libyan Red Crescent Society had put the death toll at up to 250. Storm Daniel has been reached wreaking havoc in the eastern Mediterranean. A video posted on social media from Derna shows a raging flood of muddy water coursing through the city leaving in its wake destruction reminiscent of what we're seeing in the Moroccan earthquake zone.

A spokesman for the Army loyal to the government in eastern Libya, said at a press conference that the flood had washed away entire neighborhoods in Derna, wash them out to see. He also said that several bridges had been destroyed. Now the extent of the destruction and the proximate death toll are still unclear given that access to the hardest hit areas remains difficult.

Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have announced that they are rushing to Libya, equipment, supplies and search and rescue teams.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Rome.

VAUSE: Now to the latest in Morocco with more than three days after the country was rocked by a devastating earthquake. State media reports the military has reached the epicenter of the quake, bringing much needed aid as well as heavy equipment to clear roads blocked by debris.

The death toll though has continued to climb with more than 2,800 now confirmed dead. And with aid slow to reach some of the hardest hit remote villages. The government is facing growing criticism for its response to this disaster despite promises of compensation.


AZIZ AKHANNOUCH, MOROCCAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): After this committee's meeting, there was an agreement and clear instructions from His Majesty to compensate the citizens who were affected. Indemnity will apply to allow the people to take part in the rebuilding of their homes.


VAUSE: The 6.8 magnitude earthquake devastated villages in the foothills of Morocco's Atlas Mountains. And CNN's Sam Kiley traveled to the region spoke with one villager about the incredible devastation it caused.


MUHAMMED I'D LAHOUSINE, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: Every house in here is destroyed. There is 21 died here.



KILEY (voice-over): Muhammad is a law student. And he grew up in Tinzert.

(on camera): So you know -- you know the people who died?


I'D LAHOUSINE: Yeah. I know everyone here is family, you know, because it's small -- it's not the big village but everyone knows each other here.

KILEY: It must break your heart?

I'D LAHOUSINE: Yes. It's so bad. You see these people here dead. This house, two person here is dead. And this house in the same house three. We have one house here, one there, all the family dead, you know. So it's -- I don't know what they will say. It's a bad night.

KILEY: A very bad night.

I'D LAHOUSINE: It was a bad, yes.

KILEY (voice-over): Staggering. This is what remains of 120 homes. Muhammad knows every house that was and who died in them.

I'D LAHOUSINE: This house destroyed all family -- all the family dead.

KILEY (on camera): In this, this one in front here?

I'D LAHOUSINE: Yes. The next one.

KILEY: How many people in that family?


KILEY: Four.

I'D LAHOUSINE: And left behind one person alive, one child.

KILEY (voice-over): Last Friday's quake took more than 2,800 lives. And the numbers climb. Isolated villages like this, giving up their grim tolls slowly.

(on camera): Do you think there are many villages like this, in these mountains in the same condition?

I'D LAHOUSINE: And more than dead.

KILEY: You think more even?

I'D LAHOUSINE: Yes. The village behind this mountain is more than this.

KILEY (voice-over): More remote hamlet's in the Atlas Mountains are likely to have been cascaded into rubble like this. Shop, small businesses, houses hundreds of years old slide into one another smashed. Muhammad explained that his neighbors fought for every penny that they earned as farmers in a harsh landscape. They fought for food. They fought to educate young people like him.

I'D LAHOUSINE: The people not ready for this, you know, just normal people here.

KILEY (voice-over): Aid and rescue is getting to places like this, but many others have yet to be discovered. Muhammad fears that many more dead and injured are lying under villages like this cut off from help. But the community is staying on. Village life reduced to a shared tent for 24 families. This is the community kitchen.

(on camera): Mothers of this village, what do you want from your government?

I'D LAHOUSINE: Everyone here asking just for houses.

KILEY: Houses?


KILEY (voice-over): We need homes. That's a cry that's only going to get louder here.

Sam Kiley, CNN, in Tinzert.


VAUSE: For more information how to help the victims of the Morocco earthquake please visit

According to Russian state media, Kim Jong-un's green armored train has crossed over the border into Russia. The North Korean leader is enroute to Vladivostok for a face to face meeting with the Russian president, which Western officials believe will likely lead to an arms deal.

The two leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum. The Kremlin says this will be a full scale visit by the North Korean leader who has dismissed U.S. warnings about any weapons sales. North Korean state media published images of Kim Jong- un ahead of his departure. More now from CNN's Paula Hancocks reporting in from Seoul.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was four years ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traveled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. Friendship was pledged and closer ties promised, but little changed. Fast forward to today, Russia's war in Ukraine is faltering. And the dynamics between the two leaders are different.

