Return to Transcripts main page
Delta Variant Spreads Like Wildfire; Shenzhen Canceled 400 Flights; Ugandan Coach for Tokyo Olympics Tested Positive; Italy Finally Breathe a Sigh of Relief; Mass Shootings in the U.S. at an Alarming Rate; President Biden Need to Negotiate His Bill to Republicans; Moscow Bracing for More Sanctions; Multivehicle Accident Killed Nine Innocent Children; Voting Underway in Ethiopia's First Free Elections. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired June 21, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (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.
Just ahead, you are looking at your best shot at defeating the Delta variant quite literally. The COVID game-changer that's easier to catch and makes you sicker unless you have been vaccinated.
Crime tape across America, another deadly weekend with at least nine more mass shootings.
And we are live in Ethiopia. A country mired in crisis and conflict. But going to the polls at this hour for what the government calls its first free election.
Good to have you with us.
The Biden administration pushing the president's goal of at least partially vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population by July 4th. But so far, only 16 states and the district of Columbia have met that objective.
And while the U.S. will likely miss that goal, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says that they won't have a major impact. Instead, the U.S. should start thinking about the next phase of the vaccination effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: Now we need to think about trying to push out the vaccine into community sites where people can get it delivered to them through trusted intermediary. That's going to mean doctor's offices, schools, places of employment. We need to think about a different vaccine delivery strategy to get people who are still reluctant or who still face challenges getting into those access sites.
But as people contemplate going back to school and back work in the fall, they will be seeking out vaccines. And I think that's when we need to think about that 2.0 campaign and a different strategy for delivering vaccine to those who remain unvaccinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): So, let's take a moment to compare China's effort to the United States. On Saturday, China announced it administered more than one billion vaccine doses and you see on the left how it accelerated its vaccination pace after getting off to a slow start.
In the U.S., the daily vaccination numbers are tapering off a bit but the chart on the right puts those same numbers in a different context. China still has a way to go when it comes to catching up to the U.S. and other countries in terms of vaccinations per capita.
Global health experts are worried about places where vaccine skepticism is high or access to the shots is lacking. The Delta variant is spreading fast throughout those communities. And as Michael Holmes reports officials are scrambling to stop it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Aggressive and infectious. That's the way Moscow's mayor describes a coronavirus variant spreading through the city. Health officials in Moscow reported more than 9,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. The highest daily figure for the city since the pandemic began. That from the city's mayor who says that the Delta variant first identified in India is responsible for nearly 90 percent of new infections.
MAYOR SERGEY SOBYANIN, MOSCOW, RUSSIA (through translator): The situation in Moscow with the spread of COVID-19 disease is rapidly deteriorating and the dynamics are quite unexpected since more than 60 percent of Muscovites have either been ill or vaccinated.
HOLMES: The Kremlin says vaccinations are critical to protect against the variant spread, but many Russians are still hesitant to get the Sputnik vaccine.
UNKNOWN (through translator): We are afraid of getting sick but we did not get vaccinated because we are also afraid of that.
HOLMES: The WHO says that Moscow is just one of several places where the Delta variant is thriving. And with so many people across the world still unvaccinated there is plenty of opportunity for it to circulate even more.
SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN, CHIEF SCIENTIST, WHO: The Delta variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally because of its significantly increase transmissibility.
HOLMES: One WHO official says Africa is particularly vulnerable because of a lack of vaccine. The Delta variant is being detected in at least 14 countries of the continent. But even countries that have success with their vaccination programs are being inundated with new cases.
More than 46 percent of the population in the U.K. is fully vaccinated. But COVID-19 infections are increasing their once again. The Delta variant fueling the rise. A similar spike in Indonesia where authorities in one district giving live chickens as an incentive to older residents to get the shots. Countries around the world trying everything they can to catch up to this fast-moving virus.
Michael Holmes, CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Joining me now is Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Always good to have you with us.
ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY: Nice to be here.
