tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC April 17, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
and more local news on nbc bay area at 6:00. >> see you later. on this sunday night, disaster in ecuador. a devastating earthquake leaves more than 200 dead, many more injured. the country in a state of emergency tonight as rez cue woscue workers search for the messing in the rubble of towns all but wiped out. guns in schools -- the controversial measure some districts are taking. arming teachers and staff but keeping who has the guns a secret. money back gablg -- guarantee. a hospital chain where the customer is always right. offering refunds to unsatisfied patients, no questions asked. and the chosen. we hear from syrian refugees whose lives were changed in an instance now welcomed into the vatican by the pope himself. "nightly news" begins now.
>> announcer: from nbc world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with kate snow. good evening. entire towns in ecuador have been reduced to piles of rubble. as the nation's president said today, buildings can be rebuilt. the priority is finding survivors. officials say the earthquake saturday evening killed at least 246 people and injured more than 2,500 with a magnitude of 7.8. it was the strongest earthquake to hit ecuador since 1979. we are in the capital of quito. >> reporter: the most powerful earthquake to rock ecuador in decades. a magnitude of 7.8. killing more than 200. injuring well over 1,000 and leaving many missing. i need to find my baby, says vanessa santos. it's been five hours since she disappeared. all they're telling me is that my family is
buried. 100 miles outside of the nation's capital of quito, the frantic search for survivors is growing even more desperate every hour. a crowd trying to save this driver of this car, only to realize later there was nothing they could do. the massive quake jolted ecuador saturday night, sending thousands into the streets. ecuador's largest city, guayaquil, is in ruins. bridges have collapsed. roads have crumbled. entire neighborhoods are flattened. juan fernando rojas shot this drone video today. >> we have buildings that three, four stories high, just, you know, like pancake effect and they're all in the basement now. >> reporter: with the tremor felt as far away as peru and colombia, landslides are blocking roads and help from arriving. begging, we have to be
quiet so rescuers can listen for survivors. this woman cries, my cousin is in the rubble. anguish and devastation are everywhere, and so is the plea for help. stephanie lives just a few hours from the quake's epicenter. >> please help us. my country needs everyone now. >> reporter: in regions hard hit, power is out, phones are down, and many are sleeping in the streets. tonight, the military is moving in. the death toll here will climb and so will the number of missing. but there is some hope. rescue teams say this young girl trapped inside what is left of this hotel, a survivor's story in a sea of destruction and loss. with some 400 buildings said to be destroyed, a number that is certain to rise, help is on the way for mexico and colombia at this hour. there have been more than 200 aftershocks since that massive earthquake. that is certain to make the rescue
mission that will continue overnight here much more dangerous. kate. >> miguel almaguer down in ecuador, miguel, thank you. 9,000 miles across the pacific in japan, two powerful earthquakes there in recent days are still causing massive problems. tonight, 41 people are dead and it's still very much an ongoing situation. there have been more than 400 aftershocks. the japanese government says there could be more. the u.s. is offering air assistance to get supplies to people who need them. a series of earthquakes on either side of the pacific ocean in just a few days. so the natural question are these two quakes somehow related. joining me now, seismologist dr. lucy jones, formerly of the u.s. geological survey. so everyone's wondering. is it just a coincidence or is there some connection? >> it really is just a coincidence. we want a pattern because it would be less scary. randomness scares us so we look for the pattern but, in fact, the world has a magnitude 7 once or twice a month. so it's not a big
