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One Dead, 99 Unaccounted for in Florida Condo Collapse; 751 Unmarked Graves Found at Former Indian School in Canada; TSA Tries to Crack Down on Attacks on Airline Workers; Pop Star Pleads with Judge to End Her Abusive Conservatorship; Miami Heat Ain in Collapsed Building Rescue; Conan O'Brien Signs Off from Nightly Talk Show. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 25, 2021 - 04:30   ET



KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

An update on our top story this hour, search teams are working through the night in Surfside, Florida to find 99 people still unaccounted for in the collapse of the Champlain Towers. Part of the 12 story condominium that pancaked down on itself early Thursday killing at least one person. Fire and rescue crews are working in knee-deep water in the building's parking garage as they saw through concrete to try to get to any survivors.


CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA MAYOR: The problem is the building has literally pancaked. It has gone down -- and I mean there's just feet in between stories where there were ten feet. That is heartbreaking because it doesn't mean to me that we're going to be successful -- as successful as we would want to be to find people alive.


BRUNHUBER: Now authorities point out that not everyone who's unaccounted for is definitely missing. Some may not have been home when the building collapsed. And not everyone unaccounted for is a U.S. citizen. CNN's Matt Rivers reports.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we learn more and more about the victims of this partial collapse, it's becoming more and more clear that the United States is not the only country who citizens have been affected by this tragedy. In fact, we heard on Thursday from the foreign ministry of the South American country of Paraguay. The foreign minister saying that the sister of the first lady of Paraguay -- the first lady of Paraguay's sister and her family, were now unaccounted for after this partial collapse. [04:35:00]

The foreign ministry is saying that the first lady's sister and her sister's family were staying in one of those towers on the 10th floor. They were in the country, according to the foreign ministry, to get vaccinated. With Paraguay government saying they spent the day checking in with various hospitals in the area to see if there was any news about the first lady's sister and her sister's family, but unfortunately, they turned up no positive results.

But Paraguay is not the only South American country affected. In fact, we heard from other countries whose citizens have been affected and are now unaccounted for, including your Uruguay, including Argentina and including Venezuela.

And we know that this is a part of South Florida where many people from South America either live permanently or visit from time to time. Unfortunately, this tragedy is touching lives of citizens from across the western hemisphere.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


BRUNHUBER: Two people have been pulled alive from the rubble itself Florida. Nicholas Balboa, who live near the building, was walking his dog when he saw this -- now it's a little hard to make out, but it is a boy trapped in the debris waving his hand. Balboa says he got a police officer to come to talk to the boy until rescuers could arrive. Now they pulled the boy out and carried him away to get medical attention. Balboa spoke to CNN about his experience.


NICHOLAS BALBOA, FOUND TRAPPED BOY: From what I could tell, because the debris that was around him was a bed frame and mattress. So I imagine that that live been his bed possibly. He was in his PJs, so he was -- he might have been asleep and literally the apartment gave way and down they went.

He told me that it was him and his mother in the apartment and, you know, I could see him, but I couldn't see his mother or hear her. You know, and at this time from what I've gathered from the crews and stuff like that, they still haven't been able to find her yet.


BRUNHUBER: Leaders of indigenous tribes in Saskatchewan, Canada say that more than 700 unmarked graves have been discovered at a former Indian residential school. Officials began mapping the grounds on June 1 after 215 graves were found in May at a former school in British Columbia. The Canadian Prime Minister says the government will provide funding and resources to bring what he called, these terrible wrongs to light. One tribal leader says that this most recent discovery as reopened deep wounds.


CHIEF CADMUS DELORME, COWESSESS FIRST NATION: The gravesite is there and it's real. And if you were to see it, there are 751 flags when you look at it. It is the pain of the memories of being in the school for many that it is triggering.


BRUNHUBER: The chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations spoke to us a short time ago. He said the United States government should also investigation its former Indian schools for the sake of the countless children who were separated from their families and never seen again. Listen to this.


CHIEF BOBBY CAMERON, FEDERATION OF SOVEREIGN INDIGENOUS NATIONS: President Joe Biden, if you are listening, we implore you and we advise you to work with our brothers and sisters in the United States because there are many unmarked graves in your country. Work with those chief and councils and those survivors to help give those bodies a proper burial.

