tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 20, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
it's unhabitable. it has to be torn down. make your bids now. >> for the property, for the land. thanks so much. breaking news tonight. double disasters unfolding as we come on the air. hurricane maria hammering puerto rico with a direct hit. still a monster storm. the strongest to slam ashore on that american island in nearly a century. power reportedly knocked out to 100% of the island. torrential rain, as much as two feet. life-threatening floods turning roads into raging rivers. our team is there, and al roker is tracking the danger. while in mexico, a race against time after that powerful earthquake. first responders and volunteers digging to rescue survivors in the rubble, including children trapped when their school collapsed. the death toll soaring into the hundreds from the quake that leveled buildings and sparked explosions. tonight we're live from both disaster zones. "nightly news" begins right now.
from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening, as we come on the air on the west coast. horrific images of destruction and misery are coming out of mexico and puerto rico tonight framing much of this newscast this evening. two major natural disasters still unfolding and impacting millions living here outside the disaster zone. families anxious to know the fates of loved ones. in a few moments we'll take you to earthquake-stricken mexico city where rescuers are intently listening for sounds of life in their desperate search for survivors. but first to puerto rico where hundreds of homes are damaged or destroyed, streets are flooded and 100% of that u.s. island is without power after hurricane maria slammed ashore with 115-mile-an-hour winds today.
our team is on the ground. we want to get right to gabe gutierrez who leads off our coverage tonight. gabe, good evening. >> reporter: lester, good evening. the power of this storm was immense. we've been seeing overturned cars and collapsed buildings. it is difficult to get around san juan tonight. many streets are flooded. others are just simply impassable. the governor has imposed a curfew, and the mayor says search and rescue missions are getting under way. no firm number on the number of dead or injured as this island begins what will no doubt be a long recovery. it showed little mercy. tonight maria's destructive path is only starting to become clear. swaths of puerto rico under water. roads turned to raging rivers. roofs ripped off. trees toppled. cars overturned. power out to virtually the entire island. have you ever seen anything like this? >> me?
never. >> reporter: this man says he feared for his life as the relentless storm slammed into his home this morning as a ferocious category 4 hurricane. the situation here in san juan is dire. the winds here have been intensifying and the worst is yet to come. we have sought shelter in a concrete structure, but as you can see, it is a scene of utter chaos. after dodging most of hurricane irma's wrath days ago, puerto rico and its 3.5 million american citizens bore the brunt of maria for hours. as the storm passed we got our first look at the damage. some homes obliterated. residents in shock. >> it was real scary. >> reporter: maria, the strongest storm to ravage puerto rico in nearly a century, first sliced through the caribbean. overnight it battered st. croix, the largest of the u.s. virgin islands. >> very scary. the wind and the doors around you. >> reporter: in st. thomas widespread flooding as
residents were just beginning to clean up after hurricane irma's direct hit. the storm's trail of devastation leaving much of the remote island of dominica in ruins. this aerial video the first to emerge after maria's fury cut off communications. tonight as puerto rico begins to assess its damage, many residents, like maria aragon, don't know if they'll have homes to return to. how horrible is it to look around and see this island like this? >> it's very sad. it's very, very sad. very heartbroken. >> reporter: an island without power and now seemingly without enough resources to cope with an unfolding disaster. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, san juan, puerto rico. this is gadi schwartz. in the dark halls of this san juan sports coliseum, one of puerto rico's sturdiest hurricane shelters. here huddled shapes hunch over radios. children play in shadows. and outside hurricane maria's winds and rain ravage puerto rico.
