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Investigation Shows Shocking Video Depicts Executions by Ethiopian Soldiers; At Least 36 Killed in Taiwan Train Derailment; Millions of Europeans Bracing for Somber Easter Weekend; Brazil Records Deadliest Month as COVID-19 Crisis Deepens; Ex-Officer Chauvin Defends Force in Call for Supervisor; Website Shares Anonymous Testimonials about U.K. Child Sexual Abuse; Inside BioNTech's New Vaccine Production Factory; Uruguay Closes Stores Along Border with Brazil; Amazon Rainforest Now Emits More Greenhouse Gases Than It Absorbs; Pfizer Says Studies Confirm Vaccine Protection will Last at Least 6 Months; Florida GOP Advance Anti-Rioting Bill. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired April 2, 2021 - 00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, life was starting to feel normal again for many in Europe. Now, countries enforcing fresh lockdowns and new restrictions for the Easter weekend.


And while the vaccine rollout in Europe has been slow, one company ramping up production. A CNN exclusive.

And then, a religions festival goes forward in India, despite COVID fears as the country enters another wave.

Hello, and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes.

More on those stories in a moment, but first after months of denial, Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, admitted last week that soldiers from neighboring Eritrea have been fighting with his federal forces in the Tigray region. Their target: members of Tigray's People's Liberation Front.

Now, Mr. Abiy admitted that what eyewitnesses and victims have been saying for so long: that Eritrean soldiers were responsible for atrocities in Tigray, despite Eritrean denials.

Now CNN, in collaboration with Amnesty International has investigated a gruesome video circulating on social media that shows Ethiopian soldiers carrying out extrajudicial executions of unarmed man.

Now, we must warn you that the video you're about to watch is very disturbing. Here's Nima Elbagir.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're watching footage filmed by a soldier turned whistleblower, now in hiding. This video was obtained by a pro-Tigray media organization based in the U.S.

The video you're watching will show these Ethiopian soldiers execute these men. A war crime.

The Ethiopian government has waged war against Tigray's ousted regional leaders for the last five months with the help of neighboring Eritrea. Ethiopia has implied the atrocities in Tigray are mainly Eritrea's doing. That's not true, and here's why.

We know these are Ethiopian soldiers because of the Ethiopian flag on their shoulders here and here. Examining details of the stitching, color, and camouflage patterns, military experts confirmed to us that the uniforms match those of the Ethiopian army.

In addition, the soldiers are speaking Amharic, the official language of the Ethiopian federal army, distinct from the local language.

We also know the location by analyzing the video and geolocating the footage. We know it's in central Tigray by the mountain range and terrain just south of the city of Aksum.

This model, developed by Amnesty International then verifies that location through spatial analysis. You can see the mountain range matches the footage.

The captives were moved from where you see them sitting to here, 1.7 kilometers away. We know that because the video is tracked and mapped, and key geographical features were matched on the basis of a high- resolution satellite image of the site.

By pinpointing the location, CNN was able to speak to local villagers who confirmed their family members were dragged away by Ethiopian soldiers and have not been seen since. Some believe their loved ones are in this video.

You can hear soldiers asking the whistleblower to come closer.


GRAPHIC: Why don't you get close and film the execution of these?

ELBAGIR: The wording here is important. Execution. This is premeditated. They've rounded up these men to kill them.

We must warn you. What you are about to see is horrifying.


GRAPHIC: Walk them down there. Shoot him in the back of his head.

ELBAGIR: "Shoot them in the head," he says. And they do.

Look at the left of your screen. The man shoots. We paused the video just before his victim falls to the ground. And, again, another soldier raises his weapon towards the man in the

white scarf. The video cuts out. But the next scene tells you what happened to him. To all of them. The soldiers continue to shoot, making sure that there are no survivors.


What you are witnessing is an extrajudicial execution.

We counted at least 34 young man at the beginning of this video. All are now presumed dead, their bodies casually flung over the ridge. No attempt to hide what has been done here. No apparent fear of consequences.

Their actions are so appalling, we could only show individual friends from the video. It doesn't stop here. You can hear someone saying, Check that one. That one is not dead. Kill him or I will come.

The same soldier moves further along the rich and shoots from close range as other soldiers watch on.

(on camera): Much of the region remains under a Ethiopian government blackout, but CNN and Amnesty International were able to speak to local villages and family members, who told us that at least 39 men remain missing from the village. One man was able to watch the video and confirmed to us that his brother is among the dead depictured here.

