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Tornadoes Strike Midwest; Massive Auto Recall; North Korea Keeps World on High Alert; Congress Expected to Take Up Gun Control; 14-Year-Old China Phenom at the Masters; Kobe Bryant's 47 Pts in 48 Mins

Aired April 11, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening right now. A state of emergency in Missouri, one of the two states battered by tornadoes just hours ago.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And new this hour. More threats from North Korea. The ominous warning just broadcast on state television.

BERMAN: Also new overnight: a huge auto recall. Millions of cars for the safety feature that could prove anything but safe.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Thursday, April 11th. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

And happening now, two states at least two powerful tornadoes. Tens of thousands of people are still in the dark right now.

That first tornado hit around 8:00 p.m. in the Hazelwood, Missouri. That's just outside of St. Louis. This was the scene after the twister tore through town, toppling trees, trashing neighborhood streets. At least two dozen homes suffered major damage. Missouri's governor declared a state of emergency.

Meantime, in Arkansas, a powerful twister shredded a path 30 miles wide, through three towns, about 75 miles north of Little Rock. More than 30 homes and a popular church were damaged there. Several cars were overturned and so far, what we know is at least three people were hurt.

Samantha Mohr is following all of these storms for us. What's going on?

SAMATHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we've had, as you said, the storm reports from the tornado, six separate tornado reports. And, also, all the wind and the hail reports. So, some 261 storm reports from yesterday. We expect to see an active afternoon today.

So all of this will most likely be moving to the east as this frontal system pushes to the East, along with a strong surface low, bringing the cold weather, the wintry weather into the plains. Twin Cities getting hit with snow and freezing rain today.

A lot of lightning across south Texas. Houston, it's going to be a nasty drive time for you. Watch for flooded roadways here.

In fact, we have flood warnings right now in northwestern Mississippi and that means you need to be very careful out there. Especially when it's dark, because you can't see how deep that flood t water is.

Here's how it's going to turn out throughout the day. Louisiana, Mississippi, will be under the gun, as will be the Tennessee Valley, heads up on that for the next couple of hours. Then it moves into Birmingham just in time for drive time, moving into Atlanta about midnight.

Get those weather radios handy. Get the new batteries in them. You don't want to end up being caught short if there's a power outage.

Heavy rain in New York City tomorrow, guys. Could end up seeing signature can't delays at the airports.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Samantha Mohr, thank you.

MOHR: Sure.

BERMAN; Thirty-two minutes after the hour.

If you drive a Japanese car, there is a huge recall under way right now. And this could hit you. As many as 3.4 million vehicles made by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda, all recalled because of an issue with the airbag that could start a fire.

Shannon Travis is live from Washington right now. And, Shannon, what are the details. This is big?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, this is big. And our viewer should take note. This is a massive recall. Over a problem as you mentioned that could cause injuries.

Four Japanese automakers are recalling some 3.4 million vehicles -- the fear, potential airbag defects.

Now, let's take a look at who is actually recalling what.

Toyota says it's recalling 1.7 million cars worldwide. Among them: cars definitely driven by many of our viewers, Corolla, Matrix, and Camry models.

Honda, they're recalling 1.1 million. Nissan, 480,000. And Mazda, 45,000.

We want to note most of the recall cars appear to be from the years 2001, 2002 and 2003. As for the problems in these defective vehicles, Honda specifically says the passenger airbag inflators could deploy with too much pressure. That could lead to injuries. Obviously, a serious concern. Let's be clear, though -- Honda says, thus far, it is not aware of any injuries or deaths caused by this airbag defect. Toyota says it has heard of airbag malfunctions but no injuries.

So it looks like the automakers are pretty much recalling these vehicles out of an abundance of caution. Let's keep in mind that vehicle recalls are pretty common in the U.S. -- John.

BERMAN: Let's talk about Toyota because they've worked hard to claw their way back to the top. They had a tough few years. This probably comes at a bad time for them.

TRAVIS: Yes, it's just more bad news. Vehicle recall news for them. You will remember of October of last year, they had to recall about 7.5 million vehicles because of a power window problem. And, of course, the biggest news, the biggest recall was from 2009 and 2010, you recall, John, where they had to recall about 8 million vehicles because that problem with sticky accelerator pedals.

So, yes, more bad news for Toyota.

