tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 24, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm EDT
>> breaking news tonight -- pope francis arrives in new york city. crowds lining the streets and heavy security as the pope delivers a prayer to the faithful at st. patrick's cathedral. after his historic address to a joint meeting of congress. tonight the striking message he delivered. >> also developing news of a fatal collision on a bridge in seattle. a violent crash involving a packed charter bus and amphibious tour boat. we have late details. stampede horror. at least 700 dead, 800 injured as disaster strikes again in one of the world's holiest places. breaking a scandal. the small teen from an american university that discovered a shocking secret and brought the world's largest automaker to its knees.
"nightly news" begins right now. pope francis in america, this is nbc "nightly news with lester holt." >> good evening. we are back in new york tonight virtually outside our 30 rock studios and witnessing the massive crowds lining fifth avenue right now outside st. patrick's cathedral, awaiting the arrival of pope francis. they are about to see him. inside the cathedral, 500 people are among those joining francis for an evening vespers service just getting under way. francis landed at kennedy airport to start the second electric of his american tour but not before delivering an emotional appeal to the heart for a place
better known for bare-knuckled politics. let's begin below us. nbc's anne thompson outside the cathedral where the atmosphere is purely electric. set the scene for us. >> reporter: it really is, lester. they have piped the music from the vespers service inside st. patrick's cathedral outside here for the tens of thousands of people who came to see pope francis. fifth eave was crowded in a way that i had never seen it before. when the popemobile made its way down fifth avenue, it was really just an incredibly electric moment. you can see the organist there playing as pope francis gets ready to preside over this vespers service. music is one of the hallmarks of the evening prayer service. people inside, 2,400 of them, priests, brothers, nuns along with dignitaries you mentioned, lester.
the service will last about 45 minutes. and then after this service, the pope will make his way back up to the upper east side where he will spend the night. lester? >> anne thompson, thanks. let's go to nbc's ron mott north on fifth avenue where people gathered to catch a glimpse of the motorcade. he got in that popemobile and quickly the crowd erupted. describe what it was like. >> reporter: when he went past us here, he was still in the fiat. to be honest, i think a lot of people probably missed the pope. they stood out here a couple of hours trying to get the best position. lisa smith is a native new yorker. this would have been her third pope she will have seen in person. did you actually get to see him? >> no. i was using my phone trying to take a picture and waiting for the popemobile. then all of a sudden the lady next to me said he passed. >> reporter: so it was
a very quick trip, i got about two seconds. what inspired but this pope in particular? >> pope francis has a very beautiful message how we can all come together to save the environment. our environment has degraded greatly in the last 30 or 20 years. >> reporter: that clearly is an important issue to him. the closest we got up here was about 25 feet. there are some people further down south toward st. patrick's cathedral who got closer. take a look at this young lady. >> i touched his ring and he put his hands on my forehand and he blessed me and looked at me. >> reporter: what does that mean to you? >> it means he is going to give me a miracle. >> reporter: what miracle are you asking? >> to walk again. >> reporter: all in all, a very exciting
day. a very exciting day in new york city. back to you. >> thank you. this day began in our nation's capital. he spoke to a large crowd gathered at st. patrick's catholic church in washington then blessed meals at a catholic charity event. he viewed the statue of father junipero serra, the priest he canonized yesterday. he emerged on the balcony of the west front of the capitol addressing tens of thousands below. he made history becoming the first pope to ever address a joint meeting of congress. powerful speech. which he asoenessentially challenged our leaders to live up to the values which this country was built. >> in his appearance before congress today, the pope delivered the kind of performance that presidents and would-be presidents would envy, part charm, part lecture.
