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Evacuated Neonatal babies from Al Shifa Hospital Make Their Way to Egypt; Former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter Dies; U.S. Defense Secretary Return to Ukraine; Right-Wing TV Pundit Wins Argentine Presidential Run-Off. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired November 20, 2023 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead, neonatal babies evacuated from Al Shifa are now on their way to Egypt. We will have a live report from Cairo with a look at what comes next for them.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump returns to familiar territory in Texas. We will tell you why he was there and whose support he's received.
And a town near Iceland's capital has already been evacuated as the earth beneath it rumbles. We will explain why scientists say an eruption now appears to be imminent.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.
CHURCH: And we begin in Gaza where we are now getting a look inside what the Israeli military says is a Hamas tunnel shaft in the Al Shifa hospital compound. The video was filmed by the Israel Defense Forces over the weekend.
It begins on the outside before a camera is lowered down revealing a set of spiral stairs. and later the tunnel walls reinforced with concrete. Israel says Hamas has used Al Shifa to cover up an extensive terror infrastructure underground, something Hamas and hospital officials deny. The IDF has also released videos and stills that it claims show Hamas bringing hostages into Al-Shifa hospital on October 7th, the day of the attacks. CNN cannot confirm the identities of the individuals in the video or their affiliations and can't independently verify the content of the videos.
Meantime 31 neonatal babies evacuated from Al Shifa are now being cared for in southern Gaza and are expected to be transported to Egypt. All are said to be fighting serious infections. One of the fathers who was reunited with his newborn son after two weeks says he was not sure if his child was safe. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI SBEITI, FATHER OF NEONATAL BABY FROM AL-SHIFA HOSPITAL (through translator): We didn't know whether he was dead or alive, especially when communications were disconnected with the doctors. They called us in the beginning to tell us that the child feels better and that we can come to take him, but the Israelis had already cut Saladin Street and we were in Nusairat. We could only pray for his safety, and he is here safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: CNN correspondents are following all the developments. All the latest developments, Eleni Giokos is standing by in Cairo and Clare Sebastian is live for us in London. Good to see you both. So I want to begin with Eleni in Cairo. Eleni, what is the latest on these 31 babies evacuated from the neonatal unit at Al Shifa Hospital?
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just heard from one of the fathers and according to the WHO, they just don't know how many of these children have parents accompanying them or any family member because there's just no news around that. We don't know if they have surviving relatives. I mean, these are the big unknowns in terms of their move and they, you know, getting into Egypt. This is now what we've been waiting for Rosemary, frankly, for over a week now, the Egyptians tell us since last week they've been waiting for 36 neonatal babies every single day they had high hopes that they would be going through Rafah border and we see every single day bad news coming through because of the conditions around Al-Shifa and frankly I want to show you some of the video and the visuals that we've been seeing of the babies moving from Al-Shifa into the Al-Helal Al-Emirati hospital in Rafah and it's very disturbing, it's difficult to watch and also difficult to listen to.
And you can hear the babies' cries. We know that the babies are in critical condition. The WHO says at least 11 are in critical condition right now. And we spoke to one of the doctors at the hospital who had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MOHAMMAD SALAMAH, AL-HELAL AL-EMIRATI MATERNITY HOSPITAL: We are conducting tests on all of those babies, and they were given fluids and needed medication according to their condition. For now, they are in a difficult, stable condition, but this condition might deteriorate, especially given that we might run out of electricity at any time now as long as fuel doesn't get into Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: So the doctors say, according to WHO, that they all are suffering serious infections. And this is because of the conditions at Al-Shifa. We also saw the images from Al-Shifa that babies had to move from the neonatal ward because it had run out of electricity and oxygen and then moved by hand and covered in tin foil to another part of the hospital. We also saw the images of the babies sitting next to water bottles to try and keep them warm. We're talking about catastrophic conditions for these then very vulnerable souls.
And then of course, just bad news day after day, unable for a safe passage to be created for them to leave to come through into Egypt. The number that we initially received from the Egyptian Health Authority was 36. We know that number has now changed. We know that the conditions in Al-Shifa were just so dire that it put their lives in danger. So now the Egyptians are telling us they are waiting. We've seen the images of the ambulances as well as the doctors standing by at the border. They've been doing so for over seven days now.
And now we know that the Egyptian Health Minister and his team are on the way to the Rafah border. We're hoping Rosemary in the next few hours will finally get some news of them being in Egypt and receiving hopefully the care that they need.
