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North Korea Announces Successful Hydrogen Bomb Test; China Says It Detected Two Quakes In North Korea. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 3, 2017 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- been on the president's mind. Just yesterday he was on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussing options in North Korea. The day before, on Friday, he had been speaking to President Moon of South Korea as well. This is likely to be the biggest foreign policy challenge for this president in the coming months. Clearly, North Korea is not backing down. The question now is how will the White House respond? We've seen one response from the cabinet trying to focus on diplomacy. The president --


SANCHEZ: -- has been very robust in his rhetoric, Isha.

SESAY: Yes. He has and we wait to see what he says next. Boris Sanchez joining us there from Washington. Boris, we appreciate it. You have been live programming from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. CNN will continue its coverage of that sixth nuclear test by North Korea in just a moment. I'm going to hand it over to CNN headquarters in Atlanta where you'll find Cyril Vanier and Natalie Allen. Thanks for being with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And we pick up our breaking news coverage. We continue right now live from the CNN headquarters right here in Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: North Korea says it has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. Japan has partially confirmed that claim, it says an earthquake detected earlier was indeed a nuclear test. The U.S., China and South Korea haven't gone us far but all say they did detect seismic activity which was believed to be manmade.

ALLEN: Reports of the blast come less than one day after Pyongyang said it had a new hydrogen bomb. These images right here purport to show North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspecting the device. State media claim it can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. We're covering this from all angles. Our Ian Lee joins us now from Seoul, South Korea, Will Ripley is in Tokyo for us, Andrew Stevens in Xiamen, China, and our Christiane Amanpour is on the line in London. Ian, let's start with you. First of all, the reaction there in Seoul, South Korea.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, once this earthquake -- initially it was an earthquake that was detected as a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. There was a lot of talk that this could have been a nuclear test. So the North -- the South Koreans went convened an emergency session of their National Security Council to discuss this latest development. That council convened a meeting that lasted hours and just got out. We're expecting to get an update in about 30 minutes' time but we do -- we have heard that the South Korean military has been placed on a heightened alert.

There are extra also extra surveillance taking place in the north right now. We're also hearing that South Korean officials are in close contact with their American counterparts to discuss this latest development. But for people here in South Korea, they woke up with really, two major developments. First off, North Korea saying that they have developed the technology to minimize -- miniaturize a nuclear weapon and put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile and now just hours later, you have this earthquake which turned out to be a nuclear test, the largest nuclear test to date and test where they were testing a --the bomb -- an H-bomb, a hydrogen bomb to put it on top of an ICBM. So, quite a few -- quite a number of real big developments coming out of the Korean peninsula.

ALLEN: The last time the size of a test was a 5.3. This is a 6.3. And there was also a follow-up earthquake. What do we know about that, Ian?

LEE: Well, it's believed to be the tunnel collapsing. This test was carried out underground and once it exploded they believe their --this second follow-up earthquake could have been the tunnel collapsing, which would have people fear that this could release radiation into the atmosphere, into the surrounding region although we heard from the North Koreans they say that no radiation escaped after this test was carried out but we do know that the Japanese are testing the air around the eastern part of the country to see what they can determine from that test.

But what we know are that the officials here in South Korea and in the region are determining what really took place, how the size of this explosion, what kind of bomb it was, but then also what their reaction to what is going to be. Up until now they've tried to isolate North Korea through diplomatic and economic sanctions but we'll wait to see if that is going to be the path forward with this nuclear test.

ALLEN: Ian lee for us there in Seoul. Thank you, Ian.

[03:05:04] VANIER: And North Korean television released this official statement a short while ago. The H-bomb test was carried out to examine and confirm the accuracy and credibility of the power control, technology and internal structural design, newly introduced manufacturing H-bomb to be placed at the payload of the ICBM, the intercontinental ballistic missile. Let's wring in Will Ripley who's been to North Korea 14 times, knows the country extremely well.

Will, we knew that North Korea was going to conduct a nuclear test. It was a matter of when. You told us so, yourself. So, first of all, where does this leave us in terms of the level of threat that North Korea poses and secondly, what does it change that it's an H-bomb, a hydrogen bomb?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you look back at the messaging for North Korean officials, it's a bit surreal because I just woke up in Pyongyang, yesterday and North Korea was putting out statements that indicated they may be opening the door for potential diplomacy. Their leading newspaper, the Rodong newspaper, the mouth piece of the ruling workers party said that in an editorial that the United States needs to change its long-standing position of refusing to acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.

North Korea has long believed that the United States has an unfair hostile policy towards them and they that's what they called justification for continuing to develop these weapons of mass destruction. And so, it seemed that in North Korea that when I was just there that perhaps the tension was going to dial down, it might be in a holding pattern for a while but clearly that is not the case and North Korea has ramped up not only the rhetoric but the -- but the actions even further.

