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Incident in Central London; Bin Laden Family Deported; China Dissident Escapes; Barcelona Manager Steps Down After Four Years; Tampa, Florida Vietnam Vet Starts Protest Against Spirit Airlines
Aired April 27, 2012 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Live from Hong Kong, I'm Kristie Lu Stout.
Breaking news just coming in from the United Kingdom, news of evacuations taking place right now in central London, a very fluid situation. We have our Nic Robertson live to tell us more on what's happening -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, I'm at the police line which is cordoning off one of the main shopping thoroughfares in the center of London, Tottenham Court Road. A young police officer here is telling -- describing to members of the public here that there is a major incident under way here.
What I can see from where I am are about two city blocks cordoned off by the tape, parked along the streets are three, four large ambulance vehicles. One of them seems to be a sort of central response unit. It has a satellite on the top that is being tuned in as we speak right now.
There are several large London red buses parked at the side of the road, as there are before the police cordon here. All the traffic on the street has been brought to a standstill. The buses parked at random across the road. They're now emptied -- the area, the two-city-block-wide area, now emptied of people.
I can see several ambulance workers standing there and a number of police vehicles -- one, two three -- at least half a dozen police vehicles from where I'm standing and various other emergency response security personnel in the street further up from where we are. But the public is being kept back at a distance from whatever is at the center of this police operation. But there are very few details about this now. The situation began perhaps in the last 15 or 20 minutes or so, and it's brought the traffic in this part of -- in this part of London to a grinding halt -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: You're saying two blocks have been cordoned off in central London, transport there at a standstill. You're seeing ambulances, emergency workers there at the scene. Any more information on what is causing this incident and whether or not a terror threat is involved?
ROBERTSON: It's not clear at the moment at all, Kristie. The way the police here at this police cordon across the street are explaining to members of the public, they're saying it's a major incident that's under way.
And certainly in terms of the response of medical and security professionals to this area, it does seem to be something that's quite large. This is absolutely not typical for the center of London, to have an area this large cordoned off, but it does remain unclear precisely what has triggered this.
It did begin about 20 minutes. This would normally be an absolutely bustling street full of electronics stores. A lot of people come shopping here on Tottenham Court Road. And right now these two city blocks on it are completely --
LU STOUT: OK. It sounds like we just lost -- we lost Nic Robertson there.
But just a recap of what he was able to tell us just now, a major incident in Tottenham Court there in central London, two blocks cordoned off, emergency services there at the scene, as well as ambulances. Transportation at a complete standoff (sic).
Again, we don't know exactly what's taking place, but a major incident there. Evacuations have been under way. Any more information, we'll bring it to you right here on CNN.
Now, let's take you next to Pakistan, where 14 members of Osama bin Laden's family were put on a plane, headed for Saudi Arabia in the early morning hours. They were deported just one week ahead of the first anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden by the hand of U.S. commandos. A family attorney says the al Qaeda leader's three widows and two daughters were among the group.
Over the past year, new details have emerged about the Bin Ladens family and their life, hiding out in Pakistan. And for more, I'm joined now by Mohammed Jamjoom at CNN's Abu Dhabi bureau.
Mohammed, it was, in fact, a deposition from one of Bin Laden's wives that gave new information about his life while on the run. What does she say?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Kristie. One of the wives, the Yemeni wife, Amal Fatah, was the one who spoke, gave the most amount of details.
Among the things that she told officials were that Osama bin Laden spent years in Pakistan, going from safe house to safe house, being sheltered. She said that even with his family, that they were moved -- that they were Pakistanis that moved them from safe house to safe house, that they lived like that on the run for nine years. She talked about having up to four kids while they were there, and that at least one of them was born in a government hospital there.
She also said that she never applied for a visa while she was there, and that's one of the reasons why they were sentenced to this sentence of 45 days under house arrest, was because she and the other wives, the two Saudi wives, were in Pakistan illegally. That's what they were charged with by the Pakistani government -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And the widows, they have been deported to Saudi Arabia, but one of the widows is from Yemen. Now, she was expected to return to her home country, but that's not the case. Why?
