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Russia Launches "Massive" Missile Attack on Ukraine; World Reacts to China's Spreading COVID-19 Cases; Cambodia Hotel Fire; Prayers for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; CNN's Clarissa Ward Recalls Early Days of Russian Invasion; Southwest Meltdown Leaves Passengers Angry, Frustrated; Buffalo Trying to Recover from Brutal Storm; Top 10 Space Stories of 2022. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 29, 2022 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): The U.S., the latest country to put in place new COVID travel requirements for travelers from China. Italy,

amongst other countries, also imposing restrictions. We have live reports from correspondents around the world.

Plus Ukraine rocked by a barrage of Russian missiles earlier today, targeting cities around the country. CNN is on the ground and we are

getting new details live.

And emergency crews in Cambodia searching for survivors after a huge fire engulfed a casino hotel.


ANDERSON: I am Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome to our extended CONNECT THE WORLD here from Abu Dhabi, two hours out of the UAE.

The world is reacting in a big way as China fully ditches its zero COVID policy during its biggest ever coronavirus outbreak. Millions of people in

China will be on the move soon. Beijing's pandemic rules end on January the 8th. The Lunar New Year is two weeks later.

Well, that has prompted some countries, including the U.S. and India, to impose new restrictions on travelers from the world's second biggest


In Brussels, today, the E.U. talking about a possible joint response after Italy said nearly half the passengers on two flights this week, from China

to Milan, tested positive for the virus. Italy was amongst the first European countries hit by COVID when it arrived on the continent in 2020.

Well, as you would expect here on CNN, we are covering this from all angles. CNN's Kevin Liptak is with the U.S. President in the U.S. Virgin

Islands. Barbie Nadeau standing by in Rome and Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul in South Korea with the China end of the story.

Kevin, let me start with you, U.S. health officials announced concern over, and I quote them here, "the lack of adequate and transparent data" in


Can you just take us through the U.S. response at this point?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly American officials have been growing alarmed at this surge in cases in China. And

more concerning to these officials than the numbers themselves is what they say is a lack of transparency coming from Beijing.

Specifically, about the genomic sequencing that they are seeing, about what potential new variants may be spreading in China and that is what led to

yesterday's announcement that they would impose these new rules on travelers from China.

And so the new rule is you need to present a negative test that was taken no more than two days before you board your flight, that is from China but

also from Macau and Hong Kong. And it not only applies to Chinese citizen but to every traveler that is coming to the United States from China.

It will apply to flights, both direct flights from China to the United States but also travelers who are transiting through third countries. You

can take a PCR test but you can also take an at-home antigen test that is proctored by a telehealth official, sort of on the webcam there.

But I do think that these rules, they came together fairly quickly and they do reflect sort of the growing alarm in the United States that they don't

have a good read about what is exactly happening on the ground there in China.

And what they say is they have only received about 100 sort of genomic sequencings that were uploaded to public data websites from China, which is

such a relatively low number, given the huge spike in cases that you are seeing there.

And so until the U.S. has a better handle on what variants might be circulating on the ground there, they want to be extremely precautious to

prevent new variants from spreading in the United States.

And what a federal health official acknowledged yesterday is that they are not going to prevent COVID cases coming from China to the United States

completely but that this could help mitigate the potential risk, versus all has echoes of the earliest days of the pandemic.

And it really does show you the mistrust between the United States and Beijing, specifically when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Kevin Liptak, who is traveling with the U.S. president, who was holidaying in St. Croix there in the U.S. Virgin



ANDERSON: Thank you.

Well, let's get to Italy now. Kevin, Barbie, there alluding there to echoes of the pandemic in its early stages, of course, back in 2020. And we will

remember the impact that had on Italy three years or 2.5 years ago now.

Italy became what to a certain extent was a petri dish for the rest of Europe. The Italians have taken a unilateral decision and they are

encouraging the E.U. to go the same way.

What is the Italian government saying at this point?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are not taking any chances at this point. They are testing every single person that gets off a plane from

China, whether they are Chinese national or foreign national.

And they are sequencing a great number of these samples to try to understand if there is a new variant in play here. So far, the prime

minister, Giorgia Meloni, said that it seems to be Omicron is the most present in the samples that have been tested so far.