And so, we have known that at least since April North Korea has been ready to push the button on the sixth nuclear test pretty much at any moment. There was a lot of speculation it was going to happen to coincide with the day of the sun celebration on April 15th. That did not happen. Some people speculated that perhaps a warning from China of severe consequences may have caused North Korea to back down.

Although when I asked North Korean officials about that, they said absolutely not, they denied that China has any influence over their nuclear program. And since then what we've seen is just a continued unprecedented barrage of missile tests. They launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in the month of July. Just last week they launched the Hwasong-12 intermediate range ballistic missile over Northern Hokkaido here in Japan.

And then today, this is when I started to wonder if something was going to happen. They put out this photo of North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un standing in front of what North Korea says is a miniaturized nuclear warhead, an H-bomb that they could fit they say onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. So when that message came out a few hours before this nuclear test, I saw the photo and I started to wonder what's coming next and now we've seen what's coming next. This sixth nuclear test.

As far as the danger that the -- that the region is in today versus yesterday, pretty much the same. North Korea by doing this is still just demonstrating their capability and I would -- I would say that North Korea still would be willing to engage in dialogue with the United States. But what they're -- what they're saying here with this nuclear test is that they will not come to the diplomatic table from a position of weakness. They are not backing down after that fire and fury, locked and loaded rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump.

They're not backing down after U.S. B2-B bombers full alongside South Korea fighter jets over the Korean peninsula. They are saying these are our weapons, they're only going to continue to become increasingly advanced unless the United States stops isolating us and stops trying to put pressure and instead is willing to take a different approach. That's what North Korea has wanted for a long time and North Korea believes that this strategy of testing these weapons of mass destruction and growing their arsenal is going to get them there.

Also noteworthy that they say now that this H-bomb that they just tested is something that was manufactured entirely with components made in North Korea. That means they don't have to be imported from China or any other country. North Korea says they can do it all on their own. And so that gives even less leverage in the sense of the United States wanting China to cut them off the regime economically. North Korea saying, even if China were going to do that, we're still going to build these weapons and in fact and in fact we're going to build them even faster.

VANIER: Will, the fact that it's an H-bomb, a hydrogen bomb, that was an important part of North Korea's messaging hours before the test they were already putting out these pictures that we've just been seeing on the screen of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un next to what was purported to be the H-bomb. Does that change anything? I mean, for our viewers who were waking up now and who are seeing this as the novelty in this latest North Korean nuclear test, does that change anything?

RIPLEY: It's important to point out, Cyril, that this is not the first time North Korea has claimed to successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. I was in the country in January of last year on the same day that they claimed -- for the first time they tested an H-bomb but at that point the earthquake that was created was believed to 10 to 11 times smaller than the earthquake that was -- that seismologists detected in North Korea today.

[03:10:08] And so there was a lot of speculation back then that it was actually really a hydrogen bomb. And in fact to get, we would report, you know, you know, a claim, the H-bomb test. This time around, seismologists around the world have detected this. It was detected at dozens of stations around the world. It was felt likely by people inside North Korea and outside of the country as well. That's how powerful this explosion was. An explosion powerful enough to trigger a secondary event that that the U.S. geogical survey says, could it be a structural collapse which would mean that these tunnels that North Korea digs deep into the mountains, Punggye-ri, a mountainous region close to the Chinese border.

The explosion might have been so powerful that it caused a second seismic event, perhaps a major internal collapse. That would indicate the biggest North Korean nuclear explosion we have ever seen and adds credibility to North Korea's claim that this was in fact a hydrogen bomb that they tested. And as a result of that by the way now, sniffer planes have been deployed from right here in Japan and they are flying throughout the region looking for any sign of radiation that has been -- that has been put into the environment.

It was noteworthy in North Korea's statement by their lead anchor, Ri Chun-hee who is the announcer that you saw in North Korean State T.V. just in the last 30 minutes or so. North Korea made a point to say that no radiation has been released into the environment and that this test did not pose a negative impact on the environment. That's something they have claimed in previous test, and by the way, that has turned out to be true in previous test. Sniffer planes didn't detect any radiation emitted in the atmosphere. We will have to see what the United States and South Korea and Japan say after this extremely powerful test, the largest we've seen yet.

VANIER: All right. Will Ripley, thank you very much. Great to get your insights. You're just back from your most recent trip to Pyongyang, you're speaking to us live from Tokyo there. Let's go to our chief international correspondent now, Christiane Amanpour, she joins me now live from London. Christiane, I really want to address the big picture with you which is all of this that has happened over the last year, two years even and the incremental testing of missiles and nuclear capabilities has become actually predictable. We knew there would be a second nuclear test. So, big picture, that means, where does this go next? What happens?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cyril, here's the thing, you know, everybody hoped, certainly the United States hoped and took actions to try to prevent there being a sixth nuclear test and this one being another hydrogen bomb test and this one apparently being the kind of miniaturized weapon that could be put on the tip of an ICBM that they claim could reach the United States. That is the nightmare scenario.

