tv ABC World News Tonight With David Muir ABC August 16, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
tonight, the fall of afghanistan. president biden addressing the american people late today, defending the u.s. withdrawal, telling americans, quote, i stand firmly behind my decision. the searing images from kabul, with the taliban now in control of the country. afghan citizens racing to an american military plane, a c-17, heading down the runway for takeoff. reports people were killed falling from the plane. and that others died in the chaos. disturbing video showing people desperate to board planes. video showing a child being pulled aboard, clinging to a rope. the u.s. tonight now says it is preparing to airlift tens of thousands of american embassy staff and afghan interpreters
and their families. those who bravely worked with the americans over 20 years, now fearing for their lives. tonight, there are now chilling new reports about abuses against women and girls. concerns about freedoms gained in the last 20 years will now be lost. president biden and what he said today amid so many questions -- how u.s. intelligence, how his national security team, how the pentagon did not predict that this would happen so quickly. all day today, the urgent efforts to secure the airport. tonight, ian pannell in kabul, the situation at the airport right now. the taliban guarding the only way in. stephanie ramos with late reporting from the white house. and martha raddatz standing by. also, as we come on the air tonight in this country, the tropical storm slamming into the u.s. today. winds 65 miles per hour, warnings now posted in several states. and the next tropical system now slamming into haiti. already devastated by that powerful earthquake. rob marciano standing by with the latest tracks.
and matt gutman on the ground in haiti, where the death toll is rising tonight. more than 1,400 lives lost. search and rescue teams looking for survivors of that horrific earthquake. the race against time for survivors, with that new storm now hitting. and the coronavirus here in and the coronavirus here in the u.s. tonight more than 121,000 new covid cases just in children in a week. and the new numbers from the cdc tonight for americans 49 and under and what they're seeing. a special edition of "world news tonight" starts now. good evening and it's great good evening as we come on the air in the west tonight. and we begin with the stunning collapse in afghanistan. late today, for the first time, president biden addressing the american people, saying, i stand
squarely behind my decision, but saying, the truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we anticipated. saying afghan leaders gave up, that the afghan military collapsed. but tonight, major questions about how u.s. intelligence, how the president's national security team did not see this coming. the taliban in control of kabul, it was sweeping and swift, taking a little more than a week to seize several large cities and the country. thousands of afghans desperate to get out. some seen chasing a u.s. military plane, a c-17, as it was taxiing for takeoff. climbing onto the plane. there are reports tonight several people fell from the plane and that some did not survive. thousands more running toward the airport amid gunfire and tonight, the taliban now in control of the only road in. this family scaling the wall, climbing around the barbed wire, pulling up a little girl with her backpack. taliban fighters are now patrolling the streets of the capital and in control of the presidential palace after afghanistan's president fled the country. president biden before the
cameras, saying he is deeply saddened by the facts on the ground, the images the world is now seeing, but saying, i do not regret my decision. asking, how many more american lives? and adding, i will not repeat the mistakes made in the past. saying the events unfolding reinforce it was time to get out and adding americans should not be fighting a war the afghans, he says, aren't willing to fight themselves. but there remains so many questions tonight, the u.s. military working throughout the day to secure the airport. tonight, the scene there at the airport and the u.s. now promising to get tens of thousands out of that country. our senior foreign correspondent ian pannell leading us off tonight from kabul. >> reporter: tonight, the panic, chaos and desperation at the kabul airport, then forced to shut down. thousands of afghans crowding onto the runway, surrounding this massive c-17 military jet, some clinging to the sides of the fuselage.
