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Protesters Training to Fight the Military; Impact of School Closures on Children's Mental Health; Scotland to Hold Pivotal Parliament Election Thursday; Americans Charged with Murder Await Verdict in Italy; Dramatic Video Shows Truck Ambush in South Africa; India Reports More Than 382,000 New COVID Infections; G7 Foreign Ministers Set to Wrap Meeting in London; Criticism Growing Over Handling of Mount Meron Tragedy; CNN Onboard as Ukrainian Patrol Challenges Russian Ship. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 5, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM. Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause.

And coming up this hour, where is India's prime minister?

For weeks, COVID cases have been soaring, the health care system collapsing and patients left to die in the streets. And there's been no sign of Narendra Modi.

Nothing to see here, says the Kremlin. Just naval exercises off Ukraine's coast. The already turbulent relationship between Russia and Ukraine could be heading for trouble waters again. CNN has exclusive access to the next flashpoint.

And how a year of school closures and remote learning have caused and will continue to cause serious emotional harm to so many children.


VAUSE: New daily COVID infections in India remain stubbornly high, for two weeks now, topping more than 300,000, accounting for more than half of all new daily cases worldwide.

India's health ministry has just reported more than 383,000 new infections on Wednesday, that's not a record but it's close. The daily death toll is close to 3,800. At the peak of this outbreak could still be up to two weeks away.

That's according to the country's COVID-19 modeling committee.


DR. MATHUKUMALLI VIDYASAGAR, HEAD OF INDIA'S COVID-19 MODELING COMMITTEE: The pandemic is at a peak right now, and we should expect to see a downturn in the number of cases in a matter of a week or two, possibly even within days. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: It seems two high court judges in Delhi are doing what India central government is either unable or unwilling to do, directly intervene and order officials to supply hospitals in Delhi with oxygen. Another court has described the death of any patient due to a lack of oxygen, as a criminal act on a par with genocide.

In the midst of all of this national majority comes another blow, the hugely popular Indian Premier Cricket League, which has been a welcome distraction for so many has now been suspended indefinitely.

And the criticism and condemnation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government's failed response continues to grow louder. Rahul Gandhi, a member of an opposition party and grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, tweeted today the government allowed rather to help the virus reaches stabilized all the way to stop it. He's calling for a national lockdown, and he adds this, a crime has been committed against India.

And he may be right, in terms of helping spread the virus. Narendra Modi and his political party of been holding huge galleries, a massive gathering amongst mask-less supporters which been proven to be super spreader events.

CNN's Clarissa Ward begins our coverage



CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a raging pandemic tore across the country, thousands flocked to the streets for political rallies, with hardly a mask in sight. At one gathering, India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, praised the turnout.

I've never seen such huge crowds at a rally.

On the same day, more than 260,000 cases of COVID were recorded in India.

Shortly after, millions of worshippers were allowed to congregate for the end of the weeks-long Hindu Kumbh Mela pilgrimage. After all, Modi had already declared victory against COVID.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In a country where 18 percent of the world population lives, we averted a major tragedy by effectively controlling coronavirus. We saved mankind from a big disaster by saving our citizens from the pandemic.

WARD: As a second wave of coronavirus ravages this country, those words have come back to haunt Modi. Critics accuse him of putting his political interests ahead of the health of the nation.

YAMINI AIYAR, CENTRE FOR POLICY RESEARCH: We didn't even ask the question of what we needed to do, they sit on learning from this last year, in the event that we have a second wave, a second wave was never off the table. You just have to look around the world. You don't have to be scientist to see that. We did nothing.

Instead, we celebrated a bit to prematurely, Indian exceptionalism.

WARD: Now, India's health care system is on the brink of collapse, shortages of everything from doctors and drugs to beds and oxygen, after years of neglect.

It was always going to be difficult to contain the spread of COVID here in India. This is a densely populated country of nearly 1.4 billion people. The Indian government is blaming the rapid spread on this new double mutant variant, and it says that it warned states to remain vigilant.

Still, many doctors agree that the devastating toll of this second wave could have been mitigated, with better preparations and a coordinated response. Assured of victory against the virus, India began exporting in the vaccines it was producing, instead of inoculating its own population.

How much responsibility does Prime Minister Modi bear for this?

AIYAR: He's the prime minister of the country. He takes full responsibility for all that we do good and all that goes wrong.

WARD: Do you think this will have an impact on his popularity?

AIYAR: I think as of now what we have seen especially over the last 3 weeks, is complete policy abdication, and certainly, I hope, that we hold our government accountable for what we are seeing today.

