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Morgues Overwhelmed As Death Toll Tops 6,000; United Nations Goal: Use Early Warning Systems To Save Lives Worldwide; No Details On Possible North Korea-Russia Weapons Deal; Kim Jong-Un Appears To Endorse Russia's War On Ukraine; Ukraine Strikes Sevastopol Port In Crimea; Republicans Open Impeachment Inquiry Against Biden; ; Tech Titans Gather In Senate For AI Forum. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 02:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello and a very warm welcome to all of our viewers watching from all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM. The grim task of burying 1000s of flood victims in Libya, as a team of scientists warned conditions on Earth may be moving outside the safe operating space for humanity.

How this handshake could impact the battlefield in Ukraine, satellites, and space, and much more in between? Reaction to the Kim- Putin meeting in a live report. Plus, tech Titans go to Washington with artificial intelligence on the mind.

They all agree it shouldn't be regulated, the question is how.

And we do begin once again in Libya, where time is running out to find survivors from the catastrophic flooding, which has now claimed more than 6,000 lives. Search and rescue crews from around the world are arriving to help with the grim task of recovering bodies.

The U.N. estimates more than 30,000 people have been displaced. Many of the images in these stories that we're about to show you our graphic. Hospitals are too overwhelmed to treat all the victims, morgues are overflowing with dead bodies lined up on the streets outside. There is no access to clean water or sanitation. And all that is leading to fears that waterborne diseases will start to spread, making this disaster even worse.

Meantime, a report published last year warned that the two dams that collapse in the hardest hit city of Derna at a high potential for flood risk.

More now from CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman. And again, to warn you, his report does mean -- does contain some graphic content.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The bodies are everywhere. Dozens, dozens of the dead covered in blankets, awaiting identification and burial.

The dead number in the thousands. But so far, no one really knows how many were taken by Storm Daniel. Survivors are finding more and more bodies.

Rescue workers and volunteers have retrieved the body of a boy wrapped in a blanket and prepared to put him in a body bag. When his father arrives, overcome with emotion.

Doctors fear so many dead left in the open could lead to an outbreak of disease.

We aren't able to identify all the bodies and bury them, says this woman identified as Dr. Aishah (PH). We want to provide a humane place, freezers, where loved ones can then identify them.

Access to Derna remains difficult. The flood destroyed many roads and bridges leading to the city. This port in Eastern Libya has been transformed into a waste land of mud, rubble, and ruin.

The ranging waters that tore through the city spared no one and nothing.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


NEWTON: Now, as you can certainly see from that report, the people of eastern Libya need all the help they can get. If you'd like to contribute, you can find a list of vetted charities and other resources at

Now, conditions like those devastating floods, extreme storms, and oppressive heat waves show that human actions have pushed the Earth into a danger zone outside the, "safe operating space for humanity". And that's according to a new report from some 29 scientists in eight countries.

The researchers analyzed nine connected planetary boundaries or threats thresholds that the world must stay within in order to ensure that the earth is stable, and here is the key, livable.

The boundaries include climate change, biodiversity, freshwater and land use, and the impact of aerosols, and synthetic chemicals.

The report says human activities have indeed breached the safe levels of the six of those thresholds.

OK, there is some good news here. Thanks to international efforts to phase out ozone depleting chemicals. The ozone layer is on track to completely recover.

[02:05:00] But critics say the planetary boundaries model is too simplistic and not useful for managing environmental problems. Those environmental problems, in fact, those natural disasters and extreme weather events have taken as we have shown you here 1000s of lives, and that is just in this month.

Now, the U.N. wants to change that and save lives by making sure every person on the planet is covered by an early warning system. Within the next few years.

Johan Stander is the director of the services at the World Meteorological Organization, and he joins us now from Geneva, Switzerland.

Really good to have you on the program, especially as we all watch in horror in these devastating events.

