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Mayor: 20 Killed, Dozens Hurt in Mexico City Metro Disaster; Grieving and Struggling Indian Hospital Runs Out of Oxygen; CDC: More Than 40 Percent of U.S. Adults are Fully Vaccinated; G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting Face-to-Face in London. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 4, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

Just ahead, a subway overpass collapses on to a busy street. CNN is live on the scene in Mexico City.

India's pandemic plight, even state of the art hospitals in New Delhi are desperate for oxygen, unable to keep some patients breathing. But there are signs the U.S. is winning its war on COVID-19 as President Biden hopes life will be back to some kind of normal within months .

Well the death toll from the Mexico City subway disaster has risen to 20 and authorities say some of the victims are children. Nearly 50 people are hospitalized and there's no word yet on what caused this tragedy. Surveillance video shows the moment part of the overpass collapsed on to traffic below. It's only eight seconds long and you can see the train cars come crashing down with bursts of fire and then a huge cloud of dust and debris. This accident happened on the city's newest train line the Golden Line. The Mexico City mayor says one survivor was rescued from the rubble. She says no one else is trapped.

And our Matt Rivers joins us now live from Mexico City from the scene of this tragedy. So, Matt, what more are you learning about what is happening right now in terms of those who survived this tragedy and how this happened?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary, we just heard from the Mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum just a few minutes ago. She gave a press conference updating the latest numbers -- 23 people have now been confirmed killed as a result of this accident, 69 people now hospitalized. But, as you say, no one remains trapped in this scene behind me.

I want to show you what we can see from our vantage point, we are 100, maybe 200 meters away from where this accident happened. And you can see that's the bottom of one of the train cars that fell when this overpass collapsed. David, if you can pan up a little bit and show this overpass here. You can see it's a pretty standard metro overpass made of concrete, steel underneath, the concrete platform on top, but clearly it collapsed and sent two cars down to the ground below.

At this point it's very clear that what is happening here is no more about a search and rescue operation, this is clearly more of a cleanup operation. There are big cranes here now making sure that they're stabilizing this structure here next to me as much as they can because what will happen is as we continue to treat people, Rosemary, in the hospital, as they unfortunately have to break the news to the 23 perhaps and counting people, the loved ones of those who lost their lives here.

Of course, there are going to be questions for authorities moving forward about how exactly this happened. How did this infrastructure which has been built only in the last ten years or so, fail so spectacularly in this kind of fashion? Those are going to be the questions moving forward, but of course, Rosemary, right now the focus remains on the injured who are in the hospital and also the 23 people at least so far that have lost their lives.


CHURCH: Yes, it most certainly does. The focus on those who lost their lives, those who are in the hospital, but those questions will remain and what sort of checks and balances are there in Mexico City to try to stop this sort of thing from happening?

RIVERS: You know, there has always been a lot of concern here in Mexico City over the city's infrastructure. This is a place that sees a lot of earthquakes. It was in 2017 that hundreds of people lost their lives during an earthquake. In some cases while inside buildings that were supposed to be up to city code. Those buildings were supposed to be following the rules and yet they weren't.

And that left a lot of people here in Mexico City extremely angry over that, angry over the fact that the government seemingly isn't enforcing those kind of protective measures needed in a place like this. We don't know what happened here behind us. We don't know if, you know, this structure here behind me wasn't up to code, but we do know that it failed spectacularly somehow. And there are already questions here in Mexico City from the public about how something like this could happen and that is going to be the primary focus of this investigation moving forward.

CHURCH: People will want answers for sure. CNN's Matt Rivers in Mexico City. Many thanks for bringing us up to date on that situation.

Well, the latest numbers from India's battle with coronavirus are jarring. More than 20 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in India alone. The health ministry reported over 350,000 new cases on Tuesday, the government has postponed exams for medical and nursing students. They will be monitoring mild coronavirus cases under supervision. CNN's Sam Kiley has this exclusive report from New Delhi.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm in a facility that's being run by a Sikh NGO, it's one of the very few places in the entire Delhi area where they can get oxygen and they get it by driving sometimes 500-600 miles or more. They're expecting a delivery from Mumbai, 1,200 miles away, for people like Rinkesh (ph), who are death's door. He would die if he did not get this oxygen and that is exactly what's been happening in some of the more sophisticated hospitals in Delhi.

