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CNN International: Baltimore Bridge Collapses After Being Hit By Cargo Ship; Israeli Defense Minister To Meet U.S. Defense Secretary; Julian Assange Extradition Appeal Delayed Again; U.S. Supreme Court Deciding Fate Of Abortion Pill; Ukraine Targeting Starlink Systems Used By Russian Forces; Ohtani: I Never Bet On Baseball Or Any Other Sport. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 26, 2024 - 08:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: Hi, everyone, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Amara Walker. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

We begin with major breaking news from the United States this hour. We are following a terrifying story from Baltimore, Maryland today. The Key Bridge, part of a major highway around the city, collapsed just a few hours ago after being struck by a large cargo ship. You can see it there on the right side of your screen.

You're looking at live pictures of the scene as well as video of the moment when that massive bridge partially collapsed. A search and rescue operation is ongoing right now. Now, this collision happened in the middle of the night in Baltimore, which thankfully meant that there were not too many cars on the bridge, but there were several.

Officials say a number of vehicles fell into the river. We understand two people have been pulled from the water. They survived. Officials say they are looking for at least seven others.


JAMES WALLACE, BALTIMORE FIRE CHIEF: At about 01:50 hours, our first unit arrived on scene and reported a complete collapse of the key bridge. We were also given information at that time that there were likely multiple people on the bridge at the time of the collapse and that as a result, multiple people were in the water.


WALKER: CNN's Gabe Cohen rushed to the scene in Baltimore shortly after the collapse occurred. He spoke a short time ago to my colleague Sara Sidner.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These first minutes of daylight are giving us a really surreal look at this rescue operation that's currently underway. I want to step out right away and give you a look at what's happening as we push in on the key bridge here because it gives you a sense of this urgent search that officials have had to carry out here over the last few hours.

Sonar picking up that there are vehicles in the water that came down off the key bridge when it collapsed early this morning. And you can see, if you look, some police boats clearly in the water. That's what those flashing lights are. And as we push in on that container ship, those are chunks of the key bridge mangled in the water.

At least one of them strewn across the deck of that ship that's still sitting there in the river as rescuers are around it, trying to find anyone who might be alive in the water. As you mentioned, officials have said they're searching for at least seven people, but they don't know the exact number.

But this is a long bridge, a wide river from our vantage point. You can see clearly a huge chunk of it. That's gone, Sara. The gap between the two sides. It maybe is a half mile long. It's hard to tell from our view. But look, they have shut down both sides of the bridge as this rescue is underway.

This is about as close as we could get. But it is stunning to see what was the key bridge, an extremely important route not just for people who live in Baltimore, but anyone who travels the so-called the sell a corridor between Washington and New York.

This is over interstate. This is Interstate 695. It is really a highly trafficked road. There are going to be implications there in the hours, days, months ahead. But right now, the focus is on this urgent search for any possible survivors who could still be in this choppy water.


WALKER: And that was CNN's Gabe Cohen reporting from the scene of the bridge collapse. You will have him in a live report later this hour.

Let's get now to CNN Transportation Analyst Mary Schiavo. She is a former Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Transportation.


Mary, just seeing these images of this bridge collapsing like a house of cards, really, I mean, it was -- it's -- you see how massive this ship is. What were your thoughts when you first saw this?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: Well, my first thoughts were -- as will be the thoughts of the investigators, is what was going on on the ship? Did they have a failure of their control instruments of their rudder? You know, my initial thought is, did they have local pilots on board, you know, river pilots, harbor pilots to get them safely in and out?

Now, Baltimore officials have confirmed that they did have such personnel on board and that's very important. There's an old saying in maritime operations that go safe passage requires local knowledge. But we do know that they had those on board. So they're going to be looking at what was going on the ship. And then, in U.S. bridge collapses quite often over water. That is what happens is a ship or a barge hits the bridge, but often there's a secondary issue, and that is how old is the bridge and what was the construction of the bridge? How was the bridge fastened to it stage. Was there work going on in the bridge? All those things went through my mind and those will all be on the, you know, the uppermost thoughts of the investigators is to tackle this.

WALKER: I mean, I can't imagine that these kinds of container ship accidents hitting the column of a bridge like this happens very often. You know, what are the possibilities? I mean, and what's most likely to you?

