tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 19, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
happening now, breaking news. powerful earthquake. buildings cracked, fire eerupt as a 7.1 magnitude disaster rocks central mexico. standby for new information on this earthquake emergency. catastrophic storm. millions of americans now in the path of another monster hurricane. we're tracking maria a as it plows through the yib anyone with category 5 force winds. toment destruction. president trump delivers a doomsday warning to north korea. new reaction this hour to his bombastic language. and last ditch attempt. heading down to the wire for republicans who are now struggling with how to dope on a new victor repeal, obamacare. we're going to tell you who's onboard tonight and who's on the fence. we want to welcome our viewers
in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room. this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news tonight, two devastating natural disasters are unfolding right now. we're just beginning to get a sense of the destruction from a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck central mexico rocking the capitol of mexico city about 75 miles away from the epicenter. at least 57 people are dead, but that's just a very preliminary account. there's accounts of buildings collapsing, cars crushed, people trapped. also breaking a pulverizing hurricane is barrelling towards millions of americans, the third catastrophic storm impacting u.s. citizens this month. maria approaching two u.s. territories, the virgin islands
and puerto rico as a category 5 hurricane. residents are now bracing what could be a direct hit in the hours ahead. also tonight, sources tell cnn that the united nations diplomats were taken aback by president trump's debut speech before the u.n. general assembly. mr. trump threatening to destroy north korea. he says kim jung-un is on a suicide mission with his nuclear and missile programs, once again mocking the north korean dictator as a rocket man. the president telling u.n. members that parts of the world are quote, going to hell and vowing he will always put america first. we're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guest including ben carden and our correspondent specialists are also standing by. first, let's go to cnn's brian todd. you're getting new details on the earthquake in mexico. what are you learning? >> well, the latest figures we
have on casualty tonight, at least 57 people dead from this earthquake. president enriqua pen yeto also says 27 structures collapsed in mexico city. these are very early aassessments of what will certainly become a rising death toll and damage estimates. in the streets tonight, panic and pandemonium. a major earthquake, a 7.1 shook central mexico shortly after 2:10 p.m. eastern time. hitting in a heavily populated area just southeast of mexico city. the quake struck 33 miles below the earth's surface. the shallow depth could be destruction will stretch fafr across the region. as buildings swayed thousands of people fled office buildings and homes only to see glass shatter and roads split open. passengers forced to evacuate
mexico city's international airport. this scene from mexican television shows firefighters digging through rubble of what appears to be a collapsed building. tonight mexico city schools are closed and mexico's president has called for a national emergency committee meeting to assess the damage. >> i think everybody here is scared. i mean, you can see it. people are worried. >> reporter: today pfsz quake ironlyically comes on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake that destroyed much of the capital. people started today holding drills. this comes just two weeks after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake shook mexico. he'd been visiting those devastated by that disaster when this one struck today. also, wolf, another estimate that will very likely raise. about 3.8 million customers have had their electricity disrupted
by this earthquake. wolf, all of these horrible numbers are very likely going to be rising throughout the evening and into tomorrow. >> brian, todd, thank you very much. let's get a live report now from a earthquake disaster zone. we're joined by the mexico city bureau chief for "the washington post." so joshua, what was it like? >> it was a strong, scary earthquake. everyone was running out. hundreds of thousands of people. >> what did it feel like? where were you when you began to feel this earthquake?
>> i was just in the office. the lights, the hanging lamp started swaying. >> i think we have lost our connection with joshua. we're going to try to reconnect him. he's the mexico city bureau chief of "the washington post." obviously understandable if you lose connections given the situation over there. clearly on alert for any after shocks that could make this earthquake disaster even worse. let's check in with our meteorologist tom seder. tom, very strong earthquake. 7.1 magnitude. tell our viewers what we can now anticipate? >> i think for the next not just several hours but next days and weeks after shocks will start occurring. and when you have a significant quake like a 7.1 and 7.0 the
next one could be a 6.1. it drops down. 90% of the world's earthquakes occur in this area. and no doubt about there's the west coast of the united states down into new mexico. usually we'll have one 8.1 a year. we just had that a few days ago. between 7 and 7.9, we'll have 15. are they related, most likely not. now you can, if they were a little bit closer, if we were to have a 7.1 that could be after after shock. but they're in different locations, so really not related so to speak. 32 miles in-depth. that's still considered shallow. sometimes even down to 44 miles could be considered shallow. but we see these hundred of miles deep around the world.