horrifying local reports saying people could be seen falling from the plane as it took off. the despair at the airport, overwhelming. throngs of people swarming up the walkway, trying to board one flight. forcing themselves inside another. the pilots unable to take off in the chaos. this disturbing video even showing a child being pulled aboard, hanging by that rope. this image obtained by defense one showing hundreds of people packed inside one plane. barbed wire separating the airport from the desperate masses stranded outside. dozens climbing the walls onto the airfield. at least seven people killed in the chaos. at one point, gunfire erupting on the tarmac. officials confirming u.s. troops shot and killed at least two armed men as thousands streamed onto the runway and at least one u.s. military service member injured. u.s. troops forced to hold their ground at gunpoint. the taliban announcing they're now in full control. 20 years of american and
nato-led gains collapsing in stunning fashion, in just a matter of days. armed checkpoints around the city, the taliban now separating foreigners from locals. militants seizing control of the main route to the airport, only allowing foreigners through. just five weeks ago, the president was adamant that a complete taliban takeover was unlikely. >> the likelihood there's going to be the taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely. >> reporter: but under growing pressure to address the unfolding crisis, president biden today saying he stands by his decision. >> i stand squarely behind my decision. after 20 years, i've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw u.s. forces. the truth is, this did unfold
more quickly than we had anticipated. >> reporter: and on the images now seen around the world, afghans holding onto that c-17, scaling the airport walls? the president acknowledged how difficult it is to watch. >> i am president of the united states of america. and the buck stops with me. i'm deeply saddened by the facts we now face. but i do not regret my decision. american troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. >> reporter: and this is the new reality tonight. images from al jazeera seen around the world showing taliban fighters inside the presidential palace. triumphantly declaring the restoration of the islamic emirate of afghanistan. te militants sweeping through major cities in a week. afghan president ashraf ghani, likely in an effort to save his own life, fleeing the country he
vowed to protect. claiming in a facebook post he wanted to save kabul from bloodshed. tonight, the president signing off on deploying at least 6,000 troops to the region, assisting the emergency evacuation of almost all u.s. personnel, american citizens and thousands of afghans who supported the u.s.-led mission. for a time, black smoke seen rising from the u.s. embassy. embassy staffers ordered to destroy sensitive equipment and documents, especially those containing images of the american flag that could be used as propaganda. the taliban are out in force. you see them at different checkpoints around the city. but we've been driving for five minutes and what's really noticeable, we haven't seen one woman out on the streets. but tonight, already chilling new reports of mounting human rights abuses against women and girls. many concerned the freedoms gained over the last 20 years in education and the workplace now in jeopardy. we visited this school for girls in april.
>> my wish is to rise the woman voice. what really i want is to be a very well-known journalist. i will go for interview in front of the boss and if he asks me that, what is the main reason, what is the main wish that you have, i would tell him that i want to sit in that chair that rght now you're sitting. i really want that. >> reporter: but tonight, in a country where women leaders have only just been welcomed, they now fear for their lives. >> for sure, i am afraid for myself, my life, my freedom to work and my freedom to speak up. these are the things that i'm afraid of losing. >> and these are very real fears tonight. ian with us from kabul again this evening. and ian, i wanted to go back to these evacuations planned from the airport. we know there's only one main road to the airport. the u.s. says it's prepared to transport 30,000 people out of the country. american personnel, afghans that helped the united states. but how do you get these thousands of people past taliban checkpoints?
can this be done safely? and what is the status of the airport tonight? >> reporter: yeah, david, at the moment, i can't say i see a workable plan at all. many of those who risked their lives to help are simply afraid to go out of their houses and even if they do, there's one road to the airport, there's a taliban checkpoint there and they're only letting foreigners through. meanwhile, we can hear the planes back in the sky, the airport has reopened. but this is still far from over. david? >> all right, ian pannell leading us off from kabul. he said he can hear the planes back in the sky tonight. ian, thank you. and late today, president biden, as you saw, before the american people, saying the u.s. spent more than a trillion dollars in afghanistan, trained hundreds of thousands of afghan forces, saying americans should not have to fight a war that the afghans won't fight themselves. but what about that point ian made about the afghans desperate to get out, hiding from the taliban?