But the one thing that is kind of up in the air here is, after they do these tests, you test before you leave the airport and then it is up to the

person, if they test positive, to isolate. And that is a matter of trust. There is no law enforcement involved in making sure they isolate and

quarantine; they are just supposed to do it.

They are supposed to be the phone number, the authorities can check up on them. But the government is trying to figure exactly what to do to make

sure those people who are testing positive when they get off the plane are isolating and not spreading the virus further.

But Italy is not taking any chances. There is a lot of deja vu in the situation right now. I remember very well almost three years ago, talking

about restrictions on flights from China before anyone really knew what was coming.

The other big thing they're looking at are the vaccines. A lot of people in China, Chinese nationalists, have taken their vaccine that has not proven

to be as effective as those in the rest of the world. So they're looking at the type of vaccine people have had and what potential variant they may be

carrying, if they are positive, Becky.

ANDERSON: Let me bring in Paula Hancocks, who is keeping an eye on what is going on in China and what China is saying about this global reaction.

And we are getting a wider reaction at this point from countries around the world, Paula. The concern seems to be that there is a lack of data, a lack

of transparency, as to what exactly is going on with regard COVID-19 in China.

Although suggestions are, that the impact, now that these restrictions are lifted, is swingeing.

What do we know at this point?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, let's start with what we are hearing from officials within China. What they have said is that they are

no longer going to keep or report a daily tally of COVID cases.

So we are not going to have those public numbers. They have also refined the definition of what a death by COVID would entail. So those numbers are

extremely low at this point.

So those are not numbers that other countries and public officials around the world can take with any credibility. And they have effectively said

that they believe what is happening within China at this point is as it was predicted and is also under control.

They have said also that all parties need to work together to ensure the safe movement of people between countries. Of course, the irony is not lost

on anybody that China has had this zero COVID policy, one of the most stringent policies in the world and the longest lasting policy in the


So what we know from inside China itself, what we are gauging from our teams on the ground, is that there has been an explosion of cases. We know

that hospitals are straining to deal with the influx of people going in.

Our correspondents -- and our team within Beijing as well has been to a crematorium -- has seen the sheer number of deceased there and the queues

of cars and people waiting to be able to give their loved ones the last level of respect that they deserve.

Because it does seem to be a system that is under strain at this point. But the fact is, Becky, we are not going to have an overall wide-ranging

opinion and view of what is happening across the country or, really, even in Beijing.

It is very difficult to get any kind of official figures. And certainly that is what others around the world are concerned about. As Kevin said,

the U.S. is concerned about this lack of data, which means that there could be potential new variants in the system, coming out across the borders that

they don't know about.

One thing I should mention though, Jisaid (ph), which monitors this, said that the increase in information and data from China they are seeing shows



HANCOCKS: -- that the genome sequencing at this point appears to be what is already in the world since July. Becky.

ANDERSON: To you, to Barbie and to Kevin earlier, thank you.

Ukraine says that Russia has launched one of the biggest missile strikes since the entire war began, calling it senseless barbarism.

We just learned that at least two people were killed in the Kharkiv region. A local official there says that the all of the attacks targeted the

critical infrastructure. Similar facilities were hit in Lviv, leaving 90 percent of that city without power. The mayor said there could also be

disruptions in the water supply.

And in Kyiv, this is what is left of one residential area. At least three people in the capital were injured and the devastation could've been so

much worse. Ukraine's military says that it managed to shoot down 54 of the 69 missiles that Russia fired across the country. Ben Wedeman is live in

Kyiv for you.

Ben, what has been the response of authorities?

Is this something that they had anticipated?

And if so, how robust is the response at this point?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was not a surprise for Ukrainian officials or ordinary Ukrainians. They were expecting that,

at the end of the year, close to the New Year, that the Russians would launch something along these lines.

And also keep in mind, three days ago, there was a strike on the Engels 2 air force base, well inside of Russia. The Ukrainians did not claim

responsibility. But it is widely assumed that was it.

And the assumption also was that the Russians would respond in a major way to that strike. So not a surprise. And of course, as you look at those

numbers that have been put out by the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, 69 missiles fired, 54 intercepted.

So that certainly represents a fairly good percentage of errant missiles -- or rather missiles that did not hit their targets. They also said that they

managed to down 11 drones, many of them these Shahed Iranian-produced drones that the Russians have purchased.

