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Hurricane Dean Heads For Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula; Families of Utah Miners Outraged

Aired August 20, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, the first hurricane of the season has turned into the worst kind of hurricane there is. Hurricane Dean is now a Category 5 killer. Take a look at the satellite imagery. That thing is as big across as the state of Texas. It is packing sustained winds right now of 160 miles an hour and it is barrelling right now towards one of the busiest vacation spots around.

It's already done a lot of damage, hammering Jamaica, tearing homes apart, plunging tens of thousands of people into darkness. At least seven people have died across the Caribbean. And this thing is just getting started.

We have got people up and down the Yucatan Peninsula tonight.

Gary Tuchman is in Tulum. Harris Whitbeck is in Chetumal, where the eye is expected to come ashore. Chad Myers is in the CNN Weather Center. We will also hear from Jason Carroll, who is in Cancun.

Also tonight, more breaking news, fresh outrage from the families of six missing miners in Utah over word that that, even though it's too risky to go back into the mine and find them, Murray Energy still plans to reenter the mine one day to mine more coal.

We start, however, with Hurricane Dean, and CNN's Chad Myers, who is tracking the storm for us in the Weather Center.

Chad, where is this thing?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is south of major resorts, Anderson, from Cancun to Cozumel to Playacar, all of the way to Xcaret and Escucha, well south of there.

Now, you are still going to get some slamming winds. These outer bands could still bring winds 85 miles to 100 miles per hour here. But the most dangerous, the Category 5 part of this storm, is literally around the eye, only about 10 miles from the eye in any direction. And then it starts to taper off from there.

The storm is moving in, moving right into Chetumal just a little bit to the north. Maybe the southern part of the eyewall will get to that town or city, 100,000 people in that city. But other than that, this is a biosphere in here. This is a wildlife preserve. Now, other than the animals, you couldn't pick a better place for a Category 5 to land, assuming you're trying to save people. Now, the animals will get out of there. They will be able to take care of themselves. And then it's going to go right across the Yucatan Peninsula and back into a very warm Bay of Campeche. That's going to allow it to regain strength again, even though it may go from a Category 5. And the forecast is for it to go to a Category 1.

I'm not sure I'm buying that. I'm not sure, in 10 hours, this storm is going to go from 160 to 85. Maybe it does. But, if it doesn't, if it gets out here, Anderson, at 110 or 120, then it's just going to roll right toward Tampico, Mexico.

Here are the numbers, if you're paying attention, 18.2, 85.1. The winds are 160. It's about 210 miles. Now, that was the -- that was the 8:00 advisory, so maybe a few closer miles than that, maybe 190 or 180, southeast of Chetumal. And that is going to continue in that direction.

So, the people there in Chetumal are going to have one very long night. I am expecting landfall probably close to about I would say 5:00 a.m. local time. Now, this is a radar, a literal radar out of Cancun. You can begin to see the first outer bands. We're going to see our Gary Tuchman in Tulum, which is right there. We're going to see some of these bands into Cancun rather quickly, and then later on in the night, that's when these Category 5 winds are going to come right south of the Tulum area and south of all those areas that you know so well as Cancun and Cozumel will get missed.

It will be a battering storm, but at least it will missed, the 150-mile-per-hour winds not going to hit Cozumel or Cancun.


COOPER: Now, Chad, we are also expecting an update at some point throughout this next hour, correct?

MYERS: Yes. There still have been airplanes in the storm, still trying to find big winds. And the biggest wind, check this out. I know this is a prop plane. And they fly prop planes into these storms because they're afraid that a jet may have a flame-out. They found a wind at flight level, Anderson, of 189 miles per hour.

I can't flying -- I can't imagine flying through that and what the turbulence must feel there. We will have a new update for you as soon as that comes out, probably around 10:45.

COOPER: All right, Chad, thanks very much.


COOPER: I don't know if we can put those Jamaica pictures back up. We were just showing some of the impact this storm had on Jamaica. And it really missed hitting full force, which is certainly a good thing on that island, no deaths reported, which is truly something to be very thankful for.

Chad is going to be back with us all night over this next hour. Let's head now to the Yucatan Peninsula. Gary Tuchman is standing by in Tulum, Mexico.

Gary, you starting to get some rain?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The rains have just started in the last hour, Anderson. And we are in Tulum. This is to the northern part of where the eye is going to be that Chad was just talking about. And that is actually the bad side of the hurricane because of the counterclockwise winds of the hurricane.

So, they are battening down the hatches in this small town of 10,000 people. It is a very small town. We're in the downtown part of it right now, about three miles away from the Gulf of Mexico. And the Gulf of Mexico is where many tourists go, Cancun 80 miles to the north of me.

But tourists come for a day trip or two days, because there are famous architectural ruins, Mayan ruins that are there, buildings that are more than 1,000 years old. And there's a lot of concern how they will fare with these 150-, 160-mile-per-hour possible winds.

