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Shopping Madness; Cure for Migraines?; U.S. Apologizes for Drone Strike in Pakistan
Aired November 29, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And migraine relief. A new surgery may actually cure the horrific headaches disrupting the lives of millions of Americans.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Sciutto. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The president of Afghanistan is warning that the United States will pay a price if another innocent person is killed in a drone attack. The U.S. coalition says it has apologized for a strike that mistakenly killed civilians, including a child, while targeting terrorists, but that does not seem to be easing tensions between the U.S. and Afghanistan at a sensitive time when a long-term security deal is hanging in the balance.
Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is here.
Chris, how serious a threat is this to the relationship and, crucially, to this security deal?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: If you believe Hamid Karzai, Jim, then it's very serious. But that is the key. How much can you believe anything that he says at any one particular moment?
Look, even the top general in Afghanistan reached out and apologized almost immediately for this latest casualty. That doesn't seem to be enough for the president of Afghanistan.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): A young Afghan child is dead, two women wounded after U.S. officials admit a drone strike in Helmand Province missed its target. The second airstrike did take out a Taliban commander.
HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: Shows respect to the Afghan people.
LAWRENCE: But that did nothing to pacify Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who lashed out at U.S. officials and said, "For as long as such arbitrary acts and oppression of foreign forces continue, the security agreement with the United States will not be signed."
MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: He sees this as something we want, which is true, but he should want it even more.
LAWRENCE: Analyst Michael O'Hanlon says Karzai's refusal to sign the deal is a bad call, but not a complete surprise.
O'HANLON: My belief all along has been that he would draw this out for the fundamental reason that he wants leverage.
LAWRENCE: The deal allows U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan another 10 years to help Afghan forces and target suspected terrorists.
SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The negotiation is done, but now the question is whether the president is prepared to sign.
LAWRENCE: National Security Adviser Susan Rice issued that ultimatum to Karzai face-to-face. U.S. officials insist this deal get done by the end of December.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Approved and signed by the end of this year, so that preparations can start being made to plan for the post-2014 presence that the United States may have in Afghanistan.
LAWRENCE: But some say that's just a mix of posturing and pressure.
O'HANLON: We can wait if we need to. There's no doubt that it makes life harder. It makes life harder on military planners. It makes life harder on diplomats.
LAWRENCE: And, for that matter, really, the Afghan people as well, who would have to live with that uncertainty.
But, again, Hamid Karzai is gone next year, and most of the candidates who are vying to replace him, they support this deal. They want U.S. troops to stay, as do a lot of tribal leaders in Afghanistan.
SCIUTTO: Now, technically, if you don't have a deal signed, then it's possible U.S. troops, all the troops would leave next year, in 2014. Can the U.S. really live with that uncertainty, leaving the troops in limbo?
LAWRENCE: It would be tough, but doable. If you look at President Obama's surges and then drawdowns in Afghanistan, it's been about 30,000 troops and it's taken about six to nine months each. So you could see a scenario where they could leave 8,000 to 10,000 troops in there until fall, and then if they had to, probably could pull all of them out by the end of the year or leave a residual force.
SCIUTTO: But, as you're saying, there's really low chances of that. You think they will work it out. This is posturing in the meantime.
LAWRENCE: Exactly. Yes.
SCIUTTO: All right, thanks very much, Chris Lawrence from the Pentagon joining us here today.
Now, far away from the battlefield in Afghanistan to a very different kind of tension in, if you can believe it, stores across America. Shoppers turned out in droves today to take advantage of Black Friday discounts, and in some cases, it looked more like a barroom brawl than a holiday ritual.
CNN's Margaret Conley is keeping tabs on the crowds, the crazy crowds in New York and beyond.
Tell us, Margaret, how bad was it today?
MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, there were massive crowds of shoppers throughout the country. Wait until you see some of this video.
But with those crowds, there were also sporadic outbursts of violence.
CONLEY (voice-over): Chaos, as stores opened earlier than ever and shoppers rushed in for Black Friday deals. There were swarms of shoppers from Puerto Rico to Nashville to here in New York City.
