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India Hospitals Facing Severe Oxygen Shortage; U.S. Vaccinations Dip, Experts Fear Vaccine Hesitancy; Armenians Cheer U.S. Designation Of 1915 Massacres A Genocide; Jerusalem Waking Up After Night Of New Clashes; Sheriff Promises Public Will See Fatal Shooting Video Of Andrew Brown Jr.; QAnon Movement Spreads To Japan; Indonesia Navy Says Submarine Sunk; Fears Of Hurricane Season And COVID-19 After St. Vincent Eruptions; Oscars Team Hoping To Beat Pandemic-Era Slump. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 25, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be back in play but shots are down across the U.S. Why doctors say vaccine hesitancy could be the country's next big challenge.

And the situation in India is growing more dire by the day. Hospitals and crematoriums are overwhelmed by COVID numbers.

And a QAnon MAGA march isn't anything new but this isn't in the United States. How this misinformation campaign is infecting Japan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Great to have you along this hour.

We begin in the United States, where health officials worry that the supply of COVID vaccine could soon outstrip demand. Now more than 225 million doses have been administered in the U.S.

But average daily vaccinations have started to drop recently. As you can see from this, experts believe that some of that may be due to the temporary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over clotting fears. States are now resuming its use after the FDA cleared it. But that is not the only reason, as Polo Sandoval explains.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is cleared to go into arms again, a slight but ongoing drop in overall shots being administered a day, that average number, according to the CDC, dipped below 3 million this week.

The Biden administration attributing it to vaccine hesitancy. It is a trend that the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has been closely watching even before J&J's pause.

DR. CHRIS MURRAY, DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: Facebook runs a survey every day and we look at that data on a daily basis and that has shown that vaccine confidence in the U.S. has been slowly, but steadily going down since February.

You know, not by huge amounts like a percentage point a week, but that starts to add up.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Some of that hesitancy being felt more among Republicans. A Monmouth poll recently showed 43 percent of GOP voters said they will likely never get a COVID vaccine compared to five percent of Democrats.

The head of the CDC said Friday that the government must perform quote, "extraordinary outreach" when it comes to educating clinicians and patients.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: All right, I am getting the injection now.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Baltimore's former Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen received a J&J dose before the pause. If given the option, she encourages certain women avoid it given the fresh findings about extremely rare blood clots.

WEN: Since there are two other vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna that do not carry this very small risk, I don't think I would have chosen to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine myself knowing that risk.

And I wish that the CDC and the FDA had gone further in their discussions yesterday to explicitly put a warning for women under the age of 50 to say, if it is available to you, consider choosing one of the other vaccines that do not carry this particular risk.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The consensus remains the same among health experts, all COVID vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. remains safe and effective.

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If you look at the tradeoff here, this is still far better -- it is far better to choose to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine than to go unvaccinated given what we know about the risks of COVID.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thousand shots.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): A local Canadian pharmacy in Toronto celebrated administering its 1,000th vaccination this week, as here in the U.S., efforts at a much larger scale continue amid vaccine hesitancy. SANDOVAL: Well, here in New York state, about 31 percent of the population already considered fully vaccinated in an effort to try to keep increasing that number, multiple locations and vaccination sites continue to open up, including here in New York City, where the American Natural History Museum is now serving as a mass vaccination site, even offering free admission to the museum as an added incentive -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: Thanks, Polo, for that.

India has now smashed another global record for daily coronavirus cases. On Sunday officials reported more than 349,000 new infections. It's the fourth consecutive day India has broken the global record.

Hospitals across the country are running short of critical supplies, including oxygen. Well, let's go straight to Anna Coren. Anna's tracking all of this from Hong Kong.

Certainly, a dire situation that we're seeing there on the ground in India.

What more can you tell us?

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Robyn, it is nothing short of catastrophic. Let's talk about those numbers that the health ministry released today.


COREN: Just shy of 350,000 daily infections, that's just up 2,000 from yesterday. The experts are saying that these numbers do not add up to what is actually happening on the ground, that the real numbers could be something like two to five times those figures.