Right now, though, here in the town, most people -- and it's a very poor town, for the most part -- 10,000 people, like I said, living here -- but, for the most part, people are taking the preparations very seriously. They have boarded up their homes. They're being very careful right now.

About 45 minutes ago, it was a deluge for about a half-hour. And those were the outer bands moving in. Most of the people here, especially the kids, were running around the neighborhood (INAUDIBLE) the hurricane has arrived, the hurricane has arrived. We told them those are the outer bands. They flooded the streets within 15 minutes. The winds were like 30 or 40 miles per hour.

Now it's calmed down a bit. The rains are coming. But, within the next few hours, it will come. And when the kids say, the hurricane is here, the hurricane is here, we will tell them, you're absolutely right -- Anderson.

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, stay safe tonight.

And, as you can see from that storm tracker, that satellite image in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, where the eye is going to come ashore is in Chetumal. That's what Chad Myers was saying. Troops there have been deployed. More than a foot-and-a-half of rain could fall by this time tomorrow.

Let's take you there right now. CNN's Harris Whitbeck is standing by.

Harris, is Chetumal ready for this thing?

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I certainly hope so, Anderson. This is going to be a huge storm. And there hasn't been a hurricane here since 1975. People so far seem pretty calm about it. Just a few minutes ago, we still had people walking out here along the waterfront, checking out the bay. The waters of the bay very calm, very little rain so far, and no winds. That, of course, is expected to change very rapidly over the next few hours.

The Mexican government has over 700 shelters scattered throughout the peninsula, many of them here in Chetumal. The concern is that, right next to Chetumal, there's a big nature preserve. It's a big swamp that is populated by about 3,500 of members of an indigenous Mayan community. They have been evacuated from that community -- from that area, because they live in very flimsy dwellings, have been put in shelters here in Chetumal.

And that's just one of the concerns local authorities will be facing tonight. Again, so far, it's very calm, but that's going to change very quickly.

COOPER: Yes. As Chad said, it's going to be a very long night for you and for all the residents there. Stay as safe as you can.

Let's turn next to CNN's Jason Carroll. He's live in Cancun, joins us now by phone.

Jason, what are the preparations there like?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have been watching the preparations all day long, Anderson. The hotels here really feel prepared for whatever Dean has to offer.

Right now, in standing out here, what we have been seeing is -- is the growing intensity of wind and rain and the pounding surf. And, on Friday, the governor was expecting even worse. And, so, what he was asking everyone to do, many of the tourists in this popular beach community, to evacuate.

Between Friday and today, Anderson, 70,000 people, we are told, according to the secretary of tourism, have, in fact, left. But there are still some 20,000 people who are still here, many of those people staying in shelters, many of them staying in hotels, like we are. Many of these hotels were rebuilt, reinforced after Hurricane Wilma ripped through here two years ago, caused a great deal of damage. Tougher building codes were put into effect.

And because of that, these people feel that they're better equipped to handle whatever Dean has to offer. What is happening inside some of these hotels is, they set up safe zones, Anderson. And what they tell you is, if you go into your room, you do so at your own risk. Obviously, if you go outside, you do so at your own risk. If you're in the hotel, you need to be in this safe zone, oftentimes which are set up in the center of the hotel towards the bottom of the hotel. That's where most of the people are staying and waiting out whatever Dean has to offer -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well, certainly for Cancun is lucky, as Chad pointed out earlier, because this storm has jogged a little bit south. The eye is going to be coming far south of where Cancun is, the strongest winds not hitting Cancun. So, that's certainly good news there.

To give you another angle on Dean's power, consider Jamaica, which avoided the worst, as we told you, but it still got hit pretty bad.

Reporting tonight from Montego Bay, here is CNN's Susan Candiotti.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dean missed, but not by much. At sunup, workers in the capital city of Kingston already clearing debris from streets. Authorities say landslides occurred in mostly rural areas, but, so far, no deaths are reported.

Sustained winds of more tan 110 miles per hour peeled back roofs. A powerful storm surge of up to nine feet floated this car where its driver never intended. With power still out, the prime minister ordered a state of emergency, and troops are patrolling streets in Kingston to prevent looting.

For so much, the frightening storm was overwhelming. Before Dean hammered Jamaica, it tore a deadly path across the southern Caribbean. Five people died in St. Lucia, Dominica, and Martinique. Two others died in Haiti.

West of Jamaica, in the Cayman Islands, this CNN I-Report captured Dean's fury.

(on camera): Throughout Jamaica, a curfew remains in effect. So even though everybody is out and about, the stores are not allowed to reopen as yet. It doesn't mean that people are not walking around just to see how everyone fared after the storm, to exchange stories. But some street vendors are back at work.

You had enough supplies to get by?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. I had enough supplies. I come downtown and I go shopping at the supermarket. And I was well prepared.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): In Montego Bay, tourists who couldn't leave before Dean lined up at the airport to get on the first planes out. This couple here to see their son get married, the wedding was Friday. Then came Dean.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once it started, it wasn't a big deal. We played cards, had some drinks, you know, made a party out of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, when the electricity went off, and that was that.