SCHIAVO: Well, the -- you know, the most likely possibility, since they have already said, the FBI and federal officials have already said, there is no indication of terrorism or criminal activities, and so usually it's a couple of things. You know, there actually have been dozens of these instances in the United States where ships or barges have gone astray and hit a bridge and caused the bridge damage or collapse.

And often it's the case of, one, where they don't have a local pilot on board or they don't have the tugs or the local expertise in place to safely guide the ship in and out of the harbor. Or, two, they have a ship malfunction. Something happened with the controls, something happened with the rudder, with the various thrusters, you know, the bower or the other thrusters on the ship to help really do the fine tuning and the steerage and that's often a concern.

You know, there have been stories in the past about ships where the, you know, the commanders were incapacitated for various reasons. But that doesn't appear to be the case here because the ship stopped. Apparently the ship did call for, you know, did report the emergency. And that will be an issue too. How soon after the hit did they report it? And then finally, what was the repair about on the bridge? That will be a big issue too.

WALKER: And as a typical -- because we heard about an hour and a half ago from officials there on the scene that they were not yet in contact with the people and the crew on board this container ship. Do you expect that they are now in contact and they will be, you know, getting access to that ship?

SCHIAVO: Yes. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board will have a primary responsibility for leading the investigation. And under U.S. law, persons involved in a transportation accident, which includes this, must cooperate with the NTSB, but and the realities of the world, of course, they also probably have council, they have insurance council.

They have many other attorneys that will be involved. But, yes, there has to be cooperation. Also, the Maritime Administration will have some role in this as well as local authorities who are responsible for the port. But cooperation is required of any transportation personnel involved in an accident. WALKER: What are your thoughts on the fact that two people were rescued, one of whom was actually in fine condition, refused to go to the hospital because he or she was doing just fine, the other was transported to a trauma center in serious condition.

They're saying between seven to 20 people may be in the water. How do they come up with that number? How do they, I guess, ascertain how many people they will be looking for? And at what point does this turn into a recovery effort?

SCHIAVO: Well, depending upon the temperature of the water, and I've heard some estimates already that would give them roughly about three hours in the very cold water. The reason they had some count on the numbers is they did confirm that there was work going on the bridge.

And, of course, they would know how many people were on the work crew. You have to stay -- you have to account for your work people working on a work job. And so they would know how many people were on that bridge on the work crew.

Now for other, you know, for other traffic, other vehicles, modern bridges. Now, this is a 1977 bridge. It's not the most modern bridges, but modern bridges do have camera coverage. And so we will wait to see if there's any camera coverage of the vehicles on the bridge right now.

There are low vehicles. They have said through sonar, underwater sonar, and they have located vehicles underwater, and they're working on what to do about that and how to get them out.


WALKER: All right, CNN Transportation Analyst Mary Schiavo, always great to have you. Thank you for your time.

So officials are calling this a mass casualty event. The moment the container ship collided with the bridge, a massive stretch of the bridge, as you can see there, crashed into the water. And eyewitnesses tell us what they heard and felt at the moment of impact.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I live in a community called Sunny Beach, which is the first community going south from the bridge. And we were awakened with what appeared to be an earthquake and a long rolling sound of thunder.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we woke up and literally we can look right out of our bedroom window and see the key bridge. But I couldn't see anything because of the darkness. And a little bit later, got up again to check and I saw some emergency lights in the area and decided to drive up because I'm the old dog, you know, chasing the fire truck, and came up here. And what was in progress was a multi-jurisdictional response to a disaster, basically. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: All right, joining me now is Juliette Kayyem, CNN Senior National Security Analyst and a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Juliette, I know you've been watching this all morning with us here on CNN. We are just learning that the FAA is restricting aircraft from flying over the wreckage of the Key Bridge, which makes sense to you, correct?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely. I think one is there's a lot of curious people and so you want to just control the airspace. There's also an ongoing recovery. People have lost family members today. We know that. And so you don't want there to be more danger or to be curiosity seekers looking to get pictures before family members are notified.

So this is generally the rule when there is a mass casualty event is that they'll control the airspace. We also had heard of some smells in terms of whether there was anything leaking from the ship or just whether it was a remnants of the ship hitting such a large bridge. So there is ongoing danger for first responders and so you just want to protect them in all ways possible while the recovery is going on.

WALKER: What did you make of the news conference? You know, we heard there from Baltimore officials emphatically declaring --


WALKER: -- at least preliminarily that this was not terrorism.


WALKER: What are your thoughts on that, and what is the FBI doing at the scene?