when it comes to shaking, 21.5 million people. 15 million, and then 1.6 million felt very strong. we could even get in closer and give you an idea of the shake. first, what you're noticing here, these yellow dots are after shocks from the 8.0 we had just 11 days ago. we'll start to see more of that activity in the hours and days ahead. so everything yellow is more than a week old. so they have been getting some after shocks. important to note the death toll has risen with this. an extreme periphery of this mexico city. but even that said even with that shaking far away you can understand why a lot of the structures collapsed and even had facade issues.
fatalities, again, based on computer models by the usgs, you want to see green. that's where no fatalities have occurred. this is considered shallow, so we be a 950% chance to have 100 fatalities and a 30% chance to have 100 to 1,000. let's hope that's not the case here, but it is risy quickly. hurricane maliyah barrelling right now towards puerto rico. give us the latest. >> well, the island of dominica hit very hard. sometimes, wolf, these tighter eyes are more ferocious. they mack more of a punch. we're getting the latest now, a hurricane hunter flying into this, a pressure drop.
it makes the system stronger than irma. there's other factors, but 165 miles an hour, the national hurricane center does believe that before landfall in puerto rico tomorrow morning between maybe 8 or 9:00 in the morning if it stays at sustained winds at 165, it will be the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in puerto rico. in 1928 was a category 5, but this could be stronger. we're seeing up in the british virgin islands as well. some of the rain making its way into puerto rico. we just had a gust about 55 miles an hour in st. croix now with some of these feeder bands. could be very close to those strong eye wall winds. then it makes its way to turks and caicos. they are now under a hurricane watch as well as the southeast
bahama islands. in yellow was irma's track. we'll find this pass through st. juan. but i want to get in close to give you an yes, i did of the population. irma stayed 50 to 55 miles offshore, never made landfall, skirting across the coastline and still millions of people lost power and still without power. we calculated over half the population in puerto rico is in the eastern third. and that takes it exactly where this path is. and when we watch the system, remember san juan is in the worst position to be after the system makes landfall. again, it's only an 11 1/2 mile eye, but those conditions extend outward. again, significant damage expected in st. croix, but puerto rico is really the one to watch. will not pass through and will
not escape the tropical force winds until late tomorrow. then we'll watch it stay on the northern coast of dominica republic. and these winds spin counter clockwise, and that's important to watch. they drift up through the turks and caicos and then slide them away from the coastline. these only go so far-out, but we can show you, of course, the warnings. we know those are in place. but we can go to the storm surge. little interesting to note here how high they are for the islands. 7 to 11 feet. 6 to 9 feet of course for puerto rico because of the slow slope of the terrain, the slow slope of the ocean floor when it makes its way in this direction. when we take a look at the amount of rain, we could see easily 8 to 12 inches. it's going to squeeze this rainfall out in the mountains of cuba. again, a multifaceted c
catastrophic event. how many times have we used catastrophic in the last few weeks. >> we're going to keep checking back with you. we're also getting live pictures right now coming in from st. croix in the u.s. virgin islands. check it out. the winds and surf already beginning to pick up there. a state of emergency is in effect in puerto rico as we mentioned hurricane maria threatening homes and lives. millions of americans in puerto rico as you know. nick, so what are the conditions like there? because in the coming hours you're going to get walloped with this storm. >> reporter: well, it's the east coast that should first see landfall about 8:00, 9:00 tomorrow morning. it could well be the coast behind me. and that is where it first hits land at 165 miles an hour.