CANDIOTTI: Five thousand people filled shelters. Electricity, shut down before the storm remains out on the island, with no estimates on when power will be restored.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Montego Bay, Jamaica.


COOPER: These storms, of course, can change very quickly.

Let's go back to severe weather expert Chad Myers, got some new information.

Chad, what's going on?

MYERS: I was just doing some figuring, Anderson.

At 189 miles an hour, I figured this had to be one of the strongest. And, in fact, it is one of the 10th stronger. It is actually the 10th lowest pressure of all time. The pressure -- and I want you to go look at your barometer, that thing you never look at in the -- the living room -- 26.99 inches of mercury. That's probably all the way off the bottom. Camille was 26.84, so, literally, a storm the size, the strength, the depth of Camille.

Here's where it is now. There are still a little bit -- there's still a little left or right that this thing could go before it does make landfall. But, notice, you remember how this thing was a shotgun; it just spread itself out five days away? Well, when you get only 12 hours away, that shotgun is not so far away.

And, if we get a little bit closer, you will find Chetumal right there. That is going to be coming through. These are all the other computer programs that are showing it. This is the town of Chetumal. And now I'm going to pop on here every part of town that is 18 feet or lower above sea level, which is most of the eastern and southeastern part of town and all of downtown below that.

So, at any type of significant storm surge, a lot of this town will be underwater. Now, this is going to be on the south side of the eye, not the north side of the eye, probably not a huge storm surge here. But if it happens, if water gets over the barrier island into this bay, into Chetumal Bay, there will be a lot of this town underwater -- Anderson.

COOPER: That's going to be very difficult, indeed.


COOPER: We're going to continue to come in, check back with Chad.

We're also going to -- when we come back with Chad, there's going to be another update coming up in about half-an- hour or so. So, we will get the latest information on that. And also want to check in with Chad about, days from now, where this things will go, where it's going to hit next.

As Mexico braces for Dean, there's one hurricane that millions in Latin America are never going to forget. Here's the "Raw Data" on it.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch left a path of misery and destruction, killing more than 11,000 people. Most of the victims were in Honduras and Nicaragua. Mitch was the deadliest hurricane to hit the Western Hemisphere in more than 200 years.

Well, when we come back in this hour, massive flooding in America and one amazing rescue that turned into a twofer.


COOPER (voice-over): Acres of flooding, moments of terror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh -- oh, no. That is exactly what I did not want to see.

COOPER: See what happened next and what's happening all across the middle of the country, as the water just keeps rising.

Later, they say it's too unsafe to go back in to dig for the six missing miners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel that they have given up.

COOPER: So, what do family members think of mining company plans to go back in and dig for more coal and more profits? From heartache to outbreak to outrage -- tonight on 360.



COOPER: The pictures have just been unbelievable, surging waters, dramatic rescue attempts. Heart-pounding scenes like this have played out across parts of the Midwest. It is the dangerous remnants from Tropical Storm Erin. The storm has been destructive, to say the least. It has been deadly as well.

We have more now from CNN's Susan Roesgen.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Only a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, it became a monster miles farther inland. In Oklahoma, six people died in rising water. In Kingfisher, a creek rose as much as 25 feet. Hundreds were homeless, thousands left without power.

STEVE RICHARDS, INTERIM MAYOR OF KINGFISHER CITY, OKLAHOMA: This is probably one of the worst floods I believe we have seen in -- since like 1965. So, this kind of took us a little bit more than normal, because water came up a lot higher.

ROESGEN: The rain was relentless, as much as 11 inches an hour. The rapidly rising water left drivers stranded in their cars, their only hope of rescue from a helicopter crew hovering overhead, a crew that had never before done a water rescue.

Bernice and Leroy Krittenbrink were in their truck, swept away. But, just seconds after being pulled to safety, Bernice lost her grip and fell back into the rushing water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Oh, no. That's exactly what I did not want to see.

ROESGEN: Leroy also couldn't hold on and let go of the chopper's skids. But the pilot came around again, and both of them are safe.

BERNICE KRITTENBRINK, RESCUED: At that point, your adrenaline is flowing, so -- and you don't have too much time to be afraid. You just want to hang on. And Randy had a hold of me by then. And I was able to sit on the skid, and they took me to high ground. And, like he said, had it not been for the -- the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, with -- flying the helicopters, and with him on the skid to pull us in, it could have been a really different situation.

ROESGEN: There were dramatic rescues, by helicopter, boat, even jet ski, plucking people off the rooftops.

RANDY POINDEXTER, KINGFISHER FIRE CHIEF: We had to get them out of the water. We did it the best way we knew how, and that's how we ended up getting them out.

ROESGEN: Much of the Upper Midwest got walloped. Bridges and roads washed away. Two people died in Minnesota when their car was caught in the floodwaters and they couldn't escape. An unexpected tropical storm in Tornado Alley.