KILEY (voice-over): Tears for a much loved colleague. Dr. R.K. Himthani, killed by COVID-19 in the same hospital where he'd spent a year treating other victims of the coronavirus. Grief and the inevitable silent question, who's next?

He died here in this intensive care unit because the Batra Hospital, where he worked, ran out of the most basic necessity, oxygen. He was not alone. The medical director of the hospital, SCL Gupta, gave the mid-afternoon casualty figures in this war against the virus.


KILEY: Eight?

GUPTA: Died just now and five patients they are under resuscitation, may or may not survive, just because in the capital city of Delhi and because of want of oxygen, which is the lifeline.

KILEY (voice-over): He knew the chances of reviving the five were slim.

KILEY: When you heard this morning that you had just a few hours of oxygen and then eight patients died, what does that do to you to the soul of a doctor?

GUPTA: I cannot explain to them my feelings. We are dying inside, we are the saviors, not the murderers. And we cannot express our feelings. I cannot express my feelings because how I'm feeling inside.

KILEY: Is it destroying you?


KILEY: How long have you been a doctor?

GUPTA: What, sir?

KILEY: How long you have been a doctor?

GUPTA: Forty-five years.

KILEY: Must be so destroying. I can't imagine what it must be like for you. I'm sorry.

GUPTA: I'm sorry, sir.

KILEY (voice-over): Over the next hour, four of the five resuscitation patients died. KILEY: In a space of about two hours, when the oxygen ran out, 12 people died in this hospital, which in every other respect, is a first world facility. They're simply asphyxiated.

KILEY (voice-over): The hospital copes by advising patients to source their own supplies of oxygen to cover its erratic supplies. Local and international efforts to get enough of the gas into India's capital are still failing.

India's central and national governments have been unable to explain the oxygen shortages and as the numbers of people infected with COVID- 19 soar in India along with the daily death toll, the Batra Hospital, like many others, will admit no more patients.


There's no point.

SHINU VERGHESE, HEAD OF NURSING, BATRA HOSPITAL: We will not take more admissions because we don't want people to die in front of us. So they can go to the other hospital where the oxygen's available.

KILEY (voice-over): Dr. Kishore Chawla runs a Hindu temple charity. He pulled through COVID-19 before the oxygen started to run out.

DR. KISHORE CHAWLA, CEO OF CHATTARPUR MANDIR: From housekeeping, even the nursing staff, the supervisors, all are working very hard.

KILEY (voice-over): Fair enough. But the Indian's government's failure to ensure basic supplies to hospitals in the face of a long- term pandemic is simply not going to wash.

KILEY: Now the health minister has argued over the last week or so that Delhi is actually getting more oxygen that it's asking for. The evidence on the ground rather indicates the opposite.


CHURCH: CNN's Sam Kiley reporting there. And I spoke last hour with Astha Rajvanshi a fellow at the Institute of Current World Affairs, and I asked her why the Indian government was too unprepared.


ASTHA RAJVANSHI, FELLOW, INSTITUTE OF CURRENT WORLD AFFAIRS: It was almost unbelievable to see the level of ill preparation for the second wave. Experts had been warning us about the effects of the virus in the second wave since February. And in March, we started to see an uptick of cases.

But I think there was a lot of pandemic fatigue and complacency. And because they were seeing a lower number of cases in February the government over declared that we have seen the end of the virus. And we saw across the country mass rallies being held, religious festivals being held, and cricket matches. And I think the general sense of complacency and ill preparation by the government at a time when experts were warning us that we were going to see a rise in cases has now led us to the situation where we're seeing an unprecedented amount of cases and deaths.


CHURCH: Astha Rajvanshi speaking with me last hour from New Delhi.