Nonetheless, despite those positive numbers, we see, yes, two people dead in Kharkiv; here in Kyiv, you have three ,injured including a 14 year old

girl and damaged houses and other facilities.

And here, 40 percent of the city is without electricity. Oftentimes, the authorities will shut off the electrical grid in anticipation of these

strikes that are focused on the infrastructure in order to prevent further damage to them. So it is a mixed bag.

But by and large, the Ukrainians have emerged from this difficult day. Officials saying that we did well, we managed to prevent most of those

missiles from hitting their targets. But they've still caused losses in life, injuries and serious disruption -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, we have been discussing this week the potential for a solution in 2023. And there have been some notes of optimism at times. But

they haven't lasted long.

We are hearing different narratives from the Russian and Ukrainian sides at this point.

From your perspective, is a peace deal program, negotiation, call it what you will, is it realistic at this point?

WEDEMAN: At this point, I don't think many people think that peace is at hand or even anywhere near being at hand. Both sides are sort of taking a

maximalist position.

The Ukrainians have made it clear, they want to restore control to all parts of Ukraine prior to 2014. That includes the parts of the Donbas

region that were taken over by the Russians in 2014. That includes Crimea.

And both of those areas, that is a red line for the Russians as well. And, therefore, the anticipation is that, for the time being, this diplomacy is

well onto the back burner and the fighting will continue. Perhaps during the harshest months of winter it will slow down. But as I said, there is no

light at this point at the end of the tunnel, Becky.


ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman, appreciate it.

Ben, thank you.

Well, Israel has a new government; by all accounts, the most right-wing in its history. A short time ago the Knesset confirmed the cabinet and prime

minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now serving his sixth term as prime minister.

To reach a majority, Mr. Netanyahu cemented alliances with hard-right parties opposed to Palestinian statehood. His far-right allies are aiming

to expand settlements in the West Bank.

The new government now includes Israel's first openly gay parliament speaker, Amir Ohana. As the cabinet was being sworn in, about 2,000

protesters gathered outside the Knesset. There is also pushback from more than 100 former Israeli diplomats, warning today that the new government

will seriously damage Israel's foreign relations.

Elliott Gotkine has been watching all of this unfold today. He's connecting with us this hour from Jerusalem.

Benjamin Netanyahu said he wants to expand the circle of peace with Arab countries. Critics of the new government are skeptical. Palestinians

warning of dangerous escalations at this point. Just describe the atmosphere in the Knesset today and what we can expect from this new

government going forward.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, in terms of the atmosphere, it was at times ill-tempered. It is always pretty rambunctious.

But we have even had members of the Knesset, at least five or maybe six were physically ejected from the Knesset plenum for heckling Benjamin

Netanyahu as he was outlining his government's plans for this new government.

The priorities that he talked about today, preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, boosting public transportation, reducing housing costs, as

you say, expanding peace agreements with other Arab countries as well.

So a number of priorities to focus on today. What he did not talk about today so much, which was in this government's agenda that was published

yesterday, was, as you say, plans to build more settlements in the West Bank as well as developing and boosting development in the north and south

of the country.

They talked about boosting development in all of the land of Israel. And then also talked about the Galilee in the north, the Negev in the south and

Judea and Samaria, AKA the West Bank. That is something that will undoubtedly raise hackles in the White House, in the Biden administration,

also among other allies of Israel.

They also -- one thing they also didn't talk about today but was also in their agenda, published yesterday, Becky, was to allay concerns about any

change in the status quo at holy sites; in particular, Temple Mount, as it's known to Jews, the holiest site in Judaism, or Haram al-Sharif, which

is the third holiest site in Islam.

There were concerns because Itamar Ben-Gvir, who heads the Jewish Power Party and is now interior minister, he has in the past advocated for a

change in the status quo, so that Jews will be allowed to openly pray on Temple Mount, something that has really been an explosive issue and could

have led to even more of a conflict than we have right now.

But Netanyahu in his government, in that agenda, was at pains to say that the status quo will not change, that those things are not going to change

and, therefore, Jews will not be allowed to pray on Temple Mount, as things are right now, Becky.

ANDERSON: The discussion I had with King Abdullah of Jordan, who is custodian of those holy sites, that interview is coming up this hour.

Elliott, thank you very much indeed.

Still ahead, harrowing scenes in a town in Cambodia after a huge fire tears through a casino and hotel complex, killing more than a dozen people. An

update on the blaze is after this.