The reason they say that is because the crematoriums have been going nonstop. The fires that are burning the bodies have been going nonstop. And we are hearing of people outside hospitals, just dying in the arms of their loved ones. This is how dire the situation is on the ground.

So there is a feeling that the data coming from the central government, from the health ministry, is not entirely accurate. The hospital situation, there is an acute shortage of oxygen, as we have been reporting, and of medical supplies.

Some hospitals, Robyn, are taking to social media pleading for help because local officials are not picking up the phone; they are turning patients away. The hospital that we were reporting, where those 20 critically ill patients died because oxygen ran out, we spoke to him this morning, the hospital chief there.

And he said that a new shipment of oxygen arrived very early this morning and that they only have a few hours left, if that, for the patients that they currently have. They're saying that, unless patients bring their own oxygen cylinder,

their own oxygen, that family members can go and fill up those oxygen tanks, he's telling people, do not bring your loved ones here, do not bring any more patients here.

That, Robyn, is just one hospital. This is happening right across the country. And it really is terrifying to think that India managed to survive the first wave.

The warning signs were there at the beginning of the year, that this was picking up. And then in March, the numbers increased. And now you have almost 350,000 daily infections, more than 2,700 deaths. Experts say, Robyn, those numbers are only going to rise.

CURNOW: A sobering assessment. Anna Coren there, thank you, live in Hong Kong. Thanks, Anna.


CURNOW: So I want to bring in now someone who is witnessing this firsthand in India. Dr. Lancelot Pinto is a consultant at a hospital in Mumbai.

Doctor, thank you very much for joining us.

I know that you are very busy but I do want you to explain to us how you are coping and what is the situation at your hospital right now.

DR. LANCELOT PINTO, PULMONOLOGIST AND HOSPITAL CONSULTANT: I am in the city of Mumbai and we are stretched to our limits, too. Fortunately for us, we have not had to make any major clinical decisions where we had to triage or compromise on patient quality care because of the unavailability of oxygen.

Of course, we are nervous and anxious. We are listening to stories across the country. We are doing our best to be judicious about the use of oxygen. We are down titrating patient as soon as we can. We are switching over to electrical modes of oxygen concentrators rather than rely on piped oxygen.

So far we are coping quite well, I would say. But there is some anxiety because we are stretched to the limits right now.

CURNOW: What has been your worst day so far?

PINTO: So I think it's really heart-wrenching to see people trying to get admitted across hospitals because hospitals are full right now. Having to manage patients at home is challenging. All of us have been doing our bit. We've been doing what we call Kelly calls, handling over Skype and help them best at home.

I think a lot of that is working. We are doing our best to keep people out of hospitals. But it causes a lot of anxiety, both to the patient as well as to doctors, to be handling patients at home.

CURNOW: Where do you feel India is? Are you reaching the peak?

And, of course, if that is the case, is there still going to be a delay in deaths by a week or two, where do you think you are?

PINTO: At least, in the city of Mumbai, there are reports that we are reaching our peak. The past 2 or 3 days have been better than the last week. But that's the peak in infections. As you pointed out, deaths usually lag behind infections by a couple of weeks.

So we are expecting the peak mortality in the next couple of weeks, unfortunately, which means high dependency units, ICU beds are going to be stretched to the limits. I do hope and think that bed availability in the noncritical care setting would ease out over the next couple of weeks but we are expecting a lot of beds, unfortunately.


CURNOW: So you're saying it could get worse. I see there are a number of reports of many people saying that deaths are potentially being undercounted here, that the real rate of fatalities could be 2-5 times higher than it currently is being reported at.

What would you say anecdotally?

PINTO: I think that has been a problem the world over, particularly when people come in at a very late stage and they arrive when they are critical, there's not enough time to test sometimes. Some of them die at home, unfortunately.

I think it would be fair to assume that the number is higher than what is being reported. But it's difficult to say what the factor is.

CURNOW: What are you feeling this way?

Are you concerned about the potential for this new variant?

PINTO: So I think this new variant, which has been named a variant of interest, it's not yet a variant of concern, clearly seems to be more transmissible that we saw last. Year last year we would very often treat people at home and they would be their only individual in their home who was infected.