it had something for everyone. >> the pope of the holy see. >> reporter: pope francis went before congress not as a republican or democrat, not as an independent or tea party member, but as a moral authority, the vicor of christ. in our season of discontent, when division riles the political landscape, and desperate immigrants flee war and deprivation fill the screens, he challenged america's moral authority. >> the people of this continent are not fearful of foreigners because most of us were once foreigners. we must resolve now to live as nobly and justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our
neighbors. >> reporter: congress, the famously contentious body listened respectfully as francis turned to global warming. >> the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots concern and affect us all. >> reporter: the pope also addressed america's great he would, the concentration of riches in a small percentage of the population. >> now is the time for courageous action and strategies aimed at implementing a culture of care and integrated approach to combating poverty. >> reporter: just when congressional conservatives may have thought there was nothing for them, the family, and by extension, no endorsement of same-sex marriage. >> on the mantle
relations have been called into question as is the very basis of marriage and the family. i can only reiterate the importance and above all the richness and the beauty of family life. >> reporter: pope francis is the holy father to catholics, the charismatic figure to other faiths and nonbelievers alike. and a humble man with a powerful voice. >> god bless america. >> reporter: the pontiff called for an end to the world arms race which fueled so many wars. it will be global warming and poverty themes, his defense of traditional marriage that will get the most's tension. he may not have changed many minds in congress, but pope francis may have moved some to his side. we'll see if the
presidential candidates want to differ with him. >> tom, good to have you with us. thank you. it was an emotional moment inside the house chamber as the pope took the flowed yum flapged by our first catholic vice president and speaker of the house john boehner who tried for 20 years to get a pope to visit congress. no surprise a law maker known for showing his's motions was found wiping away tears. a law-making body known for partisan feuding came together. soon we saw signs of differences showing through. our political director, moderator of "mt the press" chuck todd watched it closely. what are your take-aways. >> i was amazed by the reaction after the speech. it wasn't your typical partisan reaction. there was a lot, the pope had an agenda. he had a political agenda that in some ways to some will be devisive. we've seen fights between the red and blue on some of these things. these law makers were personally very moved.
i saw many conservative and liberal law makers alike. that was the most powerful message that perhaps this body actually heard, which was he had a very aspirational message about the good that democracy does in this world. when you think about his background, when he was a kid in south america was many countries with right-wing dictators, he was embracing democracy and begging them to do your good angels here and work together. >> chuck todd tonight, thank you. we want to tell but other news of the day, including a developing situation in seattle. a deadly wreck on a bridge between a packed charter bus and a tour boat vehicle. at least four people are dead. dozens hurt including some in critical condition. nbc's morgan radford has late details. >> reporter: just before noon, a charter tour bus filled with students collided with a popular duck tour vehicle crowded with tourists. nearly 100 first responders rushed to
reach the horrific scene on a seattle bridge. a triage was set up to rescue the trap and treat the injured. at least 50 people were evaluated. the scene so chaotic, one victim rushed to the hospital breaking through an ongoing press conference. >> this is a very fluid situation. >> some of the challenges is the fluidity of the incident and amount of people that need our help simultaneously. >> reporter: the open-air vehicle hit the bust reducing it to a twisted chunk of metal. >> full speed hit the side of that bus. people on the bus flew through the front windshield. >> reporter: in a statement from ride the duck seattle, the company expressed condolences, but said the cause of this accident is not known. on the bus, 45 students and employees from a local college. many international students getting ready to start the school year. >> we had a terrible tragedy. there's been a terrible loss of life and injuries. our thoughts, the thoughts and prayers
of this city go out to everyone. >> reporter: duck tours is a possible tourist attraction. the boat is designed to travel on the roads as well as water so the hull is stronger than most buses. but without seat belts. this isn't the first time a crash like this has happened. a july 2010 duck tour accident in philadelphia sent 37 people into the water. the national transportation safety board is sending in a team to investigate. so far, at least four people are reported dead and eight more are this critical condition. duck tours has since suspended operations. >> thank you. overseas today, a terrible tragedy in saudi arabia where muslims from around the world gathered for the annual pilgrimage known as the haj left thousands crushed to death in mecca. over the years, one of the deadliest. we get details.
>> reporter: it happened in just a few chaotic moments. massive crowds, confusion, then a stampede that left more than 700 people dead. rescuers struggled to reach hundreds more injured. this woman, still in shock, says she thinks her husband is dead. california lawyer and his wife were in a crowd nearby. >> from our per expectative, crowd control was almost nonexistent. nobody was telling us anything. >> reporter: 2 million muslims are in mecca for the haj, the annual pilgrimage muslims are all expected to make. >> we are here to pray for god. >> reporter: it happened near mecca's grand mosque leading to a site known as the pillars where pilgrims throw stone, a symbolic stoning of the devil. the crowds tried to leave the way they came. in the crush, people were climbing over one another just to
breathe. along with a crane collapse two weeks ago, today's tragedy is the latest in a series of deadly accidents related to the hajj, leaving more than 3,700 dead since 1990. saudi arabia has spent billions on security and infrastructure, but the crowds get bigger every year. tonight saudi king solomon expressed condolences and ordered an investigation as hundreds of thousands continue their pilgrimage and pray for the injured and dead. nbc news, london. a lot more news still ahead tonight. the growing scandal rocking the biggest automaker in the world. we hear from the small team of teachers and students in west virginia that made a shocking discovery about volkswagen.
