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U.S. President Joe Biden Leaves Vietnam for 9/11 Commemoration in Anchorage; Morocco Suffers a 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake; Spain's Top Soccer Official Quits After Infamous Unwanted Kiss at the Women's World Cup Final. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 05:00   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Right now on EARLY START, President Biden is leaving Vietnam where he's been trying to counter China's growing influence on the developing world. Plus, the desperate search for survivors in the earthquake rubble with more than 2,000 people already dead in Morocco. And Spain's top soccer official quits over the unwanted World Cup kiss he planted on a star player.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Omar Jimenez. We've got a lot to get to, so let's get into it. President Biden wrapping up his Vietnam visit by pulling another one of China's neighbor closer to the U.S.

Biden is establishing Washington as a comprehensive strategic partner with Hanoi. That's Vietnam's highest level of diplomatic ties, and it puts the U.S. at the same level as China, Russia, India and South Korea. And this comes as Biden looks to counter China's influence in the developing world. CNN's Anna Coren is live in Hanoi, Vietnam, with more. So does this affect the U.S.-China relationship, and more significantly, does it affect the U.S.-China tensions?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very good question, Omar, I guess time will tell. China obviously watching this visit very closely. But President Biden will be returning to the United States with some multi-billion dollar deals. That is what is being signed here in Hanoi today. The largest being Boeing,$7.8 billion, fifty 737 Max aircraft will be sold to Vietnam Airlines.

Other deals that have been done, Nvidia, Microsoft. We know that MCorp and Marvel have also done deals. So this has been highly productive. You know, this is obviously about trade and investment. But it's also about America diversifying its supply chain away from China. This is something that's very important, particularly when it comes to semiconductors, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Something that President Biden said that they will be cooperating with Vietnam and investing here in Vietnam. But you also mentioned countering China's influence and its assertiveness in the region. And that is a huge problem for Vietnam, particularly in the South China Sea, which China is laying claims to islands that Vietnam sees as theirs. But we heard from President Biden, and he said that his administration is very much focused on this pivotal region, the Indo- Pacific region. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All the effort we've advanced from day one of my administration to demonstrate to our Indo- Pacific partners around the world, United States is a Pacific nation and we're not going anywhere.


COREN: Omar, President Biden wrapped up his trip by paying his respects at the memorial of his late friend, Senator John McCain who was shot down as a pilot here during the Vietnam war, and was held as a prisoner of war for some five and a half years. He said he did -- misses his friend, he's now at the airport waiting to board his plane, Air Force One where he will head to Anchorage for a 9/11 ceremony with the troops there in Alaska.

JIMENEZ: Yes, Anna Coren, we will see how the reverberations from this trip play out. Thank you so much. Breaking news right now, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be on a train heading to Russia. That's according to multiple South Korean media outlets. And the reports come as the U.S. government says they believe North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is expected to engage with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Russia to advance arms negotiations.

Neither Russia nor North Korea have officially confirmed the meeting. We'll have a live report from South Korea coming up. Meanwhile rescuers in Morocco are in a race against time as they search for survivors after Friday's powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake. Officials confirm more than 2,100 people have been killed, and more than 2,400 are injured just south of Marrakesh.

The devastation hit the hardest in the Atlas Mountains areas where access is dangerous. CNN's Nada Bashir reports.



NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (on camera): Well, the death toll is still continuing to climb, and it is unclear at this stage how many people are still buried beneath the rubble. But the search and rescue operation is very much ongoing and it could be for several days, and it has been a struggle over the weekend for search and rescue teams to make it to some of the areas hardest hit by Friday's earthquake.

Many of these villages are located in remote areas of the Atlas Mountains which are typically hard to get to. But also the roads have also sustained damage, and that has posed an obstacle to rescue teams. And what we are beginning to see now is international search and rescue teams joining the effort coming tomorrow to support on that front.

But there will also be a focus on the humanitarian relief fund as well, of course, many of those across the Atlas Mountains, across the areas impacted around the epicenter have lost their homes, have lost absolutely everything. And so, they will be needing that support for some time to come. Here in Marrakesh, what we have seen over the weekend for three nights in a row, actually, is families sleeping in the streets, choosing to sleep outside for fear of another after-shock potentially, another earthquake.

