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International Community Outrage of Lukashenko's Illegal Action; Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene Stands with Her Rhetoric; U.S. to Help Rebuild Gaza; Families Picking Up Leftovers of War; U.S. Intel Found Evidence on Origins of the Virus; Full Transparency is Vital to an Investigation; Lava Destroyed Hundreds of Homes in DRC; One Child Survived Cable Car Accident; Phil Mickelson Breaking New Record. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 24, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead on CNN Newsroom, an opposition activist from Belarus detained after his plane was diverted and forced to land in Minsk. We will have a live report.

Plus, U.S. House Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene doubles down on comparing COVID mask mandates to the Holocaust. What could this mean for the state of her party?

And new information raising questions about the origin of COVID-19. Where it came from, and is anyone trying to hide the truth? I'll discuss with my guest, Dr. Celine Gounder.

Good have you with us.

Unacceptable, unprecedented, and shocking. That's just some of the reaction pouring in as international outrage grows of the arrest of an opposition activist in Belarus. Roman Protasevich was on a Ryanair flight traveling from Greece to Lithuania when it was diverted.

State media and Belarus reports that it was President Alexander Lukashenko who ordered a fighter jet to escort the plane to Minsk where the vocal critic of the president was obtained. The plane spent several hours on the ground before it continued on and arrives safely in the Lithuanian capital. A passenger described what happened on board.


UNKNOWN: At one moment where we just changed direction of flight and we go down and then to the left. After, let's say, two and a half minutes the captain of the crew and crew say that we are going to land in Minsk without any reason why.


CHURCH (on camera): Those actions are now drawing strong reaction. The U.S. has condemned the force diversion of the flight and is calling for the activist's release. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen blasted Belarus for what she called outrageous and illegal behavior. And Lithuania's president calls the detention a, quote" "state sponsored terror act."

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is tracking developments, he joins us now live from Berlin. Always good to see you, Fred. So, what more are you learning about the arrest of this opposition activist and what will likely happen to him now?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, it's quite troubling for a lot of people that he is in the detention of the authorities there in Belarus. You know, there was another opposition politician who was actually on CNN just a couple of hours ago, saying they believe that he could indeed face torture when in detention by the Belarusian authorities.

And so, I have witnessed the brutality of the police force there in Belarus when I covered some of the protest that took place there last summer. And it was really this telegram channel NEXTA that Roman Protasevich is one of the founders of that really put to light some of the police brutality that was going on, and also some of the way that people were treated.

So certainly, there is a lot of concern about his safety, there is a lot of concern about him obviously being in detention. And then, Rosemary, one of the other things that we have to keep in mind is that he is also on the terrorism list there in Belarus by the Belarusian regime. And there are some folks in Belarusian opposition who believe that he could indeed face the death penalty even.

So, there is a great deal of concern out there. And as far as the incident is concern -- itself is concerned, we heard from of the folks who was a passenger on that flight, really is something that seem to have come almost out of nowhere as that plane was actually closer to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius than it was to Minsk when it was ordered to land in the capital of Belarus.

There was a statement that came out from Ryanair that a lot of people are criticizing it as being fairly weak, saying that the plane had been ordered to fly the nearest airport, Minsk as they put it.


However, Ryanair does not even mention its statement that actually one of the passengers was then not allowed to continue but was arrested and taken off the plane in Minsk, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And Fred, we talked about the U.S. and European nations outrage by these actions taken by Lukashenko. What might be the ramifications for him, do you think? PLEITGEN: Well, you know what, I think this is a big test for the

European Union. If you look at some of the comments that have been made by Ursula von der Leyen, also by some of the nations the E.U. member nations who do see that there is also a lot of outrage and a lot of anger.

Now of course, all this falls on a very important day here in Europe as well, as there is an E.U. council meeting with a lot of the heads of states going to be there. It's the first face-to-face meeting that they are going to have. And of course, this is going to be one of the things that is now very urgently going to be put on the agenda there.

Now there are already some E.U. politicians like, for instance, the president of Lithuania who are calling for some pretty tough action against Belarus. Some calling, for instance, for the Belarusian national carrier, Belavia, to be banned from flying into Europe, also for European carriers to be banned from flying into Belarus as well.