CHURCH: Absolutely, we'll keep an eye on that. Eleni Giokos, joining us live from Cairo there, many thanks.
Well CNN's Oren Liebermann entered Gaza with the Israel Defense Forces to see the tunnel shaft near Al Shifa. and what lies beneath. CNN reported from Gaza under IDF escort at all times. As a condition for journalists to join this embed, media outlets had to submit footage filmed in Gaza to the Israeli military for review. CNN retained editorial control over the final report. And here is Oren's report.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We go in under cover of darkness, and as we cross the border fence, it lights out across the Gaza Strip. Escorted by a tank, we switch into an armored personnel carrier for the final stretch. Even through a night vision screen, you can see the magnitude of the destruction on the streets of Gaza City.
We offload at the Al-Shifa Hospital, pick our way along Ibn Sina Street, or what's left of it. We have to keep our lights off most of the time, or risk exposing our position. CNN reported from Gaza under Israel Defense Forces escort at all times. As a condition for journalists to join this embed with the IDF, media outlets must submit footage filmed in Gaza to the Israeli military censors for review.
Now at the hospital compound, we wait inside a structure to make sure the area is secure before moving the short distance to the exposed tunnel shaft.
(on-camera): And here is the entrance. You can see what looks like a ladder accessing to it. And as I step over here, it's very difficult to see how far down it goes but it looks like there's almost a central shaft for a staircase and then the shaft of it disappears then down into the darkness.
(voice-over): We move around the opening for a better look at the shaft itself. What's clear from here is this is meant to go deep underground.
(on-camera): Which direction does the tunnel go?
MAJOR NIR DINAR, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: We assume that the tunnel goes out. and it has another corridor to this way.
LIEBERMANN (on-camera): Towards the hospital.
DINAR: Towards the hospital. Meaning it connects the hospital to outside, which implies with the way that Hamas is working. Hamas is going out somewhere, shoot to the forces, going back inside to a safe place.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): We weren't allowed to enter the shaft, but the Israeli military sent special gear down to see where this leads. Inside, the video shows a spiral staircase, and as the camera orients itself, it moves forward into a tunnel. The tunnel makes a sharp left turn, and at the end of another path with concrete walls and an arched concrete top, a metal door they say they have not yet opened because they fear it's booby-trapped.
IDF spokesman, Admiral Daniel Hagari, says some of the Israeli hostages taken on October 7th were also brought through the hospital. He says the body of Noah Marziano was discovered 50 meters from the compound.
REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: We have evidence that they were holding hostages in Rantisi, but also we have evidence that they were bringing them to Shifa Hospital. We're still looking for the places they might have held them.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): This is not proof of a Hamas command center or headquarters underneath the hospital, but Israel continues trying to build its case that Hamas uses the sanctuary of the hospital for cover, which Hamas and hospital officials have denied.
The IDF's ability to continue its operation in Gaza and the credibility of Israel are at stake here, as the number killed in the fighting surpasses 12,000. according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health.
The IDF says one of its missions is to destroy Hamas. But with international criticism mounting, Israel has to show the terror organization is using Gaza's civilians and infrastructure as cover to justify an ongoing war.
Oren Liebermann, CNN, in Gaza.
CHURCH: Oren goes into much more detail about what he saw while in Gaza, and you can read about it in a piece he wrote for cnn.com.
CNN's Clare Sebastian is following developments and joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Clare. So what more are you learning about the IDF videos that claim to show a tunnel on the grounds of the Al-Shifa hospital and the CCTV footage that reportedly shows Hamas hostages being brought into the hospital on October 7th?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Rosemary, they've been putting out sort of pieces of evidence, images, videos since this targeted and precise, as they call it, operation of Al-Shifa began overnight into Wednesday last week. They had shown us on Thursday what they say was an exposed tunnel shaft in the vicinity of Al-Shifa. But we've seen a real expansion of this, of course, in the last 24 hours or so.
Also, the videos showing a camera being lowered into that tunnel allowing international journalists like our own Oren Liebermann in to see the tunnel shaft itself. And now we have this CCTV footage, which the IDF claims shows hostages being brought into Al-Shifa on the very day of that Hamas massacre in southern Israel on October 7th, which would show, although we cannot verify the authenticity of this or the identity of those shown, but would show that they have been using this complex since the beginning. This video you're looking at here showing what the idea says is an injured hostage being brought in, clearly still bleeding.