Susan Roesgen, CNN, Kingfisher, Oklahoma.


COOPER: Unbelievable helicopter rescue.

We're now keeping our eye on Hurricane Dean. It's a category 5 storm. An update from Chad Myers in the Weather Center in a couple minutes.

And coverage of Hurricane Dean is going to continue all night on CNN and, of course, on -- the morning on "AMERICAN MORNING."

With that, here's Kiran Chetry.



Tomorrow, we bring you the most news in the morning, including your first look at Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, as Hurricane Dean closes in.

Also, this is college week on "AMERICAN MORNING." And, every day, we will visit a different college campus to see what students are dealing with as the school year starts anew.

Can a club based on abstinence survive on campus? We will find out tomorrow. It all begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.


COOPER: Well, in the hour ahead, new outrage from the families of six miners trapped deep inside a Utah mine after the mine company said it's too dangerous to search for them. We're live with the latest.

And family members in another mine tragedy do more than get mad. They go on the attack. Find out why.

And, ahead, a plane explodes into flames -- the remarkable story of what happened to all 165 passengers on board -- coming up on 360.



STEVE ALLRED, BROTHER OF TRAPPED MINER: They need to get down there and give us an answer. This has gone on long enough. And, by God, we have got to know. We have got to have an answer. It's just plain and simple.


COOPER: Those words tonight from the brother of one of the six miners trapped underground in Utah, showing just some of the anguish he and the other families have gone through in the two weeks since the Crandall Canyon Mine collapsed.

He and other family members are -- are furious tonight over the way the rescue attempt has been going. They want more done. And they don't want to hear comments like the one they heard from a mine official this weekend which raised doubts as to whether the lost men will ever be found.

With the latest, here's CNN's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than two weeks and still no sign of the six miners. Tonight, their loved ones are begging the mine operator not to give up, still hopeful the men can be found alive.

S. ALLRED: Because I know miners, and they're damn tough, and they don't give up easy.

SIMON: Steve Allred's brother is among those trapped. He lashed out at the company's suggestion the miners may never be found.

S. ALLRED: They are basically giving up. And that's unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable. I can't live with that. His family can't live with that. We have got to -- one way or the other, we have got to have closure.

SIMON: Here's what set the families off.

ROBERT MOORE, VICE PRESIDENT, MURRAY ENERGY: It's likely that these miners may not be found.

SIMON: It was a sharp retreat. Mine officials, especially CEO Bob Murray, had expressed hope day after day that the miners would be found alive. So, to hear the opposite suddenly was painful.

S. ALLRED: I would like them to come out and say, hey, we're not giving up. The families aren't giving up. So, why should we give up? By God, we're going to go get these guys and get them out.

CODY ALLRED, SON OF TRAPPED MINER: If it was one of their family members, I personally believe that they would do whatever it took to have closure in their lives, whether they still exist or whether they don't.

SIMON: In a letter provided to CNN today, Bob Murray insisted he is not giving up. "We will not be deterred," he wrote. "And we will not leave this mountain until we find our people."

Over the weekend, however, mine officials said the latest bore hole revealed oxygen levels too low in that area to keep miners alive. Now a fifth hole is being drilled. With the tragedy taking yet another turn, the last thing on anybody's mind was whether mining here will eventually resume.

But when asked about that:

MOORE: It would be our intent to continue mining. This mine has operated safely in the past. Prior too these tragedies, we had worked 337 days without a lost-time accident. And our accident frequency was one-half of the national average, which is very good.

SIMON: That set off even more hard feelings. The United Mine Workers of America said in a statement: "Murray Energy not only demonstrates complete disregard for the families, but the company also demonstrates that it has learned nothing from this disaster. To do any further mining in an already unstable mine like Crandall Canyon is madness."

With anger reaching new levels here, people are preparing the first of three funerals for the rescuers who died. And with six others possibly dead, this community will be grieving for many days to come.


COOPER: Dan, what is the mine company saying tonight? There was a press conference just about an hour or two ago.

SIMON: Yes, Anderson, things just took another major turn, a very somber news conference a short while ago. We now know that the underground search effort will not resume. The experts have come in here and basically said it's too unsafe.

Bob Murray, very emotional, took to the microphones. He had tears in his eyes. I asked him if he has taken away the hope for these families. And he basically told me that, look, I'm the messenger. You have to be real about these things.

He conceded that he is no longer optimistic that these miners are still alive. Here's some of what he had to say. Take a look.


BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: I don't believe I took away their hope. I believe that, what has ever happened, the lord already dictated. What has ever happened will be.

Now, there's no sense of beating around the bush. You want to be honest with them. You want to be as compassionate as I can be. Sometimes, the messenger doesn't get it quite right, but we have done everything to administer to them, and so has the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, for the last two weeks.


COOPER: So, they're indefinitely calling off the underground search. Are they continuing with the bore holes?

