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Rescuers Look for Hurricane Ian Survivors As Florida Death Toll Climbs; Russian Troops Withdraw from Strategic City of Lyman; Hundred and Twenty Five Die in Indonesia Stadium Riot. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 03, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Here we go. It is Monday, October 3rd, 5:00 a.m. exactly here in New York, I'm Christine Romans. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. Hurricane Ian may be gone, but its devastation is still being revealed and conditions are still quite dangerous.

Rescue crews are looking for survivors now five days later, homes farther inland are still being flooded and the death toll is climbing. Officials have confirmed 76 people in Florida lost their lives as a result of this hurricane. Most of them in Lee County where Ian stormed ashore as a category 4.

It is feared there will be more victims. Now, the power is slowly being restored in Florida, more than 600,000 homes and businesses still in the dark this morning, and it could be months before some are back on the grid. Many don't have clean tap water, it makes the overwhelming task of recovery and rebuilding that much harder.

And now officials in Lee County are facing mounting questions about why the first mandatory evacuations weren't ordered until just a day before landfall despite an emergency plan that suggests evacuations should have happened earlier. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis defending county officials actions.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): They informed people, and most people did not want to do it. I mean, that's just -- that's just the reality. So, you know, you're in a situation, are you going to grab somebody out of their home that doesn't want to? I don't think that's the appropriate use of government. I mean, I think that takes it a little too far.


ROMANS: Florida residents who took shelter as Hurricane Ian raged are now returning, and many don't even recognize their homes or their communities anymore. CNN's Jim Acosta has the latest.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Christine, authorities here in southwest Florida are still trying to get their arms around the full scope of the devastation left by Hurricane Ian. We went out with some residents in this area who went home and found a heartbreaking scene.


ACOSTA (on camera): Wow --



MCIVER: I want to show you something.

ACOSTA (voice-over): After Hurricane Ian, Patty McIver came back to her home and found heartache. Her home is now filled with mud. Memories are all she has left. Everything is ruined.

(on camera): That was where the water went up again, I can see right there --

MCIVER: So here you can see --

ACOSTA: Wow --

MCIVER: Along there, and like I said, we just painted this like last week.

ACOSTA: Oh, my goodness, but Patty -- I mean, what goes through your mind when you look at all this?

MCIVER: The first thing is we're alive.


MCIVER: We're alive. We don't know our future, because we don't know, can we rebuild?

ACOSTA: It is much of the same story in community after community along the southwest coast of Florida. The storm surge combined with the ferocious winds unleashed by Ian hammered just about everything in its path. In Bonita Springs and countless other neighborhoods, the long cleanup begins. The road leading through these homes is now a river of sludge.

BRIAN GALBRAITH, BONITA SPRINGS FLORIDA RESIDENT: We were very lucky. We had four people that stayed and they were really scared. They were -- they thought it was over for them, because the water just kept coming, but luckily, once it hit 14 feet, it started receding.

LESTER MARTIN, BONITA SPRINGS FLORIDA RESIDENT: Our neighbors, they got stuck here, they lived through --


MARTIN: Irma, and they had hurt through for -- so they stayed and they had two dogs. And once the surge came in, it was too late, they couldn't get out. So, that's why they're safe up here --

GALBRAITH: They stayed in our house.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Just up the coast in Matlacha, people are searching for survivors. The storm surge took out this road and tossed cars like they were toys.

(on camera): There's a bridge that's intact just about a block from here, maybe a quarter a mile, nothing more than that. The road leading to that bridge is completely washed out. So the island that's on the other side of that bridge is cut off right now.

So you can't get over the bridge?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you talking about the big bridge?

ACOSTA (voice-over): These men say they got out, but some of their neighbors weren't so fortunate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it was bade. I was just -- the water came up really quick. People on this side of the road were gone in an instant. It was like watching paper into a paper shredder.

ACOSTA: Back at Patty McIver's home, she is salvaging what she can, like this American flag she pulled off her kitchen counter and placed in front of her home.

MCIVER: It's muddy, but you know, it appears pretty good.

ACOSTA: Like the rest of this hard-hit region, battered, but not beaten.



ACOSTA: And the residents in this area tell us the needs that they have at this point are endless. They have in many cases, no power, no water, no cellphone service. They just hope that state and federal authorities are on the way with much needed help. Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Jim, thank you for that report. All right, now to this, a major victory for Ukraine and a major setback for the Kremlin.




