tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC April 18, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
breaking news tonight. a deadly flood disaster, over 1,000 high-water rescues in houston, swallowed by historic floodwaters. people trapped in homes and cars. a race against time. a frantic search for survivors. a soaring death toll from a catastrophic earthquake in ecuador. an american confirmed among the dead. nbc news exclusive, a big escalation in the u.s.'s fight against isis. we're with the defense secretary in iraq when he told us about putting hundreds more american troops in harm's way. immigration furor at the supreme court. the fate of millions now hanging in the balance. what happens if there's a tie? and sudden impact, a drone slams into an airliner trying t land at an airport. a major new alarm about a growing danger in the sky. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt reporting tonight from the middle east. good evening from the air base in the united arab emirates. we returned just a few hours ago from a day in baghdad where secretary of defense, ash carter, who said 200-plus americans will be deployed to iraq, and some additional firepower will likely join the fight in addition to these fighter jets based here that are part of the ongoing campaign. the breaking news from iraq and exclusive interview with the secretary in just a moment. but first, to the breaking news back home. a record flood emergency in houston. people are trapped in homes across the city, pulled from cars swallowed by flash flood. at least two are dead. nbc's janet shamlian starts us off from houston and the major rescue operation there tonight. >> reporter: a flood for the ages. the nation's fourth largest city at a standstill, submerged by as
many as 16 inches of rain. >> i was not expecting that. >> reporter: major highways under water, public transit shut down, schools closed for 1 million students. >> i'm a little bit nervous. >> reporter: and on test day, people urged not to make a run for the post office. >> please stay at home. stay off the streets. >> reporter: a big rig driver nearly swept away. he disappears under water before being pulled to safety. >> leave the car. swim. >> reporter: a reporter for station ktrk rescues another trapped driver. it's all captured live. dozens of houston neighborhoods tonight look just like this one. they are filled with floodwaters. many of the people who live in them can't get out. already more than 1,200 high-water rescues, as authorities struggle to keep up. >> it was scary. what if you fall in? >> reporter: this couple walked to safety through high water with their newborn daughter. and tommy woodward borrowed a boat to save his disabled and
elderly parents. >> i'm not doing good. >> reporter: amid the rescue, a boatload of family pets, and more than 70 horses moved to higher ground. more than 1,000 homes flooded. built around bayous that often overflow their banks, houston is flat and flood prone, leaving nowhere for all that water to go. tonight this is not over. there are scattered storms in the forecast through wednesday. even a small one could trigger more of this. flooding on hundreds of houston streets. roads turned into rivers, making them both dangerous and impassable. lester? >> all right, janet shamlian in houston tonight, thanks. now to the climbing death toll in the powerful earthquake that rocked ecuador over the weekend. one american has been confirmed dead, nearly 400 people in all killed in this disaster, with many others still believed to be trapped under the rubble. nbc's miguel almaguer is there with more on the desperate race to rescue them.
>> reporter: nearly 48 hours after ecuador's largest earthquake in decades, magnitude 7.8, survivors are being pulled from beneath piles of concrete, brick and debris. they yelled, careful, careful. many are children. home with their families when roofs and walls came crashing down. i've lost my family home, she says. they are asking for quiet, to hear the calls for help from beneath the rubble. the cries are fading with every hour. heartbreak is everywhere. hospitals are full, cemeteries are filling up. luis sanchez lost five members of his family. the powerful jolt rocked ecuador saturday night. bridges and buildings close to the epicenter have collapsed. buckled roads are slowing relief. ecuador's quake comes on the
heels of two major tremors in japan. the countries part of the so-called ring of fire. the quakes are not related, say experts, but are a warning to be prepared. >> in california, we also have the faults capable of the 7.8. so when that earthquake happens here, and it will, we're going to have more intense shaking than what's received in ecuador. >> reporter: tonight in ecuador, there have been more than 200 aftershocks, each jolt hampering the rescue effort and shaking any sign of hope. here where the ground continues to occasionally shift, many are living in fear. they are sleeping outside under tents, because they are worried their roofs will collapse on them. it's believed up to 500 people in this area alone may have been killed. the u.s. state department confirms one american is dead, and we know two canadians were also killed in this massive quake. lester? >> an awful scene there tonight. miguel, thank you. now back to the
major story that takes us here to the middle east. defense secretary ash carter on an unannounced visit to baghdad today where he revealed hundreds more americans will be deploying to support the war against isis in iraq. they will join an estimated 5,000 other americans, mostly advisers, already in the country. i accompanied the secretary to baghdad today where in an exclusive interview he told me the troops and new firepower do not signal a change in u.s. strategy. 1,000 feet over baghdad on his third visit here in just over a year, defense secretary ash carter said the u.s. is increasing its role in a fight against isis in iraq. once on the ground, he met with iraqi prime minister abadi, formalizing a new plan that will bring in 200 additional u.s. troops as advisers, and authorizes advance u.s. army mobile rocket launchers, and
apache helicopter gunships to help the iraqis retake the taken city of mosul from isis. >> these are capabilities that will continue the process of accelerating the defeat of isil. >> how do you respond to those who say the incremental approach just doesn't get the job done? >> well, we are going to accelerate this campaign every time we find an opportunity to do so. i'm very comfortable that our operational approach is the right one. >> reporter: tonight just released gun camera footage of u.s. air strikes underscores the pace of the ongoing american-led air campaign. but despite today's announcement of more troops and war fighting equipment, carter is adamant the u.s. will not fight a ground war. >> in the end, iraqi forces have to do the defeating, sustain the defeat. we can help them, we can't substitute for them. we're not looking to. >> reporter: the distinction between combat and support roles has been blurred over the last six months with the
battlefield death of two americans. marine staff sergeant lewis cardon killed last month at a fire base near the front lines by an isis rocket attack. and army master sergeant josh wheeler, a member of delta force, killed in october during a hostage rescue mission that was officially being led by kurdish troops. he leaves behind a wife and four children, including a new baby. >> he was a very humble person. very proud of his country. and his service, but still very humble. >> as you add additional personnel, and they are advising lower down the chain, doesn't it put more americans at higher risk? >> americans are at risk today. every single day here. as secretary of defense, i take that more seriously than anything else. >> reporter: the pentagon says isis territory has already been shrunk by 40%. in part, thanks to u.s. bombing. zeke, his call sign,
flies those missions in an f-22. >> what we're doing here absolutely matters. and is going to matter to this region, it matters to the united states, and to all the nations in this coalition. >> is this making us any safer, san bernardino, brussels, paris, you name it, what happens on the battlefield here make the rest of the world safer? >> it does. it is necessary to destroy isil in its parent tumor of this cancer, which is here in iraq and syria. that's where this thing arose in the first place. and we need to destroy it there. physically, but also we need to destroy the idea that there can be a state based upon this evil ideology. >> secretary carter said the iraqis have momentum against isis and that the u.s. will continue to look for opportunities to accelerate the campaign, but short of deploying americans in ground combat roles. amid this ongoing battle, nbc news has gotten rare insight into the inner workings of isis.
this valuable intelligence comes from purported secret files stolen by a man claiming to be an isis defector. as nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel explains, they appear to reveal exactly who isis is targeting for recruitment. >> reporter: just over a month ago, in southern turkey, we met a man who called himself abu muhammad, claiming to be a former isis fighter who stole thousands of top-secret isis personnel files. why exactly did you steal it? so one day i could expose isis, he said, and the documents did. they are registration forms of more than 4,000 isis fighters from 71 countries who arrived in syria in 2013 and '14. tracking details like real names, countries visited, even emergency contact numbers. with thousands of documents to read through, we needed help from experts.
>> broken down by the country of residence of the fighter. >> reporter: we brought all these files here to west point, the u.s. army's premier academy in new york, also home to the combating terrorism center. do you think they're real? >> absolutely. certainly the largest cache of documents of their type that we've seen in certainly the public domain. >> reporter: a team of analysts and translators worked around the clock to create a profile. many of the fighters were, as expected, young, educated, underemployed, and frustrated arab men. but there were also doctors and lawyers, flight attendants, even a former starbucks employee. >> everywhere from teenagers up until men in their 60s. >> so isis has had a very wide appeal. any indication why? >> certainly, i think it ties back to what they're selling. they're trying to establish a pure islamic state. and they're sending a message of winning. >> reporter: saudi arabia, tunisia, and morocco were the top suppliers of fighters. 14 came from the u.s.
but when taking population into consideration, the u.s. dropped to near the bottom. new arrivals were asked to choose fighter, suicide bomber, or suicide fighter. only 12% of recruits chose to die in suicide attacks. the rest wanted to live under the black flag of the so-called islamic state. >> many of these individuals are buying into that message and they're going there to live, not die. >> the data shows about 30% of the fighters were married, many brought children. it's a very different profile from al qaeda. lester? >> richard engel, thank you. terror in jerusalem today, where a bus exploded into a massive fireball. wounding at least 21 people, including two onboard that bus, and others at a bus nearby. authorities say there is no doubt it was a terrorist attack, though they say it's too early to know who the attacker was. the supreme court today took up one of the biggest cases of the term, one that's been a
hotly contested issue in the 2016 race. it's a fight over president obama's immigration policy that could shield more than 4 million people from deportation. nbc's pete williams has more on the battle inside and outside the court. >> reporter: hundreds of demonstrators came from around the country, jamming the sidewalks, dramatizing what's at stake. the court's decision will affect the future for people here illegally nationwide, including peter and marlene of maryland, who came to the u.s. two decades ago from chile. he's a construction worker, she's a nanny. their visas expired long ago, but they're hoping they can stay to support their children. one was born here. >> my daughters can go to college.
i can go to college maybe one day. >> reporter: he wants to let millions of adults like them stay if their children are american citizens. with 11 million people in the u.s. illegally, the administration said it's focusing on deporting criminals and letting others come out of the shadows, get work permits, and pay taxes. but 26 mostly republican-run states led by texas sued and blocked the plan in the lower courts saying president obama went too far. >> one person doesn't have the unilateral authority to change the law or make new law. >> reporter: today the administration did not seem to have the vote. justice anthony kennedy said it's upside down to order such big changes without approval from congress. chief justice john roberts suggested the states have the right to sue because it will cost millions to issue driver's licenses to the adults who would be allowed to stay. if the court ends up tied 4-4, which now seems possible, that would be a feat for president obama, it would leave a lower court ruling in place that blocks him from enforcing the plan. lester? >> all right, pete, williams. thank you. tonight we're just hours from the polls opening in a critical new york primary. donald trump hoping for a resounding win in his home state, trying to get
back on track in a path to locking up the nomination before the convention. all of it, as the fight between clinton and sanders just took another nasty turn. over big money. nbc's peter alexander with details. >> reporter: donald trump today looking to tie a bow around tomorrow's potential home state sweep. rival ted cruz already looking beyond new york. >> maryland is going to have an outside voice. >> reporter: still, the loudest voice tonight, the american voters, unimpressed by all the leading candidates. our new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll showing nearly 70% couldn't see themselves supporting trump. 61% opposed to cruz. hillary clinton nearly as unpopular. cruz today insisting trump will be defeated at a contested convention. >> donald cannot win. >> reporter: on the road to 1,237, new york's just the starting point. in a crucial two-week stretch winding its way through the mid-atlantic and northeast before wrapping up in
indiana, that could reshuffle the delegate race. as trump protests his new nickname for his presumed democratic rival -- >> it's crooked hillary. she's as crooked as they come. >> reporter: our poll shows clinton would crush trump this fall, winning by 11 points. cruz trailing clinton by a hair. only john kasich beats her by a 12-point advantage. late today is the sanders campaign lashing out, accusing clinton and the dnc of fund-raising malpractice, arguing the serious apparent violation should cease immediately. tonight the clinton campaign is firing back, blasting the sanders attack as baseless and misleading. this democratic slugfest reignited just hours before the new yorkers vote. lester? >> peter alexander in brooklyn tonight, thank you. still ahead, scary moments in the sky. a passenger plane struck while coming in for a landing. the mid-air danger pilots encounter at least three times a day in the u.s.
we're back with a scare in the sky and growing alarm over how close drones are getting to planes. the pilot of a british airways jet reported his plane as being hit by an unmanned drone while trying to land in london. the plane landed safely, but it's exactly the kind of incident authorities have been warning about. here's nbc's tom costello with more. >> reporter: it was 12:50 p.m., final approach into london heathrow, when the crew of ba flight 727, an airbus a-320
arriving from geneva with 137 people on board reported it had been hit by an unmanned drone. the plane landed safely. in the u.s., 2.5 million commercial and hobby drones are expected to crowd the skies by the end of the year. if operators fail to steer clear of airports and planes, aviation experts warn there's a potentially serious threat to passenger planes. >> there is obviously a core of people breaking the law. they don't know they're risking a prison sentence or they don't care. >> one of those radio-controlled helicopter things went right over the top of us at 4,000. >> over the top of you at 4,000? >> roger that. >> reporter: in 2015, the faa reported more than three close calls each day between planes and drones. 1,400 for the year. researchers at virginia tech have created a computer simulation of an 8-pound drone striking a jet engine. the result? the total loss of the engine and potential crash. >> if they impact an airliner or other airplane, they'll do the same amount of damage, or more,
than birds. >> reporter: it was a double bird strike that forced the miracle on the hudson river landing seven years ago. the threat posed by drones is so serious, some experts want to require software that keeps them away from airports and other sensitive locations. tom costello, nbc news, washington. up next, a young woman who rose from tragedy to accomplish something amazing today in boston.
you live life your way. we can help you retire your way, too. financial guidance while you're mastering life. from chase. so you can. a triumphant day in boston as survivors from the 2013 marathon bombing competed in this year's race, including adrianne haslet, a ball room dancer who lost a leg in the blast. the patriots tom brady posted a picture with haslet call her his inspiration. mark fucarelli also lost a hand and took one of the top honors.
the news is next. ==jess/take vo== right now at 6. we can't leave you without acknowledging where we are in the people behind a very important mission in the fight against isis. the 380th air expeditionary wing, its commander is brigadier general daniel orcutt. thanks for being with us, general. the f-15, f-22, the global hawk drone here, what's their involvement in the war on terror? where are they going? >> they're going up over iraq and syria, and we have the humbling privilege of being part of a 19-nation air coalition. we're one of the many air expeditionary wings that are part of this fight. we're joined tonight by the airmen behind us, who they're really the engine behind the mission. the airplanes are neat, but the airmen are compelling. when i asked what they would like to pass back to their loved ones back home, they want to say the real heroes are the moms and dads who pass their prayers, and the single parents who are holding the families together. >> general, well said.
thanks for your mission. thanks to all of you for what you're doing. and thanks to all of you for watching tonight. we'll be back in new york. that's "nbc nightly news" this monday night. i'm lester holt. have a good night. # # accused of taking advantagea patient. detective release new information about a well- known chiropractor -- right now at 6:00, accused of taking advantage of a patient. detectives release new information about a well-known chiropractor facing serious charges. good evening thanks for joining us. i'm jessica aguirre. i'm raj mathai. we're running new details about a story we broke on friday. an east bay chiropractor faces charges of sexual battery after a patient says he groped her during a massage. elise kirschner is in concord.
what's the latest? >> reporter: raj, we're learning that that patient came to headquarters and said the doctor had touched her inappropriately during a massage. the doctor had no interest in addressing those allegations. >> if you've been in an accident or having pain, you already know you should see dr. moon. >> he's very public in commercials. all over facebook and on yelp with several positive reviews. >> i'm looking for dr. moon. >> dr. moon stayed behind the door of his clayton home this afternoon. >> definitely surprised. >> reporter: on friday, we were there exclusively as the popular chiropractor was arrested outside his concord office. he's facing sexual battery charges. >> dr. moon held the gown down and touched her breast. >> reporter: authorities say a long-time female patient went in to his office for a deep tissue