JAMJOOM: Yes. This is all very interesting, Kristie, because it was very much expected by the Yemeni government and even by the Pakistani government at one point that Amal Fatah would return to Yemen. Amal's family in Yemen actually spoke to us at one point as well, said they were looking forward to having her back in Yemen.
Reports have emerged and we've heard also from some Yemeni government officials that, in fact, everything was a go, that Amal was supposed to go back with her four kids to Yemen, to the city of Ibb, where here family is from, but that, in fact, she was prevailed upon by the Saudi widows of Osama bin Laden to go to Saudi Arabia instead, that in Saudi Arabia she would be better protected, she would be better provided for. And a lot of speculation is centering around the fact that even the Saudi officials haven't commented on this, the fact of the matter is that if these women are in Saudi Arabia -- and the Pakistani government has confirmed that they are on their way there -- they will be much more protected, they will be much more shielded from the media spotlight. You're not going to have journalists, you're not going to have reporters being able to approach them in a country like Saudi Arabia, that is so deeply conservative, where these women will be very much sheltered -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: The women, they have been in Pakistani custody since Bin Laden was killed almost a year ago. What conditions were they kept in, and why were they kept in Pakistan for so long?
JAMJOOM: Well, the reason they were kept there for so long, there was a lot of diplomatic wrangling between the Yemeni government, the Saudi government, the Pakistani government, as to when exactly these women would be deported, where exactly they would be deported to. While they were in Pakistan, also, you had U.S. officials that wanted to speak to them as well, that wanted to interrogate them as well.
It took a long time to figure out what exactly to do with them. At the end of the day, they were charged with having entered Pakistan illegally. They were sentenced to 45 days of -- under house arrest.
Now, we did see video of them under this house arrest, the conditions that they lived in, in the past few weeks. Very spartan conditions. This was a safe house that was provided to them by the Pakistani government. You saw a video of them, all of the women in one room, some of the women praying as the children played around them and went up to the mothers.
So what we've heard, very spartan conditions, that they were taken care of, but clearly the Pakistani government, you know, they really wanted to make sure that these women were out of the country, that they were deported, and especially before the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. It just gets people talking less about the fact that those women were there.
They go to a country like Saudi Arabia, you're just not going to hear much from them in the near-to-long-term future while they're in Saudi Arabia. And that's already really being borne out by the fact that the Saudis haven't commented at all about the fact that the women are being deported there or if they've even arrived at this point -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right.
Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting.
Now, let's go back to London, where Nic Robertson is standing by. He's been reporting on the security incident in central London, two blocks cordoned off. Nic joins us now.
And Nic, I understand you have new information.
ROBERTSON: Yes, Kristie. It's still not clear standing here exactly what the focus -- which building is the focus of the police operation here. It seems to be quite calm on the street where the police are. But the Metropolitan Police who are handling this situation say that in a building on this road, Tottenham Court Road, they say -- the police say we have reports of a man causing disturbances, even throwing items out of a fifth floor window.
A police cordon is in place, a negotiator is en route, the police say. If there are any hostages or not involved, it is unclear, according to the latest information from the police. The police say that they will be continuing to pursue this particular situation.
From what we can see, from what I can see standing here, on the streets it's still cordoned off, all the emergency vehicles are in place. The buses are still parked. The street is empty of traffic other than the emergency vehicles and the buses, and there are several police on duty at this cordon.
There's no effort to move people back further than what -- further than the two city block coordinates in place right now. On the street it does seem quite calm, but it's impossible from where I'm standing to see the building where apparently this disturbance was taking place involving the man on the fifth floor. There doesn't appear to be anything being thrown out of windows at this time, but that's the police report. They say in the last few minutes that they have a negotiator on the way to talk to this man, not clear at the moment whether or not he has hostages with him -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: That's right, and that's the key line from the Metropolitan Police statement, that it is still unclear whether or not hostages are involved. That would explain perhaps why you're seeing ambulances and emergency workers at the scene.
Have you seen any ambulances leave the scene of this disturbance?