ALEXANDER VINDMAN, FORMER EUROPEAN AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Certainly it means that Putin is in somewhat of a desperate situation or trying to acquire munitions that are severely depleted during this war effort. A lot of this would be have been coordinated ahead of time, so he had some promises in that regard. HANCOCKS (voice-over): Putin's defense minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July, the first such visits since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Kim Jong-un gave him the red carpet treatment, showing off the full range of his weapon's capability in a military parade in an arms expo. South Korean intelligence says a second Russian delegation visited at the start of August and a Russian plane believed to be carrying unknown military supplies left Pyongyang on August 8th. Both Moscow and Pyongyang deny any arms deal.

CARL SCHUSTER, FMR. DIR. U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND'S JOINT INTELLIGENCE CENTER: North Korea makes good what I call heavy industrial weapons, artillery, and the ammunition is very good. It's very similar to Russian designs, but it uses the same calibers as the Russians.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Meaning certain North Korean ammunition could be used in Russian weapons immediately. The Biden administration believes North Korea already delivered infantry rockets and missiles for use in Ukraine by Russian mercenary group, Wagner, late last year. As for North Korea, U.S. officials believe it could gain satellite technology or nuclear powered submarine technology in return.


(on camera): This strategic alliances mutually beneficial for both Russia and North Korea and not just militarily but also politically. They're both isolated and sanctioned by the West. And they also both enjoy the support although sometimes tacitly of China, making them an increasing force against the current world order.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


VAUSE: Well, for more now, CNN's Clare Sebastian is tracking developments from London, but first to our Beijing bureau chief Steven Jiang. So, Steven, this is quite the role reversal here for North Korea, which for years has relied on assistance for Beijing, mostly, yes. But before that, Moscow, said that Putin is holding out his tin cup for help from Kim Jong-un. So how does this expect to change the whole dynamic there?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, it's very interesting. I was just thinking that this meeting is taking place in Vladivostok, which actually used to be a Chinese City. It was seeded by the Imperial Qing Dynasty to the Russian Empire in the 1800s. So it's, in a way a good reminder of shifting world politics and alliances, which is also why for some Chinese they still hold a grudge against the Russians.

But the whole point about this meeting between Kim and Putin, of course, it's really marking a new era in this relationship, as everyone has been saying, because it's going to turn this largely symbolic camaraderie into something a lot more substantive, as Paula was saying how because each side is now capable and willing to provide the editor with what they desperately need. But, of course, you know, a lot of the details are yet to be revealed in this potential arms deal. And the devil is always in the detail, for example, whether or not Russia is willing to transfer, its mostly closely guarded technology and capability to North Korea, that remains to be seen, because in the past, Moscow had been reluctant to do so even to close allies like China.

And on the other side of this equation, whether or not North Korea has the logistic capability to ship large amount of ammunition to Russia, that also is not guaranteed, given the two countries are only linked by one railway. So a lot of things need to be hashed out. But standing where I am, where China comes in is, all of these countries are, in a way, natural allies ideologically and politically because they should really share this grievances against this current Western dominated world order. And they have not been shy about trying to reshape it. John?

VAUSE: I did not know Vladivostok was once Chinese territory, Chinese city, so clears up. Thank you, Steven. Let a lot. Let's go to Clare in London. And Clare, this meeting says a lot about where Russia now stands internationally artillery shells from North Korea, drones from Iran. You know, it's like a get together the international pariah club, you know, with friends like this sort of stuff.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, I think like from Russia's perspective, this is about messaging to some degree that it's not isolated. I think while we may look at this as Russia getting together with pariah countries. They may be looking at this as a way to prove, one, that as I said, they're still not isolated but also that they can still be a thorn in the west side destabilizing force in some way.

On the weapons front, look, we know that this war has dragged on many, many times longer than Russia has expected it. Before this was of course, the second biggest arms exporter in the world, I think it just about still is, but its defense industry has been put under immense strain. It's having trouble because of sanctions. It's having trouble recruiting enough people to work in the weapons industry.

So certainly a deal with North Korea when it comes to something like ammunition would help it sustain this battle, which is of course, not good news for Ukraine. But I think the optics of this are also crucially important for President Putin, as I said, to sort of show that he is out there on the world stage, not isolated. And I think to that vein, of course, as Steven was saying he met with the Chinese Vice Premier this morning talked about unprecedented relations with China at this point.