you have to be really over 89 years old to have experienced anything like this in puerto rico's history. that storm surge, it could well possibly reach to nearly twice my height as i stand here now. and we're seeing this beach resort evacuated. center strangely people in beach buggies popping down on the sand there as this storm begins to approach and the skies begin to dark, moving very fast above me. but beginning to fell it pick up here. but puerto rico really still wheeling from just two weeks ago hurricane irma itself. that cost a billion dollars worth of dang. and left people without electricity. the debate now has that hurricane left them in a state of readiness? maria is posed to go straight across this, making landfall here and really according to the
latest update -- many shelters in place but very serious concerns about the next 24 hours, wolf. >> 3.5 million people living in puerto rico. we'll check back with you as well. and now to president trump's debut speech at the united nations laced with bombastic language. he saved some of his pompous talk for the north korean leader he refers to as rocket man. this was not a typical speech we hear from a u.s. president at the united nations. >> reporter: not at all unlike many speech that many of those delegates, diplomats in the room had ever heard from a u.s. president. he described as taken aback in particular that line, the president threatening to oblilterate north korea from the
map. he says it was an emotional reaction. it felt like in the words of this diplomat, a wind had swept through the room. just one of many bold lines in the defining speech of trump foreign policy. >> major portions of the world are in conflict, and some in fact are going to hell. >> reporter: in his maiden speech before the u.n., president donald trump delivered a blistering attack on nations he described as evil and grave dangers to the world. >> if the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. when decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength. >> reporter: the president giving the more than 150 international delegations present an upfront look at his america first foreign policy. >> as president of the united
states, i will always put america first. >> reporter: he reserved his boulder threat for north korea, vowing in unequivocal terms to destroy the country if it threatens america's or its allies' security. >> the united states has great strength and patient s. but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy north korea. rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. >> reporter: for iran, trump described its government as murder s and reckless and appeared to signal he will exit the iranian nuclear deal. >> the iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the united states has ever entered into. frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the united states, and i don't think you've heard the last of it.
believe me. >> reporter: praising president trump's remarks was israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu, saying, quote, he'd never heard a boulder and courageous speech in decades in the u.n. >> the united states and our allies are working together throughout the middle east to crush the loser terrorists. >> reporter: beyond the threats, trump's speech more clearly articulated the out lines of his foreign policy including a drastic turn from a tenant of u.s. foreign policy for decades, that the u.s. will support democracy abroad. >> this is the foundation for cooperation and success. strong, sovereign nations led diverse countries with different values, and different dreams not just coexist but work side by
side on the basis of mutual respect. >> reporter: those words and phrases about sovereignty, different values, loaded terms in the halls of the u.n. often repeated by authoritarian leaders in china, russia, in africa in response to the u.s. pushing back against what they call preaching about human rights records, et cetera. often heard here but nomfrom the mouths of an american president, whether democrat or republican if followed through upon would represent a significant change in u.s. foreign policy under trump, wolf, going forward. >> tim sciutto at the united nations tonight. thanks so much. let's get more on this. senator, thanks for joining us. so you heard the president say today that if the united states is forced to defend itself from the kim jung-un regime, north korea, it will have in his words, no choice but to totally
destroy north korea. do you agree with that? >> well, wolf, it's very good to be with you. just look at the venue of the speech before the united nations, before the international community. i don't think his remarks were well received by our allies or well received by our foes. we know we have to deal with a dangerous north korea. the international community should be there to help us. the president's comments puts a wedge in our international coalition. we need to find a diplomatic solution. a military solution will have a catastrophic effect. we need to explore diplomacy and that means working with our friends and allies. >> what if the diplomatic solution doesn't happen, north korea continues to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles and becomes capable of putting ballistic missiles on war heads and threatens the
united states? >> they would be violating international rules if that were to occur. we have an obligation to protect ourselves, i understand that. the president is not doing everything we can to explore. china and the united states have a common objective to prevent north korea from becoming an effective nuclear weapons state. china and north korea have a common agenda to preserve the kim regime. the united states is more interested in the nuclear issues than the regime change. we need to talk to china, get china to believe our interests are together because they are, and then china can change the equation in north korea. i know that's not a slam dunk, and there's long shots in all of this. but it's the best path forward. and the president needs to engage the international community to work with this particularly china and also russia. today's speech did not help. in fact, it made it more
difficult. >> the president also seemed to threaten to rip up the iran nuclear deal. you voted against it. would you support that decision if he were to go forward if he says iran is no longer in compliance and the u.s. is abandoning that agreement? >> wolf, i don't think he's going to do that. our concern is he will rip up the agreement even though iran is not in violation of the nuclear agreement. we've already had two certifications under the trump administration of compliance. we're not aware of any material breach by iran of the nuclear agreement. president trump's concerns, and i think many members of it congress concerns are not about the nuclear agreement. so if the united states were to rip up the nuclear agreement, we would be the ones walking away. our allies would be scratching their heads, what are we doing trying to isolate.