ROMANS: That is the strategic city of Lyman in the Donetsk region now liberated from Russian forces. Here you can see video of Russian troops and military vehicles fleeing. This is one of the areas that Vladimir Putin declared just Friday that this is Russian territory now. Let's bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh live from Ukraine. You were there in Lyman just hours after Ukraine regained control of this city, Nick, what did you see?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, it has been a town significantly hit by the fighting. Some of the buildings, though, hit, it seems by targeted strikes. What struck me most though, was the sheer lack of people inside Lyman. Very few locals. We understood some of them fled before the Ukrainians pushed towards that town.

And not that many Ukrainian troops. Even by the middle of Sunday, they had begun to thin out, we're told to move on to their next target further east. This is fundamentally why Lyman is so important. Yes, it's a railway hub, the whole town split in two by the steel tracks that run through it, but it's also part of Russia's forward defensive positions which may now be in a situation of collapse with Ukraine continuing to push east.

What also struck us, too, though, was we had been expecting as we entered the town to see significant numbers possibly of Russian casualties or prisoners being held by the Ukrainians, we didn't see that. And it's possible they were moved away before we got there.

But some locals we spoke to talked about how during Friday, there had in fact been an orderly withdrawal of some of the Russians, not entirely orderly, one described how they jumped onto an APC with all their bags and raced off so quickly, the bags were falling off as they sped away.

But it does possibly suggest that some Russians were able to get out before Ukraine continued or finished its encircle. But one Ukrainian official we spoke to accepted some groups had managed to get out and some had been attacked on their exit. But fundamentally, there's an issue about timing here and optics for the Kremlin.

Because it appears that during Friday while Vladimir Putin was standing on a stage in Moscow, signing pieces of paper, declaring where I'm standing, Lyman, parts of occupied Ukraine as being technically Russian territory in his eyes, his military were pulling their troops out of a town strategically vital to Russia's presence as Lyman.

Now, that really goes to hammer home the split-screen world that Russia is living in, and possibly also a disconnect between Vladimir Putin and his own military forces. A lot of recrimination happening in Moscow right now. Back to you --

ROMANS: All right, Nick, Nick Paton Walsh for us there. Thank you so much for that. I want to bring in CNN military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton. You know, colonel, this is a rail hub, it's a gateway to Luhansk. How can Russia proclaim it owns this territory if it can't hold this territory?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, only in the bizarre world, Christine, that apparently Vladimir Putin and his government inhabit, because when you look at the map right here, this is Lyman right here -- right here, right on the border between Donetsk and Luhansk. This is all part of the territory that Putin has claimed, and the real reason, of course, to move into this area where the Ukrainians was to take it over from a strategic standpoint, as Nick mentioned in his report.

And what you've got here is a tremendous Ukrainian advance, that is really not with any response from the Russians at this point. And that's really a remarkable feat for the Ukrainians.

ROMANS: And what does it say about those forward positions of the Russians, I guess, if they're turning tail so quickly?

LEIGHTON: Yes, so, that's really interesting, because when you look at the whole area here, let's just pull out to Ukraine in general, this whole area is, shows the latest advances in the northeast by the Ukrainians. What it tells us is that, the Ukrainians are moving forward at a very rapid pace. Instead of a war of attrition, right now, we're having a war of movement.

And that's a really big thing in terms of strategy and tactics that we're using in this military operation. Now, as far as the Russians are concerned, Christine, what you're seeing is the ability to pull back, which saves a lot of their troops, but on the other hand, what it is also showing is that they cannot hold the territory that they need to hold in order to make --

ROMANS: Yes --

LEIGHTON: These claims real.

ROMANS: So Vladimir Putin is calling for a ceasefire, asking for Ukraine to sit down at the negotiating table. What's his strategy there? Illegally annexing all these land on Friday, pulling his troops out at the same time off some of these places and calling for a ceasefire.

LEIGHTON: Yes, so this makes things really interesting. When we pull out to this map here, which shows the areas that were affected by the referendums that Putin had instituted, you've got four basic provinces right here, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.


He wants to control all the territory that he's got troops in, plus, a bit more right in these areas that the Ukrainians actually control. And the fact that he's trying to do this, is, he's trying to set the table, the negotiating table so that he captures all of this area, and he continues to maintain that land bridge through Crimea.