(voice-over): Family members continue to search for their loved ones but have been unable to reach this remote area. Their wish to respectfully bury their dead will go unheeded.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Ethiopian officials did not respond to our request for comment. And for more on this story, please visit our website at

Now we're following breaking news out of eastern Taiwan, where a passenger train has derailed. A local official says at least two people are dead. Reuters reporting 20 injured.

Ivan Watson has the latest for us from Hong Kong. It's early in the rescue attempt. What do we know about what happened?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that this was a train on the eastern coast of Taiwan. And that the derailment, as you can see in those images there, took place in a tunnel north of the city of Hualien, according to the Reuters news agency.

There are rescue efforts underway, with people believed to be trapped in some of the cars at the back of this train. This is taking place during what's supposed to be a long holiday weekend festival in Taiwan. A local official in that county has told CNN that at least two people

are confirmed dead at this point.

The state-owned central news agency says that the train was carrying around 350 people at the time of this crash. We've seen other images on Taiwanese news television channels of some of the passengers clearly emerging from the train from within the tunnel,, apparently safe and whole.

But we also know that the press office for Taiwan's president has called for rescue efforts for all emergency personnel to be scrambled and mobilize to help save lives of people who may be still trapped in the train and trapped in the tunnel, as well.

One final detail is that this train is believed to be able to travel at speeds of up to 150 kilometers an hour. Whether or not it was moving at that speed when this accident happened, we don't know yet. But clearly a serious and deadly train accident that Taiwan is dealing with right now, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, indeed. Ivan, thanks. Ivan Watson keeping an eye on that developing story for us from Hong Kong.

The World Health Organization says vaccines are the best way out of the coronavirus pandemic, and now is not the time to relax safety measures.

Now, that warning comes as the world approaches 113 million confirmed COVID cases, nearly three million deaths. The WHO also calling Europe's rollout of the vaccines acceptably slow. It estimates just 4 percent of people there are fully vaccinated. Its regional director urging Europe to ramp up manufacturing reduced barriers to administering vaccine and then use up every single dose that it gets.

Europe has been battling a new flare-up of infections with 27 countries in full or partial lockdown. Now these new health restrictions mean that millions of the European faithful are facing yet another somber Easter weekend.



HOLMES (voice-over): Inside the famed Notre Dame cathedral, a Holy Week mass is nearly empty, as Catholic leaders across Paris prepare for another Easter in a pandemic.

This weekend, France enters a third lockdown, restricting movement, limiting domestic travel, and continuing curfews.

In the Vatican, a similar pandemic holiday is ahead.


HOLMES: Easter crowds won't throng St. Peter's Square this year. Instead, Pope Francis will hold a sparse mass in the basilica as the Vatican follows Italy's nationwide lockdown.

They are among millions of Europeans bracing for a somber Easter weekend as governments try to control rising infections or vaccinations sputter across the E.U.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel walked back plans to extend a national lockdown through Easter, but she issued a public appeal.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): It should be a quiet Easter with those closest to YOU, with very reduced contact. I urge you to refrain from all nonessential travel and that we uphold all the rules.

HOLMES: Though a hard lockdown was averted, national curbs on social contact and gatherings remain, as the country battles a third wave of new cases.

Amid restrictions at home, tens of thousands of Germans planned Easter getaways in the sun, flocking to the Spanish island of Mallorca.

But Spaniards themselves can't do the same. While much of the country remains open, travel between regions is largely banned.

Social events are also limited during Holy Week. On Sunday, worshippers can attend church. But most large Easter celebrations are canceled. So, too, in the U.K. Residents there will spend Easter under a second phase of lockdown. But easing restrictions are offering renewed optimism.

Performing a streaming Good Friday service, Britain's Royal Opera Chorus hopes to greet audiences in May.

WILLIAM SPAULDING, CHORUS DIRECTOR, ROYAL OPERA CHORUS: It's only, you know, about the springtime and celebrating the coming out of lockdown. And luckily, we got a little bit of sun. And it's about greeting, you know, Easter time and greeting the -- the world, you know, after lockdown.

HOLMES: Glimmers of hope for a new future as another pandemic holiday comes to pass across Europe.


HOLMES: Coronavirus cases are surging in other parts of the world, as well. I'm going to show you a map now. You can see an uptick in both India and Brazil. And we're going to have an update, by the way, from Sao Paulo shortly.

But first, India grappling with a second wave of the virus just as the biggest religious pilgrimage on earth gets underway. The timing couldn't be worse. Cases there rising rapidly since March, and now millions of people are gathering for a month-long Hindu festival.