deal. we have looked for patterns, and we never see an increase in rate of earthquakes more than a few hundred miles away. >> a big deal that so many people are dead and injured in these. any time we have major earthquakes, it puts americans out west in particular on edge, people who live near the san andreas fault. they're going to want to know, is there any way to predict the next big one? >> i get back to saying the time is random. these earthquakes didn't make a san andreas earthquake more likely. it also didn't make it less likely. and the one thing that is not random in earthquakes is where they happen. we know where they are. we know where the shaking's going to be eventually. and as we compare the level of damage we see in japan and ecuador, it reminds us how important building codes are and enforcement of the building codes because building a building right in the first place is a lot better than having two hours to get out from it. >> seismologist dr. lucy jones, thanks so much as always. turning to
politics now. tomorrow marks exactly three months until the republican national convention, but who the party officially decides will be its nominee is still very much a mystery. when it comes down to it, both the gop and the democrats are dealing with the same issue. according to our new nbc news/wall street journal poll, their respective frontrunners are seen in the least favorable light of any candidate left in the race. so voters are being forced to make some tough choices. we have two reports tonight. we begin with jacob rascon. >> reporter: kate, good evening. we're now only two days away from the new york primary which donald trump hopes will be a turning point in the race, giving him the momentum he needs to avoid an open convention. meanwhile, a new polling shows that despite the unfavorability numbers, 62% of republican voters say if no gop candidate reaches the majority of delegates before the convention, the candidate with the most votes, which is right now donald trump, should be the
party's nominee. on the homestretch in his home state, donald trump ahead by the widest margins of the primary season, campaigning as if the race was neck and neck. 12 campaign stops in 12 days. >> we have to win by big number because we have a system that's absolutely rigged. it's rigged. >> reporter: determined not just to win but to mathematically wipe out rival ted cruz. >> when he gets wiped out in new york, which he will, he no longer has a road to the nomination. >> reporter: pivoting confidently past cleveland, the master of name calling. >> poor jeb. little marco. lying ted cruz. >> reporter: trump now testing political death by nickname on the other frontrunner. >> crooked hillary. >> reporter: meanwhile, ted cruz betting on a contested convention, shutting out trump delegates again in wyoming, saying this is how elections are won in america. >> thank you and god
bless you. >> reporter: but to trump, losing in wyoming where there is no primary is an honor. >> that's not democracy. you're allowed essentially to pay off these people. >> reporter: trump buyers voting his argument. >> it sounds like it's rigged. >> the person with the most delegates should win. >> reporter: or maybe the most merchandise. selling campaign souvenirs since 1992, these vendors say -- >> whatever sells most per that candidate, that candidate wins every time. >> the white house? >> the white house. >> every time? >> every time. >> reporter: their prediction, donald trump. his campaign counting on a knockout before july. jacob rascon, nbc news, poughkeepsie, new york. >> reporter: i'm kristen welker on staten island with secretary clinton. >> we have a big election on tuesday, the democratic primary. >> reporter: she and senator sanders making a final frenzied push ahead of tuesday's primary. >> this is a movement of people who are prepared to think big, not small. >> reporter: this, as clinton is coming
under fire after attending two california fundraisers hosted by george and amal clooney. the top tickets, $100,000, prompting some sanders support supporters to throw dollar bills at secretary clinton's car. >> i am raising money to elect other democrats. i'm a democrat. and i want to see us take back the senate. >> reporter: on "meet the press," clooney echoed that sentiment, but also agreed with parts of sander's argument. >> it's ridiculous we should have this kind of money in politics. >> reporter: those words giving sanders an opening when asked if clooney is backing the wrong horse. >> well, i think he is but he is honest enough to say that there is something wrong when few people who are able to contribute unbelievably large sums of money. >> reporter: still, clinton is leading by double digits in new york. sanders aides acknowledge a loss here would make his tough odds even steeper, but sanders has the money to keep going.