ROBERTSON: No. It really at the moment, Kristie, it appears to be that they're set up in case of a large incident.
There are four ambulances here. They're not sort of typical small ambulances. They're quite large, robust ambulances.
There's a satellite dish on the top of -- it appears to be a communications -- large communications dish on the top of one of the ambulances, which would indicate that it seems to be -- they consider this as potentially a mass casualty situation. That is, there are a significant number of ambulances involved and a deal of communications equipment being fed up and coordinated in place at this time.
So, again, it speaks to the possibility of hostages. It speaks to the possibility of a violent outcome. But all of that is unclear.
I think perhaps if there were a risk of an incredibly violent incident such as an explosion or such like -- one could expect the police to have moved the public cordon back further than it is at right now. So far, the police are just describing this man is throwing things out of a window, and yet to get in a full discussion with him to find out more about his situation at the moment -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right.
Well, Nic, thank you very much, indeed, for monitoring this security incident for us there in Tottenham Court in London.
And now a stunning escape. It was carried out by a leading human rights activist in China.
Now, Chen Guangcheng, he slipped away form his home in Shandong Province on Sunday. And Chen, who is blind, had been under heavily-guarded house arrest for more than 18 months. Now, no longer a prisoner in his own home, friends say he is hiding in a safe house in Beijing.
Chen is one of a small group of activists pushing the margins of political dissent on the mainland. In 2006, he campaigned against allegedly forced abortions and sterilizations connected to China's one-child policy, and that angered local officials. Chen was jailed for four years on charges of disrupting traffic and damaging property.
Now, freed in 2010, Chen has been under house arrest, detained in his home with his wife and young daughter. Just last December, Chen's plight made headlines when Hollywood actor Christian Bale got roughed up by officials as he attempted to visit the dissident.
Stan Grant joins us live from our bureau in Beijing. He's got the very latest.
And Stan, can you tell us, how did Chen Guangcheng manage to escape?
STAN GRANT, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Extraordinary story, isn't it, Kristie, when you consider the cordon of security around his village? He has been in lockdown.
You have seen the images when we've tried to visit there. You mentioned Christian Bale, who tried to visit there last year, forcibly ejected. We were attacked, equipment was smashed. This has happened to other activists, other members of the media as well.
Chen Guangcheng has been watched day and night. To escape like this has been nothing short of extraordinary.
What happened here is that activists say he had lulled police into a force sense of security. He has been spending increasingly long hours on his bed pretending to be asleep. The police got used to his long absences, they dropped their guard, and then he made his break.
He organized with supporters to meet him at a secret rendezvous. They smuggled him into the car and then got him into Beijing.
Now, since arriving in Beijing, he has now gone to ground. We are being told that he's being held in a safe place.
He has, however, posted this video, which has now been put on the Internet. In it, he makes wide-ranging allegations. Let's have a listen to one of the things that Chen Guangcheng had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN GUANGCHENG, CHINESE DISSIDENT (through translator): They broke into my house and more than a dozen men assaulted my wife. They pinned her down and wrapped her in a blanket, beating and kicking her for hours. They also violently assaulted me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT: Now, Chen Guangcheng has been suffering ill health. He says that he was denied medical treatment. He also said that his mother was beaten, he says his daughter was harassed. He also said that the police laughed at him and scoffed and said that the law doesn't apply to them, that they are effectively above the law. He's also spoken directly to Premier Wen Jiabao in this video, asking him to intervene and stop what he calls this corruption.
Kristie, we also had a chance to speak to one of the women who were involved in Chen's escape. He Peirong was in the vehicle that drove him to Beijing. This is what she had to say about her ordeal and her concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HE PEIRONG, CHINESE ACTIVIST (through translator): I'm not concerned about my own safety. I hope they arrest me.
