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WHO Release Report on COVID-19 Source; Vaccine Shows High Efficacy Rate; Floyd's Family Hopes to Get Justice; Ever Given Finally Freed; Trial Begin For Ex-Officer Derek Chauvin Charged In Floyd's Death; Biden Administration Cuts Trade Ties With Myanmar; First Oil Tanker In Months Docks At Hodeidah Port As War In Yemen Continues; Severe Weather, Six Dead After Flash Floods In Nashville. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 30, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

And we will have the latest on the Derek Chauvin trial in just a moment.

But we begin with the long-awaited report on the origins of the COVID- 19 pandemic. CNN has obtained a draft version of the report, it says the virus likely came from animals not a laboratory in China. The study by a team of international and Chinese experts list four possible sources for the virus.

They say it most likely spread through an intermediate animal host, possibly a wild animal captured and raised on a farm or a direct transmission from an animal known to carry a similar coronavirus such as a pangolin, or bat. The report says it's not likely to have come from frozen food, and the least likely source they say a laboratory leak.

Well for more on what's in that report, let's turn now to CNN's Kristie Lu Stout, she joins us live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie. So, what else did this report reveal about the origins of COVID-19? And how reliable are the findings, given the restrictions placed on the WHO team one year after the pandemic started?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You're right, Rosemary, a lot of concerns about the timing about the access, the process and the methodology that went into this investigation. CNN has obtained a draft of this 123-page report by the World Health Organization looking into the origins of the novel coronavirus.

There's a lot of detail in there, as you can expect, but there is no smoking gun as to the definitive origin of the pandemic. Now according to this report, the virus most likely came from an animal, and not a lab. According to this report, the virus most likely circulated and was spreading no more than one or two months before it was detected initially in December of 2019.

As you laid out, the report walks through four possible sources of the virus, the most likely source an intermediary animal host that was infected by a bat. But which animal? That, according to the report remains, quote, "elusive."

Now the next most likely source is direct transmission from an animal like a bat or a pangolin. Now, possible, but not probable source of the virus according to this report, transmissions through frozen food or frozen food chilled food packaging, which is a theory that has been actively pushed by China over the last year.

And the least likely scenario, again, according to the WHO report and the draft that was released to us early, an accidental lab release was described as, quote, "extremely unlikely," unquote, by the report's authors.

Now, before the report is released, CNN did talk to one of the members of the investigative team at the WHO, he is a disease ecologist. His name is Peter Daszak. And he puts the focus firmly on wildlife, and wildlife markets in China. Take a listen.


PETER DASZAK, MEMBER, WHO TEAM INVESTIGATING COVID-19: What we found in China was that that market that sold seafood but they also sold wildlife, and wildlife products, and, you know, and you know, whole carcasses of animals and live animals of different types from farms across China. So, there was definitely a pathway that takes animals coming into that market from all over China, including the places where the nearest relatives of SARS COV2 have been found in bats.

So, what we found I think is pretty important evidence of a way the virus could have emerged, from rural China into a big city like Wuhan and led to an outbreak.


LU STOUT (on camera): Peter Daszak at the WHO investigative team there, confirming what CNN first reported in January of last year that the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan sold more than just seafood, and number two, crucially, wildlife markets provided a pathway for the virus. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Kristie Lu Stout, many thanks joining us live from Hong Kong.

So, let's turn now to Dr. Sian Griffiths in Oxford, England. She is an emeritus professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong school of public health. She was also the chair of Hong Kong's inquiry into the SARS outbreak in 2003. Thank you, doctor for joining us.

SIAN GRIFFITHS, EMERITUS PROFESSOR, CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF Hong Kong: Good morning. CHURCH: So, what did you make of the findings laid out in the WHO

report on the origins of COVID-19, and how credible are these, given the very restricted access the team received a year after the start of this pandemic?