CHURCH: So, all eyes are on this Delta variant that originated in India, it now makes up about 96 percent of all new COVID cases in the U.K., about 10 percent of all new cases here is in the United States. How concerned are you that this Delta variant will very soon dominate all U.S. infections? And how big a threat could that prove to be to those not yet vaccinated?
RIMOIN: It is very important to note that this Delta variant is much more contagious than the original variant, the original strain and the B117 or the U.K. or Alpha variant. In fact, it could be up to 60 percent more contagious. Meaning that if you have the same interaction with somebody who has COVID-19 you are that much more likely to get it than previous variants.
So, it's really important that everybody who is unvaccinated really do double down on their effort to make sure that they are protected, they are wearing a mask, they are social distancing and avoiding exposures where they can. If you are vaccinated you are much less likely to get this -- to get this variant but it is not a zero-risk scenario. You can still become infected, it's just much less likely that you'll end up hospitalized or dying.
So, we all should be concerned. It's a threat, it is definitely important for people who are unvaccinated to take great caution, take great precautions to avoid getting it because it's also possible that this particular variant could lead to more severe symptoms, hospitalizations and death.
RIMOIN: More easily than the earlier ones.
CHURCH: An important warning there. And President Biden's goal is to get 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by July 4th. How achievable is that given the pace of getting those jabs in arms is slowing? It has been slowing at least. And if that 70 percent goal is not met what could that mean in terms of the Delta variant and other variants?
RIMOIN: Well, you know, there are two points here. The first one is we've done an incredible job of getting vaccines in arms across the United States. But the problem is we are not at the rate that we need to be. It has slowed down significantly. We're only down to, we're only getting around 200,000 shots in arms right now per day. We need to be stepping up the pace.
If we continue with the pace, we're at right now we are going to fall short. But we do -- we do need to continue on after the 4th of July. We still need those vaccines in arms because everybody that has not been vaccinated is at risk.
So, the bottom line is, we've done a good job, we still need to be doing more and even though we are likely to fall short of the 70, 70 percent goal we can still continue to make that up going forward.
CHURCH: That is good to hear. And the Biden administration is now focused on donating millions of COVID vaccines to poorer nations. But will this be enough to snuff out this latest variant? And of course, any others that may follow?
RIMOIN: Well, we just talked about the fact that this variant is so much more contagious means we've got to get vaccines in arms not just here in the United States but globally. We know an infection anywhere is potentially an infection everywhere. And unless we have high herd immunity globally, we are not going to get in front of this virus. It's going to continue to mutate and it's not just going to be about the Delta variant. We're going to have variants that will continue to emerge because this virus continues to mutate every time it spreads to another person.
So, we really do need to do everything we can to get the vast majority of the world vaccinated. And the donations of vaccines is a great step but it's not enough. We need a lot more vaccine out there quickly to be able to get in front of this virus.
CHURCH: And just very quickly, does the U.S. need to focus more on the vulnerable populations in poorer nations? Rather than perhaps the younger kids here in the United States?
RIMOIN: Well, it's very important discussion to be having. You know, there a lot of people globally who are very vulnerable and they have no access to vaccines. Africa only has a very small amount of vaccines and access to vaccines to get their populations vaccinated with a lot of vulnerable people. We have to decide what is our goal at this point? Is it to really control the virus right here at home? Or is it to stop the spread of the virus globally and to really protect those vulnerable people?
It's an important discussion to have and there is no simple answer. Because we just don't have enough vaccine. And we have to remember, it's not just about getting that vaccine out there, it's we -- into freezers globally, we need to get those vaccines in arms. And that is going to be a very, very heavy lift.
CHURCH: All right. Anne Rimoin, always a pleasure to chat with you. Many thanks.
RIMOIN: My pleasure.