WARD: The government has announced a raft of measures to try to combat this crisis, including drafting medical students to help doctors, getting the Navy involved, getting the Air Force involved. But some are saying simply that it's too little too late, and while it's not clear yet what the political fallout might be for Prime Minister Modi, people are saying that this problem is not going away. One state health minister warning that there could be a third wave on the horizon.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, New Delhi.


VAUSE: Jeffrey Gettleman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the South Asia bureau chief for "The New York Times". He's based in New Delhi.

Thanks for being with us.

There have been a lot of similarities, it's striking really between India right now and the U.S. almost a year ago, when politics and the pandemic sort of converge. That was until Trump is out of office in January, that America's COVID crisis began to ease. In India, though, it's a little different. Their next general election

is three years away. So does that mean that any real change will rely on a change of government response? And the will depend entirely on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his senior ministers? And is that likely to happen?

JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, SOUTH ASIA BUREAU CHIEF, NEW YORK TIMES: Mr. Modi is very strong. There is a lot of dissatisfaction, frustration, anger building in this country about how the government handled the second wave of the coronavirus.

And there's -- you know, they declared victory way too early, as you played earlier in the show. Modi came out in January and said, it's over, we beat this. That was a horrendous miscalculation.

But he's still very popular in his country. There is no opposition leader that can touch him. His party is by far the strongest party, and there isn't a parliamentary election for another three years.

So nobody expects this to bring down the Modi government. It is like denting his aura of invincibility, there's no doubt about that. And the government is not looking good right now, at all.

But there's no clear alternative to Mr. Modi or his party. So, few of us expect any cataclysmic change in the political environment right now.

VAUSE: What about the response, though? Is he actually -- what are the chances he'll impose a national lockdown, start wearing face mask all the time in public, stop holding those political gatherings and the super-spreader events?

GETTLEMAN: Well, what's interesting is that Modi was an anti-science, he was different from Trump. Trump sent out these very ambiguous signals from the beginning of the virus crisis. And whether you need to wear a mask or not, belittling the scientists Modi never did that. There's a huge contrast between how he handled it last year and how this second wave has been handled this year.

Last year, he established a very strict lockdown very quickly. He told people to wear masks. He told people to be aware of the coronavirus. You get a lot of credit for being clear, early and aggressive about containing the spread of the virus.

So, I don't think it's like he should be compared to Trump or some of these other leaders that were very dismissive. He wasn't, but this year, the second wave coincided with these political rallies which he participated in.

But more than that, the government here had this narrative that things were over, that India was back in business, that it was time to get back to normal, they really wanted that. They really seem to believe in that. India's economy took an enormous hit last year, because of these lockdowns. And that imperiled many of the government's ambitions both inside India and abroad.

So, the last thing you want to do is to paralyze the economy again.


And they sort of boosted this narrative that things were okay, and they weren't. And so, the government was caught off guard, hospitals are running out of supplies, so many things right now that are happening are because there was a lack of preparation.

VAUSE: And a situation of just how not okay things are right now. Officials have suspended the Indian Premier League Cricket, a statement from border control said it does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and other participants involved, in organizing the IPL.

This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind. Difficult time, especially in India, and while we have tried to bring some positivity and cheer, however it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended never goes back to their loved ones in these trying times.

To say India is a cricket-loving nation is an understatement in the extreme. So, there's some legitimacy on what they say about being a bright spot amid the crisis. But it seems this decision may have been sort of long overdue.

GETTLEMAN: Well, this is what we've seen. So, I've been here since the beginning of the pandemic. And this second wave, it seems like the government was slow to realize the severity of it. Those political rallies Modi was holding were continuing even during the surge in cases, as the numbers went up from 50,000 new cases, to 100,000, to 200,000. He kept campaigning.

His rallies drew thousands of people that were packed together, no masks, no social distancing, and the criticism was happening at the same time. It wasn't like it was looking back. People were saying, at that moment, this is a couple weeks ago, stop holding rallies and they kept doing it.

The same thing with the cricket issue, people were saying, guys, this is crazy. We can't be holding these events. Players are getting sick, let's call it -- let's call it off.

The government was resistant, they really want to try and keep India from sliding backwards the way it happened last year.

Last year, India's economy took a biggest hit of any major economy. Something like a negative 25 percent decrease in economic activity. That put out 100 million people from their jobs, 100 million people lost their jobs.

It was devastating, and India had so much promise on its economic growth and, you know, becoming the superpower, playing a bigger role on the world stage, bringing technology to hundreds of millions of people across this country. That's what they want to do and it's all premised on a strong economy.

VAUSE: Well, it was always a question of when, not if, the crisis in India would spread to neighboring countries. And the when is now.

Nepal, which shares a long and porous border with India has seen a surge in the number of infections. So too Sri Lanka, which is the yellow on the graph. Nepal is the line in red and Tuesday reported its highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic.