Well, COVID's spread across India is spilling beyond its borders. Look at the steep rise in neighboring Nepal. Just over two weeks ago the seven-day average of new cases was at 500, now it's well over 5,000. Nepal reported a record number of new infections on Monday and the country's Prime Minister is asking the international community for help.

Well, it's a very different story here in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 40 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. And you can see the state by state breakdown here. The latest data shows roughly 106 million people are fully vaccinated. The average daily number of cases and deaths in the U.S. has fallen to one fifth of their peak in January. U.S. President Joe Biden touted the vaccination progress and made this prediction for the months ahead.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think by the end of the summer we will be in a very different position than we are now. As you know, I've worked very hard to make sure we have over 600 million doses of vaccine. We're going to continue to make sure that's available. We're going to increase that number across the board as well so we can also be helping other nations once we take care of all Americans.


CHURCH: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine for children and teens ages 12 to 15 by early next week. That is according to a federal government official.

Well, with strong progress in vaccinations and falling cases and deaths, questions are now being asked about how coronavirus restrictions across the U.S. should be eased and when. Nick Watt has that angle for us.


BIDEN: I'm looking for my mask, I'm in trouble.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No, you're not, Mr. President, not anymore, you are not in a crowd and you are outside. CDC says you don't need one. The rules are now confusing and perhaps too cautious for the fully vaccinated. DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICA ANALYST: You are very well immune, and

you no longer need masks in public. You can go into places without masks and it's time for the CDC to start embracing this kind of bifurcated strategy.

WATT (voice-over): More confusion, Massachusetts just loosened its outdoor mask rules but the town of Brookline, Mass, kept them tight.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Part of the deal we should be cutting with the American people is when there are restrictions that are not necessary we should absolutely lift them.

WATT (voice-over): Florida just went further, invalidated all local COVID-19 restrictions for everyone.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The approach here is showing Florida leading the way again.

WATT (voice-over): The national average daily case count just fell below 50,000 for the first time since October.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORM FDA COMMISSIONER: Right now the gains we're seeing across the country are locked in.


I think in the coming weeks we're going to see an acceleration, the decline in cases and one of the big reasons is vaccination.

WATT (voice-over): Meantime, in India where the vaccination program remains pitiful, thousands are now dying daily from this virus.

DR. SCL GUPTA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, BATRA HOSPITAL: And because of a want of oxygen, which is the lifeline.

WATT (voice-over): Tomorrow heavy travel restrictions from India kick in.

GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): Do you think there would be one person today in India that wouldn't line up to take the vaccines? They would all line up as far as you could go.

WATT (voice-over): But the pace of vaccination in this country is slowing. By percentage of population vaccinated top three performing states are all in the northeast. New Mexico is also doing well. Worst performing, mainly in the south and Utah.

DR. JAY VARKEY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Herd immunity is going to be challenging any way you cut or slice it.

WATT (voice-over): But even 50 percent, 55 percent vaccinated can be game changing.

JHA: You really see case numbers plummet. So we may not get to zero -- we probably won't, but if we can get the infections at very low levels, most of us can get back to our lives in normal ways, I think we can probably live with that.

WATT: And two numbers to end on. This Sunday was the busiest air travel day in the United States since the pandemic began. Ten times the number of passengers passing through airports as the same day last year. And here in Los Angeles County where nearly 24,000 people have died during the pandemic, on Sunday not a single new death was recorded.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHURCH: Florida's governor isn't alone in wanting to move on from the pandemic, both Oklahoma and Alabama are lifting their states of emergency. Here is how one governor explained it.


GOV. KEVIN STITT (R-OK): Because Oklahomans used personal responsibility to protect themselves, their families and our most vulnerable the data shows COVID-19 is no longer an emergency.


CHURCH: And the city that never sleeps may once again live up to that motto. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says MTA subway service will return to a 24-hour seven days a week schedule on May 17th. That's also when a midnight outdoor food and beverage curfew will be lifted.