Now, my friends -- when Chen told me he wants to stay in China, I told myself, I'll be willing to stand by him no matter what happens next. Chen also said as long as he's not free, no other Chinese will feel safe. So I'm not leaving and I'm not worried. I just hope he's safe and well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT: Now, you also heard her there say that she doesn't mind if she is arrested, as long as her friends are not arrested. Well, I can tell you, within about an hour or so of speaking to us over Skype, she was in fact detained. She vanished. She's not receiving any more calls. Other activists have confirmed to us that, in fact, she has been arrested -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Yes, many fears of retribution for the friends of Chen Guangcheng, including He Peirong, and of course his family.
Stan Grant, joining us live from Beijing.
LU STOUT: Let's take you back to our Nic Robertson. He's been monitoring a security incident in central London.
Nic, any new information to share?
ROBERTSON: Well, Kristie, I'm just watching a handful of what appear to be police officers running across the street ahead of me, about a block and a half up the central London street, Tottenham Court Road. They also seem -- they seem to be running towards one of the buildings at the side of the road there. It's not clear.
The police had reported that a man was creating a disturbance, they had been called for the disturbance, he had been throwing things out of a fifth floor window. A little while ago, 10 or 15 minutes ago, they said they weren't clear whether or not he had hostages or not. They wouldn't say if this was a hostage situation, but they were bringing in -- a negotiator in. And we've just seen that handful of people, a couple of -- what appear to be people dressed in civilian clothes, and a couple of police officers, one across the road, further up there.
What I can also see is that the ambulance, the large ambulance that's been brought in here that appears to be sort of a coordination and central point, they have brought down, if you will, the sort of awning at the side of the ambulance. They're bringing up their communications antennas again.
So it appears to be that the ambulance crew here are at least settling in for a long haul. They're not wrapping up by any stretch of the imagination at the moment -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: So an ambulance there settling there. Police are also at the scene. We're looking at live pictures of the security incident taking place in Tottenham Court.
Nic, can you give us more information about Tottenham Court? Describe the area and the building in question for those not familiar with London. Can you tell us more?
Is it a commercial building? Is it a residential block? Give us some details.
ROBERTSON: Kristie, there was some speculation that it could have been a cafe where people go to have coffee. But if I just sort of swing the camera around here, you can see some of the types of stores here that line Tottenham Court road, a lot of electronics stores along here.
This is a commercial district where a lot of people will come shopping for electronics goods. Looking across the other side of the street, just a lot of smaller -- smaller stores. There's a Marks & Spencer store just ahead of me as well.
This street would be busy, it would be packed with people shopping, coming out for their lunch break at this time of day. And, of course, right now deserted.
We've seen while I've been standing here a couple more police vehicles come in, a policeman on a motorcycle arrived in. Apart from those officers we just saw running across the road a couple minutes ago, the situation, while we couldn't say that it's relaxed, but it doesn't seem tense. It doesn't seem as if the police at the outer cordon are bracing for something, but they are keeping traffic back.
And it appears they've now got police officers here directing traffic. Of course this is a causing major (INAUDIBLE) of central London at the moment, closing down because of blocked traffic, many streets here at the moment -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Just looking at the sheer security presence, and the fact that two blocks have been cordoned off, at this point, even though we're working with very little information, can we safely rule out that this is much -- this is not a domestic incident, but is this a hostage crisis in the works? Could this also be a terror threat?
ROBERTSON: There isn't enough information at the moment that we have, Kristie, to make a determination like that. What you can say in looking at the situation, because of the number of ambulances, that there's the potential for a significant number of casualties, the potential. Certainly the police are taking precautions for that. There are now five ambulances that I can see where I am, possibly others on side streets.
But this (ph) is people being held back. The police have described this man as creating a disturbance and throwing things out of a window. People are certainly far enough back to be secure from any damage of that type.
One would have thought if this was an incident that involved an explosive device -- of course the police would unlikely know the size of that device and what it was made of -- one would have expected in that situation, that a cordon would be held further back than we are being held back now from what appears to be the center of the police operation. But it is -- at this moment, Kristie, that's speculation. We just don't have the details from the authorities here at the moment -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Understood.
And what was the initial red flag that prompted police and emergency crews to go to the scene? Was it what the man was throwing out of the window?