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get the votes they need to pass this bill. >> yes, that's right. you talk about that closed door meeting, it was extremely important for two reasons. you had people like mike pence and senator graham, one of the coauthors of the bill, come in and give their rara moment. next week is it. there are no other alternatives. for those who campaigned on this for year after year after year, this is your last chance. and more importantly what's going on behind closed doors, too, this is a policy. this is a proposal that zrasingly shifts how health care operates inside the united states of america. it changes even from past republican repeal plans the obama structure, it takes all that money and the medicaid expansion from obamacare and puts it into block grants to
states. you would have them that would almost certainly lose money because of that. she and senator john mccain, by far, wolf, the two primary targets right now. and when you have what happened behind closed doors today and what's happening in the days ahead, what's most important administration officials making clear they're going to be laser focused on getting the senators the information they need on block grants. but more importantly fixes they need on requests how the formula formulas going out. again, they're not there yet, but the work is both very real right now. and they're going to try and push this as soon as next week, wolf. >> phil mattingly on capitol hill, thank you. you think your republican colleagues can come together this time, get 50 votes, that's what they need, and pass this
bill. >> on behalf of the tens of millions of people will lose coverage and many more that will lose quality coverage, where certainly hope they don't bring this up. that's what the american people want us to do. they want us to improve the act. but what the cassidy bill would do is significantly reduce coverage in this country. tens of millions of people lose coverage. and more tragically the progress we've made against abuse of practices with insurance companies, guaranteed coverage, certain benefits, all of that is under great risk with the can cassidy bill. it's moving again in the wrong direction. and i just hope my colleagues recognize that the american people want us to improve the affordable care act. they don't want to lose the progress we've made. >> thanks very much, senator ben carden of maryland for joining us. we've got more breaking news coming into the "the situation
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been defining presidents for decades. so there is a great deal of frustration. and they've been particularly provocative this year, so that needs to be noted. the question is getting into more of a soph mauric word of taunts with an unstable leader with nukewer weapons is the right way to go. and it's not really clear where all of this leads. most people believe any kind of military conflict ends in catastrophic amounts of damage and death. and so we need to pursue a diplomatic path. i'm not sure what he did today gets us there. and ben carden raised an interesting point about iran, which is if we walk away from an agreement if there's no material evidence it's been violated, what does that mean? what would that mean to the koreans in terms of entering into any kind of negotiation for nonproliferation here? and the one person who may be
happy about this -- i don't know -- is elten john, whose song has now become part of the debate. i've heard that. >> jeffrey toobin, what do you think of the president's speech. >> i'm burning out of fuse out here alone. it's a lyric often misunderstood. you know, i don't -- as david, said, there are not a lot of good options here, but sometime someone is going to have to negotiate with north korea. there is a sense, certainly on the part of the trump administration that negotiation is some sort of a reward. but when you have countries like japan and south korea that are at far greater risk than we are, they're going to want us at some point to talk the koreans as we
have talked to them in previous administrations. it's frustrating. it's difficult. it's un -- it may fail, but, you know, just calling kim jung-un more names doesn't seem like it's going to work either. >> he said the era of strategic patient is over. >> i think a lot of people were focusing what words he would direct towards kim jung-un. and i think he was being bombastic as people would have expected. i was really focused on what the other leaders of japan and south korea, what their reactions would be. because they would really be affected. also the president mentioned one side, russia and china by name thanking what they were doing as the united nations security council voting for tighter
sanctions. but at the same time while not mentioning their names, he did talk about the need for some countries to curtail their trade, and they weren't doing their end of the bargain when it came to trade with north korea. so again, i think there was a bit of a slap. i think there was more of a slap he could have directed specifically to china and russia. >> the president also railed against the iran nuclear deal and mincing no words. >> no, not at all. and it was an embarrassment. that is something we heard from republicans, donald trump included, from the minute that this deal went into effect. that they thought it was absolutely the wrong way to go. what is interesting is that despite the fact that republicans ran on the notion of withdrawing from the iran deal, when he first came into office at the end of the january, you heard a lot of people who are in his new administration saying including the secretary of state