SIMON: Yes, the underground search is over. They are going to continue with this fifth bore hole, but, beyond that, they're really not saying. He is saying that it is quite possible that, if these miners are dead, that their bodies will never be recovered, Anderson.

And one more thing. You know, in the piece, we talked about whether or not this mine will ever be used again. Mr. Murray says this portion of the mine is unsafe, but he says there are reserves in there that are safe, and that, at some point, he will resume his mining operation -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, no doubt, we will be hearing more from the families.

Dan Simon, thanks for the news.

As bad as the situation is in Utah, in eastern China, another mine disastrous has trapped 172 men since Friday. Their loved ones are angry and today turned violent. Take a look.




COOPER: These men are outraged because they have heard little about the rescue efforts. They have had little communications. They attacked an office at the company that runs the mine.

After this outburst, a Chinese official promised the government would be more responsive. Meanwhile, China's news agency has said hopes of finding the 172 men alive are fading.

Let's get a quick check of some other headlines.

Erica Hill has got the 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a new scare at Virginia Tech on the first day of classes. Five students remain hospitalized tonight for carbon monoxide poisoning -- that leak over the weekend linked to a faulty water heater at the students' apartment complex near campus. Eighteen other students were treated at various hospitals and released -- that trouble coming, of course, just four months after a mass shooting on campus left 33 people dead, including the gunman.

In Michigan, a teenager's brave battle with a rare and terminal cancer is, sadly, over. Eighteen-year-old Miles Levin died yesterday. Now, you may remember, he shared his battle against cancer on his blog and talked about it here on 360. His courageous spirit touched many of you around the world.

In Mexico, a very bloody running of the bulls, one man gored to death, 24 others injured at this weekend's festival. Thousands of people lined the streets at the Mexican town, as nearly two dozen bulls were let loose in five streets, Anderson. That's scary.

COOPER: Yes, unbelievable.

HILL: I don't think I will ever be at one of those.


HILL: Anyway, moving on to the "What Were They Thinking?" of the night, I love this story, I have to say, because it's just crazy.

None of us like to get bills, I don't think, especially not when it has to be delivered in a box. Uh-huh. A box. Not an envelope.

A Pittsburgh's woman first iPhone bill came in a box which was actually bigger than the phone. There it is, 300 pages. She goes through all of them, detailing every phone call, every text message, every time it connected to the Internet. It's all detailed there in those 300 pages.

The video of her going through the massive bill is, of course, on YouTube. And it ends with a message, use e-billing, save a forest. And she says that's exactly what she's going to do now. Others also reporting big bills.

A spokesman, though, insists that, for AT&T these are really rare situations. Not that many people are getting the box bills.

COOPER: How -- I wonder how much this whole thing cost her? I mean, how big was her bill that she needed it in a box?

HILL: You know, I don't know the exact amount. But it was, from what I understand, when I was reading the story, the issue is that it details every single time you connect.

COOPER: I see.

HILL: So if you're checking your e-mail, or you're sending an e- mail, or you just want to double check something, every little thing is detailed online. Hence the 300 pages.

COOPER: There you go. Too much information maybe on those bills.

HILL: Perhaps. Save a tree.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.


COOPER: We're expecting late word from the National Hurricane Center about Hurricane Dean shortly. We're going to bring that to you when it comes in. We'll also be checking with our correspondents throughout the program who are all in the storm's path.

Also tonight, these stories.


COOPER (voice-over): From multimillion-dollar contract talks to "let's make a deal" on a dog fighting rap. Michael Vick cops a plea.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He's in a desperately bad situation. Michael Vick is more hated for abusing dogs than other athletes are for abusing their wives.

COOPER: How the superstar quarterback is scrambling to save his career, even if it means going to prison.

Later, what Karl Rove sees in Hillary Clinton?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I find it interesting he's so obsessed with me.

COOPER: OK. It's not that kind of obsession. It's the "Raw Politics" kind, only on 360.


COOPER: There it is. Hurricane Dean now a Category 5 storm with winds gusting to nearly 190 miles an hour, on track to hit the Yucatan Peninsula at dawn before heading into the Gulf of Mexico.

Take a look at it from the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It's so big they're bringing the shuttle home early in case mission control in Houston gets hit. With us throughout the night in Tulum on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, CNN's Gary Tuchman.

Gary joins us now -- Gary.

Actually, let's go to Chad Myers. Sorry, we haven't gotten Gary. I think some weather has brought his satellite down.

Chad, where is the storm now? How is it looking?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is still offshore, probably still 150 or so miles. We're waiting for probably the 10:45 update. Supposed to be 11 p.m., but they usually get it to us 15 minutes ahead of time.

I've just noticed a small wobble on the satellite here, Anderson. I just want to kind of point it out to you. Hard to see. Literally, it's only about a 15-minute wobble so far, but it has followed. The southern part of the eye has followed this tape pretty closely. Through the last couple frames, it's turned a little bit up to the north just a little bit.