GRIFFITHS: Well, as your reporter was saying, this is a draft report, and I was sent a copy by your team so I've had a very quick look at it. But the findings aren't altogether surprising. Because if you go back to 2003 when the SARS outbreak, the coronavirus outbreak, which affected Hong Kong, in particular, in the far east, as well as spreading to Canada, and was seen as a -- it is now seen as a forerunner of this COVID outbreak.

During the 2003 outbreak, the theory was, in fact, bats were a reservoir for the coronavirus. And in that instance, the most likely intermediary animal was actually a civet cat which was a delicacy, it's a wild animal but often cultivated and sold in wildlife markets. And civet cats were seen as the intermediary for the bit for the spread of SARS in 2003.

So, the fact that this is another coronavirus outbreak and it could have echoes of 2003 in 2020, it doesn't really surprise me. Because I think that we all know the risks of transfer of diseases from animals to man for new emerging diseases. And this is a very important issue which is being dealt with globally on many fronts of the current time.

CHURCH: So, if that is the case, I mean, the whole reason why any investigation like this is done is to find out the origins so you can make sure it doesn't happen again. So, if it can be taken with that the origin is somewhere, a bat possibly getting into an intermediary animal, then shouldn't something be done about these wet markets where they sell these wildlife animals?

GRIFFITHS: I think it's actually wildlife markets which should be the targets. And following SARS in 2003, there was big efforts, particularly in Hong Kong to try to invest to control the spread of wildlife, in fact, to ban it. And just as the same steps have been done, taken towards restricting bird flu while improving the conditions in which thickens the cell.

It's about hygiene, it's about the food chain, it's about making sure that the regulations are applied and that the food is prepared hygienically, sold hygienically under animal husbandry it means good conditions. So, there is a big challenge here in terms of actually making sure that that food chain is one that is protective against these viruses emerging, which then takes up resident in man.

CHURCH: Well let's hope they do that. Of course, the report says the least likely option is the virus being released accidentally from a lab.


CHURCH: But just a few days ago, former CDC director Robert Redfield told CNN that he believes it accidentally escaped from a Wuhan lab that was studying bats. He offered no evidence to support that claim, he just had a gut feeling. What do you say to that possibility?

GRIFFITHS: Well, I think that the scientists, there are 17 international scientists who were on the WHO team who went and they looked at the epidemiology, they looked at the pathology, they looked at the genetics, they looked at all the work that would give them some understanding of where the disease emerged, how it spread, and the nature of it.

They have been doing the science. And I would rather take the science as evidence, and without any disrespect, than a gut feeling.

CHURCH (on camera): Absolutely. Dr. Sian Griffiths joining us from Oxford, England, many thanks. I appreciate it.

Well Johns Hopkins University reports the U.S. has just crossed 550,000 deaths from the coronavirus. And a steady rise in infections has top U.S. health officials warning of impending doom. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says travel is up and she's worried about surges like those last summer and winter.


ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I'm going to pause here, I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now, I'm scared.


CHURCH (on camera): Well, new COVID cases are up in 27 U.S. states right now, the national average jump 16 percent in just one week, the highest spike since mid-January.

But there is more good news on the vaccine front, the Pfizer and Moderna shots are highly effective not just in human trials but also in the real world.


A new study from the CDC looked at thousands of healthcare workers and first responders who received both doses. The report found the vaccines are 90 percent effective at preventing infections, including those without symptoms. And it was 80 percent effective two weeks after just a single dose. But before you think about skipping that second shot, Dr. Anthony Fauci has some advice.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We don't know how long that 80 percent is durable. It may drop off a cliff in two weeks or three weeks. The other thing is, that even though it's 80 percent protective, the level of antibody that it induces is far lower than after the second dose.


CHURCH (on camera): Well, day one of the highly anticipated trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, wrapped up on Monday in Minnesota.

The event led to more protests on the streets of Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged with killing George Floyd last May. But Floyd's death has had an impact far beyond Minnesota. Images of a white officer kneeling on Black man's neck for almost 10 minutes set off protests around the world. And it prompted a moment of racial reckoning in the U.S.