And in some places, it got ugly. There were fistfights in North Carolina, a stabbing in Virginia, and brawls in Texas. There was even a shooting just outside a store in Las Vegas after a man tried to steal one successful shopper's deal.
Stores opened early on Thanksgiving night. Wal-Mart welcomed shoppers as early as 6:00 p.m. and attracted more than 22 million people. But there were also those who refused to set foot inside the nation's largest retailer, instead, protesting worker wages in what they say are illegal firings. Macy's, Toys 'R' Us and Best Buy also opened early, and reactions were mixed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't get anything if you don't come early enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know a hot guy walked by and he said, that's pathetic. I thought, well, you don't know what we're doing it for. You don't know it's fun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would never shop on Thanksgiving. No. You're with family and you eat on Thanksgiving, and then you shop on the day after Thanksgiving.
CONLEY: The earlier store hours do seem to have paid off for many companies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the fact that 15,000 people vs. 11,000 who were here last year at midnight is an indication that people want to be here when we opened our doors.
CONLEY: As for next year, these new hours seem to have paved the way for the new Black Friday normal.
CONLEY: So, Jim, this does seem to be working out quite well for the retailers.
SCIUTTO: When you talk to -- the Macy's CEO there saying it worked out for them, are they already noticing a jump on the bottom line from these sales?
CONLEY: Yes. They are saying that there is definitely an increase in numbers, not record-breaking. That Macy's CEO said the decision to have the earlier start was really, really popular.
And, also, we should say that we talked to a Wal-Mart executive and he said those violent outbursts, they were minor incidents and they were just a few of them. And, generally, things were pretty calm out there.
SCIUTTO: That's good to hear, most people just getting good bargains, not getting into trouble.
CONLEY: That's right.
SCIUTTO: Thanks very much, Margaret Conley in New York.
Now, on this day after Thanksgiving, an unusual outing for the first couple. They visited with protesters who had been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks.
CNN's Jill Dougherty is at the White House today.
This seems like a rare thing for a president to do. Incredible to see both him and Michelle sitting down next to the hunger strikers. What led to this? How did they end up out there today?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. It is, Jim.
There are a lot of protests in this city every single day, but not all of them get a visit from the president.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): The Obamas took a short drive to the National Mall to visit with activists from the group Fast for Families. Members of community and faith groups, as well as labor organizations, some of whom have been on a hunger strike, drinking water only since November 12, they're calling for a comprehensive immigration reform, and criticizing Republicans for delaying a vote on it.
Monday, the president praised the group on a trip to San Francisco.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm seeing brave advocates who have been fasting for two weeks in the shadow of the Capitol, sacrificing themselves in an effort to get Congress to act. And I want to say to Eliseo Medina, my friend from SEIU, and the other fasters who are there as we speak, I want them to know we hear you. We're with you. The whole country hears you.
DOUGHERTY: Other top administration officials have taken up the group's cause, including Vice President Joe Biden. Friday, President Obama thanked the hunger strikers for their sacrifice and dedication and told them the country is behind them on immigration reform.
DOUGHERTY: But chances for a comprehensive immigration bill are slim. The Senate passed its version in June. The House has failed to take it up, and in recent weeks, President Obama has said he's open to individual bills. That's the Republican approach. But this year at least, it doesn't seem there's enough time to get it done -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Thanks very much, Jill Dougherty, at the White House.
Still ahead: high tensions at sea after the U.S. challenges China. We will take you inside a dangerous dispute that's raising fears of a new conflict.
And did the U.S. miss an opportunity to win the release of an American held prisoner in Iran? A family member joins us live to talk about his fate and plea for his freedom.
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SCIUTTO: China scrambled fighter jets today, a new show of force in an escalating dispute with the United States and Japan.
The Chinese air force says it's monitoring its disputed air defense zone just days after U.S. warplanes entered the airspace in a direct challenge to China.
Our aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is here to explain the dispute and why it could be very dangerous -- Rene.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, you probably know U.S. sovereignty doesn't end at the coastline. It extends 12 miles beyond that, but what we're talking about today is different.
An air defense identification zone extending hundreds of miles beyond that 12-mile limit. This is the U.S. here. This is a map of the U.S. And this red zone that you're seeing there, that extends hundreds of miles beyond that 12-mile limit.