Many have said that they're too afraid that their homes aren't safe and all the structures of their buildings could give way. So that is a real fear for many across the country in those areas impacted by the earthquake. But we have seen an outpouring of community support as well. There has been a real push for people to go out and donate blood, we've seen queues of people lining up to support on that front.

And we're beginning to see people gathering crucial items for those impacted, loading vans and traveling almost to the areas impacted to support with the humanitarian relief effort. But this is going to be a process that takes days if not months, and when it comes to the recovery effort, the rebuild effort that could take years. Nada Bashir, CNN, Marrakesh.


JIMENEZ: For some perspective on what the earthquake and the aftermath has been like, I want to bring in Karim Fehry Fassy; Marrakesh resident, co-founder of Alice(ph), private travel agency. So Karim, for starters, how are you and your family, how are you holding up?

KARIM FEHRY FASSY, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: Well, thank you first of all, but, you know, we cannot complain. We are safe, we are doing well. We live in the northern part of the city, so basically, respecting all houses and infrastructures, really respecting the anti-seismic standard and norms. So, yes, we feel -- we feel just bad for those killed and for those injured and mainly for those buried under the -- you know, constructions, and our mind is with them.

JIMENEZ: And, you know, we've been showing some of the photos and video that you shared with us. What do you remember about what happened?

FASSY: Oh, we were watching a movie, my wife and I, and my daughter as well. We were on the first floor, and funny enough, when it happened, I was speechless. I was traumatized to be honest. And I looked at my wife and reacted like in a way, is this the movie happening or is it the craziness of the movie? And she just screamed and saying, earthquake, and my daughters came down.

At the same time, the light was gone, so there was no lights. We couldn't see anything. And we just -- my duty with my wife was to secure the kids. And we went out, out of the house, we stayed there from 11:15 until 1:00 in the morning. And we slept in the car, honestly, until 4:00 a.m. And by 4:00 a.m., we decided to return back to the house. We slept there. But only by next day, we realized -- we started to realize what's

happened. And it was very hard especially when we saw and we listened to those in the high Atlas Mountains how difficult was their experience.

JIMENEZ: Yes, well, you know, to see the images that have come out in just a short amount of time, you know, I'm glad you and your family are safe. And, you know, the rescue efforts are ones that are going to take a lot of focus to try and make sure that the recovery goes well. Karim Fehry Fassy, thank you so much for the time. Again, best wishes to you and your family.

FASSY: Thank you so much, thank you, thank you, Omar.

JIMENEZ: Of course, now, coming up, Spain's soccer chief resigns after that unconsensual kiss. Plus, a grim warning from General Mark Milley about Ukraine's counteroffensive. And nearly, a 150,000 autoworkers ready to walk off the job. We'll tell you what they want.



JIMENEZ: Welcome back. At 13 past the hour, quick hits around the globe right now for starters. Injured American Mark Dickey who's been trapped in a Turkish cave is now halfway to escaping as his rescue continues. He suffered intestinal bleeding last week and was stuck 3,400 feet underground.

Protesters clash with police in Chile during a march commemorating the 50th anniversary of Augusto Pinochet's coup. Now, police used teargas and water hoses to break up confrontations on Sunday. And the Catholic Church beatified an entire family of nine in Poland killed by the Nazis for sheltering the Jewish during World War II. Beatification is the final step before sainthood. Pope Francis called them a ray of light from the Vatican.


Now after weeks of criticism, Spanish Soccer Federation chief Luis Rubiales has resigned. And it comes after that controversial and unwanted kiss he planted on soccer star Jennifer Hermoso following Spain's World Cup victory last month. CNN's Amanda Davies joins us from London now. Amanda, so Spanish prosecutors, they filed an official complaint against Rubiales for sexual assault and coercion on Friday. What happens now?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORTS HOST: Good morning, Omar, yes. The Spanish prosecutors very much carry on with that investigation in gathering the evidence for their criminal case. The Spanish Football Federation, though, are going to hold elections looking for a new president. But the outgoing President Luis Rubiales remains defiant, protesting his innocence, despite having handed in that resignation.

For so many people, this is a call that he has made three weeks too late after that incident on August the 20th. Here's a man who was suspended by world football's governing body, FIFA. He was facing calls from his own federation to resign. He had 81 Spanish players refusing to play under his leadership for the national team.