This is part of this axis that Russia is trying to build up this anti- Western, anti-sanctions axis. And I think that's why we see this new era potentially, of relations with North Korea. Russia for the first time now opposing new U.N. sanctions on North Korea's nuclear program, all of this building up this picture. But we are expecting to hear from President Putin this morning, London time will be afternoon in Vladivostok, we may hear more of this sort of anti-sanctions, anti- Western rhetoric that we've become so used to hearing from him. John? VAUSE: And Steven just back to you for a quick question on Beijing. What's the likelihood here that in this whole dynamic, you know, that Pyongyang's moves a lot closer to Moscow, kind of leaves, you know, Beijing out in the cold as being Pyongyang's best friend, and major backer and, you know, major supplier of military assistance as well as diplomatic cover?

JIANG: Well, you know, so far they have not officially commented on this meeting, but judging from the comments on Chinese internet, which is highly censored, there is a lot of outpouring of support even cheering for the so quote unquote growing alliance between Moscow and Pyongyang because again they are ideologically natural allies. And that's what we have seen at United Nations as well with Moscow and Beijing working together to oppose U.S. efforts to impose and strengthen sanctions against North Korea.


So I think that there might be different priorities at different times. And for China, it's slightly trickier because its economy a lot more intertwined with the West at a time when its economies are facing so much headwinds. But when it comes to the fundamental sort of idealogic -- ideology, I think Beijing has no problem with what's happening in Vladivostok. John?

VAUSE: Steven, again, thank you for that. Steven Jiang live for us there in Beijing and Clare Sebastian, also in London. Thank you for getting up early. We very much appreciate it. Thanks for that.

Well, that was seen to U.S. general said whatever weapons North Korea may supply the Russians, it's unlikely to make much of a difference in the war in Ukraine. Now CNN's foreign Moscow bureau chief about what North Korea wants from Russia. And that ultimately is the much bigger concern here. Here's Jill Daugherty.

JILL DAUGHERTY, FORMER, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: The North Koreans really would love to get their hands on high technology that they cannot get because of sanctions. And the Russians could provide that, and especially, at least experts in the field of nuclear weapons, say that would be the most dangerous of all.

I mean, they do need the North Koreans do need high technology for what they want to do now, which is dealing with spy satellites that they would like to build, and nuclear submarines, et cetera. They simply can't do it at this stage. Russia could very much help with that. But I think it would get more dangerous if you had Russia supplying, let's say, the assistance to North Korea, in the fuel for ICBMs, the big missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and any type of defense against other missiles, that would get pretty dangerous and would be of grave concern to a lot of countries in the world.

VAUSE: There is some reporting that the South Korean intelligence believes that Russia would be reluctant to go that far down that road, because it could end up posing a threat, a strategic threat at some point in the future to Russia.

DAUGHERTY: True. That is one of the problems. I mean, this would be a serious step by Russia. United States, obviously is urging nothing be done like this. But you know, there's also, John, kind of a geopolitical part to this too, because, you know, you figure Putin is really now trying to kind of gather his friends and he doesn't have a whole lot of major company -- countries that are friends, is Iran to get drones and is North Korea to get ammunition. But after that, it's really just pulling them together because they are opposed to the west.

VAUSE: Out thanks to Georgetown University, adjunct professor, Jill Dougherty.

Well, still to come here, British pilot researchers speaking out about accusation he's a spy for China. We'll have details on this latest diplomatic dust up between London and Beijing. Also ahead, veteran Philippine journalists and Nobel Prize Laureate Maria Ressa and her new site acquitted of tax evasion, details on this latest legal victory for our former CNN colleague.



VAUSE: British Parliament researcher arrested on suspicion of spying for China says he's completely innocent. But now his arrest him that of a second parliament employee have triggered a diplomatic dust up between London and Beijing. CNN's Nic Robertson explains.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the Speaker in the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle saying that there wouldn't be detailed discussion of this case because it is a national security issue. He did say if members of parliament had concerns then to come and talk to him or consult with authorities outside of the House of Commons of the Chamber there.

But his point was really to try to quell concerns that there hadn't been adequate security checks into this researcher saying that in Parliament, they provide the same and do the same due diligence security checks, as the government does.