CHURCH: At least 38 people connected to a flight from Johannesburg to the Chinese city of Shenzhen have the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19. That is according to Chinese authorities. That flight arrived on June 10th. Shenzhen also found two locally transmitted cases on Thursday. One of which was a vaccinated restaurant worker in the airport.
More than 400 flights from Shenzhen were canceled on Monday but officials won't confirm to CNN the cause of the mass cancellation.
So, for more on this, let's bring in CNN's Steven Jiang. He joins us live from Beijing. Good to see you, Steven. So, what more are you learning about these canceled flights from Shenzhen after dozens of Delta variant cases were identified?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, these flight cancellations are probably not entirely surprising given the dramatically falling demand for air travel in and out of Shenzhen especially after local authorities added a testing requirement for all departing passengers.
Now this latest cluster in Shenzhen really having viewed as this new wave of cases in the Guangdong province that begin about a month ago. Now the province of course has been seeing the surge and that's why you see local authorities really take a page, a familiar page from their playbook in terms of multiple rounds of mass testing and a very strict and extensive contact tracing, as well as targeted local lockdowns across the province.
Now when you look at the members of course, they are still relatively low. Single digits or low double digits in terms of new locally transmitted cases. But given this is in China many officials especially at the local level really still have zero tolerance policy. They have said almost all of these new cases have been of the Delta variant, as we mentioned, and almost all of the new patients have been linked to imported cases.
That is why they now vowing to remain very vigilant in terms of detecting and handling cases involving international arrivals. But of course, the other thing they have been doing is to remind people to get vaccinated. But that effort is probably being complicated by the fact you just mentioned this airport worker contracted a virus despite being vaccinated. So, it's a challenging task for them ahead as well. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right. Steven Jiang joining us live from Beijing, many thanks. Well, with just over a month ago until the Tokyo Olympics, organizers
are facing more hurdles. On Saturday, a coach with Uganda's team became one of the first to test positive for COVID upon arrival in Japan. Ugandan officials say the coach is not showing symptoms at this time.
Now this comes as organizers are set to decide whether to allow spectators during the games, something experts have advised against.
Meantime, we are getting our first look at the athlete's village. The complex was clearly set up with COVID precautions in mind as organizers tried to ease concerns about a rebound in cases amid the influx of foreign visitors.
CNN Selina Wang is in Tokyo with a closer look.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Olympic Village a city within a city built for the world's best athletes. For the Tokyo games thousands of Olympians for more than 200 countries will be living here. Preparing for the defining moment in their sporting careers.
Normally a place for partying and celebration, this year it's going to be an antisocial sanitized bubble. Full of COVID testing health centers and staying far apart from one another. At the athlete's village plaza there is everything the Olympians will need. Cafe, bank, internet, hair salon, and much, much more. The only place for athletes to hang out mix and mingle, instead there are signs everywhere reminding people to wear masks and socially distance themselves.
But the majority in Japan still don't want the Olympics to happen. Actually, a protest is ongoing right behind me as they are debuting the Olympic village to the press.
There are 3,800 rooms in these 21 buildings to house the athletes. This is a replica of the athlete's room. Athletes have to share the room which some public health experts say increases the risk of spreading COVID.
The Olympians are also going to be sleeping on beds made out of cardboard. Recyclable. But don't worry, they are sturdy and can hold more than 400 pounds.
Athletes are contact traced and tested for COVID every day. If they test positive for COVID they have to come to this fever clinic to get tested again. If that COVID test comes back positive yet again they then have to take dedicated transport to an isolation facility outside of this Olympic village and they then lose their chance to compete.
They are only allowing two-thirds of capacity here at the dining hall. Normally a place for meeting and chatting. Instead, athletes are asked to dine alone separated by clustered barriers and to leave as soon as they're finished eating after wiping down their seats.
And the athlete's gym where they have to keep their masks on at all times and will be separated by these barriers. Athletes can only arrive five days before the competition and have to leave within two. Now condoms will still be passed out per tradition but they're only given as athletes are leaving the village.
It cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build all this. After the games they'll be turned into residential apartments, but before that this is going to house athletes for an Olympics like no other.
Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.
CHURCH: To Italy now and more signs of progress in the battle against COVID-19. Starting today, all but one of Italy's regions could drop most of their coronavirus restrictions. They are now designated as white zones since cases are falling and the areas are low risk.
So for more on this let's bring in CNN's Nina dos Santos. She Joins us live from London. Great to see you, Nina. So, what more are you learning about the easing of COVID restrictions across most of Italy?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Rosemary. Well, this is an important move for a country that across Europe has been so badly affected by the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic particularly northern Italy. Finally, many Italians, millions across the country can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief. They won't have to put up with things like midnight curfews from now on.
However, I should point out that even if most of these COVID restrictions are going to be lifted across most of Italy with the exception of the northwestern region of the Valle Aosta, which borders France and also Switzerland, there will still be some semblances of what we consider normal now in many parts of the world. That means mask-wearing outdoors and also social distancing as the order of the day. Also, big gatherings and parties still are off limits in most of the country.
This comes at an important time, though, because remember that Italy is a major tourist destination for summer travelers from all over the world, in particular parts of Europe, Italian domestic tourism is important thing as well over these summer months particularly July and August and travelers from the United States.
And as we know now Europe is starting to welcome travelers from the United States soon and opens its doors as more and more of its citizens are becoming vaccinated. There is one caveat, though, and that is the fact that British tourists now will have to quarantine if they go to Italy. This is because authorities are becoming so concerned about the prospects of the Delta variants which has gotten more of a foothold in the U.K. getting a foothold in Italy. Caseloads are currently at around 16 per 100,000 in Italy and falling fast. Rosemary?
CHURCH: That is a big concern. Nina Dos Santos joining us live from London, many thanks.
And coming up here on CNN Newsroom, America's gun violence epidemic is nearing an alarming milestone. The latest on another weekend surge in shootings. That's next.
CHURCH (on camera): Well, the epidemic of gun violence in America is getting harder to ignore. The country is rapidly approaching 300 mass shootings this year. With at least nine this weekend alone. They happened across nine states killed six 6 people and wounded more than 40 others. That is according to data compiled by CNN and the gun violence archive.
In Philadelphia, two men were killed and a toddler was shot multiple times. The three-year-old survived but lost a father on Father's Day. In Oakland, California, a Juneteenth celebration ended with a 22-year- old man dead and six others injured as gunfire erupted. Two men are under arrest.
In Colorado, two separate shootings less than a mile from each other left five people injured. One of the shootings was at a carnival near a mall. And in Chicago there were more than 20 incidents of gun- related violence in a single night. Three people are dead. The youngest just 20 years old.
CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more on this latest spate of shootings.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another weekend in America where gun violence erupted across the country.
UNKNOWN: God, on the south side, gunshot, another shot was just fired.
UNKNOWN: He's down, he's down, he's down.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: This is becoming the sound of the summer in America after another weekend torn apart by gun violence. Incidents from Oakland, to Chicago, to Minneapolis. Just this weekend with more than 30 people killed in gun violence so far according to the gun violence archive. Disturbingly, children continue to be caught in the crossfire.
In Dallas, a gun fight between party goers leaving eight people injured including a 10-year -old and a 15-year-old. And in Detroit Thursday, police still investigating a shooting that killed a 2-year- old. One of two unconnected gun violence incidents according to police on freeways in the Michigan City last week.
UNKNOWN: You know, I don't wish this on my worst enemy.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Some victims know their shooter. Some are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mass shootings which CNN defines are incidents where four or more people are shot excluding the shooter are nearing 300 so far this year according to the gun violence archive. That's about 40 percent higher than this point in 2020. And 65 percent higher than this time in 2019. [03:25:08]
Some gun reform advocates are discouraged by what they feel is a lack of action at the federal level in the wake of this uptick in violence.