The government has imposed a full or partial lockdown of more than half of the country's districts, including the capital.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout following all of this live from Hong Kong.

And what we have seen in the past is, you know, what happened in New York, and a couple of weeks later, it happened in the United States. What happened in Asia then went to Europe. This is just a domino effect.

So, clearly, it was always going to be case that the region would see some kind of surge in numbers. I guess it's a question of how prepared are they.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right. And unfortunately, not prepared, which is why Nepal's prime minister is pleading for international help. Look, the surge of COVID-19 cases inside the country is stunning.

Nepal is seeing a 1,200 percent rise in COVID-19 cases since mid April. On Tuesday, it posted 55 deaths from the coronavirus, its highest daily death toll yet. We know that it -- on average -- is recording about close to 200 new cases, the coronavirus, per every 1 million people. That puts Nepal on par with India. India was dealing with a similar rate of infection at the end of April.

Nepal is trying to take action. It has announced partial or full lockdowns in 46 districts across the country. Last Thursday, it announced a 2-week lockdown in its capital, Kathmandu, starting from midnight tonight, all flights from India, as well as Brazil and South Africa, will be banned starting from Thursday midnight, all international flights will be banned until May the 14th.

But the fear is this -- the crisis will soon turn into a catastrophe. India still has a porous border with Nepal. Nepal has not fully sealed the border. Foreigners cannot cross into the country, but Nepali citizens can still cross over from India into Nepal using over a dozen different checkpoints.

That has prompted this statement from the Nepal Red Cross warning that the situation in Nepal could soon mimic the catastrophe underway in India. The chair of the Nepal Red Cross says this, what is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal's future if we cannot contain this latest COVID surge that is claiming more lives by the minute, unquote.

At the Nepal Red Cross says that every effort is being made to provide vaccination, testing kits, as well as to isolate infected patients.

[01:15:06] We also learned earlier today that the Nepal military setting up a makeshift hospital to deal with the surge.

But Nepal is desperate. We heard from its prime minister, earlier in the week who in English, urged the international community for help -- John.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout there live for us in Hong Kong.

Well, Israel's longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is inching closer to a possible political demise after failing to form a coalition government. The president, Reuven Rivlin, is now expected to tout the leader of a centrist opposition party, Yair Lapid, to try and build a working coalition.

And adding to Netanyahu's political problems, many are blaming him for a lack of safety regulations and the huge death toll caused by stampede on Friday. Forty-five people were killed at a religious festival.

And CNN's Hadas Gold now reports from the festival site at Meron.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please help me, it's crushing my legs. It's crushing my legs. I'm begging you. I'm begging you. Pull. Pull.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As more horrific details and videos emerge from the Mount Meron crush that killed 45 people, growing calls for accountability and change.

Critics say safety regulations are not followed on the mountain, the burial site of an ancient and revered rabbi. Different orthodox sects control their own parts of the site that surrounds the tomb at the top of the mountain.

During the Lag B'Omer holiday, they light ceremonial bonfires, sing and dance on steep in crowded grandstands with haphazard barriers, makeshift structures and narrow walkways.

A crush of people walking down this ramp, coming to the set of stairs slipping, sliding, all over one another, turning it into a tangle of bodies, as police and rescuers down here trying desperately to pull people out of the heap.

Attendees at one tried pulling down the walkways barriers to relieve the pressure. Perhaps unaware, that an abyss lay on the other side. If they had succeeded, the death toll may have been even worse.

The tragedy has torn open a long running tension in Israel, the close societies of the ultra orthodox accused of operating in their own world, by their own rules, indulged by the politicians in power who need their support.

Shlomo Levi, the former head of the area's regional council, says it was only a matter of time before tragedy struck. The mountain just not equipped to hold so many people. One year, he even tried to shut down the festivities, warning his superiors that people would die without intervention. But after pressure from the government, he says, nothing was done.

SHLOMO LEVI, FORMER HEAD OF THE REGIONAL COUNCIL (through translator): The government is not in control, because the government is being politically extorted. All those involved in the mountain know how to press, and who to press. It is absurd, the places run like a crime families but the government does not act against them, it acts in their interest.

GOLD: Just one day before the incident, the head of Israel's public health services warned she was unable to enforce coronavirus restrictions.

DR. SHARON ALROY-PREIS, HEAD OF ISRAEL PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES: It's a disgrace, that's all I can say about it. We've worked long weeks on the, plan it was agreed by all sides, by the police, the ministries, everybody, and in the end, it collapses because there's no one to take responsibility for enforcement.

GOLD: Arya Gari (ph), an ultraorthodox minister, was one of the most vocal politicians pushing to allow unrestricted access to the mountain, despite the coronavirus regulations.