And Catholic leaders around the world are urging the faithful to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict. A live report from the Vatican on his health after






ANDERSON: Crews are searching for victims trapped inside a casino complex in Cambodia after a massive fire engulfed that building, killing at least

19 people. At least 70 others were injured in the blaze at the Grand Diamond City Hotel.

The casino complex is located in the city near Cambodia's border with Thailand. Journalist Manisha Tank has the story.


MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST (voice-over): Desperate to survive, this man attempts to escape, teetering on the edge. Harrowing scenes in the

Cambodian casino town of Poipet, as a huge fire ripped through the Grand Diamond City Hotel.

A rescue worker says the blaze started in one of the restaurants, moving so fast, by the time they got there, most of the buildings were on fire. The

rescue worker says he saw at least two people jump to what they thought was safety. Others were left severely injured.

Around 700 Thais were rescued, taken to Thai hospitals. For some, though, it was too late. Officials say many of the dead, trapped in locked rooms

when the electricity went out, taken by a silent killer. Where the fire didn't go, the smoke did.

As dawn broke, onlookers struggled to see past thick, acrid smoke, still billowing across the sky. Over the coming days, the rescue teams face the

grim task of recovering the dead and answering the tough questions, how and why? -- Manisha Tank, Singapore.


ANDERSON: The Vatican has released an update about the health of Pope Emeritus Benedict. The Vatican says that Benedict XVI is in serious but

stable condition. Catholic leaders around the world as well as Pope Francis are urging the faithful to pray for the former pontiff.

He shocked the world by stepping down nearly 10 years ago, citing at the time advanced age, paving the way for Pope Francis' election. Delia

Gallagher joins us from Vatican City with the very latest on his health.

What else has the Vatican told us?

What do we know about the health of Pope Emeritus Benedict over the past decade or so?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, surely we know he has been frail. He has gone through a number of small issues. Back in 1993,

he had a small stroke that affected his left eye, isn't able to see. He had a pacemaker put in. There have been issues throughout the year.

An important update today from the Vatican, relatively good news. They said he rested well last night, that his condition remains serious but is

stable. Interestingly, they added that he is absolutely lucid and vigilant.

It sounds to me like they want to calm the waters a bit from the alarm that was created yesterday by the announcement of his deteriorating health.

However, we are talking about a 95-year-old man. So we know that there can be ups and downs in a person's health at that age.


GALLAGHER: Just to give you a little bit of context, I'm standing here in front of St. Peter's Basilica, where Pope Benedict lives. It is just behind

the basilica. That is where his house is. That is where he has been since he resigned in 2013.

That is where he is now, as we know the Vatican told us yesterday morning, surrounded by his doctors, who are monitoring his situation, which, again,

is serious but stable for the moment -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Delia, thank you.

Delia is in Rome.

It's been 10 months since Russia invaded Ukraine. CNN correspondents have been there to cover it, day in and day out. Coming up, Clarissa Ward

recalls the frightening first days of war that many did not believe would happen.

Also days after a devastating blizzard, the death toll is rising in the U.S. city of Buffalo and city officials are now coming under fire. A

special report from there is coming up.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson, stay with us.




ANDERSON: Welcome back. I am Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. Wherever you are watching in the world, you are more than welcome. This is CONNECT THE


Back to one of our top stories today, Ukraine's defense ministry says that Russia dreams of forcing Ukrainians to celebrate the new year in the dark

and cold but insists a massive new missile attack will not break the spirits of the Ukrainian people.

Today, the Kremlin launched one of the biggest nationwide missile strikes yet. At least two people were killed in the eastern city of Kharkiv while

strikes in the western part of Ukraine knocked out 90 percent of power to the city of Lviv.

CNN's Clarissa Ward was among the team of correspondents in Ukraine, who witnessed the opening salvos of the Russian invasion. She has been back

numerous times. Now as the year draws to a close, she looks back on those harrowing days, early days, of this conflict.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Once we had a sense that the invasion was imminent, we made the decision to try to drive to

Kharkiv. Because it is a city that is very close to the Russian border, there had been a lot of troop buildup.

Just beyond that border, we were getting ready to go to bed when I noticed on Twitter that President Putin was speaking again, which is very unusual

at that hour of the night.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): A decision has been made of a special military operation.