But that little bit can make a huge difference for Chetumal because if the southern part of the eye wall does not hit the town, if it's only 15 or 20 miles north of town that will save significant destruction; 160 miles per hour compared to 100 miles per hour will make a huge difference.

But that also may take into play or put into play Tulum a little bit more, where our Gary Tuchman is. Not so much that it's going to be a direct eye wall hit. I don't think it's going to turn that hard.

But certainly, just enough -- just a little bit of a stop there. Just a little bit of a wobble. Easily turn back and wobble back to the left again. But when you see 160 mile-per-hour storm wobble, it's pretty amazing, actually. Pretty amazing stuff.

It is 160 mile-per-hour storm. At about 8:35 this evening, a plane flew through the storm and found this number, not to be 155 but to be 160. And now I'm waiting for this. This is the one that's going to update automatically. We'll see what happens here. So this is Category 5 now as the storm goes on.

Something else I can show you is actually the radar out of Cancun. A very large cell -- swell. There's Isla Lasweles (ph), the island off of Cancun and very large cells here coming into Cancun.

And that will actually make some pretty good -- as every wave comes by, the winds pick up. In between the waves, Anderson, the winds die down. And you've seen enough hurricanes to know how that can actually change so very quickly.

COOPER: Yes, it certainly can. Do we know where this is going, you know, Thursday and Friday? I mean, after I saw -- the last thing I saw on that tracking was Wednesday, I think, at 2 p.m. MYERS: Yes. Let's take a look at this. And Brandon, I'm going to need you to help me out on this. This is Google Earth. This is where it is now. Chetumal right down here at the bottom of the base of Chetumal Bay.

We will -- we'll widen this thing out. And these are all of the computer models. And they're still pretty compact, because way up there, there's Cozumel way up there. So yes, they are very, very closely packed.

Here's another little diamond I put on. This is a major offshore oil rig for -- for the entire country of Mexico. Probably the largest offshore oil rig of all -- of everything they have. Fourteen thousand workers now evacuated from those oil rigs.

And that eventually right here, that little town, that little bump, that would be Tampico, Mexico. And it would be a bigger storm again as it gets back in the water. But the problem will be the flooding and the mud slides when it hits the Sierra Madre in just a couple of days -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. You were seeing that little wobble that you noticed might mean a different situation for Tulum, Mexico. Let's go there. Gary Tuchman standing by.

Gary, I guess we've been seeing some bands of rain passing over Tulum. Is there any now?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One band has just moved in, Anderson. And the rain has started coming down again. And the winds are picking up.

And one thing we're very concerned about here, Tulum is a very moderate to low-income city. It's a small pueblo, population of about 10,000 people. So the houses are not in very good condition, and the roads certainly aren't in good condition. After 15 minutes of heavy rain, we've already seen flooded roads, and this is nothing yet.

We don't know ultimately what's going to happen, but there's a lot of concern with the quality of the homes here. People are doing their best to board them up.

We're actually standing right now on the third floor of a monthly motel. And although this motel only costs about the equivalent of $10 a night, we feel it's very strong construction, a good place to wait out the hurricane. And that's why we're here right now.

But Tulum, even though it's a small pueblo, it is a popular tourist destination for Americans. They come here to see the ancient Mayan ruins. But I can tell you, other than my producer and my two camera people who are here with us, there may not be many other American visitors here, because people cleared out today. The parking lot by the ruins, which usually has a few hundred cars, only had about five or six cars today. People got out.

There are still thousands of tourists stuck in the Yucatan Peninsula who couldn't get out. There just weren't enough flights.

And I found -- usually, when we cover these hurricanes, Anderson, we find lots of people who want to wait it out, who want to be around. The people we talked to here, lots of them, didn't want to wait around. They just couldn't get out. They're worried and concerned what's going to come next -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. We'll continue to track it all through the night. Gary Tuchman, thanks.

While we keep a close eye on Dean, we're also following some other big stories tonight, including the latest on Michael Vick. The NFL quarterback was charged in connection with the dog fighting ring. Of course you know that.

You may remember a few weeks ago Vick said he was innocent. Now, it is a different story.


COOPER (voice-over): From star athlete to convicted felon. His lawyer says Michael Vick will plead guilty next Monday to federal conspiracy charges. He said the suspended Atlanta falcons quarterback made the decision after, quote, "consulting with his family" and takes, quote, "full responsibility" for his action.

The deal may surprise some. But not CNN's Jeffrey Toobin.

TOOBIN: Michael Vick had essentially no choice but to make this deal, because he was looking at a trial with all of these co- defendants testifying against him and a virtual certainty that he'd be convicted.

COOPER: At next week's hearing Vick could admit to running an illegal dog fighting situation where bets were waged on brutal battles. According to the government animals deemed unfit for competition were killed. Some were shot to death, others strangled or drowned. At least one was electrocuted.