Now they have said that these hostages are, one is Nepali, one is Thai. Hamas, meanwhile, is questioning the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, questioning the authenticity of this and saying that all it really shows is that anyone who needs medical treatment at Al-Shifa was given that medical treatment, although of course one of the hostages that we see, the purported hostages in these videos, was not injured.
So what you see is this campaign from Israel to really try to prove its claim, as it has been claiming for weeks now that Hamas is operating a command-and-control node under the Al-Shifa hospital if it can conclusively prove that.
And we can see that they haven't conclusively proven that yet. They haven't in the case of that tunnel under the hospital. They haven't gone through that blast proof door. They assume that it leads to the hospital, but they don't know yet. But if they can prove that, then it would show, amid mounting criticism of their operation there, that the hospital is being used for military purposes. And then it loses its protected status under international law. But as I said, pressure is mounting internationally. Meanwhile, we're hearing from the White House that the hostage negotiations are progressing closer perhaps than they've ever been. I think those CCT videos in particular add extra urgency to that. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Indeed they do. Clare Sebastian, joining us live from London. Many thanks.
Public memorial services will be held in the U.S. state of Georgia early next week for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who died on Sunday at the age of 96. A private funeral will take place next Wednesday. Carter passed away surrounded by family in her hometown of Plains, Georgia, the small southern city that became a household name after her husband Jimmy Carter was elected 39th President of the United States in 1977. Carter was known for humanitarian contributions and was a strong advocate for access to mental health care. She had just entered hospice on Friday, according to the Carter Center, the organization founded by the couple to quote, "wage peace, fight disease, and build hope."
We'll be right back.
CHURCH: Turning now to the war in Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is now in Kyiv for an unannounced visit. This is Austin's second trip to Kyiv since Russia invaded in February 2022. According to the Defense Department, he is expected to meet Ukraine's leadership for talks and quote, "reinforce the staunch support of the United States for Ukraine's fight for freedom."
CNN's Anna Coren joined us now live from Kyiv. Good to see you again, Anna. So, What more are you learning about U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's surprise visit to Kyiv?
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, he arrived this morning. He'll be meeting with the defense minister today, then on to see President Zelenskyy for high-level talks. He'll then be going to the U.S. embassy and then he'll be meeting with the press later this evening. Look, this visit, as you say, the second time he's been to Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February of last year, is really a shot in the arm for the Ukrainians. They've been feeling quite neglected these past few months, particularly with the war in Israel. So the defense secretary being here in person, giving facetime, reaffirming America's support is exactly what Ukraine needs right now.
You know Rosemary, this is a difficult point in the war. We are in the 21st month. That is how long this war has been going for. We are approaching winter. Look, they don't talk about death tolls, but we know that there are mass casualties taking place on the eastern and southern front of this war.
The counteroffensive that has been going on for the past four months has not yielded the results or made those significant breakthroughs that had been touted when it all began. So really, with Austin being here in person, they will discuss the vision moving forward, what 2024 is going to look like. They have to get through winter first. But obviously that U.S. funding bill before Congress, the $61 billion that President Biden wants to push through, that is something that President Zelenskyy will want an update on. You know, where is that going? How is it going?
So obviously, Defense Secretary Austin will be delivering that news for him. From the experts, Rosemary, that I've spoken to, if $61 billion gets through Congress and we know the headwinds that it faces with the Republican Party. That will certainly fund Ukraine's war effort for next year.
CHURCH: And Anna, what is the latest on Ukraine's claim of significant gains on the Dnipro Riverfront?
COREN: Look, this is a significant operation. There is no doubt about it. In the last few weeks, the Marines have managed to cross this river, the Dnipro River in Kherson region, and have made a foothold on the left bank. They've managed to even push back Russian forces three to eight kilometers. That's according to Ukrainian armed forces.
Now, can they hold it? We just don't know. It's tenuous to say the least. We spoke to a Marine last night, Rosemary, who was conducting a drone operation, and we could hear the bombardment, the Russian bombardment, as we were talking. He said that the situation is incredibly difficult.
And he was on the right bank of the river, let alone the left bank, where there are Ukrainian Marines trying to hold onto this territory. They obviously want to push back the Russians so that they can't hit the city of Kherson the way that they are hitting it at present. It's a current constant, I should say, bombardment. We spoke to the governor of Kherson who said last week on one day they had 700 strikes. I mean, this is about terrorizing the population, but it's not just about protecting the city.