JOHAN STANDER, DIRECTOR OF SERVICES, WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION: Good day, Paula. And thank you for having our organization, much appreciate it.

NEWTON: Now, we just -- you know, we are talking about the U.N. and what it would like, right? To completely cover the planet in these early warning systems, perhaps, as early as 2027, I think some argue we may need it next week. Is that possible? And if so, how would that kind of a system save lives?

STANDER: I think what's important to mention is the fact that when the U.N. Secretary-General Guterres, requested that everybody should be protected by early warning systems in five years, and that was now last year.

And we're already in 2023. So, we've actually got four years and a couple of months left. He said, it now forces U.N. agencies to actually work together towards a common goal. And that was the first goal.

So, between the WMO the World Meteorological Organization and the UNDRR, we are co-leading this effort with other U.N. agencies, like the ITU, (INAUDIBLE), UNESCO, and others.

We also working with big tech companies like Microsoft and Google. And also, then, the funding agencies like sustainable observation finance facility, the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems and the Green Climate Fund, The World Bank, to name a few.

Now, in this entire process, the idea then is to make sure that there is a standard system put in place in countries to make sure that, number one, they understand the risk. And all of this is built around the multi hazard early warning system, but it's a people centric, multi hazard early warning system, based on the four pillars.

Need to understand the risk, and those people at risk, making sure that there's sufficient observation data available, and dissemination with the production of weather forecasts and warnings. And then, making sure that, that warning gets to the people. And last but not least, working with disaster management agencies, by getting the people on the ground to understand what the impact will be in a particular area, or what they need to do to make sure that they are protected.

NEWTON: Now --


STANDER: And all of that is important. Yes.

NEWTON: And all of that, obviously, sounds like a very good idea and advisable. But when we try to apply it, that seems the difficult part. Right? So, let's begin with some of the complicating factors. We'll start with what's glaring.

I have a phone I have access to media, so, do you. Billions of people on the planet still don't. So, how to get around that issue?

STANDER: I think this is where it becomes important. The national meteorological and hydrological service of a particular country is the authoritative voice on weather, water, and climate.

Therefore, it's important that everybody on the planet, number one, make sure that they use the application of that national meteorological and hydrological service on their phone. That will limit fake news to start off with.

And then, that national meteorological and hydrological service through these national workshops, which we are conducting, are then working with disaster management agencies to make sure that when this message is sent in a common alert, practical method, it's then taken by the media in that particular country and or worldwide. And then, the message is automatically disseminated on the mobile phone using either the mobile tablets or going through media, or if the cell phone towers are off, we working with satellite providers to make sure that the message can still be received by the individual on the phone.

NEWTON: But is there something I'm missing here? I just described to you that some people just don't have phones, even in places where we do have phones, tragically in Maui, they could not decide what mode of warning should be used, they didn't have any power, the cell phone towers weren't working, and then, they couldn't decide whether or not to use the sirens.

I mean, there was quite the -- quite a bit of devastation in a developed part of the world in that example.


STANDER: That is 100 percent correct, Paula. And this is why it's critical that the relationship between the national meteorological and hydrological service and disaster management agency is very important, because they know where to go and how to get to the people on the ground. Especially in rural areas, as you've indicated, that may not have mobile towers. But to get those community leaders to understand if they do get this message, what to do, the protection of the little property at the moment is not that important, the protection of their lives are both important. And that social, you know, connection between the two is extremely important.

And we've got to go through the space of upscaling the people in the communities to understand the risk when a warning is provided to them.

NEWTON: And when you're dealing with a place like Libya, where political -- the political situation is absolutely fraught, do you believe that there can be certainly progress even in a country like that, given if a world body takes this, you know, as an initiative, and can actually run with this ball through the next two or three years, but because it is clear that every corner of the earth needs this kind of warning system?