>> it's an awakening, a rude awakening. >> reporter: this is the last 24 hours for families like this woman's taking shelter from the storms. >> what's going to happen when we get out of here? what will we end up seeing? it's very hard. >> reporter: at first in cots spread out across the massive concrete coliseum floor, but then the worst of hurricane maria bursting metal doors open. people joining hands to pray. quickly they move to the safety of the outer wings as water and debris rain down from the roof. and through the storm one voice trying to calm the refugees. this is the mayor of san juan, carmen yulin cruz, who stayed here with her family at the coliseum. >> i understand how difficult it is. >> reporter: she's gotten regular reports of what lies outside, and her heart breaks for those they couldn't reach. >> i'm just concerned that we may not get to everybody in time.
and that is a great weight on my shoulders. >> reporter: she's among those who will find their homes and neighborhoods devastated, but for now she can't think of that. she can only think of keeping her city together. >> we need each other. i need them more than they need me. >> reporter: a feeling shared among many holding on to each other for strength in what's to come. and a very grim reality for some of the families that are going to be leaving this shelter after 24 hours. many of them are going to find their homes in ruin, and they're going to have to come back to shelters like this to spend another night, another week and possibly even months. lester? >> gadi schwartz, some of that damage is incredible, thank you. this hurricane threat is far from over. we're joined here by al roker who is tracking the storm. what's the latest? and is the u.s. east coast in jeopardy? >> it's still up in the air right now. we can tell you that maria is a category 2 but will probably reintensify later this evening. 75 miles east of punta cana, dominican republic. it's moving northwest at 12, with 110-mile-per-hour winds. the dominican republic tomorrow gets about 75 miles per hour. 4 to 6 feet of surge, 8 to 16 inches of rain. turks and caicos may be the next really big devastated area with
125-mile-per-hour winds, a storm surge of 9 to 12 feet and 9 to 16 inches. and then it continues up into the atlantic by monday afternoon. we put the ensemble model into play. you see those spaghetti strands we call. and basically for the most part they keep it off the coast, but you can see there's some disagreement on the western side of this. so lester, right now we still can't give you a definitive answer whether this thing stays off shore or not. >> we'll keep watching. al roker, thanks very much. let's turn now to that other major disaster still unfolding at this hour. in central mexico, hundreds are dead, thousands are still missing after that devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck there. now a desperate search is on for survivors at sites that include a school that collapsed with students inside. nbc's miguel almaguer is there and has the latest. miguel, good evening. >> reporter: lester, good evening. they are asking us to whisper because it appears they have done it again. two rescues might be under way
right now at this hour at that school you mentioned. they're listening for signs of life. dozens of bodies have been recovered there, but dozens have also been saved. the death toll stands at 225 and growing, but this is a sign of hope. tonight, this is the heart-pounding drama playing out across mexico city. rescue teams at an elementary school finding children buried beneath piles of debris. one by one, pulling them to safety. this was the school before. now literally flattened. they call this the miracle in the rubble. the crisis still unfolding today. just moments after the cheers -- >> silencio. >> reporter: fists go up, the signal for silence. search teams can faintly hear a new cry for help. this time two little girls rescued.
this search commander says he has children of his own. these kids are my family. i want to bring them home. but more than 20 students here didn't make it. luis carlos says he has no idea how he got out. i saw the whole school fall down, but i never found my friends. across this shattered country, there is more heartbreak than debris. these are the faces of anguish. parents desperately clinging to hope. gloria hernandez clutches the photo of her 24-year-old son ivan buried beneath six floors of rubble in his office. time is slipping away right before her eyes. she says, i'm pleading to the government for help. my son has been buried for hours. nobody will tell me a thing. tuesday's massive 7.1 earthquake leveled 38 buildings and an
untold number of homes and threatened to sing tour boats in the water. >> oh, my gosh. >> reporter: 75 miles away, the epicenter is a disaster. churches have crumbled, many are losing faith. social media is inundated with desperate pleas for help for those looking for loved ones. while the names of those pulled from the rubble are written down on paper for waiting families to see. but tonight there is no match for this mom. ivan remains among the missing. an earthquake shattering homes and now so many lives. tonight on the heels of those two girls that were rescued, it appears two more people are being pulled from the rubble. officials say at least 54 people have been pulled from this debris field. it is a glimmer of hope across a region surrounded by so much loss.