That is his goal, to keep all of these areas under his control and in essence block Ukraine from access to the Sea of Azov, and potentially, move from these positions to block it from, in the future, from the Black Sea. He hasn't been able to do that, and he won't be able to do this given the current state of forces.

ROMANS: You know, there's been a lot of discussion and some concern about what Vladimir Putin means when he says he would use all available means, quote "all available means to defend Russia". Here's what the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CNN, Sunday.


LLOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES: This nuclear saber-rattling is not the kind of thing that we would expect to hear from leaders of large countries with capability. Just as he made the irresponsible decision to invade Ukraine, you know, he could make another decision.

But, I don't see anything right now that would lead me to believe that he has made such a decision.


ROMANS: How real in your mind is this threat?

LEIGHTON: I think, Christine, we have to take it very seriously. I mean, Putin did say in his remarks that he was not bluffing. Of course, sometimes that means that he actually is bluffing. So you have to kind of evaluate what he's saying and look at some of the things that are going on.

As Secretary Austin mentioned, there is no movement that we can ascertain right now of nuclear weapons into any of these areas or into areas where they could then potentially lob them into this region or other parts of Ukraine. However, that's the kind of thing we have to continue to watch for, and that's where our Intelligence forces are going to have to be really careful about the indications and warning that we would see in a case like this.

ROMANS: You know, experts say that Putin wants to end this war as soon as possible, right? But he's losing on the ground. So, what -- is his back against the wall here?

LEIGHTON: I think it is. And the reason I say that is, you know, when you go into the eastern areas right here, you see how much actually the Ukrainians have gained in these areas. And they're even making progress in some of the more incremental areas. You go to the south, and you see that they're making progress right here in these areas around Kherson.

That makes a big difference. And what you're seeing with Putin also is the fact that in the major areas that is right along the Russian border, the area around Kharkiv, the Ukrainians have made these substantial gains right here, and this of course, is the area that we were just talking about, and the Ukrainians can potentially move into Lysychansk, this part of the Donbas.

That means that in this particular case, Putin is not going to be able to keep his gains, and he's going to actually end up losing this territory and potentially the war.

ROMANS: Colonel Cedric Leighton, nice to see you, CNN military analyst bright and early this morning, thank you for your expertise.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Christine, thank you. ROMANS: All right, new document concerns for former President Trump,

what the National Archives is trying to get its hands on now. Seven Americans detained in Venezuela for years are now back in the U.S. Details on what it took to secure their freedom. Plus --




ROMANS: The moment soccer fans fled as police fired tear gas, causing a deadly rush for the exits in Indonesia. What led to one of the worst tragedies in the sport's history.



ROMANS: The death toll after a soccer stadium crush in Indonesia is expected to rise.




ROMANS: Authorities say at least 125 people were killed, more than 300 injured when fans fled for an exit gate. The chaos began after fans of two of the country's biggest teams clashed in the stands after the home team lost. The team has posted an apology and its president says he is ready to take full responsibility.

CNN's Will Ripley live in Taipei, Taiwan, with more. And you can hear the bangs that happened. Those are police trying to break up the fight?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there was police firing tear gas into the lower stands to stop people from running onto the pitch, which by the way is banned by FIFA, which is the governing body for soccer internationally. So, that's an investigation that's underway right now, why those 18 officers were equipped with tear gas at this match.

They knew it was going to be a highly contested match, potentially violence between fans and the opposing team, but there was never anything in the training that would say you fire tear gas into the stands that causes a mass panic, and people run for an exit and they suffocate and get trampled either on the way to crush into this single exit gate or even people die from their injuries on the way to the hospital.

And we just received some new information, Christine, the death toll still stands at 125, but we've now learned, 32 children, 32 children, are among that 125. The youngest, 3 years old, the oldest, 17 years old, 24 boys and eight girls. There are also out of the hundreds who were injured, there were at least, seven children still in the hospital right now.

You know, Christine, there aren't even words to describe the pain that these families are going through as they start to hold funerals, as they demand justice for those who went to this soccer match, hoping that they'd have a fun Saturday night and they never came home and they experienced the terror of, you know, white plumes of smoke and then a suffocating feeling.


Even those who survived say it was traumatic. And that's why they're calling for a full investigation, both at the government level and the local level to figure out how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again, Christine.