we are back with more fallout from the scandal consuming volkswagen. the company announcing today that the head of its porsche unit is replacing the ceo who resigned yesterday, but the world may never have learned of volkswagen's deception if it weren't for a team of researchers who blew the lid off. their leader is speaking out. janet shamlian has our report. >> reporter: at a small lab at west virginia university, a team of just five engineering students and teachers led by dan carter became whistle blowers. they discovered the emissions cheating that will cost
volkswagen billions and could threaten its very survival. >> we were surprised to see the numbers after we collected they were so high offcycle emission performance seen in the past and results in a voluntary recall and the situation is corrected. >> reporter: tonight, automakers are racing to distance themselves from volkswagen, including mercedes and bmw, which issued this statement. "the bmw group does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests." dealerships across the country are being inundated with calls from owners of the affected cars. will their vehicles be recalled or how will they be fixed? for now there are no answers. >> it's a wait-and-see. we are waiting for volkswagen to tell us so we can tell them. >> reporter: the number of lawsuits are growing by the hour as the justice department opens a criminal investigation. the researchers say they're stunned. their findings led to intentional cheat buying volkswagen. >> no one would consider emissions
testing glamorous, but this brought five of us into a spotlight no one would have dreamt of. >> reporter: a small study that uncovered a worldwide deception bringing an auto maker to its knees. janet shamlian, nbc news, houston. >> back with the latest on donald triumphant is he about to put one of his major feuds to rest, even as an
another feud is heating up between donald trump and a republican opponent. this time it's marco rubio. today rubio called trump "insecure" and "touchy" after trump said rubio is like a kid who shouldn't be in the race. on another trump feud front, he and fox news may be on the brink of a truce again over their reignited war. trump spoke with fox news ceo today. the two will meet next week over what trump claims has been unfair coverage. neighbors are out of their homes tonight
after a suspected gas explosion tore through half a dozen town houses in columbia, maryland, injuring two people including a gas company employee on the scene trying to fix a leak. flames shot high into the air and took firefighters four hours to get the fire under control. president obama will meet with russian president vladimir putin in new york monday during the u.n. general assembly. the white house says putin requested the meeting. the kremlin says it was a mutual agreement. reportedly, putin wants to talk about syria while president obama wants to address the ukraine crisis. the two haven't come face-to-face since november. about an hour after pope francis left washington today, another world leaders arrived. the president of china xi jinping met by vice president obama. tomorrow night a state
patrick's cathedral here in new york city. pope francis at a vespers service in new york city. >> they have come from far and wide to be in new york and greet pope francis a trip that has taken many across several states, even several countries. a journey about much more than just getting here. it's about being here and income the moment. nbc's miguel almaguer reports. >> reporter: they have come from around the world, the young and old, catholics and the curious. the pilgrimage is personal. saul came from denver with a dream. >> i was just standing there hoping someone might sell me a ticket or something and he gave to it me. >> and i have one for me and god tell me, no, no, give it to him. >> reporter: the walker family is driven by their faith. >> they cram their four children into this van way back in
argentina. >> we are a very common family and we live our faith very naturally. we think it's about being better people. >> reporter: with tickets to see their pope, the pilgrimage took six months, 14,000 miles through different countries. >> we are thankful for that. >> reporter: posted by strangers, it's been as much about the journey as the destination. >> we are learning a lot. mostly about sharing, about trusting people. it's been a transforming trip. >> reporter: celebrating three birthdays on the road, surviving four breakdowns on the side of it. this has been a life lesson in family and faith. 3-year-old carmine was blessed by the pope when she was a baby. now the walkers are praying for another divine encounter. >> this is the trip of our lives and that the six of us will remember it forever. >> reporter: a journey finding faith, family and friends along the