lester? >> miguel, our hats off to those brave rescuers. we wish them great success as they continue their work. thank you. the well known roma norte neighborhood, of mexico city was hard hit by the earthquake. and today nbc's jose diaz-balart got close to one of the rescue efforts going on there in a collapsed building. >> reporter: good afternoon. what is happening right here is happening throughout the city of mexico. this is one of at least 44 structures and buildings that collapsed after this earthquake struck mexico city and other parts of this country. and what you're seeing now are actually experts in finding survivors buried through rubble. they literally burrow through tons of concrete, steel and cables searching for victims that may have survived this. this is going on throughout the city. it's an extremely dangerous job. there are some gas leaks around here. people are very concerned about
that. and the whole process is being handled here as there are literally thousands of people that have come out here to volunteer, to do what they can to help. that's the very latest from mexico city. lester, back to you. >> all right, jose, thank you. the quake in mexico was a jarring reminder of the big one that experts warn may be in california's not too distant future. small quakes are a fact of life along the west coast. the most recent a 3.6 magnitude that rattled neighborhoods on l.a.'s west side late monday night. but history suggests a major quake is coming. the questions are when and will california be ready. nbc's jo ling kent reports. >> reporter: it's not a matter of if but when. as mexico reels from its 7.1 magnitude earthquake, california, from los angeles to san francisco, is anxious and on edge about what so many fear will be the big one. >> did you feel that? >> reporter: a small earthquake
shook l.a. earlier this week. but a study from the u.s. geological survey says the chance of a quake magnitude 8 or larger in the next 30 years has doubled since 2008. experts say a major quake along the san andreas fault in southern california could kill 1800 people, injure 53,000, destroy 1500 buildings and damage 300,000 more. a serious quake could also cripple the city's water supply and take as long as six months to repair. >> who thinks about the pipes in the ground? we don't want to spend money on that. it's out of sight, out of mind. >> reporter: while nearly $14 billion has been spent on seismic upgrades to transportation infrastructure including bridges, the city of los angeles now requires property owners to retrofit buildings that cannot withstand a strong earthquake. do you feel like l.a. is ready? >> l.a. is getting ready and is probably far more ready than a lot of other cities, but there's -- l.a.'s huge.
there's a lot of old structures. >> reporter: a new preparedness plan has landed on mayor eric garcetti's desk and has not yet been released. the u.s. house recently approved federal funding for an earthquake early warning system as california prepares now for a worst-case scenario that may come with no warning at all. jo ling kent, nbc news, los angeles. there's still more ahead on this deadly disaster. the urgent rescue mission with volunteers coming from far and wide to help save lives. also the day's other headlines including why one late-night host is accusing a senator of lying to his face. hope you can stay with us.
we're back with a new battle heating up in the healthcare wars. the latest attempt by republicans to repeal obamacare. they plan to put their new bill to a vote next week and already it is highly controversial. nbc's kasie hunt tonight on what the bill would do and a celebrity right in the middle of the fight. >> he got to the hospital -- >> reporter: for late-night comic jimmy kimmel, the new push to repeal obamacare is deeply personal. >> billy was born with a heart disease. >> reporter: in may, kimmel told the world his son was born with a pre-existing condition. senator bill cassidy heard the story and made it his litmus test. >> i want it to pass the jimmy kimmel test. >> well, i do, too. i think that's a good thing.
>> reporter: after republicans failed to repeal obamacare in july, they're now under intense pressure from major donors to show they're actually doing something. and cassidy is spearheading the effort. last night jimmy kimmel said he's had enough. >> this guy, bill cassidy, just lied right to my face. >> reporter: do you think this legislation passes the jimmy kimmel test? >> absolutely. there will be people in states like -- >> reporter: he called you a liar last night. >> it was a personal attack. and i can't help that. >> reporter: cassidy's bill with lindsey graham would eliminate the individual mandate to buy insurance, redistribute medicaid expansion and obamacare subsidy money to individual states to let them implement their own plans, but states could opt out of covering pre-existing conditions, though they would have to explain how they intend to keep those people covered. but experts warn -- >> that is the only bill we've seen so far that effectively lets state just dump that pre-existing condition requirement. it allows insurers to discriminate against you if you're sick. >> reporter: former president
obama today defending his signature legislation. >> it's certainly frustrating to have to mobilize every couple of months to keep our leaders from inflicting real human suffering on our constituents. >> reporter: late today the president weighing in. >> i think it's much better than the previous shot. >> reporter: republicans have until september 30th to find 50 votes, and all eyes will be on senators lisa murkowski and john mccain when the bill comes to the floor next week. kasie hunt, nbc news, the capitol. we'll take a short break and be back in a moment what airlines are charging you for at a record breaking rate.