Now the police arrested these two men, the researcher and another man, 20-year-old in Scotland and a 30-year-old in Oxfordshire, near London. Back in March, they were brought to London for questioning, released on bail but expected to be charged under the Official Secrets Act. So these are very serious and significant charges.

There are conservative members of parliament who actually had been sanctioned by Russia and hadn't been informed about this case. There's upset in the conservative ranks there, upset that a researcher could potentially have been providing information to China.

The researcher himself named in a British newspaper over the weekend into the beginning of the week actually released a statement saying that essentially to call him a spy for China is wrong. But that is not the case. He says the opposite is true that he in fact, has been trying to tell people, teach people about the dangers of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Embassy in London pushing back themselves very strongly that there could be any truth in these allegations that there was a researcher in parliament with high security access and access to senior members, senior conservative members of parliament.

Any idea that that's true, China says is a fabrication malicious. This is clearly something that will get more debate going forward when the two men are expected to appear in court in October. But until then, the precise charges against them aren't clear.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

VAUSE: Nobel Peace Prize winner and veteran journalist and former CNN colleague Maria Ressa has been acquitted of tax evasion charges according to a new site Rappler. This is let's call it victory for Maria, who along with Rappler now clear that all five tax violation charges filed during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte. She is currently out on bail while appealing a six-year prison sentence on another trumped up charge. In 2021, Maria was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to safeguard freedom of expression in the Philippines.

Still ahead, back to Morocco where rescuers are struggling to reach some of the hardest hit areas after the weekend's powerful earthquake. The very latest from one of the few international aid groups in the quake zone. Also ahead, more rain on the way for eastern Libya with thousands I believe dead or feared missing. Entire villages washed out to sea in major flooding.



VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN Newsroom. Authorities that Eastern Libya report more than 2,000 people are dead in major flooding. The Libyan National Army and now the health minister say another 5 maybe 6,000 people are missing. CNN though, cannot independently verify those numbers. But images from the region show utter devastation, entire villages swept away.

The storm system caused catastrophic flooding increase just last week, and could still bring another 50 millimeters of rain to Northern Libya and Egypt in the coming days. We have bought out from CNN's Paula Newton.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Swept away, that's what a top Libyan official says was the fate of some coastal areas after devastating floods inundated the eastern part of the country, one of the hardest hit places centered in the coastal city of Derna. Video shows water flowing through the town buildings, roads and embankments left in shambles after the deluge is caused by heavy winds and rain overpowered the city.

The spokesperson for the Libyan National Army that controls eastern Libya says it was a catastrophic series of events that led to such sudden and intense flooding.

AHMED MISMARI, LIBYAN NATIONAL ARMY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Two dams in south Derna collapse leading to the valley in the city filling up. As a consequence, three bridges were destroyed. The flowing water carried away entire neighborhoods, eventually depositing them into the sea.

NEWTON (voice-over): The death toll could be staggering. In Derna alone, the LNA says more than 2,000 people have been killed and thousands more are missing. Though the head of the Red Crescent aid group in the region says the figures are only in the hundreds. Some residents say they were caught off guard by the floods. Witnesses say they were asleep and woke to find their homes surrounded by water measuring three meters high in some places.

Search and rescue missions are underway to look for the stranded and the missing and some hospitals have had to be evacuated too waterlogged to be functional. Authorities say the scale of the destruction is still unfolding and they expect it to get worse since many areas are still inaccessible.

Libya's divided political system is adding another layer of complexity to this crisis. The country is divided between two rival administrations the LNA in the east and the internationally recognized government in the west. The western entity has declared three days of mourning for the flood victims. A political council that works with both governing bodies has asked for international assistance. So far the UAE, Turkey and Qatar have pledged to help.

Paula Newton, CNN.


VAUSE: Now to Morocco, where the death toll from Friday's earthquake is down more than 2,800 as rescuers continue searching the rubble for survivors. Another 2,500 I believe injured according to state media. Many are still sleeping outdoors afraid to return to their homes. And some are sharing heartbreaking stories trying to rescue loved ones and neighbors from under the debris.


MOHAMED OUCHEN, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: I heard people screaming as they were dying, please pull us out. After I managed to leave I rushed to save people. We were busy rescuing because we didn't have tools, we used our hands. Their head was visible and we kept digging by hand. We rescued 25, eight are still in hospital, the rest returned.


VAUSE: The earthquake struck around 6:00 p.m. Friday local time. That's about 87 hours ago. Rescue crews often focus on the first 72 hours. After that, chances of finding survivors begins to dim.


