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tv   ABC World News Tonight With David Muir  ABC  August 20, 2021 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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it was a total game changer. learn more about the condition at tonight, breaking news as we come on the air. in the west, major news coming in from afghanistan at this hour. we have learned u.s. military helicopters have picked up 169 americans at a hotel outside the airport in kabul. tonight, the evacuation effort in kabul unfolding in front of the world. late today we learned chinook helicopters aiding in the evacuations. airlifting americans to the airport nearby. another major step forward in what the president described today as a dangerous mission already. millions seeing that image of an american marine lifting a baby over the wall. the president tonight saying nearly 6,000 u.s. troops now on the ground helping in thew evacuation. the president saying i cannot promise what the final outcome will be. the president saying he had no
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indication americans hadn't been able to get through to the airport. then what the defense secretary said today in a briefing with lawmakers and what the pentagon acknowledged today. ian pannell tonight live from kabul. martha raddatz live in washington. and stephanie ramos with late word from the white house tonight. also this evening, that tropical storm set to become a hurricane in the coming hours. tonight those warnings and watches up right now in the northeast. alerts in six states as we come on the air tonight. henri gaining strength as it moves up the east coast. wind gusts potentially topping 75 miles per hour. new jersey, new york, massachusetts tonight, connecticut already declaring a state of emergency. rob marciano standing by with the new track now shifting inward. news on the coronavirus tonight, the u.s. now recording its worst day in nearly seven months. nearly 158,000 new covid cases in 24 hours. tonight from florida to mississippi to oregon, what
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they're now seeing. the accident on the tarmac, two passenger planes clipping and the new "jeopardy!" host stepping down just nine days after getting the job. good evening. as we come on the air in the west we begin with breaking news on several fronts. those hurricane warnings and watches right now in the east set to hit this weekend. but we do begin tonight with that news coming in from afghanistan right now. the evacuation efforts under way, both at the airport and we have just learned now that u.s. military helicopters have also picked up 169 americans at a hotel outside the airport in kabul. this is all part of an urgent effort under way. president biden before the american people today and taking questions on the chaotic images being watched by the world. growing reports tonight the
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taliban is blocking some people from getting to the airport. reports the taliban has showed up at the doors of afghans who helped the u.s. the president today promising americans in afghanistan we will get you home and when pressed saying he would do the same for the afghans who helped us. tonight the new images emerging in the last 24 hours, smoke b bombs being fired in an effort to control the crowds there. at one point the image of a baby being handed over the wall to a u.s. marine. tonight we learned that baby is okay and has been reunited with the father. those urgent airlifts were halted for several hours today because the base in qatar was at capacity. the u.s. urgently looking for other places to bring evacuees. flights then resuming hours later. the state department tonight saying those flights are being diverted to several other countries. president biden, as i mentioned, before the cameras today acknowledging, quote, this evacuation mission is dangerous and those words saying he, quote, cannot promise what the
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final outcome will be or that it will be without risk. abc's senior foreign correspondent ian pannell leading us off again tonight from kabul. >> reporter: tonight the desperation in kabul captured in a single shocking image of a baby being lifted over razor wire handed to a u.s. marine. officials now confirming the baby's been safely reunited with his father at the airport. this as a young girl begs u.s. troops to let her in. >> the taliban is coming! >> reporter: thousands still waiting outside the gates where taliban fighters rule the streets. nearly 6,000 u.s. troops now guarding the airport. tonight, abc news confirming there were no u.s. flights out of kabul for up to seven hours today because the air base in qatar was filled to capacity. >> they were saying that they don't have enough room over there. the woman and the kids, everyone
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has problem. they are sleeping on the street right now. >> reporter: late today we've learned rescue flights have now resumed diverted to other locations. u.s. officials say 5,700 people have been evacuated in the last 24 hours including hundreds of americans. 13,000 in all since saturday. [ gunshots ] tonight president biden insisting the u.s. is doing everything it can to rescue those who want to get out but acknowledging the extreme dangers involved. >> any american who wants to come home, we will get you home. make no mistake, this evacuation mission is dangerous. i cannot promise what the final outcome will be or what it will be -- that it will be without risk of loss. >> reporter: for the first time the pentagon today saying it will rescue americans outside the airport, quote, if there's a need. but today the president's own state department issuing this
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travel alert reiterating, the u.s. government cannot ensure safe passage to the airport. our stephanie ramos pressing the president about getting americans to safety. >> the military has secured the airport, as you mentioned, but will you sign off on sending troops to kabul to evacuate americans who haven't been able to get to the airport safely? >> we have no indication that they haven't been able to get to kabul through the airport. we've made an agreement with the taliban. thus far, they've allowed them to go through. it's in their interest for them to go through. so we know of no circumstance where american citizens are carrying an american passport are trying to get through to the airport. but we will do whatever needs to be done to see that they get to the airport. >> reporter: despite the president saying he has no indication there have been difficulties getting to the airport -- [ gunshots ] -- for several nights now, we've reported on the violence and terror outside kabul airport and americans and afghans who can't get through.