Devotees do have to be tested for COVID-19 and show negative results at various checkpoints.

CNN's Vedika Sud is in New Delhi with more on the country's surging number of cases.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: India's health ministry says the country has reported over 72,000 new infections and nearly 460 deaths, the highest numbers in both categories this year.

During a press conference, health ministry officials have said the situation is a serious cause for concern. According to medical experts, India is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19. Those 45 and older are eligible for the first dose of the vaccine.

Despite the spike in cases, one of the biggest single festivals, Kumbh Mela, starts in the northern state of Uttarakhand. Millions of people are expected to gather at this event. The state government has implemented strict guidelines for those attending this gathering.

India has the third highest confirmed cases of COVID-19 after the U.S. and Brazil, according to data from John Hopkins University.

Vedika Sud, CNN, Delhi.


HOLMES: Well, things are so bad in Brazil right now the city of Sao Paulo is rushing to empty old graves to make room for COVID-19 fatalities.

And neighboring Bolivia is closing its borders for a week to try to contain the spread of infections.

Shasta Darlington with an update on the crisis from Sao Paulo.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brazil registered the deadliest month yet from the coronavirus pandemic, with over 66,500 people dying in March, more than double the previous record.

The crisis shows no sign of letting up, with 625 cities warning they'll run out of oxygen over the next. Week 15 of Brazil's 26 states reporting ICU occupancy over 90 percent, as a surge of new infections cripples hospitals.


While Brazil has started a vaccine program, the rollout has suffered from delays and political infighting. So far only 8.4 percent of the population has received a first dose.

Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro has continued to rage against isolation and lockdown measures. This week, the president announced the biggest cabinet shakeup since taking office, amid criticism over his handling of the pandemic. Six ministers were out on Monday, and on Tuesday, the commanders of three branches of the armed forces were let go. The reshuffling, an indication of how much pressure Bolsonaro is under, as COVID-19 continues to ravage the country.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


HOLMES: Well, let's take a look at where things stand around the globe as of now. The U.S., of course, with the most cases, followed by Brazil, India, France, and Russia.

The U.S. and Brazil also have the most deaths, followed by Mexico, India, in the United Kingdom.

And now, to Chile, which reported its most daily cases ever on Thursday, bringing its total to more than a million, and that, in turn, is leading to new border closures and an expanded national curfew.

Journalists Stefano Pozzebon with those details.


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: The coronavirus pandemic is far from over in South America. And on Thursday, Chile reported it crossed landmark figure of over 1 million registered COVID-19 cases.

Over 20,000 Chileans lost their lives due to COVID-19.

And fronted by this resurgence of the virus, Chilean authorities decided to impose a total shutdown of the border to both Chile the nationals and foreigners for the entire month of April.

Equally, a curfew, starting 9 p.m., will be posed in Chile from Monday. And this comes despite the fact that Chile had one of the most successful COVID vaccination campaigns. But with -- confronted with the resurgence of the virus and with the Chilean winter fast approaching, the authorities decided to take shelter, to try to curb the spread of the virus.

And Chile is not the only Latin American nation shutting the border. Bolivia has also announcing a partial closure of the border with Brazil. Trying to present the spread of Brazilian variants into the country.

For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


HOLMES: Now, prosecutors build their case against a former police officer accused of killing George Floyd. When we come back, what Floyd's girlfriend told jurors about his struggle with addiction before his death.

And then, the growing outcry over what's being called a rape culture at some of Britain's top schools. Where these allegations came from, and what's being done.


ELIZABETH BRAILSFORD, SOLACE WOMEN'S AID: Every time we go in to do a series of sessions on healthy relationships, we'll get young people that come forward, every time. Every time.



HOLMES: Testimony will resume in the day ahead for the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, accused, of course, in the death of George Floyd.

Prosecutors are meticulously building their case against Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes last May.

CNN's Sara Sidner with the latest from Minneapolis.


DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER: Yes, I was just going to call you and have you come out to our scene here.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The jury heard newly released audio, Officer Derek Chauvin talking on the phone with his supervisor to explain his version of events on May 25, 2020.

CHAUVIN: We had to start -- I had to hold the guy down. He was -- he was going crazy. Wouldn't going into the back of the squad car.

SIDNER: From the witness stand, Chauvin's police sergeant recalled Chauvin's description of events omitted key details.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he mention anything about putting his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck, or back?