STANDER: Absolutely. But I would like to believe we can. We've got examples of countries where there may be politically instability, but when we actually sit down with the affected parties around the table, that is now government and various departments within that particular country, then, we try to, for them to understand the importance of each and every one's role in this entire process, to the safety of everybody in that country.

And it's not about which agency in that country will get the necessary attention when they are protected, or who needs to be protected. At the end of the day, it's the government that needs to buy into the system. And that's what we tried to foster when we have these national workshops in countries where there might be a little bit instability.

And I can tell you that we are making good progress. We're getting people to understand the needs of one another and what the ultimate responsibilities are within this complex world we do live in at the moment.

NEWTON: Yes. It is certainly tragic to see when you realize that in Libya, some kind of a warning system would have evacuated 1000s of people.



NEWTON: And at least save lives if not saved them from that kind of destruction. Johan Stander, we have to leave it there for now. Thanks so much.

STANDER: Thank you, Paula. Have a nice day.

NEWTON: Now, North Korean state media is reporting that Kim Jong-un has invited Vladimir Putin to visit Pyongyang at a convenient time. And since the Russian leader has happily accepted the offer.

Now, this follows the leaders' high stakes talks a day ago at a remote space center in Russia's far east in Vostochny Cosmodrome, you see it there. We're now watching and waiting to see where Kim will head next.

According to President Putin and Russian state media, the North Korean leader will be visiting several military sites, and that includes as you're seeing on your map there, Vladivostok and the Eastern Federal University.

Now, the West fears these deepening ties will result in a fresh supply of weapons for Russia to use in Ukraine, but without providing any evidence.

Ukraine's defense intelligence said that North Korea is already supplying Russia with ammunition. CNN cannot verify that allegation. CNN's Katie Polglase is with us in London. But first, we go to CNN's Beijing bureau chief, Steven Jiang. Good to see you both.

Steven, where we left with any clues really as to what came of this meeting. And I mean, in concrete terms, given we can't really verify even anything that Ukrainian intelligence is saying at this point.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, Paula, nothing concrete has been revealed. And the two sides may just keep their much-anticipated arms deal secret for good reason, especially for Russia, which is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

And remember, they have signed up to all those restrictive sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

Now, obviously, at least publicly, Putin and his officials are still paying lip service to those sanctions, acknowledging there are restrictions in this bilateral cooperation, but they have left the door open.

And for Kim, of course, you know, he has long been seeking options because for long times, you know, North Korea solely relies on China as its biggest supporter on the international stage. And China really providing a economic lifeline to Pyongyang. So, that he could use some options and Russia, of course, is now one such natural choice.

I think both sides are very keenly aware of this delicate balance they need to maintain vis-a-vis China at a time when they both increasingly need Beijing support, politically, economically, as they become increasingly isolated from the west.


That's why they have been very careful in their public statements and pronouncements. So far, Beijing has not said much about this summit in Russia's Far East. But they have said, you know, they are both -- North Korea and Russia are China's friendly neighbors, and Beijing remains very much committed to that relationship -- the friendship between the Beijing itself and these governments. But they're certainly keeping close tabs on what's happening in Russia's Far East. Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. Katie, the same can certainly be said for Ukraine. And Ukraine watching this closely.

Is there any further proof -- does it give us any further proof that Putin is not going to fold here, right? That he is looking to fortify his military any way he can.

KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Well, Paula, it is indeed, a projection of confidence that he has people he can turn to for support in this war.

And while Ukraine was never explicitly mentioned, as far as we're aware, Steven says, it's highly secretive, what they actually discussed, it was strongly hinted at.

And clearly, when Putin was pressed about whether there is any possibility of military cooperation, he said, there are prospects, it is something we can discuss.

And really that is enough to confirm the fears of Ukraine and also the U.S. officials that have been warning for weeks that there may be an arms deal on the table.

And, in fact, as you mentioned, earlier, Ukraine's defense intelligence is saying that this is not news to them, actually, that they actually already have intelligence, saying that North Korea is delivering ammunition to Russia.