The charges carried a maximum five-year prison sentence. Sources tell CNN prosecutors offered Vick 18 to 36 months behind bars, although his lawyers had hoped to cut the jail time to less than one year.

In today's statement his lawyer also said Vick, quote, wishes to apologize again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter.

Of course, Vick also will suffer. Suspended since the indictment, the 27-year-old is one of the highest paid professional athletes in the nation, in the middle of a $130 million contract. While the plea would send Vick to prison, it may not cost him his job.

TOOBIN: My sense is Vick's lawyers would not have cut a deal that guaranteed an end to his football career. The sad truth is that Michael Vick is more hated for abusing dogs than other athletes are for abusing their wives. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We want to know what you think about Michael Vick's plea deal. Send us a V-mail, video mail. Just go to and click on the link. Of course we like e-mails too.

Up next on the program, is Karl Rove obsessed with Hillary Clinton? See for yourself in "Raw Politics", ahead.

Plus, we're expecting an update from the National Hurricane Center any minute. Another one. Severe weather expert Chad Myers is going to bring that new information, coming up on 360.


COOPER: Hurricane Dean now a Category 5 storm with winds gusting to nearly 190 miles an hour. Now, those are the gusts. On track to hit the Yucatan Peninsula at dawn before heading to the Gulf of Mexico. Already seeing bands of the storm moving across the peninsula.

We're going to get another look from the ground in a moment, along with a late update from the National Hurricane Center.

But tonight in "Raw Politics", Karl Rove is accuse of having an obsession with Hillary Clinton, while a lawmaker faces tougher accusations, charges, in fact, of assault and battery. But first, bold moves by a senator hoping to gain some ground in the presidential race.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there has been a hijacking on the campaign trail. A dark horse has taken the war, the single biggest issue, on the run.

(voice-over) Big Joe Biden has talked for months about dividing Iraq along ethnic lines, letting the factions calm down, then getting the heck out. Now some military analysts say, this might work.

With his own son heading to war next year, Biden grabbed headlines at the latest Dems debate, and now he's got a powerful new ad talking about parents who have lost children in Iraq.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must end this war in a way that doesn't require us to send their grandchild back.

FOREMAN: His chances of taking the nomination with all of this? Popsicle, August.

But Biden's position will likely become a cornerstone of debate, especially now that two big defense senators, a Republican and a Democrat, have returned from Iraq, saying the government there must work out its problems soon or a big change of strategy will follow. Another 50 cents, please. Congress subpoenaed the White House for info on that warrantless wiretapping program a month ago. The deadline is here. The White House still wants more time. What do you say?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: It's been long enough.

FOREMAN: California Representative Bob Filner, facing charges of assault and battery. He allegedly pushed an airport baggage employee. Things got heated. Won't talk about it.

But speaking of hot, Karl Rove is wailing away on Hillary Clinton, attacking her time and again in interviews. Dare we call it an obsession?

He was a White House guru with no time left. She, a former first lady. He called her flawed. She called him out.

CLINTON: Well, I don't think Karl Rove is going to endorse me. That becomes more and more obvious. But I find it interesting he's so obsessed with me.

FOREMAN: The aroma or antagony (ph). Raw obsession. Put the party back in your politics -- Anderson.


COOPER: Oh, Tom, Tom, Tom.

Don't miss "Raw Politics" and the day's headlines with the new 360 daily podcast. You can smell it, it's so good. If you've got one of them newfangled iPods, that will work. You can go to the iTunes store, where it's a top download. Or on your old trusty computer. Just go to Santa optional.

We're continuing to follow Hurricane Dean, a Category 5 monster. We've just got a new update from the National Hurricane Center in Florida. Chad Myers is crunching the numbers. Going to bring them to you in just a moment.

Also tonight, a plane explodes. Looks like no one could have survived it. Somehow every single passenger did. See how they did it and what went wrong when 360 continues.


COOPER: Some new images there of Hurricane Dean sent to us by I- Reporter Leo Evans on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

If you're in the path of Hurricane Dean and are able to take pictures or video from a safe spot -- I want to indicate that, a safe spot -- send them to us. We might put them on the air. Just head to

Since those pictures were taken, Hurricane Dean has become a Category 5 storm. CNN's severe weather expert Chad Myers keeping a close watch on it, has the latest report from the National Hurricane Center. Just came in moments ago.

Chad, what have we learned?

MYERS: Well, the numbers have changed a little bit. The miles per hour, Anderson, they have not. And so it's 86.0 west now, 18.4 north. But still 160 mile-per-hour storm.

Still seeing that little bit of a jog here to the north on the latest couple of pictures. That may actually be for the same reason why a pitcher throws a curveball at a batter. Eventually, the friction of that ball makes the ball curve. Well, now we're seeing some friction here along the Yucatan Peninsula; also a little bit of friction in Honduras.

And this is pushing lots of water into the mountains of Honduras. Could see flash flooding there. Even though you are hundreds of miles away from the eye. Also into Cozumel.

