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Interview with Trooper Jared Sandifer; Wildfire in Colorado Destroys Homes; Litter Girl Gets New Lungs; Hacking Attempts from Iran; Swimmer Quits Before Florida

Aired June 13, 2013 - 12:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Want to give you a quick update on the chemical plant fire. That is near Baton Rouge, Louisiana right now.

Want to bring in on the phone Trooper Jared Sandifer with the Louisiana State Police, and thank you for joining us.

Can you tell us, sir, how this started?


This morning, probably about 8:30, there was some type of chemical explosion in the Williams Olefins chemical plant over here near Baton Rouge. Not sure exactly how the explosion happened, what led up to that explosion being caused.

What we do know is that there are still an active fire. Our number one goal is trying to make sure that everybody is evacuated from that facility as quickly and as safely as possible.

MALVEAUX: And are there any known fatalities or injuries at this time?

SANDIFER (via telephone): We do know that there are injuries. We don't know the amount or the extent of injuries.

As far as fatalities, we cannot confirm that anybody -- that there are any fatalities yet at this point or not.

Like I said, it's still an active scene. There are fire crews and rescue crews inside trying to fight this fire and determine exactly what is going on and so the ...

MALVEAUX: I am sorry. We're looking at pictures here, and it looks like, if you go from one to another, perhaps there are two fires. Are there two fires there?

SANDIFER (via telephone): From what I can see, I was close to the scene earlier. From what it looks like to me is there is a fire near one part of the facility, maybe near the ground, and then it looks like one of the stacks may be flaring. If people aren't familiar with the chemical plants, the tall stacks, it looks like one of those might be flaring, so I am not sure that's part of this incident or not.

MALVEAUX: Is there anybody who's still onsite there? Can you tell us whether or not this is still be evacuated?

SANDIFER (via telephone): I am a little ways away. We're at our media station staging point which is probably about a mile away from the facility.

When I was there earlier, I did see people being bussed out and people actually walking out of the facility. That was probably about an hour ago.

So I am not sure right now exactly if people are still being taken out or not but just remember that is our number one priority right now is the safety of those that were inside that facility.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely. Well, we appreciate your time, Jared Sandifer, for being with us and giving us an update.

Obviously we're going to get back to you as we get some more information on that fire. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

The biggest wildfire raging in Colorado, now even bigger, we're talking about the Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs, has burned through 15,000 acres now. We are talking about 360 homes that have been destroyed.

Want to bring in Paul Vercammen who's in Colorado Springs. This must be pretty disconcerting to a lot of people, but especially the firefighters, to see this thing getting out of control.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely, disconcerting to firefighters, as you pointed out, and, of course, the residents because of a cruel twist of fate, Suzanne.

As you pointed out, 360 homes burned. That makes this the most devastating fire in terms of property loss in Colorado history.

Behind me, you see the haze and this is indicative, I should say, of all that burned. Now, it is a little deceptive here in Colorado because they have very restrictive rules on the media, so you don't go right up to the fire lines easily.

But let me assure you that going into these neighborhoods, very upscale homes, many of them 3,000-square-feet or more set on an acre, and what happened was this cruel twist of fate. The fire started moving in multiple directions and hop-scotching.

There was a moment where some of these homeowners thought, oh, my house is saved. They were ready to celebrate. The fire doubled back on itself and so many of those homeowners who had those joyous moments then found out later, overnight, as the daylight revealed, that their home had burned down, Suzanne. MALVEAUX: That's so tragic. They -- I guess they've expanded now the evacuation order?

VERCAMMEN: I'm sorry, Suzanne. I didn't hear you clearly, but I can tell you the latest on the evacuation is about 10,000 people under a mandatory evacuation order.

We can tell you that, having gone to those neighborhoods, not everybody listened to that order. Some tried to stay and fight and build a fence around their houses.

And one thing that could help them, and it could have even been worse, if you look, this meadow behind me, this is pretty defensible space. It is the kind of thing that firefighters like to get the bulldozers out, build fire lines, set up protection.