WARD: And so, we all rushed up onto the roof. And sure enough, moments later, we could hear explosions across the night sky.

It's been a few minutes now, we have been hearing a steady stream of loud strikes. It's not clear exactly what they are targeting.

And it wasn't just in the city of Kharkiv of where we were. But in cities across the country, which I think had not been anticipated, particularly in

the capital of Kyiv.

On the very first day of the war, we saw people flooding into metro stations and Kharkiv carrying all the belongings that they had or could

possibly grab with them.

This is an actual subway car here. And if we can pan in, you can see dozens of people are squashed in, they're sitting on the seats there in the dark.

There are children here.

One of the really iconic moments for us that we will never forget, was the scene on the bridge from the Kyiv of suburb of Irpin.

There has been a steady barrage of artillery since we got here just over an hour ago and a never ending stream of people just desperately trying to

cross to safety.

President Putin has said his army is not targeting civilians. But the exodus from Irpin tells a different story. Everyone steps in where they

can, including us.

We saw people who were clearly traumatized, who were confused, who were discombobulated. There were many elderly people, people who were living

alone, they were carrying their pets, they were carrying babies.

And we stood there and watched the scene unfold. And you do feel as a journalist a little bit impotent in that moment, because beyond wanting to

tell their story, you wish there was more that you could do to help these people.

Within Western liberal democracies, there was outrage, anger and a broad determination to try to respond strongly and in unity.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: This war will be a strategic failure for Putin. When we act together, we're stronger and we

really can make a difference.

WARD: China, India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, other countries had a slightly different perspective on Russia's invasion, they

were less willing to condemn it.

President Putin made it very clear that he viewed the situation in Ukraine as an existential threat to Russia. The fact that they were so focused on

Kyiv, the capital, I think, made it clear that for President Putin, nothing less than regime change in Ukraine was going to satisfy him.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): According to our information, the enemy has marked me as target number one. My family is target number two, they

want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.

WARD: I think there was initially a question as to how President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would meet the moment as it were, because of his limited

political experience, his background in show business.

But what we saw very quickly was the metamorphosis of Zelenskyy into a wartime leader. He quickly made it known to the public that he was not

going anywhere, that he was not going to try to leave the country. He was not even going to try to leave the capital of Kyiv. And he started posting

these videos.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): So I am here. We are not putting down arms. We will be defending our country, because our weapon is truth. And

our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children and we will defend all of this.

WARD: They were made selfie style on his cell phone and just really capturing the sense of the moment and so, so many people around the world

were sort of transfixed by this incredible moment and the way in which President Zelenskyy met the moment.

Nobody really knows how long this war will go on for. There are parties in Ukraine who have said that they believe that it could be over by next

summer. But there are also those who say that you shouldn't discount President Vladimir Putin for whom this has become sort of an existential


And while Russia may be really struggling on the battlefield and it may be impossible for them to turn this around.


WARD: I think there is also a sense that they understand that they cannot afford to lose.

And so, the question becomes, does this transform or degenerate into a stalemate, a protracted stalemate that could go on many months, if not



ANDERSON: That is Clarissa Ward, with her reflections on the beginning of that war in Ukraine and what is to come.

Well, still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD, a week of anger and frustration, even tears, for hundreds of thousands of people, trying to fly

on Southwest Airlines. What they are saying about one of the worst aviation meltdowns in recent memory.

And a tiny dart made NASA very proud after its close encounter with an asteroid. We'll explain as we count down the biggest space stories of 2022.




ANDERSON: Welcome back.

The travel nightmare continues with Southwest Airlines passengers. Southwest scrapped another 2,300 flights today, bringing the total to more

than 15,000 cancellations over the past week. There is hope Southwest will resume a near normal flight schedule by Friday.

But as Adrienne Broaddus tells us, that is no comfort to the hundreds of thousands of people, whose holiday plans have been left in total shambles.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands of travelers, caught in the Southwest Airlines meltdown, desperate for

answers and help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm hungry, I'm exhausted, I just want to go home.

ASHLEY MAYS, STRANDED SOUTHWEST PASSENGER: This has been a complete nightmare.


BROADDUS (voice-over): Different airports, same problems for Southwest across the United States, the airline canceling more than 2,500 flights


MAYS: I trusted Southwest with my worldly belongings and to get me from point A to point B. And I just feel like I was robbed at this point.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Stranded in Baltimore, Ashley Mays could not make it to see her sick grandmother, who died on Tuesday.

