give him life. it's a tough argument in front of a jury but massachusetts is a jurisdiction that opposes the penalty. >> great discussion. thank you both paul and joey. nice to see you guys again. and thank you very much for watching. i'm randi kaye. "wolf" starts right now. hello. i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. in washington 6:00 p.m. in london, 7:00 p.m. in vatican city 10:00 p.m. in islamabad, wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. we start with anti-terror arrests across italy as police grab suspects who may have once planned a terror attack on the vatican. members have ties to al qaeda and specifically with osama bin laden. our senior international correspondent nic robertson is joining us live from london. where ares these suspects originally from? what do authorities think they were planning? >> originally from pakistan located in a number of areas of
italy, the center of italy, north of italy, island of sardinia part of the massive italian operation to arrest these 18 men. what pakistani police and the prosecutor are saying is that these men were financing and, if you will planning terror attacks in pakistan that they were using italy as a base not just to create those plans but were then going to pakistan to follow through with those attack plans. one of the attacks, a bloody attack in the market in the boarder city of pakistan in 2009. more than 100 people killed. what has italian authorities concerned about this group, was that at one stage, 2010 early 2010 they believed that the group was planning an attack in italy and believed one of the possible targets, one of the possible targets, could have been the vatican. in the weeks and months
immediately prior to that potential attack this group brought in somebody who could perhaps be best described as a suicide bomber into italy and the prosecutor says that the plan was to detonate explosives in a crowded place, create a very large number of casualties. the italians say they were monitoring this group since 2005 even had wire taps on them until 2012. what we don't know at the moment however, is why the italian authorities decided to go after them and round them up right now, wolf. >> nic robertson, a great question. if they've been watching this group for so long why now? what took so long? presumably we'll get more information on that. nic robertson joining us. we're also learning new details about failed efforts to free the american hostage mistakenly killed by a u.s. drone strike in pakistan. a pakistani source telling cnn that warren weinstein's family paid money to his captors. the source says after the money was paid the captors began demanding prisoners be released
in exchange for weinstein. a source involved in the negotiations says the last proof of life the family received was back in june of 2014. it was a phone call directly from weinstein to his wife elaine. and weinstein's death raising serious questions about how the united states responds when americans are kidnapped and held hostage. let's bring in our panel, chief national security koernl jim sciutto with us peter bergen and our global affairs analyst and daily beast contributor kimberly dozier. thanks for joining us. what's the latest you're learning from your sources, jim? >> on this ransom demand appears the family may have been a victim of a scam here. for one, questions about whether the interlocater was in touch with the group holding warren weinstein. two, they took the money, the group took the money, the family gave it to them and the group asked for more money and they wanted a hostage exchange and finally appears they were saying to the family until this past month that warren weinstein was still alive when we know he was killed in the air strike which
they would have known, either they knew because they were in touch with the kidnappers or weren't in any way, they appear to be lying to the family the fbi, administration and others are up comfortable with and risks associated with families trying to dos this on their own no makes sense. as you know warren's family called the u.s. government response inconsistent and disappointing and the congressman who represents the district in maryland he says what they need now is a hostage czar to deal with this. listen to what delaney said. >> we don't have someone who wakes up every morning and can cut across all bureaucracy and can grab any resource at any agency and bring it to bear to help find these hostages. >> what do you think? could that have made a difference? >> i could not agree more. you have a lot of agencies who have different roles, cia is interested in counter terrorism and drone strishgs the fbi trying to get hostages back and
