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Myanmar Security Forces Kill at Least 114 Civilians Saturday; Birx: Most COVID-19 Deaths Were Preventable; Contrasting Rollouts along the Irish Border; Third Wave Hits Europe; Biden Administration Braces for Surge of Young Migrants; Gridlock Growing with Massive Ship Blocking Suez Canal; U.S. South Braces for More Storms; Fagradalsfjall Eruption. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 28, 2021 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The world is condemning violence in Myanmar after the military's deadliest crackdown yet on its own citizens.

Protests in Georgia as Republican state officials defend the controversial new election law.

And more than a year into battling a pandemic, the doctors leading that fight sit down with CNN. And Dr. Deborah Birx says it didn't have to be this bad.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: The U.N. envoy for Myanmar is calling for the Security Council and the International Criminal Court to take action against the country. On Saturday, Myanmar's civilian population suffered its deadliest day yet at the hands of their own military. At least 114 people reportedly killed.

New video shows security forces firing weapons in a town in the far north of the country and we're hearing reports of three people killed by a military airstrike on an ethnic village. We also have disturbing video of the military's indiscriminate use of lethal force. I have to warn you it is graphic.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): You see security forces there suddenly opening fire on a passing motorcycle. Two people were able to run away but a third person's condition is unknown as their body was loaded into a truck. Speaking to CNN, the U.S. special rapporteur says time for talking is over.



TOM ANDREWS, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR: The Security Council should be meeting. It should be debating what is going on. Action should be put before it. And votes should be taken up or down. Votes should be taken.

The community of nations that care desperately about the people of Myanmar under siege right now can also work together to coordinate things like sanctions, there are dozens of sanctions regimes that are out there right now. We need to coordinate them into one coherent powerful whole.

And an emergency summit of these countries could gather together, establish this coordination and provide a unified front against this military junta.

Also accountability mechanisms could be put into place. The International Criminal Court could begin investigations and quickly begin pursuing charges against those responsible. So there are a number of things that can be done that should be done, that are not being done.


BRUNHUBER: CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is covering this for us in Hong Kong.

What is the latest?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Kim, there are more protests this day, Sunday, in Myanmar. More violence as well with local media reporting that a woman has been shot and killed by security forces in central Myanmar.

International outrage is growing, especially after events on Saturday, the deadliest day since the protests began. According to Myanmar Now, an independent news organization, at least 114 people were killed on Saturday across the country, including children.

A 5-year-old boy was killed in Mandalay. A 13-year-old girl was killed inside her home in Mandalay. We've seen video of a 1-year-old, a baby, hit in the eye with a rubber bullet.

Local media this day also reporting that a 40-year-old man, a father of four, was shot and was burned alive by security forces late last night. Images of his smoldering remains are circulating online.

As you can imagine, international condemnation has been swift. We heard from the U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken, who said, Washington, D.C., is horrified by Saturday's violence.

Also heard from the U.N. secretary-general, who said he was shocked by the crackdown. The U.K. foreign ministry said the attacks represented a new low. In a rare move, the defense chiefs of the United States and 11 other countries issued a joint statement condemning military sponsored violence in Myanmar.

We have the statement. It reads as follows.

Quote, "As chiefs of defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar armed forces and associated security services.


STOUT: "A professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting, not harming the people it serves.

"We urge the Myanmar armed forces to seize violence and work to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar that it has lost through its actions," unquote.

The U.S. and Europe have slapped new sanctions on the military and rulers and military-owned conglomerates but they have their friends, including Russia. On Saturday, the Russian deputy defense minister attended an armed services day military parade. The military chief of Myanmar calls Russia, quote, "a true friend," Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Truly horrific. Thank you so much, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

There's growing anger here in Georgia over a sweeping election law that places the state at the center of a national debate over voting rights. Many see it as an effort to suppress the Black vote after crucial wins for Democrats.

It imposes new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots and limits the use of drop boxes. Natasha Chen has more on the outcry against the measure.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: About 150 people gathered outside of Atlanta city hall here on Saturday to protest this Georgia voter bill and also to stand with Georgia representative Park Cannon. She was arrested when she was knocking on the door of the governor's office to try and witness him signing this bill.