But now we see entire families, work spaces, entire groups of people getting infected simultaneously, which does suggest that this is more transmissible. Now whether it is more lethal and where it seems to be a more virulent form of the virus is not known.

Based on the numbers, there's the feeling that it's not more lethal but by virtue of being so transmissible, the numbers have translated into a lot of people falling sick and requiring hospitalization.

CURNOW: Who is coming to the hospitals?

I know in Brazil a lot of much younger people are presenting. Are you having the same problem in India?

PINTO: India is a young country. The median age of the population is 27. So that means a half of the population is under 27 years of age. When you have a virus that is spreading with this velocity and affecting people across the country, there are bound to be a lot of young people coming to the hospital.

I think that's, yes, that is the general trend we are experiencing this time around. Whether it's related to the virus or is just epidemiologically because it's a young country, is difficult to speculate on.

CURNOW: And very quickly before you go, how are you doing, how are your colleagues doing?

Do you have the stamina and strength to get through the next few weeks?

PINTO: I think we are pretty resilient. And we're trying to be as resilient as we can. I think we're all mentally exhausted, I think that's true all over the world. We all need some reprieve, some sort of break from this so we can live lives as best as we can, the way it was before.

But I think that hopefully we get through this, I feel very optimistic that one month down the road, things will be a lot different.

CURNOW: We hope so, too. Dr. Lancelot Pinto in Mumbai, thanks so much, thank you for talking us and thank you for all the work doing out there.

PINTO: Thank you.


CURNOW: At least 24 people are dead, dozens more injured after a fire in a Baghdad hospital treating COVID-19 patients. Officials say oxygen tanks exploded, causing this massive blaze.


CURNOW (voice-over): Videos, I want to share them with you, here on social media show the chaotic scene as firefighters scrambled to get the fire under control. Health care workers tried to evacuate patients from the burning building. Iraq's prime minister, though, is ordering an immediate investigation into this incident.


CURNOW: And London's Metropolitan Police say eight officers were injured trying to disperse anti-lockdown protesters. Several thousand people marched through central London on Saturday, calling the coronavirus a hoax and a myth.

Most, as you can see here, weren't wearing masks. And they were openly defying the ban on mass gatherings.

In the past few weeks England has relaxed its lockdown measures. Non- essential shops and outdoor restaurants are open but indoor gatherings are still banned until mid-May at least.

And the mass killings of Armenians during World War I has been officially labeled a genocide by the U.S. government. It's a message the people of Armenia have been waiting for, for more than a century, to hear. Just ahead, a live report from Istanbul on the Turkish reaction.

And several nights of unrest in Jerusalem. Plus the most rocket fire from Gaza in almost a 1.5 years.

What's going on?

Those details and a live report from Jerusalem also straight ahead.





CURNOW: After waiting more than a century, the people of Armenia finally heard the word genocide from a U.S. president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

CURNOW (voice-over): It's a reference to the mass slaughter of Armenians during World War I, when present-day Turkey was the Ottoman Empire. Saturday's statement from the White House fulfilled a campaign promise by Joe Biden.

It also signaled a renewed emphasis by the U.S. on human rights.

President Biden's statement reads in part, "Each year on this day we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever occurring again."

Well, Turkey quickly denounced the president's declaration and summoned the U.S. ambassador to complain. Arwa Damon is in Istanbul and she's covering the Turkish reaction.

Hi, what more can you tell us, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Robyn. Well, not entirely unexpected at all, given that Turkey has historically disputed the categorization of the mass killings that took place as being a genocide, arguing that the events that took place more than a century ago need to be put into historical context. Also arguing that hundreds of thousands of other people who were not

Armenian were killed as well. And some of those killings happened at the hands of Armenians. Now the Turkish president did, however, as he does every single year, come out and recognize those who were killed.


DAMON: But his language centers more around the fact that he believes that Turks and Armenians should move past what took place more than a century ago.