sometimes these conflict as we saw in the weinstein case. if somebody was in charge they might have said we have to be careful when we take drone strikes in this area of north waziristan waziristan where we almost certainly know warren is being held. we don't have that person. they should be appointed by the president and have the authority to make all the agencies play together in one direction. >> you've covered this for a long time. isn't the state department supposed to be the lead agency dealing with families of americans being held hostage overseas? >> yes, but the fbi is involved because when you have american citizens overseas it's their job to track them down. i've spoken to u.s. officials who say this has been a frustrating process because the white house has been involved with the families sometimes overstepping the fbi. there's been real confusion. meanwhile you have the cia trying to run a counterterrorism operation inside pakistan and with every strike just when then private bowe bergdahl was being held in pakistan with
every strike they had to consider might they be in this location. there were strikes they called off in the past because they thought a hostage might be there. >> and they supposedly jim, were watching this location for months and months and months before they gave the order to go ahead and launch that drone and hit that target. >> hundreds of hours of surveillance. spoken to u.s. officials who explain why this is possible. the hostages would have been high value in monetary terms and in terms of leverage. and if those circumstances they keep them very well hidden. it's possible they never not just left the compound but never went outside. i spoke with david rode yesterday and asked him when he was held along that boarder area was he not taken outside and he said yes, his captors were convinced that the u.s. had technology from its satellites that if you looked up at the sky facial recognition technology could pick you out. they have the outside sense of u.s. technology and we have drones and satellites so they might very well have kept him inside. the u.s. might very well have not known that the hostages were in there. >> because some people have
suggested peter, maybe jim or kimberly they would only let him out in the middle of the night when it was dark outside, more difficult for a satellite or plane or drone to spot them. but they would keep them inside during daylight hours. >> what we know from bowe bergdahl told his debriefers afterwards he was often held in basements for weeks at a time so perhaps the same thing was done with weinstein. >> they never let him out even at night, is that what you think? >> this area of north waziristan almost like 75% of the drone strikes happened and hundreds have happened in this area. this is an area where people are concerned about what the surveillance capabilities of the united states. >> you think this is a major setback, though? the war against -- in the war against terrorism? now they will be more reluctant to launch these hellfire missiles from the drones? >> it raises questions in one case you have so many of those existing questions. one questions a about the intelligence intelligence failure not just kill the hostages but two americans you didn't know were present, questions about the americans,
right, because that's a whole legal process. can the president order something like that. and then it raises an issue about how good our intelligence is on the ground in these places which is not just going to be on this border. think yemen where we've pulled out resources, syria. >> it also raises to that point, questions about the u.s. footprint inside afghanistan. the footprint at the boarder has shrunk and, therefore the afghan intelligence operatives we were working with that pent into pakistan and collected fantastic intelligence a lot of them have also shrunk their presence gone back to kabul, that is an intelligence black eye for us. >> fewer u.s. troops. >> fewer u.s. troops on the border with pakistan inside afghanistan, most have gone back to bases. the afghans colocated with them have also mostly left those areas, so we have fewer intelligence resources in terms of human intelligence people who can blend in and see who's in the compound. >> don't go far away. stand by. the hostage deaths have renewed
criticism of the white house drone policy. a closer look at the role of drones in the fight against terror and whether they can be replaced. later, protests over the death of a man while in police custody. the mayor of baltimore has promised outside investigation. we expect to hear from her live this hour. hey, you forgot the milk! that's lactaid®. right. 100% real milk just without the lactose. so you can drink all you want... ...with no discomfort? exactly. here, try some... mmm, it is real milk. see? delicious. hoof bump! oh. right here girl, boom! lactaid®. 100% real milk. no discomfort. and for a tasty snack that's 100% real dairy try lactaid® cottage cheese.
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we're getting word to cnn that the statute of liberty is being evacuated. bring in deborah feyerick joining us from new york. what do we know? >> so far what we know wolf that around lunch time, a member of the park police with the canine dog was going through an area where there are lockers and the dog seemed to react to one of those lockers.