Now, we cannot independently verify that that is not what the Western officials are currently saying. But certainly, very interesting that, that indicates Ukraine is actively monitoring this situation. They believe that Russia has been receiving projectiles for artillery and projectiles for MLRS, those are the multiple launch rocket systems that have had devastating impact in some of this conflict in Ukraine, including impact on civilians.

Now, look, in the broader context of this counter offensive that Ukraine is continuing, if we remember, just yesterday, there was a major attack on Sevastopol by Ukraine. It is held by Russia, 24 people injured as a result.

Clearly, Ukraine, still has confidence to progress with this counter offensive. It still has its backers. But at the same time, while we're also seeing this up further north on the frontline, we're seeing 1,000s of Ukrainians evacuated from Kupiansk, an area in the Kharkiv region. And that is because of Russian attacks in that area.

Clearly, both sides are progressing with this war, continuing to attack, and it shows that this war is really dragging on at this point. And it becomes a question of supply lines. Who has the biggest backers, who has the supply of ammunition, who has the supply of weaponry?

And if Russia is going to gain more ammunition, more supply for their side of this war, clearly that is something Ukraine is going to be very concerned about.

NEWTON: Yes. Definitely, the indications are -- of escalation even going into these fall months. Katie Polglase, Steven Jiang, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Now, the death toll from Friday's devastating earthquake and Morocco is now nearing 3,000, as aid is slowly making its way to survivors in hard-hit mountain villages.

Now, the U.S. Agency for International Development is the latest to pledge assistance, saying it will provide an initial $1 million in humanitarian support to Morocco and has sent an assessment team to that country. Now, Morocco has accepted limited foreign aid following the quake as it ramps up its own response to the disaster. CNN's Nada Bashir looks at what survivors are facing now.


NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER (voice over): Sheltering from the sweltering September heat, survivors of Morocco's earthquake spend another day coming to terms with the tragedy that has befallen this shaken community.

BASHIR: Temporary shelters for those left homeless by the earthquake have been set up across this region. Many of the tents that you can see here have been supplied either by the Moroccan government or by local organizations and charities.

But the Moroccan government has also requested assistance from members of the international community. And we see these international teams on the ground, providing support not only on the search and rescue fund, but also with the humanitarian relief efforts.

ROBERT NORMAN, COMMAND SUPORT OFFICER, UNITED KINGDOM INTERNATIONAL SEARCH AND RESCUE: Immediate priorities for our team is always saving life. Following on from that, where we can help medical assistants, identify humanitarian needs. So, even when that rescue phase does close, we've provided all the information we can to help humanitarian relief that will follow us.

BASHIR (voice over): Across the quake zone here in Morocco, there has also been an outpouring of support from the local community, with donations of food, water, and medication.

The volunteers here tell us they still need more tents and crucially long-term support with the rebuild effort.


The government says the reconstruction of homes lost in the disaster is a priority. But for so many impacted families, there is no telling how long it will be, before they have a real home to return to.

Nada Bashir, CNN, in Amizmiz, Morocco.

NEWTON: The outer bands of Hurricane Lee will start sweeping over Bermuda in the coming hours as parts of the U.S. and Canada have now issued hurricane and tropical storm watches.

Lee is forecast to continue heading north, potentially making landfall in New England or the Canadian Maritimes over the weekend. Hurricane force winds extend up to 185 kilometers from its center with tropical storm force winds going even further than that. Right now, Bermuda is under tropical storm warning as Lee approaches.

It's currently a Category 2 hurricane, but its large size, as you see there is what is concerning about the storm.

Still to come for us, Ukraine says it struck naval targets and port infrastructure in Crimea, in one of its largest strikes on Russia's Navy Black Sea Fleet.


NEWTON: Romania is protesting the violation of its airspace amid Russia's war in Ukraine. Officials say they found new drone fragments similar to those used by the Russian army in that county bordering Ukraine on the Danube River.