CAMERON KASKY, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR, GUN REFORM ADVOCATE: The fact that we have not seen very much substantial gun reform from the Biden administration which is especially disappointing considering the fact that Joe and Kamala both campaigned on this, you know, people are quite frustrated.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The pace of gun violence in America shows no sign of slowing down. And the summer is just getting underway.
There hasn't been much summer yet. Authorities worry that as the season goes on, the pace of gun violence in this country will continue.
Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.
CHURCH: And yet another shooting is under investigation in Houston, Texas. An off-duty deputy's wife and his 4-year-old stepdaughter were shot early Sunday after a gunman stormed into their home and opened fire. The woman was shot in the leg and the child in the arm but both are in stable condition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TROY FINNER, CHIEF, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: We don't know anything what's the motive of this, we don't know if it was targeted or what. All we know is he forced entry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Authorities say the deputy exchanged gunfire with the suspect who is still at large.
And still to come, Joe Biden's infrastructure push. The president looks to make progress on his big-ticket proposals but there is a tug of war on Capitol Hill over how much to spend.
And the horrific outcome of a multi vehicle accident in Alabama. Federal investigators are on the same there.
ROSEMARY CHURCH CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. Well, as negotiations over Joe Biden's big-ticket infrastructure proposals ramp up, independent Senator Bernie Sanders says America would be spending more. Sanders has proposed a $6 trillion plan. Even some Democrats are worried about the high cost of his proposal. Sanders told CNN's Dana Bash the spending needs to address the tough times that American families are facing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): You know, I sometimes think we get bogged down in numbers and that's important, but we got to look at what the needs are of the American people and what's going on right now. And what is going on right now. So, all that the president is doing all I am doing is taking a look at the reality for working families, understanding their needs have been ignored for decades, now it is time to create good paying jobs. Millions of good paying jobs, addressing health care, housing, and infrastructure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Joining me now is Jessica Levinson, professor of law at Loyola Law School and host of the Passing Judgment podcast. Great to have you with us.
JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Great to be back.
CHURCH: So fresh off of his summit with Russia's President Putin, the U.S. president is now working on his infrastructure bill and trying to get some sort of compromise with Republicans. How likely is it that this can be done and done soon?
LEVINSON: Well, I think that is the big question here. I think the answer is how much President Biden is willing to compromise. So, we've gotten over the initial thresholds now of COVID relief. We passed COVID relief. We've rolled out the vaccines and there has been a lot of success in that, meaning the kind of big emergencies we are starting to pass the thresholds. But the next big thing is infrastructure.
And President Biden has said it's not just roads, it's not just freeways and bridges, it's a greater type of technological infrastructure and he wants a lot of money. And the Republicans don't want to give that to him. So, one of the big questions will be when he comes back and he looks at the office on the table, how much is he willing to give? Does he want to give a lot to get something? Or is he going to try and take his political capital for a spin?
He's probably not going to be ever in a better position than he is in right now and see how hard he can try to push his Republican colleagues.
CHURCH: And then of course there is the issue of voting reform. Because Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it very clear that all 50 Republican senators will oppose Democrat Senator Manchin's election reform proposal despite his considerable compromises on this issue. So, what happens now with that issue?
LEVINSON: I think nothing. And this is so important for people to understand about American politics which is, I think it seem so strange to people. There is a Democrat in the White House. Democrats control the Senate by a slim margin but they do control it. Democrats control the House.
One of the big things on the agenda for Democrats is voting reform, is creating this floor of protection when it comes to going to the ballot box or sending in your ballot. And they can't pass it because of the filibuster, because you need a supermajority in the Senate to pass essentially anything other than budgetary issues.
And this shows so starkly that Democrats can control everything. But if not by enough, then something as fundamental as voting reform will fail, I don't think that we are going to see national reform in this area to the huge disappointment of many Democrats.
CHURCH: And I mean, there really the sense that the Republicans don't want to work with the Democrats. Is that fair?