But nevertheless, when you are dealing with these temperatures and these winds, right now, it's about 73 degrees. This is considered cool.

They believe that the temperature will jump above 90 again today and that the winds could gust up to 40-miles-per-hour and, of course, that spells double trouble for those firefighters.

MALVEAUX: That is just tough, tough going. Paul, thank you. We appreciate it. We wish them the very best.

And the little girl whose story sparked a national debate over transplant rules is now spending her first full day with a new set of donor lungs.

At this time yesterday, 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan was undergoing lung transplant surgery that her parents had fought so hard for.

Our Jason Carroll, he is outside the Philadelphia hospital. That is where Sarah is recovering.

Jason, how is she doing?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she is still resting. She is still heavily sedated as of last night. She was in the ICU, still intubated.

Basically, this was a six-hour surgery. Her family came out and talked about what they're looking forward to next.


SHARON RUDDOCK, AUNT OF SHARON MURNAGHAN: We expect her to be doing some things within the next couple days and taking her first breaths, so we can't wait for that. And she really did well.

So we're very, very, very excited and we're very, very thankful. We're quite certain we were down to the last week, so that wonderful family gave us the best gift ever. And we are really happy for that.

We can't imagine their pain, but we're thankful for what they did for us.


CARROLL: Still going to be a long road of recovery for little Sarah. There is still the risk of infection and the organ being rejected, but her family says she took a major step just in getting where she is today.


MALVEAUX: There are so many people who are rooting for that little girl, and of course, her family really advocating for her, but also for other young children to make them eligible for adult lungs.

Do they talk about that, a little bit about, you know, this is not only a victory for Sarah, but for some other kids as well?

CARROLL: Well, her family always wanted to make that point that this was not just about Sarah Murnaghan, also about Javier Acosta, also here in the hospital. He's 11-years-old. He's also suffering from cystic fibrosis, also in need of a lung transplant.

Their hope is that now that there's been this temporary change to national policy many children who end up in their situation will now have the possibility of having access at least to adult donor lungs.


MALVEAUX: All right. And, Jason, obviously Sarah's going to need time to recover and she is going to want her privacy, but it has been such a public campaign. We have seen so much of this 10-year-old little girl.

Any sense of when the family thinks it's appropriate for her to come forward or for the family to come before the cameras again?

CARROLL: Well, I think it's -- as it is going to be a very long road to recovery, I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but once someone has gone through this particular type of procedure, you want to make sure you're really in the clear.

And, again, you know, Sarah is a fighter. Her family keeps saying that she is a fighter and I have a feeling that, once they feel comfortable and confident, I wouldn't be surprised if you saw a family member eventually come out and talk about Sarah and how she is feeling.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Jason. Good to see you. We wish her the very best.

These were the streets of Iran after the presidential election four years ago. Voters are now going back to the polls tomorrow.

Could it lead to more protests? We're going to talk about that, coming up.


MALVEAUX: Google says tens of thousands of e-mails in Iran have been the target of hacking attempts. Google described the attacks as e- mail phishing where Gmail users are tricked into giving their passwords and their user names.

Now, Google believes that the timing and the targeting suggests that it is politically motivated. Well, tomorrow, voters in Iran, they're going to go to the polls for the first time since the 2009 election.

So that's what it looked like then, Iranians protesting the re- election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because of several reported voting irregularities. Many of the videos posted on social media were gaining worldwide attention.

Want to bring in our international desk editor, Azadeh Ansari. And, Azadeh, first of all, I mean, this is huge. This is a big deal. There were a lot of candidates, right, and it's boiled down to now just a small group.

Tell us who these folks are.


So we started off with a field of candidates, more or less, 680 contenders, right?


ANSARI: But that doesn't mean all of them are going to be president even though they have those aspirations.

Eight of them eventually moved on and that was because the guardian council selected those eight, and that's the overarching vetting body, which a non-elected vetting body consisting of 12 members and then they oversee the election process as well.

But then just this week, of those eight contenders, two of them dropped out of the race and they said, you know what? We're not going to move forward with this.