SIDNER: The sergeant says he soon arrived on scene to talk to the police officers involved, then went to the hospital with Chauvin and other officers to check on George Floyd.

PLEOGER: Someone approached me, and let me know he passed away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have an opinion as to when the restraint of Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter?



PLEOGER: When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could've ended their restraint.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resisting? PLEOGER: Correct.

SIDNER: The tears were immediate for Thursday's first witness, Courtney Barker (ph) Ross.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When was at that you first met Mr. Floyd?

COURTENEY ROSS, GEORGE FLOYD'S GIRLFRIEND: It's one of my favorite stories.

SIDNER: She testified the first time she met George Floyd, she was upset, and he, then a stranger, consoled her.

ROSS: He has this great, deep, southern voice. Raspy. And he's like, Sis, are you OK, Sis? And I wasn't OK.

SIDNER: Ross eventually became George Floyd's girlfriend.

ROSS: We had our first kiss in the lobby.

SIDNER: In their nearly 3-year relationship, she testified they both struggled with prescription pain pill addiction.

ROSS: Floyd and I both suffered with an opioid addiction. We got addicted and -- and tried, really hard, to break that addiction. Many times.

SIDNER: The defense honed in on where the drugs came from, and the timeline of their drug use, including an overdose and hospital visit for Floyd two months before his death.

ERIC NELSON, DEREK CHAUVIN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You did not know that he had taken heroin at that time?


NELSON: It was your belief that Mr. Floyd started using again about two weeks prior to his death, correct?

ROSS: I noticed a change in his behavior, yes.

SIDNER: In redirect, prosecutors highlighted Floyd's history, and built-up tolerance, for opioid pills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he took those, obviously, he didn't die. Right?

ROSS: No, he did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was OK after using them?

ROSS: Yes, he was playing football, hanging out, eating.

SIDNER: This video, introduced in court today, showed the moments paramedics loaded Floyd into their ambulance. Paramedics and firefighters testified they had initially been called to respond to a nonemergency patient with possible intoxication and a mouth injury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The information you had, as you were initially responding, was that there is a mouth injury. Correct?


SIDNER: The call was later upgraded. And when they arrived, Floyd was unresponsive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought he was dead.


HOLMES: That was Sara Sidner, reporting there from Minneapolis.

Now, anonymous testimonials from thousands of young survivors of sexual abuse are being shared on a U.K. website called Everyone's Invited. And now, some of Britain's top -- top academic institutions are facing a reckoning on rape culture.

CNN's Nina Dos Santos spoke to the woman who created the site. She says it's not just about rape but about the everyday harassment that normalizes sexual assault. A warning: this report contains some graphic content.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 13, I was sexually assaulted by three men in a playground. I cried for 10 days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 14, I had a guy message me, and he told me he wanted to rape me to make me pregnant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got really drunk and pulled into a bathroom, with two 18-year-old boys. One left while the other raped me.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the stories of British childhood, violated, laid bare for the world to see on the website Everyone's Invited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some guy asked for pics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone at this school kept harassing me to send them nudes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some teacher at school told me to cover up.

DOS SANTOS: Evidence, the site's founder says, of a pervasive rape culture in the U.K., too often brushed off, with dangerous consequences.

SOMA SARA, FOUNDER, EVERYONE'S INVITED: Really, what it's talking about is a culture that trivializes, and normalizes the worst behaviors. So it's things like slut shaming, or groping at a Christmas party. Those things, when they're normalized, you know, this creates an environment where sexual violence can exist and thrive.

DOS SANTOS: Soma Sara, herself a survivor, started the project last year as a safe space for victims to share their experiences of abuse at school. The more than 10,000 anonymous testimonials gathered, mentioned hundreds of the nation's academic settings, including elite ones, attended by prime ministers.

SARA: This movement is about addressing a culture. A culture that's widespread and pervasive. It's not about blaming or pointing a finger at an individual, an institution, or a demographic. Because it's everywhere.

DOS SANTOS: Many schools across the U.K. are now investigating.

(on camera): Both the government and the police have pledged to take action. But in the meantime, some pupils have also been making their feelings plain, including here, at this north London school, where female students as young as 11 held a walkout in protest in inaction of the allegations of sexual abuse and harassment.

(voice-over): Those claims were made in posts on the Everyone's Invited site. Highgate School has launched an investigation. In a statement, it said, "We are deeply shocked and horrified by the allegations that have recently come to light. The Highgate they describe runs entirely contrary to the values of our whole community. We are truly sorry."