ROBERTSON: What the police have said is that there was a man creating a disturbance on the fifth floor of a building, and he was described by the police as throwing things out of -- out of a window at that level of the building. So one could imagine that anyone walking under the street underneath would be in danger of whatever was being thrown out landing on them.
We don't have details of what was being thrown out of that window. We do understand that the police themselves, at least as long as 10 minutes ago, still had questions themselves about what his motivations were, who else might be there with him, and what his intentions were.
LU STOUT: OK. A lot still very much unclear at the moment. Thankfully, we have our Nic Robertson there at the scene.
This has been described as a major incident by police there, but we'll continue to watch it for you right here on CNN.
You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after the break.
LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. We continue to monitor a security incident taking place right now in Central London. Two blocks have been cordoned off in Tottenham Court. Nic Robertson is there at the scene. He joins us now -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Kristie, as we're talking, more police vehicles are arriving into the scene here in what seems to be a plain-clothes vehicle with flashing lights.
We're now seeing two armed vickers (ph) there getting into a police BMW. They've just arrived on the scene. And it seem to be me whether those were live round weapons of (inaudible) that they had holstered on their hips, but that of course is unusual in London where most police are not armed. These police officers have just arrived on the scene along with that plain clothes vehicle.
It seems from where we're standing right now that perhaps the situation is escalating to a small degree. It's not clear, and the police certainly haven't said if they're aware whether or not the man at the center of this incident is armed, but those two police officers who just arrived in that police marked BMW were -- had weapons holstered on their legs. So it does seem as if some armed officers are being brought into the situation here.
I'm hearing a helicopter hovering overhead. This helicopter has been overhead for at least 15 or 20 minutes by now throughout this incident.
So this incident does seem to be developing, what which way it's developing it's not clear. The police were talking about bringing in a negotiator onto the scene to talk to this man they describe as creating a disturbance and throwing things out of a fifth floor window earlier on and it does seem that we're seeing more senior police officers here arrive.
Also that plain clothes police vehicle with the blue flashing lights appear to be a security vehicle of some description, not clear who was in there.
But the latest development here is those two police officers arriving with weapons holstered on their legs. Not clear if they are live round weapons or whether they were tasers -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: So more police arriving at the scene. We're also seeing ambulance workers, ambulance crews settling in, a major incident this has been described. Nic Robertson reporting. Thank you very much indeed.
And we will continue to follow the latest there in London, but let's break away and look at the other world headlines.
In Denmark, police have arrested three young men suspected of planning a terror attack. Now these arrests, they were made at two locations in Copenhagen. All three have been charged with illegal possession of automatic weapons and ammunition. Now police are still searching a number of properties in the Copenhagen area.
Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola will step down at the end of the season. Guardiola won an incredible 13 trophies in just four years at the club, but steps down after a week we saw Barcelona lose to arch-rivals Real Madrid and get knocked out of the Champion's League.
A draft United Nations security council resolution warns Sudan and South Sudan to stop fighting or face sanctions. Earlier this week, Sudanese forces regain control of a hotly disputed oil region after South Sudanese soldiers withdrew from the area. Now South Sudanese authorities accuse Sudan of bombing border villages and Khartoum denies the charges.
And there are nine days to go until France's presidential runoff. And the two men left standing, they fielded questions last night on everything from the economy to jobs and immigration in a televised appearance. Now the incumbent, President Nicolas Sarkozy is fighting to keep the office after Francois Hollande won the most votes in last Sunday's first round of voting.
Now the two will get a chance to square off in a televised debate next Wednesday ahead of the vote on May 6. But for more on what happened in Thursday's Q&A session, let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann. He joins us live from Paris. And Jim, tell us how did the two appear?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think Kristie it was interesting sort of match-up. Basically they appeared sequentially last night. And Sarkozy started his intervention (ph) off by saying, look, why aren't we in a debate tonight. Why are we being questioned by journalists. Hollande has refused to take his -- take the challenge that Sarkozy has laid down of having more than one debate probably because Sarkozy is generally viewed as a better debater than Hollande and so that one debate is going to be next Wednesday.