and so now we have confirmed that the nypd bomb squad is there trying to determine weight inside the locker. we don't know what yet. we know that the island has been evacuated. there are ferries that took people away from the statute of liberty, sort of in the areap. just near the island but nobody is on that island as they try to determine exactly what this suspicious package is wolf. >> we don't know for sure yet but we'll keep monitoring what's going on and see what the package contains. thanks very much deborah feyerick for that. the obama administration has come under renewed criticism for the use of drones in the wake of the deaths of the american hostage warren weinstein and italian hostage giovanni lo porto. the u.s. drone program is focused on four countries, pakistan yemen, afghanistan, and somalia, but so far the most strikes have come in pakistan. estimates are that around 400 have been carried out and in yemen before the u.s. was forced out byes the civil war, drones were the main force against aqap
or al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. the loud argument against drones now growing as a result of the number of civilian casualties. talk about the future of the drone program, joining us bob bear our cnn intelligence and security analyst, former cia operative, joining us from irvine, california. and in new york retired lieutenant colonel james reese, cnn global affairs delta force commander. courage colonel reese how critical are the drones to the anti-terror effort? >> good afternoon. they're very critical and the united states and the people of the united states have two choices. we can use unmanned drones that what i would call are semi surgical missiles not a bomb massive collateral damage a missile and you get some clot ral cadge, the other option you put boots on the ground. when you put boots on the ground
doesn't matter how good your plan is there's always a chance of losing american soldiers in a fire fight during an operation in far away lands. the american people got to make up their mind. and so the drone program is a great program to do this type of thing and i think it's something we have to continue to work and it's unfortunate when these things happen. we work through our systems, but this is a critical operation for our counterterrorism program. >> as you know bob, the pakistani government they've been at least publicly very critical of the drone strikes if their area mostly around the boarder between pakistan and afghanistan. what's going to be the impact of the latest revelation we got yesterday? >> well wolf these drone programs are very un popular among pakistanis but on the other hands the pakistani military has been very supportive in secret. in fact, they pick the first drone strike the first target and they've continued to add names to this. they don't want to talk about it. we don't want to talk about it. the fact is as colonel reese
said there's a part of pakistan that nobody can go into including the pakistani army. they stick to the main roads. when they go up enormous casualties. we are not going to be sending u.s. troops into the tribal areas of pakistani. they've never been all that accurate. 350/50 proposition. the first drone strike against someone we thought was bin laden in february 2002. turned out to be two guys collecting scrap metal. it just comes with the turf. i just don't see us as large parts of the world fall off the political map, the papmap we know we haves to use drones mali somalia, yemen, we're not going to get rid of them and this is a horrible setback but it's predictable. >> you think it's going to have a major impact the revelation now, we just learned about it yesterday, colonel reese, that an american and italian hostage were inadvertently accidentally killed in the drone strikes? >> no wolf i don't.
it's unfortunate and i guarantee you every operator whether they're a predator operator whether they're the foe slks, intelligence folks working this the operation folks sitting somewhere making a decision and turning to the commander and saying we have actionable intel, everybody feels horrible when this happens but unfortunately we're in a critical place, this is war. whenever you want to call it it's a bad place to be. sometimes these things happen. it's part of the collateral damage and my heart goes out to the weinstein family and italian family but it's what happens sometimes. but we have to keep these operations going to make sure that we continue to suppress and destroy al qaeda worldwide. >> these families are obviously very frustrated very angry, don't believes the u.s. government necessarily has been doing everything possible to save their loved ones. and colonel reese, i want bob to weigh in as well john delaney, the congressman from maryland
who says you need a hostage czar in effect someone some charge who can deal on a day-to-day basis with the families not all these various representatives from different branches different parts of the u.s. government colonel reese, first, to you, do you agree? >> i don't, wolf. i think that's the last thing we need is another level of bureaucracy on top of it. you've got several intelligence agencies that know all about these hostages. both the cia, the defense intelligence agency and the fbi. they are working it. i mean nonstop, 24/7. they want to bring it back. then you have the operational arm. which is called the joint special operation command. that is their charter, to go in and conduct, if needed a hostage rescue to go in. all of these elements are working altogether. then you have the state department the ambassador tore counterterrorism he has his own hostage working cell inside there and their job is to try to coordinate and make sure we're tracking all of the americans
that are out there around the world that are held in as hostage situation and they work this thing. if we put another piece of bureaucracy on it it slows it down. what we need is a policy what we're going to do, what are the different elements and ways to go after these people and bring these americans back and at the last the force that goes in to try to conduct the hostage rescue. that's where i stand. >> where do you stand, bob? >> i agree. the coordination is already good. i worked with delta for a couple years. we had a delta intelligence officer inside our station in beirut. there was always good sharing of information including with state department. we don't need more bureaucracy. we need better intelligence and more coherent policy that's clear because it doesn't seem to be working. >> bob baer james reese, thanks very much. still to come a very disturbing story we've been watchingp. tens of thousands of people are risking everything to flee terrible conditions in libya.