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and late today after the president spoke, defense secretary lloyd austin acknowledging with lawmakers that there have been instances of the taliban beating americans trying to get to the airport in kabul calling the situation unacceptable. and pentagon spokesperson john kirby acknowledging there have been reports of some americans unable to pass through checkpoints. american citizen david fox telling abc news he was unable to make it through the violent crowds to get to the airport safely, even hit by a taliban fighter. >> i actually got whacked with, you know, with one of these, like fan belts, for not moving fast enough. for me, as a father, i always have to risk, you know -- i have to weigh the risks of these different options. so to me the airport is very dangerous. >> reporter: and it's not just the thousands of americans, what about the tens of thousands of afghans who helped america? the president was pressed. >> will you make the same commitment to those who assisted
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in the american war effort over the last 20 years? >> yes, we're making the same commitment. there's no one more important than bringing american citizens out, i acknowledge that. but they're equally important almost as all those who -- those sivs, we call them, who, in fact, helped us. they were translators. they went into battle with us. they were part of the operation. >> reporter: but tonight six days after kabul fell, most who are eligible to leave trapped in terrifying limbo with no immediate way to get out. >> all right. so let's get right back to ian pannell again tonight. ian, we know flights have resumed. the pentagon saying they would go into kabul if necessary. we heard the president today call this a dangerous mission while you and i were on the air together here. and tonight there's more evidence that time is running short here. >> reporter: yeah, that's right. deeply worrying evidence about a premeditated attempt by some elements within the taliban to deliberately target those who have worked with the afghan intelligence and military services but also those who have worked with the americans and
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the british going door to door looking for people issuing letters, in some cases, allegations they've deliberately targeted and killed people. david? >> ian, thank you. the president was asked today about the afghan interpreters who helped the u.s. and about one in particular named abdul. that interpreter still in afghan telling our team that the taliban showed up at his front door in the last 24 hours because he helped the u.s. he is now in hiding with his young family from the taliban. martha raddatz first met abdul in afghanistan two months ago and he warned the u.s. something must be done for those who helped the u.s. during the 20-year war because the taliban will come for us. martha tonight on the message she received from abdul just before the president spoke today. >> reporter: among the thousands of after -- afghans trying to escape tonight is an interpreter named abdul. he and his family were already in hiding when we visited kabul
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two months ago and he was already pleading for help. >> i know that i will be killed by the taliban. if they takes over of the kabul, then they will come and behead us, or they will kill us. >> reporter: abdul worked with u.s. marines in helmand province. he showed us his visa application, his letters of referral from marines for whom he risked his life. but now abdul is on the run with his family sending us photos, which we will not show, of the taliban arriving at one of the homes he had just left. our stephanie ramos taking his case straight to the president. >> my colleague martha raddatz interviewed abdul, an interpreter who was on the front lines with u.s. forces in afghanistan. overnight, we received a photo of taliban militants coming to the door of his home literally hunting him down. thankfully he was able to escape, but he is obviously still in mortal danger. what would be your message to
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abdul, his wife, and his three young daughters? >> we want you to be able to get to the airport. contact us. we'll see whatever we can do to get you there. we've got to get you out. we are committed to deal with you, your wife, and your child, to get all three of you out of afghanistan. that's the commitment. >> reporter: abdul was warning all the way back in june what could happen if the taliban took over kabul, and it turns out last month a u.s. embassy employee sent a classified cable to the state department predicting the afghan government could soon collapse. still, president biden insists his team did not believe the taliban would take over so quickly when the americans pulled out. >> got all kinds of cables, all kinds of advice. i made a decision. the buck stops with me. i took the consensus opinion. the consensus opinion was that, in fact, it would not occur, if it occurred, until later in the year.