But last night, the two faced questions from journalists, one after the other, and I think we got a very good indication of two different styles of these two men. Sarkozy being combative and a come from behind position where he often does fairly well and argues quite strongly in that -- when he has to come from behind. And I think he did that last night. And he looked like he was presidential in stature and, you know, going to be leading France onward in the days to come.
On the other hand, Hollande also took on that aura of presidential stature. In fact, he tried to be confident, and as he sometimes calls it serene to give the French an idea that he's ready to become president.
In fact, he may be, because the latest opinion polls, which were taken by the way before last night's debate show Sarkozy about 8 points behind Mr. Hollande, Kristie.
LU STOUT: So Sarkozy gave the viewers the impression of being combative. He is definitely in battle mode. What did Sarkozy need to do next now until the vote on May 6?
BITTERMANN: Well, both men are looking to the votes of Marine Le Pen, the extreme right, the far right candidate who brought in about 18 percent of the French electorate in the first round of the elections. And both would like -- both Hollande and Sarkozy would like to get those votes.
It seems that, of course, that ideologically Mr. Sarkozy would be in a better position to do that except for the fact that Marine Le Pen is telling her voters to abstain in this election and not to vote for Sarkozy. She doesn't like Sarkozy. And she also would like to supplant Sarkozy and his party, basically take over a lot of his voters and gain some respectability for her party and bring it more into the mainstream.
So if Mr. Sarkozy suffers a loss here, that would be to her liking.
On the other hand, Mr. Hollande, he's got the advantage of the far left voters of Mr. Melenchon. They're almost certainly going to go to Hollande, because they're more ideologically matched up, but also Mr. Melencon told his voters to vote for Hollande. And he also could get some of the far right voters.
So in fact they're both battling for that far right segment, and they're both going to need at least some of those voters to come up with 50 percent plus one -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Jim Bittermann joining us live from Paris, thank you for that.
And now to Syria where two explosions have been reported in the capital Damascus. Now state run media reporting one of them was a suicide bombing that killed nine people.
Now there are daily reports of violence across the country despite a ceasefire and the presence of UN observers. But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says there have been numerous violations of the peace plan, including the failure of the government to withdraw heavy weapons and troops from towns.
Now a Syrian opposition group says at least 462 people, 34 of them children, have been killed since the UN mission began earlier this month. Now the government consistently blames armed terrorist groups for the violence.
Now CNN's Arwa Damon is following all the developments from neighboring Lebanon. And she filed this report a short time ago.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The situation in Syria most certainly does continue to be incredibly grim. There is no ceasefire at this stage. Opposition activists say that hundreds of people have been killed ever since it was allegedly supposed to have be put into place. Syrian state television has been reporting that today, for example, there were at least two explosions in Damascus, one of which may have been carried out by a suicide bomber and that this stage any sort of peaceful resolution does seem to be fairly unrealistic.
There have been great concerns that have been expressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon by a number global leaders over the situation inside Syria itself. And opposition activists are saying that if the status quo does continue they may be forced to turn to Islamist or extremist groups to try to get some sort of support to try to at the very least save themselves, although they are all very quick to stress that this most certainly is not an option that at this stage they truly want to consider.
Now by Monday, we are expecting to see a total of 30 monitors on the ground in Syria, a 100 by the end of the month. The number that has been agreed upon is 300. The logic behind the deployment of these monitors is that their very presence would at the very least serve as something of a deterrent to the violence that could then potentially perhaps create a window of opportunity for some sort of dialog.
But when one looks at the stark reality of what's happening inside Syria, listen to what opposition activists are saying, sees how the government is in fact behaving, it makes it incredibly difficult to fathom exactly how any sort of resolution to this crisis is going to take place.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.
LU STOUT: Now up next, a report from the U.S. the not so friendly skies. We have the story of what one war veteran did to get some respect from an airline. That coming up next on NEWS STREAM.
LU STOUT: Looks like it's starting to clear up here in Hong Kong.
And live from Hong Kong your back watching NEWS STREAM.
Time for a global forecast. And meteorologist Tom Sater joins us from the world weather center. Hey there, Tom.
TOM SATER, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie.