You know, we try to think and try to put ourselves in the eyes and bodies of these children that have been found in the ground recently. And this is what we come up with. A small first nation's voice whispers, they have found us, they have found us.


BRUNHUBER: President Biden's push for more Americans to get vaccinated is becoming more and more urgent. That's due to the emerging threat from the rapidly spreading delta variant first identified in India. Biden says it could be deadlier and especially dangerous for young people and yet another reason to get your shot.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The data couldn't be clearer. If you could vaccinated, you're safe. You've been -- you are still at risk of getting seriously ill or dying if you in fact have not been vaccinated. That's just a fact. And this new data on the variant that continues to emerge. It's now the most common variant in America. And unvaccinated people are incredibly vulnerable. This is a serious concern with what experts call the delta variant.



BRUNHUBER: And that delta variant is also a concern in Israel. It's part of why new outbreaks are being detected around the country. Israel's health ministry just announced it's reinstating a national indoor mask mandate. That goes into effect in about 20 minutes from now, at noon local time. Health officials are also recommending that people wear masks at large outdoor gatherings like at this weekend's pride events.

Travel and tourism workers took to the streets of London this week to voice their frustration with the U.K.'s COVID restrictions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been absolutely flattened. Tourists are just not coming. I've had no work since the 28th of February last year.


BRUNHUBER: They're calling on the government to offer more financial support and make it easier to vacation abroad. The British government has added several areas to its quarantine-free travel list including Malta, Spain's Balearic Islands and several Caribbean destinations.

The Transportation Security Administration is investigating a spate of new assaults on airline workers. There have been nearly 70 reports of travelers assaults TSA employees sense the start of the pandemic. Pete Muntean tells us how federal agencies are addressing the violence.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: There has been a huge uptick in the number of unruly passengers as more and more people come back to travel. And now the Transportation Security Administration is detailing two attacks on its airport security workers, the latest of 69 incidents since the start of the pandemic.

The TSA says that the airport in Louisville, two of its workers were attacked as a passenger tried to force their way through the exit lane at airport security. And in Denver, the TSA says two workers there were bitten by a passenger, that incident under investigation by local police.

Passengers in these cases face fines higher than $13,000, which is one more sign of the times. But TSA is also resuming voluntary self- defense classes for flight attendants. The FAA has received more than 3,000 reports of unruly passengers on board planes.

SARA NELSON, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: It's so bad out there. The flight attendants have to have crewmembers self-defense training in order to defend ourselves from the passengers on board. Everybody has got to calm down. This is not a natural state on a plane.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): this is all happening as the summer travel season is just getting started. The TSA screened more than 2.1 million people at airports across the country on Sunday. That is the highest number we have seen since March 7, 2020, and it's likely we could see a number even bigger as we go into the July 4th holiday.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Reagan National Airport.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRUNHUBER: Pop star Britney Spears is speaking out. She is calling her years' long conservatorship, abuse, abusive and pleading for her life back. The disturbing details she told the judge, ahead, stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Pop star Britney Spears is breaking her silence and speaking out in court. She is asking a judge to end her 13 yearlong conservatorship controlled by her father, who is significant power over her personal and financial life. After her testimony Spears took to Instagram apologizing for pretending to be OK, saying she did it because she was, quote, embarrassed to share what happened to me. CNN's Brian Todd has details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She sold at least 33 million albums and amassed a fortune of $60 million. But pop star Britney Spears has told a judge she's a virtual slave. Spears spoke out in court on the phone, pleading for the judge to end her conservatorship administered by her father, Jamie, calling it, quote, "abusive."

NISCHELLE TURNER, HOST, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": She said she felt pressured by her father. She felt pressure by him to work as much as she did. She felt pressure by him to maybe take medication that she didn't want to.

TODD (voice-over): Spears told the judge she was put on lithium, despite her objections. While she was on lithium, a strong drug used to treat depression and bipolar disorder, Spears said, quote, I felt drunk. I couldn't even stick up for myself.

And she said, under the conservatorship, she can't get married or have a child. Quote, I have an IUD inside of myself right now so I don't get pregnant. I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don't want me to have children.

TURNER: Those are all things that are tough to hear and very traumatic. Also knowing that she's lived this whole life underneath this conservatorship for 13 years.