Now, essentially, this all comes down to national security, allowing nations to protect themselves from approaching threats, and this is exactly how it works. There are some rules in place. If you are flying through this zone, you have to identify yourself. Also, you have to say what your flight plan is going to be, and you have to report your specific location.
Just last week, China announced that they were creating their new air defense zone, and it was right in this area here that you see highlighted in the red. So here's the conflict. This is Japan's zone, which is already established, and this is South Korea's zone, also already established.
So you can see that all of these here, they intersect, and herein lies the problem because these countries are now refusing to grant China's request of notification when flying through this area, because they don't recognize this as a legitimate zone.
This is also a route for commercial aircraft, and we know that Japanese air carriers fly through this space, but we're not seeing Chinese fighter jets approach commercial planes. The focus at this point has been military aircraft.
And we should note that when these fighter jets intercept, it doesn't mean that they're preparing to shoot the aircraft down, but they are sent up to get that I.D. information -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: There's lots of overlapping interests and aircraft there now.
So could this dispute with China lead to a full-fledged conflict?
Let's get insight from our military analyst, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks. Thanks very much for joining us, Spider.
You look at this situation, you know none of the sides want to go to war, but do you today have the ingredients for a potential armed conflict?
BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Jim, you do, and we have seen that before about 10 years ago.
You know, the EP-3 had a midair collision with a Chinese fighter and the EP-3 went down on Hainan Island, and they were held prisoners for about two weeks, the U.S. crew. So the opportunity for miscalculation is always there and has always been there.
What's different now is that the Chinese unilaterally have declared this ADIZ, this creeping ADIZ, into the existing Japanese ADIZ. And what had been accepted and had been the norm is now different. So you're going to have all these nations, the Japanese certainly -- the Chinese -- United States, Taiwan, probably, we would expect, and the South Koreans are going to challenge this declaration. So all the ingredients are there.
SCIUTTO: No one's backing down. The U.S. has now sent a second round of flights through there, at least one after doing the B-52s a couple days ago.
What should the U.S.' next move be? Do you keep doing that until the zone is withdrawn? Is that the strategy?
MARKS: You do.
What happens is, the United States does not want to escalate and run this thing up to a point where the Chinese now feel like they have to act. Unfortunately, they might act kinetically, and they have done that in the past. So, let's keep tensions low.
SCIUTTO: Kinetically means?
MARKS: You are going to shoot something and then something's going to blow up and something's going to fall out of the sky, and there's going to be a miscalculation, and there will be an escalation, possibly.
So, you want to avoid all of that. But, clearly, the United States and its partners in the region cannot allow the Chinese to do this unilaterally. It must be challenged. And the Chinese right now are dealing with, as you well know, a face-saving period, where they can't allow themselves to be pushed back.
Well, they created this problem for themselves.
SCIUTTO: And you have seen that there's that local political force there, right, that says, hey, don't back down, China. And Chinese leaders are listening to that. There's no question. You see that in some of the Chinese papers. What are the outlines of a face-saving drawdown, then, for China? If you were on that side today, how would you pull this back without losing face?
MARKS: Well, I think the Chinese might just allow this declared ADIZ to remain in effect. Clearly, it doesn't exist, but it exists in their minds, so they don't have to withdraw it. They don't have to apologize, nor would we expect that to occur.
But they could just simply allow this new norm to be established. They have established a new ADIZ. Local nations, the Japanese, South Koreans, the United States, are all going to challenge this ADIZ.
The Chinese are going to respond and they're going to put aircraft in that new air defense identification zone. I don't think, and I would hope that it would not be an escalation that would occur, but I think the new norm is simply we are going to challenge this ADIZ, and the Chinese are going to accept that challenge.
SCIUTTO: So no one backs down, in effect, but it doesn't get worse.
MARKS: It doesn't explode.
SCIUTTO: But, still, you do have those assets, we have had this on the surface already. You have a lot of ships running around those islands, right, which gives the potential for nasty interactions. Right? Now you have it happening up in the ether, right, and that presumably continues.
MARKS: Oh, it will. Oh, I fully expect that all dimensions will continue to be challenged by all parties.