It looks like your still shrouded in some cloud cover there as a beautiful picture, but it's still impressive even at this hour of the evening there how some storms continue to develop.
Here's the overall picture. We'll run through the cases how some areas, which is typically the case in weather, some areas improved such as Japan, other areas continue to see the weather deteriorating. Thunderstorms, even at this hour, quite impressive for the instability in the atmosphere.
Take a look at Thailand here. Notice the eruption. The brighter colors on a satellite -- an infra-red satellite like this mean it's the higher cloud tops, the colder cloud tops. We're getting torrential downpours in this large mass of convective activity. And most likely it is continuing at this hour, because the heat has been excessive the last couple of days.
In fact, this is the hottest time of the year as we look at Bangkok on its average highs and average lows. Take a look at the month of April. Notice 35. They've been in the upper 30s. In fact, even around Lampang (ph) they've hit 42 degrees. Mandalay has been up to 43. So the numbers even for Bangkok are impressive.
Now they continue to dive down now. After the warmest time of the year, you would think the trend would continue upward, but this is the rainy season. So even though it continues to be quite oppressive, at least the rain cooled atmosphere seems to drop their temperatures somewhat.
But the numbers currently -- take a look at Bangkok 32 even at this hour. Hanoi 27 degrees. Ho Chi Minh Cith 29. Singapore is at 30. Take a look at Hong Kong, 23 degrees, still shrouded in cloud cover.
But some areas will see an improvement as we take a look at eastern provinces here. Even at this hour, the thunderstorm activity is blossoming down to the south. So you can see really how we're still going to get some impressive rainfall totals. And we have been receiving impressive rainfall totals.
This is how the system moved across Japan. And you can see some of the reported rainfall totals that we've received. So anything from a good 35 to 72 millimeters. The good news is in the Korean peninsula and really for Japan they're going to be in between system. So look for the skies to clear on your Saturday, look for the winds to lighten up. And it should just be a beautiful day, really. And for most of the weekend, does look like there's some moisture trying to approach areas of western Japan, but I think that'll skirt the coast.
So for the most part, we look at the synaptic pattern. High pressure is mentioned, lightening the winds in Japan, but yet again another pattern where we find unsettled weekend shower activity. So the next 48 shows at best you can see where still the instability will hang on and some of these downpours will be quite impressive as well.
Take a look quickly for your Saturday numbers. Here you go. Taipei 27 degrees. Manila 35, that's quite warm. Bangkok 38, so again the warmest time of the year in Bangkok before the wet season, but with the thunderstorms they have now, Kristie, that's got to be oppressive as well, 38 degrees. Hong Kong currently 27.
Back to you.
LU STOUT: Yeah, it's pretty hot and steamy over here. Tom Sater, thank you very much indeed.
Now let's bring you back to London. We are still watching that security incident unfolding in Central London in Tottenham Court Road. Our Nic Robertson is there catching every detail as he can. He joins us now. Nic, what have you learned?
ROBERTSON: Well, Kristie, it's still a developing situation. The ambulances are still on standby. In the last couple of minutes, another police vehicle arrived. He was carrying police dogs. And on the windscreen of the vehicle it had a label that said police explosive search dogs. It doesn't mean that there are explosives here, but it does seem that the police in the last few minutes have brought in dogs to check to see if there are explosives involved in this situation.
We do know that we saw just a few minutes before that what appear to be armed police arriving at the scene in a police BMW, a high speed police vehicle. They had weapons holstered on their sides, on their legs. Impossible to tell from the distance we were at that if these were live round weapons or tasers they had. They were arriving on the scene.
The details are still scarce. Eyewitnesses, unconfirmed eyewitness accounts, report a man that they say -- these unconfirmed eyewitnesses say -- was disturbed entering an office building. He had been there just minutes before. It appear to be an employment agency of some description, according to these unconfirmed eyewitnesses. They were saying that he seemed unstable before.
And then one eyewitness is reported to have described (inaudible) that he had strapped a canister of some sort to himself and threatened to -- threatened to explode it.