MAYS: I will never get that time back to at least hold her hand or, you know, spend that time with her. And, you know, she spent her last few days,

just waiting on me.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Stranded in Atlanta, Milan Till's dad was told his unaccompanied minor couldn't fly to Florida.

MILAN TILL, SOUTHWEST PASSENGER: I didn't get to see my best friend in Florida.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Passenger after passenger experiencing canceled flights and missing luggage, chaos, with no clear end in sight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had two canceled flights and probably six hours of delays, until they told us that they are canceling our flight. It was chaos

in Denver.

BROADDUS (voice-over): And Las Vegas was no different.

LAWAUNA GRIMES, SOUTHWEST PASSENGER: I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do.


BROADDUS (voice-over): LaWauna Grimes said she was stuck on a plane for an hour after waiting hours to depart Las Vegas, where she spent Christmas

with her sisters. But then her flight was canceled. Living with a chronic lung disease, the oxygen machine Grimes is renting malfunctioned. And the

batteries wouldn't hold a charge.

GRIMES: People like me are left here, trying to gasp for air, praying to God that I don't end up in a hospital here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take your breath.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Despite struggling to breathe, Grimes wanted to talk with us before she headed to her final destination, Ft. Wayne,

Indiana, by car. With her luggage missing, Grimes had no medication to help manage her high blood pressure and other health issues.

GRIMES: I can't do anything but pray. But if it gets to the point where it's real bad, I will stop at a fire station or something and ask them, may

I please have some oxygen?

BROADDUS (voice-over): With thousands of passengers still stranded and struggling, the pressure is on for Southwest Airlines. But amid the chaos,

some are lucky to be reunited with their suitcases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's bad when I go back to Denver, it's not being checked. It's staying right here with me because I'm not losing it again.


ANDERSON: That was Adrienne Broaddus reporting.

Drivers in Buffalo, New York, are once again allowed to going to behind the wheel and try to go about their daily lives. The driving ban was lifted at

midnight, almost a week after that snowstorm there began. All state highways have also reopened.

The police and National Guard troops have been doing welfare checks in neighborhoods that lost power. Buffalo police have caught up on checking on

all of the people who called the 9-1-1 emergency line that could not be reached during the height of the storm.

Authorities sadly reporting at least 37 blizzard related deaths Erie County, New York. That number's expected to rise as people are finding cars

and snow banks. City leaders in charge of the emergency response are now coming under fire. CNN's Miguel Marquez brings us the very latest from



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Buffalo digging out, officials here responding to criticism they should have done


MARK POLONCARZ, ERIE COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Thirty-five mile per hour wind gusts for three hours straight with less than a quarter mile visibility.

This was an extreme Blizzard maybe the Category 5 of Blizzards.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Casey MacCarone's mother, Monique Alexander, died in the storm on Christmas Eve. The Buffalo native who had been through many

snowstorms here thought this one was the same.

CASEY MACCARONE, MONIQUE ALEXANDER'S DAUGHTER: We were waiting for her to come home. I knew something was wrong right away though.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): A simple decision on any other day, life threatening in this storm.

MACCARONE: My kids, they lost their grandmother and that was her most important role in her life was being a good grandmother. And now they just

have memories.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In Erie County alone at least 37 killed in extreme weather in an area accustomed to major snowstorms. For every person who

died dozens of stories of those who stepped up and say friends, neighbors, even strangers.

CRAIG ELSTON, OWNER, C&C CUTZ: This is something to always do. I hope everybody is people out there dying and people freezing to death in a car.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Craig Elson was open for business when the extreme conditions started up.

ELSTON: Well, if you need shelter, from the Southern or Southern Fillmore get warm heat and electricity.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): He ended up hosting up to 40 people over two days at his C&C Cutz barbershop.

ELSTON: We got to come together and a lot of times people are selfish. So at that moment, I was just thinking about clearly not all this stuff,


I was just thinking about just keeping people warm. It was really that simple.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Then there was Sha'Kyra Aughtry, who heard a man she didn't know screaming for help.

SHA'KYRA AUGHTRY, BLIZZARD RESCUER: His hands had big ice balls on it and what didn't have those ice balls on his hand. We brought him in my house

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Joe White, who is developmentally disabled, lost in whiteout conditions. Aughtry didn't know him. But she saved him.