So going into tomorrow's election, we'll see eight -- I'm sorry. We'll see six names on the ballot, right?

MALVEAUX: We're seeing their pictures now.

ANSARI: We're seeing their pictures right here.

And many of them have this conservative-dominated stance and they're in line with the philosophies of the supreme leader, and so they're all -- you know, we're not seeing the divide that we did in 2009 where you had the green movement and you had the reformists and you had a whole slew of different ideologies at play.

But, again, this election, six official candidates going into tomorrow's elections. MALVEAUX: Are these guys any different than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Because that's the big question here. A lot of people look at his policies and it has been very contrary with U.S. relations.

Do we think that any of these leaders are going to be any better?

ANSARI: Well, it boils down to this. Ultimately, the supreme leader has the overarching say in what goes on in the country, right? So the president plays the second seat. So he oversees the armed forces, judiciary, foreign policy.

So it ultimately boils down to what he wants to happen and that's what we saw in the 2009 elections which people went out into the streets and protested because they said, you know what? We went out. We voted.

And that's the other thing. You have 50 million people who can vote in this election. Fifty percent of them are under the age of 30.

And the question is how many people are going to turn out for these elections, and is there an incentive for them to turn out?

MALVEAUX: And are they legitimate? Because I think that was a big concern the last go-round.

They were like, is this really real here? Did Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really legitimately win this election? A lot of people didn't believe he did.

ANSARI: Well, the reason being is because they went out and they voted, right? There is always going to be two sides to every story going into that.

But you have, again, this young generation, and what we're seeing play out in the Iran, which you had mentioned earlier on before we started the segment, was this cat-and-mouse, Internet-censorship media game that's at play where you have a young subgroup that wants information to get out. They want to get the word out. They want to know. They want to interact with their surrounding environment, right? A

But at the same time, their -- the government looks at it, and this is according to what -- I talked to many analysts and they were saying that it's better to be proactive. They want to be proactive about this because that forces them, if they don't, then on the tail-end to be reactive when situations happen.

MALVEAUX: All right. We're going to be watching. This is going to be fascinating, a fascinating election.

ANSARI: Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: All right, Azadeh, thank you as always.

ANSARI: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: And will a new president essentially change the game in Iran? That is the question.

Erin Burnett, well, she is covering the election. She is actually gauging the mood on the streets of Tehran. Watch.


ERIN BURNETT, HOST, CNN'S "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": The government is doing everything possible it can to avoid a repeat of 2009 when, of course, there were mass protests and unrest in this city and in Iran. It's going to be interesting to see what happens. Already the universities -- we were at Tehran University, one of the biggest in the country today, it was closed down. The government formally told everybody, hey, the students could go home early for the summer vacation. Take an early holiday. But everybody that we spoke to said that the truth is they don't want to have those students around. A lot of them were involved in the protests, expelled, some of them jailed after the 2009 protests and the bottom line is that the government is doing everything it can to try to prevent that.


MALVEAUX: All right, and she's going to have more coverage tonight on "Erin Burnett OutFront." That is 7:00 p.m. Eastern. We're going to be looking forward to that.

And a severe jellyfish sting, that's right, ends an Australian woman's dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida. We're going to take you live to Havana to see if she's going to try again.



Hillary Clinton back in the political spotlight, backed up by her family. Just a short time ago, the former secretary of state delivered her first public policy speech since leaving the State Department. She spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in Chicago. It is the foundation that was started by her husband with a focus on economic development. Well, it has now become somewhat of a family business involving their daughter Chelsea as well. The former first lady explained her new role in the Clinton Foundation. Watch.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I will be focused on applying lessons learned from around the world and building new partnerships across our entire portfolio, but particularly in three broad areas that have been close to my heart my entire adult life -- early childhood development, opportunities for women and girls, and economic development.


MALVEAUX: And, of course, what we're all waiting for, what we really want to know, whether or not she's going to run for president in 2016. This portrait of the queen put on display for just last month, but already it has been taken down. Earlier today it was vandalized with spray paint. That was at Westminster Abbey. And police arrested a 41- year-old man for that. No comment yet from Buckingham Palace.