And to that extent over, you know, the last few days and weeks when the president has been talking about all options on the table, some of the other rhetoric we've heard about locked and loaded and fire and fury, the Pentagon took the unusual step of releasing pictures that were designed to warn Pyongyang not to do this. There were joint exercises over South Korea. And they dropped live weapons, live ammunition over that area into a firing range.

They apparently do that very, very rarely, the United States and its allies down there. But this was done and the pictures were released to try warn off Pyongyang from yet another more powerful test. It clearly didn't work. So what then happens next and this is the huge question that successive U.S. administrations, successive regional administrations have been unable to strategically sort themselves out into a common approach to North Korea.

I have spoken and many now at CNN have spoken to the CIA analysts who are the last and most high-level Americans to have met with the most high-level North Koreans outside of North Korea to discuss North Korea's nuclear ambitions and its strategic proposition here. And they have a very dark scenario and a dark answer coming back from Pyongyang that they said, they were told nothing you can do, nothing you can offer us, no amount of talks are going to stop us from perfecting our nuclear program and becoming a nuclear power, we are not going to denuclearize.

And then when we are a nuclear weapons power, then we will talk and see which way this goes. So this is the dilemma that the United States and its regional allies have to deal with. China has been looked at as the sort of Holy Grail savior of this moment. But up until now and this is really important to digest and to absorb. Up until now despite its words, despite its rhetoric, despite sometimes getting angry with North Korea, despite some sanctions it's put on, blocking certain deliveries of energy in the other.

China has strategically calculated up until now that a nuclear North Korea apparently is less dangerous than an unstable North Korea that collapses and creates instability -- more instability in that region. That is what China is signaling by its diplomatic actions so far.

[03:15:04] So will this change China's calculation? Because most people say that that is going to be the important thing. And then, will the United States, Japan, South Korea, decide to go back to a period where they engage North Korea in talks?

And obviously there's a precedent here. The Clinton administration did that back in the '90s. George W. Bush administration did that finally after realizing that confronting North Korea only brought them closer to North Korea perfecting and accelerating its nuclear weapons program. The Obama administration did not hold talks with them preferring to engage a so-called strategic patience. That didn't work. North Korea kept moving ahead with its program.

And it has really been doing what it said it was going to be doing. And this is where we are right now, a hydrogen bomb just to concentrate everybody's mind is exponentially more powerful than the atomic, the fission bomb that exploded over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August of the end of 1941 I think it was, the end of '45, the end of the war there. So we are in a very dramatic moment and the question is, is there diplomacy to be had?

Or, you know, the other -- the other issue that people say about North Korea is, you have to be really careful not to blunder into precisely the kind of situation you don't want. If North Korea doesn't know what you're going to do it may take its own preemptive action. So there's a lot of muddy waters, there's a lot of policy it appears to be all over the map. There's a lot of credibility issues with this -- with this -- with this situation from the -- from the west and from the regional allies.

There needs to be clarity and there needs to be a strategic decision on how to move forward on this, whether by diplomacy or whichever other way they believe that is better than diplomacy. But most people think it should be diplomacy.

VANIER: All right. Christiane, thank you so much. Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent. Thanks.

ALLEN: And of course Christiane talking there about China and their philosophy toward North Korea. Andrew Stevens joins us now from Xiamen, China. And Andrew, first of all, interesting that Christiane brought up the point that China although has been pressured by the United States and other countries in the region has not put the pressure that these countries would have like to see on North Korea because they were concerned about regime collapse and Christiane just touched on it that it seemed like that was more of a concern than a nuclear North Korea. Has there been any response from China as of yet?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: No response as yet, Natalie. But that equation that Christiane talked about is very much what you hear in China, that strategically, they see a nuclear-armed North Korea in a better light than they see a collapsing North Korea which could result in literally millions of refugees flooding across its border, potentially a United Korean peninsula as an ally of the United States which would bring the U.S. a one step closer to China's own borders and China does not want to see that.

So there is -- there is a fundamental difference between how China and the U.S. see North Korea. The U.S. sees it basically as a rogue state which is breaking international convention and laws by developing illegally a missile and nuclear program. China doesn't see it like that at all. They see it as a survival mode, if you like. The U.S. is forcing North Korea into taking this sort of action because North Korea is concerned about its very survival I (INAUDIBLE) survival and a nuclear deterrent guarantees that survival.

So they are very, very different posing views between the U.S. and China as to what is behind this North Korean ramping up its nuclear program. Interestingly though, China certainly, even though it is the key ally, economically speaking of North Korea, 90 percent of North Korea's internal trade goes through China. China will say we have abided by and we are abiding by the latest round of U.N. sanctions which were posted in early August in response to those -- the launches of two ICBMS.

So we are doing what we can. And it's important to remember this, Natalie, that further sanctions, the balance here is further sanctions as we talk about sort of chaos in North Korea, the further sanctions hitting the North Korean people themselves. A lot of the trade for example is on textiles, and on energy, energy is needed to heat homes to provide electricity. Textiles is -- provides income for poor, very poor North Koreans. So that is the equation they are looking at.