They are trying to push back the Russians to cut off the supply, if you like, that the Russians are getting from Crimea. So look, this is a work in progress. This is something that they can certainly tout as a victory, a significant breakthrough at the moment. Can they hold it? Time will tell.
CHURCH: All right. Anna Coren, joining us live from Kyiv, many thanks for that report.
Well former U.S. President and current Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spent Sunday on the campaign trail. Trump appeared at events in Texas and secured the endorsement of the state's Republican Governor Greg Abbott. He's also escalating his anti- immigrant rhetoric. CNN's Kristen Holmes was there in Texas and has this report.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now part of this event in McAllen, Texas was an endorsement by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, but it really comes at a time where one, Donald Trump appears to be inching towards the GOP nomination. He is leading in every poll. And at a time we are learning more about what a Trump 2025 agenda would look like should he be reelected to the White House. And that's a particular focus on immigration. We are told by sources that he wants to expand his hardline immigration policies of his first term including with mass deportations. They have a plan to round up undocumented migrants, put them into detention camps that would have to be built to host them until they can be deported. It also requires tapping local and federal law enforcement to
participate in this endeavor because it would be such an enormous undertaking.
Now, the reason why this is just so significant is because Donald Trump, as we said, is inching towards the GOP nomination. So we are starting to take a look at what it would look like in a general head- to-head. And there are a lot of questions as to whether or not this anti-immigrant rhetoric is something that would withstand a general reelection. We have already heard Biden's campaign saying that some of these plans are quote, "inhumane." So that is something that is up in the air and obviously something we're not going to see until further down the road.
Kristen Holmes, CNN, McAllen, Texas.
CHURCH: One of Trump's rivals for the Republican presidential nomination was also on the campaign trail Sunday. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was in Iowa where he made multiple stops. He also spoke to CNN on Sunday, refusing to directly condemn Elon Musk for his endorsement of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory popular with white supremacists. On the social media site X, Musk replied, claiming Jewish people want to bring minority groups to Western countries to reduce white majorities. DeSantis told CNN he did not see the post in question and did not want to comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no idea what the context is. I know Elon Musk. I've never seen him do anything. I think he's a guy that believes in America. I've never seen him indulge in any of that. So it's surprising if that's true, but I have not seen it. So I don't want to sit there and pass judgment on the fly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Right-wing former TV pundit Javier Milei has won Argentina's hotly contested presidential runoff election.
Officials say Milei won at least 55 percent of votes cast compared to about 44 percent for center-left finance minister Sergio Massa. Journalist Stefano Pozzebon reports.
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Javier Milei is the new president-elect of Argentina, the far-right politician and the self-described anarcho- libertarian, won the run-off on Sunday night against the current finance minister Sergio Massa by a comparable margin of over 11 percentage points.
Massa himself considered his defeat and congratulated Milei on his victory just hours after the polls were closed. And in his first speech as President-elect, Milei stroke a confident tone over the future of his country.
JAVIER MILEI, ARGENTINE PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translator): I want to tell Argentina that today begins the end of the decadence of our country. Today we begin to turn the page of our history and return to the path that we never should have left. Today we go back to the path that made this country great.
POZZEBON: He inherits, however, a very complicated situation. Argentina is suffering from the worst economic crisis of the last 20 years. The inflation is over 140 percent this month and the country is once again struggling to pay back international debtors.
Milei has proposed to dollarize the economy and shut down the central bank, together with a group of ministries, as his strategy to bring his country's finance back in order and he will take office on December 10. The transition has already begun.
For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.
CHURCH: Still to come, hundreds of families in Israel are agonizing over the fate of their loved ones taken hostage by Hamas. Next, I'll speak to a man whose four relatives are held by the militants.
CHURCH: Back to the top story. We are following this hour as pressure mounts on Israel to provide evidence for its claim that Hamas has been using Gaza's largest hospital for combat purposes. The Israeli military has released this video from inside the Al-Shifa hospital compound. The IDF says it shows an underground tunnel extending downward from a shaft opening. For weeks, the IDF has said Hamas uses Gaza's largest hospital as cover for what they call terror infrastructure underneath.