Following that statement by President Biden, though, we did hear from a number of senior Turkish officials with a very harsh reaction. The foreign minister, for example, saying that it was a vulgar distortion of history and, quote, "we are not going to take lessons about our history from anyone."

Also going on to call this political opportunism. So it's going to be quite interesting to see how this affects the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey moving forward, though -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Let's talk about this.

What does it mean, particularly because Turkey is part of NATO?

DAMON: Yes. And you also need to recognize that the relationship over the last few years between Turkey and the United States has been quite dicey. Some would argue that right now it is actually at an all-time low.

When president Trump was in power, he and Erdogan shared something of a friendly-ish relationship. Now that President Biden has come into office, that is going to actually be quite tricky because the two men are not necessarily close, to say the least.

President Biden in the past has called Erdogan an autocrat. And then the issues that exist between Turkey and the United States, none of them have been resolved, whether it's the issue of the U.S. supporting the Kurds inside Syria, which Turkey views as being a terrorist organization, or the issue of Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400s.

All of these are issues that really tarnish the relationship between the two countries. Now prior to this announcement by President Biden and his use of the word genocide, the two leaders had spoken for the first time since President Biden took office on the phone.

And in the readout from the White House and from the Turkish presidency office, neither of them mentioned what had taken place in Armenia or the fact that President Biden, according to an individual who had information about this call, that Biden had actually informed Erdogan that he would be calling the Armenian mass killing a genocide.

Both of them instead put more emphasis on the fact that they agreed to meet on the sidelines of the NATO summit that took place in June.

CURNOW: Thank you for that reporting. Arwa Damon live in Istanbul. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Joining me now is James Jeffrey, a former U.S. envoy for Syria, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey and the current Middle East chair at the Wilson Center.

Ambassador, thank you for joining us this hour. Great to have you on the show.

What does this declaration signal?

JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. ENVOY TO SYRIA: Thank you for having me, Robyn.

Firstly, President Biden is living up to a commitment that he gave to Armenian Americans, to take this step. The step is to call the horrific events that occurred to the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians in 1915, a genocide specifically. That is what he promised, that is what he did today.

The issue is how it impacts Turkey as a successor state to the Ottoman Empire.

CURNOW: Do you agree with this situation?

Would you have advised the president for or against this decision?

JEFFREY: The last time it came up in 2009, I was the ambassador in Ankara and I advised President Obama and Vice President Biden not to do it. It wasn't a question of the facts, which people argue back and forth; none of us were there in 1915.

It is a question of the geopolitical and importance of Turkey and the sensitivity of the Turks not to the events; most understand and accept the Ottoman Empire committed terrible crimes. But the use of the word genocide, which is associated with one country only, which is Nazi Germany.

CURNOW: If you advised President Obama against doing this, why is this administration making this decision now?

Why is it now deemed to be in America's national interest to make this call?

JEFFREY: I think first of all, it's a domestic concern, living up to the commitments you've made for your voters. I don't think there is any particular geostrategic benefit of doing this.


CURNOW: But there could be strategic implications, won't they?

JEFFREY: Absolutely and there is a downside with Turkey. Turkey is an extremely important ally of ours in Syria, Libya, the Ukraine and Afghanistan, the Caucasus and in NATO and in containing both Russia and Iran, which are both on the march throughout the Middle East and the region.

CURNOW: We understand Turkey, summoning the U.S. ambassador, is to be expected. That is to be expected no doubt.


CURNOW: What other chips is Erdogan holding right now?

How could he make it difficult for the Biden administration?

JEFFREY: Firstly, it depends on whether he speaks out personally. But he hasn't yet. That may be a good sign. President Biden, sensibly, called Erdogan yesterday to give him an alert.

What he could do, Erdogan, is to limit American non-NATO military operations out of Turkey. They have significant forces and significant use of Turkey's bases there.

Secondly, he could make life more difficult for us, particularly in Syria but also in these other areas where we and Turkey are more or less on the same side but they are all complicated: Libya, Ukraine, so forth. We will have to wait and see what steps he will take, as well as the usual diplomatic demarches (ph) and possible temporary pulling of ambassadors or worse.