BERMAN: All right. Check with your dealers, everyone, out there. Shannon Travis in Washington -- thanks so much.

SAMBOLIN: That is a huge recall.

Thirty-four minutes past the hour here. A new warning from North Korea, this just happened in the last hour. It was just broadcast on state television. And that coupled with all the recent rhetoric has everyone on high alert for a ballistic missile test or launch. We just don't know when.

Jim Clancy is live in Seoul. And, Jim, what is North Korea saying this morning? When we were on with you earlier, it's when, they actually had that address. What are the details?

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You know, Zoraida, you and John sometimes think you have to deliver a lot of bad news but this poor woman who's on North Korean television every time I look up and hear her voice, she is on there delivering some of the worst of the worst to not only North Koreans but the rest of the world.

Today, she was delivering and very stern tones the message that, well, North Korea doesn't like the way the South has described, it is pursuing what's called a headline strategy, with one dramatic attack after another on a daily basis, trying to grab the headlines.

And she reported here that the committee for peaceful reunification is saying let us just say one thing to you. You are going to regret this in the end. War is just a matter of time.

Now, this is pretty rough translation, but this is what she was saying. There's no use regretting because no one will live to regret -- chilling threat coming from this committee for the peaceful reunification. Now, it's not from Kim Jong Un but this is a group that has seen from a cabinet level. We should add, it's also seen in charge of propaganda.

How do we take this? I think we have to take it just on its face. It is more of the same in terms of the threats coming from North Korea meant to unsettle all of its perceived foes in the region and around the world -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: When you add you are going to regret this and there are missiles being moved all over the place and one in particular that hasn't been tested in the past, it makes you a little uncomfortable.

Tell us about that missile and the range it could potentially have.

CLANCY: Well, you know, the Musudan missile is an intermediate range missile. It was developed by the Russians as a submarine missile to be fired from the submarine underwater. The North Koreans bought it and they hired the company that designed it and they refashioned it and made it into a surface-fired missile.

And it is believed, according to scientists, to have about a 4,000 kilometer, 2,500-mile range, that takes in not on all of South Korea but could go to Japan, could go to the Guam island where's the U.S. has bases. So it poses that kind of threat.

But no one really knows. They haven't tested it in public. We'll have to wait and see. That's why everybody is watching so closely, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely, we're glad you're watching for us. Jim Clancy live for us in Seoul. Thank you.

BERMAN: New this morning, gun control on Capitol Hill shaping up to be a big day. The Senate will hold a procedural vote around 11:00 Eastern Time to determine whether or not to open debate on new legislation.

This, of course, comes as two senators, Democrat and Republican, unveil a bipartisan deal on expanded background checks. President Obama called this a significant development.

Let's get the latest now from White House correspondent Brianna Keilar.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First lady Michelle Obama took the rare step of wading into a policy debate on Wednesday describing how she felt when he attended the funeral of teenager Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed in her hometown of Chicago.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Let me tell you, it is hard to know what to say to a room full of teenagers who are about to bury their best friend. But I started by telling them that Hadiya was clearly on her way to doing something truly worthy with her life.

KEILAR: The first lady's comments came on the eve of the Senate's first vote on a watered down gun bill set to take place later this morning.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin both of whom have an A rating from the National Rifle Association forced a compromise on background checks for gun purchases. Manchin visibly touched by Newtown families when he met with them on Capitol Hill.

The legislation would require a background check on purchases at gun shows and on the Internet, but would exempt private transactions. It would also require states and the federal government to provide records on criminals and the violently mentally ill through the national background check system.

But can it pass a Republican Congress?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Many of them are looking carefully at the legislation, but I don't know in the end how many will support it.

KEILAR: Many gun owners are not convinced.

RUSS HUDSON, MARYLAND GUN STORE OWNER: None of these laws will stop crime. The criminals will just go on getting their guns like they always have.

KEILAR: While the measure is far from the assault weapons ban, the president pushed for after the Sandy Hook shootings, some of the parents of children killed say it's a first step.

NELBA MARQUEZ GREENE, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK VICTIM: What I've seen here is people working together on both sides to try to do something to reduce the likelihood of another mother standing in my shoes.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


SAMBOLIN: Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

We've been showing you the video just in this morning of the tornado damage in Missouri and in Arkansas. We'll get a live look at some of the destruction from the ground. That's coming up.