Meantime, sources tell CNN that a deal to secure the release of some of the hostages Hamas is holding could be days away. They say a recent draft of a possible deal proposes a four to five-day pause in fighting in exchange for the release of some 50 hostages. Here's what U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer told CNN's Jake Tapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON FINER, U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What I can say about this at this time is we think that we are closer than we have been perhaps at any point since these negotiations began weeks ago, that there are areas of difference and disagreement that have been narrowed, if not closed out entirely, but that the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed certainly applies here to such a sensitive negotiation and there is no deal currently in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Joining me now from near Tel Aviv is Eyal Mor. Four members of his family are being held hostage by Hamas. Thank you so much for talking with us at this particularly difficult time with your uncle, your aunt, their daughter and their nine-year-old grandson all being held hostage by Hamas. And you and others will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tonight. Who will speak for the group and what are you planning to say to the Prime Minister?
EYAL MOR, FAMILY MEMBERS TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: First of all, Rosemary, thank you for having me. Yes, we are going to meet with the cabinet members tonight. It's going to be one representative for each family, so it will be a large audience.
We don't have a single voice. I think that what unites us is the call for immediate release of everyone now. Bring them back home now. This is the unified goal.
Now on the other hand, we are not naive to believe that this would be done in one stroke. So, from my -- this is my personal perspective, I welcome any stroke that will bring back, you mentioned 50, we don't know the exact numbers, but I welcome it.
CHURCH: Yeah, and according to the White House, hostage negotiations are closer than they've been at any point, with sources telling CNN about a possible deal involving a four to five day pause in fighting to allow for an initial release of 50 hostages. How much have you all been told about this possible hostage deal? And do you all accept that women and children will likely be in that first group?
MOR: Okay, so as I said, we don't have one clear, unique voice regarding the numbers. We don't hear any formal message regarding the numbers and which population would it be. So we don't know. We hear it from the media. And as I said, we are united in calling for everyone's release as soon as possible.
CHURCH: Right, so you're calling for everyone to be released, but what we're hearing is that will be done in stages. But of course, none of us know for sure. So what is your response to critics, including Mr. Netanyahu and President Biden, who reject a ceasefire as an opportunity for Hamas to regroup and rearm, and of course, you know, that would be the opportunity for the release of hostages?
MOR: Yes, I'm not a politician, neither a negotiation expert in these cases. We are families, our emotions are being brutally played by the Hamas because they don't release any information about the conditions of our loved ones. We don't even have a list, not to mention the ICRC, which doesn't help us at all because no information from them.
But it's clear that in exchange for the, you mentioned, first stage, there will be some kind of a pause. This is what we hear part of the deal. I am not an expert to tell you what is the difference between a complete ceasefire and a pause. This is not my job. We want our loved ones back home. CHURCH: And we are looking at pictures of your loved ones as you
speak. So I want you to talk to us about how difficult it's been for you and your family since your loved ones were taken hostage by Hamas on October 7th. And of course, how much information have you received about them since that shocking day? You mentioned nothing from Hamas, but what about from the Israeli government?
MOR: So from the Israeli government we got the confirmation that they are indeed kidnapped in Gaza Strip. But nothing from that point, no more information. We don't know, for example you mentioned the Ohad. Today is the International Child Day. Ohad is nine years old and he has glasses. We don't know if they are still in one piece, maybe broken. We don't know whether he has a chance to brush his teeth in the morning. We don't know where he sleeps. What does he eat? I mean, just each one of your viewers must consider this as his or her's own child. What would you do for 45 days without knowing the basic conditions of your child? And we have no idea about the basic conditions. Now, health condition or mental condition.
CHURCH: Eyal Mor, thank you so much for talking with us and we hope that all four members of your family will be returned very soon. I Appreciate you talking with us.
MOR: Thank you very much.
CHURCH: Well, the Israeli military says Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea and are threatening to target more. The ship, however, belongs to a Japanese company reportedly registered in the Bahamas. Japan strongly condemns the act and is calling on Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iran to urge the Houthis for an immediate release of the ship and all 25 crew members. CNN's Ben Wedeman has more.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Houthi rebels seized a cargo ship in the Red Sea Sunday afternoon, just hours after the Iranian-backed group's military wing had warned that in retaliation for Israel's war on Gaza, they would target any ship flying the Israeli flag or owned or operated by an Israeli company.
The ship in -- we're talking about, the Galaxy Leader, flying under the flag of the Bahamas was bound for India from Turkey. Israeli officials insist the Galaxy leader is not Israeli-owned, and that there were no Israelis among the crew.