KAYYEM: OK, so the FBI would be there only because there's going to be some kind of federal investigation. It may not be criminal nor terrorism-related, but this -- you know, someone is going to have liability for this, likely, the ship owner and will determine what the investigation finds.

I am with the county and city officials that there is no suggestion of terrorism. I have looked at the video a lot. There is questions about the mobility of the boat as it hits -- of the ship as it hits the bridge. And so that is going to be the number one question.

Look, they already know a lot. They already -- that there's individuals on the boat who are probably who have explained what has happened. Did they lose capacity of controlling the ship? There would be a what we, you know, what we call like a harbor master, someone on the ship helping it get through this area. There is sonar, there is radar, there's GPS systems that are all monitoring the boat as normal course of business.

So there's already a lot of information known. So I'm -- I would shut down the terrorism speculation for 100 reasons right now. This is a tragedy. It's an accident. And there will be liability for someone or some company.

WALKER: And we're also getting in, according to the ship management company, Synergy Group, that no crew members were injured in the crash. But, of course --


WALKER: -- you know, we're still trying to determine the cause. At least investigators there are on the scene. Juliette, I learned this morning about these local pilots, these harbor pilots --


WALKER: -- who board these ships to help, you know, these ships that come from all over the world to navigate --


WALKER: -- their local waters. The fact that there was a local pilot on board, we also understand from a CNN analysis that the ship veered off course just shortly before it hit the bridge.


WALKER: But there was a local pilot on board. So does that point to that this may not have been human error, but more mechanical issue?

KAYYEM: Yes. To me, it does and we won't speculate. It's just in the range of explanations for this.


Having a harbor pilot on means that the harbor pilot is ensuring that the ship's crew, who are not owned by Baltimore or the harbor, they're owned by the ship, right, by the company are aware and are navigating this very large ship through very, very narrow passageways that's why you put a master on them.

The masters are owned by whatever entity would be in charge of sort of the harbor area for the city and jurisdiction. This is normal course of business. I have joined masters on ships before they are professional. They are -- and so, why the investigation is important at this stage is what was happening on the ship in the moments before the video shows as we've all seen a ship that looked like it could not get out of its way.

I mean, it looks -- and whether it was disabled because it had lost control of its capacity, we don't know at this stage. But that would be the general explanation or your first part of the investigation is going to be interviewing the people on the ship at this stage as the recovery is ongoing. I mean, that's the nature of these things is that the recovery and the investigation.

And then, of course, the third piece, which is what alternative are these ships, let alone automobiles and people who have to move around in a densely urban area. What are the alternative plans right now? Today is one day of a lot of days when this is going to be disrupted.

WALKER: Yes, that's a good point.

Juliette Kayyem, appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

WALKER: Well, the mayor of Baltimore says seeing the key bridge come down look like something out of an action movie. Brandon Scott called the incident an unthinkable tragedy and promised to focus on the families affected.


BRANDON SCOTT, MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: Everyone, this is a unthinkable tragedy. We have to, first and foremost, pray for all of those who are impacted, those families, pray for our first responders and thank them. All of them working together, city, state, local to make sure that we are working through this tragedy.

This is an ongoing active (ph) research that we're having right now. We're going to continue as you heard from Chief Wallace throughout. As long as we have to be doing that, we will do it. But we have to be thinking about the families and people impacted, folks who -- we have to try to find and save. This is what our focus should be on right now.

We're going to continue to work in partnership with every part of government to do everything that we can to get us through the other side of this tragedy.


WALKER: Let's bring in CNN Transportation Correspondent Pete Muntean. He is near the scene in Maryland. Pete, what are you learning this morning?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN TRANSPORTATION CORRESPONDENT: We are on the Dundalk side of where this collapse and collision took place. This is the east side of the Patapsco River. And behind me, you can see the key bridge off in the distance and the parts of the bridge that essentially folded like a cheap suit.

After this collision, and that will be the big question that investigators have about why that really took place, there have been a lot of questions about the power failure that has been reported on this ship that was flagged out of Singapore about 950 feet long. There were two blinks of light, according to early reports on board this ship.

And so the power failure, what that took -- how that took place and how that played into this incident. We're hearing now from the National Transportation Safety Board that they are gathering preliminary information about this incident in tandem with the Coast Guard to see whether or not they will launch an investigative team. That seems very likely here because Transportation Secretary of Maryland Paul Wiedefeld said earlier they don't believe that terrorism was a play here. They do know that there were workers on top of the bridge doing deck work on top of the bridge. And you can see at least off in the distance from here, it's a little difficult, maybe with the throw of the camera, the big chunks of deck of the bridge that sort of came down like big quarters of a Hershey bar.