and major questions tonight from capitol hill, from democrats and republicans. stephanie ramos at the white house. >> reporter: tonight, with the world stunned by the images in kabul and how swiftly afghanistan has fallen to the taliban, president biden pointing fingers at his predecessor, former president trump, who had already negotiated a deal with the taliban, reducing the number of american troops from 15,000 to 2,500 by may 1st. >> it was only a cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more american troops back into combat in afghanistan. lurching into the third decade of conflict. >> reporter: biden said he was unwilling to do that. >> how many more lives, american lives, is it worth? how many endless rows of headstones at arlington national cemetery? i'm clear on my answer. i will not repeat the mistakes we've made in the past. >> reporter: biden is the fourth
president, two republicans and two democrats, to deal with the american toll of the war in afghanistan. > i know my decision will be criticized. but i would rather take all that criticism then pass this decision onto another president of the united states, yet another one, a fifth one. >> reporter: the cost, biden says, is too high. >> we spent over a trillion dollars. we trained and equipped an afghan military force with some 300,000 strong. here's what i believe to my core. it is wrong to order american troops to step up when afghanistan's own armed forces would not. >> reporter: he spoke of the men and women in uniform who served in afghanistan and the families who have lost loved ones there. >> for those who have lost loved ones in afghanistan and for americans who have fought and served in -- served our country in afghanistan, this is deeply,
deeply personal. it is for me, as well. >> so many people thinking about the veterans and their families watching all of this unfold. stephanie ramos live at the white hous tonight. stephanie, we know reaction pouring in from capitol hill, democrats and republicans. we know the senate intel chair democrat mark warner calling the images coming out of afghanistan devastating and saying, it is time to ask questions about why the u.s. wasn't better prepared. and i know the republican minority leader in the senate going much further tonight. >> reporter: exactly, david. senate minority leader mitch mcconnell said today he's argued with previous presidents about troop withdrawal before, but he had this to say about biden's decision. "i think the president felt strongly about this obviously. he overruled his own military leaders to do it and he owns it." david? >> stephanie ramos live at the white house tonight. stephanie, thank you. of course, one of the most painful consequences, the thousands of afghans who did help the u.s. over the 20-year war, hoping to get out, but now
fearing they've been left behind. martha raddatz tonight, who our chief global affairs correspondent martha raddatz tonight, who recently traveled to afghanistan, this evening, you will hear from the afghan people who helped the u.s. in their own words now. and their very real fears about what's coming. >> reporter: tonight, as thousands of afghans try desperately to leave the country, this afghan mechanic who worked with american forces in afghanistan watches anxiously from his new home here in the states, thankful he was able to get out just in time. >> this week, i came here and next friday, it was under the taliban control. >> reporter: but now, he worries about loved ones back home who have no way out. >> god save them. and they should save themselves, they should hide themselves. will they start searching for them or putting them in prison or killing them? we don't know. >> reporter: we met an afghan interpreter for u.s. troops fearful for his life, even
before the taliban swept into kabul. >> i know that i will be killed by the taliban. i will continue this fight. >> reporter: abdul now in hiding, his fears greater than ever. we also met camilla saddiqi in kabul, who built her own business there. at the time, she said she wanted to stay there, to fight for women's rights. >> i came here because this is the time to be here in afghanistan and afghanistan needs us. >> reporter: but tonight, with the taliban in full control, we learned camilla was able to escape, something so many others are still trying to do. >> that is the hope for so many others. martha, the world now watching, if the u.s. and allies can get others out of kabul safely. we'll be watching that in the days and weeks to come. in the meantime, i wanted to ask you another question that have been asked by so many. we both have traveled to afghanistan, we witnessed this first-hand. the u.s. training of afghan forces. we saw the americans watching over the afghans, giving them the tools and the training. we witnessed their training on
the ground there. i know you saw it, as well. but so many reports over the last 24 to 48 hours that the afghan forces, martha, simply stood down. >> reporter: and they did, david. we have heard over the years, you heard it, too, the military touting the capability of the afghan forces, but after 20 years, $83 billion, they just laid down their rifles in many instances. this is something the u.s. is going to have to take a hard look at to see what was wrong with that training. david? >> martha raddatz with us all day long here. martha, ian, stephanie, our thanks to you all. and our coverage of afghanistan will continue later tonight on "nightline" and first thing in the morning on "good morning america." and president biden will sit down with george stephanopoulos one-on-one at the white house this wednesday for his first interview since the withdrawal from afghanistan. it's an abc news exclusive. it will air here on "world news tonight," on "gma" and across all of our platforms. in the meantime tonight, we move onto the other news this monday evening. the major tropical storm slamming into the u.s., into florida today. and then right behind it, the
tropical depression. that storm hitting haiti at this hour, after the devastating earthquake there. we'll take you to the scene in just a moment. here in the u.s., fred strengthening all day before making landfall on the florida panhandle with 65-mile-an-hour winds and a dangerous storm surge. threatening flash flooding and possible tornadoes now up through atlanta and then moving into the mid-atlantic. let's get right to senior meteorologist rob marciano tracking it all tonight. he's in panama city beach, florida, tonight. rob? >> reporter: david, i can tell you, certainly felt like a hurricane coming ashore just a few hours ago. still a formidable storm to our north and east where damaging winds and tornadoes are a possibility over the next couple of hours. the watches remain up until 8:00 and the tropical rains, all of it, will be drifting north. and those flood watches have been extended past georgia now into north carolina. this rain will get all the way up into the northeast. grace just south of haiti now. the next 12 hours will be difficult with flooding rains, potentially mudslides. into the gulf of mexico and mexico this weekend. david? >> rob marciano with us from florida tonight. rob, thank you.
