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Ukraine Rescue Crews Respond To Multiple Russian Attacks; Death Toll From Catastrophic Maui Fire Rises To 96; China Condemns Transit Of Taiwan's Vladimir Putin Through U.S. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 14, 2023 - 05:30   ET





Ukraine says that Russian missile and drone attacks hit multiple areas, including Zaporizhzhia and the southern city of Odesa overnight. Officials say more than 170 personnel were deployed to fires in several areas. Meantime, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry is condemning Russia's provocative actions in the Black Sea.

CNN's Clare Sebastian joins us from London. So, Clare, apparently, these provocative actions came after -- came during servicemen on a Russian warship boarded a Ukrainian cargo ship. Bring us up to speed on this latest twist here.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is actually a Turkish cargo ship -- just a civilian merchant vessel, Rahel. And the report first came from the Russian Ministry of Defense, who said on Sunday morning they'd had to fire warning shots at this ship after it didn't respond to a request to stop for an inspection.

We've now got new video in provided to us by the owner of this ship -- extraordinary video. You can see just now the helicopter approaching the vessel. The Russians said that contained servicemen and this seems to bear out from the account -- from the owner as well.


The servicemen then boarded the ship and according to the owner -- that's the crew there -- the Turkish crew -- carried out an inspection that took about an hour. Apparently, no threats or injuries to the crew there.

And then they left and the ship has been able to continue on its way. It's just now arrived just outside the Romanian port of Sulina on the Black Sea -- that's at the mouth of the Danube -- and we understand it's heading to a Ukrainian Danube port to pick up cargo there. We don't know what kind of cargo.

But this is crucial because it's now about a month since Russia pulled out of their Black Sea grain deal. In the wake of that, Russia warned that any ship approaching Ukrainian ports would be considered by them to be potentially carrying weapons. They are now making it clear that they are willing to sort of carry out that threat to exert that authority.

All of this coming as Ukraine is trying to sort of revive some vestiges of trade in the Black Sea through some kind of secure maritime corridor. But clearly, Russia making it clear that it is in control.

SOLOMON: Clare Sebastian live for us there in London. Thank you, Clare.

Now to India where at least 16 people have died in Northern India. That's after heavy rains triggered devastating floods and landslides. A red alert has been issued for the state of Himachal Pradesh. Meantime, officials say nine people died when a temple collapsed in the state's capital because of the powerful monsoons. The state's chief minister says that five people were rescued earlier and they're working to clear debris and rescue about 25 people who remain trapped in the rubble.

A new candidate is nominated in Ecuador to replace Fernando Villavicencio who was assassinated last week. His political party tells journalists Christian Zurita.

CNN's Rafael Romo spoke exclusively to Villavicencio's running mate, Andrea Gonzalez Nader, who had originally been picked to replace him.


ANDREA GONZALEZ NADER, ECUADORIAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think any other Ecuadorian is at the risk of getting shot right now in the street.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): She was supposed to be there as his running mate. Andrea Gonzalez Nader should have been right next to Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio when he was shot last Wednesday as he was leaving a rally in Quito, the capital.

NADER: Fernando was shot three times in the head.

ROMO (on camera): Has it sunk in that you could have died because you were supposed to be right next to Fernando that night when he was --


ROMO (on camera): -- shot dead?

NADER: Yes, I was supposed to be there next to him, getting inside a car with no protection against bullets, and we wore no bulletproof vests because we were trying to get the people this message that we had to be brave.

ROMO (voice-over): In an exclusive CNN interview at a location we're not disclosing for her safety, Gonzalez said Villavicencio's murder is yet another gruesome and shocking example of how fragile democracy is in Latin America as a region. But living in fear, she says, is not an option.

NADER: I want to change this country. I want this country to be a place of peace -- a productive country. We're known around the world for our incredible chocolate, our bananas, our shrimps, our coffee. I love -- I love Ecuador deeply. I believe Ecuador is a paradise and they've turned it into hell.


ROMO (voice-over): Villavicencio was a 59-year-old lawmaker in the National Assembly known for being outspoken about corruption and violence caused by drug trafficking in the country.

In May, he told CNN en Espanol that Ecuador had become a narco state. His political platform was centered on leading a fight against what he called --

VILLAVICENCIO: La Mafia politica.