ROMANS: Just heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. Will Ripley, thank you for that. All right, to Brazil now where after braving long lines to cast ballots in a heated and polarizing presidential election, voters will do it all over again in a runoff set for October 30th. That's because neither incumbent Jair Bolsonaro nor his left-wing opponent won 50 percent of the votes. CNN's Shasta Darlington has the latest from Sao Paulo.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Left- wing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva came out ahead in Brazil's elections on Sunday, but failed to cross that 50 percent threshold that would have allowed him to avoid a runoff. That means he's going to face off against his main rival, incumbent right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro in a second-round of voting on October 30th.

It also means Brazilians will have to face another month of the most polarizing electoral race in recent memory, marred by political violence and by Bolsonaro's attacks on democratic institutions. And in the end, Lula was ahead by about 5 percentage points, but that's not as much as the polls had predicted.

This has been a campaign marred by political violence, also by harassment, outright attacks, even on pollsters. The main issues have evolved around the economy. We're talking about inflation, unemployment, even hunger. This has really played to Lula's strengths, he has vowed to repeat his economic successes of the past when he lifted millions out of poverty.

Bolsonaro on the other hand has repeatedly reminded voters that after his two terms in office, Lula was arrested and put in jail as part of a massive corruption scandal. Those convictions were later annulled by the Supreme Court. Bolsonaro also says the economic problems were more a result of the pandemic and that he is the man to turn these around.

Brazilians now have another month to figure out who's their best candidate. Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


ROMANS: All right, Shasta, we know we'll be talking about it with you again. But the State Department says seven Americans who've been detained several years in Venezuela are now back in the U.S. They were exchanged for two nephews of President Nicolas Maduro's wife, those nephews who were serving time in the U.S. for drug smuggling.

Five of the Americans released were oil executives who were part of the CITGO '6 Group jailed back in 2017. Also, Iran has temporarily released an elderly American citizen, Baquer Namazi to seek medical treatment abroad. He's been held for more than six years, his son has also been released from detention.

All right, the U.K. ditches a tax cut for the wealthy. The prime minister's new thinking and what the ripple effects could be for the global economy. And Donald Trump is praising Ginni Thomas. Why the former president is applauding Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' wife after she met with the January 6 Committee.



ROMANS: All right, this just in. The United Kingdom is reversing a decision to give an enormous tax cut to its wealthiest citizens after nationwide outrage. Prime Minister Liz Truss says she stands by her economic policies, but admits mistakes were made. Those mistakes by the way sent the pound to historic lows, the lowest since 1995 and sparked market chaos last week. You can see it's recovered a little bit here.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo joins us live from Birmingham, England. Global markets were double thumbs down on Truss' economic plans. Members of her party were down on it, too. Why this reversal?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, for those reasons, exactly. There was a rebellion on her back benches, she had her old cabinet ministers slating the entire plan, public fury.

I was at some protests yesterday where people were saying, it is so unfair that the conservative party would consider and then agree to cutting taxes for the wealthiest in the country, when most people in Britain are experiencing this biting cost of living crisis and don't know if they'll have enough money to pay for food and their energy bills.

So the optics of this were just all wrong. And now, the prime minister is in a very difficult position because she's had this screeching U- turn that she's had to perform with her chancellor at the beginning of conservative party conference. And Christine, she's only a month into the job, you'd expect the tone here to be celebratory, even jubilant.

But now, she's lagging way behind in the polls. It's very hard to regain that momentum. And even though she's U-turned, I think a lot of damage has already been done, and the MPs that I've been speaking to today said one of the reasons for the U-turn was simply that her own party wasn't going to support her policies in parliament.

And that kind of thing can topple a government pretty quickly. So, even though they've had to back-track, it now seems that she's lost the confidence, the sways of her party. She's done damage with the British public at large because they think that she isn't empathetic or competent, and it's difficult to see right now how a politician who doesn't exhibit much charisma or reading the room particularly well will be able to regain any of that at party conference or beyond.

ROMANS: Yes, and explain how his economic plans may have been at cross-purposes with the Bank of England, which is trying to rein in inflation at the very same time, another example of how inflation is the story in just about every political maneuver in the world right now. Bianca Nobilo, thank you so much, nice to see you this morning.

Well, the National Archives still missing some presidential records from the Trump White House. What the agency says it plans to do about it next.