and as rob just said, tropical depression grace now bearing down on haiti at this hour. more misery there after that 7.2 magnitude earthquake. thousands are now homeless. more than 1,400 are dead. hundreds more missing tonight. families desperately searching the rubble for survivors with little government help. foreign aid has begun to arrive, but it's just the beginning. the u.s. coast guard flying the critically injured out, but the need tonight is staggering. abc's matt gutman is near the epicenter in haiti tonight. >> reporter: in day here >> reporter: in haiti tonight, dimming hope in those mounds of pulverized concrete and increasingly scenes of anguish. hotels and churches crumbled. so many are dead here that caskets are being driven out on mopeds. the earthquake tore this voodoo temple right off the mountain. now, these firefighters have been working here for two days now. they believe there are more bodies in the rubble and this goes on for house after house. one of the houses here belonged to lucia seville.
we arrived as those grave diggers were finishing their work. and under the upturned earth, her daughter. she tells us two of her daughters were killed. her son badly injured. one of her surviving daughters inconsolable. she took us to her house, clutching her daughter's arm. we scrambled down the hill and she showed me how she pulled family members to safety. they say they've received no help, partly because there is so little help here. this paramedic helping the u.s. coast guard evacuate as many as they could fit on those choppers. >> it's chaos right now. no coordination of resources. >> reporter: including the chaotic distribution of food and water. and with that tropical depression sweeping in, we asked lucia and her neighbors if they'll have to sleep outdoors tonight. all of them saying yes. david, that tropical depression means those u.s. coast guard helicopters we saw medevacing the injured will be grounded. it means those search and rescue teams will be suspended and it
means an unimaginable night of misery for those still trapped in the rubble. david? >> all right, matt gutman there in haiti with our tape. our thanks to you tonight. and back here at home now, and to the coronavirus, what the cdc has now revealed about patients in this country 49 and under. and is the highest number of cases now in churn since the pandemic began. abc's marcus moore from dallas tonight. >> reporter: tonight, covid-19 continuing it's rapid spread across the nation. the rate of hospital admissions for people under 49 now at its highest point in the pandemic. in alabama, florida, georgia, mississippi and texas, icus are at over 90% capacity. >> we have our nursing teams, our physician teams, getting stretched thinner and thinner to take care of all the covid patients that are throughout the hospital and our icus right now. >> reporter: and concern growing with the number of pediatric covid cases at the highest point
of the pandemic -- 121,000 new cases reported in just the last week. this graph from the cdc showing the spike in new hospital admissions for children with covid, an increase of more than 400% since the fourth of july. and as students return to school today, the debate over masks continues. one day after the texas supreme court upheld governor abbott's executive ban on mask mandates in two counties, dallas independent school district superintendant michael hinojosa defiant. >> we are going to ask them to comply. we're going to give them a mask. we're going to give them a little bit of time. if they don't, then we'll ask them to leave and if they don't, then we'll have a place for them. but it will be separated from everybody else. >> reporter: david, today, pfizer and biontech submitted early data to the fda that shows a third shot, a third dose of their vaccine appears to show immunity levels that are far greater, significantly greater than just two doses. but they have not yet sought authorization from the fda. david? >> we're going to be tracking that in the months ahead. marcus, thank you. when we come back, news on new york governor andrew cuomo tonight. what state lawmakers have now decided tonight. and for the first time ever, a water shortage declared for the colorado river, and what this means for several states
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becomes a shield. to lie, what lengths people are going to to keep their community safe. reporter: what did it take for you to take this step? anchor 2: it's been years in the making to ask the mayor why he is now asking the santa clara county sheriff to step down. meteorologist: we are tracking offshore wind developing prompting a fire weather watch for some. details in the forecast. abc news at 6:00 starts right now. >> this is abc 7 news. >> i think the taliban have become more extreme. anchor 2: fears are being felt right here. thank you for joining us. anchor 1: america's twenty-year
presence in afghanistan has ended the same way again rid under taliban will. anchor 2: the only part is in capital, the international airport. the taliban have seized control of everything else. as we speak, u.s. forces keeping the area open to evacuate tens of thousands of people. the airport has been overrun by people looking to escape. these desperate people chasing. there have been deaths reported. president bynum acknowledged the fall was faster than he expected, but is defending ending involvement. >> the military collapsed. if anything, anything, anything, the past week reinforced that any involvement in afghanistan now was the right decision. anchor 2: another battalion of