And, of course, he did that behind closed doors. He was depicted signing the bill standing next white men. Also in the room was a painting that seemingly shows a plantation.

I talked to one voter who said that she first didn't think much of it but upon a closer look she found that that was the very plantation where her family had worked. Such an emotional moment for some of these people, minority groups taking a look at this moment and feeling that this directly impacts them.

I also spoke with someone who was at the capital when Park Cannon was arrested. Here is how she described that moment. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was not disruptive. So to have that incident

happen right in front of me and for it to end with her being taken away, it was horrific to watch, as a Black woman, to watch her taken into the elevator and watch as the doors closed, it was triggering. It was frightening. I felt her pain, I felt her terror.

CHEN: I spoke to another voter here who described her experience voting in the Georgia primary in June of 2020. She said that she waited for hours in line, past dinnertime, to the point where a local pizza delivery company had delivered some food soda and pizza so that they could still eat and wait in line to vote.

She said, of course, the way that the law was written and passed now, that would be illegal -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


BRUNHUBER: A top state official says concerns over the law are overblown. Listen to this.


GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: This bill does nothing to suppress anybody's vote but it does a few things to help people feel better about the election process.

One of the things that has been talked about is, once you begin counting voting, you're going to go all the way to the finish. That takes away some of those ability to spread the disinformation on those things.

If you use a voter ID number, you're even more quickly and easily identity somebody.

And in Georgia, ours was so good because we have automatic voter registration, which means that over 97 percent of Georgians are already registered to vote through the driver license system, 97 percent of those, we have 99 percent of Social Security numbers and dates of birth. So that's an easy way to do this.

Let's remember in Delaware, you still have to have an excuse to your vote. Not in Georgia. In New York -- I'm sorry, New Jersey and California and Virginia, you have to have your driver's license number mandatory on your drivers' license (INAUDIBLE) absentee ballot request and ballot.

None of this has suppressed anybody's votes in these places.


BRUNHUBER: Police in Virginia Beach, Virginia, are investigating an officer-involved shooting of a Black man late Friday night. Authorities haven't identified the officer who shot and killed 25- year-old Donovan Lynch. The police chief disputes reports that Lynch may have been unarmed at the time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have seen some of the community concerns about Mr. Donovan or Mr. Lynch being unarmed. I can tell you that there was a firearm recovered in the vicinity of where this incident occurred.

We would like to be more forthcoming but unfortunately, we don't have body cam footage of this incident. The officer was wearing a body cam. But for unknown reasons at this point in time it was not activated.


BRUNHUBER: The officer involved is now on administrative assignment during the investigation. Police say the incident was one of three unrelated shootings in Virginia Beach on Friday. A 29-year-old bystander was killed in one of those incidents. In all, eight others were injured.


BRUNHUBER: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, a major admission by a top member of the Trump COVID task force. What Dr. Deborah Birx revealed to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, ahead. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Over the past year, you've heard a lot about coronavirus surges in the U.S. as deaths and infections spiraled out of control. So of course, the virus is still a threat. But now some of the numbers are surging in the right direction. Vaccinations are spiking across the country.

The Centers for Disease Control says more than 50 million people are fully vaccinated. That's about 15 percent of the population. More than 140 million doses have been administered and the U.S. set a daily vaccination record on Friday with more than 3 million shots.

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx have become household names. They spearheaded the Trump administration's response to the pandemic. Recently, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down with Dr. Birx, who said the death toll in the U.S. didn't have to be so high.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER WHITE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I look at it this way, the first time, we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge.


BIRX: All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: You can see Dr. Sanjay Gupta's revealing interview with Dr. Birx and other former Trump administration experts only here on CNN. And that special, "COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out" airs Sunday at 9:00 pm Eastern time.

Spain is rolling out new measures as France struggles to keep its outbreak under control. Starting Wednesday in Spain, all travelers over the age of 6 arriving from France will have to show a negative PCR test, that's the gold standard of COVID tests, taken in the previous 72 hours.

This was already in place for those traveling by plane or boat. That will now apply to people driving over the border with some exceptions.

Senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann joins us from outside Paris.

Jim, France the target of more and more restrictions.

What led to this and how are the French reacting?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: I think what led to it was the spike in cases here. It's just been amazing to watch this over the last few weeks. It's just been a gradual increase every day, one day after another and then the rolling seven-day averages have been increasing as well.

And none of the measures the French have taken so far have seemed to have much impact on those numbers. The ICU numbers are particularly bad.

The -- in the Paris region, doctors are warning they're really at their limit, almost at the same numbers and same percentage of ICU usage as we saw back in the second wave, November, and even close to what was taking place in the first wave back in February.

So it's a situation that does not seem under control. President Macron said to a Sunday newspaper that, in fact, he is not ruling out anything in the way of new restrictive measures.

They are -- already talked about the possibility of doing something further in the schools because they've discovered there's been 21 house cases amongst school-age children in the last week.

Just a lot of things going on here that seem to indicate the situation is not getting any better. And as a consequence, the French are now turning their attention to relying on vaccines. And they expect to get about 3 million doses of vaccine this next week in France.

Only about 10 percent of the population here has received the first dose of vaccines.

And they are going to increase the vaccination centers. Not only can you go to hospitals -- to pharmacies and places like that and your own regular general doctor, they are going to expand it to include dentists and veterinarians so you can also get a COVID shot there.

They're doing the best they can on vaccines and hoping that's going to be something that will stem this tide. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Let's hope they get a handle on that latest wave soon. Thanks, Jim Bittermann, outside Paris.

In one area of Europe, there's a stunning contrast in how the COVID vaccines are being delivered. While the rollout in Northern Ireland is impressive, the numbers are sluggish in the neighboring Republic of Ireland. Nic Robertson reports.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): At 101 years old, Mary Devlin gets her second vaccine shot.

N. ROBERTSON: How do you feel that you had your second shot?


N. ROBERTSON (voice-over): Her doctor, Dr. Frances O'Hagan, is on a roll --


N. ROBERTSON (voice-over): Putting shots in arms at a Northern Ireland clinic, just as fast as she can, all her over 60s done.

O'HAGAN: It's feels fantastic and at every clinic there's a real feel good atmosphere.

N. ROBERTSON (voice-over): At a nearby sports center the same dose, dozens of health officials are delivering 1,200 shots a day.

N. ROBERTSON: So far across Northern Ireland, more than one third of the population have had their first shot of vaccine. Rollout according to the government is going well. South of the border in the Republic of Ireland it's an entirely different story.

N. ROBERTSON (voice-over): Just across the Irish border, government vaccine supplies are stalling. Local doctor Illona Duffy has no shots for the next few days.

ILLONA DUFFY, GENERAL PRACTIONER, MONAGHAN REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: The real issue is that we are a large practice, we have over 1,500 patients over the age of 70. And to date, we've only been able to vaccinate about 210 of those patients.

N. ROBERTSON (voice-over): People on the other side of the border with vaccine envy. Unlike the U.K., Ireland relied on the E.U. for vaccines and are way behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bit frustrating for people, you know what I mean? N. ROBERTSON (voice-over): In his bar, Raymond is counting the cost of being shuttered through COVID restrictions for almost a year.


N. ROBERTSON (voice-over): A slow vaccine rollout in the south is adding to his woes, business lost to Northern Ireland.

RAYMOND AUGHEY, THE SQUEALING PIG: They will probably be open so much faster and when they open, young people are just going to flock across to the border.

N. ROBERTSON: On the border roads, police run occasional COVID checkpoints preventing non-essential journeys. They began when rocketing infections into the north spilled over, spiking outbreaks in Ireland. In the first month of full cross border operation, police here have handed out more than a 140 fines to drivers coming from Northern Ireland. However there is no reciprocal system on the other side of the border.

Both side of the border, the uneven COVID response is worrying politicians.

BRENDAN SMITH, CHAIRMAN, FIANNA FAIL PARLIAMENTARY PARTY: Pandemics don't recognize borders. We are a very small community, a small island of the northwest periphery of Europe. We need to walk together to deal with health issues.

ROBIN SWANN, NORTHERN IRELAND HEALTH MINISTER: (INAUDIBLE) crossover movements that we actually see a higher degree of people who aren't vaccinated to actually starting to come to Northern Ireland and mix with our people here (INAUDIBLE).

N. ROBERTSON: Paradoxically Northern Irelands vaccines success offers hope south of the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that the rates in the northern (INAUDIBLE) somehow that we know that that would probably continued because there will be less community transmission because so many people are vaccinated. I think we are going to find that our rates will reflect that.

N. ROBERTSON: Both sides of the border hoping for a leveling up fast -- Nic Robertson, CNN, along the Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland border.


BRUNHUBER: For more on the vaccine rollout and COVID-19, let's bring in Peter Drobac, an infectious disease and global health expert at the University of Oxford.

Thanks for being with us again.

This third wave we're seeing in France and Germany, it ties in with what we heard earlier from Dr. Birx, speaking to our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that many fewer people might still be alive if cities and states had learned from the first wave and the fact that here in the U.S., so many cities and states are now reopening so quickly, infections rising in many of them.

Does that suggest we still haven't learned those lessons and many more people might die because of it?

DR. PETER DROBAC, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Yes, thank you for having me, Kim.

It sometimes feels like Groundhog Day. Just a few weeks ago when we heard a lot of states in the U.S. were starting to roll back restrictions and mask mandates, we warned that, if we pulled back before the rates of vaccination had increased sufficiently, we risked another surge.

In just over the last week, of course, we saw first a plateauing at a very high level of transmission and now we've seen the 7 percent increase over the last week. And the U.S. curve is just a couple of weeks behind Europe, which is now, you know, reimposing lockdowns and facing a terrifying surge.

So it feels like we're making the same mistakes over and over again. There's reason for optimism with vaccines but not a reason to let our guard down.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, let's turn to that optimism. The vaccine rollout here is going quickly. About a quarter of Americans have got at least one dose. It seems that we've been really good at getting older people vaccinated.

But what's the risk if too many young people essentially say, you know, no, I'm good; why bother, which is something I've heard a lot from young people I've talked to?

DROBAC: Yes. Now most countries have taken the same approach, which is to prioritize those who are older and have medical conditions or frontline workers with vaccinations first because we know these vaccines are amazing at saving lives.

Now as there's increasing evidence they do, indeed, probably slow transmission somewhat, we're moving across populations. What we saw in places like Israel that were way ahead of the curve in vaccinating, as they started to vaccinate the majority of the older population, you started to really see a rise in cases and even hospitalizations in younger people as well.

And we're beginning to see that in the U.K. and some other places. Here in the U.K., older children are amongst the most highly affected group in terms of new infections.

That's something that we really need to be aware of, particularly with some of the variants, which appear to be not only a little more infectious but a little more virulent, that people can tend to have more problems, that we could see a rise actually in younger people in hospital. So it's really important that we continue that messaging around the

importance of vaccination to get back to normal.

BRUNHUBER: And to that end, you know, there are various ways to incentivize people there in the U.K. Prime minister Boris Johnson floated the idea of having to show a vaccine passport to get into a pub, a carrot to entice people to get vaccinated.

I was reading about research that suggested the idea of making vaccines compulsory like that led to fewer getting vaccines because people got the sense they were being forced to do it.


BRUNHUBER: What do you think of these types of incentives?

DROBAC: Seems like vaccine passports are coming whether we like them or not. It's a really complicated -- there are technological issues. There are ethical issues. And there are regulatory issues.

And I think you're right; on the one hand you can see how this could be an incentive for someone to get the jab to get back to something they love or to be able to travel but it's true, particularly amongst folks with a higher level of vaccine hesitancy, for whatever reason, that mandating it may actually cause them to dig in further and become more resistant to it.

We don't know how that would play out. A lot has to do with what those passports would be required to do because there are also ethical issues around inequality. If you are in a situation like now in the U.K., where some of eligible for vaccines and others are not eligible for vaccines, if you roll out a vaccine passport and said, you can't have a vaccine and you can't go out and do anything, that creates some real issues within communities.

I think we'll first see it come for international travel. But there are a lot of issues yet to be worked out.

BRUNHUBER: Exactly right. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Peter Drobac. Really appreciate it.

DROBAC: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: Global condemnation is growing louder as Myanmar's military kills more than 100 people in a single day. Just ahead, we'll speak to an official with Human Rights Watch about what the international community can and can't do to stop the bloodshed.

Plus, the desperate plight of thousands of children stuck in limbo on the southern U.S. border. We'll find out why people, who deal with the crisis every day, say it will get worse. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world.

The crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border will get even worse. That's what officials tell us. Right now thousands of migrants, many of them children, are stuck in a kind of administrative limbo.

The White House is also under increasing pressure to address the conditions at the border and to let reporters see the reality on the ground. CNN's Arlette Saenz explains.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Biden administration is bracing for an uptick in the number of migrants coming to the U.S.-Mexico border in the coming months. They're predicting they could need 34,000 more beds in these shelters.

Many children are going through the border processing facilities, which are only meant to hold them 72 hours. They are in conditions not meant to house children long-term.

As of the end of this week, there were about 5,500 unaccompanied minors. There are not enough beds and shelter space in HHS.

So what you have seen from the administration is they are trying to build up the number of shelter sites and also the beds so they can process these children more quickly and get them into suitable positions.

In recent days you have seen Republicans and Democratic lawmakers take a look at these facilities. One Republican senator posted a video from Donna, Texas, where they are holding both families and children.

So far the media has not been allowed in, only showed the shelters. President Biden has acknowledged that the circumstances and conditions in these facilities do need to be improved. But this is one of the major challenges facing the administration in the coming months -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware.


BRUNHUBER: Members of both parties are pointing the finger at the current and former presidential administrations for the border crisis. Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro laid blame squarely on the Trump administration.


REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: President Biden inherited a situation, where the previous administration had sought to dismantle the infrastructure for processing asylum seekers and settling asylum seekers in the United States.

It was an administration, that was run, in many ways, on these issues by Stephen Miller. And during the pandemic, the Trump administration took advantage of that fact and sought to expel every single person who was coming to the United States to seek asylum.


BRUNHUBER: Republican congressman Tony Gonzalez said the Biden White House needed to consult with those who deal with the border on a regular basis.


REP. ANTHONY GONZALEZ (R-OH): Every president has had to deal with this. And what I'd like to see is this administration work closer with those that see it every day. I'm on the border every day.

Henry Cuellar is on the border every day. Work with us to come up with a solution. Building more and more facilities is the wrong answer.

We're about to open up two more facilities here in San Antonio. One at the Freeman Coliseum. Another at the base at Lackland. There's going to be another facility out in Ft. Bliss, in El Paso. I mean, what I'm hearing from Border Patrol agents on the ground is this. Things are only going to get worse.


BRUNHUBER: Dozens of people are unaccounted for in Mozambique following an attack by Islamist insurgents. Thousands have fled the northern town of Palma since Wednesday, when it was stormed by attackers believed to be affiliated with ISIS.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Heavy fighting continued into Saturday. Security forces have been trying to evacuate civilians and foreign workers in the area. More than 600,000 people in Mozambique have been displaced in fighting between the Islamist group and government forces, according to Human Rights Watch, and more than 1,500 civilians have been killed.


BRUNHUBER: The world is reacting with growing horror to the escalation of deadly force by Myanmar's military. At least 114 civilians were reportedly killed on Saturday, the highest one-day death toll since the protests began.

In a rare joint statement, the military leaders of a dozen countries, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K. condemned Myanmar's military as a betrayal of their role as protectors.

[04:35:00] BRUNHUBER: Part of that statement reads, "a professional military follows international standards for conduct and is responsible for protecting, not harming the people it serves."

Phil Robertson is with Human Rights Watch and joins us from Bangkok, Thailand.

Thank you for being here. Really appreciate it. So the bloodiest day yet.

Were you surprised by the scope of the violence here?

PHIL ROBERTSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ASIAN DIVISION, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Yes, it's really way beyond the pale. I mean, the murderous military of Myanmar is really showing their true face. You know, they are mowing people down, killing children in their houses. You know, barging in and shooting.

We just got a report of a man who was burned alive in Mandalay, the second largest city, after he was wounded by the military. It's a horror. It's unbelievable. And it has to stop.

BRUNHUBER: So to try and bring that about, you wrote, quote, "Time to demand U.N. Security Council pass a resolution to impose a global embargo on the armed forces and police."

Given that they already have plenty of weapons, do you think cutting off their oil and gas revenues, which is their largest source of revenue, may be more effective, at least in the short term?

P. ROBERTSON: I would say that we should probably do both. Yes, the issue of cutting off the gas proceeds, which, you know, provides billions of dollars to Myanmar's military and government, is quite clearly something that needs to happen.

And we're working on that. We're pressing various different banks and we're pressing governments to make that happen.

But it also has to be a global condemnation of Myanmar's military by the other militaries around the world and by the governments.

And part of that is really making sure that they will not be able to put on the kind of display they put on Saturday, not only killing so many people but also having this huge display of force and weapons during their armed forces day.

BRUNHUBER: But they've shown to be pretty impervious to international condemnation. You've called for the commanders in the military here to be prosecuted in the international courts. But Myanmar isn't a party to the Rome statute which established the ICC. So the court doesn't have jurisdiction.

What good would that do?

And then the fact that Russia and China are supporting the country, does that further blunt the international response, do you think? P. ROBERTSON: Well, certainly Russia is a major problem and we had a deputy minister of defense of Russia at that armed forces day parade, basically cheering on the military. And they have been one of the biggest arms sellers.

The big issue is the U.N. Security Council. Both a referral to the International Criminal Court as well as action on global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions that would be worldwide really focus on the Security Council.

And we are trying to do everything we can to move heaven and Earth to try to create the political commitment to address those issues. So far, we're not there yet.

BRUNHUBER: Turning to the protesters, the determination that we've seen is stunning. So many people willing to face death essentially to rid themselves of the military rulers.

I'm wondering, from your perspective, is this a zero-sum game?

Will one side have to achieve total victory over the other?

Or is there a return to some sort of compromise or middle ground possible?

P. ROBERTSON: Right now it's a real tug of war between the protesters and the military because, unseen to many, is that the economy of the Myanmar has been essentially shut down by the civil disobedience movement and the general strike that's been ongoing.

I think that ultimately, that may prevail if, in fact, the Burmese military doesn't kill people at an even higher rate than they are already doing so. So I think that it is possible that we will see a possible negotiated solution.

But right now, neither side is stepping back. And the people are very clear that they don't want to go back to a military dictatorship. They spent almost five decades under military dictatorship until the democracy transition in 2011. They know what that's like and they're not going back.

BRUNHUBER: Phil Robertson with Human Rights Watch in Bangkok, Thailand. Thank you so much.

P. ROBERTSON: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: Efforts to free the massive cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal are intensifying.

What's being done to get it moving before more damage is done to global supply chains?

We'll explain coming up. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The global shipping industry hopes that today will be the day things can finally get back to normal in Egypt's Suez Canal. There's a renewed push to get the massive ship stuck there since Tuesday moving again.

Rescue teams even managed to briefly restart its propellers and rudder at one point. All efforts to refloat the vessel so far haven't gotten the job done. Ben Wedeman is following developments for us from Cairo.

Bring us up to speed on the latest efforts to free the ship and where we go from here.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were high hopes, Kim, that last night, at precisely 10:30 pm, when the tides were at their highest, that, somehow, the ship, the Ever Given, would budge ever so slightly. But that hasn't happened. The Ever Given is still stuck.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Efforts continue to dislodge the massive container ship blocking one of the world's most important waterways.

But the ship has only budged slightly. Almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, the Ever Given got stuck Tuesday, navigating through a sandstorm in 40 knot winds.

WEDEMAN: Initially, it was thought that high winds and a sandstorm where the cause for the grounding of the Ever Given. Now we've heard from the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, perhaps, human and technical error are also to blame.

OSAMA RABIE, SUEZ CANAL AUTHORITY (through translator): There may have been a technical or human error. There are many mistakes but we cannot definitely say what the reason is.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Dredging continues, as attempts to free the carrier during high tide were not successful enough to refloat the ship.

With around 12 percent of global trade volume, typically passing through the Suez Canal, countries around the world are pitching in. The Dutch salvage company brought in to help is sending a crane and two tugboats, heavier than these, hoping to free the ship before its precarious position gets worse.


SAL MERCOGLIANO, MARITIME HISTORIAN: You have to start worrying about the vessel rolling. You have to worry about the vessel cracking. The nightmare scenario of all-time is the vessel breaks apart. That would not be weeks or days of salvage but months. WEDEMAN (voice-over): Meanwhile, traffic remains at a standstill in a

waterway that, normally handles the equivalent of $10 billion per day, in cargo. More than 320 ships, backed up, in either direction. Their only alternative is to divert around the southern tip of Africa, adding about a week to the journey.

SAL MERCOGLIANO, MARITIME HISTORIAN: This is going to be costing an extra 3,500 miles, 7 days steaming. So we're about to see it in the pocketbook here real soon.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The backlog will also be costly for vessels, waiting in place. About a dozen are carrying livestock, at risk of dying, if the situation is not resolved within a few days.

Japanese shipping companies who own the Ever Given told CNN that they are bracing for lawsuits but insist their priority right now is refloating the ship a soon as possible. Executives even bowed in apology on Friday. But with costs skyrocketing for the global shipping industry, saying sorry may not be enough.


WEDEMAN: And already we're seeing real-world knock-on effects to this stoppage. Syria today announced it's going to have to ration fuel because of the inability of tankers to get to that country.

They are doing so to ensure continued service at bakeries, hospitals, communications centers and water pumping stations. So already we're seeing that this isn't just a funny story with goofy memes. There are real lives at stake -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, well said. Ben Wedeman, thanks. Appreciate it.

Coming up, an Icelandic volcano just woke up from centuries of sleep and no telling when it will close its eyes again. Why COVID-fatigued tourists are flocking to see it.

And flooding, rains and multiple tornadoes sweep through the region. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Some residents in parts of the southern U.S. are trying to catch their breath after tornadoes ripped through their homes again. Just look at these images.

Twin tornadoes left a trail of destruction in Tennessee on Saturday with power lines and trees down. And moments ago the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for the national area with rescues already underway. This come after at least 14 tornadoes swept across four states about 48 hours ago, killing at least six people.


BRUNHUBER: Thousands of sight seekers are flocking to an erupting volcano in Iceland. It had been dormant for centuries until recently and now officials have to patrol making sure people stay at a safe distance. CNN's Michael Holmes has the report.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An eruption of tourists in Iceland's newest hot spot, a volcano, about 30 kilometers from the country's capital, blazed back to life over a week ago, drawing thousands of sightseers to a spectacular lava show.


HOLMES (voice-over): Over the past weeks, thousands of small earthquakes roused the volcano after centuries of slumber, a reawakening that's attracted quite a following.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really nice to be here with a big crowd. It's, like, after 2020, it's kind of unreal, really, to be around so many people at one time.

HOLMES (voice-over): It's a hike to reach the volcano. Authorities set up a 3.5-kilometer trail over craggy terrain. The visitors are enthralled but in some cases, in need of rescue because they didn't bring proper gear. Patrols have been set up to stop people from entering areas with high levels of toxic volcanic gases; not too much of a worry for this admirer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it feels so nice. it feels like a music festival here, to have so many people around, so I love it. I love how many people are here.

HOLMES (voice-over): Nature's bonfire with sideshows that are both silly and surreal. These scientists, cooking up an experiment, how to cook hotdogs on the molten ground.

For others, it's a chance to reconnect with nature and with each other. Experts say they aren't sure how long the volcano will remain active. It could be days. It could be decades before this red-hot wonder returns to sleep -- Michael Holmes, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: Finally, a Qantas Airlines mystery flight departed on Saturday. Passengers boarding in Brisbane had no idea where in Australia they were going. The carrier did hint it was somewhere perfect for people who love gourmet food and wine.

It turned out to be the city of Orange. Qantas has scheduled two more mystery flights departing from Sydney and Melbourne. The trips are meant to boost tourism in areas hit by coronavirus travel restrictions. That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. But I'll be back with more news.

Please do stay with us.