And just to finish, though, I just want to point out that this is something of a poke in the eye by North Korea to China, Natalie. I'm down here in Xiamen which is the -- which is where the BRICS Summit is going to be held. This is Brazil -- the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It's an emerging markets group, the powerfully merged markets group to get together annually and this is being presided of this year by China.

[03:20:10] This is a big deal for President Xi Jinping as they lead up to a big party conference next month. And Xi Jinping wants to show the world that -- and very much the domestic audience that this is a big moment for China to have these world leaders including Vladimir Putin here to talk about economic development and economics generally. To have North Korea then hijack the conversation about its latest missile strike -- sorry, nuclear test will not play well at all with Beijing. President Xi is due to open this conference in just a couple hours from now. Whether he mentions North Korea, we don't know that. It may be though that he prefers to ignore it at least at the moment publicly and then speak to Vladimir Putin about it tomorrow when the two leaders meet in a bilateral meeting rather than acknowledge that North Korea is overshadowing basically what is -- what is a big moment for President Xi.

ALLEN: Andrew Stevens, thank you. And perhaps it also illustrate the disregard, perhaps, that North Korea holds China these days. We know there's more tension between these two countries. Andrew Stevens for us. We'll wait and see if Xi Jinping does make statements about in a couple of hours when he begins that conference. Thank you.


VANIER: All right. Let's try and find out whether Russia is reacting to this. Moscow is also a player in this story. Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow. Fred, Moscow is one of those -- Russia is one of those countries that has warned the U.S. against the fiery rhetoric, against stumbling into a war with North Korea. What are you hearing?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, they have, Cyril, and quite recently, Vladimir Putin has told the Americans in a speech also in China saying, look, the rhetoric coming out of the United States, the threats coming out of the United States, the Russians simply don't believe that those are very helpful, they don't believe that those are going to persuade the North Koreans to change their course and at the same time of course, the Russians also view some of the military moves that the U.S. has made over the past couple weeks as quite dangerous and the provocation to themselves as well.

Of course, those interceptor missiles that the U.S. put in North Korea and Japan, those were not seen very well by the Russians and of course also some of those over flights as well, very close to Russian territory because one of the things that we have to keep in mind is that while North Korea has its main border with China it also has a border with Russia. It's not a very large border, it's about 18 kilometers long but it's very, very close to one of Russia's main pacific port towns which is of course the Port of Vladivostok.

And just to get to the whole technicalities of everything, obviously the Russians also very interested in this nuclear test itself and the possible consequences of this test. They say that it was measured by their geological survey on the peninsula of Kamchatka and the Russians have now come out and say they don't believe that this nuclear test poses any sort of threat for the territory of the Russian federation. They say the winds are such that if any radiation would have been released by this test it would certainly blow in the other directions because the wind is coming from the north and blowing towards the south.

So those technicalities. On a political level, we have not heard any reactions yet. However, as Andrew just mentioned, President Putin is going to be heading to that BRICS Summit to speak with the Chinese. It's quite interesting because the Russians appear to have the same policy approach or at least see eye to eye with the Chinese on this matter. They are for a policy known as a double freeze. They say they want the North Koreans to halt their testing and also to halt their missile tests as well.

So both the nuclear weapons as well as ballistic missile tests and in return they say, the U.S. should stop military maneuvers like the ones of course that they were conducting over the past couple of days with their allies in the pacific region. That certainly something that seems to runs contrary to what the U.S. is doing. But again, as you mentioned, the Russians coming out just a couple of days ago and heavily criticizing the United States saying that the U.S.'s policies towards North Korea have not been helpful and also that threats towards North Korea clearly have done absolutely nothing to sway that state to move into a different direction. They're calling for more policy.

It's quite interesting to see what the Russians are doing because on one hand, Cyril, they have been subject to new U.S. sanctions, at least some Russian entities for dealing with North Korea. But at the same time in the U.N. Security Council they have voted with the United States on further measures against North Korea after that missile test took place with that rocket flying over the territory of Japan. So certainly an interesting policy there from the Russians. But their stuff is very, very clear.

[03:25:03] They're saying to the United States what you should do is engage with North Korea rather than threaten North Korea, Cyril.

VANIER: Right. And thank you. I'm trying to better understand, better understand the point of view of Russia on this. Is it just that they believe the U.S. policy is ill-adapted to dealing with North Korea and it's not getting results or is it that they have a higher tolerance for a nuclear-armed North Korea?

PLEITGEN: Well, I think it's very similar to China. I think one of the things that the Russians fear is that if there was instability in North Korea, if North Korea did not have this deterrent, and for whatever reason there were a real conflict between the United States and North Korea, an armed conflict, they fear that there could be a lot of North Korean refugees that would go into Russian territory. I mean, the border is right there. Again, it's not a very large border. It's about 18 kilometers wide.