iranian ships headed towards yemen are heading back towards their home ports. among them were iran yn warships that the united states sent in additional warships of its own to the yemeni coast out of fear iran was trying to resupply shiite houthi rebels in yemen. the aircraft carrier "teddy roosevelt" among the reinforcements but now the ship, the iranian ship is back in the
persian gulf. the man believed to be the captain of an overloaded fishing boat that capsized off libya killing a as many as 900 migrants was in court today. the man denied he was the captain of the boat carrying hundreds of african and bangladesh she my grants locked in the lower -- migrants locked in the lower decks. we're about to show you graphic video which some of you may find disturbing. saturday's deaths are just a symptom of a larger problem as thousands of migrants have been fleeing across the sea to italy from libya. as nick paton walsh shows us for many the trip is a dead end. >> reporter: europe's migrant problem seems small from the libyan coast. these rare libyan navy pictures showing the volume of those they save or stop and how this man was pulled to safety directly above the sunken boat. yet there are those beyond
rescue. 70 killed in this one episode. the bodies often without names or pasts. adding to a toll hard to count properly many fleeing wars that refuse to stop. when asked how to solve this unsolvable problem many suggested destroying the boats that smugglers use but in a coastal country where so many lives dependent on the sea where would you start? outside tripoli, 350 migrants are held here for what must slij forever. a third here all officials say detained trying to cross to europe. they deny that. now what i need they want to deport people deport people. if not let them live. >> does your family know where you are.
>> don't know my condition. >> what do you think has happened to you in. >> dead. maybe they think, i don't know that. >> among them so many pregnant women because women choose to cross like that hoping their child is born in europe. this somali woman's journey to libya took seven months. her baby born just a week after she was arrested trying to cross. she told us when she got on the boat she knew she was in trouble, but had no choice but to go on. the prison head admitted there is no system in place to send these people home or jail them or let them go. life for them so hellish they were willing to risk it to flee instead see it pass them by here. caught between countries who don't want them. nic peyton walsh, cnn, tripoli. >> disturbing report. thanks very much for that report. still ahead, a new book is raising some serious questions
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foreign donations to the clinton funedation under scrutiny. let's begin with an article, a "new york times" editorial i should say, which is pretty critical of the former secretary of state. let me put it on the screen. the increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by mrs. clinton and the former president. these relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation how mrs. clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the white house. the only answer full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. is it too early to conclude how much if any, serious damage this could cause her campaign some. >> it is too early to conclude that but shows that the clinton controversies that has dogged them so long will be a part of
this campaign from now until november 2016. it raises legitimate questions about what has happened and going forward what would happen if she was in the white house. what exactly would her president -- the her pus band the former president be doing. the campaign has been saying it's a partisan attack but not addressed the specific questions and that's what the times editorial page was calling on them to do. >> the argument you've heard is the clinton foundation is raising millions to help poor people in africa, for example, vaccines aids and other critically important issues. what's wrong with letting a rich country like saudi arabia or kazakstan for that matter provide millions of dollars to help poor people in africa some. >> nothing wrong with just that but then it does raise questions about perception if someone is the sitting secretary of state and now, you know, her husband and daughter and her name was on the foundation as well. she has resigned from the board. the other thing the clinton campaign says they try to do substantive pushback on a couple