And then, there's also some who were calling for sanctions against the Lukashenko regime and for anybody who is enabling all of this to happen. It's really interesting also to see the U.S.' role, Because the U.S. also put out some pretty tough statements. Antony Blinken, for instance, but also the head of the Senate foreign relations committee as well.

But they are making a point to say that it's actually the Europeans who are in the lead on all this. That they are coordinating with their European counterparts on all of this. Because the bottom line of this, really is, Rosemary, is that what you have here is (Inaudible) a jet that registered to company in the European Union, and it was flying from one European capital to another European capital when it was forced to land.

So, certainly, this is a big test for the European Union, there's a lot of anger among leaders and among other politicians in the European Union. And there is certainly is a lot of people who are calling for very, very tough action to happen, what exactly they are going to do is something that we could actually see fairly soon, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. Fred Pleitgen bringing us the very latest there from Berlin. Many thanks.

Well the Belarus opposition leader who ran against President Lukashenko last year calls the activist detention unprecedented. And Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is calling on countries to help free him.


SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA, BELARUS OPPOSITION LEADER: The escalation of repressions in Belarus and the situation that happened with flight is the result of impunity, and Democratic countries should put much more pressure on this regime on the Lukashenko personally.


CHURCH (on camera): The International Air Transport Association is calling for an investigation into the diversion of the Ryanair flight. The group writes on Twitter that it strongly condemns the action. It goes on to say details of the event are not clear, and a full investigation by competent international authorities is needed.

The British foreign secretary tweeted that the U.K. is alarmed. Dominic Raab writing, we are coordinating with our allies this outlandish action by Lukashenko will have serious implications.

And we mentioned the U.S. condemnation just moments ago, a statement from Secretary of State, Antony Blinken says in part, and I'm quoting here, "the shocking act perpetrated by the LUkashenko regime endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including U.S. citizens. We stand with the Belarusian people in their aspirations for a free Democratic and prosperous future and support their call for the regime to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Well the political drama in the U.S. is stretching from Capitol Hill to sham election audits in Arizona and Georgia. National Guard troops are leaving Washington after more than four months. They were stationed there following the January 6th attack on the U.S. capitol.

And this comes as a vote on an independent commission to investigate the capitol riot looks doomed to fail in the Senate despite having passed in the House. And the 2020 election controversies continue in Arizona, a Maricopa County official is firing back as a contentious order of the election race resumes. He says people associated with the order maybe sued over the baseless claim that an election database was deleted.

And an audit in Georgia's Fulton County is also set to move ahead. Local voters will now be allowed to examine copies of all 147,000 mail-in ballots.


Meantime, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is doubling down on her comments on the mask mandate in the U.S. House. She is comparing them to steps the Nazis took to control the Jewish population during the Holocaust. Despite condemnation from Democrats and some Republicans Greene said this.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I stand by all of my statements. I said nothing wrong. I think any rational Jewish person didn't like what happened in Nazi Germany, and then a rationale Jewish person doesn't like what's happening with overbearing mask mandates.


CHURCH (on camera): CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has more now on the backlash to the congresswoman's controversial remarks.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a number of lawmakers who are calling Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's comments offensive, outrageous and at the very least, ignorant, although there doesn't seem to be very much appetite from the leadership to punish her or censure her necessarily, she has already been taken off of her committee assignments from previous comments that she made that were considered offensive as well as controversial.

And so, what you have here are lawmakers are speaking out individually, some of them on television, others on Twitter, Democrats as well as some of her Republican colleagues, those colleagues who have been critical mainly of Trump.

We heard from freshman Congressman -- this is Republican Peter Meijer. He is somebody who has supported the idea of having an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. capitol, he also voted for impeachment of the president. He had some words to say, some criticism about Greene's comments and just where she is taking the party.


REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): Any comparisons to the Holocaust is beyond reprehensible. This is -- I don't even have words to describe how disappointing it is to see this hyperbolic speech that frankly amps up and plays into a lot of the anti-Semitism that we have been seeing in our society today. Vicious attacks on the streets of New York and in Los Angeles that should be that I do condemn that in the strongest terms. There's no excuse for that.


MALVEAUX (on camera): Congresswoman Liz Cheney as well weighing in, she was recently voted out of her number three in House leadership. She has really doubled down and become a standard bearer, if you will, of the party's truth telling. She tweeted here saying this is evil lunacy. She was joined by Congressman Adam Kinzinger who was often criticize Trump and the right-wing part of the Republican Party saying absolutely sickness

And then finally you had Democrat Congressman Jim Govern. He also tweeting this, saying Representative Greene's anti-Semitic language comparing the systematic murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust to wearing a mask is beyond disturbing. She's a deeply troubled person who needs to apologize and resign. GOP leader needs to address her anti-Semitism. So far there are no public comments regarding her behavior from the leadership.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN in Washington.

CHURCH: CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein joins me now from Los Angeles, he's also a senior editor at The Atlantic. Always good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Ron, far-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is doubling down on her offensive comparison of mask mandates to the Holocaust. Why hasn't the GOP leadership said anything about this and what might the consequences be?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, I mean, it's pretty revealing that Liz Cheney was sanctioned for calling out Trump's big lie about the election and Marjorie Taylor Greene has preceded unscathed for these offensive comments.

Two things really here. First, as I wrote a few months ago, the evidence is growing at the extremist wing in the GOP, it's too big for the party leadership to confront them. I mean, in polling by conservative think tank the American Enterprise, is that majority of Republican voters agreed with the statement that the American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.

She is reflecting in extremism that is spreading within the coalition. And this is not only kind of rhetorical. I mean, this is having real world consequences as we saw the opposition to masks, making masking kind of a cultural war issue.

Pretty striking data right now, all 21 states where the highest share of adults have been vaccinated in the U.S. were won by Joe Biden. Nineteen of the 21 where the smallest share has been vaccinated were won by Donald Trump. So, this kind of making the entire coronavirus into a cultural war is not only rhetorical positioning is having very serious real-world consequences.


CHURCH: Yes, it is real concern. Of course, meantime, Donald Trump's big election lie is infecting the state of Georgia with more bogus ballot claims, and a judge now allowing a fourth recount Fulton County absentee ballots. This as the Arizona audit is still underway, and as the GOP continues its effort to suppress voter rights. So, what will all of this likely mean for the 2022 midterms?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I don't know how much it's going to mean for the 2022 midterms. It's a smaller electorate. There may be these kinds of attempts to subvert the results of votes. It's pretty clear what this means for the 2024 election though, which is that it is highly likely that we could see a more serious effort to overturn the will of the voters than we did even in 2020.

I mean, as you look at what's happening in state after state, Republicans are putting in motion building blocks, really laying down building blocks to try to ignore or undermine a Democratic win. And you know, if Republicans win the House in the 2022 election, much less win the House and the Senate, we could be heading for a potential constitutional crisis if there is an open attempt to try to overturn the election.

And every day just more evidence accumulates that that's where the party is heading. I mean, this is really a fuse that is burning under American democracy, I think, and 2024 could be even more tumultuous than 2020 as a result.

CHURCH: And Ron, the recent House vote to create a panel to investigate the January 6th insurrection attracted support from 35 Republicans --


CHURCH: -- while the bill has an uncertain future in the Senate, what are those 35 GOP vote signals to you of about what's happening within that party?

BROWNSTEIN: They are reflective of the kind of the dynamic in the party. You know, if you look at the polling post-election, roughly 75 to 80 percent of Republican voters are perfectly fine with everything Donald Trump did after election day, and many of them believe January 6th was a false flag operation. They think it's overstated.

But the fact is somewhere between one-fifth and one quarter of Republican voters are very uneasy with everything that Trump did, or every uneasy with a lot of the things the party has done since November to call into question the election. And those 35 House Republicans I think are reflective of that portion of the Republican Party.

I said it before one of the critical questions for American politics in the next few years is what does that faction within the Republican coalition do going forward? The evidence as we talked about with Liz Cheney being sanctioned but not Marjorie Taylor Greene is that they are now the subservient part of the party. They are subordinate part of the party. And do they simply remain and give their votes to the Republican Party that many of them see as radicalizing or do some of them both in 2022 and especially in 2024 drift toward the alternative that Biden is offering?

It is an absolutely critical for question because the Republicans are depending on their traditional voters sticking with them even though they are uneasy with many of the things the party have done since November.

CHURCH: Ron Brownstein, always appreciate your analysis. Many thanks.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: With the ceasefire holding the damage is being assessed in Gaza and plans are being made to rebuild. We will have a live report from Gaza City.

And later this hour, more promising signs in the battle against COVID- 19 here in the United States. We'll take a look.


CHURCH (on camera): We are getting word that the deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in person at a court hearing for the first time since February's coup. She and other government officials have been detained since the military takeover. She faces charges that range from illegally possessing walkie-talkie radios to violating a state secrets law.

Now this comes as a human rights group says more than 800 people have been killed by security forces since anti-coup protest began in February. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reports more than 4,000 people are still under detention.

With a fragile ceasefire holding, the U.S. secretary of state will head to the Middle East in the coming days to meet with his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts. Antony Blinken says the U.S. will focus on reconstruction and the humanitarian situation in Gaza right now and he insists there eventually has to be a prospect for a peaceful political solution between Israel and the Palestinians.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Biden has been very clear that he remains committed to a two-state solution. Look, ultimately it is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and Democratic state, and of course the only way to give the Palestinians the state to which they are entitled. But I hope that everyone takes from this is that there isn't positive change and particularly if we can't find a way to help Palestinians live with more dignity and with more hope, the cycle is likely to repeat itself.


CHURCH (on camera): Humanitarian aid is beginning to flow into Gaza, but rebuilding all that's been destroyed is a daunting task.

Ben Wedeman is in Gaza City. He joins us now live with the details. Good to see you, Ben. So, how does this massive rebuilding of the destroyed infrastructure get done in the midst of a humanitarian crisis?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, the destruction of the infrastructure here is part of the humanitarian crisis, a crisis that has been in place here for almost two decades considering you go back to the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000.

I mean, basically, Gaza, home to two million people, has been under a joint Egyptian-Israeli blockade since the middle of 2007, bringing in things like building material has been physically difficult because of that blockade, and financially difficult because of the fact not a lot of people have much money.


But nonetheless, people are starting at least to clear up. The feeling is that the ceasefire seems to be holding, but even as people are clearing up here, wherever you go, you hear the same thing, everyone expects at some point in the next few years there will be another war.


WEDEMAN (voice over): Not for the first time and probably not for the last, Gaza is digging out. It's over for now. The rubble will be cleared and perhaps the damage repaired, yet one man made catastrophe after another has taken a heavy toll. Not far from the wall separating Gaza from Israel, children of the

extended family Uktar (Ph) family search for traces of a life shattered. "Asmal Uktar's (Ph) aunt and three children were crushed to death when a bomb slammed into her home. Because the bombing around us was so intense doors and windows were falling on us. We ran to the inner room," she recalls. "The last bomb was on this house. Asmal was able to crawl free."

The people in this area are mostly farmers but their land often used by militants to fire rockets into Israel. In the Al-Awda hospital, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Ghassan Abu Sittah is conducting one of eight operations on this day. He first travelled to Gaza as a young medical student in the 1980s and has come back regularly ever since his task here never ending.

GHASSAN ABU SITTAH, RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON: You start running into patients who are injured in multiple attacks. So, I've had patients who have had injuries in the 2014 war and then were injured in the great return marches or injured in previous conflicts, and then again in this conflict.

And so. you have kind of -- it becomes like an endemic disease, war injuries become like an endemic disease in Gaza.

WEDEMAN: In the Sheikh Zayed neighborhood Resek Abu Saffil (Ph) waits for a truck to take his furniture away. His home still intact after bombs obliterated the buildings just next door, but it's now in danger of collapse.

Sisaf (Ph) struggled to push the boulder up the hill, only for it to roll to the bottom only to push it back up all over again. The relief of surviving this war, no guarantee you'll make it through the next says Gaza resident Rima Abu Rahmah.

RIMA ABU RAHMAH, GAZA RESIDENT: There is no other option. We have to keep living. We have to rebuild it again and again until one day maybe we can be free.

WEDEMAN: In the absence of some sort of resolution such is Gaza's fate.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And of course, some sort of resolution, many people here have long concluded that contrary to what Secretary of State Blinken is saying, is not the two-state solution. The two-state solution they've been trying to push it through for more than two decades it hasn't worked. Many people are thinking there's got to be another way than going back and forth and doing the same thing over and over again, and somehow expecting a different result. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Exactly right. Ben Wedeman joining us live from Gaza City. Many thanks.

Well, just ahead, information overload. Intelligence about when and where the first cases of COVID-19 may have originated is sparking new questions. We are live in Beijing with the latest.




CHURCH (on camera): Here in the United States promising new signs in the fight against COVID-19, the CDC says 25 states and Washington, D.C. have now fully vaccinated at least half of their adult populations. Nationwide more than 130 million people of all ages are now fully vaccinated. It's an astonishing achievement when you consider the first vaccine authorized for use by the FDA was given back in December.

New information is raising more questions, though about the origins of the coronavirus. Most roads in the COVID origin story lead to China where the disease first appeared and people first began falling ill. But when the first symptoms or cases emerged is still in question, because some very high-level reports about the timeline are not matching up.

U.S. intelligence found several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became ill and were hospitalized in November of 2019. Yet, China reported to the World Health Organization saying the first patient with COVID symptoms was not recorded until nearly a month later.

The director of the Wuhan national biosafety lab calls the U.S. intel report on those hospitalizations a complete lie, according to state media. CNN has reached out to the Chinese foreign ministry for comment.

Well, CNN's Steven Jiang is with us now live from Beijing. Good to see you, Steven

So, this intelligence report puts the spotlight back on China, and specifically that Wuhan lab. So how is Beijing likely to respond to these new questions about the origin of COVID-19?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary the Beijing government, the foreign ministry spokesman actually just responded to this question a few minutes ago, and he, not surprisingly, again, issued a very strong denial actually pointing to a statement made by this Wuhan Institute of Virology back in March, saying this institute had never come into contact with a COVID-19 virus between December 30th 2019. And so far, none of the institute's researchers and employees had contracted this virus.


So, again, this is their very strong denial and the spokesman actually went on to really have, you know, more of the Chinese usual spill about how they are increasingly looking at a multiple origin theory about this virus potentially emerging from different locations around the world at the same time, especially pointing a finger at a U.S. military run bio lab in Maryland, again without providing any concrete evidence.

So, this back and forth between Beijing and Washington is not likely to stop because of this latest intelligence reports only going to be probably more intensified. But what's interesting here, of course, this latest report, most of what's in the report we have heard before. Now the only interesting new addition is what you said in terms of these researchers had been hospitalized in November 2019.

Because remember, back in the final days of the Trump administration the U.S. State Department actually issued a document and pretty much just stopping short of confirming the Wuhan lab being the origin of the virus but they did also say back then that researchers fell ill. But what's of course interesting here is, we still don't know have a lot of definitive evidence what these researchers were ill with. That's why this broader picture of this debate over the origins of the virus is likely -- is not likely to stop here. Rosemary?

CHURCH: We need more answers definitely. Steven Jiang joining us live from Beijing. Many thanks.

CNN medical analyst, Dr. Celine Gounder joins me now from New York. She's also an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist and host of the podcast Epidemic. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us and for all that you do.

CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's great to be here, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Wonderful. So, let's talk about this U.S. intelligence report that found several researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill back in November 2019 that they had to be hospitalized. Now we don't know if they had COVID-19, but this is of course raising new debate about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. What do you make of all of this?

GOUNDER: You know, Rosemary, I think we need a lot more information to understand what this really means. I think for many this might seem like a red flag that you have three people who are hospitalized from that same lab. I do think it's important to understand that in the Chinese context people have a lower threshold to go to the hospital for what we might be considered a cough or cold, we could go to urgent care or to our regular doctor and for a number of reasons, some of which are cultural, they might present to a hospital.

And so, I think it's important not to read more into that than there is evidence for. You know, I think what we really need to know is details like what are the lab safety logs showing, other laboratory records, could we get access to the hospital care records, the patient care records for those three lab workers? What tests did they have while in the hospital? laboratory test, scanning, you know, radiology? And without that information it's really hard to make sense of what happened here.

CHURCH: The problem with that, of course is that China has been stonewalling, they haven't really cooperated when it comes to trying to find the origins of the coronavirus which then helps all of the conspiracy theories that move in this direction. Of course, we're talking about an accident. Some conspiracy theories suggest that it was engineered within the lab. But the problem for China is the less it helps in finding the origins the more likely it is that people will start pointing the finger at China. So, what needs to be done?

GOUNDER: I think that's an excellent point. Whenever you have a lack of transparency, when people behave in a way that does not appear trustworthy, that's when you have rumors, conspiracy theories and the like starts to spread. And so, you know, I really do think China needs to open up its books, so to speak, to the WHO to international teams.

This was not done when the WHO has really tried to get to the bottom of what has happened and there are multiple hypotheses that have yet to be really investigated thoroughly. I don't think this was engineered in a lab, but could there have been a lab accident? Yes, that needs to be investigated. Could this have been a spillover from wild life into humans? That also has not been thoroughly investigated.

You would need to be doing widespread testing not just in the human population but also domestic animals, wildlife and the like. And nothing on the scale of what really needs to be done has been done yet.

CHURCH: Meantime, in the U.S. we are seeing 25 states plus Washington, D.C. reaching 50 percent of adults being fully vaccinated. What needs to happen now to bring more states up to that same standard, and target the more hesitant people in the population to get them vaccinated?


GOUNDER: Well that 50 percent threshold is really important because that's when we saw cases really start to decline in Israel, in the U.K. that were a bit of us in their vaccine rollout and that's when we really start to see the impact. It's not herd immunity but you are really seeing a dramatic decrease in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as sort of this critical tipping point in vaccination.

Now how do we get the remaining people vaccinated? I think you still have a combination of access issues, barriers, for example, and the Latin X population in the U.S. having Spanish language services is still a major challenge for many of them that they're not able to get information in Spanish, make an appointment in Spanish and go to seek services, say a vaccination clinic and have somebody there who can explain the things to them in Spanish.

And then things like having paid time off work, not just for the day that you get vaccinated. But let's say you do have side affects you could end up needing to take one, two, three days off work for each vaccine that you get. And so, I think we need to take into consideration that it's not just about people maybe not trusting the vaccines, it's also just practical everyday issues that make it difficult for them to seek it out.

CHURCH: Let's hope that happens and we can get more people onboard with the vaccination process. Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you so much for talking with us. GOUNDER: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, the lava from a volcanic eruption may have stopped but for many the nightmare is just beginning in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We'll have the details next.

And tragedy in the Italian alps after more than a dozen people are killed in a cable car accident. We will have the latest after the break.


CHURCH (on camera): The lava has stopped but the disaster has not after a volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thousands had to flee Saturday as molten rocks swallowed their homes.


CNN's Saskya Vandoorne is tracking the story from Kenya.

SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: The lava stopped flowing Sunday just on the outskirts of the dense city of Goma but the damage had been done. Eleven people were killed as a result of the eruption, five in a car accident, four prisoners who attempted to escape, and two who were engulfed by the lava according to local officials.

Now many residents who had fled on foot to Rwanda when the Nyiragongo volcano erupted returned to find their homes destroyed, covered in black molten rock.

FUHARA GRACE, LOST HOME TO VOLCANO (through translator): We were in the market and then we had to run without any belongings. When we returned to the city the houses were burned and some people were left destitute. I got into an accident and got hurt. So, we're appealing for assistance and especially for food. We need food because we don't know where we are going to get it from.

VANDOORNE: One NGO said roughly 600 homes were lost and five schools were flattened. They say it will take months to restore the area that was impacted by the lava. Now that priority now is to build shelters for the thousands of people who lost everything. Some experts said that volcanic activity in the past five years in Nyiragongo mirrored that of 1977 and 2002 when it previously erupted and devastated surrounding neighborhoods.

It remains one of the world's most active volcanoes and is considered among one of the most dangerous. Authorities will continue to monitor the situation.

Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, Amboseli Park.

CHURCH: Italian authorities are opening a multiple manslaughter investigation following a cable car accident that claimed the lives of 14 people on Sunday. A child believed to be the only survivor is in critical condition. The accident happened when a cable snapped near the top of a mountain. The mayor of Stresa where the accident happened described the heartbreaking circumstances.


MARCELLA SEVERINO, MAYOR, STRESA, ITALY (through translator): It is a terrible moment for me and for our community and I think also for the whole of Italy, especially in this moment when we were just beginning to restart. These people thought they were going on a nice day out. We are encouraging everyone to get out to stay outside so we can recover from this terrible moment that everyone has lived through, instead this is a fateful destiny, a terrible disaster.


CHURCH (on camera): And for more let's bring in a CNN contributor, Barbie Nadeau. Barbie, what is the latest on this tragic accident?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course the focus right now is on just why this happening, why there wasn't some sort of a safety cable that could have prevented it. This multiple manslaughter investigation is fairly standard in Italy when an accident happens or a natural disaster or disaster such as this, and that gives them a wider reach in terms of investigating.

They'll be looking at the company's maintenance records, they'll be looking at the history of this particular cable car company and you know, the focus there right now is, of course, is well on this five- year-old survivor and just the condition, the grave condition this child is in who of course lost both parents in this accident, it's just tragedy.

You know, they are saying that it took about 10 seconds for this car, cable car to plummet down, when you can just imagine what horror must have been going on inside as they knew what was happening to them, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It's just horrendous. And of course, they need to find out what caused this, as you say, having some sort of safety cable would have made the difference. Barbie Nadeau, many thanks, joining us live from Rome.

Well, the trail running community in China is mourning the deaths of 21 people after extreme weather hit a 100-kilometer mountain race on Saturday. Frigid temperatures, hail, rain, and gale force winds set in hours after the race began. Some runners suffered from hypothermia while others went missing. Eight people were hospitalized. One survivor says he and about 50 others had to take shelter in a cabin and wait for rescuers.

Well, just ahead, one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour makes history. Why Phil Mickelson's sixth major championship is one for the record books. We'll take a look.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH (on camera): The pandemic delayed the Tokyo Olympics and gave U.S. gymnast Simone Biles plenty of time to train and it shows in her first competition in more than 18 months, the four-time Olympic gold medalist nailed a history-making move. Take a look.


UNKNOWN: Absolutely unbelievable to watch every single time. Here we go. Wow.


CHURCH (on camera): Magnificent. The 24-year-old defending world champion became the first woman to land the Yurchenko double pike vault, a move previously only ever done by men and that helped her to easily defend her all-around title at the U.S. classic in Indianapolis. Biles competed wearing a leotard decorated with a rhinestone goat to hint to her claim as the greatest of all time.

Well, at age 50, golfer Phil Mickelson has made history at the PGA championship.

CNN's Don Riddell has more on a thrilling win from one of the game's all-time greats.


DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Phil Mickelson is one of the most beloved too, and now he is the oldest man to win a major title, breaking a record that's been standing since before man walked on the moon.

During an extraordinary weekend here at the PGA championship at Kiawah Island the 50-year-old Mickelson rolled back the years, surviving a roller coaster ride on a thrilling Sunday afternoon to land his first major title since 2013 and his sixth overall title. When I asked him to put his achievement into words, you could sense that it was emotional.


PHIL MICKELSON, SIX-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: Certainly, one of the moments I'll cherish my entire life. I don't know how to describe the feeling of excitement and fulfillment and accomplishment to do something when, you know, at this magnitude when very few people thought that I could.

RIDDELL: This was a typical Mickelson performance containing spills as well as thrills, in a career that produced so many incredible memorable moments, this will be close to the top of the highlight reel. A sensational chip from the sand to clinch on early birdie.

After the lengthy pandemic lockdown this felt like golf's welcome back party. The galleries were packed and with victory close on the 18th hole, Mickelson was moved by the excitable fans. He says it's a memory that he will forever cherish. MICKELSON: It's an incredible experience. I've never had something

like that. I've never been in golf, I guess. It was a little unnerving, but it was exceptionally awesome, too. So that was kind of a special moment that I'll be appreciative of -- of the way that people here have supported me in the entire tournament.

RIDDELL: So with a place in the record books now ensured and a sixth major title in hand, attention will turn to the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, it is the only tournament that eluded Mickelson, but the course is close to home and it's a venue where he won three times before. He couldn't do it again, could he? You never know. Back to you.


CHURCH (on camera): You don't. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stay with us.



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

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