BERMAN: Plus, standoff on the highway. Police trying to take down a daring suspect.


SAMBOLIN: Christine Romans joins us now with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, guys. Ahead on "STARTING POINT": At least two tornadoes ripped through Missouri and Arkansas, living thousands without powers and dozens of homes were destroyed. We're going to bring you that developing story at the top of the hour.

And then senators set to debate a new gun control bill. And just over for four hours, this could go on for weeks now. Will Democrats secure the support they need to vote and pass on that measure?

We're going to talk with Senator Joe Manchin who helped broker the deal and will meet two incredible teenage sisters who found the strength to lift a 3,000 pound tractor off their father.


ROMANS: We're going to talk to all three of them live about this amazing story.

SAMBOLIN: That's great.

ROMANS: Plus, a group of high school friends go fishing and get the catch of their life. They reeled in that great white shark. They're going to join us live on that one, too.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. Sharks every where for you.

BERMAN: Sharks everywhere.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Thank you so much.

All right. Happening right now, tens of thousands of people without power after tornadoes whipped through Missouri and Arkansas. Missouri's governor has called for a state of emergency.

And in Arkansas, residents in three towns are waking up to destruction. A ferocious twister tore through Van Buren County, which is north of Little Rock. Several homes were damaged, cars were tossed off the road, and a popular church was torn apart.

Justin Lewis from affiliate KATV is live in Arkansas this morning. Good morning again, Justin.

JUSTIN LEWIS, KATV: Good morning, John. We're about 75 miles north of Little Rock here in Van Buren County, and behind me is what remains of a church sanctuary here in Botkinburg. This is the Botkinburg Foursquare Church, I've confirmed this morning. At least six homes completely were demolished yesterday from this storm.

Now, when we got here, we saw trees down, debris, things everywhere, people everywhere trying to pick things up. I ran into one young man and I asked him how the road was we were heading on. He had a chainsaw and gas can in hand and he began telling me how the storm almost hit his home. He went inside to get cover but there he was outside, helping out his neighbors, trying to clear the road in this rural part of Van Buren County. And that's what kind of community we're in -- a lot of people have been out here. We're expecting the American Red Cross as well as many other residents to be out here today to help people try to, I guess, gather what they can of many of their demolished homes.

Four people were injured yesterday, all of them transported to hospital. But good news this morning, three of them were released late last night. One of them remains in the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

But still, a lot of assessment continuing, going on today. I just got off the phone with the county judge. He told me the crews will be out making sure they didn't miss any homes here from any damage and continue to try to get much of these trees and debris off the roadways so people can get through freely today. And it's going to be a lot of clean-up going on today as people just try to, I guess, get back to a normal life here in Van Buren County.

Live in Van Buren County, Justin Lewis. Back to you, John.

BERMAN: And as the sun comes up, we'll get a much greater sense of the damage there. Justin Lewis, thank you so much.

So coming up, the catch of the day on camera. Look at this. That's a shark jumping out, surprising a fisherman on the open water.

SAMBOLIN: After that, he kept his marlin.

Plus, not old enough for a driver's license but old enough to tee off at the Masters. The Bleacher Report, next.


SAMBOLIN: All right, take a look at this video. Police officers subduing a 62-year-old man. This is right outside of Santa Barbara. It took seven bean bag shots, seven taser probes to get that man on the ground. Authorities say he was walking on the 101 freeway and pulled a knife on a deputy who went to investigate what was going on. So that man will be charged with assault when he leaves the hospital.

BERMAN: Something clearly going on there.

So in a few hours, the best golfers in the world tee off in the first major championship of the year. Of course we're talking about the Masters. Tiger Woods may be the favorite to win this year but it's a 14-year-old from China that is turning a lot of heads.

SAMBOLIN: Joe Carter joins us for this morning's Bleacher Report. A 14-year-old?

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, eighth grader, guys. Tianlong Guan is his name and he's the youngest player ever at the Masters, been swinging a club since he was three years old. Now, he earned his spot in the Masters this week by winning an amateur championship in Asia last year. And a few veterans this week have expressed that, hey, this guy is too young to be in the tournament. But don't tell him that. He practiced with Tiger this week, took on the media like a champ. And over the years, China hasn't really produced very many great golfers, but Tiger thinks that's going to change starting with Guan.


TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: They're coming and he's one of them. And to see him hit the ball and they're 12 -- well, we knew he was going to be good, but we didn't think he was going to be in the Masters in two years.


CARTER: Some notable tee times today, of course Bubba Watson, defending champ, goes off at 10:34; Tiger Woods going for fifth Green Jacket 10:45; Guan goes off after noon at 12:24. Phil Mickelson 1:30. Of course, for all your tee times and predictions, go to

Hey kids, cute kid alert here. Par 3 contest at the Masters, that's Luke Donald and his daughter. Nice shot there. Love the expressions. "I did it, Dad. I did it!"

And this one's so cute. Robert Derksen's (ph) son. The mini driver, look at how little that thing is. Short and straight, guys.

Tennis star Caroline Wozniaki caddieing for boyfriend Rory McIlroy. She got a chance to tee it up but the shot went in the water. I'm saying give her a mulligan. Come on, guys, one more shot would have been good for her.

Now fans started putting chairs down at 8:00 a.m. yesterday at Hole Number 9 to see shots like this. It's Nick Watney carting the ace. Here it comes. Here it comes. Give it some time. You've got to love it. One of the greatest shots in golf, the hole in one. Now Ben Crenshaw also hit a hole in one yesterday.

Now, the most inspiring story of the NCAA tournament, Kevin Ware, he returned to Louisville yesterday with his teammates, his coaches, and of course the championship trophy in hand. The school threw a big party for both the men and women's teams. Ware afterwards thanking the fans for all the love.


KEVIN WARE, LOUISVILLE BASKETBALL PLAYER: We found some guys who wouldn't be here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You guys have been amazing. You really kept me in good spirits. I'm going to try to get back on the court as quickly as upon for you guys.


CARTER: Obviously that's a long road ahead for him, 12 months perhaps, guys, before he gets back on the court.

Weather might be an issue tonight and tomorrow morning at the Masters, but we'll see how it plays out. I'll give you weather on the ones, coming up.

BERMAN: All right, Joe Carter, thanks so much.

SAMBOLIN: All right, can we take a second to talk about Kobe Bryant?

BERMAN: You've been dying to talk about this.

SAMBOLIN: Do we have pictures of Kobe Bryant? Because this was at the L.A. Lakers game. I got to tell you, 47 points in 48 minutes, 18 for 18 at the free-throw line. This was absolutely fantastic because we thought the Lakers were out of it, and Kobe single-handedly -- look at him.

BERMAN: They are fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot there. And I guess he's 34 years old?

SAMBOLIN: He is. And a lot of people were saying his game was kind of done, especially the position that he plays, and he's like, uh-uh, not yet, folks.

BERMAN: He went all 48 minutes. It turns out that Kobe Bryant is good at basketball.

SAMBOLIN: Oh really? Here's a quote that he put, I love this, "There's no secret, no magic formula," when he explained his effort. "I watch what I eat and I train my blank off. I'm the type of condition right now that a lot of my predecessors at this age probably couldn't be in."

I wonder who he was digging.

BERMAN: Rhymes with Michael Jordan. Michael Horton.

SAMBOLIN: Love that.

BERMAN: We'll see what M.J. says about that.

Fifty-four minutes after the hour right now. And this is the kind of story where you really can't blink or you're going to miss all the action right now. Take a look at this. That's a shark jumping out of the water as that guy is fishing in a kayak off Hawaii.

Let's look at it again right now. This mild-mannered fisherman trying to reel in a fish, a tuna, when all of a sudden, boom, there goes the shark. The shark missed the tuna the first time, it came back and bumped the kayak and actually got a hold of it. Experts think you're looking at a ten-foot tiger shark leaping out of the water there.

That might scare you off the water, right? Not this guy. This fisherman keeps right on fishing in the same spot and we understand later he caught a nice mahi mahi.

SAMBOLIN: Oh I thought he had caught a different fish. But the fact that he stays there and he was whistling a bit, would you do that?

BERMAN: No! That'd be the last time I'm on the ocean ever. SAMBOLIN: Especially a kayak, right?

BERMAN: All right, EARLY START continues right after this break.

SAMBOLIN: And STARTING POINT on deck with the latest threat broadcast in North Korea. This just came out in this past hour. We'll share it with you.


SAMBOLIN: That is it for EARLY START. Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. STARTING POINT up next.