SCIUTTO: We have Vice President Biden going to China next week. Good timing or bad timing, depending on how you look at it.
MARKS: Depending upon what he says.
SCIUTTO: Well, exactly. What do you think he is going to say? What message?
MARKS: I think his message will be, look, that was a foolish move on your part. You can continue to hold on to this ADIZ as long as you want. We will continue to challenge it. Let's not allow this. Let's not delegate authorities down to the very lowest levels, where we have independent commanders on the Chinese side potentially doing something that might be dangerous and might lead to an escalation.
The United States certainly won't allow that to happen. So let's have this new dance. Let's establish this as the norm.
SCIUTTO: What's at stake for this relationship, for both sides to get this right at this point, to avoid conflict and to find a way where both sides can back off without firing off their weapons? How much is at stake here? MARKS: Well, I think a lot is at stake. The United States has always tried to establish a relationship with the Chinese in a meaningful, fulsome way that allows you along all those elements of power, diplomatic, infrastructural, military, financial, to interact in a very deep and meaningful way so you really can become a partner in the region.
We have never really done that. We can pick and choose our areas to engage and I think we have done that. This is simply another one of those. How this eventually turns out, I think, is not anybody's guess. I think what's going to happen is the Chinese are going to continue to kind of hold this, they may back it up a little bit, but the United States and its partners will continue to exert itself in this new unilaterally declared ADIZ, a new point of confrontation.
SCIUTTO: You make a good point, because it is with our partners there, because you got to get Japan, Korea and the U.S. on the same page coordinated as they formulate this response.
Thanks very much, General "Spider" Marks. Great to have you on.
We have some breaking news now. We are getting reports of a helicopter crash into a crowded bar. We will have details and a report from the scene in just a moment.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
SCIUTTO: We're following breaking news right now in Glasgow, Scotland, where it's just after 11:00 in the evening, and we are getting reports that a helicopter has crashed into the roof of a popular pub and music hall on Stockwell Street, a bar called the Clutha bar.
This is a very popular area. It's 11:00 at night, would be peak time there. These are photographs just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
Here to show the scene at that club, you can see a helicopter here on the roof of the building. Again, we do not have a lot of details. It is very early, but there are reports coming through on Twitter right now that there have been injured pub goers pulled out of the bar. I can read you some of those tweets right now.
Here's one saying: "Eyewitness tells me she has seen a helicopter on the roof of Clutha Bill club, a number of ambulances and fire engines here."
Another person tweeting: "Police setting up an exclusion zone around the pub after reports helicopter crashed there."
We are scrambling the resources of CNN right now. We will have more details as soon as they come, but, again, to recap, reports now and pictures coming in that within the last 30 minutes or so, a helicopter appears to have crashed into the Clutha bar at a pub in Glasgow, Scotland. This is a very popular area at a very crowded time of the evening there, 11:00 at night. And we're going to continue to follow this story as more pictures and more eyewitness accounts come in.
So, please do stay with us.
Meanwhile, as we wait, relatives of an American captive in Iran are holding out hope that he might be freed after two years behind bars. We saw a historic thaw in tensions between the U.S. and Iran in recent days when a landmark deal on Iran's nuclear program was reached, but so far, there's no evidence that the deal will lead to the release of the 30-year-old Amir Hekmati, who describes himself as a hostage.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Amir Hekmati is all American, born in Arizona, raised in Michigan, and after high school, a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq.
The son of Iranian immigrants, Behnaz and Ali Hekmati, two years ago, he decided to visit their home country to meet his relatives.
BEHNAZ HEKMATI, MOTHER OF AMERICAN HELD IN IRAN: He was sure. He said: "Mom, I didn't do anything. I just want to go see, you know, Iran, my relative, my grandma. I'm not afraid of anything."
SCIUTTO: In Iran, he told his parents, he had the time of his life, but after calling to say he was on his way home, he never made it, and disappeared.
It was only after three agonizing months that his family found out he had been imprisoned by the Iranian government, convicted and sentenced to death as an American spy. That sentence was later commuted. But he remains in jail, including 16 months in solitary confinement and a month-long hunger strike.
Throughout, his family has pled with the U.S. and Iranian governments for help.