The Romanian foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador over the issue and called for compliance with international law regarding airspace.

Officials say they also found Russian drone fragments in border areas twice last week.

Meantime, the conflict is ramping up in Crimea in the Black Sea. Russia's Defense Ministry says five unmanned boats were destroyed after they attempted an attack on a Russian patrol ship on Thursday morning.

And also said that its air defense destroyed 11 drones over Crimea. Now, this comes after Ukrainian missiles struck a shipyard in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Wednesday.

CNN's Melissa Bell has our details.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ukraine, turning its fire on the Russian-controlled city of Sevastopol. Targeting the Black Sea Fleet in an attack overnight on Crimea's biggest port.

Storm Shadow cruise missiles supplied by the United Kingdom and France launched at a key shipyard. The latest reminder from Kyiv that it wants this war to end where it began, in Crimea.

The two Russian warships that were damaged will be fully restored. The Russian Defense Ministry says. As for the civilians, war is never routine, even in occupied Ukraine.

NADEZHDA, RESIDENT, SEVASTOPOL (text): We were woken by a loud noise. My child was woken up as well. It was about 3:00 a.m. We got very scared. Everything was shaking. That's basically how it was.


BELL (voice over): It's also how it's been on the outskirts of Huliaipole, daily shelling and 18 months without electricity or water.

Still, Viktor and Xena Dydenko (PH) are leaving home reluctantly.

SERHIY YARMAK, MAYOR OF HULIAIPOLE, UKRAINE (text): Why don't people want to evacuate? Everyone has their own reasons. Some say, I was born here and I'll die here. Others say they have nowhere to go.

BELL: But the Zaporizhzhia frontline is no place for the elderly.

VIKTOR DYDENKO, DISPLACED HUILAIPOLE RESIDENT (text): If I knew the house wouldn't get shelled, I would never leave!

BELL (voice over): It's the third time that Viktor and Xena (PH) had been evacuated. The full of hope (PH) has always been that much greater than the fear of war.

DYDENKO (text): March and April '24 will come and we will win! You mark my words.

BELL (voice over): For now, they have each other, at least, and the hope that their hope will be theirs once again soon.


BELL (voice over): Melissa Bell, CNN, in southern Ukraine.


NEWTON: Republicans are moving ahead with their impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Joe Biden, despite a lack of evidence. And the president tells supporters what he thinks it's about.

Plus, some of the biggest names in tech join senators Wednesday on Capitol Hill to talk about regulating artificial intelligence, but finding a way to do it seems a daunting challenge.


NEWTON: Now, for the first time, U.S. President Joe Biden is speaking out about the Republican impeachment inquiry against him. At a fundraising event on Wednesday, the president said Republicans not only want to impeach him, but they also want to shut down the government.

He is referring there to the looming government shutdown at the end of this month.

Despite the lack of evidence against the president, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and far-right Republicans are moving forward with impeachment plans.

CNN's. Manu Raju has more now from Washington.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: House Republicans are moving ahead with their impeachment inquiry, even though it is unclear are exactly where this inquiry will go.


And whether or not President Biden will actually face a charge of a high crime or misdemeanor from the U.S. House. And exactly, what evidence they will glean as part of this probe?

They are trying to prove that Joe Biden, as vice president, took official action to help Hunter Biden, his son, during his overseas business dealings and also allegations that Joe Biden enriched himself through his son's business activities. There is not enough proof yet to make that point.

There are allegations about some of these issues, a lot of them unverified, and there's also allegations about Hunter Biden's actions. But Republicans believe there is enough to at least investigate this in the months ahead. The question is what could they find and whether they'll have the extra votes to actually impeach Joe Biden, making him the fourth president in American history to face that charge of a high crime or a misdemeanor.

Now, Kevin McCarthy fully recognizes the challenges ahead. He has a razor thin majority in the House, meaning if he loses more than four Republicans at any party line vote, he will essentially lose that vote. That could've happened if he actually had a vote to open up an impeachment inquiry.