saying we don't think it's a good deal, but it's too dangerous diplomatically to just pull out. it does seem like he's going in a different direction now, and he is signaling he might pull out. look, if you're benjamin netanyahu, as you saw his reaction to that speech, you're thrilled. this is something they have been pleading for and about since before this was even enacted. but if you're pretty much every other member of the world community, particularly those who signed onto this, you're saying don't do this because we're going to get into a situation with iran that we're now in with north korea. >> i want david axelrod to weigh in. as long as they're complying with it, you've got to stick with it. >> my concern about both these things is i don't know what the next play is, where it all leads. the fear you always have with donald trump is he's focused on
how a line will play, how a story will play. and he's not thinking about the second, third, and fourth steps of there's great danger associated with pulling out of this agreement for a lot of different reasons. and there's great danger in engaging in this sort of -- >> very quickly go ahead. >> i was going to agree and follow up with what david said early on with what kind of message this sends to north korea if in fact we do pull out of the agreement with iran. and on top of it it wasn't a bilateral agreement but a multilattual agreement. you could create a situation where you're angering some of our closest allies who will most likely continue to do business with iran. >> and they were very quick to respond. >> exact ly. >> we're getting into the potential danger of falling out of the iran nuclear deal.
but if you take a step back, it's also important to remember we heard from this president the kind of speech we haven't heard from him and the kind of world view we haven't heard from him ever. and he really did give a much better sense of that kind of foreign policy that was not defined. it's not entirely defined, but it's very clear he wants to be transactional. he wants everybody to try and stay in their lanes as much as possible. the whole notion of democracy, human values, human rights, barely even talked about. everybody hold on. there's a lot more coming up including a last ditch effort by senate republicans to repeal obamacare. even if the bill passes, what are the chances in the house?
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there's no room for error. little time for waste as senate republicans scramble in the last ditch effort to repeal and replace obamacare. they're working under a very tight deadline, and tonight it's far from certain whether they have the votes they need to pass the bill. what do you think? can they do it? >> it's close. it's close. i've been talking to people involved in trying to get the votes for the republicans who tell me even at this hour it's 50/50. and they're not just racing to get the votes. they're up against the clock. because if they can't get this passed by the senate and the
house by september 30th, it's not going to happen because of the procedural rules that allow them to pass it through the senate by just 51 votes, that goes away at the end of the fiscal year, which is october 21st. look, this is something that lindsey graham and senator cassidy, the official cosponsors of it as well as the former senator ric santorum has been working on behind the scenes. and when this obamacare traditional repeal effort died, they started quietly talking to the white house about it. but it really started gaining momentum recently. and it really took a lot of not just democrats but republicans by surprise. >> do you think if they do manage to get 50 votes, it could then pas the house of representatives? >> well, the odds of that happening will put them even
higher up in the spring. this puts enormous pressure on state governor, many of them who would be taking massive hits with this bill. and a lot of senators are going to be talking to their governors. and john mccain is going to be talking to his governors, exactly what he said over the weekend. look, i think this speaks to a broader issue. if in fact this can pass, republicans will be emboldened. you will see the president distance himself from the sort of triangilation poll you've seen with chuck schumer and nancy pelosi. if in fact it doesn't work, i think we could expect him to even alienate himself from republicans even more so and grow closer to a bipartisan how health insurance, how protections for people with
pre-existing conditions will either disappear or not protect them from enormous increases in their premiums. the medical organizations that follow these things, the american medical association, doctors groups. nurses groups, in many respects think this is worse for patients than the one that already lost in the senate. so i just think what actually is going to happen if this passes is perhaps the most significant thing. >> you can see the graphic we put up on the screen. david, among other things, the repeal's funding for planned parenthood. >> one of the features to your point about the house, one of the features of this particular bill is it would shift moneys away from states that expanded medicaid and shift that money to states that didn't. it would punish states like new york, california, massachusetts. you have a lot of republican congressmen in new york and california, for example, who are going to be very, very hard pressed to vote for a bill that