points this book and they're valid. i mean they say she had nothing whatsoever to do with approving the deal of ukraine yan, this nuclear energy deal. wolf the larger problem is the perception problem why i thinks the times editorial is searing for them because there is the issue of okay even if you didn't take any official action as secretary of state, what were you can doing to deal with precautions taking to make sure the perception was not out there there could be wrong doing here and i don't think that the clinton folks squared that away. >> how worried are they about this book? because there have been other books that have been critical of both clintons as you know as well that haven't caused a whole lot of political damage. >> it's not just the book. the reporting that is going on after the book. this "new york times" report this week is a result of months of reporting and other news organizations. they're moderately worried. this is not what they want to talk about in the second week of the presidential campaign. they had a scripted rollout of
how they were going to reintroduce mrs. clinton and this is not part of that at all. at the end of the day an upside one adviser told me it's getting out now and fbs by, you know summer next year it's going to be old news. but again, this is going to be a soundtrack of this campaign questions are going to be raised about do we know everything. >> it's interesting the author he's not working on a new book about the bushes. >> he's going to look into jeb bushes finances. he's a former bush aide and i think that getting that out there -- >> george w. bush. >> getting that out there that he's going to work on jeb bush and his fi napses pushed back against the notion he's a partisan hack. the book doesn't come out until may 5th. this will dominate headlines the next ten days or so for the clinton campaign. >> the quinnipiac poll we have it you've seen that poll. >> i have. >> what do you make of it? >> marco rubios has gone from 5% among republicans back in march
to 15% right now. he's the top of the list right now, at least for now. >> it underscores or gives one more example at least a snapshot of time his rollout was good. for all the talk of his -- is he going to be overshadowed by the clinton announcement that was not the case and the republican field, it was a good moment for him, good contrast for him, and if you ask the people inside the bush campaign the jeb bush campaign are they concerned they're paying attention to marco rubio. interesting dynamic between the two of them but, you know, he's the one to watch, no doubt about it. but we can't say it enough as david says these polls are early they can change. a great ten days for marco rubio. >> impressive right? >> no doubt. you see the importance in sort of the free media, our coverage of these folks when they do their rollout, ted cruz bump up marco rubio bump up because they get that attention a and republican voters see that guy on the news and no doubt their name i.d. goes up their poll number goes up. marco rubio is one of the
candidates in the field when you match up against hillary clinton for the general election that is a good contrast that a lot of republicans like and so he is going to be a presence in this race. i know there are going to be 15 candidates but he is going to be a real presence all the way through. >> in contrast to hillary clinton in the first two weeks since she announced her formal run for the presidency hasn't done any tv or significant interviews at all, right. these republican candidates marco rubio, rand paul ted cruz willing to answer reporters' questions. >> she doesn't have to get her name i.d. up. >> without a doubt. >> reporters we would like to ask her some questions. >> and voters' questions. >> she can't ignore jeff zeleny screaming at her anymore. >> thanks very much. just ahead, protesters take to the streets in more baltimore. demanding answers about the death of a man in police custody. we expect to hear from the mayorp mayor. she's standing by live. we'll be right back.
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the mayor of baltimore scheduled to hold a news conference a few minutes from now following another night of protests over the death of freddie gray. we're going to bring you that news conference live as soon as it begins. freddie gray died sunday a week after he was arrested by baltimore police. his family says his spinal chord was nearly severed and he lapsed into a coma and died. they've demanded answers how he was injured and arrested in the first place. protests last night were mostly peaceful but police say two people were arrested for disorderly conduct. gray's body has been turned over to his family. their legal team says an independent autopsy will also be conducted. a wake for gray will be held sunday with the funeral to follow on monday. let's get more on the case and what we can expect to hear from the mayor in the next few moments. joe johns is joining us live outside baltimore city hall.