But there is that fear that instability could spill over into the Russian federation. At the same time, there is of course trade going on between Russia and North Korea. They don't want to jeopardize that either. So, I do think that there is a general self-interest of Russia to have a stable North Korea even if it means having a leader like Kim Jong-un in place there. And at the same time of course, they also s want to take diplomatic jabs to the United States to a certain extent as well.

So some of the criticizing comes from that. But this is also a Russian policy to say we want a stable North Korea. We don't believe what the United States is currently doing, the threats toward the North Korean government, towards Kim Jong-un himself, they don't believe that's something that is going to be productive for that region.

VANIER: All right. Fred Pleitgen in Moscow. Thank you very much. Christiane Amanpour is in London still listening to this conversation. Christiane, I know you want to weigh in.

AMANPOUR: Well, just to say that it was rather dramatic a few weeks ago when President Xi of China and President Putin of Russia issued a joint declaration about North Korea and the rest of the world. They basically said that North Korea must desist -- cease and desist from this kind of activity but the United States needs to reciprocate by, you know, stopping its joint exercises with South Korea and stopping all of that business that North Koreans.

So in other words, it took the North Korean position about the U.S. in that region. And so that complicates matters when you're seeking a common -- a common ground in terms of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members. Russia and China, the United States, Britain and France are all the nuclear powers. It is absolutely in their interest that North Korea stops this kind of nuclearization.

And yet, even on this issue, they can want get together as a whole despite the way they voted in the security council which is to sanction and censure North Korea over these tests -- over this test, over this nuclear program. So, it's -- again, very mixed messages. North Korea can play one off against the other at will. And it just does seem that there is a vacuum of leadership on this issue and North Korea with its ability to move forward technologically. And as it says itself, conduct this so called successful test using its (INAUDIBLE) method, the self-reliance method that Kim Il-sung, brought to North Korea, the initial founder of the state that is carrying on. So, this is very, very important.

VANIER: Christiane, thank you very much. We're going to keep the conversation going on. I know you have a lot more to contribute to this. Let's get to all our guests right now. Natalie?

ALLEN: Well, the test of a powerful hydrogen bomb in North Korea is just the latest in an escalating back and forth between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korea leader, Kim Jong-un. Here is President Trump just a few weeks ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea, best not make any more threats to the United States, they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. And as I said they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.


VANIER: Mr. Trump was sharply criticized for his fiery rhetoric but he wasn't backing down. Listen to what he said two weeks after that.


TRUMP: And you see what's going on in North Korea. All of a sudden -- I don't know, who knows. But I can tell you what I said it's not strong enough. Some people said it was too strong, it's not strong enough. But Kim Jong-un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us.


ALLEN: But is he now? Until now, Pyongyang's recent provocations have been missile tests including one launched over Japan just last Tuesday. Two days later, Mr. Trump warned, the U.S. has been talking to North Korea and paying them extortion money for 25 years, talking is not the answer.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A variety of new challenges are emerging in the wake of Harvey, hospitals being evacuated, complaints of price gouging, and fears of more explosions at a chemical plant.


BRIGGS: We have all the latest right now on Early Start with you. An extra hour early, welcome to Early Start everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rene Marsh. It's 31 minutes past the hour. One week after Harvey blasted its way ashore there are new concerns emerging from the storm.


MARSH: Overnight, the death toll climbing again, it now stands at 47. The Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, more blasts are expected following the first explosion of an organic peroxide container about 24 hours ago. And 1.5 mile evacuation perimeter remains in effect around the plant.

BRIGGS: Another new worry this morning is price gouging. Texas officials say they have had 600 complaints about storm related scams and gouging.

One Houston convenience store reportedly $20 a gallon for gas and $8.50 for a bottle of water. Social media hysteria touching off panic with bizarrely long gas lines and prices shooting up from $2.20 to $4.50 a gallon, ahead of a huge travel weekend on Labor Day, some gas stations even sold out as you can see.

MARSH: And as for the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, they operating normally with no breaches and no failures. Officials now say it will take three months to empty -- to empty them through controlled releases. Buffalo Bayou where that water drains will likely stay flooded for some time, several weeks at the deepest spots. Say in federal environmental officials are warning people to take

precautions because contaminated sewer water tends to be released during major flood events. They say people in the flood zone must ensure that they have access to safe drinking water.

City of Beaumont, Texas, still without running water and it's going to take some time to get the taps running again. Residents stood in long lines trying to buy bottled water, the failure of the water treatment system causing other problems on the ground, more on that a little later on.

Overall, first responders have rescued more than 72,000 people since the storm hit. That does not include all the rescues by civilian volunteers.

MARSH: And Harvey dumped an estimated 27 trillion, that's with a T gallons of drain on Texas and Louisiana over a 6-day period. That is enough to fill the San Francisco Bay more than ten times over.


MARSH: For the very latest from the disaster zone, let's bring in George Howell. He is live at Houston's convention center. Good morning, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rene good morning to you. The mood here at this convention center that serves a shelter quite frankly home for so many people. I would say the mood is patient but also uncertain.