Of course, these details have not been confirmed or corroborated by the police. The police have brought a negotiator into the situation. The police are saying half an hour or so ago they weren't clear whether or not if he was holding any people hostage, still appears to be unclear in this situation.
So we have police sniffer dogs. And I'm now seeing a couple of dogs at the top of the street a couple of blocks away from me. We now have police explosives, sniffer dogs on the scene. Armed officers are on the scene. And unconfirmed reports from eyewitnesses an unstable man threatening with some sort of canister that may or may not contain explosives -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And this security incident comes just months ahead of the Olympics, the games that take place there in London. Could that also be adding to the -- perhaps if there is extra precaution to the scene.
ROBERTSON: Well, certainly there has been security measures planned and prepared for for the Olympics. The police in London, the Metropolitan Police in particular, are no stranger to dealing with incidents like this. It appears that they've responded very quickly here cordoning off the street. The fact that buses were parked on the road there, buses evacuated, people moved away out of the area very quickly. Officers in the nearby area evacuated very quickly.
The police here seem, in this case -- and of course you don't know the details so far of how it transpired their immediate response time, but they certainly do have responded quickly and a number of ambulances we have on the scene, and none which have been used as far as we can see, to treat anyone with a medical injury, certainly a large number -- a large response (inaudible) for whatever the situation may be.
So it does appear that certainly in the light of having the Olympics this year, the security services here are responding and not leaving anything to chance at this time, Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Nic Robertson reporting. Thank you very much to bringing that to us.
You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after this.
LU STOUT: Welcome back.
Now we've all been there, arguing with airlines or other service companies and getting nowhere. Well, one American veteran decided to do something about it when he says Spirit Airlines would not refund his ticket. He took it to the streets.
Mary Snow has the story.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It started as a small protest outside Tampa's airport for two days. 76-year-old Jerry Meekins says he's even surprised at how it's grown. The Vietnam Vet is taking aim at Spirit Airlines, he says, for refusing to refund a $197 ticket to Atlantic City, New Jersey to see his daughter. Shortly after buying the ticket, he says, he learned the cancer he's been battling is terminal. With his immune system low, he said he doesn't want to fly because of exposure to germs on the plan.
JERRY MEEKINS, VETERAN PROTESTING SPIRIT AIRLINES: It wasn't about the money, it was about the way they treated me and probably hundreds of other people. No compassion, no consideration, not even an interview to review the paperwork that I had necessary for them showing that my cancer was terminal and hospices already set up to take care of me.
SNOW: Meekins says he asked that his refund go to the organization Wounded Warriors, not him.
We contacted Spirit Airlines which responded in a statement saying its fares are nonrefundable. Adding "we receive numerous requests for refunds every day for customers facing unexpected and extreme situations. The airline says it offers customers travel insurance and says it wouldn't be fair to make exceptions and bend policy for one customer and not all. While we sympathize with each of these, who are we to judge if one customer is more worthy than another for an exception."
But Spirit's response is being targeted online. This man writes on Twitter, "give the veteran his refund. What part of spirit don't you understand?"
This one says, "I will never fly Spirit Airlines after they deny refund ticket of someone dying."
As for Meekins, he says his two day protest service its purpose.
MEEKINS: It's more important that in the future that Spirit shows some compassion to people who have a simliar situation. Show a little compassion of people and take them on a one-on-one basis.
SNOW: Jerry Meekins says he is overwhelmed by messages of support he's been getting as well as offers from total strangers to drive him to New Jersey to see his daughter as well as offers of train tickets.
While, he says, he grateful, he says ultimately what he wants to see is for the airline to change its policy.
Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
LU STOUT: Now we've been following breaking news out of London. And police have closed two blocks near Tottenham Court Road, that is a major shopping area in the city center. Now they are right now attempting to negotiate with a man causing a disturbance and throwing items out of a fifth floor window. And authorities say it is still unclear if they are dealing with a hostage situation.
Nic Robertson is at the scene. He described seeing explosive search dogs there. It has been described as a major incident.
And we will keep following this situation there in London and return to Nic as we get more information.
And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.