his strategy now, try to win as many delegates as possible and then pivot to more winnable states like oregon and delegate-rich california. >> after the new york primary on tuesday, there really aren't very many contests left that offer a large number of delegates. >> reporter: senator sanders drew his largest crowd yet tonight. more than 28,000 people in prospect park. meanwhile, secretary clinton is brushing aside donald trump's new nickname for her, crooked hillary, saying she could, quote, care less. kate. >> kristen welker, jacob rascon, thanks to you both. and an update on the story we told you about last night. the maryland man who allegedly shot and killed a firefighter responding to a call on friday is no longer in custody. he was interviewed and released. the man who has not been named by police told detectives he thought someone was trying to break into his home. a relative had called 911, thinking the man needed medical attention. two firefighters were shot. one died. the second firefighter
is expected to be okay. a school district in california is the latest to join a growing and controversial trend, training and arming teachers with guns in case they're needed for protection. but some are asking do the risks outweigh the potential benefits. here's scotty schwartz. >> reporter: there are no fences at kingsburg high school in california, no security guard assigned to campus. instead, there are plans for five guns on school grounds strapped to a secret group of teachers or staff. >> we're only going to put this opportunity in the hands of folks that are willing to do it. >> reporter: the idea, the district says, cut down on a possible three to five-minute gap in police response during an active shooting. but some experts think measures like these are more symbolic than effective. >> it won't have a significant effect on public safety. the chance that there's a mass shooting at that school district is infinitesimally small. >> reporter: the superintendent is
going class to class, telling students only he and law enforcement will know who is armed. >> anybody who decides on our campus to be part of this project will go through training. >> reporter: nationwide at least a dozen schools have approved school staff to carry weapons with prior administration approval. but there have been problems. in 2014, at least two educators accidentally shot themselves on campus. are you at all concerned about accidental shootings on campus? >> i think accidental shootings are a concern, but to me they're no more a concern than any other accident. >> measures like this could actually make school less safe. students who are prone to high-risk behavior might decide they want to get their hands on those guns. >> reporter: the reviews from the kingsburg community are mixed. >> asking them to carry a weapon is totally out of the realm of education. >> makes you feel a little safer. >> reporter: but the superintendent is standing his ground. >> if somebody is trying to hurt one of you, then i need to be prepared to do everything possible to eliminate that. >> reporter: another school district arming educators, hoping to teach and protect. scotty schwartz, nbc
news, kingsburg, california. the u.s. supreme court takes up one of the biggest cases of the term tomorrow and one that's been hotly contested in the presidential campaign. it's the battle over president obama's immigration plan that could shield more than 4 million people from deportation. we get more tonight from our justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: rolando martinez and isabel aguilar came to the u.s. a dozen years ago to escape violence in honduras. he works in tree removal. she's in retail. two of their three children were born here. though they're here illegally, they hope to stay and provide a better life for their children. >> they have a -- the opportunity growing in peace, growing with ambition. they will have opportunity to do whatever they want to do in their life. >> reporter: under a
program announced a year and a half ago by president obama, they could remain, along with more than 4 million other adults living here illegally whose children are american citizens. >> you'll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. >> reporter: with an estimated 11 million people here illegally, the administration says there's no way to deport them all. so it's concentrating on criminals and terrorists and telling others they can legally get work under the program. but it has never gone into effect. locked in the lower courts, the result of a lawsuit filed by 26 mostly republican-run states, led by texas. they say president obama doesn't have the power to make such sweeping changes in the immigration rules on his own. >> we don't want any president, republican, democrat, liberal, conservative, to have the authority to change the law. that is completely within the power of congress. >> reporter: texas, for example, says it would cost the state millions to issue driver's licenses for those who would be eligible to stay and get jobs, but 16 other states are urging the justices to let the
policy go into effect now while it is still working its way through the courts. they say it would help the economy. >> why not bring these folks out of the shadows, participate more fully in our workforce, bring additional revenues to our states, revenue we badly need here in washington state and around the country, and keep those families together. >> reporter: this is president obama's last hope for enforcing the program while he's still in office. if the administration loses, it will take at least another year while the legal battle plays out and his immigration plan remains on hold. >> pete williams, thank you. still ahead tonight, good service guaranteed or your money back. we'll go to a hospital that's making that offer. also, dreams fulfilled. the syrian refugees who suddenly find themselves in a promised land.