But addressing the Israeli parliament after the incident, he skirted taking responsibility, calling the disaster God's will.

There are growing calls for an independent commission that in its strongest form could even recommend firings and criminal charges. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not committed one way or another to such an inquiry, saying questions will be answered later, now is the time for mourning he insists.

Shlomo Levi, though, has issued a clear warning of a second disaster if nothing changes.

LEVI (through translator): I'm warning that hundreds will die here, if drastic changes failed to take place. We need a national commission of inquiry to examine and recommend. And we need to nationalize this place, to take it back from those who have seized it.

GOLD: Hadas Gold, CNN, Mount Meron.


VAUSE: Well, the U.S. secretary of state will soon be heading to the Ukraine, a strategic show of support as Russia begins another military buildup, this time at sea.

And after weeks of peaceful protests failed, an exclusive report on how Myanmar's pro-democracy demonstrators are heading to the jungle for weapons training.


VAUSE: Vaccination efforts and the climate will be on the agenda as the G7 meetings wrap up in London. The British foreign secretary declared diplomacy is back, as the group gathered Tuesday for the first in-person meeting in two years.

The big focus, relations with both China and Russia. The pandemic was also a focus during a meeting between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Downing Street spokesman says the two sides agree that G7 countries could help increase vaccine manufacturing, worldwide.

Well, the Kremlin says it's just a naval exercise. A buildup of warships in disputed waters off Ukraine's coast, just like last month's military buildup on Ukrainian border was just an exercise as well.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports now, the Ukrainians are facing another challenge this time on the Sea of Azov.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a first glimpse of Putin's latest armada, bristling with weapons in disputed waters between Russia and Ukraine.

Kremlin says these are just naval exercises, but the missiles are real, and for Ukraine so is the threat.

Ukrainian vessels on the strategic Sea of Azov have been warned to steer clear.

Do I get on board?

But we gained rare access to a Ukrainian coastal patrol setting out on high seas to challenge what they say is Russia's illegal naval cordon. Something Moscow rejects.

In recent weeks, Ukrainian navy says its boats have been harassed by Russia, with Moscow shifting its military focus.

So, we've come out here to the very rough Sea of Azov. You can see as Russian forces pull back their troops from the border of Ukraine, they're redeploying naval forces here into this sea, quote, of Azov, raising concerns in Ukraine and around the world that the military pressure they're applying on Ukraine from the land is now moved to the sea.

The commander of the patrol boat tells me how Russian forces are increasingly behaving aggressively. Blocking access, he says, to what should be shared waters, even stopping what are routine coastal patrols.

On cue, the Russians make radio contact. This is boat 444, says the message, reminding you to keep a safe

distance, confirm you're receiving, the Russian voice commands. We see you, a Ukrainian sailor responds, and we're proceeding according to plan.

So we've come to a stop now. You heard the captain say there's a Russia ship in the horizon. You can see it just over there. It's a Russian coast guard ship. We're about two nautical miles away, which is just over two regular miles.

And we can't go any closer, because if we do, there could be some interception by the Russians to us. And I think the Ukrainian coast guard wants to avoid that.

It wouldn't be the first naval clash in the region.


This is the extraordinary moment the Russian coast guard rammed the Ukrainian tug boat in the area back in 2018. Russian ships also fired on Ukrainian naval vessels, seizing three, and escalating tensions in the seas off Crimea, annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

American ships have been challenged, too. This a low pass by a Russian war plane witnessed from the deck of a U.S. destroyer earlier this year. Now, tensions on the seas are ratcheting up once more.

There's heightened alert on dry land, too. At the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, we saw these marines on force protection drills. Naval officials say new Russian deployments at sea are forcing them to step up security and plan for a Russian attack.

CAPT. ROMAN GONCHARENKO, UKRAINIAN ARMY: In the last two weeks, it became more dangerous --

CHANCE: More dangerous?

GONCHARENKO: Yeah, because Russian Federation sent to the Black Sea several landing ships from Baltic Sea and North Sea.

CHANCE: So the Russians have sent landing ships into the Sea of Azov and to the Black Sea.


CHANCE: They're saying that that's for exercising, though?

GONCHARENKO: Officially, it's exercises. But this ship's still here in this area. And in our vision, it can be dangerous for this area.


Back on the coastal patrol boat, we change course safely away from the Russian fleet.

What happens if we don't turn? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have --

CHANCE: Not good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's maybe not good.

CHANCE: Not good at all when Ukraine feels so threatened on this turbulent sea of troubles.

Matthew Chance, CNN, on the Sea of Azov.


VAUSE: To Myanmar now, and three months of peaceful civil disobedience has been met with escalating violence from heavily armed and trigger-happy security forces.