In a statement, the Israeli military described the seizure as a very grave incident of global consequence. A spokesman for the Houthis later confirmed that their forces had seized the ship, which he described as Israeli. He said the crew were being treated in accordance to Islamic values and warned that any Israeli ship would be a legitimate target for Houthi forces.
The Houthis, along with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria and various militias in Iraq, are part of what is known as the Axis of Resistance led by Iran. Since the war began between Israel and Hamas, the Houthis have repeatedly fired missiles toward Israel, all of which were intercepted.
I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Beirut.
CHURCH: Still to come, the tax fraud trial for pop star Shakira is scheduled to begin in Spain next hour. What the Grammy winner is saying about the government's claim that she's a tax cheat.
And some rare good news when it comes to traffic in Los Angeles. A major highway headache is finally over. We'll have the details after a short break. Stay with us.
CHURCH: The tax fraud trial for pop star Shakira is set to get underway in a matter of minutes in Barcelona, Spain. The Colombian- born Grammy-winning singer is accused of not paying more than $15 million in Spanish income taxes between 2012 and 2014. Shakira denies the allegations, insisting she did not live in Spain during that period. If convicted, she could face up to eight years in prison and a fine of more than $25 million.
Journalist Al Goodman joins us now live from Madrid. So Al, what is the latest on this?
AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Hi Rosemary, well you know that Shakira just a few nights ago performed on stage and picked up a couple of extra Grammys at the Latin Grammys Awards ceremony in the southern Spanish city of Seville. This day in Barcelona on the east coast of Spain she'll be facing a very different audience. A three-judge panel is supposed to conduct this trial and make the judgment on these allegations of tax fraud. She'll be facing prosecutors who say that she did live in Spain for more than a half a year, 183 days is the measure, in the years 2012, '13, and '14. And that's how they add up this request that if she's convicted on all counts, eight years in prison, plus those huge back payments and taxes and the fines that you mentioned.
She has said, as you mentioned, that she's innocent. And she has said this in a magazine interview, she has said this through her lawyer, through her public relations firm, basically saying that she traveled around for her business, obviously, as an international entertainer, and that she didn't live more than half a year in Spain during that time. She says that her tax payments were impeccable in Spain and in every other jurisdiction.
Now the prosecutors say, Rosemary, that she created some shell companies in tax havens in some Caribbean islands and other places to try to hide all of this. Now, the trial is supposed to start at the top of this next hour at 10 a.m. in Barcelona, but there have been persistent reports over this weekend from Spanish media that there may be a settlement in the works that her defense lawyer has been talking to prosecutors about possibly cutting a deal and cutting the trial short, which would allow her to pay huge fines, probably avoid any jail time.
But a prosecutor tells CNN that if there is any kind of deal, the prosecutor is not working on this case, but says if there is any kind of deal for any settlement in Spain, that would have to be heard in court as well. So here at the top of the hour, we're expecting to either hear that there's a settlement and she would be in court to acknowledge that according to officials, or that the trial would continue. Her public relations team has told CNN over the weekend, most recently, just very short while ago, that they have no comment on that. If there's no deal, it could be a four-week trial, more than 100 witnesses. It could be a long period, but her day in court is this day, Monday. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right. We'll be watching to see what happens. Al Goodman, joining us live from Madrid with that report. I Appreciate it.
Well, commuters in Los Angeles will wake up this morning to a pleasant surprise. A portion of the I-10 freeway, one of the city's major traffic arteries, is reopening a day early after a massive fire shut it down for over a week. California's governor says the fire was set intentionally and authorities have released images of a person of interest.
CNN's Mike Valerio has more.
MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the governor told us that ever since authorities released those two images of the person of interest, they've received a ton of tips, the photos seen far and wide around the world because of L.A.'s global connection. What is in focus right now? First and foremost, life becoming easier for thousands of people. The Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, of course, right around the corner. So easier travel for thousands of people who are coming to our corner of the country for a warmer holiday with their friends and family.
Also easier for the people who live in and around downtown L.A. who don't have the luxury of staying home and working through Zoom. Finally, the structural tests of the concrete coming back much better than expected. All of those things discussed by not only the governor of California, but the vice president of the United States. Listen.
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I was acutely aware of what closure of the 10 would mean for so many people. Hard working people, families, many people who when it was shut down, they can't work from home. Their work requires them to be present.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): You can be assured of one thing, safety first, quality, foundational in this effort. It wasn't just speed that we were after. We wanted to make sure this thing was safe. VALERIO: So we return for a moment briefly to the person of interest.