You know so many people uncertain, unsure of what their next steps will be. We do understand that the numbers here, so just the other day is some 8,000 people at the shelter, those numbers are diminishing to some extent.

Many people going back into their neighborhoods and their communities to see exactly how badly damaged those homes are. But again, so many people here lost so much.

As they go out into the community and even here at the shelter, Rene, there is another problem. People who are unaccounted for -- missing people and we found that the Texas Center for the Missing, they actually have a setup right here in the shelter.

They help people in the shelter in case a loved one, a relative, a child strays away. They help people to reconnect and they also do the same throughout the metro area as simple as just filing a report.

[03:35:00] And then these officials, they share that information with police and they share it with the Red Cross. We spoke with one person with that group to explain the organization. Take a listen.


AMANDA SMITH, TERRITORY ACCOUNT MANAGER, TEXAS CENTER FOR THE MISSING: We just had a grandmother earlier she couldn't find her 11-year-old daughter. She was in a state of panic because there are so many people here you don't know who you are interacting with.

And so we actually had -- my fiance here, he rolled her around and helped her get back with the family and help reunite with the daughter. So there are cases like that happening minute by minute here.

HOWELL: But you guys, you handle the shelter...

SMITH: Correct.

HOWELL: ... people in the shelter but you're also opening this up to anyone throughout the metro area.

SMITH: Absolutely, yes. So, you know, we have had people getting displaced at nursing homes and you know from flooding, they have been coming here to the shelters and getting displaced with their families. So we've had people coming here and looking at this as a point -- a main point for Houston.


HOWELL: So also I want to address another situation. You may have seen this online, this talk about a shortage of gas here in the State of Texas given what happened.

We are hearing from the Cajun Navy. They're saying they're concerned about not enough gas here in the state to get around to do their work of rescuing people.

So what we have actually discovered is this is really just a supply and distribution issue. So the supply exists. But it's a matter of getting it to these different parts of the state that need it. That's the problem.

And you know when you see these concerns that are voiced online, people saying that there is a shortage of gas well quite frankly it causes problem in those communities as people panic. But again the supply does exist as we understand it. Back to you.

MARSH: OK, important to point out. We have the gas, it's just getting it to the gas stations.

BRIGGS: Right. You're looking at more than 300 Texas roadways are covered in water, so difficult to get around. All right, George Howell live for us in Houston.

As if one hurricane wasn't enough. Yet another major hurricane has its eye focused on the United States. Let's bring in Meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Good morning to you, Derek. What's on the way?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right, good morning, Dave, Rene. I think it's important that we keep this in check here because we are still 7 to 10 days out from any potential threat to the lower 48.

But nonetheless, this major hurricane which is formed across the Atlantic, now a category three, sustained winds of 115 miles per-hour, it really does have its eye set on the east coast or perhaps even into Florida, perhaps the Gulf of Mexico.

It all depending on the computer models you look at. And again, I want to reiterate, we are still several days away, several thousand miles away from the storm making any formidable threat across the United States.

But something we're going to monitor very, very quickly, you can see the differences in the different computer models that we look at as meteorologist.

Earlier, the European model had the storm making a pass across the Florida straits late Sunday of next week. Again, so 7 to 10 days away from any formidable threat from the storm. But let's talk about now what's taking place now.

Because we still have our remnant of what was Harvey that continues to churn across the Ohio and Tennessee River Valley. That is going to bring our flood threat to that region.

But we can't forget what's still taking place across southeast Texas and Louisiana. We still have 28 rivers at major flood stage, including the Brazos River which we reported on from 24 hours ago. This thing is going to stay at record level territory for the next four days. Dave, Rene.

BRIGGS: Yes, that is frightening, Derek, to think that some of these rivers haven't yet crested. We are not even halfway home. Thanks so much for that forecast.

VAN DAM: Thanks.

MARSH: And now this process -- the grueling process of going door to door. Rescuers are beginning to go block by block to search homes in Houston for anyone left behind in the Harvey's historic floods.

Eighty-seven thousand homes damaged statewide, 7,000 destroyed. CNN's Brian Todd looks at what search crews are up against in west Houston.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Rene we are here in west Houston where the waters are still dangerously high, several days after hurricane Harvey came ashore.

Look at this, this is a neighborhood called Lakeside Forest. The water is still just up to the windows on the first floor of these houses. It's still eerie being out here in the dark.

This neighborhood was flooded pretty much from the start but the water actually kept rising even with the branch of the storm pass because of the controlled release of that Addicks reservoir near here.

And we just found one person -- we just rescue from a canoe who was stuck is a meteorologist, he thinks that this water level really is not going to decrease any time soon. He says the water -- this neighborhood thought that we will not be rid

of the water for maybe weeks. So look at the -- if you look at this these people are going to be really up against this and may not get into homes any time soon. Dave and Rene.