CURNOW: Is this also the Biden administration signaling, not necessarily to Turkey but to other countries?

That this is the way they will do business?

What does this open the door toward?

JEFFREY: In general, other countries, again, those countries that are very important on the front lines of the global order against China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, will believe that their geopolitical cooperation with the United States may not be valued as highly as whether another human rights or related value. That is the concern I have with this decision.

CURNOW: Sir, what do you mean by that?

JEFFREY: What I mean is they may feel that it is not enough simply to have the same attitudes as the United States and the rest of NATO. You have to cooperate closely, continuously and with some pain and internal cost, to maintain a solid front on any issues, say, Syria.

There may be problems doing that with Turkey now, because the Turks will not want to have a say in communications for us. They will not trust us as much.

Other countries will look at that and will conclude, the United States does not have our back if there is some internal problem or some ghost from our past or some human rights issue that Washington is concerned about. That is what I am worried about.

CURNOW: Wouldn't the Biden administration, particularly many Americans after the Trump years, say that is exactly what we need?

We need to put out foot down and say, America is a bulwark of human rights.

JEFFREY: And America is. It is also bulwark against the march forward which President Biden's own national intelligence community just issued a report on threats. These countries are on the march. Again, Russia, China and Iran.

It is very important that we build up a alliance, which we have, but make sure it works, to block these people. That was a complaint against the Trump administration, that we didn't work closely enough with our allies. Unfortunately, many of our allies have things that concern us or do things today that concern us.

CURNOW: You are saying this does this damage with the alliance with Turkey and what are the political implications of that long term.

Ambassador James Jeffrey, always great to have your perspective, your expertise, you worked so long in that region, thank you very much for joining us.

JEFFREY: Thank you for having me.


CURNOW: People in Jerusalem are waking up after another night of protests and clashes. Protesters threw rocks and bottles. Israeli police responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets. The Palestinian Red Crescent says 14 Palestinians were injured.

Tensions have been high near the Old City after police set up barriers to prevent people from congregating there during Ramadan. Hadas Gold is there at the scene of the unrest.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing in front of Damascus gate, one of the entrances to the Old City of Jerusalem. This has been the scene of near nightly clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.

Palestinians have been protesting the erection of barricades in this plaza that has prevented Palestinians from congregating here, a popular place, especially during Ramadan.

Protesters have been throwing glass bottles and rocks and the Israeli police have responded with stun grenades, rubber bullets and foul- smelling water, the stench of which you can still smell today.

Last night the Palestinian Red Crescent said about 14 Palestinians were injured in the clashes. Tensions have been boiling in Jerusalem for several days now, not only because of the clashes here in front of Damascus gate but also because of individual incidents of physical violence between Palestinians and Israelis that have been going viral online. And also last week a march of several hundred Jewish extremists, who,

at one point, were shouting, "Death to Arabs." Those tensions have now spread down south, where Gaza militants have been shooting rockets toward Israeli communities.


GOLD: Two nights ago 36 rockets were fired. Last night three rockets were fired. So far no injuries have been reported. The Israeli army saying they have responded with airstrikes targeting Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has said that these rockets have been fired in response to the tensions in Jerusalem, saying that they are doing so as part of its national and moral duty in protecting the interests of the Palestinian people.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged calm in a statement but said that all options are on the table. The Israeli army chief has also canceled an important visit to the United States this week as a result of these tensions. The international community is also reacting with growing concern.

The U.N.'s Middle East envoy, Tor Wennesland, said that provocative acts across Jerusalem must cease. The U.S. State Department has also condemned the rockets fired from Gaza, with spokesperson Ned Price tweeting, "The rhetoric of extremist protesters chanting hateful and violent slogans must be firmly rejected.

"We call for calm and unity and urge authorities to ensure the safety, security and rights of all in Jerusalem" -- Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.


CURNOW: And coming up on CNN, how the far right QAnon movement is expanding to include a dedicated group of followers in Japan. That next.




CURNOW: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow live from Atlanta. It is 34 minutes past the hour.