♪ ♪ ♪ president trump says he's made up his mind about the iran nuclear deal, but he's not saying if the u.s. will stay in the agreement. nbc news has learned from four sources familiar with the discussions that the president is leaning against recertifying iran's compliance with the deal. that would move it to congress and likely begin the difficult task of trying to convince america's allies and iran to renegotiate. the allies strongly oppose a u.s. exit and the sources warn that no decision is final. he was a boxing legend who inspired a classic american movie. today we learned that jake
lamotta has died after battling pneumonia. lamotta was a former middleweight champion whose turbulent life in and out of the ring was captured in the 1980 film "raging bull." robert de niro, who won a best acting oscar for portraying lamotta, said today rest in peace, champ. jake lamotta was 95. >> and airline travelers those extra fees you are paying are adding up to a record amount. passengers paid $7 billion last year alone to check bags and change flights says a new report. the airlines, of course, have all kinds of other fees, but those are the only two types they're required to report to the government. up next here tonight, disaster struck and they're answering the call. life-saving help from all over the world in the aftermath of mexico's deadly earthquake. collapses during the
finally tonight we have been watching a remarkable effort unfold in mexico city today after the earthquake. the rescue mission is not just one mission but hundreds, thousands of people joining the effort to save people. teams are also on their way tonight from other countries including the united states. nbc's ron mott tonight from mexico city. >> reporter: tonight across the earthquake zone, the first responders were often those who just showed up first. so many everyday citizens running in to help. a sea of hands in motion moving water where it's needed. this is quite an organizational feat here. >> i was 5 years old when the last earthquake happened, the big one. and we have been taught and we have been drilling for this. >> reporter: mexico city was rocked by a deadly quake in 1985. yesterday morning they held a routine earthquake drill to prepare for the next disaster. the drill finishing just hours
before the real nightmare began. another quake hitting on the same day 32 years later. and now waves of volunteers mobilizing, coming far and wide, including an urban search and rescue team deploying from l.a. israel sending 25 engineers. a number of buildings have collapsed in this neighborhood. and what folks are doing now is ferrying literally water by hand, by human hand. a human chain. a long chain of humanity here taking water several blocks this way to a high school where they're going to be giving out that water. people know these are the critical hours to find survivors. so many are now answering the call. >> this is mexico city at its best. >> reporter: while the toll is heavy, along with hearts, a sense of purpose reigns supreme. out of one disaster, many at the ready doing whatever it takes. ron mott, nbc news, mexico city. we're going to continue to follow the developments in mexico and the disastrous hurricane in puerto rico. you can see more on the "today" show tomorrow morning. that is "nightly news" for this wednesday night. i'm lester holt. and for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. rescues and recovery.
we )re live in mexico city as it reels from the powerful earthquake. ==raj/2-shot== the news at 6 starts now. good evening and thanks for joining us. i )m raj mathai. ==jess/2-shot== and i )m jessica aguirre. jess/vo one day after the 7-point-1 earthquake shook mexico to its core... the search good evening. thanks for being with us. >> one day after the 7.1 earthquake shook mexico to its core the search for survivors has intensified. more than 50 people have been pulled from the debris alive. we learned that 230 people are now confirmed dead. one of the more gut wrenching
developments is that 21 children and four adults were killed at an elementary school in mexico city. desperate rescue workers continued to sift through the rubble looking for survivors. the parents there are clinging to hope that their children will be found alive. that's because rescue crews say a teacher and two students did send a text message to each other from within the rubble. >> we begin our team coverage with nbc bay area damon who joins us on the phone now. tell us what you're seeing not just at the school but around town as you drove through. >> reporter: i'm about a block away and it's very hectic here. the volunteers will raise their right hand, sometimes both hands and form a fist. that means they need everybody to be kwhooqu