But this former primary school head teacher, now with a sexual assault survivors charity providing workshops and schools, says she's not surprised by the scale of the problem.

BRAILSFORD: Every time we go in to do a series of sessions unhealthy relationships, we'll get young people that come forward.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): Every time?

BRAILSFORD: Every time. Yes, there will be somebody that will come forward with a concern that needs addressing.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): After a complaint, she says it's common for a female victim to be asked to move schools, rather than the boy accused. A double agony in a country which criminalizes sexual violence but whose rates of prosecution for such offenses have dropped drastically.

BRAILSFORD: I think there's a lack of severity taken on when disclosures are made. So, often, in schools, it will be brushed under the carpet.

DOS SANTOS: The uproar provoked by the submissions to Everyone's Invited has plunged Britain further into a national debate about aggression against female citizens. And it's prompted a moment of reckoning on violence and values, which many feel was long overdue.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Now, the Solace Women's Aid group has a website that offers assistance to victims of sexual abuse. You can visit the website you see on your screen there:

Now, CNN has gone inside Pfizer's COVID vaccine facility. Now, an exclusive look at the new plant of the German partner, BioNTech, as it ramps up production.


OZLEM TURECI, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, BIONTECH: This is this new technology. You cannot just repurpose vaccine facilities which are there, and you can also not train people very fast.



HOLMES: Welcome back.

Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech say new data shows their coronavirus vaccine remains more than 91 percent effective for at least 6 months, although experts say it will likely last longer than that.

These latest clinical trials, the first look at how long protection for a COVID vaccine lasts. And they allow the companies to apply for full approval in the U.S., a step up from the emergency use authorization that COVID vaccines currently have.

Now Pfizer and BioNTech have a global goal of producing 2.5 billion vaccines by the end of this year. And a billion of those might come from BioNTech's new plant.

Frederik Pleitgen gives us an exclusive look inside.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): This is the heart of BioNTech's production: a bio-reactor that produces mRNA, the building block for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

VALESKA SCHILLING, HEAD OF PRODUCTION, BIONTECH MARBURG: So we're starting our look with manufacturing of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is a biochemical process that happens basically in every cell. But here, we have restricted to a bio-reactor. And this takes roughly one day, one to two days.

PLEITGEN: Valeska Schilling is the head of production at BioNTech's new plant in Marburg, Germany. It was just certified by the European Medicines Agency. And she tells me the staff are already wrapping up production.

SCHILLING: We all have friends. We have family. We have, you know, a lot of people that are affected by this pandemic situation, and we all want to come out. So we are very happy that we can actively do something against the situation we're living in.

PLEITGEN: The bio-reactor is operated in a special clean room. It might not look huge but can produce enough mRNA for about 8 million doses every two days, BioNTech says.

The company hopes to produce a billion doses within a year at this plant alone, vaccine that's badly needed.

(on camera): Right now, there's massive demand for vaccines against the novel coronavirus, much more than there is supply around the world. That's why it's so important for plants like this one to not only get up and running, but to get up and running at full speed as fast as possible.

(voice-over): While countries like the U.S., the U.K., and Israel are vaccinating their populations quickly, the E.U. and much of the rest of the world are suffering from severe vaccine shortages. That's despite the fact that so far, BioNTech and Pfizer have exceeded the amount of vaccine they promised to deliver. The company's cofounder telling CNN they are constantly trying to increase production.

TURECI: There is this new technology. You cannot just re-purpose vaccine facilities which are there. And you can also not train people very fast. So we are working and turning every stone, basically, to upscale and roll out our capacities.

PLEITGEN: The company hopes to further pick up the pace with sites like this getting into full swing.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Marburg, Germany.


HOLMES: Now there are new efforts to contain the virus in South America and especially that variant first identified in Brazil.

Bolivia, as we reported, has been closing its border with Brazil for a week and parts of Uruguay also taking steps to keep Brazil's crisis from spreading.

Rafael Romo explains.



RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Rivera, Uruguay, population 65,000, stores in this normally busy border town are now shut down.

President Luis Lacalle Pou last week decreed the closing of all border free shops due to an alarming spike in coronavirus deaths, cases, and hospitalizations.

Schools and most government services are also shut down. And Rivera is once again, for the second time since the beginning of the pandemic, a coronavirus hot spot in Uruguay.

Rivera's across the border from Santana do Livramento, Brazil, a city of 76,000 that is also facing a COVID-19 crisis.

The Santana do Livramento General Hospital director says they are now fully devoted to treating COVID-19 patients, operating at 106 percent capacity, which means some infected people are being treated in tents.