would punish their states in this way. and the house will not be able to amend this bill. so that's an obstacle if they get past this obstacle. >> go ahead, bianna. >> also, you have the cbo score, which you may get a partial version of, but to jeffrey's point, we're not going to hear about the numbers of people who may lose health care, which would be critical in scoring a bill like this. >> you know, jeffrey's point is right in terms of the federal law. there's no question that a lot of people who have insurance now, that will be different for them. but the republican argument, the argument that they're making to every single republican senator is, this is the truest form of conservatism, of republican credo, which is federalism. give the states, give the governors the right to decide how the health care is going to be -- >> if you're dying and you need health care, that's not a good prescription. >> and then rand paul disagreeing with that. >> paul opposes it as of right now. guys, just ahead, president trump takes a personal jab at
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effort to potentially expel north korea from the u.n.? >> that's right. one of president trump's fellow republicans, senator cory gardner, is drawing the wrath of kim jong-un's regime because he's not only trying to get north korea kicked out of the u.n., he's also trying to get 21 countries to shut down their embassies in pyongyang. between that effort and the president's blistering speech today at the united nations, north korea is feeling a lot of diplomatic pressure tonight. president trump promises to destroy north korea if kim jong-un fires first. and the president takes a personal jab at his enemy. >> rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself. >> north korea's representatives at the u.n. walked out before the president's speech. tonight, one of mr. trump's fellow republicans is trying to get that north korean delegation kicked out of the u.n. colorado senator cory gardner is leading the charge. >> what we have to do now is
isolate this regime. >> his written letters to ambassadors of 21 countries which have embassies in north korea asking them to shut the embassies down and sever ties with pyongyang and urging them to support expelling north korea from the u.n. >> we have to make it clear, if he wants to be part of a global environment of leadership, then he needs to back away, drop the nuclear program, and then he can be welcomed once again. >> tonight, some foreign policy experts are slamming the senator's efforts. >> most countries would construe this as sort of an amateurish act. >> a former state department official in the obama administration says kicking north korea out of the u.n. would cut a vital communications channel. the same channel which led to the release of american student otto warmbier. and he says it would impact kim's behavior. >> more than likely, he will act even more erratic because there are no relationships out there that he would be preserving by acting better. and we will have even less knowledge of what's going on inside north korea than we
currently do. >> but senator gardner says standard diplomatic steps have failed to prevent the young dictator from behaving dangerously. >> to think what he's doing now isn't lashing out, that's absurd. we see a guy launching missiles over japan. >> at least two dozen countries have no diplomatic relations with north korea, in the last four weeks, countries have kicked out north korea's ambassadors. spain, mexico, peru, and kuwait. the senator stands by his proposal and dismisses critics who call it amateurish. >> if it's amateurish to say knock it off, perhaps they have the wrong strategy. >> so far, no one in the trump duration has commented on senator gardner's campaign to isolate north korea. north korea's representatives at the u.n. didn't respond to us today, but the north korean government has previously denounced senator gardner as, quote, a psychopath and human dirt for his criticism of the regime.
wolf. >> i guess that's how they feel about the united states senator. all right, brian todd, thanks very much for that report. brian todd, here in "the situation room." that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, breaking news. massive earthquake in mexico city. at least 116 dead at this moment. this as a dangerous category 5 hurricane heads straight for puerto rico. we're on top of both of these breaking stories this hour. and paul manafort fighting back after our exclusive report he was wire tapped. trump's former campaign chairman calling on the department of justice to release all of the intercepts. and rocket man. trump's nickname for kim jong-un, giving elton john a whole new following. let's go "outfront." >> good evening, i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, two major breaking stories. a powerful earthquake with