CNN's Nada Bashir reports from one of the worst-hit areas within the quake zone, where residents were losing hope.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Stone by stone, hour by hour, the desperate search for survivors pushes on. The silence in this remote mountainous village punctured only by the wails of those who survived, now left to mourn.

For the rescue team here, this really is a race against time. There is a woman and her 12-year-old daughter buried beneath the rubble, and for their family waiting anxiously for news of whether they have survived Friday's earthquake, they are quickly losing hope.

Delvika (ph) has already buried 19 members of her family. Now, she fears she will soon have to bury her niece, Dayma (ph).

"On Saturday morning, we could still hear her voice," she tells me. "She was alive. Now we can't hear her. They took too long to get here, until now we have been digging through the rubble with our bare hands. If help arrived sooner, we could have rescued them in time.

Though small in size, the village of (INAUDIBLE) was among the hardest hit by the earthquake. The deadliest Morocco has suffered in decades. But three days on, rescue teams have only just arrived, the high mountainous range simply too remote. The roads up until now, still obstructed by debris from the quake.

And with time running out, rescuers say this has now become a recovery operation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they are all working, working very hard but until now they do not need a (INAUDIBLE) search for life. So they confirm this, all the victims in this rubble is already passed away.

BASHIR: Few lives in as close a community have been untouched by death. Each body recovered, a gut wrenching reminder of the climbing death toll already in the thousands.

It is unclear just how many in this village are still missing. But for those buried beneath the rubble, just like little (INAUDIBLE) rescuers fear it is already too late.

Nada Bashir, CNN in Imian Bela (ph), Morocco.


VAUSE: One reason why help has been slow to arrive is where it's needed most, high up in hard to reach mountainous areas.

Here's CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray with a closer look.


JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Where this earthquake occurred in Morocco is going to pose a huge logistical challenge when it comes to recovery efforts.

You can zoom in a little bit. We can see that these -- the terrain is really mountainous. We are looking at peaks that are as much as 10,000 to 13,000 feet high. And so you have to think, getting to these small villages around the mountains is not only going to take crews much, much longer but also the roads might be much more narrow than say if you are just going to one large city.

You know, these are very rural areas in the mountains. And so logistically, it is going to be a huge challenge for rescuers, not only to get in there but also get the equipment that they need into these small towns and villages high in the mountains as well.

I want to show you the forecast because moving forward, we are going to see a pretty dry forecast which is good. We have been very hot in this region, over the last couple of days. And so we are going to see a couple of passing clouds.

But as far as rainfall goes, you're going to stay dry, which is good. We do hit the 90s once again Wednesday and Thursday, so the hot temperatures will stick around for the foreseeable future.


VAUSE: In the past 24 hours, a team of volunteers from IsraAID, an Israeli base nonprofit organization arrived in the country, among them experts in logistics as well as mental health.

Ethan Schwartz is a communications director. He is with us now live from Marrakesh, in Morocco. Ethan, thanks so much for being with us. We know you guys do good work, you go to these disasters all the time, and you haven't been there on the ground that long.

But give us your initial assessment. Where is the greatest need right now? What are the biggest challenges logistically? What's -- you know, what do you need the most?

ETHAN SCHWARTZ, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, ISRAAID: Sure. And thank you so much for having us. So we arrived on Sunday, afternoon, so just a little bit over a day after the earthquake struck into Marrakesh.

We spent yesterday already in the mountain villages in the (INAUDIBLE) region which just outside the city delivering essential supplies.

And for us what we've seen and we are working with local partner organizations, who are feeding us information and bringing us to the right places. And what we've seen is a real need for essential -- really basic essential items, things that you need to kind of maintain your dignity after surviving a crisis like this.

VAUSE: So --



VAUSE: Go on. Finish your thought.

SCHWARTZ: Blankets, tents, hygiene items, really essentials.

VAUSE: So explain how you are going to make this work. I know you guys are good at logistics. You guys are there for mental health. We'll talk about that in a moment.

And you're going to partner with the locals. And that is important, because you guys are going to work together, right. You kind of facilitate what is needed to get where it is needed most.

SCHWARTZ: So every emergency response is now actually 100 emergency responses since we have founded the organization, it is partnered with a local organization and different local partners.

And that is absolutely key. Without working together with local communities. There is no way that you can bring affective aid. And there's also no way that you can leave communities in a stronger more resilient place.

And everything is very (INAUDIBLE) and we're leaving communities in a stronger, more resilient place after we leave. And that could be in ten years and that could be and three months. And it depends on the context of the situation.