SARAH HEKMATI, SISTER OF AMERICAN HELD IN IRAN: And we just hope that we are reaching the ears of -- especially now with this new transition in government in Iran, the ears of the right people.
SCIUTTO: Now, with the election of a more moderate Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, they have new hope that Amir will finally go free.
SCIUTTO: We are joined by Amir Hekmati's brother-in-law, Ramy Kurdi. He is in Michigan, along with their congressman, Dan Kildee.
Thank you very much to both of you for joining us.
I want to begin by talking to you, Ramy, and first of all, thank you very much for coming on. And I'm sorry for your family, another holiday passing without your brother-in-law here.
This historic deal reached with -- between the U.S. and Iran, are you disappointed that, as part of this warming of relations between our two countries, that so far, your brother-in-law has not been part of that, no sign that he's going to be released?
RAMY KURDI, BROTHER-IN-LAW OF AMIR HEKMATI: Well, it has been sad that a second year in a row we spent Thanksgiving with his seat empty, but our family, we have hope. We're not disappointed in the sense that we're hoping for the future, we're not looking back. Amir is a human being. He belongs home. And his father is ill. We need him home.
SCIUTTO: Congressman Kildee, if I could ask you, I know you've been advocating for this case for some time. You've even written a letter to him, to Amir in his prison cell there.
Did you speak to the White House, did you speak to the State Department in these last few weeks, as relations have been warming, about why they're not pushing, or if they're not pushing hard enough to get -- to get him released?
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Well, first of all, while the release of Amir may not be part and parcel of this current agreement, it has been part of an ongoing discussion. I know that the State Department has been pressing. I spoke to senior representatives at the State Department, our own U.N. ambassador, and also I spoke to President Obama, who raised Amir's situation with President Rouhani directly when he spoke by telephone during President Rouhani's visit to New York during the United Nations General Assembly. So I'm confident that our government is doing all it can -- all that it can to get Amir out.
The real question is whether we can trust Iran to live up to this agreement, and one tangible proof, point of proof that we can trust them is if they take a step toward the global community by releasing Amir Hekmati and the other prisoners that are being held.
SCIUTTO: Yes, this must be a positive step, a different, you know, outreach coming out of Tehran in a number of different ways.
Have any indications been communicated to you through the White House or the State Department in terms of a reaction from the Iranian government? Are they open to at least talking about your brother-in- law's case? Are they giving any positive signals that give you renewed hope here?
KILDEE: Well, I know from my point of view, and Ramy may have another perspective, but I'm confident that ongoing direct communication during the current nuclear negotiations include, you know, sidebar discussions about Amir and about the other Americans being held. So, you know, I think there's reason for us to have some hope and optimism, but the real question again is whether the Iranians will respond.
SCIUTTO: Well, I mean, this must be difficult for you and your family. He went there just for a trip to visit his relatives, your parents -- his parents' home country -- ends up in prison 16 months in solitary confinement. How do you process that separation, as you say, a second Thanksgiving, second holiday season with him so far away?
KURDI: Well, our family, we have freedom guilt. We see that we enjoy holidays and sunny days. We know Amir's not with us. Every day is an urgent day for us to bring him home. The politicians are working very hard for us, Washington, Congressman Kildee. We're very grateful.
We just want everyone to go home and look at their families every day and know that they're with them, whether they be in Iran, the judiciary. We have a lot of respect for Iran. We ask them to recognize Amir as a human being, look at him as a family member. He's endured enough. And it's time for him to come home. We need him home. We're looking forward now.
SCIUTTO: Ramy, I wonder if I could just give you one last word: if you had a message for the Iranian government, what would you say right now?
KURDI: With great respect, we ask them to place great urgency on Amir's case. We want them to recognize his role in the world as a human being. He belongs here. He's not had due process, but we're not looking back. We want them to recognize what he's endured and to expedite this as quickly as possible. We need him home as soon as possible. We ask that sincerely.
SCIUTTO: We hope -- we hope your family gets the wish. Thanks very much to you, Ramy Kurdi, and also to Congressman Kildee. Thank you both.
KURDI: Thank you very much.