AUGHTRY (voice-over): We going to get some help. He has gangrene on his hands have gone he's going to lose his finger.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The airport is now reopens as Buffalo comes to grips with a brutal year.

POLONCARZ: The tragic stories the losses of individuals in our community and it is heartbreaking it's a gut punch. 2022 has been a horrible year for

our community in so many different ways. I can't wait till 2023 starts.

MARQUEZ: What is incredible in talking to these families of victims who died in this storm and people who survived the storm and rode it out is

just how quickly the conditions change --


MARQUEZ: -- just how bad it was and just how rapidly their loved ones were lost in the storm and how quickly people could have died if they were out

in it for any period of time.

Two concerns for authorities right now: moving snow as quickly as possible now out of the drains, especially throughout the city, because they're

concerned about higher temperatures in the days ahead, and tons of melt water possibly creating some flooding.

And then going house to house and figuring out if anyone else is in need or anyone else has expired -- back to you.


ANDERSON: Miguel Marquez reporting for you.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come, the world was stunned when looking at the Pillars of Creations images. It earned the James Webb

telescope a place in the top 10 space achievements this year. Find out what's at number one after this.




ANDERSON: It's been a big year for space exploration, innovation and discovery. We heard actual sounds from the center of the Milky Way and

received jaw-dropping pictures of new galaxies from the James Webb telescope. Here's CNN Kristin Fisher with the most important space stories

of this year of 2022.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kristin Fisher with the top 10 space stories of 2022. Coming in at Number 10:


FISHER: The first private mission to the International Space Station.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go Falcon. Go Dragon. Godspeed. Axiom 1.

FISHER: Texas space startup Axiom Space brokered the trip for four private citizens, not affiliated with any government space program to launch on top

of a SpaceX rocket --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is looking good on Falcon 9.

FISHER: -- and spend 15 days conducting experiments alongside professional NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts. Ushering in a new era for

commercial space flight.

Number nine may look and sound like basic boot camp for soldiers or sailors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exercise, position wrap.

FISHER: But these are guardians in the U.S. space force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is still the United States military. This is not space camp.

FISHER: 2022 marked the first ever guardian only basic training, led entirely by space force instructors. A major milestone for the first new

branch in the armed services in more than 70 years.

Coming in at number eight, the United States becoming the first country to announce a ban on anti-satellite weapons tests.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: These tests are dangerous and we will not conduct them.

FISHER: The U.S., China, Russia and India have all carried out these types of tests in the past which involves firing a missile from Earth and

striking a satellite in space, creating massive debris fields. This year, astronauts aboard the International Space Station repeatedly dodged debris

from Russia's most recent test of this type of weapon.

The truth is out there for our seventh space story of the year. And in 2022 Congress pushed for answers. For the first time in more than 50 years, a

public hearing on Capitol Hill about UFOs or UAPs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: UAPs are unexplained, its true. But they are real. They need to be investigated. Any threats they pull need to be mitigated.

FISHER: Though the hearing did not answer if these UAPs or classified U.S. technology, the work of a foreign adversary or extraterrestrial life. The

deputy director of naval intelligence did confirm the authenticity of two videos taken by navy pilots and he described the UAPs in them as some kind

of real physical object that gets very close to military pilots and bases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this one of the phenomenon that we can't explain?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not have an explanation for what the specific object is.

FISHER: At number six, Moscow threatening to pull out of the International Space Station after the U.S. sanctioned Russia for invading Ukraine. Dmitry

Rogozin, the now former head of Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, threatening to end its nearly three decades long partnership with NASA.

Even going so far as to release a video implying that Moscow might abandon a NASA astronaut that Russia was responsible for bringing back to Earth.

The bluster prompted a bitter Twitter war between Rogozin and one of NASA's most famous former astronauts, Scott Kelly, who later this year celebrated

Rogozin's ouster and the space station's ability to survive, despite the conflict roughly 250 miles below.

SCOTT KELLY, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: And when you have a guy like him that, you know, behaves like a child on Twitter and threatens nuclear war, I was

really, really happy to see him go.

FISHER: Our fifth space story of the year also came to the aid of Ukraine. SpaceX's Starlink satellite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ignition. And lift off for Starlink.