Some fascinating characteristics that authorities have released, saying that the man was likely wearing a knee brace on his right knee and also possibly has a burn on his left leg. The man being described as somebody in his 30s, ethnicity unknown at this point.
But I thought it was also important, it was recognized that in this time of so many tough and terrible headlines around the world, this is certainly a moment to be celebrated. Civic authorities saying that scores and scores of electricians, engineers, carpenters, union members coming together to make sure that this vital transportation artery, not fixed in a matter of six months, but rather eight days, and that is something certainly to celebrate.
Mike Valerio, CNN, Los Angeles.
CHURCH: Up next, an entire town in Iceland under evacuation and staying on high alert for a possible volcanic eruption. We will hear from some of those forced to flee their homes back with that in just a moment.
CHURCH: A fishing town in Iceland is staying on high alert with the possibility of a major volcanic eruption at any time. The town, with about 3,400 residents, has been evacuated and people have only had brief opportunities to return to their homes and gather their belongings. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.
FREDERIK PLETIGEN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nature's brute force punching through the ground, cracking roads and houses here in Grindavik's southern Iceland ahead of what could be a massive volcanic eruption threatening the entire town.
Residents are on the run, like Paul Peterson, who evacuated his wife and three small children.
You had to leave quickly?
PAUL PETERSON, GRINDAVIK RESIDENT: Yeah. Friday night.
PLEITGEN: What was that like?
PETERSON: It was horrible.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iceland is in what's called a hotspot, where magma often breaks through the Earth's crust, which can result in massive eruptions. And what happens here can affect large parts of the globe.
In 2010, ash spewed into the atmosphere by a volcano here brought transatlantic air travel to a virtual standstill for weeks.
Iceland's government says this time around the effects could also be devastating with both Grindavik and a geothermal power plant nearby which provides energy to Iceland's main international airport and the possible path of lava.
PLEITGEN: The authorities here are highly concerned about the town of Grindavik and of course has been evacuated a few days ago but also about the geothermal power plant here in this area and they are working 24/7 to try and dig a trench to redirect the lava if it comes to the surface.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Government experts here acknowledge they're not certain the trench would prevent lava from damaging the power plant. The main problem isn't even the size of the possible eruption, but the fact that it's so close to urban areas, geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson from the University of Iceland tells me.
MAGNUS TUMI GUDMUNDSSON, UNIVERSITY OF ICELAND: It's so close to the town of Grindavik and the power plant. And that is the main concern, that it could damage one or both of these facilities.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Because the eruption could happen any time, Grindivik's residents can only return for a few minutes on some days to retrieve personal items from their homes.
Are you hopeful about the situation that maybe the town will be spared if the big eruption happens?
ELIZABETH OLAFSDOTTIR, GRINDAVIK RESIDENT: Regarding our house, no, not really. because the lava tunnel is laying very close to our house. So we are expecting to lose everything if it will erupt.
CHURCH: Millions of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving are facing thunderstorms, snow and even tornadoes. That means possible delays at all major airport hubs in the U.S. CNN's Alison Chinchar has more.
ALLISON CHINCAHR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's all thanks to this low pressure system sitting right across the central U.S. Out to the west we've got a rain snow mix. But farther east, you're looking at the main concerns to be rain, which could be heavy at times and some gusty winds in the Midwest.
And then down to the south, the main concern is actually going to be the potential for severe thunderstorms. The main threats there will be damaging winds, hail, and even some isolated tornadoes, especially places like Shreveport up to Memphis and all the way back down to New Orleans. The timeline there is really going to be the afternoon and continuing into Monday evening as that low pressure system continues to progress eastward. By Tuesday, now the big concern is going to be a lot of the folks traveling in the air.
A lot of those connecting hubs like Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, up through Washington D.C. and New York could all end up seeing some delays as we go through the day Tuesday and even continuing into Tuesday night. And by Wednesday morning we start to see more of the impacts across areas of the Northeast. So for Monday specifically, we are looking at more of the delays early in the morning. Still out West places like Denver, where you've got the rain, snow mix, Las Vegas for high winds.
By the time we get later into the day Monday, now you're talking more than Midwest and the Southeast. And then by Tuesday you start to see a lot of those delays potentially spreading into areas of the Northeast such as New York and Washington D.C.
CHURCH: I want to thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Do enjoy the rest of your day. "CNN Newsroom" continues next with Max Foster.