SCIUTTO: Coming up next, we're going to have more on the breaking news: a helicopter has crashed into a pub. The latest information. We'll speak to someone at the scene live next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
SCIUTTO: We want to get back now to some breaking news that is coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
A police helicopter has crashed into the roof of a popular pub and music hall in -- on Stockwell Street called the Clutha Bar, where it is about 11:30 at night. Very crowded time at night. There are reports that this bar was crowded at the time. Dozens of people may have been injured.
You're seeing now photos that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now showing the aftermath there in Scotland. You can see the helicopter on the roof, through the roof of that pub.
We have an eyewitness now on the scene, Louise Robertson, who is news editor of Capital FM Radio.
Louise, please tell us what you're seeing there right now. How bad is it?
LOUISE ROBERTSON, NEWS EDITOR, CAPITAL FM RADIO (via phone): Well, Jim, it's surprisingly calm here at the moment. There's no fire or smoke coming from the pub at all. There's three fire engines possessions (ph) right outside of the pub, and I've just seen an aerial apparatus lowering two firemen onto the roof, I'm assuming to inspect the scene there.
I've spoken to some eyewitnesses tonight. One told me that they were aware of a helicopter making a strange noise in the sky. It seemed to be descending at an unusual rate. They expected to see or hear signs of an impact, but they strangely tell me that they didn't.
I've also spoken to a member of our Westminster parliament, Jim Murphy (ph). He happened to be driving by the scene of the pub. He went in to help. He described the inside as a scene of devastation, rubble and confirmed to me that he could see the blades of the helicopter sticking out of the roof of the pub.
It's a very surprising scene for a Friday night in Glasgow.
SCIUTTO: Louise, did you see any injured people being removed? Have first responders taken any injured out of the pub that you've seen?
ROBERTSON: I have personally seen two ambulances leaving the scene. I've been here for around an hour now. But Mr. Murphy M.P. told me that he saw a number of people being dragged out of the pub as he arrived on the scene. And he, in fact, went in himself to help a few more. He tells us there was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- he said a lot of people with cuts and to their heads and things like that. So it does appear that there are, indeed, some injuries. But we've had no confirmation from police or the health service at this time as to how many people have been hurt.
SCIUTTO: Yes, looking at those pictures now, you can see that the blades pierced the roof of the building there and just the weight of the helicopter as it came down.
This is a crowded, it's a popular pub area. It's 11:30 at night, I imagine a peak time at night. Must have been a lot of people there as this happened.
ROBERTSON: There would be. The bar sits on the fork of a road beside the river, at the very center -- the city center. It's a very busy area.
As I arrived on the scene, probably about 20 minutes after it happened, there were still dozens of people around. Some had been inside. Some were just in the area coming from other bars. But they say it was busy at the time and, as I say, a number of people are thought to be hurt in some capacity.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's great to have you there. Thanks so much for telling us what you saw.
We have another eyewitness joining us via Skype now, Christine O'Donnell.
Christine, do you hear me? Do you hear Jim in Washington?
CHRISTINA O'NEILL, WITNESS: Yes, I can hear you. My name's Christina O'Neill, though.
SCIUTTO: Christine O'Neill, apologies. Tell us what you saw and where were you when this happened, when this helicopter came down.
O'NEILL: I was getting ready to go out in my basement, and I heard essentially (ph) the same thing, a crash. And I went into the living room. And I just -- I just basically started screaming (UNINTELLIGIBLE. There was dozens of police, ambulance, and as far as I could see, a couple of people getting pulled out of the wreckage, and there was still smoke coming off the helicopter.
SCIUTTO: Christine, did you see any injuries? Did you get a sense of how many people were hurt when the helicopter came down?
O'NEILL: Well, I don't want to speculate, but I think I did see a couple of body bags. But that's not been confirmed yet. I know that there's a lot of -- there was a lot of people kind of getting (UNINTELLIGIBLE) out (UNINTELLIGIBLE) getting looked into.
SCIUTTO: So the possibility of injuries, serious injuries. How about now? We've heard that the first responders were there, ambulances leaving the scene. Have they gotten everybody out that you can tell?
O'NEILL: Well, it's a lot clearer than it actually -- than it actually was. It seems that the helicopter fell on the roof, but it kind of came down a little bit, and right now there's a lot of wreckage of things. It's been cleared.