Now a North Carolina sheriff promises that the public will see body cam footage after deputies shot and killed a Black man.


CURNOW: Protesters took to the streets of Elizabeth City for a fourth straight day to demand transparency and facts. Natasha Chen is there. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has now been more than three days since Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a Pasquotank County sheriff's deputy as they were executing a search warrant and an arrest warrant, which the sheriff said about a task force (ph).

Now the public has been calling for the release of the body camera footage, including the family of Andrew Brown Jr. And they're comparing this process to the speed at which other jurisdictions around the U.S. have released their body camera footage after similar police use of force cases recently.

It seems that other places have released video much sooner than this county here. The sheriff in Pasquotank County here explained on Saturday afternoon that it is not up to him.

In a Facebook video that he posted, he explained that it requires a judge to grant the release of that video and that, if he gets the assurance of the State Bureau of Investigation that releasing the video would not hinder the investigation, the county would also formally file a request on Monday to have that video released.

On Monday, we're going to potentially see the same thing. The Elizabeth City council met in an emergency meeting on Friday to also request for that video to be released. And a number of news organizations, including CNN, will also formally file for that video to be released.

A lot of questions could potentially be answered by seeing this video. The family discussed that at a press conference Saturday afternoon, where we heard from the oldest son of Andrew Brown Jr.


KHALIL FEREBEE, ANDREW BROWN JR.'S SON: With all these killings going on, I never expected this to happen so close to home. Like, he left a close and tight family, with each other every day talking to each other every day. And we, my brothers, my sisters, we is what drove him as a person. We is what made him better.

And now I got to live every day, my newborn without getting a chance to meet him at all. That's going to hurt me every day. I just want justice.


CHEN: At that press conference, community leaders also referred to the 9-1-1 audio that has been publicly released, where emergency responders are heard saying that Brown was found with a gunshot wound to the back, which is very concerning, of course, for the family, especially when a witness also told CNN that she saw deputies firing at Brown's vehicle as he was allegedly driving away.

So again, many questions that could potentially be answered and helped by seeing the video, which, so far, no one has seen, not the family, not city officials in Elizabeth City. And so people are eagerly awaiting those formal filings on Monday -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Elizabeth City, North Carolina.


CURNOW: Months after the deadly riot on the U.S. Capitol, a number of federal judges and Justice Department officials say that former president Donald Trump could still incite his followers to violence.

That's because he's repeating the conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him and that there was widespread voter fraud. The reality is there is no proof of vote rigging and election officials say the vote was free and fair.

Now some of the alleged Capitol rioters are in jail right now, awaiting trial. Federal prosecutors argue that Trump's promotion of the Big Lie means that those suspects are a danger to national security.

And after surfacing in the U.S., the far right QAnon movement has expanded to become a sophisticated and active network in Japan. And it has ideologies and influences of its own, as Selina Wang now reports.


PROTESTERS: Fight for Trump.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protesters march against President Joe Biden's inauguration. No, this isn't the U.S., it's Japan. Waving American flags and carrying signs like these, among them, QAnon supporters.

QAnon may be in disarray in America after Trump's election loss, but not in Japan. Its niche, yet by many accounts is growing. One group calls its QArmyJapanFlynn, after Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. One member, Hiromi, is an acupuncturist, divorced with three children.

WANG (on camera): What does QAnon mean to you?

HIROMI, QARMYJAPANFLYNN MEMBER (through translator): I used to think it was my fault when things didn't go well. It was because I wasn't educated or didn't have talent or money. But when I found QArmyJapanFlynn on Twitter, I felt so much more certain about my place in the world. WANG (voice-over): Hiromi believes the U.S. election may have been

stolen from Trump, but adds her group did not support the violence during the Capitol Hill riots.

Experts say QAnon's spread of baseless conspiracies is a danger to Japanese society, but Hiromi says, it is about giving those who are struggling a feeling that they can change society.

[02:40:00] WANG (voice-over): Another member, 2Hey, graduated from college and studied architecture. He has one son, used to work in real estate and is now a delivery worker.

WANG (on camera): What do you think of Japanese society today?