Just less than two weeks ago, McCarthy promised that he would have a vote to actually launch an impeachment inquiry. But, he backtracked. He changed course. And then simply instructed his committees to begin that inquiry. I asked him why he changed that approach? What explains that? And he wouldn't say.

RAJU: You just might change your position.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I never change my position. You know what's interesting? So you don't care about any of the answers.

RAJU: I just asked about your words, why do you change your words?

MCCARTHY: Well let me answer your question, because I've answered it every single day, and you can answer it every single day. Nancy Pelosi changed the president of this house. This doesn't preclude from him -- Nancy Pelosi changed the president of this house on September 24th. It was withheld and good enough for every single Democrat here, it was good enough for the judge. Why did it have to be different today?

RAJU: Now McCarthy was trying to point the finger back at Nancy Pelosi's handling of the impeachment matters during President Trump's time in office. You'll recall in the first Trump impeachment over the issue of Ukraine and allegations that Trump abused his power in trying to push that country to initiate an investigation into Joe Biden.

During that time, about a month in, Democrats in the House voted to improve an impeachment inquiry. The second Trump impeachment, different. That was a week after the January sixth attack. There was no investigation, no vote for an impeachment inquiry. Before that, Trump was actually charged with a high crime or misdemeanor by the House, Trump was later acquitted in both cases by the United States Senate.

But nevertheless, McCarthy knows well that a lot of his vulnerable members are not really eager to take that very contentious vote about impeachment. But that still raises the question about whether they'll ultimately impeach Joe Biden, and whether the party will get behind it. Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Now we have more on this story. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is defending how she handled the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump in 2019. The Democrat says Kevin McCarthy's claim, that you just heard there, that she changed precedent for impeachment proceedings is just plain wrong.


NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Now it was completely not true. We had a few weeks where we had to make our case, and I had signed six committee chairs to get the information and the rest and that then would prepare us to bring the bill to the floor. They've had, what, nine months of collecting information? And they have nothing.


NEWTON: Now Pelosi says McCarthy did not take the impeachment inquiry to the House floor for a vote because he likely does not have enough votes to approve the measure. Many of the top titans of tech gathered in a Senate hearing room Wednesday, to talk with senators about how to regulate artificial intelligence.

But there was little consensus on how to do it. And, as Brian Fung explains, some senators questioned why congress is even taking regulatory advice from the very companies that they'd be regulating.


BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: There is broad agreement that government should have some role in regulating AI, but there's still no consensus on how. That's the big takeaway from a day-long summit on Capitol Hill, involving some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world.

In the meeting, Bill Gates spoke of how AI could help end world hunger. Others talked about its potential to cure cancer. Elon Musk said the meeting, quote, "May go down in history as being very important for the future of civilization." But questions are still swirling about how the U.S. might approach AI regulation.

Does the U.S. need a new federal agency to regulate AI? What about bans on AI in political advertising? How soon could Congress come up with a comprehensive bill? Many of these questions are still unresolved, after Gates, Musk and others like Mark Zuckerberg descended on Washington to offer their views.

Meanwhile, officials in the meeting from the entertainment industry, and labor and civil rights groups called for protecting workers, writers and minorities from some of the harms that AI could cause.


Senators coming out of the meeting said most everyone agreed the United States should remain a leader in AI development, while also trying to protect people. But outside of the meeting room, some lawmakers took issue with how the sessions were closed to the public.

Senator Josh Hawley called the event a, quote, "Cocktail party for the tech industry", and he sharply criticized what he said was an opportunity for big tech monopolists to lobby for the regulations they might prefer. That critique was bipartisan with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats expressing a similar view.

Still, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, who hosted the event, defended the closed-door approach by saying that it allowed lawmakers to hear from key stakeholders in a, quote, "Unvarnished way." How that gets reflected in U.S. policy though is still very much unclear. Brian Fung, CNN, Washington.