SCIUTTO: We have a picture now that you took. Tell us what we're seeing here. It looks like the roof from your window with the helicopter on top of it?
O'NEILL: Yes. That's it.
SCIUTTO: And tell us about the sound as it came down. You said people heard it, it sounded like an airplane, I guess. Did it sound like the engine had stopped or was it coming down, was it loud? Tell us what it sounded like as the crash happened.
O'NEILL: Well, basically, I just heard something what sounded like a plane going too low, and I thought that didn't sound right for like a couple of seconds. And then I just heard a massive crash. And so I was at the other side of the flat, so I looked out at the car park, and I thought it may have been just a car crash or it had, like, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but it does -- it did sound devastating, if I'm honest. It was really the worst thing I definitely heard. SCIUTTO: Yes, devastating, I'm sure. Tell us what it looks like now. Is there still -- are there still first responders poring over the scene that can see?
O'NEILL: I'll put it out and let you see.
SCIUTTO: OK. This is your -- this is the view out the window. Now -- well, we couldn't see your view there. So why don't you describe to us what it looks like?
O'NEILL: It's very calm now. There's just a lot of -- there's just a lot of fire engines, and a lot of (INAUDIBLE) clean up. (INAUDIBLE) everything has been cordoned off. It's not as bad as it was before, but there's a lot of people looking out. (INAUDIBLE)
SCIUTTO: Christine, I'm going to ask you to try to move your camera one more time. I will ask our viewers to bear with us. You know how slow Internet speeds can be. But we're going to try to get you a live picture via Christine O'Neill's computer camera.
Christine, if you could try to face it out the window for us.
SCIUTTO: So we have an eyewitness now. You can see the lights of the first responders there. Little blurry but I can see the figures all around the pub.
Just hold it still, Christina. That will help us.
So, Christina, tell us what we're seeing there. It looks like, I can see the flashing lights from some of the first responders. It looks like the pub on the left?
O'NEILL: Yes. Pub on the left.
SCIUTTO: Still dozens of people there. What are the first responders doing? It's a little hard for us to see. But are they still taking the injured out of the building?
O'NEILL: No. They must have stopped. What it looks like is -- it doesn't actually look like they're taking any more out. There's no sense of urgency the way you would see about ten minutes ago.
SCIUTTO: Have you been inside the pub before? I've read that it's an old pub that's been there for a long time. What's it like inside there?
O'NEILL: I have personally not been in it, but I know that (IANUDIBLE) on top of it. But in the summer (INAUDIBLE). I don't even want to think about what it would have been like if there was one day (ph).
SCIUTTO: All of us imagining the scene inside there when rotor blades bursting through the roof. Now, we're just getting some reports that it may have been a police helicopter. You can't make out from where you're standing any markings on that helicopter that might indicate it was a police helicopter?
O'NEILL: Well, it's either blue or black and yellow (INAUDIBLE). I don't want to say (INAUDIBLE), but I have heard from other people that it is but it didn't really seem like it at the time.
SCIUTTO: Again, I just want to bring our viewers up to date. We're looking at a live picture now, that's a photograph from Glasgow, Scotland, where a helicopter, possibly a police helicopter, crashed into a pub right at the peak of the evening hours, 11:30 live. There's a live picture now through the computer connection of Christine O'Neill, who lives right across the street from the pub.
You can see the first responders there, the flashing lights. She says that they are no longer scrambling around, it's possible that they have gotten the injured out already, but a serious crash there -- a very crowded time of the evening in a very popular area in Glasgow, Scotland.
We have just been getting live reports from the scene from an eyewitness, Christina O'Neill.
Christina, thank you very much for joining us and giving us that view. We're going to continue to follow this story on CNN. Again, recapping for our viewers, a crashed helicopter in Glasgow, Scotland.
Stay with us. We'll have more details after the break.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. You're watching a live picture from Glasgow via Skype of a helicopter crash into a pub there.
A spokesman for the Scottish ambulance service telling CNN there are multiple ambulances and a special operations team onsite. They're not confirming the number of injuries but a witness that she saw numerous people being removed from the building.