Foreign ministers from the group of seven nations are meeting face-to- face today in London. The latest from the G7. That's next.

Plus, bill and Melinda Gates announced they're getting divorced. What it means for the multi-billion dollar foundation that shares their name. We'll have the latest.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, foreign ministers from the G7 are gathering this hour for their first photo together in two years. As the group prepares to sit down in London for face-to-face in-person meetings. On Monday, the British foreign secretary met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and discussed a range of issues, among them relations with China.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is not our purpose to try to contain China or to hold China down. What we are trying to do is to uphold the international rules-based order that our countries have invested so much in over so many decades to the benefit I would argue not just of our own citizens but of people around the world, including, by the way, China.


CHURCH: CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins me from London. Good to see you Nic. So what's expected to come out this have G7 summit in the end?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, a sort of operating banner, if you will, are the global issues that threaten to undermine democracies, freedoms, human rights. This is the sort of strategic approach, if you will, of these nations that are gathering. But, you know, look at the run down today and it gives you an idea of the big issues and priorities.

So China gets two hours discussion, Russia and hour and a half, Syria half an hour, Libya half an hour, Myanmar half an hour. Afghanistan may be a little longer than that. The Indo-Pacific region will be discussed by the G7 foreign ministers over dinner tonight.

So the real focus here is an end Indo-Pacific China focus. And you heard Antony Blinken there speaking about it and the agenda is designed to sort of bring together the United States allies, the G7 normally just U.K., France, Germany, Italy, the United States, Germany, Canada, but they have invited along India, Australia, South Korea, South Africa and the chair of the ASEAN group of nations, that is Brunei, the foreign minister also here.

But also think of this as a summit, as a pre-summit to pave the way for the leader summit which will happen here in about a year. Climate change is also going to be on the agenda, COVID-19 dealing with the pandemic, the current pandemic, but also preparedness for the future. Making sure that these global partners can be ready to move more swiftly to head off the impact of future pandemics.

So all of that is on the agenda but that issue you heard Antony Blinken talking about China. I think that's going to be the central issue that the United States hopes to come away with, with agreement over how to head off what China does in its country. Which is they accuse it of intellectual property theft, of cyberattacks, of also essentially enslaving Uighur populations into what's been described as forced labor. China rebuts those allegations.

But this is what the United States wants to do, which is gather its allies and find a way to hold China back. And of course, the allies all have differences, differences of approach.


One of the representatives today will be the EU representative for foreign affairs. And the EU just before President Biden came into office struck its own economic deal with China. So all sorts of hurdles, but that's the big push here.

CHURCH: All right, Nic Robertson joining us live from London. Many thanks as always.

And earlier I spoke with CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin and I asked him how the G7 nations will deal with China.


JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The debate over how to deal with China is just beginning. But we couldn't even have that debate amongst the G7 countries over the course of the Trump administration. Donald Trump didn't like the G7 and because he treated that grouping with a mix up of disdain and neglect. So at least they're talking about it, but that's just the first step. The next step is to actually come up with some solutions that would address the shared problem.

CHURCH: Right. And how difficult will that be?

ROGIN: It will be the challenge of our generation. We are dealing with a Chinese Communist Party that is increasingly military, economically, technologically, ideologically expansionist and interfering in free and societies -- free and open societies all over the world.

And the coronavirus pandemic has brought that to the fore and a lot of democratic countries who are now dealing with their relationship with China in a new light because of population Z. What happens when they have a Chinese government that uses vaccines or PPE or masks or information to exert its pressure and its power over the societies.

Now that's a very complex problem. I think the basic notion is that no country can stand up to the rising Chinese government aggression on its own. So, it will require countries with the values and interest that are overlapping to join together.


CHURCH (on camera): CNN political analyst Josh Rogin talking to me earlier.

And still to come here on CNN, Andrew Brown Jr.'s funeral held amid growing calls for police to release body cam video of his fatal shooting.

Also ahead, the divide within the Republican Party deepening. Both sides are doubling down. What it means for the party's future.