FISHER: When Russia knocked out cellphone and internet service to much of the country, a Ukrainian government official begged SpaceX's Elon Musk for

help. Well, Musk responds with a tweet that would forever change the battlefield. Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals on


Well, since then, Starlink has become an indispensable tool for both Ukrainian civilians and the Ukrainian military. But after months of

providing the lifesaving internet service for free, documents obtained by CNN showed that SpaceX told the Pentagon that it can no longer continue to

fund Starlink terminals in Ukraine indefinitely. Now Musk later backtracked saying that his company will continue to fund Starlink service in Ukraine.

But the debate laid bare the dangers of an entire country of being too dependent on one billionaire.

Coming in at number four.

FISHER: Do you hear that?

That is what the Black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy sounds like. And in 2022, scientists were able to capture an image of it for the

very first time. The image which was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope which is a global network of synchronized radio observatories

confirmed he presence of a super massive Black hole known as Sagittarius A, some 27,000 light years away from Earth.

Number three is the world's first planetary defense mission. After billions of years of being at the mercy of killer asteroids and comets, in 2022,

Earthlings struck back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And for the first time, our technology allows us to actually do something about it.

FISHER: NASA's plan was to try to ram a refrigerator size spacecraft called DART into an asteroid named Dimorphos to see if the impact would

push the asteroid slightly off course. Now Dimorphos posed no threat to planet Earth but if the test worked, it would mean that this type of

technique could maybe be used to deflect a future killed asteroid that is headed for Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of Planetary defense.

FISHER: After spending six months barreling through space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we have impact.

FISHER: -- the bull's eye hit was captured by telescopes all over the world which later confirmed that the tiny DART spacecraft was successful in

bumping that asteroid off course.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think that -- should sleep better. Definitely I will.


FISHER: Coming in at number two, the James Webb Space Telescope finally delivering on its decades long promise by beaming back its first images to


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Tomorrow, when this image is shared with the world, it will be a historic moment for science and technology. For

astronomy and space exploration. For America and all of humanity.

FISHER: It's the culmination of 30 years worth of work carrying the hopes and dreams of astronomers all over the world, seeking answers to some of

humanities most existential questions. Are we alone in the universe?

And where did that first light in the cosmos come from some 13 billion years ago?

NASA leadership describing the moment they first saw the kinds of images that Webb was capable of producing from its perch about 1 million miles

away from Earth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A sense of awe and, frankly, got emotional.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just moved me as a scientist, as an engineer, as a human being.

FISHER: And this is it. The first image taken by the telescope released by NASA. It's called Webb's first deep field. And all of these lights, they're

not individual stars. Each one is an entire galaxy and each galaxy is filled with billions of stars.

If you zoom in on some of them, you can even see that distinctive spiral shape. Webb also took some spectacular images of planets a little bit

closer to home. Here's Jupiter and Neptune as you've never seen her.

Finally, the Pillars of Creation where baby stars are born. It's part of the Eagle Nebula, some 65,000 light years away and it was first made famous

by Webb's predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995.

Finally, our number space story of 2022.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hydrogen burn-off igniters.

FISHER: For the first time in more than 50 years, NASA launching a rocket capable of carrying astronauts back to the moon. The Artemis Rocket is

NASA's first space craft since the space shuttle designed to launch people into orbit.

Years overdue, billions over budget, it was rolled back from the launchpad to the safety of its hangar to escape Hurricane Ian, only to be rolled back

out to the launchpad just in time to take a direct hit from Hurricane Nicole. But just five days later, NASA making the gutsy call to give the

third launch attempt a go.

FISHER: The Orion Spacecraft then separated from the Artemis or SLS Rocket beginning a nearly 26-day 1.4 million mile odyssey to the moon and back.

The spacecraft traveled further into space than any spacecraft designed to carry humans have ever flown while beaming back spectacular images of the

moon and our home.

Orion's final test, its heat shield. Successfully protecting the mannequins on board the Artemis 1 mission from the blistering temperatures of re-entry

into the Earth's atmosphere and blazing the way for Artemis 2 when four real astronauts will be on board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Splash down. The latest chapter of NASA's journey to the moon comes to a close. Orion back on Earth.

BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: What a year for exploration and innovation and discovery for all of humanity.

FISHER: Kristin Fisher, CNN, Washington.


ANDERSON: CONNECT THE WORLD continues after this short break. Stay with us.