CNN's Sara Sidner has our report. A warning though, it contains disturbing video.


JERRY BLACKWELL, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: On May 25th 2020, Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force up on the body of Mr. George Floyd.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The prosecutions opening statement tells you everything you need to know about how they want the jury to see this case.

BLACKWELL: Nine, two-nine, the three most important numbers in the case.

SIDNER: Nine minutes and 29 seconds the excruciating time George Floyd's neck was under then officer Derek Chauvin's knee.

BLACKWELL: This case is not about split-second decision-making.

SIDNER: And to help make that point, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell played one of the videos for the jury.



UNKNOWN: What do you want?

FLOYD: I can't breathe.

BLACKWELL: You will see he does not let up, and it does not get up. You will learn that Mr. Chauvin is told that they can't even find the pulse.

SIDNER: The first witness, a 911 dispatcher. Her May 25th dispatch was also played in court showing she was watching surveillance video of Floyd being pinned down that day.

JENA SCURRY, MINNEAPOLIS 911 DISPATCHER: I don't know, you can call me a snitch if you want to but we have the cameras up for 320s call. My instincts were telling me that something is wrong. SIDNER: Jurors were told they'd also be seeing and hearing all the video from bystander's cameras to police body worn cameras, as well as hearing from Minneapolis police officers, the chief of police, medical experts, and witnesses on the scene.

Donald Williams was one of those witnesses. William is trained in mixed martial arts where chokeholds are practiced, and what he saw on the street that day alarmed him.

DONALD WYNN WILLIAMS, WITNESS: When they get the choke tighter, you -- different shimmies, which I felt the officer on top was shimmying to actually get the final choking while he was on top, to give the kill choke.

SIDNER: For the defense's case?

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE LAWYER: Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career. The use of force is not attractive. But it is a necessary component of policing.

SIDNER: Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson made clear this will also be a battle of experts.

NELSON: This will ultimately be another significant battle in this trial. What was Mr. Floyd's actual cause of death?

SIDNER: He wants the jury to look at the whole scene and listen to the use of force and medical experts, as well as read the medical reports.

NELSON: That we revealed Mr. Floyd had an exceptionally high level of carbon dioxide. Dr. Baker found none of what are referred to as the telltale signs of asphyxiation. There was no petechial hemorrhaging. There was no evidence that Mr. Floyd's airway was restricted.

SIDNER: Instead, he suggested it was illicit drugs found in Floyd's system that aggravated a medical condition that took Floyd's life.

NELSON: Hypertension, his coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline throwing -- flowing through his body. All of which acted to further compromise an already compromised heart.

SIDNER: There is one thing that offense and prosecution did agree on.

NELSON: There is no political or social cause in this courtroom.

SIDNER: But in the streets and for Floyd's family, Chauvin is not the only one on trial. America's justice system is.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: The shade of your skin shouldn't be a death sentence. America is watching.


SIDNER: Before the trial began the Floyd family and their lawyers knelt outside court for nearly 10 minutes to illustrate just how long Floyd beg for his life under Chauvin's knee.

UNKNOWN: We came here for one thing and one thing only. We came to get justice. Somebody needs to be held accountable.


CHURCH (on camera): Sara Sidner with that report. And earlier, CNN's Don Lemon spoke with George Floyd's brother. He said this trial is about so much more than just one man's death. Take a listen.


P. FLOYD: My brother is not on trial. Chauvin is on trial. America is on trial right now. Minneapolis, Minnesota, they would have to get this right. We're tired of people being killed and slaughtered for anything.

I'm not anti-police but there's been a lot of killing by police officers. And not just in Minneapolis, all across America. We will get justice, we have to get justice, because if you can't get justices for this as a Black man in America, what can you get justice for an America then?


CHURCH (on camera): Derek Chauvin's defense suggested the former officer was not responsible for Mr. Floyd's death at all. But that George Floyd died due to a combination of underlying health conditions and being high on drugs. The judge will also allow testimony from Floyd's prior arrest in 2019.