So we are working together with local communities. We're procuring aid here in Morocco, so that we can support the local economy as well. And we are doing what we can to get to the communities in most desperate need.

VAUSE: Like I said you've done a lot of disasters in a lot of places. You know how these things work. Has there been anything which just really stuck out to you in terms of this disaster? Suffering? The extent of it? How the people are coping? How does it look to you?

SCHWARTZ: Sure. Always and here is no exception, we've been incredibly moved by the response of local communities. So yesterday when we were driving through the mountains, and you see just car after car after of people trying to bring help. And trying to bring help to small villages that are in remote areas, that are difficult to access even in the best of times.

And now when the roads are mostly torn (ph) apart -- there is debris, there is damage, they're often single-file going through the mountains, it is even harder. So we have really, really been moved by the response of local communities.

VAUSE: In the first couple of days, it is like triage -- Search for the survivors, care for the wounded, shelter for the homeless. But then this goes into a longer term stage, which you're going to be there, for which is where the mental health experts come in.

What do you expect being in the weeks and months ahead?

SCHWARTZ: Yes absolutely. IsraAID has worked in mental support together with communities after emergencies for as long as we've been in the organization and in all sorts of different crises from earthquakes like this or in Turkey to hurricanes to conflict in Ukraine right now, to the refugee crisis.

We would see that immediately afterwards the main focus is on urgent, urgent aid but at the same time you need to begin working together with communities to try and build the structures to deal with mental health on a community level.

Because often in places -- in most places around the world, mental health it doesn't necessarily have strong systems, it doesn't necessarily have kind of access to psychologist or social workers.

And so that is where we are going to help provide together with local partners.

VAUSE: One very quick question here are you surprised that there's not more sort of international aid groups on the ground there along with you, because it seems very limited at the moment.

SCHWARTZ: We have seen a few, but not many. I am not necessarily surprised, it is always a bit difficult in these kinds of situations. We came here at the request of local organizations, who wanted us to help them respond and it just depends on organization by organization.

We always try to arrive as soon as we can after emergency, whatever the emergency, and then we try and stay for as long as possible.

VAUSE: Ethan Schwartz, thank you so much sir. You do good work. Ethan, great work for years. I remember in Haiti, you guys were amazing. Thanks for what you're doing. Stay safe.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well for more information about how you can help the people of Morocco, please visit

In just over an hour, Israel's Supreme Court, expected to begin hearing arguments in the historic over prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to overhaul the judicial system.

For the first time ever, all 15 supreme Court judges will sit together and will decide to either uphold, or strike down a law passed by the Israeli government intended to limit the court's ability to nullify government positions deemed unreasonable.


VAUSE: Critics say it weakens the court's authority. Israeli's have been protesting for months. Critics say the law erodes the court's independence and harms Israeli democracy.

When we come back, extreme weather is taking a toll on tourism across Europe, and could clearly impact the continent's economy. We'll have more on that in a moment.


VAUSE: A Spanish court is moving forward with the complaint against Spain's former For Football Federation president who gave that unwanted kiss on the mouth to a member of the World Cup winning women's team.

Luis Rubiales will now be investigated for alleged sexual assault and coercion. Rubiales reluctantly stepped down over the weekend and the coach of the Spain's men's team who once supported Rubiales and his initial refusal to resign later apologized for that misguided support. Now, he just wants to focus on football.


LUIS DELA FUENTE, SPAIN MEN'S COACH (through translator): On the squad, we think about soccer, and we live in a bubble which is necessary for us to be completely concentrated on soccer, which is our utmost responsibility.

I think I understand that there is a lot of interest in other things. But I think we have to focus on soccer, in soccer and what we soccer professionals can control.

Tomorrow is a really important match, which puts us in the fight for the top spot in the group for the next year World Cup. I think that is important enough for us to focus on.


VAUSE: But many female players are not ready to forgive and forget what happened to Jenny Hermoso. They see that kiss and subsequent fall should be the start of a movement in Spanish sport.


GEORGIA STANWAY, BAYERN MUNICH MIDFIELDER: Everybody's fought, and we've fought as a woman's football group, we fought as players, we fought as staff, we fought as journalists for the outcome to be what it is. And obviously, the outcome is what we want.

But at the same time, we want this to be the start of something rather than the end of something. We want to continue to be able to have these conversations, feel comfortable to have these conversations, feel comfortable in your workplace to be able to stand up for whatever you think is right.