And now this rain is now pushing in these outer bands, getting one after another. And then Chetumal, Chetumal right there, that is going to be the area that is going to see probably the most damage. And also into the biosphere here. This is a big -- what we would call a national wildlife refuge.

Let me get you a couple of other things. Still moving west at 20 miles per hour. I push the button, you'll be able to see a lot the things all by yourself. It is still now moving to the west at 20 and about -- I'm still thinking -- I'm still thinking seven hours from a real landfall here.

Winds are 160. But this number has changed. The winds have been gusting 195 miles per hour. I don't know of a building that could withstand 195 miles per hour.

The winds still at 190 miles from Cancun, but that's in this direction. It is much closer to Chetumal, and it will be moving on shore. Probably -- I think we'll probably get landfall around 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. Landfall doesn't really matter, though.

This is a huge storm that's already affecting large, large areas, even though it's still 100 miles offshore.

COOPER: Chad, let's check in right now with CNN's Jason Carroll, standing by live in Cancun.

Jason, you've already seen, I guess, some of those bands of the storm heading toward Cancun.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we've already felt one of those bands, Anderson. Just about ten minutes ago, very, very strong. Lost one of the trees back here. We hopped in the car for safety.

Things looking a little better right now. The worst of the storm in our area not expected to hit until about sometime after midnight.

But there was a time when, Anderson, many people thought the eye of the storm was going to head this way. Thankfully, many of the people here now saying, according to the weather predictions, the worst of the storm expected to say far south.

Even so, people here are definitely prepared. The governor on Friday telling tourists in this very popular beach community to get out. Seventy thousand did just that.

Some 20,000 still left behind. Most of them in hotels, in safe areas in hotels. Hotels, Anderson, that were rebuilt after Hurricane Wilma swept through here in 2005 and caused so much destruction under tougher building codes, new hotels, better ways to withstand hurricanes like Dean -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jason Carroll live on the scene. Jason, thank you very much. Stay safe tonight.

Coming up, the amazing and frankly miraculous "Shot of the Day". Please keep your seat belts securely fastened until the aircraft burst into flames. Everyone survived. A remarkable story. We'll have that coming up.

First, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.


ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, a military judge in Maryland has dropped two of the most serious charges against the only officer accused of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan still faces other charges in the case. The judge's decision comes after it was revealed Jordan was not read his rights.

Jordan is the last of 12 Abu Ghraib defendants to be court- martialed.

According to local media, transcripts show the two firefighters who died battling a blaze in a building near Ground Zero over the weekend were running out of air. And they're also reporting the men were having trouble reaching that fire.

The building's main water supply didn't work, and demolition work at the site made it tough for them to fight that fire. The building was heavily damaged on 9/11 and was actually in the process of being dismantled. Investigators now trying to determine how that fire started.

On Wall Street, a bit of a comeback this Monday, the Dow recovering from an earlier sell-off in the day to close up 42 points at 13,121. The NASDAQ basically flat but did tack on three to finish at 2,508. The S&P closed down slightly.

And hotel magnate Leona Helmsley has died of heart failure -- failure, that is. Known as the Queen of Mean for her treatment of employees, she had served, of course, 21 months for tax evasion after reportedly telling a maid, "Only the little people pay taxes."

Leona Helmsley was 87 years old.

COOPER: Erica, check out "The Shot".

This picture is just incredible. A Taiwanese jetliner burst into flames shortly after landing in Okinawa, Japan.

HILL: Blows my mind.

COOPER: All 165 passengers and crew members got off the plane safely, which is remarkable when you see these pictures.

According to Japanese media, a passenger saw a fire on one of the engines. Everyone was quickly evacuated from the plane. They don't know what caused the Boeing 737 to catch fire, but the pictures are just incredible.

HILL: Absolutely. And happily, they -- they all survived.

COOPER: Yes. We want you to send us your shot ideas. If you see some remarkable video, tell us about it: We'll put some of those clips on the air.


COOPER: And up next, we are continuing to track the storm. A Category 5 headed for landfall. We have reporters in the places we expect to get hit the hardest. Dean has already caused major damage. We'll look at the latest, coming up next.


COOPER: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, the first hurricane of the season has turned into the worst kind of hurricane there is. Hurricane Dean is now a Category 5 killer. Take a look at the satellite imagery.

That thing is as big across as the state of Texas. It is packing sustained winds right now of 160 miles an hour. And it is barreling right now towards one of the busiest vacation spots around.

It's already done a lot of damage, hammering Jamaica, tearing homes apart, plunging tens of thousands of people into darkness. At least seven people have died across the Caribbean, and this thing is just getting started.

We've got people up and down the Yucatan Peninsula tonight. Gary Tuchman is in Tulum. Harris Whitbeck is in Chetumal, where the eye is expected to come to shore.

Chad Myers is in the CNN weather center, tracking the storm. We'll also hear from Jason Carroll, who's in Cancun.