Now, Chauvin's lawyer try -- lawyers try to show similarities between the two events.

CNN legal analyst Laura Coates responded to that.


LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The idea here when you look at what evidence at entering, you have to do this thing where you are comparing the prejudicial value of it before the probity value. To me, the prejudice to the victim is much greater than any probity value.

And frankly, I don't understand why the defense would want to raise this issue. Because if they're going to say that the fact pattern was analogous, that there was some M.O. that George Floyd use, the ingestion of some substance in a police encounter. Remember, in 2019, he lived. and the officers ended up providing him medical treatment.

So, to compare it, even if they find it analogous, but it does show you that even more so there was not reasonable access by the cops in 2020 when they sat on his neck for 9 minutes, and 29 seconds. So, the idea of using this is nonsensical. What they're trying to do, of course, is put George Floyd on trial as opposed to Derek Chauvin.

In any event, it is not more probative than prejudicial, because it does not go to the meat of the matter here, which is, whether the officer was reasonable in his use of force, and whether the kneeling was a substantial causal factor to killing George Floyd.


CHURCH (on camera): The Chauvin trial resumes this morning.

Well, the ship in the Suez Canal has been freed, and is on the move but it could have a lasting impact on the shipping route. A look at how the events unfolded, and what's next.



CHURCH (on camera): After nearly a weeklong saga the Ever Given cargo ship is now moving and the Suez Canal is back in business. The ship was blocking the canal's waterway and it took an international effort to free it.

Here is how victory looked and sounded for some rescue crews. A very happy bunch there.

And CNN's Ben Wedeman takes a look at what happened.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): What began as a curiosity for the world and the local fauna, would turn into a full-blown crisis. The Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, runs aground in the Suez Canal.

We would all soon be reminded that our modern world is still dependent on that single waterway, just a few hundred meters wide, dug more than 150 years ago. Hours after those first reports last Tuesday, experts realize the Ever Given, weighing more than 200,000 tons is unlikely to be cleared anytime soon.

By Wednesday, a Suez Canal official tells CNN if a ship were easy to free it would have long ago been on its way. Vessels start to pile up, more than 100 by that second evening. A sleepy canal side town plays witness to the biggest Suez crisis since the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

According to Lloyd's List, nearly $10 billion of trade passes through the canal daily, a main route from Asia to Europe and beyond. The cost is clear. So too, is the challenge. And demoralizing when a legendary Dutch salvage company is brought in and says a solution could be days or even weeks away.

The bow is lodged rock-solid in clay. And they warned that containers might even need to be unloaded to lighten the load. More equipment piles in, Egyptian teams toiling around the clock dredging the canal bank. Shipping companies are no longer willing to wait around. They divert some ships thousands of miles around Africa's Cape of Good Hope. And yet, optimism abounds. The ship's Japanese owner predicts it will

be free by Saturday. Salvage experts saying they need not hope, but a bigger tug. Ships keep piling up, including at least 13 carrying thousands of livestock in danger of starving before their planned slaughter.

The potential cost to human life is also in stark focus. Tankers carrying vital oil supplies are held up. Syria, already in crisis and dependent on oil imports begins to ration supplies.


By Sunday, the first of the heavy tugboats arrive, and early Monday, the true breakthrough, a flotilla of Egyptian tugs and more from abroad rest the ship stern free, turning the ship nearly straight, pausing between high tides, expectations run high even as experts warn the bow is still rock-solid in the canal's bank.

At 15 minutes past 3 p.m. she comes free from the shore and makes her way north to the Great Bitter Lake. A backlog of hundreds of ships will take days to clear. But Egyptians can finally say, good riddance to the Ever Given.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.


CHURCH: Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is cutting trade ties in Myanmar. The latest move by international powers to end the turmoil and bloodshed in that country. We'll have the details.