[03:40:00] BRIGGS: Devastating. All right, in the last week, more than 6,000 people and at least 1,000 pets have been rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. That work goes on, air crews searching for people stranded by the storm.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung took a flight with a Coast Guard chopper looking for survivors in hard hit areas of Texas. Kaylee has more from just across the border in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rescue missions in the air are ongoing for the U.S. Coast Guard and so many other military assets in the area.

For a group of Coast Guard helicopters taking off from air shrift in Seoul for Louisiana not far from the Texas State line, the focus for the past two days has been Port Arthur, Texas.

But on Thursday afternoon, when I loaded up a five-man crew in a Jayhawk HH-60 helicopter, we have just got a word that dam was releasing water and there was an area where waters were quickly rising about ten miles north of Beaumont.

We headed there with a call for service saying that 20 people were trapped on a roof but when we got there, we saw those 20 people and a house surrounded by boats, those people loading up into boats and getting to safety very quickly.

These trained men aboard this helicopter with me very quick to praise the efforts of the volunteers with their boats. The Cajun Navy if you will who have come out in mass numbers.

Our crew then headed over to Orange Texas, another place where the waters continued to rice on Thursday. There an elderly woman was rescued.

She told me I've lost my car, I've lost my house but I have my life. I'm thankful for that and I'm thankful for the U.S. Coast Guard. Her story, one of thousands just like it and there will be more. Dave, Rene.

BRIGGS: Thanks so much Kaylee Hartung. As flooding slams the Texas Gulf Coast most homes under water don't have the insurance needed to rebuild. Most private insurance does not cover flood damage, so home owners rely on the National Flood Insurance Program.


BRIGGS: However, only 20 percent of the homes hit by Harvey are covered. What about the other 80 percent?

Well those victims have to apply for federal aid which is a low interest loan or they'll have to pay out of pocket. Both options can lead to debt but even home owners with flood insurance could face problems.

That's because this federally funded program is $25 billion in debt. Thanks to a series of storms with major flood damage like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Right now, the program has less than $8 billion for the victims of Harvey. And estimates forecast property damage up to $65 billion making it one of the costliest storms ever to hit the U.S.

MARSH: And a growing sense of urgency in Washington to keep federal dollars flowing for the disaster response. CNN has learned the Republican led-House could vote on a short term funding bill as soon as next week.

There is concern FEMA will need more money well before the broader aid package is drafted later this month. Leader on Capitol Hill are still waiting for specifics from the White House which says that the proposal should be coming soon.

BRIGGS: Yesterday in Texas, Vice President Mike Pence urged speedy action but did not lay out a time line. He declined to say if Harvey should be of set by other budget cuts. That's something Pence and other conservatives in Congress pushed for back in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

MARSH: And tomorrow President Trump and the first lady will return to Texas and also visit Louisiana. The president has pledged $1 million to help victims of Harvey. The White House press secretary said that that contribution would come from Mister Trump's personal funds.

BRIGGS: Good to see. All right, some Houston residents finally getting a chance to return to homes to their flooded homes and they're devastated by what they're finding. Look at that video. We'll have that part of the story for you next.



MARSH: Well people in Houston are dealing with a harsh reality that they won't be able to go back home for weeks, possibly months.

Some of them return by boat on Thursday to salvage what they can and come to grips with everything they're forced to leave behind. CNN's Alex Marquardt was there and has the emotional story of one evacuee.


BILL WOLFE, TEXAS FLOOD VICTIM: There is mail -- there's going to be a mailbox here.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: this is the first time that Bill Wolfe has been able to get back to his house since being evacuated. WOLFE: Surreal is probably the understatement of the century here.

You know watching a 30 foot fishing boat drive down your street is like something that you just (Inaudible). This is my intersection here. And man, I don't know this is crazy.

KENNY EVANS, RESCUER: Let's see how high the water is though.

WOLFE: Yes, so I mean, we'll see if I can even get in or not.

MARQUARDT: Captain Kenny Evans is taking Wolfe back.

EVANS: one minute you're stressed about your gutters and the next minute everything you have is ruined.

MARQUARDT: It was Evans who rescued the Wolfe family along with their cat and dog in the middle of the storm on Monday. After navigating the boat to the door, we wade into the living room, furniture now floating through the pass the pictures of his sons.

WOLFE: I'm really proud of them. I'm really proud of them, my wife and my family. And they're -- they're tough little kids.

MARQUARDT: They're holding up?

WOLFE: Yes, yes. It's -- I'm not an emotional guy. I'm pretty calm. And this has been too much for me, to be honest I don't know if I'm going to be here very long.

MARQUARDT: Back in the office, the real loss becomes clear.

WOLFE: We've got 150-year-old family bible in this water.

MARQUARDT: Stacks of photo albums, baby books and other sentimental items. Is this the worst part, the personal stuff?

WOLFE: Yes, I mean this is the stuff that you can't replace, right? I mean, this is -- these are my son's birth announcements, right?