And then on Friday, as you rightly mentioned, the Spanish prosecutors opened that criminal investigation. And I have to say the manner of this resignation, for so many of his critics will not have done him any favors. The statement he issued at the same time as a headline- grabbing interview television interview with Piers Morgan made no mention of the historic Women's World Cup winning side.

It made no mention of Jenni Hermoso. There was no acknowledgement of any wrongdoing or apology issued. The statement said in part this, "it's evident I can't continue in my position to insisting waiting around and holding on to that won't contribute anything positive, neither to the federation nor to Spanish football. Among other things because there are actual powers that will prevent my return. My daughters, my family and the people who love me have suffered the effects of excessive persecution as well as many falsehoods.

But it is also true that on the street, more and more every day, the truth is prevailing." He said, "I will defend my honorability. I will defend my innocence." You know, he has gone from his post, but the players at this federation have called for a much bigger cultural change. And the interesting thing here is the one thing he specifically mentioned in his resignation statement was a World Cup bid for 2030, which is Morocco, Spain and Portugal.

The fact that, that is being mentioned specifically really indicates that sports politics, sports culture, sports structures are perhaps much harder to change than just removing one man.

JIMENEZ: Yes, and you know, you would hope all this time later that the focus would have stayed on the Spanish national team actually winning the World Cup, and this has now become a side show that has dominated many headlines. Amanda Davies, thank you so much.

Coming up, the manhunt in Pennsylvania is now going nationwide. What the escaped killer did to prompt this move from police. And Hurricane Lee is churning in the Atlantic, where it's headed this morning.



JIMENEZ: Welcome back, 22 past the hour. And we're going to take you to quick hits across America now. Police say the search for escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante in Pennsylvania is now a nationwide manhunt. Officials say he stole a van and fled north after changing his appearance on Sunday.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has pardoned a father arrested for disorderly contact at a school board meeting in 2021. It was the focus of Youngkin's push for parental rights which helped fueled his win as governor. And New Mexico's governor is ordering a temporary suspension of open and concealed carry-guns in Albuquerque area. And this comes after a series of deadly shootings there, some

involving children. We're also tracking Hurricane Lee churning in the Atlantic, it's now a Category 3 as it approaches Bermuda later this week. Let's get to meteorologist Derek Van Dam. So, Derek, will this actually be a threat to people? What do we know?

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST: Well, Bermuda, yes, definitely --


VAN DAM: You'll see in just a minute how this expands in size over the coming days, but we still are waiting for that northerly turn. One thing I want to show you is the Atlantic is extremely busy right now. We've got Hurricane Lee, major Hurricane Lee. But there are several other areas that we're monitoring. This is statistically the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, two-day, and it is living up to its name.

So, here's the latest on Hurricane Lee with the 5:00 a.m. National Hurricane Center update, still a Category 3, powerful storm, but moving across the ocean, the southwestern Atlantic. So where does it make that northerly turn? Well, that is the big question, but we still are honing in on a Wednesday to Thursday timeframe.

And as it does move north, you can see Bermuda was -- is actually within this official cone. And then as we head into the weekend, that's where we're set to focus across the Canadian Maritimes, but also into New England as well. Lee will be traversing some cold water from the wake of Hurricane Franklin, so that's going to help not only weaken the storm, but it's also going to allow for its wind field to expand.


Remember, you don't necessarily need hurricane-force winds to cause damage, right? So, look at the size of this, Bermuda definitely experiences some of those outer rain bands that will bring tropical storm force winds and large waves, but as it reaches the northern Atlantic, this is when it really starts to explode in size. So we're talking about 600 meters or so -- well on that meters, feet or miles, I should say, in diameter.

So, what that means is we will feel the impacts in terms of waves along the entire eastern seaboard today. So rip currents will be a concern this week, but will we feel the outer rain bands, time will tell. Computer models honing in on some specifics, but we still have some time to iron out the details here.

JIMENEZ: Oh, of course, concern no matter what, but I know you'll stay on top of it. Derek Van Dam, thank you.

VAN DAM: All right.

JIMENEZ: Coming up, what was behind the abrupt end to President Biden's press conference in Vietnam? And the White House defends its G20 statement about Ukraine. We'll tell you why they're having to defend it. Details just ahead.


JIMENEZ: Hi, everyone, thanks for being here, I'm Omar Jimenez, if you've been with us the whole time, glad you've been with us. If you're just getting here, welcome aboard. Here's the big story.