like a lot other businesses, hospitals compete intensely for our dollars. so perhaps it was only a matter of time before they, too, started offering the kind of money back guarantees we're used to seeing when we buy tools or clothes. the refund offers are being made by a hospital chain in pennsylvania and new jersey. morgan radford has the details. >> reporter: karen haul went to the hospital with a herniated disc. but before she got there, she was even more upset. the hospital asked for a $100 downpayment ahead of the surgery. >> i remember thinking wow, okay. >> reporter: after the surgery, her food was 45 minutes late, so
she asked for her money back. >> i felt like $150 seemed like a fair amount. >> reporter: geisinger health system in pennsylvania and new jersey is the first in the country to refund unsatisfied patients their money. in person or through an app, the patient decides how much they deserve back on their co-payment or deductible and then they get it, no questions asked. geisinger has already given back almost $80,000 for more than 70 requests since october. hospital ceo david feinburg says it's all worth it. >> they trust their lives to us. we got no problem with them trusting how much of a refund they think they deserve. >> i think that in a world where our customer service has really gone downhill, that's a good idea. >> reporter: but critics say patients often aren't equipped to make quality care decisions. >> things like whether your mashed potatoes were cold trivializes our quest for quality care. >> reporter: employees say the feedback helps them improve patient satisfaction which the federal government
uses to decide how much money to give hospitals. >> this is just one more way for the patients to have a voice. >> reporter: things like hospital wait times, food service and communication have already been addressed since the program started last year. but experts warn refunds may not be coming to a hospital near you. >> the administrative nightmare, there's so many implementation issues. >> reporter: still, customers like karen say it's important. >> patients are their people and they need to treat them as such with dignity and respect. >> reporter: and to be handled with care. morgan radford, nbc news. >> that's going to have people talking. when we come back, fighting isis. is u.s. involvement about to expand?
people marched against terrorism and hate. it came just short of a month since the suicide attacks that killed 32 people at the brussels airport and a subway station. the marchers included relatives of victims and survivors of the bombings for which isis claimed responsibility. secretary of defense ash carter is in the middle east tonight and says he and his commanders are considering how the u.s. can step up the battle against isis in iraq and syria. carter suggested that the measures could include more u.s. troops on the ground, more air strikes and cyber attacks. there are currently 5,000 american troops in iraq. we'll have much more on this tomorrow. lester holt will be reporting from the middle east, and we'll have an exclusive interview with the secretary of defense. and up next, their remarkable journey. the syrian refugees who see what happened to them this weekend as nothing short of a miracle.
finally tonight, a story of hope and new life. a group of syrian refugees is speaking for the first time about the great gift they received this weekend, a new future thanks to pope francis. ann thompson reports. >> reporter: these are the chosen, three syrian families now living in rome. 12 refugees brought to italy by pope francis. >> it's like a dream. it's like a beautiful dream. >> reporter: today, she took her first italian lesson. a microbiologist in syria, nor, her husband hasan and their 2-year-old boy riyadh are finally looked forward and expanding their
knowledge of italy. >> lasagna, pizza. >> reporter: something that seemed impossible in their war-torn village on the lebanese border and at the refugee camp in lesbos, greece, their home for the last month. all the families got word late friday of their new home just hours before the pope's visit. still stunned, they flew to rome on the papal plane. when they landed, it was francis who greeted them. >> i said to him thank you, thank you very much for changing our fate. thank you for giving my baby a beautiful future. >> reporter: sahala who came with her husband and three children initially thought it was a trick to send them back to turkey. today, she called pope francis an angel. all the refugees are muslim, but they say this is not about religion. it is about humanity. >> the pope is a real human being. the pope is very kind. he's not like the others.
>> reporter: finally safe from the violence of their homeland, given new hope by the man they say is the father of peace. ann thompson, nbc news, london. >> incredible. that is "nbc nightly news" for this sunday night. a reminder, if you haven't got an extension, tomorrow is the deadline to file your tax returns. best of luck if you haven't even started yet. i'm kate snow reporting from new york. for all of us here at nbc news, have a great night.
==terry/vo== seeing the devastation firsthand. it started and then there was a big boom and then the lights went out and everybody ran out of the restaurant. >> seeing the devastation firsthand. a local man in ecuador tells us what it was like to survive such a deadly disaster. >> good evening. i'm terry mcsweeney. >> i'm peggy bunker. the latest news out of ecuador are grim. more than 240 dead off the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. the number is only expected to grow higher especially as you assess the damage here. it struck on the coast about 100 miles from the nati