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>> martha, you heard president biden committing to helping abdul and his family, committing to help, before the world today, all those afghan interpreters who helped the u.s. out. >> reporter: exactly, david, and abdul said he had a message for america saying that afghans worked shoulder to shoulder with americans and had done their job with honesty and pride, saying the americans left us behind and left us to those people who are not human and cut our heads off in front of our families. i am a soldier, he said, i am ready to die, but i care about my family. if the taliban captures me, with pride i will tell them i was an interpreter and did it for my country and my people. and, david, there are continuing efforts to try to get abdul and his family out of afghanistan. >> i know you're going to stay in contact with him, martha. our thanks to you for that. as you heard president biden say today, he had no indication americans were having trouble getting through kabul to the airport. the defense secretary did tell
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lawmakers today that there are some reports americans have been beaten. the pentagon spokesman also saying there are reports some americans have been unable to pass through checkpoints, so there would seem to be a disconnect with what the president said today. our team has been pressing the white house on this. let's bring in stephanie ramos. stephanie, any response tonight? >> reporter: well, david, clearly there is a disconnect. we pressed the white house about this, and an official did get back to me telling me on background, quote, it is a volatile situation on the ground. we are working to facilitate safe passage for americans and siv applicants and their families to the airport and on to other places. there are going to be reports of challenge and chaos at the airport. secretary austin referred to that in the hill briefing today, but we are going to get americans into the kabul airport and on planes. not necessarily a direct answer, but bottom line, what congress heard today from the secretary of defense speaks for itself. david. >> stephanie ramos at the white house. stephanie, thank you. our coverage of afghanistan for
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tonight. but we move on now to this tropical storm henri set to become a hurricane in just hours. hurricane warnings and watches already up across much of the northeast at this hour from new jersey, new york right up into massachusetts. the storm circulating in the atlantic, wind gusts from this could hit 75 miles per hour. the track shifting west at this hour up further inland caught our eye. let's get to senior meteorologist rob marciano with this track tonight. rob is live in connecticut. hey, rob. >> reporter: hi, david. it's been ten years since suthern new england has had a hurricane watch. tonight we have hurricane warnings. hurricane conditions likely in the next 36 hours. let's take you to the maps. long island as well. most of that hurricane watch is all the way in through new england. tropical storm watches for new york. expected to strengthen as it gets past the gulf stream and then rapidly head towards long island, connecticut as a category 1 storm. landfall sunday afternoon and then drifting into new england. with all this, all the impacts are going to come in. strong storm surge up to five feet, rip currents, yes. heavy rainfall and certainly
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damaging winds. we could see rainfall up to ten inches well inland so at the very least inland will see flooding and this storm, david, is coming in quick. >> a major story as we head into the weekend. rob will be watching all weekend long, thank you. we're going to turn now to the coronavirus pandemic. the u.s. recording its worst day in nearly seven months. nearly 158,000 new cases of covid in just the last 24 hours. and there is late reporting from "the new york times" tonight that the fda could be trying to give final approval to the pfizer vaccine as early as monday. abc's marcus moore from dallas tonight. >> reporter: tonight "the new york times" reporting the fda is working to try to give full approval to the pfizer covid vaccine as soon as monday but reporting that date could slide. authorities say full authorization is coming, and their hope if and when it comes, it will encourage more americans who are hesitant to get their first shot to help stop the delta variant sweeping the