So, now, protesters are seeking out armed ethnic rebel groups for weapons training.

CNN's Paula Hancocks, in Seoul with this exclusive report.

So Paula, these ethic groups, they've been involved in the clash with the military for years?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John, that's the one thing that major general of one of these groups said when we spoke to him, was that they know with these protesters are up against, that they are ill-equipped, they are unarmed and they are untrained.

So, some of these anti-coup protesters are going to try and even up the battle somewhat or at least make it slightly less one-sided.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Learning the skill of stealth in the woods of Myanmar. The signs of cicadas masked the approach of the attackers, but these aren't soldiers, many them are just students.

MAJ. GEN. NERDAH BO MYA, CHIEF OF STAFF, KNDO: They're (INAUDIBLE) some our nurses, and also, some doctors.

HANCOCKS: Young men and women who have left their cities, left their colleges and jobs to train to fight. Ethnic armed groups and teaching them how to defend themselves against a brutal merciless military who's killed well over 760 protesters, according to one advocacy group since they seized power 3 months ago.

MYA: How to handle weapons, different kinds of weapons and how to be able to defend themselves, and the people.

HANCOCKS: Have many of them even held a gun before?

MYA: No, never.

HANCOCKS: More than 200 anti-coup protesters have graduated from this one training camp alone, are heading back to the cities to defend themselves against the military. This is happening throughout the borderlands.

The general leading the training says the protesters need weapons but would not indicate whether he provided any, nor if bomb-making is part of course.

MYA: This is a responsibility to protect lives, if we don't train them who's going to help them?

HANCOCKS: The military has not responded to our request for comment, but has been carrying out air strikes in these areas since late March. Chanting "for the people", the protesters spent 3 to 4 weeks in the jungles before returning home.

MYA: They're very determined, they're very hardworking people, they want to do something. They will never give up, because they say there's nothing to lose anymore.

HANCOCKS: One 18-year-old who was manning a roadblock in the city of Bago last month, when dozens of protesters were killed, killing many of his comrades and travel to the ethnic areas for training. We're hiding his identity for his safety.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have two groups, one to check the neighborhood, and the other went to get training. When they come back, they will teach us what they have learned.

HANCOCKS: Doctors, nurses, students being trained into an unofficial defense force proves just how quickly the situation has deteriorated in Myanmar, and how much more violent the days ahead could become.


HANCOCKS: So the basic training usually lasts about three or four weeks and clearly, that's not going to allow them really to fight against the military. The Major-General says that's not the intention. They're not training them to fight in the streets against Myanmar's military because they would lose.

But what he is hoping is that when they go back to their cities, they will be wiser. They will understand to fight with their heads and not their hearts and maybe be able to defend themselves slightly better when they go out to protest, John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Paula, thank you. This is a dramatic increase in what appear to be tensions for violence there at least or potentially.

Thank you. Paula Hancocks live in Seoul.

Well, no one thought the pandemic would be easy on children. And now a new study reveals how much harm has been done by almost a year of remote learning. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.

Mexico's president has promised full transparency and a quick investigation into a deadly metro accident in the capital. Part of a train overpass collapsed onto traffic late Monday night, killing at least 24 people and injuring almost 80 others. Engineers are inspecting the train line with preliminary findings expected Friday.

CNN's Matt Rivers has details now on how this tragedy unfolded.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It took only a matter of seconds for the horrific disaster to unfold as this rail overpass in Mexico City collapsed, plunging rail cars and passengers on board into a heap of concrete, dust and rubble, killing at least 24 and injuring dozens more.

First responders initially worked furiously to try and to save anyone who maybe trapped in the rubble, but rescue efforts were temporarily suspended overnight due to concerns about the stability of the subway cars.

As the sun rose, workers attempted to stabilize the scene and safely lowered two of the cars that dangled precariously over what was left of the Line 12 overpass.

The chaos and the aftermath giving way to anger as officials struggled to provide answers for how such a catastrophic structural failure could have happened.


RIVERS: As reporters openly questioned the government about long- standing safety concerns, the president vowed a swift, thorough, and transparent investigation.

"The people of Mexico will all know the truth," he says. "Nothing will be hidden and there is no impunity for anyone."

Construction of Line 12 or the so-called Golden Line was a widely- touted construction project from 2006 to 2012, during the Mexico City mayoral term of the now foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, a project that residents later complained was riddled with corruption and shoddy workmanship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The metro was badly done. The whole construction was already poorly done.

RIVERS: In 2014, two years after Ebrard's term as mayor had concluded, 11 of the Line 12's 20 stations had to be briefly suspended to fix what the then-director of the metro system Joel Ortega called engineering failures.