We have another eyewitness on the phone now live. Her name Naimh Milne.
Naimh, can you tell me what you're seeing there?
NAIMH MILNE, HEARD THE CRASH (via telephone): At the moment, I'm seeing a lot of vehicles, as in probably 30 or 40 firemen at least huddled together. They're moving. I can't see a fire engine that's blocking us at the moment from being able to see too much.
SCIUTTO: Can you tell me what you saw and heard when the helicopter went down into the pub?
MILNE: Well, I live around the corner from the pub and the first thing we heard was sirens coming from all directions. We went out to see what was happening. And it is just, there were emergency vehicles putting in from everywhere.
We couldn't get it first. Where we are now is on the corner of Victoria Pub. We can't see a lot anymore. We could see a bit more a few minutes ago. I was with a witness who said that he was in his car when it was happening and he heard the sounds of the helicopter and he saw it fall from the sky.
SCIUTTO: We've seen from pictures earlier that those rotor blades spinning, broke through the roof of that pub there. Have you seen any injured taken away? We've heard of ambulances speeding away. There are sirens blaring. Did you see any injured?
MILNE: I didn't see any injured people. I have seen the ambulances driving away. At the moment, I can see almost like a sort of a tractor vehicle that seems to be removing debris from the pub itself.
SCIUTTO: They may be trying to get in there under that wreckage of the helicopter. Do you get a sense that those workers whom we're seeing now, this is a Skype picture. It is not perfectly clear. You know see the lights blinking lights. You can make out the rotors of the helicopter sticking out at the top of the pub.
Do you get a essential that those first responders, Naimh, are still working there? That there are people inside they're trying to get out?
MILNE: There's definitely still something going on here. People are still moving towards it. It seems that there are a lot of firemen. They are further away at the moment. I think there must be closer to the pub but there are a lot of firemen still standing around closer to where we are.
SCIUTTO: Naimh, I'm going to ask you to stay there for a moment. We have CNN's Richard Quest live in London now.
Richard, what are you hearing the latest about this crash and casualties?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): What's interesting is what we're now starting to hear from some of the eyewitnesses. Some of the people who are actually inside the Clutha pub when the (AUDIO GAP) is saying she did not hear a bang. There was a music band that was playing that night or rock band playing. She said that all of a sudden, there was a whooshing sound and it seemed as if there was a load of dust that came down from the roof.
Nobody realized initially the seriousness of the situation. And then more and more of the roof started to come in and then, of course, the dust and everybody started to evacuate from the building.
She said there was limited panic at that point. It was only when they got outside that people were talking about a helicopter having land on the roof or crashed on the roof. This is an interesting, one point to make, is that there are slightly divergent views now of what may have happened. Whether this helicopter crashed into the roof of the Clutha pub in downtown Glasgow, or whether it was attempting an emergency landing, a sort of auto rotate landing, it came down very fast. But according to various eyewitnesses and reports now, there was no explosion. There has been no fire. But this helicopter obviously did crash into the roof of the pub.
SCIUTTO: Incredible. Imagine the terror inside that pub as it happened. The word spreading around the U.K. right now.
We have the British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeting, my thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow and the emergency services working tonight.
We're going to go back to Christina O'Neill who has provided us this live picture via Skype of what's going on there right up to the minute.
Christine, tell us what you're seeing out of your window as you look at the scene.
O'NEILL: Well, first of all, it's Christina. Well, the pub, just a lot of fire engines, the paramedics team, most of the damage has been sort of done and I think it is a matter of just kind of like (INAUDIBLE) myself really. And I think any entities or casualties being identified right now. So, first of all, just trying -- a few people climbing up on to the roof to try and like minimalize any further concern --
SCIUTTO: Still pouring over the night as it approaches the midnight hour there in Glasgow, Scotland.
I'm just going to give our viewers a final sense of what we're seeing here. A helicopter crashed at a pub. You are seeing live pictures of the aftermath there in Glasgow, Scotland. First responders pouring over the scene as eyewitnesses told us, still looking passively for the injured. They've removed some injured from there. And we're going to continue to follow this throughout the night.
Thank you very much for joining us. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.
Anthony Bourdain is next.