2HEY, QARMYJAPANFLYNN MEMBER (through translator): It's so tough to stay afloat, even with both parents working. I kept thinking something was so wrong. And that's when I discovered QAnon.

It's not about whether Q believes in Trump or not. We want everybody to realize there is something wrong with the status quo. This movement isn't just limited to Japan. It's a global movement. That's why I joined.

WANG (voice-over): QAnon in Japan shows how easily unfounded claims can move from the darkest corners of the internet to draw in people from around the world.

In January, Twitter suspended the accounts of the members we spoke to. They say they've now moved to other platforms and are recruiting offline, including J here, who is a financial consultant but now travels across Japan to recruit, spreading misinformation along the way.

MELANIE SMITH, HEAD OF ANALYSIS, GRAPHIKA: it's been one of the most self-sustaining communities and the most resilient. I think, the major danger of QAnon is just an undermining of voices that are intended to deliver public information.

WANG (voice-over): QArmyJapanFlynn members tell CNN their numbers have increased during the pandemic. They say they have members across the country, male, female, rich and poor.

WANG (on camera): Experts say recent actions from social media companies and Trump's defeat won't stop the conspiracies from flourishing.

QAnon is rooted in the belief that the government and established institutions are lying to the public, an idea that many experts say will far outlive Trump and the 2020 elections -- Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


CURNOW: Dozens of sailors are feared dead but Indonesia's search for a sunken submarine still presses on. The latest on the recovery mission. That's next.





CURNOW (voice-over): This sped-up video shows an enormous fire raging in Northern Ireland's Mourne Mountains. Officials say more than 100 firefighters are working to contain it.

The flames broke out on Friday and have spread to Northern Ireland's highest mountain. An assistant fire chief calls it one of the most challenging fires they've ever had to deal with. We'll keep you posted on that.


CURNOW: Meanwhile, 53 crew members aboard an Indonesian submarine are feared dead after the navy confirmed the vessel had sunk in the Bali Sea. Now officials say the sailors were expected to run out of oxygen early on Saturday. Blake Essig is following the story for us from Tokyo.

What more can you tell us?

Hi, Blake.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, the mood on the ground in Indonesia is a mixture of both heartbreak and fading optimism. After four days of searching, hopes of finding the missing Indonesian submarine and its 53-person crew alive appear to be gone.


ESSIG (voice-over): A bottle of grease, a metal tube, prayer mats, just some of the debris displayed by the Indonesian Navy, leading them to a bleak status change for a missing submarine carrying 53 crew members.

YUDO MARGONO, NAVY CHIEF, INDONESIA (through translator): With authentic evidence believed to be from KRI Nanggala, at the moment, we have raised the status from missing to sunk.

ESSIG: The submarine went missing Wednesday morning during a torpedo drill in the Bali Strait. It's been a race against time to locate the vessel with oxygen expected to have run out by early Saturday.

Officials believe the submarine likely cracked under intense pressure in deep water, allowing debris to escape. They say based on the findings, an explosion was unlikely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The items would not have come outside the submarine if there was no external pressure or without damage to its torpedo launcher.

ESSIG: Warships have been deployed to the area to search for the vessel using metal and magnetic detectors. The debris was found floating at a location where the ocean is 850 meters deep, which would make any possible evacuation difficult.

Authorities said earlier that the submarine could not survive at depths below 500 meters.


ESSIG: At this point the submarine still hasn't been located but, again, Robyn, it seems our worst fears have been realized, as debris from the missing submarine, with 53 souls on board, has been recovered.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks for that update. Thanks so much. Blake Essig live in Tokyo.

The prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines tells CNN he fears that the worst could still be to come, as volcanic eruptions blanket St. Vincent in ash. There are reports of COVID cases spiking in refuse shelters and hurricane season is approaching. Patrick Oppmann reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's erupting again.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For over two weeks, the La Soufriere volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent has exploded and laid waste to small communities. The usually lush and verdant area has been transformed into a disaster zone, the prime minister tells me.


RALPH GONSALVES, PRIME MINISTER, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES: More but not east and not west. It's like a desert that is desolate. It's apocalyptic. The whole place is covered in ash.