[03:50:00] MARQUARDT: Upstairs where it's dry, Wolfe throws his sons toys and sheets into garbage bags. So you think there is a possibility you may never live in this house again.

WOLFE: I don't know. Yes, I mean, it's going to sit here for a month or two in six feet of water.

MARQUARDT: Up and down this neighborhood, people taking stock of their belongings and their lives. Eighty-six-year-old Ed Windler is also back for the first time.

With Captain Evans, we found him on Monday in his dark bedroom alone with no power. He needs his medicine. So, Evans heads inside, past countless possessions now suspended in the dark flood waters.

This was Ed's office. All these papers piled high on his desk. You can see now they're all poorly ruined. The water in here is so high and back there in the kitchen, the fridge is now floating on its side. On the boat, Windler, tries to take it all in.

ED WINDLER, FLOOD VICTIM: Just very confusing. I can't get it wrapped up in my mind what's going to be next and what I'm going to need to do.

EVANS: Grab it. Grab it.

MARQUARDT: Windler and Wolfe are just two of the countless people who Captain Evans has helped this week. And his work is far from over.

EVANS: It's not even real. You see this stuff on TV, but this is total devastation in every way, physically, emotionally.

MARQUARDT: And this here is the tireless Kenny Evans just a fantastic embodiment of the spirit of the people of Houston and everyone whose come out over the past few days to help out.

Now we should note that along with the heartbreak in this neighborhood, there is also growing frustration and anger. A lot of the water that you're seeing here is coming from the controlled releases of those two nearby reservoirs Addicks and Barker.

And a lot of people have been telling me today that they feel the authorities should have told them much sooner how much water there was going to be so they could have gotten out sooner and saved more. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Houston.


BRIGGS: Oh, thank you so much, Alex. Yes, you talk about days weeks before it's back to normal.


BRIGGS: Well, for a lot of people never.

MARSH: Yes. That's the bottom line.

BRIGGS: Never get back their home and of course there are the lost lives as well there.

MARSH: And then you get emotional realizing the never aspect of it.


MARSH: Well, one of the most surreal scenes after the storm was when Aric Harding went back to his flood ravaged home south of Houston, most of his stuff was pretty much destroyed. But there was one item that was not.



(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: That's good huff Harding had gone home to pick up some stuffed animals and toys for his seven children who are taking shelter at a nearby house.

One of his sons who loves to play the piano was worried it was destroyed in the floods. But Aric said he was grateful to one person he doesn't even know who had offered him a new piano.

MARSH: I love that.


MARSH: That's like the small blessings there when everything else is going wrong.

BRIGGS: Some nice stories...


BRIGGS: ... of this tragedy. All right, the August jobs report is out later today. Can the U.S. expect another strong month? We'll preview the numbers on CNN Money Stream next.



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Days after Hurricane Harvey made land fall, much of southeast Texas is still ravage by flood waters, a live report from Houston, coming up.

The U.S. and South Korea fly bomber jest over the Korean Peninsula. North Korea calls it rush act. We'll have the report from Pyongyang. Another sign of frayed relations as the Trump administration over several Russian diplomatic pose in the U.S. to shut down. Moscow's reaction ahead.


FOSTER: Thanks for joining us. I'm Max Foster in London and this is CNN News Room. We'll begin in Houston, Texas finally there are signs that floodwaters are receiving but still much of America's fourth largest city is under water.

The remnants of Hurricane Harvey have taken at least 47 lives. A new danger just seems to emerge every day. Houston there, struck an optimistic mode on Thursday declaring the city opened for business.

There are fewer people in shelters and more bus lanes and lines have resumed on the city's shipping canal or channel has reopened on a limited basis.

But countless people are still stranded across east Texas waiting, hoping to be pulled to safety. Emergency workers have so far rescued some 72,000 people in one way or another. This monster storm has devout entire Texas City. Not only Houston, Port Arthur and Beaumont are almost entirely

underwater. Beaumont has completely lost access to clean water, an emergency on its own. Miguel Marquez reports.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Miguel Marquez in the east Texas City of Beaumont where the hospital here is evacuating all of its patients because the entire city, all 135,000 people in parts of the surrounding county are without water.

The floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey -- they lose their pumps here and they are unable to pump water. They have both failed and the city now is without water.

The hospital has been on a military like mission to get the patients out, the most critically injured were moved to Dallas and Galveston, and Jasper, Texas.

One patient even moved to Missouri, nine prematurely born babies were also moved out. They have about 85 patients left and they believe they will get them out in the next 24 to 48 hours.


FOSTER: Miguel Marquez, there in Beaumont. U.S. president Donald Trump will be back in Texas on Saturday to see the damage from Hurricane Harvey first hand.

While Vice President Mike Pence just toward there is hit by the storm. He visited Rockport, the Texas Governor Greg Abbott and even helped in cleanup efforts there. In Corpus Christie, Pence vowed the U.S. governments would help Texas and said law makers will back relief funding.