And I think that's where we are so good in the women's game and the fact that together we are so much more powerful and together we can make change. And this can be the start of something going forward where we can be united as a team to continue to push for what's right.


VAUSE: Wildfires, heat, and floods are prompting tourists to rethink their travel destinations in Europe -- we'll talk to him in a moment -- and that could impact the continent's economy.

And in the latest economic forecasts the European Commission says climate change is one of the factors that could really hamper economic growth as soon as this year.

And while an increasing number of summer travelers are now looking to central and northern Europe, which is cooler, instead of traditional places like Italy and Greece where it's warmer.

Climate change affects more than just tourism, experts say agriculture, construction, manufacturing, major economic drivers could also be impacted.

Joining us now from London is David Owen, chief economist at Salt Marsh Economics. David, thanks for being with us.



VAUSE: Hello. Ok, so if we take a look at the numbers here, the downgrade in growth seems kind of minor. It's mostly being blamed on high inflation and rising interest rates, which is dampening demand.

So the expectation now is that the EU's gross domestic product will grow 0.8 percent this year, down from 1 percent which was forecasted in spring. Next year's growth has been revised downward to 1.4 percent from 1.7.

But there is this add to this forecast that it may be just too optimistic.

Number 2, realization of climate risk bears severe cost to the E.U. economy in terms of losses in natural capital, and deterioration of economic activity including tourism.

So boil this down for us, clearly climate change comes with a cost. Are we now seeing those costs materialize in a way that they qualify not just in terms of damage from a natural disaster, but ongoing costs to the economy, just from simply having hotter temperatures?

OWEN: Yes. And also other extreme climate events, obviously, forest fires and flooding and so forth. So this is not just going to potentially impact tourism. This was put within the European Commission, some (INAUDIBLE) yesterday as a material risk.

But obviously from their perspective, they're just trying to warn, I think, policy makers that more focus on the subject has to be done.

So from our side, we've been writing up for ages that some (INAUDIBLE) geography of Europe and also countries like the U.S., could inevitably change over the coming years and decades. And also there seems to be a lot more focus on the region, and in particular regions that will be impacted potentially by much hotter climates in the summer, but also more extreme climate events more generally. It's not just tourism as I say. It goes both ways of various

economies, including obviously areas like construction, manufacturing, but also the service and so forth.

I mean also, I would argue things like the ECB, the European Central Bank has been all over this issue as well. Because honestly for me a perspective of financial services (ph), there's concern here that if you get more extreme climates you know, banks will have to potentially post more capital, (INAUDIBLE) their lending, who they're lending to, which region has actually been exposed to more extreme climate events. But also from an insurance point of view as well.

So you know, tourism is just the tip of the iceberg. But it was put in there by the European Commission really as a material risk, which may obviously eventually hopefully doesn't materialize.

But I think from their perspective, it could lead to weaker growth going forward.

VAUSE: The IMF, the International Monetary Fund, over the weekend warned of a grave risk to economic well-being from climate change. The IMF director said at the G20 summit G20 members must lead by example in delivering on promises of $100 billion per year for climate finance and the need to mobilize domestic resources to finance and manage the green transition through tax reform, effective and efficient public spending, strong fiscal institution and deep local debt market.

So is that actually happening on a scale that will make any difference at this point?

OWEN: Well, it's the start of the process. I mean at the moment, we're not seeing obviously extreme climate from a daily basis, but it's also becoming more commonplace.

We're here in London, in the U.K. we also have rather -- rather unusual weather in September -- very hot weather.

You know, I think if this continues, if it gets worse -- people will be stepping up to us. But the important thing here is, you know, the move to net zero actually will lead to innovation, investment, you know, these things are acquired in areas like renewables and so forth.

So all that should be seen as a positive growth. But you know, I think the way financial markets also look at it is looking at countries which ride this innovation wave early will actually benefit in terms of capital inflows.

But we're going to see unfortunately I think climate change, you know, growing inequality, regional shifts, obviously shifts in migration as well, migration patterns.

I think Europe is very much aware of this. You can see it coming through, as I say, in the European Commission report yesterday about what the European Central Bank has been saying.

But it impacts everyone, of course, the American modern (INAUDIBLE) but also the U.S., and Canada, so forth. So I think there's going to be a lot more focus on this.