On the Uruguayan side, the director of the intensive care unit at a local hospital says the Brazilian coronavirus virus made Rivera the COVID-19 gate into Uruguay.

"We're very limited in our ability to treat patients the way we should," he says.

(on camera): Officials believe the constant flow of people across the border on holiday travel have created the perfect COVID-19 transnational storm. The P-1 variant that originated in Brazil has now been found in Rivera, which is also a destination for speculatos (ph), Brazilian merchants who buy products in Uruguay to resell in their country.

(voice-over): There are 10,000 people from Rivera who live on the Brazilian side and as many Brazilians who live on the Uruguayan side, according to Rivera mayor Richard Sanders.

"We are now trying to generate the health barrier," Mayor Sanders says. His goal is giving half the population in Rivera the first COVID-19 shot within the next few weeks and getting one out of five residents fully vaccinated.

The challenge is that the Brazilian side would have to make a similar effort to achieve herd immunity and defeat a virus that knows no borders.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: Pro-democracy activists in Myanmar are having to adjust to another challenge. This time Myanmar's military order has ordered telecom companies to shut down wireless service. Now, that is unlikely, of course, to stop protesters, who have been marching for weeks now against the February 1st coup.

Security forces responding as they have throughout, with live ammunition and arrests under the cover of dark. And in current state, with airstrikes. A relief group say they have targeted an armed ethnic minority group and continued on Thursday morning, the same day the military promised a cease-fire.

Now all of this as the deposed civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, faces a fifth charge, this one for violating the country's official secrets act.

Now, the Amazon rain forest is changing, and people, of course, are mostly to blame. When we come back our meteorologist joins us with some worrisome details.



HOLMES: Welcome back. The world's largest tropical rainforest now emits more greenhouse gases than it absorbs. The Amazon, of course, usually known for its ability to soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but new research shows that climate change and deforestation is changing that.

Experts now say that instead, the rainforest is a likely contributor to the warming of the planet.

Let's bring in meteorologist Derek van Dam. Worrying news. Perhaps not entirely unsurprising, given what man has done to the place over the years.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, 100 percent, Michael. This new study is really monumental, too, for our understanding of the rainforest in the Amazon.

It's basically saying that it is now coming from a carbon sink, which we have understood it to be, to a carbon source. Basically, the net emissions of greenhouse gases, the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that surround our planet, either from human or natural sources, have now tipped from negative to positive. That's the best way I can explain it to you.

Lots to unpack here, but I wanted to start with this video behind me, because I just want to remind our viewers that we live within a living, breathing planet.

You're looking at the movement of the vegetation across the world over a 12-month cycle. I just think this is quite amazing to see that breathing planet, and you focus in on the Amazon. You can see just how much green encompasses the central and northern sections of the South American continent.

So what's happening here? We have rampant deforestation. We've got increasing drought. We've got rising temperatures. We know that the Amazon is often considered, quote unquote "the lungs of our planet." It still absorbs an immense amount of carbon dioxide.

But with this study, it's not only the CO2 that we're concerned about. We have to look at the larger picture here. We're transforming the landscape within the Brazilian rainforest, so we're increasing emissions of other greenhouse gases like nitric oxide, methane, for instance, black carbon. There are a few examples, too, but I want to show you just how important tropical rainforests are.

They regulate the global temperatures across the entire planet. And of course, we have over 50 percent of our land species, really, that reside here. And in the Amazon alone, it produces about 20 percent of our oxygen. We have deforested roughly the size of the country of France since the

year 2002. That's just incredible. And of all the rainforest deforestation that we've gone through, 50 percent of it has come from in and around the Amazon rainforest.

So we're greatly changing the landscape here, and it's got major impacts now, seeing that a carbon sink to a carbon source, Michael. So big ramifications.

HOLMES: For logs and cows. Yes. Derek Van Dam.

VAN DAM: Agriculture, right.

HOLMES: Agriculture. That is just so depressing. Thanks, Derek. Good to see you.

All right. Let's update you now on our breaking news. At least 36 people are now dead after that train derailed inside a tunnel in eastern Taiwan.

Reuters citing the official central news agency, which says a truck slid into the path of the train. Another 61 people have been sent to hospitals.

Rescuers are working to free around 70 people still trapped in the wreckage. We will bring you the very latest in our next hour as we get more information.

Thanks for watching and spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. WORLD SPORT up next. I'll see you in about 15 minutes.