ROMO (voice-over): -- a political mafia.

NADER: We knew it was -- this was a high risk of him getting attacked by the same mafia and the same organized crime, and the same politicians that are linked with this organized international crime.

ROMO (on camera): After the assassination, current Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency for 60 days. On Saturday, 4,000 members of the Ecuadorian police and military raided a notorious prison in Guayas province and transferred an alleged leader of a local drug gang to another facility.

ROMO (voice-over): Gonzalez says organized crime is a regional problem that requires a regional solution.

ROMO (on camera): How does Ecuador solve its security problem? Is it something that Ecuador can do by itself or does it need help from the international community?

NADER: We need teamwork from international intelligence to find out how to stop this. Cocaine is done in Colombia and gets through Ecuador -- through our coasts where it goes back to Mexico and then it's delivered to the United States and Europe.

ROMO (voice-over): Ecuadorians go to the polls on August 20 for the first round of an election to choose a new president. But even something as simple as voting is an act of courage in this country and many may decide to stay home.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Quito, Ecuador.


[05:40:00] SOLOMON: Coming up, Taiwan's vice president is in New York and then South America. We'll tell you why China is upset. And an update on the deadly wildfires in Hawaii and also containment efforts. We'll be right back.



GOV. JOSH GREEN, (D), HAWAII: We believe between 60 miles per hour and 81 miles per hour across that part of the island. And that meant that fire traveled one mile every minute resulting in this tragedy.


SOLOMON: The death toll from the catastrophic fires on Hawaii's island of Maui now stands at 96. Officials say it's not clear how many people are still missing but only three percent of the fire zone has been searched with cadaver dogs.

And they also say that the speed of the flames destroyed about 2,700 structures around Lahaina -- most of them homes. The damage is estimated at $5.6 billion. Hawaii's governor said that officials are working to find housing for nearly 1,500 people now in emergency shelters.


And for more information on how you can help, you can go to or you can also text HAWAII to 707070 to donate.

In other news this morning, Nestle has announced a voluntary recall of some of its chocolate chip cookie dough bars because of the potential presence of wood chips. The company says it applies to two batches of the Toll House break and bake products that were produced in April. They say a small number of consumers contacted them about the wood fragments. No illnesses or injuries have been reported.

But the company says if you purchased the dough bars with the batch code you see here on your screen, you should return it for a replacement or a refund.

All right, China's Foreign Ministry condemning the brief stop in the U.S. of Taiwanese Vice President William Lai, calling him a troublemaker. Lai arrived in New York on Saturday where he was welcomed by one of Washington's unofficial representatives to Taipei.

I want to bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks. She joins us live from Seoul, South Korea. So, Paula, Lai is set to leave for Paraguay today. How are U.S. officials responding to this Chinese criticism?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rahel, what we know at this point from senior administration officials is that this is an unofficial transit visit. They say that it is in keeping with the One China policy but that's really not the way that Beijing sees it. The U.S. also saying that this is fairly routine. In fact, William

Lai, himself, in the beginning of last year did a transit through the U.S. President Tsai Ing-wen has also stopped off in the U.S. But it always angers Beijing who sees Taiwan as part of its territory despite never having controlled it.

So what we heard from William Lai -- he was, on Sunday, with a group of Taiwanese Americans and he did say at the banquet in a speech that Taiwan would not be backing down in the face of a growing threat from China.


WILLIAM LAI, TAIWANESE VICE PRESIDENT (through translator): So, at this decisive moment, I want to promise once again at this time and place that no matter how great the threat of authoritarianism is to Taiwan, we absolutely will not be scared nor coward. We will uphold the values of democracy and freedom.


HANCOCKS: Now, we got a statement also from Beijing from the Foreign Ministry, saying that they reject and strongly oppose any kind of direct interaction between the United States and Taiwan. The statement reads that "Lai clings stubbornly to the separatist position for Taiwan independence. He is a troublemaker through and through." We have consistently seen this kind of response from Beijing and we are likely to see it in the future as well.

William Lai obviously not just a vice president but interesting because he is a leading presidential candidate as well. So making his pushback against Beijing and their claims of Taiwan being part of their territory shows that is his policy going forward.