VAUSE: So with the U.S. in mind the most expensive year for natural disasters in the United States was back in 2017. $386 billion, that was caused by California wildfires, three major hurricanes in one month. Fast forward, 2023 has had the record for the most natural disasters causing more than a billion dollars in damage in one year. 23 so far and counting, still four months to go. So, that's for a total of almost $58 billion dollars this year?

You know, it seems the map here is pretty simple. The longer we continue to burn fossil fuels, the more we heat the planet, the bigger the damage bill from natural disasters.


VAUSE: So this argument that the transition to non carbon and renewable fuels is too costly seems to become increasingly irrelevant by the day.

OWEN: Well again, you know, I'm not going to sit here and disagree with you at all. So I'll just say I would view this move towards net zero of renewables and so forth as an opportunity.

Obviously, we've come through in a financial crisis then through COVID with very weak growth globally. And you can see that again in the European Commission forecast you know, interest rates, the banks have been tightened mostly both interest rates in a historical sense are still low. And the cost of capital is still on the back of that low.

At the end of the day, you know, there should be much more of a push towards, you know, towards making this move towards net zero. But as I say I mean the financial markets are moving. And they will increasingly discriminate against companies and regions and countries which aren't adapting fast enough, but also unfortunately, those regions which are most exposed to climate dynamics.

Well, I'd say about Europe, coming back to the European Commission yesterday, is some of the regions, particularly within southern Europe, which are most impacted as we've been seeing from extreme climate events also have some of the worst debts and in maybe the poorer regions, in terms of GDP per capita.

So again, this sort of you know, makes inequality higher. But also from a debt dynamic point of view, I think there will be more focus from things like the rating agents has gone west (ph). And it will become more and more costly for certain companies operating in certain regions, be it the U.S., be it Europe, to actually operate because they're cited in a region which is going to be more prone to extreme climate events going forward.

VAUSE: There is --


OWEN: There is very much an opportunity to adapt and innovate. But we're only at the start of that journey. VAUSE: Yes, there is change coming. And you can see it as a cost, you

know, as a catastrophe or an opportunity. Let's go for the latter.

David, thanks so much for getting up early. Thanks for being with us. We really appreciate it, sir. Thank you.

OWEN: It's a pleasure, thank you.

VAUSE: Ok, still to come here on CNN, Japan's Mount Fuji is under threat. Too many tourists and hikers could cost this majestic site an important designation. We'll tell you that in a moment.


VAUSE: The climbing season has ended on Japan's Mount Fuji. It's a much-needed break for the UNESCO World Heritage Site where the number of visitors has skyrocketed in recent years.

As Kristie Lu Stout explains, the surge in tourism has brought a surge in trash and could cost the mountain its World Heritage status.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Human traffic jams on sacred Mount Fuji.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like a traffic jam.

STOUT: An ambulance en route to an injured hiker, litter on the mountainside. It is a side to Japan's popular tourist site that is not in the guidebooks.

But for Mount Fuji ranger Miho Sakurai, it is just another day on the job.

MIHO SAKURAI, MOUNT FUJI RANGER: There are definitely too many people on Mount Fuji at the moment. The numbers are much higher than before.


STOUT: Famous for its snowcapped 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 OFFICIAL (through translator): Fuji-San is screaming out in pain. We can't just wait for improvement. We need to tackle over tourism now.

STOUT: Volunteers take away tons of trash each year. Climbers 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: People of all experience levels come here, including first- timers. We want to prevent accidents, so we give them advice.

STOUT: The risk of altitude sickness and hypothermia has been increased by a trend called bullet climbing, where hikers began their ascent at night, pushing on until dawn according to the Yamanashi tourism board.

According to the local government, they start to 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: I'd be devastated if Mount Fuji's World Heritage status was taken away. I want it to have that status forever, so we will do our best to keep it that way.

STOUT: But with no easy fix in sight, Sakurai will keep doing her bid to protect the mountain she loves.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN -- Hong Kong.


VAUSE: Finally here, far above the earth an American astronaut has just set a new record for time and space. He did it by accident. Dr. Frank Rubio has now reached his 356th consecutive day on board the International Space Station, the longest any U.S. astronaut has spent in earth's orbit.

It wasn't meant to be like this. He was meant to return to earth after just six months. But the spacecraft he was slated to take home sprung a coolant leak and so he stayed and stayed and stayed a little longer and no one seems to know is that Frank didn't come home.

Now he's scheduled to return later this month, extending his stay to 371 days. Welcome home, Frank.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM continues after very short break with my friend and colleague Paula Newton, who's standing by at this hour in New York.

See you right back here tomorrow.