LEVINSON: I think that is. If you listen to what Senator Mitch McConnell has said, he is still, I think in so many ways the leader of the Republican Party. If you not just listen to him but if you look on his actions, again, when it comes to infrastructure, when it comes to what he said about the judiciary, when it comes to voting rights really basic fundamental things like let's make sure that people if they want to can go to the polls and validly cast their ballot. Or let's make sure that much of our nation's crumbling infrastructure is actually funded.
He has said no, and that this is a top priority for him to say no. So, I think that is fair. He is not really working with his old colleague now President Biden the way I'm sure, President Biden would've hoped he would have.
CHURCH: And Jessica, we have been witnessing the ongoing push of Donald's Trump's election lie and the whitewashing by many GOP lawmakers on what exactly happened at the capitol on January 6th. What impact could all of these efforts have on democracy in this country? And how concerned should we all be about that?
LEVINSON: Well, not a good one. Look, when the former president is saying over and over again, and members of his party are supporting and or believing and or telling their constituents, there is something about the last election that you simply can't trust, that's hugely detrimental to democracy.
And if people can't trust the most fundamental thing, which is that their elections are fair and free of fraud, then how can they trust everything else that flows from those elections? How can they trust our representative democracy? So, it is going to be a big challenge to restore faith in the government.
And if you listen to President Biden in so many of his different speeches, yes, he's talking about a substantive area but almost always the theme is, let's restore trust in government. That's going to be the big question going forward for all of us. And we are going to have a bit of an answer when we see turnout in the midterms and reaction to the midterm elections. CHURCH: Yes, certainly. Jessica Levinson, always great to talk with
you. Many thanks.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
CHURCH: The United States and Russia are taking another small step aimed at improving relations between the two countries. The Russian ambassador has returned to Washington, and the U.S. ambassador is expected to be back in Moscow in the coming days.
Presidents Biden and Putin agreed to send both ambassadors back to their post during their meeting last week but the effort to thaw frosty relations at the Geneva summit could face an early test. The Biden administration is already preparing to hit Russia with more sanctions over the poisoning of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
CNN's Arlette Saenz has the details.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House is preparing a fresh wave of sanctions against Russia as it looks to take a stronger response to the country this the wake of the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. This would be the second rounds of sanctions the U.S. has imposed. After back in March, the U.S. and European Union worked together on that first wave of sanctions against Russia.
And the White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan previewed a bit of the thinking behind this next upcoming wave of sanctions. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are preparing another package of sanctions to apply in this case as well. We've shown all along the way that we are not going to pull our punches, whether it's on SolarWinds, or election interference or Navalny. When it comes responding to Russia's harmful activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: Now this comes just days after President Biden sat down face to face with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, and he warns there would be dire consequences for Russia if Navalny were to die while in prison. Now, there is no time line for when this next wave of sanctions will actually take place but the president is facing pressure even from Democratic lawmakers to act soon.
Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: Russian authorities have charged a suspect with the murder of an American student. Thirty-four-year-old Catherine Serou went missing last week. And her body was found on Saturday. Court documents allege the suspect picked up the former marine in his car on Tuesday and killed her an hour later. She was studying at a state university east of Moscow and had hoped to become an immigration lawyer, according to her mother.
A multivehicle accident in Alabama has taken a devastating toll. Nine children, and one adult were killed when a van collided with a sport utility vehicle. Officials are investigating the cause, but there was heavy rain in the area as severe weather moved through.
Martin Savidge has the story but we must warn you, some may find this report disturbing.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Four of the victims who died in Saturday's crash attended the high school here. Federal investigators now are going to begin sifting through the scene trying to determine exactly what caused it. This tragedy is a horrific on a number of different levels, not just the number of lives lost, 10. But also the fact that nine of the 10 were children between the ages of 9 months and 17, and many of those children had already gone through so much difficulty in their lives to die tragically.