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country. it comes as hospitals across the u.s. are in crisis mode, scrambling to find beds to treat a growing crush of covid patients who are increasingly younger and largely unvaccinated. >> i watched a 28-year-old previously healthy unvaccinated patient die from covid complications, and while we value every life, that's -- that one was tough because it could have been prevented. >> reporter: avery mitchell is 2 years old and 1 of 28 children being cared for at mississippi's only children's hospital. that's the most they've seen since th beginning of the pandemic. in florida toni peters struggling to breathe from her hospital bed now urging others to get their shots. >> for yourself, for your family, for your loved ones, get the vaccine. >> reporter: also from florida, this striking image of sick covid patients lying on the floor of a state-run regeneron clinic waiting for monoclonal antibody treatments. toma dean, seen in that picture, speaking to us today.
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>> if i had chose to stand up in line, i'd have never made it to the treatment. i'd have been back in an e.r. so i laid on the floor until they got wheelchairs over. >> reporter: and across the country, oregon now reporting a sixfold increase in hospital patients in the last month. >> 18 months into this pandemic, our frontline health care workers have been caring for patients every day, are exhausted. and we're in a pandemic that many of us regard at this time as largely preventable. >> reporter: david, also tonight there is a new report out that says some of the largest private health plans will no longer waive patients' out-of-pocket costs for covid treatment by the end of this month. david? >> we're going to be staying on that for sure. marcus, thank you. when we come back, the accident on the tarmac. two passenger planes. and the new "jeopardy!" host stepping down just nine days after getting the job.
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finally, those hurricane warnings and watches up right now in the northeast. let's get right back to rob with the latest. rob? >> david, this track took a big shift to the west this morning, so now we're forced to get ready in a hurry. the forecast again to come on landfall on long island and new england as a category 1 late sunday. plowing through new england. hurricane watches and warnings across the coastline. hurricane conditions in the next 36 to 48 hours, which means tomorrow is your day to prepare. david. >> rob marciano, our thanks to you. whit and linsey here this weekend, and i'll see on monday. good night, everyone. anchor:
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hospital that ended with hip-hop artist losing his life. >> i thought i would have a difficult time but it was not as bad as everybody has the vaccine cards ready. co-anchor: day one for san francisco's indoor vaccine mandate could live to see how it is going. meteorologist: air quality today. things are looking up. the we can forecast. abc seven news at 6:00 starts now. >> building a better bay area, moving forward, finding solutions, this is abc seven news. co-anchor: it is ugly out there. the good news is it will not be for much longer. good evening and for joining us. anchor: you're watching abc seven news at 6:00 on abc seven, who live, and wherever you stream. co-anchor: we are back to back spare the air days. a look outside shows you conditions warrant this alert. the view from our live tower camera in walnut creek. smoke from several wildfires has
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moved into the area. larry: sometimes it is hard to know if what you're seeing is smoke or clouds or a mix of both tiered the sky seems a solid gray. this is the view from sfo. from aquatic park, barely see the golden gate bridge. it was there. trust me. the good news is the view should improve as soon as tomorrow. >> let's bring an spencer christian to explain why. spencer: improvement is on the way. current service when spades. it is not gusty out here. the breeze, the onshore breeze has been strong enough to push some of the smoke out of here at the for -- surface level and upper atmosphere. let's take a look at current air quality. you can see what the green and -- to our north and east, air quality is still very poor. lots of orange and red and dark colored circles indicating the poor air