joinings us cedric alexander the president of the national organization of black law enforcement executives he's joining us from orlando. here with me in washington our cnn law enforcement analyst the former fbi assistant director tom fuentes. joe, i know i understand the mayor has been meeting with religious leaders in baltimore. tell us the purpose of those meetings. what can she say that will help ease the crisis atmosphere that has unfolded in baltimore? >> well i spoke to several members of the clergy who were headed into that meeting today, wolf and it's clear that they're expecting an update on the investigation for one thing, but also, expected to talk to the mayor about ways to keep miss city calm going forward. there are concerns here in the city on the ground especially among clergy members, that outsiders might be coming in to baltimore to cause trouble. as you know a big demonstration
expected on saturday and then the funeral of freddie gray again on monday so opportunities here for mischief. the clergy members are expected to talk to the mayor about that. also kuls for a day of prayer here in baltimore on sunday and that was expected to come up too, wolf. >> we had that problem as you remember cedric back in ferguson when outside agitators as local community leaders described them anarchists or whatever they came in and started throwing bottles and rocks and we saw some of the damage some of the destruction to some of the businesses there in ferguson. if you're a cop there now and got to deal with this situation, what's the ads vice you can offer them? >> well what i would say to police officers and i think we've seen that demonstrated already over the last couple days is the they have been quite patient, professional in terms of those who are protesting. this incident and what i would
encourages those men and women out there to do, of course, is to remain calm. and to work through this with their community, with their leadership and hopefully today, wolf we'll hear something from the mayor that may help to bring some sense of understanding as to what occurred as best they're able to do at this point without jeopardizing the integrity of that investigation. >> we will hear from her momentarily, the mayor stephanie rawlings-blake a huge issue on her hands right now, calling for outside investigations what else does she need to do? >> i think she needs to convey that to the public to at least try to be a little bit patient and understanding at the process here. you know by calling for another investigation, there's already two, there's going to be the police investigation as well as the fbi department of justice investigation. when you add a third investigation that means that witnesses now have a chance to give three different statements which could be in conflict which
could later jeopardize a prosecution if there is to be one against any of the police officers. the more conflicts you have with witnesses the more that can be impeached when they testify and their statements thrown out. it actually is not helping the community by having all these separate investigations which could conflict. >> i think there could be three or four. cedric maybe you know better than i do. at least three or four investigations already underway. the police are investigating, the city is investigating and now the state attorney is going to investigate and the federal government the fbi, the justice department civil rights division looking into this as well. is that problem so many separate investigation investigations? >> i'm not sure if it's going to be a problem at this point. when you have that many investigative units involved state, local, whatever the case may happen to be each are going to have a different responsibility. the justice is going to have a very different responsibility as well too in terms of how they conduct investigations. but they all would run parallel to each other.
i think at the end of the day of all this i think the community wants a full-scale investigation. will there be many similarities? yes. possibly a few differences, that's always possible even if it's one or two agencies that are doing parallel investigation, but at the end of the day, this is all going to be resolved and i think that we're going to find out exactly what happened to mr. gray because that's what everybody wants to know and deserve to know as quickly as we're able to find this out. >> all right. stand by cred rick alexander and joe johns. we're awaiting the news conference to begin. the baltimore mayor is about to speak. we will have live coverage for you. this is a story that has generated lots of interest here in the united states and indeed around the world. also ahead -- we're going to take you to chile where an erupting volcano has been creating some amazing sights. the evacuation of thousands of people.
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you can save up to $423. for a free quote today,call liberty mutual insurance at see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance. jo once again standing by for the news conference. we expect to hear from the mayor of baltimore, stephanie rawlings-blake going to be making stamss meeting with ril -- statements meeting with religious members in baltimore. a lot of tension in that city following up on the death of a young man under mysterious circumstances, so we'll have that news conference that's coming up. we also reported earlier that the statute of liberty has been evacuated. we have an update now. to deborah feyerick joining us
from new york. what's the latest we're hearing about this? >> we can tell you about 11:30 today the u.s. park police received a call from someone with a bomb threat actually saying that there was a package in one of the visitor lockers. the u.s. park police responded with a bomb-sniffing the dog did indicate there was something, he reacted, the bomb dog did. right now we know the nypd bomb squad is on the island at the statue of liberty in the harbor. they're looking into that suspicious package believed to be in the visitor's locker. there are ferries that transport people from manhattan. those ferries are in the harbor. they've not pulled all the way back. we've tried reaching out to the companies to see specifically what they're telling people. right now it's unclear, in fact whether they have stopped the tours to the island or whether they're just waiting to see how this all plays out. we can tell you that the nypd bomb squad is there on the scene and they're trying to determine
exactly what is in that locker. of course they're tracing back to see where that phone call originally came from wolf. >> tom fuentes is with us our cnn law enforcement analyst. they got to take -- when somebody calls in a bomb threat especially to the statue of liberty, where thousands of tourists want to go. we see those people there. tourism has been disrupted by this. but local law enforcement, they have to take a call-in bomb threat seriously. >> absolutely. in this case you have a large number of people in a concentrated area visiting the stoot chew of liberty. they have to take it seriously these days. >> and if there's a -- bomb-sniffing dogs go in. there can be false positives. >> dog handlers will disagree with me but from my experience they're not 100% reliable. it can be a false positive where they indicate there is explosive material and there isn't, or
vice versa. the dogs can only work so many hours. they get fatigued. we just don't know. many times they're unreliable. >> so we're going to check back with deborah and tom. stand by for that. we're also waiting for the start of that news conference in baltimore. the mayor getting ready to speak. lots of news happening. we'll be right back.