NEWTON: So Elon Musk's AI ambitions are covered in a new biography by Walter Isaacson. The book made headlines before hitting the shelves on Tuesday. Isaacson wrote that Musk shut down his Starlink system to thwart a Ukrainian drone attack in Crimea.

The author now says the Starlink network was already deactivated there. Now Musk says that he denied Ukraine's request to, in fact, reactivate it. Our Christiane Amanpour spoke to Isaacson, he said Musk feels a need to inject himself in the global issues.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN JOURNALIST: You did tell New York Magazine that he has an epic superhero savior complex.

WALTER ISAACSON, AUTHOR, "ELON MUSK": Evidently as a kid he read the comic books and he says it's weird, these comic book heroes they're all trying to save the planet, and they're wearing their underpants on the outside. They looked ridiculous. But they are trying to save the planet. And he, as a child, he'd sit there in the corner of the bookstore for hours reading these comics.

And he's developed a role which is, if Ukraine gets invaded by Russia, I'm going to send stuff in and I'm going to come help. And there's a cave in Thailand, has kids stuck in it, I'm going to send in a submarine to help. He likes this notion of helping humanity. In fact he has more empathy for humanity in general than he often has for the 20 people around him.


NEWTON: Okay, you can see Christiane's full interview with Walter Isaacson on tomorrow's show. That is the Amanpour Show at one in the afternoon in New York. Six pm in London. Still to come for us, stuck in the mud off Greenland and waiting for rescue. We'll show you how passengers stranded on a cruise ship are faring after a failed rescue attempt.


NEWTON: More than 200 passengers and crew remain stranded on a cruise ship off the coast of Greenland. The ship has been stuck since running aground on Monday.


Attempts to dislodge it on Wednesday unfortunately failed, and to make matters worse, at least three passengers have now tested positive for Covid-19. Here's what one passenger had to say about that.


LIS, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: I don't think it's spreading. I think it's been contained. There are a few people that are being, sort of, wheezy and coughy and you, sort of, try and avoid them. But I don't particularly think it's spreading. I think, you know, the crew is doing a great job. People who have Covid are being confined. And most people have been vaccinated, you know, three, four, five times.


NEWTON: So passengers are remaining upbeat apparently, for the time being, despite some items becoming more scarce as they await rescue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point, Lis, the biggest worry is going to be you're going to run out of alcohol.

LIS: That is the biggest concern I have. I had swimming lessons before I came and I am a good swimmer. So look out. I could be swimming back to Iceland.



NEWTON: CNN's Anna Stewart has more details now on what officials plan to do next.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It's been stuck off the east coast of Greenland since Monday, sitting on a bed of sand and mud, according to the Danish Armed Forces. Initial attempts by the cruise ship to refloat itself at high tide have failed, as did a tug from a fishing research vessel owned by Greenland on Wednesday.

Help is on the way, but it could take a while. According to Denmark's Joint Arctic Command, a Royal Danish Naval Ship is en route. But it is taking time. It's hit some bad weather, and currently, it's expected to arrive on Friday evening. Troops from a Danish Military Dog Sled Patrol are also in the area in the event of an emergency.

They actually boarded the vessel on Tuesday and said everyone was doing well. The Australian cruise operator of the ship, Aurora Expeditions, released a statement saying all passengers, the expedition team and crew onboard are safe and well. Importantly, there is no immediate danger to themselves, the vessel, or the surrounding environment.

Hopefully, that continues. An extended stop at the coast of Greenland wasn't the plan, but perhaps passengers can enjoy the luxury cruise ship's hot tubs, its gym, its spa, and the views don't look too bad either. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


NEWTON: And we hope they are rescued soon. I'm Paula Newton, WORLD SPORT is next and then I'll be back in 15 minutes with more CNN NEWSROOM.