That is sort of the suspension portion of the bridge that has collapsed in the background there after this ship hit one of those big pilings of the key bridge. There is a channel there that is very busy that boats go in and out of the Patapsco River going into the port of Baltimore here. This is one of the busiest ports on the east coast.

And there are a lot of big questions here when it comes to the investigation that is only just now beginning, Amara. This could take a year, 18 months, 24 months to figure out exactly what took place here. But the big question that investigators will have is really what led to the collision that led to the collapse of this bridge, and then also the mitigating factors that pile on here.

Why was it so easy for the bridge to collapse so quickly? That will be one big investigative probe, but they really will want to know what took place on the boat. The transportation end of all of this that led to this crash into the bridge.


WALKER: OK, so in terms of the investigation and the information that investigators will -- are gathering right now, who do you anticipate that they will be talking to? Of course, we'd imagine that the crew members of the pilot on board the ship, but also have we heard anything about potential surveillance video.

MUNTEAN: Of course, there is a lot of video of the harbor, and there's already been video out there surfacing online from traffic cameras and otherwise, so that will be something that will be a big clue for investigators. Of course, they will want to talk to the crew, as they often do in any incident.

Remember, the NTSB not only investigates maritime incidents, but also aviation incidents. They regularly talk to the crew after something like this. They give them a little period of cool down, but they don't want much time to go by because essentially they don't want their memory to be filled with something else. They want to be able to remember the incident very clearly.

Also, investigators will want to speak to witnesses. And if they can get to anybody who was on board the bridge at the time, anybody who was driving at the time, any witnesses who were on shore. This is a very, very populated area when it comes to the business of the port. And so there may be people on the shore who were able to see this take place from different vantage points than cameras have.

And so, witness accounts will be really important. There are so many angles for them to go down. And this is really only just now starting. Right now, the search is really the big concern, and we can hear the helicopters overhead now with the advantage of daylight to be able to see the banks of the Patapsco River, to see the center of the river to make sure that nobody else is still in the river.

If this happened in the summertime, or when it is a little bit warmer, there may be other boats nearby who could have efforted a bit of a search as well. But we all know that this happened at one in the morning. The port is not very busy at that time. The river is not very busy at that time. So this does sort of complicate things as well and may have sort of hampered the search efforts here.

But we're just now sort of learning the initial details. So many of the answers right now, too early to tell. And that's what Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld just said not clear exactly what precipitated this. Although a lot, a lot of big avenues for investigators to go down right now.

WALKER: Yes. And you're so right to mention the search and rescue efforts. I mean, that is the priority time is of the essence. The water is frigid. Of course, it's -- the tide is also coming in and the chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department this morning saying that there's at least seven vehicles that fell in up to 20. Of course, we'll keep you updated.

Pete Muntean, thank you so much for getting there so quickly.

We'll, of course, have much more on that bridge collapse coming up later this hour, including a look at the weather conditions rescue teams are currently facing.

All right, still to come, the White House says it is perplexed after Israel abruptly canceled a planned delegation to Washington all over a U.N. Security Council vote. The details are ahead.

Plus, Julian Assange's extradition to the U.S. is delayed once again. We will bring you the latest from London.



WALKER: Israel's defense minister will meet his U.S. counterpart at the Pentagon in the coming hours as the rift between the leaders of the two nations deepens. Yoav Gallant is expected to ask for more U.S. weapons and equipment to support its war with Hamas. It is a delicate request at a time when such sales are under intense scrutiny as the death of civilians continues to rise there.

Gallant was already in Washington meeting top U.S. officials on Monday. When the U.S. abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote on a Gaza ceasefire clearing the way for the measure to pass. Well, that move upset the Israeli prime minister who canceled scheduled meetings in the U.S. on Israel's military plans for Rafah in southern Gaza.

Let's bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks who's in Doha, Qatar, where negotiations are still underway. Paula, what more do we know about this meeting with Lloyd Austin and the Israeli Defense Minister? Could the atmosphere be a bit more tense after yesterday's U.N. vote and, of course, Netanyahu pulling out on this delegation?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Amara, you would assume so. I mean, certainly this is a very public rejection of this resolution and of the U.S. part in the resolution passing by the Israeli prime minister. And it must signal a new low point in the relations between the two countries.