This incident happened around mid-afternoon on an Interstate Highway known as i-65, that was in the north bound lane just south of Montgomery. And it was a multivehicle crash. The images convey just how horrible the scene was. At least 15 vehicles involved including semi-tractor trailer trucks. And there was a horrible fire.
We know that the worst number of deaths occurred in a van that was capable of carrying of 15 people had nine people. Eight of the people in van, all children died. The one person who was rescued from the wreckage by passersby, and passersby were the heroes here, was the ranch director. She was pulled unconscious from that van. She lost two of her own children in that crash.
And then there were two other victims, a father and daughter aged 29 and 9 months who died in another vehicle. The weather right now is being looked at as a potential cause. There was very bad weather in the area at the time. The man who is the CEO of this girl's ranch that oversees it, says that they are devastated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SMITH, CEO, ALABAMA SHERIFFS YOUTH RANCHES: We lost eight young people that can make a difference in our world. We lost eight young people that didn't have a chance to have their own children. We lost eight young people that can't break the cycle of where they have been and change it for their children.
We had two vans of children coming back from the beach, and also a chase car. But they were several miles apart. And the first van was one that had the accident. We had -- we had nine people in that van. We had eight fatalities, and one survivor in that van yesterday. And that's the tragedy that we are faced with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE (on camera): And the children, many of them who died in that van had already been taken by the state into their custody from homes where parents had been caught up in drug addiction or the children themselves had been abused.
Now this organization, which is primarily run through donations finds itself having to plan for eight funerals. It will be a very difficult week of brief.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Camp Hill, Alabama.
CHURCH: And as Martin just reported, that fatal crash may have been triggered by slick roads after then tropical storm Claudette battered Alabama on Saturday. Right now, that storm system is a tropical depression, and is lashing North Carolina. Flash flooding will be a primary threat in the hours to come.
So, let's bring in CNN meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, just a tragic accident there as a result of this weather system. What is the latest on the storm system moving through the southeast?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, it has some more steam left here, Rosemary. Once it moves back over the open waters it is very close to the Carolina coastline there at this hour. And we'll touch on that momentarily.
But how about this. Upwards of a foot of rainfall coming down in a matter of 48 hours across portions of the Gulf Coast. And this of course leads to quite a bit of problem. It comes the flash flooding. You know, some gusty winds to be had across the area as well.
And here's what is left of tropical depression Claudette. Again, just near the coastline there of the Carolina region. And we do expect it to tap into some warm waters and reenergize back into a tropical storm. But the steering environment should pick this up rather quickly and want to move it offshore.
You'll notice, while it does this, still a storm surge threat on the immediate coast there from Wilmington towards Hatteras, the outer banks region. As high as three feet, that was will cause some significant damage for those immediate coastal communities. But there is Claudette, as it moves away backs across the western U.S. It is all about what is happening with big time heat. That note of course it reminds you that summer officially arrived in the past several hours, at 11.32 p.m. Eastern Time.
The northern hemisphere the longest day, the shortest night upon us. While on the southern hemisphere we're talking about the shortest day and winter officially arriving.
But speaking of summer in the northern hemisphere, how about these temperatures. of course, the last full week of spring exited with temps exceeding 115 degrees for the sixth straight day across the valley of the sun, in Phoenix, that is never happened in recorded history and it says quite a bit for a city well known for tremendous and notorious heat.
And notice Palm Springs, Death Valley, and even Sacramento 110, 120 above across some of these regions. And we do expect another round of heat to build in across at least the northwestern U.S. towards the latter portion of this week, Rosemary.
CHURCH: All right. Thanks for keeping an eye on all of that. Our Pedram Javaheri joining us there live.
Well, coming up here on CNN Newsroom, voting is underway in Ethiopia. The government says it's the country's first free and fair election. But with some areas ravaged by war and unable to vote many skeptics have their doubts.