CHURCH (on camera): You can believe your eyes it was a homicide. Those blistering words from prosecutors to the jury on the opening day of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. He is pleading not guilty to second degree and third degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd. CNN's Omar Jimenez was there for day one of the trial and a warning his report contains disturbing video.


JERRY BLACKWELL, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury good morning.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As prosecutors open their case seeking justice for George Floyd they began with the unavoidable. Playing in full the nine minute 29-second video of Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd's neck as he slowly loses consciousness. BLACKWELL: You will see he does not let up and he does not get up.

For the remaining -- as you can see three minutes and 51 seconds. During this period of time you will learn that Mr. Chauvin is told that they can't even find the pulse of Mr. Floyd. You can believe your eyes that it was a homicide, its murder. You can believe your eyes.

JIMENEZ: Prosecutors say they want a fair trial but one more evidence leads their arguments and one that proves Chauvin was anything but innocent.

UNKNOWN: Mr. Nelson, do you wish to open at this time?

JIMENEZ: The defense argues that Officer Chauvin was doing what he was doing what he was trained to do and the evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds. Highlighting will be a central battle in this trial.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: What was Mr. Floyd's actual cause of death? The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, his coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline flowing through his body.

JIMENEZ: Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson also argued the surrounding crowd had an impact on Chauvin's behavior that day.

NELSON: They are screaming at him causing the officers to divert their attention from Mr. Floyd to the threat that was growing in front of them.

JIMENEZ: In the end, Nelson says the only just result is not guilty. That is not how the family of George Floyd feels. They started the day kneeling in silent protest representing the time Derek Chauvin's knee was on George Floyd's neck.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: They can't sweep this under the rug. This is a starting point. This is not a finishing point.

UNKNOWN: Testimony telling the truth and nothing but the truth.

JIMENEZ: The starting point four prosecutors? The 9-1-1 operator who dispatched the officers to cup foods on May 25th 2020. Jena Scurry testified officers pinned Floyd to the ground for so long she thought the real time video she was watching froze. She alerted a sergeant to voice her concern with what was happening.

JENA SCURRY, MINNEAPOLIS 911 DISPATCHER: My instincts are telling me something was wrong. Something is not right. I don't know what, but something wasn't right.

JIMENEZ: While Donald Williams who witness Floyd pinned from just feet away told the court his mixed martial arts background informed him that Chauvin was tightening his knee on Floyd's neck.

DONALD WYNN WILLIAMS, WITNESS: Overtime Chauvin is moving he is pushing that pressure down on his neck from the shoulders to the knees.

JIMENEZ: And we have continued to see protests throughout this entire process outside of the courtroom proceedings. This in particular is outside of the government center where the trial has been taking place over recent weeks. And when you look at this moment in particular this is one that has been a long time coming for people here in this community.

And understandably so they are watching it very closely as a result. Now day one of opening statements and witness testimony wrapped in the middle of testimony from the third witness that was called is going to pick up the next day Tuesday with the end of that witness testimony.

Omar Jimenez CNN Minneapolis Minnesota.


CHURCH (on camera): U.S. President Joe Biden has suspended all diplomatic trade with Myanmar after a weekend of carnage. The U.S. President calls it absolutely outrageous.

Protesters run for cover as gunfire broke out in Myanmar. At least 14 were shot and killed Monday, according to an advocacy group. It says people banked pots and pans in protest in Yangon and security forces warned they will burn neighborhoods if it continues. Thousands of protesters were back out Monday, two days after the bloodiest crackdown yet when security forces killed 114 people on Saturday.


Tom Andrews is the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar. He joins me now from Washington. Thank you so much for talking to us.


CHURCH: So, more than 400 protesters have lost their lives at the hands of Myanmar's military since the February 1st coup. And after one of the deadliest weekend since that day the U.S. is now suspending all diplomatic trade engagements with Myanmar until democracy is restored. What impact will this likely have? If any on the military slaughtering its own people? And will it help restore democracy?

ANDREWS: Listen, I think what has to happen first and foremost is that the people of Myanmar are going to win this. They are so committed. They are so tenacious. They are so courageous. They are not going back. I think ultimately the people of Myanmar will determine the future of that country. But they need help and support. And I think that steps such as the measures established by the administration, the U.S. administration are welcomed. But it needs to be combined with efforts by other countries.

On Wednesday the United States will chair sessions of the United Nations Security Council. That council should put before it specific measures that can establishing coordinated sanctions that we would have a real impact on the Junta. Get the weapons from flowing into that country, have an arms international arms embargo and then also take an additional measure of referring these generals, these Junta to the international criminal court where these crimes can be investigated and they can be prosecuted.

CHURCH: The problem is that sanctions have been applied in the past and nothing has happened. We know Myanmar's military fired at a funeral on Sunday as people mourned lives lost the day before in the bloodiest day since the coup began.

So how can you be sure that something will happen as a result of sanctions being put in place? Trade actions taken by the U.S. and you talk in terms saying that this is at least the first step. But surely so much more is needed.

ANDREWS: That's exactly right Rosemary. And listen, we can't be sure. What we need to do everything that we can. The coup overturned Democratic reforms, the country was on its way to a form of democracy. Nothing that we would recognize as such but at least relative to the kind of oppressive government that they had in the past, they were making steps forward.

Now those steps were created specifically because the world established pressure. Diplomatic economic pressure including sanctions. They worked in the past and I believe if we can focus those sanctions together combined them with judicial accountability measures and make sure that all of the world that is willing to do so does so together in a coordinated fashion.

So that they have the collective punch together working together linked together. They can have a strong, strong impact. Then I think we have a shot. Again, ultimately it is the people of Myanmar that will determine their fate. But they deserve to have a world that is willing to stand up and work with them.

CHURCH: Right. And according to witness reports, more than 100 civilians were killed Saturday by Myanmar's military including children. And that of course spark international condemnation. A U.S. President Biden's called the military's action absolutely outrageous. He has responded by suspending trade as we have just discussed. But what if the military keeps murdering its people in the days weeks and months ahead? What is the next step that needs to be taken?

ANDREWS: You know this is just so unbelievable. 30 children many of them young children have been killed since the 1st of February. Now they began, that is -- the Junta began by saying we are only going to use what force that we absolutely must. We are going to exercise utmost restraint. Now we see them -- not only shooting at protesters point blank but going through neighborhoods shooting randomly into homes.

Some of these kids were killed literally while they were in their parent's arms. Some while they were sleeping. This is absolutely unbelievable. And I think that this kind of barbarity this kind of brutality is simply not sustainable. That one way or another. The people of this country are going to rise up and say enough is enough. This is simply, simply, simply not going to continue. And we are going to do absolutely everything that we can to stop it. CHURCH: Let's hope that happens. Tom Andrews, the U.N. special

rapporteur on Myanmar, thank you so much for talking with us.


ANDREWS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And still to come, a glimmer of hope for people in war torn Yemen. As a tanker carrying fuel docks the Keyport. We will have a live report. That is next.



CHURCH (on camera): Houthi rebels in Yemen are keeping up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. Despite the Saudis proposal for a new cease-fire. Meanwhile fuel shipments to the Keyport of Hodeidah are flowing again to get aid to millions of starving Yemeni people. CNN's Nima Elbagir, has that report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the first vessel that has ben permitted to dock at the Hodeidah port in Yemen for months. One of four fuel tankers recently cleared to dock at the red sea port carrying a vital resource turned pawn in the year's long civil war.

But local officials warn that this arrival won't be enough to meet demand.

AMAR ALADRAI, EXECUTIVE MANAGER, YEMEN NATIONAL OIL COMPANY (through translator): The lives of 26 million Yemeni citizens are in danger over the coming days. The current situation in Yemen is extremely dangerous. Because fuel has been prevented from entering the country since the beginning of the year. Not to mention the deficit carried over from last year.

ELBAGIR: Battered by six years of war and a crippling U.S.-backed blockade, Yemen has been devastated by this mounting fuel crisis. A CNN investigation earlier this month revealed that Saudi warships had been preventing oil tankers from docking at the port. Including vessels approved by U.N. clearance mechanism as part of the Saudis ongoing war against Iran back Ansar Allah, Houthis who control the territory where the vast majority of Yemenis live.

We witnessed firsthand the impact on hospitals across the country struggling to keep their generators going.

ALADRAI: The amount of fuel released to the country in 2020 doesn't even represent 45 percent of Yemen's needs. And now in the first quarter of 2021 we are receiving only 8 percent of what Yemen would need under normal conditions.

ELBAGIR: CNN has now independently verified that three of the four tankers that have been allowed to bark at Hodeidah, are carrying fuel and gas intended for small number of private companies. The Thuraya is the only shipped carrying fuel for the public sector, but its supplies accounts for what the public sector would use in less than 10 days.

ALADRAI: Of the four ships that have been released, only Thuraya is for public consumption, but it only covers 8 percent of the county's needs of the first quarter of 2021.

ELBAGIR: That's barely enough to cover the needs of the country's health care sector which is already facing the threat of near total collapse. There are more vessels still waiting for approval to enter this port. It's unclear if or when these ships will be allowed.


ELBAGIR (on camera): The release of these four tankers to the port of Hodeidah comes after Saturday, were they proposed a U.N. backed initiative that include a ceasefire and the lifting of the blockade. Ansar Allah, know as Houthi, have said that they need a complete relief from the devastating blockade on their land, sea and air, in order to enter in to negotiations.

CNN reach out to the internationally recognize Saudi back government who told us that whey were prepared on how to inform the U.N. that they did want to move forward wit the release of more ships. However, it would require a system of customs and tax to be agreed in the Houthi controlled area.

CNN has also reached out to these U.S. State Department and to Saudi Arabia to ask them if more release, more relief would be forthcoming to the Houthi controlled north of Yemen, but we didn't receive any comment, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Alright. Extraordinary reporting there. Nima Elbagir joining us live from London. Many thanks.

ELBAGIR: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, the U.S. State of Tennessee saw historic rain and flooding over the weekend. But the worst may still be yet to come. We will have a live forecast after the break.



CHURCH: More rain is on the way for parts of the U.S. State of Tennessee after weekend floods killed at least six people. And you can see the floodwaters here caused by some of the heaviest rains in the area's history.

Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri now. Good to see you, Pedram. So the fear of course is what lies ahead? What are you seeing?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Rosemary the soil is fully saturated across this region. So any additional rainfall is going to be problematic. And the last couple of days of course you see the amounts that had tallied up in this region, six, seven, eight inches of rainfall has come down in a matter of 24 to 36 hours. That is several months' worth of rainfall and in national in particular, seven plus inches that came down from Saturday night into Sunday. It is the second highest we've ever seen for a two-day period.

So any additional rainfall again is a concern. And you'll notice the weather map here, we do have another system on approach across this region within the next 24 hours. We can some time early Tuesday -- late Tuesday night early Wednesday morning and get another round of rainfall across these region that could prompt additional threat there for flooding.

Eastern Tennessee at this point in line for risks of the heaviest rainfall. But you will notice, total amounts could exceed two to three inches in some spots. And we do expect parts of Nashville to get in on the heavy rainfall as well. So flood watches and flood warnings had been prompted across the state of Tennessee.


And really I kind of think about this when it comes to a country environment where you have natural ground absorbing a lot of the water where of course about 10 percent of rainfall essentially becomes runoff. Versus a city like Nashville where a lot more concrete, a lot more of an urban environment. So 55 percent of what falls out of the sky becomes runoff.

Now, of course surrounding landscapes are already fully saturated so additional runoffs is expected from this next round of rainfall and that is exactly what we're following this time tomorrow into Wednesday when the heaviest rains are expected. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And we appreciate you doing that. Pedram Javaheri, many thanks.

And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stay with us.