All right. There was some optimism around this, right? This was yesterday, just yesterday, Havana, Cuba. An Australian marathon swimmer, all thumbs up, trying to be the first person to swim 100 miles from Cuba to Florida without with a wet suit, you see there, without a shark cage. Well, disappointing news. The sharks did not get her, but some other creatures did. Chloe McCardel called it quits.

We're going to go live to Patrick Oppmann.

What happened?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jellyfish happened, Suzanne. Really nasty jellyfish that stung Chloe McCardel all last night on her back, her arms, her face, and get this, on her tongue. And that's what her organizers are telling us, that it wasn't just so much the searing pain, these things really do hurt, but that there was a stinger on her tongue as she was trying to swim and they were afraid that her breathing airways could close down, that she could essentially die from these very dangerous jellyfish and so that's when they called it quits late last night.

And, you know, they knew that this could be a problem. They had picked a month, June, when here's historically less jellyfish in the waters. They thought going when there was a new moon, there would be less moonlight and that is supposed to attract the jellyfish. And, Suzanne, they'd even tried inventing a jellyfish kind of spray that they could put on her to keep the jellyfish away, actually repel them. But, Suzanne, it just wasn't ready for this spring - for this swim. Maybe on the next swim they'll have that jellyfish spray and maybe it will keep them away if she goes again.

MALVEAUX: Wow! Yes, Diana Nyad had the same problem, just done in by the jellyfish.

Is she going to try again? Is Chloe going to try this one more time? Diana's tried it four times at least.

OPPMANN: You know we're hearing - and Diana's talking about doing it again. And here's the thing, is that Chloe McCardel's only 28. That's less than half the age of Diana Nyad. So she has 30 some years if she wants to keep trying this. And she's been hospitalized before. So we know she's a very, very tough swimmer. She's supposed to hold a news conference a little bit later today and we'll get word. But, you know, my impression is she's someone who's swum the English Channels six times. I don't think she's going to call it quits, but we'll have to hear from her.

MALVEAUX: All right, Patrick, is there any reason why Chloe wants to do this? Why is she saying?: Why is this important to her? A lot of people think, wow, this is crazy. OPPMANN: It is crazy. But, listen, she was swimming for a very good cause, which is breast cancer, trying to bring knowledge to breast cancer. Her mother's a breast cancer survivor. So you've got to applaud her for that.

But, you know, the crazy thing is, yesterday, some of the Cuban authorities were telling us that they were hearing from previous swimmers that even if Chloe McCardel makes it, they were going to try it again themselves. So you've just got to shake your head. But it's like, you know, the Mt. Everest of swimming. No one's done it. Someone's got to be first. And they're all convinced, Suzanne, that they can do it. You know, it's still out there, though. Maybe you should come down and give it a shot. I know I'm not going to.

MALVEAUX: No, that is not -- not me. I'm not taking on those jellyfish. They are pretty dangerous.

But good for her. I mean it's a great cause. Good for her. We appreciate it. We'll be looking forward to seeing if she's going to try it again.

Thank you, Patrick.

Coming up next hour on CNN NEWSROOM, an 11-year-old boy under fire for his performance of the National Anthem. We're going to show you some of the Twitter controversy and the boy's response.


MALVEAUX: Let's take a look at what's trending right now around the world.

A Japanese ambassador faces criticism now for telling his peers to shut up. This is YouTube video showing the ambassador responding to questions about Japan's interrogation practices. This is at a torture committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Take a listen at how this all went down.


HIDEAKI UEDA, JAPAN'S HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY TO THE U.N.: We are (INAUDIBLE) the most advanced country in this field. Don't interrupt. Why are you laughing? Shut up. Shut up. We are under the most advanced country in this field.


MALVEAUX: Well, he went on to say that every country has its shortcomings and Japan is trying to improve.

And that's it for AROUND THE WORLD. CNN NEWSROOM starts right after a quick break.