And as I said, just a few months ago, President Tsai Ing-wen went to the United States as well in March and in April. She also met with high-ranking U.S. officials, including Kevin McCarthy, the House speaker.

So, clearly, this is something that Taiwan officials will continue to do, and it is something that will continue to irritate and anger Beijing -- Rahel.

SOLOMON: Yes, because if I remember correctly, those visits also ruffled some feathers in Beijing, to say the least.

Paula Hancocks, great to see you. Thank you.

Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING," a fourth possible indictment is looming over Donald Trump as the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia prepares to present her case to a grand jury.

And next, right here, how the Yankees had a 6-run lead and lost. The Bleacher Report coming up next.



SOLOMON: Welcome back, and a look at sports now.

The New York Yankees were left wondering what happened after they blew a 6-run lead and lost.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Coy, long time no see. Good morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Drama up there in New York. You were just here, like, 22 hours ago and now you're up in New York. Good to see you, Rahel.

SOLOMON: Likewise.

WIRE: This was a big blow for the Yankees who have now dropped five of seven, making the already huge hill to reach the postseason even harder to climb. Yankees in control in the ninth when the wheels fall off. Bases loaded -- Clay Holmes knocks down the rocket to right -- hit right at them, but then his counter fires a bit wide. That allows the Marlins to score two runs in the wreckage.

Next up, Luis Arraez slapping a shot down the line. And all of a sudden, that once 6-run lead is gone and we are tied.

Then Jake Burger -- how you like 'em? Well done. A line drive on Tommy Kahnle. And it's buns out funs out as the Marlins come all the way back to win 8-7.

The Yankees are in last place in the AL East. The last time they finished at the bottom of their division was 1990.


AARON BOONE, NEW YORK YANKEES MANAGER: We need victory, so any time you lose it's tough. But obviously, when you have the day in control for the most part with a lot of good things happening out there -- a credit to them for putting some really good at-bats together. So, a difficult way to end the series but we've got to move on.


WIRE: Now, as for the team with the American League's best record, the Orioles, and it's because of guys like this. Cedric Mullins putting on his cape and leaping to save the game-tying home run in the ninth. He came in as a defensive sub in the sixth but he steals Seattle's homer by Ty France like Stephane Breitwieser. Hang it in the loop.


But Mullins wants some more, Rahel. In the 10th, after the Mariners tied it up, he goes ahead and hits the game-winning homer. Orioles rolling, seeking to win the division crown for the first time in nearly a decade.

All right, fore -- women's open. It's been a rollercoaster ride in 2023 for Lilia Vu. She won her first career major in April, then missed the cut in four of her next seven events. This weekend, though, it was deja vu. Starting Sunday, tied for the lead, Vu dominated, winning by six strokes to become the first woman to win multiple majors in the same year since 2019.

Here she is.


LILIA VU, 2023 WOMEN'S OPEN CHAMPION: It sounds almost unreal. I had a pretty tough run the past couple of months. I didn't -- I didn't feel like myself for the past couple of months. So I came into this tournament and I sat down with my team and we just wanted to be in contention. That's all we wanted. And, yes, somehow this happened.


WIRE: Awesome.

From the course to the court, and look out. The top-ranked American in the world, Jessica Pegula, beating Liudmila Samsonova 6-1, 6-love to become the first American since Serena in 2013 to win the Canadian Open -- her third WTA Tour title -- beating world number one Iga Swiatek along the way in the semis to get this one. Pegula gaining some serious momentum heading into the U.S. Open just two weeks away.

Finally, you have to see this. This is what sports are all about.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love all of you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, me, too. Family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I guess I love you guys, too. Here we go. (INAUDIBLE). One, two, three, people.


WIRE: Massapequa Park rise up -- your new Little League Softball World Series champs. The team from Long Island beating North Carolina on their own turf yesterday 5-2, becoming the first team from New York to win the title. And the party's just getting started. The parade is already in the works.

SOLOMON: Yes, and it looks like they're having a great time. I love you guys -- family, great to see.

Coy Wire, great to see you.

WIRE: You, too.

SOLOMON: All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Rahel Solomon. And "CNN THIS MORNING" is back after this break.