But what we've heard from a U.S. official, that there were inside the White House that officials were perplexed, also saying that they saw it as an overreaction by Netanyahu to decide to cancel this delegation that was supposed to be going to Washington later this week. But they also acknowledged that it was potentially something that he was playing more to a domestic audience.

He's under huge domestic pressure, and maybe that was his reasoning. But what we understand at this point is that there will be, this meeting between Yoav Gallant and Lloyd Austin. So the two defense secretaries will be meeting.

We know that in the meeting yesterday with the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, that they had brought up what they were intending to bring up with the delegation that has now been canceled namely, alternatives to what the Israelis want to do in Rafah, which is a massive ground offensive in an area where there's well over 1 million Palestinians sheltering at this point.

And also, of course, it's the key land crossing for humanitarian aid. So this is likely to be a key message that will be given. Officials telling us that they will still get their message across and they will still be able to give the alternatives that they believe will be able to defeat Hamas.

Also pointing out that there isn't a country in the world at this point that does support Israel continuing to plan for this mass offensive in Rafah, but we have heard from the Israeli prime minister that he will go ahead with it with or without the U.S. support. Amara?

WALKER: All right. Paula Hancocks, appreciate it, live for us there in Doha.

Julian Assange has fended off the threat of immediate extradition to the United States for now. A short time ago, the U.K.'s High Court in London gave the U.S. government their weeks to offer assurances about what would happen to the WikiLeaks founder in the states.

Now, the U.S. wants Assange brought to America where he faces an 18 count indictment. If the U.S. fails to give the requested assurances, Assange would be allowed to appeal his extradition. Now his battle began in 2010 when he started publishing classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CNN's Nada Bashir is following the story live from London. Nada, what more did the court have to say? NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Amara, it had been anticipated that today's ruling from the High Court in London would be a final decision on whether or not Assange has exhausted all avenues within the British court system to appeal his extradition to the United States.

But what we have seen today from the High Court is rather more of a delay to that extradition appeal and, of course crucially, more assurances being requested from the United States. And as you mentioned, Amara, what they are asking for now is for the U.S. government to provide assurances around the treatment that Mr. Assange would face if he were to be extradited to the United States.

Crucially centered around his treatment and, of course, around his First Amendment rights, but also assurances that he would not be subjected to the death penalty if he were to be held there in detention in the United States. Now, at this stage, the U.S. has been given three weeks to provide those assurances.


WALKER: The indication, Nada, as to what the next legal moves will be for Julian Assange?

BASHIR: Well, if those assurances from the U.S. are not provided, then it is expected that his legal team will be granted the right to a full appeal hearing. If, however, those assurances are provided by U.S. authorities, then we are expecting to see Assange's legal team back in court in May -- on May 20th, where the court will decide whether or not those assurances firstly are satisfactory, and whether or not any further appeals will be permitted.

Now, of course, if Assange is indeed extradited to the United States, if that is the ruling of the British High Court, and his legal team has already said that they will lodge an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in an attempt to halt his extradition.

And we have heard reaction from his legal team but also from Amnesty International earlier today, saying that the High Court's decision leaves Julian Assange in limbo and all defenders of press freedom in limbo. But the fight continues and his legal team have been clear that they will continue to fight against his potential extradition.

WALKER: All right, Nada Bashir in London for us. Thank you very much.

Still to come, more on our top story, the collapse of a major bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, and update on the search and rescue operations in just a moment.

Also, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon begin hearing arguments in a case which could make it much harder to get an abortion in the U.S. We'll be live from Washington with the details.


WALKER: Let's return now to our top story and that stunning collapse of a massive bridge in Baltimore, Maryland. As the sun has come up, we have gotten a better look at the total destruction of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. It crashed into the water about seven hours ago after being struck by a very large container ship.

A search and rescue operation is underway with seven people believed to be missing. At least seven people. Officials say their focus right now is on finding everyone who may have fallen into the water.


SCOTT: This is a unthinkable tragedy. We have to, first and foremost, pray for all of those who are impacted. But we have to be thinking about the families and people impacted, folks who we have to try to find and save.


WALKER: All right, let's go live now to Baltimore to the scene. CNN's Gabe Cohen has been there for the past few hours. Gabe, what's the latest on the search and rescue operation? What are officials saying about, you know, the optimism and finding more survivors?


COHEN: Well, look, Amara, they say at this point, they are still carrying this out as an urgent rescue operation even though, as the hours pass, it is very difficult to imagine somebody could survive in water like this. The temperature around 48 degrees for such an extended period of time.

But if you look behind me, and we're going to zoom in now, you can actually see this search and rescue operation unfolding. There are several, I've counted close to a dozen of boats in the water, rescuers, divers that are trying to save anyone that can find in the water.

And as we push closer, that is the massive container ship, the dolly that crashed into the Key Bridge and sent those massive chunks of steel sections of the bridge down into the water. You can see one is laying across the deck of that ship right now, mangled.

We've also seen on the top of the ship, the bridge where the operating controls presumably would be. It looks like there are people inside who have been walking around. We know that there is a crew on board. We have gotten word from the operating company at this point that there were no injuries from anyone on the ship.

But as you mentioned, major concern for the people who were on the bridge, people who were inside cars or even construction crews that may have been working at the time. As you mentioned, officials have said they are searching for at least seven people. And they have found through sonar, they can detect that there are vehicles in the water.

And so, look, I've been out here for hours now, it is -- there frigid conditions along the river. Winds are whipping, it is very cold and there are quite substantial waves and so conditions are not ideal for rescuers who are searching a really large portion of this river. It is a huge section that collapsed when that container ship drove into, actually collided with a column of the bridge.

And as we pan to the left, what you have seen here is emergency vehicles that are along the riverbank that also seem to be participating in this operation. Look, it as a fluid situation, Amara. We're still waiting for more details on whether or not rescuers believe they can still save people in this water. But as of now, the mayor and various other officials have said they are going to continue this operation and search to rescue people.

WALKER: It was just stunning to see a moment ago, your cameraman was panning from the left to the right, you saw the bridge and then all of a sudden a gaping hole. Just what a dramatic scene and we do hope that more people are rescued. Obviously, a very urgent situation.

Gabe Cohen on the scene for us there in Baltimore. Thank you.

Let's get more now on what the weather conditions were like at the time of the bridge collapse, what it is now, and what emergency teams are dealing with during their search and rescue operations, particularly those divers who are in the water.

CNN's Derek Van Dam joining me now from the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. The water was even colder at 130 this morning when the bridge first collapsed, right?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, roughly about 48 degrees. And that is just simply dangerous water temperatures to have come in contact with for anyone who is not prepared to feel and be exposed to temperatures just like that. Remember, cold water drains body heat four times faster than cold air physically does.

So, if there are presumably people that are potentially in the water with this bridge collapse, they are contending with water temperatures in the 40s. And we look at some of the facts behind how long the average human can survive within water temperatures of this magnitude 40 to 50 degrees.

And without flotation, we anticipate a one to three hours survival sustainability here for the human body. That is just the average facts from the National Weather Service. Remember that cold, shock, and hypothermia can easily set in with those types of water temperatures.

Now, in terms of the search and rescue rescue crews that are actively ongoing with this process right now, while they're having to contend with changing tides and changing currents, we currently have a coastal flood advisory across the entire Chesapeake Bay and Delmarva Peninsula, and even more hyper locally into the Patapsco River region where the bridge collapse actually occurred.

So, high tide was this morning at 8:20 in the morning. Low tide is at 3:10. So, we are going to start experiencing a reversal in the currents and the tides which by the way have been exaggerated because we're nearing a full moon right now. So we get those exaggerated tidal swings and that means exaggerated currents in and out of those bays and in and out of the Patapsco River.


So another factor we're also considering is the approach of a cold front. You can see it to the west of Baltimore. This is going to approach the region late tonight, bring rainfall to the area, also pick up the winds that could create some chop on the water for the boats trying to stay stationary during the search and rescue operation.

So, obviously, still a very fluid situation on the ground, above the surface of the water, and below the surface of the water, tried to break it all down for you there. Amara?

WALKER: And we do want to mention, we're just getting this in from the Baltimore County executive who says that dive operations have now begun now that the sun has come up. But, obviously, as you're mentioning, they're going to be up against some really tough conditions, including some rough currents.

Derek Van Dam, thank you very much.

Well, in the next few hours, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the most significant abortion case in America since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022. Protesters representing both sides are beginning to gather outside the court in Washington.

The case centers on the drug mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in medication abortion. For context, nearly two-thirds of abortions in the U.S. last year were medication abortions from mifepristone actually. The drug was approved by the FDA decades ago, and is proven to be safe and highly effective.

Last year, a Texas judge ruled with anti-abortion activists seeking to invalidate mifepristone's approval. That ruling and an appeal against it have been on hold pending a Supreme Court review. Today, in about 90 minutes from now, the conservative majority Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in the case.

CNN Medical Correspondent Meg Tirrell is with me now. Just give us a sense of how high stakes this is, especially on top of the fact that, you know, Roe v. Wade was overturned two years ago.

TIRRELL: Yes, Amara. I mean, because Roe v. Wade was overturned two years ago, abortion access, of course, has been a lot harder to get for many people in the United States. And medication abortion has been an increasing way that people access abortion here in this country.

Now, 63 percent of all abortions are medication abortions, that's as of 2023. And the numbers have been going up over time. More than 1 million abortions happened in 2023, so that's more than 600,000 people who are accessing these medicines.

Now, as you mentioned, this case focuses on a drug called mifepristone. It's one of two drugs used for medication abortion, which is approved up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. This has been proven to be very effective, 95 percent to 98 percent effective, as well as very safe.

Experts say that studies have shown there are serious complications and about 0.3 percent of cases here and use of this medicine. Now at stake today is not necessarily the idea that this is going to go away completely. The Supreme Court is looking at an appeals court decision that essentially would roll back the clock on restrictions around how these medicines can be used to where they were before 2016.

And in essence, that means this can really restrict access to this medicine, especially via telehealth, which has been an increasingly important way that people get access to these medications. Right now, the abortion is banned completely in 14 states in the U.S. So this is not technically available in those states.

There are another 15 states that you can see there that have restrictions on access to medication abortion. But if the Supreme Court upholds the appeals court ruling, this would affect all states in the United States. So it really affect abortion access across the country, Amara.

WALKER: And could you just give us a sense of the arguments? Just because, you know, you have on one side, the DOJ, the FDA, and the drug itself, mifepristone, you know, arguing that our drug has been proven to be safe and effective. So what is the other side's saying that it's not safe?

TIRRELL: Essentially, yes, that it's not safe, that it didn't take into effect, the implications for the healthcare system. And the doctors, they argue who would be left dealing with the fallout from these medications if they have to cope with side effects in the ER, for example, things like that.

You know, experts in the space say that's unfounded. We don't see those kinds of complications in any great number, and that this drug has been proven to be safe. You know, a lot of this, I think, though, is going to turn today on whether there's even standing for these plaintiffs who are a group of anti-abortion doctors to have brought this challenge to the FDA.

I've talked with legal experts who think, well, that's the first thing that Supreme Court needs to address and they don't even think it gets beyond that. They don't think that this group has standing but we're going to see of course, in the oral arguments this morning.

WALKER: Yes. This is obviously a significant case and a moment for those opposed or for abortion rights.

CNN Medical Correspondent Meg Tirrell, thank you.

TIRRELL: Thanks.

WALKER: Still to come, Russian soldiers are reportedly using Elon Musk's Starlink terminals in the battlefield despite the sanctions against it. We'll have a detail -- we'll have the details from a scathing report coming up.



WALKER: Russia appears to be using Starlink satellite communications terminals despite sanctions. It is the same technology that Ukraine relies on to guide its drone warfare. Starlink, which is created by Elon Musk's SpaceX company, is now giving Russian forces a battlefield advantage.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh shows us how Ukraine is responding.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukraine's newest target is something they've long cherished themselves. Small, white, rectangular satellite internet terminals from Elon Musk's Starlink apparently in Russian hands and hit by Ukrainian drones. They're not supposed to be there at all, according to Musk and U.S. sanctions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Here, a Russian soldier explains frontline damage to one of their Starlink units connecting attack drones and command centers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)

PATON WALSH (voice-over): While Russia has officially denied their use, their army of crowdfunders openly flown Starlink purchases in third countries.

Here is one key supplier showing off store bought drones and five Starlinks too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The next batch will be bigger, 30 pieces.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): The look on their faces does not suggest they're too confident in coming home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Take care of yourself.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): She has posted other images of Starlinks and drones bought. Ukrainian troops we met across the eastern south of the frontline said Russia has near copied their system of attack drones. Using Starlink's internet signal to control dozens of single use first person view devices to swarm Ukrainian positions.

Here is even an intercepted signal one unit told us they had hacked from a Russian drone. You can see it maneuvering into Ukrainian target. Near the heavily contested village of Robotine down in the bunkers where the drone wars are fought, this change is huge and has come with an apparent complication for the Ukrainians too.

Their Starlink's speeds have been getting slower, said this commander. ANTON, UKRAINE'S 65TH MECHANIZED BRIGADE (through translator): Before New Year the speed was much higher. Now it decreased by half. I saw information about the Russians, through neutral countries, bringing Starlinks, and using them on the Zaporizhzhia front lines for their purposes.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Another operator in the same area reported problems in the last month.


MISHA, COMMUNICATIONS OPERATOR, UKRAINIAN ARMY (through translator): What we really started to notice is a constant drop of speed and connection. We need to reboot the Starlinks all the time to make them work properly, but eventually speed starts to drop and connection breaks.

PATON WALSH (through translator): And is it messing with work?

MISHA (through translator): Yes, it brings rather unpleasant complications.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 9,000 active space lasers. So, sort of vaguely reminds me of Dr. Evil (ph)

PATON WALSH (voice-over): A lot rests on Musk, while Ukrainian officials went public with their concerns six weeks ago and they've since gone silent there perhaps quietly pressuring Musk, who experts think can vet who uses terminals, even if that's trickier in contested areas.

OLEG KUTKOV, SOFTWARE ENGINEER AND STARLINK EXPERT: It's possible SpaceX can pinpoint each terminal and they know who is who but the problem is to identify the actual owner of the account. Musk is a big child, so it's important to talk to him and defend him here because he may do some good decisions that might be not very good for everyone.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Musk's SpaceX and Starlink did not respond to requests for comment. They said previously, they do business with the Russian state or military. And if a sanction party uses Starlink, we investigate the claim and take action to deactivate the terminal if confirmed.

But as Ukraine's other lifelines wobble, or dry up, space-based internet is one they cannot afford to see slow, lose to the Russians or lose at all.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


WALKER: And we will be right back.


WALKER: An update now on our top story, the devastating collapse of a massive bridge in Baltimore, Maryland. We are getting a better look at the total destruction of a part of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. It crashed into the water about seven hours ago after being struck by a large container ship.

Dive operations have begun to try to bring anyone out of the water especially those who may have survived, Officials say at least seven people are missing.

And finally this hour, baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani says he has never bet on baseball or any other sport. The Los Angeles Dodgers superstar is addressing the theft and gambling allegations against his former interpreter for the first time.

CNN's Nick Watt has more.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Shohei Ohtani came out and spoke hoping to lay the bed all the rumors and the stories that have been circulating since this story first broke nearly a week ago. Ohtani spoke through a new interpreter and basically said that his longtime interpreter and friend, Ippei Mizuhara, is basically a liar, a gambler and a thief.

Take a little listen to what he had to say through that interpreter.


SHOHEI OHTANI, LOS ANGELES DODGERS DESIGNATED HITTER (through translator): I never bet on baseball and other sports or never have asked somebody to do it on my behalf. And I have never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports. Up until a couple of days ago, I didn't know that this was happening. Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.


WATT: Now some suspicion had fallen on Ohtani because of dueling narratives and also because the bookmaker at the center of all this, he had apparently been telling people that Shohei Ohtani was his client not Ippei Mizuhara, the interpreter.


Now, I spoke to the lawyer for that bookie. The bookie is Matthew Bowyer, the lawyer is Diane Bass. She said, listen, Bowyer, sure he might have said that but he was just bragging, boasting. You know, it was a good marketing ploy to say that Shoehi Ohtani perhaps the greatest baseball player to ever live was your client, but she reiterated that Ohtani and the bookie had zero direct contact whatsoever.

Now, why this is such a big story? Well, this is Shoehi Ohtani's opening week here at the LA Dodgers. He came on a $700 million 10-year contract. He's a two-way player. He pitches, he hits. He is spoken of in the same breaths as Babe Ruth.

And, you know, there was a poll of MLB players asked who's the best player right now, two-thirds of them said it was Ohtani. So Ohtani and the Dodgers clearly trying to put this to bed so that the focus can be on him, at the Dodgers and opening day, Thursday.

Nick Watt, CNN, inside Dodger Stadium.

WALKER: Thanks so much, Nick.

Thank you for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Amara Walker. Stay with CNN for the very latest on the Baltimore bridge collapse.

"CONNECT THE WORLD" with Eleni Giokos is up next.