OPPMANN: You don't recognize it.

GONSALVES: No, you wouldn't recognize it and you would be amazed to see the number of (INAUDIBLE) which have also come down.


OPPMANN (voice-over): It's 42 years since the last eruption. The volcano is making up for lost time, destroying nearby homes and blanking others with ash. The eruptions are visible from space. Ash and debris have landed in neighboring islands. The volcanic activity could go on for months. The aid is appreciated but it's not enough.

GONSALVES: We are not able to do the humanitarian effort and not able to do the recovery without substantial assistance from the region and the global community. I mean, we are really at the midnight hour of need. And we need that help.

OPPMANN (voice-over): In 1902, the volcano erupted and killed an estimated 1,600 people. This time, early evacuations paid off and there have been no reported deaths but the eruptions inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars in damage on homes, infrastructure and farmlands, according to government estimates. With the Atlantic hurricane season beginning June 1st, the worst may

be yet to come.

GONSALVES: There's a lot of materials covered in ash and the rest are muddy. When you have the rains, the rains lubricate and add to the weight and you have mudslides coming down very fast pace.

OPPMANN: Thousands are in tents or shelters or staying with friends and family and increasing the risk for coronavirus.


OPPMANN (voice-over): The volcano continues to erupt without a clear end in sight. Residents say they will recover and will rebuild. They also know that this may be just the beginning -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN.


CURNOW: Still to come, why this year's Academy Awards will be an experience unlike anything in Oscars history.




CURNOW: Hollywood's biggest night of the year is 17 hours away and the producers of this year's Academy Awards say it will be a cinematic experience unlike anything in Oscars history. But as Stephanie Elam reports, that may not be enough to attract the big audience the industry craves.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From struggle --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a revolutionary.

ELAM (voice-over): To desperation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need work, I like work.

ELAM (voice-over): The times are felt in this year's Oscar nominees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about an overreaction from the cops?

ELAM (voice-over): But so is the silence, including from viewers whose lack of interest made most award shows this year a bomb.

MATTHEW BELLONI, FORMER EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: If the ratings continue to decline, you're going to see some changes. I think some awards shows might go away.

ELAM (voice-over): The Oscars want to reverse the trend. [02:55:00]

ELAM (voice-over): Gone is the internet remote access feel that hindered shows like the Golden Globes.

BELLONI: It ended up being like a bad version of an office meeting and the Oscars don't want that.

ELAM (voice-over): Enter Steven Soderbergh and Stacy Sher, the team ironically behind the film "Contagion." The pandemic will be a big theme, they say, but Soderbergh wants a show unlike any others.

BELLONI: And he has said that he wants the Oscars to feel like a movie. There're going to have shots from behind shoulders of people, moving cameras.

ELAM: To pull it off, the show is moving to a smaller venue, here to L.A.'s iconic Union Station, itself a star in Hollywood films, like "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Dark Knight Rises."

ELAM (voice-over): And with vaccines out and fewer restrictions the biggest challenge may not be the pandemic but the movies themselves. Absent of any theatrical hits like year's past, this year the best films come mostly from streaming platforms.

BELLONI: It's very different than choosing to go to a movie theater, buy your popcorn, sit in the theater and watch a movie. People just become attached to those movies in a way that they don't when they are on streaming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, call me Mank.

ELAM (voice-over): "Mank" leads with 10 nominations. But "Nomadland" is the front-runner for best picture.

CHADWICK BOSEMAN, ACTOR: Yes. I know what I'm doing.

ELAM (voice-over): Chadwick Boseman is expected to win a posthumous award for Best Actor, but the biggest thing may just be on the Oscar themselves.

BELLONI: Will they be able to get that audience back, when there are movies in theatres or is this just accelerating a trend that already existed and those audience members are not coming back?

ELAM (voice-over): In Hollywood, I'm Stephanie Elam.


CURNOW: Thanks for joining me. I'll be back same time, same place, tomorrow. I'm going to hand things over to Kim. More CNN continues after the break.