for the mayor of baltimore, stephanie rawlings-blake to make a statement about what's going on there. in the meantime thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in southern chile today. the calbuco volcano began erupting this week for the first time in 42 years. today authorities ordered residents within 12 1/2 miles of the volcano to leave amid fears of more eruptions. we're also seeing some truly amazing pictures of the erupting volcano, which has covered towns below it in ash. joining us on the phone right now is cnn's shasta darlington. we understand you just arrived at your location over there. how far away from the volcano are you right now, and what are you seeing? >> well wolf we're 14 miles from the volcano. we're in a town where many of the evacuees have been sent. they're still sleeping in schools here. you can imagine on the one hand it's this beautiful sight, an active volcano. this thing is belching out ash
and smoke as we speak. not a full eruption but it just doesn't stop smoking. this is just terrifying for the people around here especially because officials have said that they expect another crater is opening up inside the volcano and that there very likely could be a third eruption. people here of course just want to see this smoking come to a stop so they can head home. at this point, most of the ash, these billowing clouds are being blown towards argentina, over the mountains there. so we're actually seeing flights canceled across argentina. we're headed to a town inside the exclusion zone. it's about 12 miles around the volcano. one of the towns that was evacuated. it is just completely blanketed in ash. more than 20 inches thick covering houses covering schools. you can see bicycles and cars abandoned. this is really an ongoing drama for the people here. the images we've seen around the world are apocalyptic. really cinematic in so many
ways. these huge mushroom-shape the clouds of ash. again, for the people here this is just a terrifying moment. and something they didn't expect as you mentioned. there's been no volcanic activity since 1972 and no major eruption for more than half a century. so this really took people by surprise here, something they're not welcoming. >> so can you feel it? can you smell it? describe what it's like to be that close, shasta. >> honestly, it's truly beautiful because these huge clouds of ash are being blown in the opposite direction. they obviously brought the evacuees over here because they're safe from the direction of the wind. we're just outside the exclusion zone but i think for those who weren't sitting at the base of the volcano when it erupted, we can appreciate the beauty. for those who are still in the schools, you know, sleeping here, eating their meals and cafeteria, this is not very fun at all. but it is a beautiful sight. we flew in -- it's an area covered with many volcanos.
luckily, this is the only active one. but a beautiful area well known for its trekking. this is where people come to chile to go trekking. so it's beautiful, but obviously a very tense moment down here. >> do they believe the worst of the eruption is now over? >> unfortunately not. what the experts at the national gee geological service are saying is the volcano is very unstable. because you can still see the smoke billowing out, they believe that another crater is actually being formed within the volcano and that we could see a stronger eruption than the first two. of course, these things are hard to predict, but they say at this point, this is still a very unstable volcano that seems to be in a calmer moment but it's especially at night when people get nervous, they're sleeping aren't prepared to get up and jump in their cars if need be. that's when the real nervousness starts setting in. especially with officials saying no this is not over. we really have to be on alert,
wolf. >> we certainly will stay in close touch with you. good luck. appreciate it very much. those pictures are amazing. that's it for me. i'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the situation room." for our international viewers, "amanpour" is coming up next. for our viewers in north america, "newsroom" with brooke baldwin starts now. all right. let's go. here we are on this friday. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you so much for being with me. we are following this breaking news out of new york out of liberty island. the statue of liberty has just been evacuated. there are massive lines. here are some photos from twitter and social media we've been culling through here at cnn. you can see all these people packed in trying to get out of there on ferries. it's hundreds of people. if you've been you know it's packed full of visitors. now the bomb squad is moving in. let's go to my colleague, our cnn national correspondent