Mexico's Supreme Audit Institution found that Ebrard's government quote, "Failed to comply with legal and administrative provisions to verify the work on the Golden Line had been carried out correctly."

But the federal district attorney ruled there weren't enough elements to hold Ebrard personally responsible at the time.

And on Tuesday, the current metro director pushed back on any allegations of engineering weakness.

"At the end of 2019, a study of the structural and geotechnical behavior of Line 12 was conducted by a national company. The results didn't reveal any risks in the operation."

For his part on Tuesday, Ebrard offered his condolences to the victims and vowed to cooperate fully with the investigation.

He said, "This is the most terrible accident we have ever had in the public transportation system. After determining what caused the accident with proof and evidence, you have to establish who is responsible and the authorities will have to act as a result, no matter who that is."

Engineering teams are on site, looking at any needed immediate fixes to the remaining elevated sections of Line 12, as well as conducting tests into the source of the structural failure. They are expected to release their preliminary findings of what caused the collapse on Friday.

But for the grieving families with loved ones lost, those findings are likely not going to bring comfort, but instead perhaps raise more questions about what could have been done to avoid this tragedy in the first place.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Mexico City.


VAUSE: A long awaited and much called-for investigation into Brazil's president and his failed pandemic response is now underway.

Lawmakers heard seven hours of testimony from one of Bolsonaro's many former health ministers. He said the president did not believe and would not accept an estimate about the potential death toll of 180,000.

And he was right to be skeptical. Brazil's death toll has passed 400,000 -- second only to the U.S. and third in the world in the number of COVID infections.

The U.S. President Joe Biden has once again upped the number of vaccinations nationwide with a new goal -- 70 percent of adults receiving at least one dose by the July 4th holiday, two months from now. So far around 145 million adults, about 56 percent of the population,

have received at least one dose. But the pace of vaccinations is slowing.

Meantime, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children age 12 to 15 early next week.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The FDA scientists are currently reviewing the data to decide if and when to authorize that age range for vaccinations. The FDA and the FDA alone will make that decision.

Today, I want American parents to know that if that announcement comes, we are ready to move immediately.


VAUSE: Vaccinating children is likely to be a game-changer in the seemingly never-ending debate of when and how kids should return to school. And there is now growing evidence of how much children have suffered emotionally by closing down schools and moving classrooms online.

There's a new study finding dramatic increases in the number of children showing signs of agitation, anger, anxiety, so does depression and loneliness. Well, for more on this report, we are joined by the lead author of the report, psychologist, Tali Raviv, associate director of the Center of Childhood Resilience at Chicago's Children's Hospital.

We tracked her down this hour in Tel Aviv. So thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: Ok. So in hindsight, you know, did the sudden and prolonged shift to online or remote learning, did it ultimately do more harm than good?

RAVIV: You know, it's hard to look back now and say what was more harm than good. I think going forward, we really need to think about the risks of reopening and resuming in-person learning and weigh them really significantly against the risk of continuing to keep children at home and isolated.


VAUSE: Because this is really important because the next pandemic is a question of when, not if. We are probably going to be confronted by this problem at least, you know, in the foreseeable future once more.

And whether or not we closed school down, or whether we have a vaccine -- all these things will come into play in how we deal with the next crisis, right?

RAVIV: Absolutely and I think that during the pandemic, many questions were raised, you know, what is the impact on kids, what is the impact on their mental health.

And what this study did is one of the first to really start to put some evidence to that question and maybe validate some observations that we had about the widespread impact on children.

And so I think when we see numbers, you know, like a quarter of children feeling agitated and angry, anxious and stressed, and over a third experiencing loneliness, we really need to ask ourselves the hard questions. We cannot sit by and ignore those numbers anymore.

VAUSE: And what is really interesting is that your study came out with some very surprising results. Overall, the kids showing traits of loneliness which you just mentioned. It was almost 32 percent post school closure.

That's not really a surprise, but when you break those the numbers down by race, it's up among black and Latinx students, but up by almost 50 percent -- a lot more for white kids.

Before the pandemic about 3 percent overall showed signs of loneliness. And there is a similar sort of outcome for hopeful and positive attributes or traits. The numbers show a fall in all groups when it comes to being hopeful or positive. In other words they are less optimistic.

But the biggest fall was among again white kids. It seems almost counterintuitive because, you know, white children are more likely to have their own room or access to the computer or internet -- that kind of stuff.

So why -- how do you explain the impact here being greater on these kids than Latinx and black students?

RAVIV: Yes, I think that was quite an interesting finding. And we need to do some further investigation to look at predictors of resilience among different racial and ethnic groups.

What I don't want that finding to overshadow is two key pieces of information. One is that, as you said, John, the pattern of changes was the same regardless of ethnic or racial groups or income level.

Across the board on all 12 indicators that we measured, we saw a worsening in all those affects of child mental of health and well- being.

And the other piece is that we have had widespread coverage about the disproportionate impact of both illness and death of COVID-19. But also the associated stressors -- lack of access to health care, income loss, et cetera. And I think we really need to continue to pay attention that those impacts are disproportionately felt by children of color and children in poverty with in the United States. And so, I don't want the findings of the differential impact on white families to overshadow those key points.

VAUSE: Yes. And that's a very good point to make, because the pandemic has exposed fault lines in our society when it comes to inequalities and wealth and access to health care systems.

It's just that in this instance, it was kind of an unusual point which, as you say, bears looking at.

In general, children are very resilient. They are able to cope with trauma and upheaval usually better than adults. But will that be the case given, you know, how long of time they have been cut off socially from their friends, how long they have been away from school, how long they've been sort of out of their social groups?

RAVIV: I think that the new research is coming out every day to look at the prolonged impact on children. And as you say, the vast majority of children will be resilient, but we as a society I think really need to start looking at what are the policies and practices that we put into place to ensure that positive development continues.

And that includes looking at our policies about targeting those core risk factors, poverty, health care inequality. How do we continue to provide children with nurturing, safe, stable environments, we continue to expose them to positive adults and positive peers, because those things are so critical for development, not only for health development but also to prevent some of the really significant mental health impacts that we could see down the line if we don't act now.

VAUSE: Tali, we're out of time, but as a parent, as a dad to a teenager who has been stuck at home throughout the pandemic, this is really interesting read and study. And thank you very much for doing it.

And hopefully it will shed light on a lot of issues there. So thanks, mate. Thanks for being with us as well.

RAVIV: Thanks for having me, John.

VAUSE: Pleasure.

Well, a pivotal election looming in Scotland. Some say they are divided on which way they will vote. The reason -- independence. We'll go there when we come back.



VAUSE: France's national assembly has approved a far-reaching environmental bill but only after being forced to act by a court ruling. And activists say this legislation falls way short.

Some of the measures would reduce packaging waste and prevent future airport expansions to one of the world's most visited countries. This bill now heads to the Senate before a final vote in the lower House. Voters in Scotland will head to the polls Thursday for an election which could determine more than just who leads the government. It could also be a make or break moment for the country's independence movement.

CNN's Nic Robertson explains why many Scots are conflicted about which way they will vote.


MARIE MACKLIN, BUSINESSWOMAN: (INAUDIBLE) We are going to be doing them across the whole of U.K.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Carbon neutral regeneration in Scotland's rust belt.

(on camera): This was a Johnny Walker Whiskey factory here not so many years ago.

MACKLIN: It was. This was a controversial state.

ROBERTSON (voice over): 700 jobs gone overnight, nearly 10 years and much investment later, CEO Marie Macklin is helping bring high tech jobs to her hometown. (INAUDIBLE) she's getting the keys just days ahead of a huge moment in Scottish politics.

MACKLIN: This (INAUDIBLE) wouldn't have been possible without the 3.5 million pounds from the U.K. government and the Scottish government. And if you'll take me down the road of independence referendum today -- so I'm half the (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON: It's the question all Scots are about to answer.

(on camera): This election is about more than who gets to govern Scotland. It could lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom. The Scottish National Party promised a referendum on independence if they get a majority.

Are you guys going to be voting?


ROBERTSON: You know which way.




ROBERTSON: Not because of independence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I am -- absolutely -- I'm all for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to say --- SNP. I'm not convinced about their arguments for independence, I'm afraid. ROBERTSON: The independence is a big issue for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To an extent, yes.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Scotland's glory days riding last century's industrial revolution faded here long ago.

Poverty, drugs, crime, unemployment -- all up. Faith in elections to change it? Not so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just can't be bothered. Because just sick and fed up with politics. They're all ranting and raving.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye, I think half of Scotland is the same. Just not interested

ROBERTSON: For business woman Macklin, getting hope into Scotland's former industrial heartland is more important than under which flag.

(on camera): Would you be voting for a pro independence party?

MACKLIN: That is an interesting question. And it's not about should the country remain dependent or not. Is the time right for that independence to be.




ROBERTSON (voice over): Across the country in (INAUDIBLE), close to the English border, the sea is the town's lifeblood. Here, Brexit buffeted incomes. Turmoil from independence is a price worth paying, according to the town's biggest employer.

(on camera): Could you really handle a border, a hard border, 20 miles down the road from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. That could be very tricky. I think, you know, (INAUDIBLE) as well -- it has to be resolved and then satisfied. I think we're a very proud country and I think we have the skills to, you know, to make better decisions for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is part of the bag pipes. It's 14 keys --

ROBERTSON (voice over): World famous bagpipe maker Stuart McCallum is also wrestling the independence question.

(on camera): How would an independent Scotland affect your business?

STUART MCCALLUM, BAGPIPE MAKER: Part of me thinks it could be different. It's for identity and we're very close to the Scottish.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Bagpipes proving popular during lockdown, and businesses doing well. He voted for independence in 2014, but now?

MCCALLUM: I am sitting on the fence for the moment with that, to be honest. (INAUDIBLE)

ROBERTSON: Over the past year, polls have predicted support for independence at a little over 50 percent. In recent weeks, the numbers have softened and right now the undecideds like Stuart McCallum, hold the balance.

Nick Robertson, CNN -- Kilmarnock, Scotland.


VAUSE: A normal day at the most dangerous job in the world turns desperate and dangerous for two cargo security guards.

After the break, their incredible escape from heavily armed thieves, all caught on video.


VAUSE: In just a few hours an Italian court will decide the fate of two Americans caught up in a drug bust gone wrong. They're charged with the murder of a military police officer and are facing life in an Italian prison.

Barbie Nadeau has details now reporting from Rome.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Two Americans from California standing trial in Italy for murder are about to learn their fate. Finnegan Lee Elder now 21 and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth now 20 are charged with extortion and the stabbing death of an Mario Cerciello Rega, a carabinieri officer who had just returned from his honeymoon in July 2019. They face life in an Italian prison.

Rega, a 35-year-old officer and his partner Andrea Varriali working undercover, intervened in a drug deal gone wrong after the two Americans admit to buying what they thought was cocaine in a lively district in Rome.

When they found crushed aspirin instead, they stole the backpack from the man who had set up the bad drug deal. Then they tried to get their money back in exchange for the stolen bag.

Rega and his partner Varriali met the Americans on behalf of the drug dealer to retrieve the stolen bag. What happened next is unclear. The surviving officer Varriali says they identified themselves as carabinieri. Elder and Natale-Hjorth say they didn't.

The Americans say they were expecting the man who fixed the drug deal. When the two undercover cops showed up instead, the Americans testified they thought they were thugs. Elder admitted in court to stabbing the officer 11 times with his military grade knife he brought from America. He says it was self- defense. All of the dead officers wounds were on his back and sides, according to the autopsy.

The prosecution has asked for life in prison, some of it isolation for both. The case has divided Italy. Everyone feels sympathy for Rega's young widow who lost her newlywed husband.


NADEAU: But many wonder why the police intervened in a drug deal without their weapons or backup. Varriali was investigated for inconsistencies in his story and ultimately put on probation for not carrying a weapon that night.

Elder's Americans lawyer, Craig Peters, who has collaborated with his Italian defense, tells CNN that the boys have taken responsibility for what they did. Now he wants the carabinieri to do the same.

CRAIG PETERS, FINNEGAN LEE ELDER'S LAWYER: So it is easy. It's convenient. It's expedient to lay the blame at the feet of these boys, right, because everybody gets to walk away unscathed. But the reality is if you want your police force to get better, if you want anybody to get better at being a human being, doing their job, you hold everybody accountable and everybody responsible for their portion.

NADEAU: Now, a court has to decide if the young Americans acted in self-defense or in cold blood. Their life depends on it.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN -- Rome.


VAUSE: Well, the first week on a new job is never easy, but it shouldn't be as hard as it was for a security guard. He was riding shotgun in an armored van when it was ambushed by thieves firing AK- 47's. In South Africa, they call that Monday.

Here is CNN's David McKenzie.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Inside a cash in transit van moments before the ambush. Behind the wheel, former police special task force veteran Leo Prinsloo. It is Lloyd Mthombeni's (ph) very first week on the job, the transit company said, one of the most dangerous jobs in South Africa, and this is why.

Gunmen firing AK -47's from a speeding luxury sedan. They are trying to kill Prinsloo, shoot out his tires on a highway in the capital, Pretoria. He forces the sedan off the road, but the threat is not over. Security experts told us this is the criminals' M.O. using at least four vehicles with multiple gunman.

Watch as a white pickup comes in from the left. They try calling for backup. Often cash in transit teams pay with their lives. On this day, they were carrying cellphones.

There were more than 150 heists like this in South Africa last year alone, according to police data. Just in the last few weeks, several dramatic incidents like this one in Cape Town, have shocked South Africans.

Prinsloo has been praised for his calm head and quick thinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're coming after us.

MCKENZIE: Remarkably, no one was injured and nothing was stolen in the attempted heist.

David McKenzie, CNN -- Johannesburg.


VAUSE: What a week. Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. Rosemary Church will be here with a lot more news after a very short break.

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