TODD (voice-over): Since 2008, Britney Spears' father, Jamie Spears, has had remarkable control over several aspects of his daughter's life, including her money. He petitioned the court for legal authority over her because of concerns about her mental health and potential substance abuse and following some very public meltdowns. Including one in 2007, where a head-shaved Britney wielded an umbrella and attacked a car belonging to a member of the paparazzi.

BRITNEY SPEARS, POP STAR: Guys, I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared. Where's the door? TODD (voice-over): Some of the singer's more erratic moments captured in a documentary produced this year by "The New York Times" and FX, titled "Framing Britney Spears".

SPEARS: Why are so close to my car?

TURNER: We saw her tumble. We saw her fall. But now, looking back at it, we know there were some mental health issues there.

TODD (voice-over): But Nischelle Turner says Britney Spears is also now a story of redemption, that while battling the conservatorship and all her personal issues, she's still been one of the top earners in Hollywood in recent years. She's even got a movement behind her.

Still, one attorney says conservatorships can often be difficult to get out of.

TAMAR ARMINAK, CONSERVATORSHIP ATTORNEY: The conservetee has an underlying condition that doesn't get better over time. A lot of times, it involves dementia or significant mental illness that stays with the person. So there's always the risk that if you release them from the conservatorship, they may back slide and go back to where they were in the beginning of the conservatorship.

TODD: But attorney Tamar Arminak says she believes the judge could still grant Britney Spears more freedom and that her father could be removed as her conservator. For his part, Jamie Spears has always said he was doing what he had to do to keep his daughter safe and healthy. After Britney Spear's testimony, a lawyer for her father read a statement saying that he is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain, that he loves his daughter and misses her.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: End of an era for a late night legend, we'll share some of the moments from Conan O'Brien's final show. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Well, it's an exciting week for sports fans. Golf championships, surprising hockey wins, a thrilling basketball western conference and a team that works together even off the court. CNN's Don Riddell has the details.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: The basketball season has long been over for the Miami Heat NBA team, but some of the players and staff are doing much more important work on Thursday. They were helping out the emergency workers at the scene of the devastating collapsed building in Surfside. Meanwhile the LA Clippers were back in the western conference final

series against the Phoenix Suns at home. On Thursday night Paul George scored 27 points, did 15 rebounds as the Clips won game three by 106- 92. The Suns though are still leading the series by two games to one.

Big night for the Montreal Canadians. They are heading to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1993. Montreal beat the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime, it's game six. Artturi Lehkonen with the decisive goal. They'll play either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the New York Islanders next. That series will be settled in a game seven on Friday.

And the American golfer, Lizette Salas, is setting the pace this the women's PGA championship this Georgia. Five birdies and a bogey free round of 67. Means that she's one stroke clear of the chasing pack after the first round. It is the third major tournament of the year. Back to you.



BRUNHUBER: Well love is in the air. After more than a year of COVID restrictions, couples are now ready to the altar ready to say, "I do." At least according to the wedding planning website The Knot. Almost half of couples postponed their nuptials last year. They now say there setting their eyes on this year's wedding season. The demand for date is surging, and the wedding boom has left planners and vendors scrambling to keep up. Not only is the industry short staffed but one planner says, some couples are panic looking. He described the upcoming season as the wild west.

Talk show legend Conan O'Brien a saying farewell to late night TV. The quirky comedian signed off for the final time on Thursday after being a nightly fixture for nearly 30 years. His latest show comes to an end after 11 years on TBS, a sister network to CNN. The final show was full of surprise guests and even a surprise injury. After Jack Black was set to pretend to hurt himself during a big dance number and well, this happened.


CONAN O'BRIEN, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: He's running around, rolls your ankle.

JACK BLACK, COMEDIAN: I Rolled my ankle.

O'BRIEN: You go down. We're all horrified. We go rushing out. And then --

BLACK: I crumpled.

O'BRIEN: -- we have an ambulance there to shoot the bit. This is the funniest part. I know that you are in great pain. The funniest part is that we had an ambulance there and so I'm yelling at these two guys like we've got to help him, we've got to help him. And they were like no, we're actors.


BRUNHUBER: And O'Brien ended the show by thanking his family, staff and fans. Now his next venture is hosting a weekly variety series on HBO Max, which is also part of the same corporate family as CNN.

Well that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Kim Brunhuber. "EARLY START" is next.