CHURCH (on camera): He here is the scene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Voting is underway in what the government calls the country's first free and fair election after decades of repressive rule. But many are skeptical due to Ethiopia's economic disparity and the ongoing war in the Tigray region. Some major parties are boycotting the election over alleged intimidation by security forces. Over a fifth of constituency say they are delaying voting for various reasons. A second round of voting will take place in September.
So, let's bring in our Larry Madowo who joins us live from Addis Ababa. Good to see you, Larry.
So, it is still early, of course, but how is Ethiopia's voting progressing so far? And what are the expectations here?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The voting appears to be going along well so far. There are people in the line behind me who have been here a few hours and they said they will be there for as long as it takes because they see this as an important step to midwifing a Democratic transition in the country.
Twenty percent of constituents are not participating. But still, it's an imperfect process that many people tell us is better than nothing, the necessary steps to achieving full Democratic principles in this country that has had so much conflict, so much violence and so much ethnic divisions. Obviously, (AUDIO GAP) -- expect this to be a reasonably credible election. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL BEKELE, ETHIOPIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: Organizing the election was a necessary step to have an elected government in a credible process. And we have a credible elections commission to lead the process and there is a credible political space for competitive elections. So, this was a necessary step toward this dialogue and toward these longer-term solutions for Ethiopia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADOWO (on camera): There is some criticism of the election taking place as well. Some say that by voting in this election they are accusing people of endorsing what they are calling the Tigray genocide, the ethnic conflict and civil war in the north of the country. But overall, the electoral commission is seemed to be much more credibility than at any other time as Ethiopia ever had.
And that the outcome of this is very likely that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is likely to get that popular mandate even though there are still concerns, Rosemary, about whether this is the perfect way to deliver that legitimacy that he needs.
CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Larry Madowo keeping a very close eye on elections there is in Ethiopia. And we will of course do the same. Many thanks to you, Larry.
And we'll be right back.
CHURCH (on camera): Well, for Prince Harry's first Father's Day two years ago, his wife Meghan gave him a bench inscribed with a poem. Now that gift has inspired a children's book written by the duchess of Sussex. And in an interview with National Public Radio which aired on Father's Day here in the U.S., the duchess said she hopes all types of families can relate to her story.
CNN's Max Foster has our report.
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: The book was inspired by Prince Harry and son Archie and it features the diverse range of fathers and son. The duchess told NPR it's about representation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Growing up, I remember so much how it felt to not see yourself represented. Or see your family or see that kind of diversity or a mixed-race relationship or whatever it could be.
So, any child or any family hopefully can open this book and see themselves in it, whether that means glasses or freckled or different body shape or different ethnicity or religion to really just feel like this story that I wrote for my husband and son could really be your story also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER (on camera): The book actually emerged from a poem that Meghan wrote for Harry for his first Father's Day. And if you look closely, you can see a reference to his mother, Princess Diana in there as well. The duchess told NPR, I think you can find sweet little moments that we've tucked in there from my favorite flower, even my mom's favorite flower, forget me not.
The interview was actually recorded before the couple had their daughter Lilibet and they are still away on parental leave.
Max Foster, CNN, Hampshire, England.
CHURCH: Spanish golfer Jon Rahm celebrated his first Father's Day on Sunday with his first ever major victory. His wife and newborn son were there Rahm won the U.S. Open in San Diego. It's the first time a golfer from Spain has ever won the tournament. Rahm produced an epic finish with birdies on his last two holes finishing six under par. He spoke to our Don Riddell about the significance of the win on Father's Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON RAHM, WINNER, U.S. OPEN: At that moment, whatever was going on around me just disappears. You know, he is the priority. And her. And what I've done and what I do in the future absolutely won't matter compared to what they matter to me and how much love I have for them, so that's what I keep telling her. No matter what I accomplish in life and no matter what no matter what happens around us, that this afternoon he is still the most important and forever will me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): And this comes just two weeks after he was forced to withdraw from a tournament because of a positive COVID test.
Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment.