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Families Hold Onto Hope After Florida Building Collapse; Fifth Body Found In Champlain Towers Wreckage; 2018 Report Found "Major" Damage In Champlain Towers South; Thousands In U.K. Protest Lockdown, Austerity And Climate Inaction; U.S. Vaccination Debate; Hot Air Balloon Crash Kills Five; Record-Breaking June Heat. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired June 27, 2021 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hope is waning as crews search for signs of life in the rubble of that collapsed condo near Miami. And now new information is surfacing that the building had serious concrete damage.
Another variant of the coronavirus is causing concern around the world. Scientists are trying to figure out how well vaccines will work against Delta plus.
And hundreds are lining up as the Boss reopens on Broadway, ushering crowds back into New York theaters.
Welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
BRUNHUBER: We begin in Surfside, Florida, where search and rescue operations are growing more aggressive after another body was found in the wreckage of the 12-story building collapse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): This is what's left of Champlain Towers South after part of the tower came crashing down in seconds on Thursday. Five people are confirmed dead and 156 others remain unaccounted for. The Miami of Miami-Dade County gave an update on the search on Saturday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL: Our teams have been working around the clock as always to search for survivors, they have not stopped.
And today, our search and rescue teams found another body in the rubble. And as well, our search has revealed some human remains.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: The mayor also announced the county will immediately begin an investigation of all buildings 40 years and older. Major structural problems with the building were flagged back in 2018, concerns about the nearby North Tower and how safe it is.
With each passing hour, families grow ever more anxious for the news about their loved ones. Isabel Rosales has the latest.
ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The intense search and rescue has not stopped and it will not stop. The mission is just too important; 156 people, still, unaccounted for but, today, a heartbreaking discovery.
CAVA: Our teams have been working, around the clock as always, to search for survivors. They have not stopped.
ROSALES (voice-over): Search teams discovering another body in the rubble from Thursday's partial collapse of a condo building in Surfside, Florida.
CAVA: As well, our search has revealed some human remains.
ROSALES (voice-over): Officials relying on DNA testing to identify the victims. According to the Miami-Dade mayor, family members of the unaccounted have, all, provided DNA samples.
MAGARY RAMSEY, DAUGHTER OF MISSING WOMAN: Although, we're burdened with such despair, we are burdened with heavy hearts, at the moment, we're lifted up by a lot of the faith in the miracles that God can create.
ROSALES (voice-over): Loved ones holding on to hope, as crews make progress in containing a fire in the rubble that has drastically affected search-and-rescue efforts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Currently, we're searching the entire debris field.
MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT (I-FL), SURFSIDE: We are going to do a very deep dive, into why this building fell down.
ROSALES (voice-over): A report on the building from 2018 included concerns about structural damage. A consultant said failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.
Morabito Consultants, who issued the report, says they are deeply troubled by this building collapse and that, they are working closely with the investigating authorities to understand why the structure failed.
ROSALES: And the mayor there, of Miami-Dade, says that they are currently working on accommodating requests from the family members who actually visit, pray and reflect there at the site -- in Surfside, Florida, Isabel Rosales.
BRUNHUBER: A field survey in 2018 is raising questions about the structural integrity of the building. The report revealed alarming concerns about concrete below the pool deck and in the parking garage. Brian Todd has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have news that a structural engineering firm Morabito Consultants has acknowledged that it did an inspection and a report on the Champlain Towers South complex in October of 2018.
When it did that inspection and issued that report, it found significant cracks and crumbling at various spots inside the complex. CNN previously reported the firm found damage to a concrete slab underneath the pool deck and found significant cracking and spalling, the crumbling of concrete, in the parking garage.
TODD: Morabito acknowledging that they did the inspection and that is what they found. The firms says it's saddened by the collapse and working with investigators to determine the cause of this collapse.
Meanwhile rescuers are trying to get to anyone who might be inside, find people who could be alive. The mayor of Surfside, Charles Burkett, has called for the adjacent Champlain Towers North to be evacuated -- Brian Todd, CNN, Surfside, Florida.
BRUNHUBER: Joining me now is Forrest Lanning. He is a structural engineer with FEMA Region 9 in California and he deals with collapsed buildings and major disasters, including earthquakes.
Thanks so much for being here with us. You've seen the details in the 2018 report about the structural problems and the repairs needed. You've looked at the pictures of the building before the collapse. So let's set aside hindsight here.
Should the alarm bells have rung much more urgently?
FORREST LANNING, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER, FEMA REGION 9, CALIFORNIA: I think so. I mean, it's been several years since that report came out. And reading through the report, there was evidence of the concrete spalling, cracking and corrosion on the rebars.
What's really concerning is it was happening in the basement. The basement covers the whole block. So it extends beyond the footprint of the building. Above the basement is the exterior, is the outside. The report was stating that there was no slope to the slab.
So it was ponding water so the water would just stay on there until it evaporated. And there was a lot of calcium carbonate in the concrete and there was attempts to repair cracks.
But the report also stated that there was further cracking since the repair, which, to me, would be a huge red flag. That's something that needed to be done and it's unfortunate what happened. But there is -- there was warnings for this.
BRUNHUBER: One of the possible factors experts are talking about is salt from the ocean, from the air. Many years ago, I covered a deadly pancake collapse of a structure. And engineers found runoff from the deicing road salt contributed to the corrosion of the rebar and the bonds with the concrete.
So explain what effect the long exposure to salt has on the integrity of buildings?
LANNING: So having the outside air is a problem. Having high humidity is an even bigger problem. But having high humidity and salty air is the worst combination. When you have oceanfront structures, you -- the structure is being basically blasted by the sea air, it's full of salt, especially if it's right on the beach the entire lifetime.
It doesn't get a break from it. And salt is the worst corrosive agent for the rebars inside. So usually in structures that are going to be in this maritime environment, there is extra thick what we all concrete cover protecting the steel rebar.
Now I don't know specifically in this case if it had extra concrete for them. My guess is that it wouldn't because a lot of the structure was internal to the building. You usually do that only on exterior features.
But it sounds like there was excess amount of cracking through the top slab of the basement and through on the exterior cladding of the entire building. There's evidence of a lot of this.
BRUNHUBER: The concern, of course, is that this could be more widespread in terms of other buildings perhaps. Miami-Dade's county mayor announced there will an audit of all the buildings in the county that are at the four-year point and beyond. It sounds like a huge undertaking.
But why 40 years? Why is that the magic number?
If the building's 35 years, you know, is there nothing to worry about there? Why is that significant?
LANNING: I'm not really sure where they came up with 40 years. A lot of times, buildings have a lifespan they're designed for. Typically, depending on the type of use of buildings, but more or less they're about 50-year lifespans.
And so 40 years is -- my assumption is that's approaching the end of that lifespan so they're going to do this whole recertification of the building. There's enough time before the end of the lifespan.
BRUNHUBER: But with bridges and other important structures like that, they do it much more often.
Shouldn't that perhaps be doing it every 10 years or something like that, considering especially some people are saying climate change might play a factor, with the changing climate?
Should we perhaps change our regulations?
LANNING: I agree. I think it probably should be 20 years. It should definitely be shorter than the 40 years, especially on oceanfront structures.
Now if there's buildings on the interior inland, that are away from the ocean, 40 years might be fine. But these are these oceanside -- the oceanfront structures really need to have their inspections more often. There will be a lot more, quicker corrosion. It just gets a beating from it, including with all of the hurricanes that hit Florida.
BRUNHUBER: Finally, as someone who has dealt with some 100 collapsed buildings in various parts of the world, what can you tell us about chances of survival post-collapse?
I know you have sobering statistics but also maybe a reason for hope.
LANNING: Yes, so when a building collapses and people are trapped inside, there's usually an initial percentage of occupants, who, unfortunately, will die right off the bat. There is another amount who are still alive. Now depending on what type of injuries they have, they will last from minutes to hours and then, if they're uninjured, they can last up to a week.
The biggest opportunity to find survivors will be in the first 48 hours. After the first 48 hours, that chances diminish greatly. That's not to say you won't find survivors. There has been times where they've found survivors out until a week. So there is still hope out there.
But that window is really just the first 48 hours. That's why it's really critical to get urban search and rescue teams out there immediately. It's really going to be up to the local urban search and rescue teams because you cannot mobilize a lot of the other teams as quickly. Because even though I said the first 48 hours, the first 24 hours is even a better chance. And so timing is everything.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, let's certainly hope for the best. There's certainly still a reason to hope. Thank you so much for joining us, Forrest Lanning, really appreciate you sharing your expertise with us.
LANNING: Great. Thank you.
BRUNHUBER: One man staying at a hotel across the street from Champlain Towers describes the absolute horror he saw.
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DANIEL GROVES, CONDO COLLAPSE WITNESS: This is our hotel. I hope these people -- I mean, there's no way. Look at this.
Why are these people still in our hotel?
Oh, my gosh, what a mess in here now. The scariest thing. I thought a tornado literally hit. They just said, no, the building is gone. Oh, my word. Oh, my word. Oh, my word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: The man who shot that video, whose voice you just heard there, is Daniel Groves. He was in Florida on a family vacation and tells us what was going through his mind the moment he realized what was happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GROVES: That video is probably six minutes after the building -- maybe a couple of minutes after the building collapsed. My thing was, I was showing my family what was going on in case we lost cell service. I was recording video for my family to let them know what was going on at that moment. I don't know -- I shot everything all at once.
GROVES: I was on the second floor, right by the pool, in the middle of this Solaris hotel, right beside it. I was in the second floor; I mean, literally dead asleep. It's 1:20 in the morning; my wife and I were sleeping.
It literally sounded like a bomb going off, the loudest thing I had ever heard in my life, from a dead sleep. The whole building shook. I felt like we were in the worst earthquake in my life.
I immediately -- we're talking about 15 seconds -- immediately ran to the window, pulled the blinds aside. I couldn't see but four or five feet in front of me.
I said, "We're in a tornado, babe, get up. We're in the tornado."
Right as I said that, the alarms go off and we run right into the next room, grab our kids and take off outside, leaving everything in the room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: One woman survived by climbing through rubble in the dark, holding her dog. She's one of the 127 residents who've been accounted for. She woke up because of a noise that was unusual and it woke her up abruptly. She felt like the whole building was shaking and was afraid the building was going to crumble.
She rushed out of her apartment but the only available stairwell was full of debris. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARON SCHECHTER, CONDO COLLAPSE SURVIVOR: It was pitch black, like titanic, finding our way out until we get to some light. I was one of two I think that survived on my floor. I'm hoping that there's a reason why I survived a bigger -- a bigger picture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Matt Hancock resigns as Britain's health secretary a day after apologizing for breaching COVID restrictions. We'll explain.
Plus dozens of hospital employees say no to vaccines mandated by their employer and now they're out of a job. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Thousands marched through the streets of London Saturday in protest of the COVID lockdown and austerity measures. They're calling on the government to step up in the fight against climate change. COVID restrictions stayed in place in the U.K. because of the spread of the Delta variant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: The U.K.'s health minister is calling it quits after breaking social distancing rules. Matt Hancock was caught kissing an aide according to "The Sun." The British tabloid says they were having an affair in May. CNN's Isa Soares is standing by.
Isa, it sounds like hypocrisy, not infidelity.
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's seems to be his fall. Coronavirus, the pandemic really raised his profile but also his hypocrisy around the messaging he's given and what he's doing led to his fall as secretary of health. Let me give you a sense of what we are seeing in terms of the British newspapers and how they are covering this.
Let me show you the "Sunday Times." It says, "Humiliated Hancock quits," inside it says, "Puritan in chief who became the minister for hypocrisy."
"The Observer," inside you have, "Hancock may have gone but questions of integrity linger."
And the "Daily Mail," "Hancock Quits His Job and Marriage." He put out a video statement where he apologized for his failings and
where he needed to step down, given the fact he was telling people what they ought to be doing and following rules and he was going against them. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, that you have made. And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them. And that is why I have got to resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: So he was under increasing pressure following the front page of "The Sun" that came out on Friday. You could see the CCTV image of Matt Hancock in an embrace with one of his closest aides.
It wasn't so much the morality of it or the infidelity of it of these two individuals, having this affair that really broke the camel's back. It was hypocrisy. Here you have a health secretary at the time, who was creating these laws, who was quite tough on COVID restrictions, who was telling people they couldn't hug each other.
This happened on May the 6th, per "The Sun," when the CCTV image was taken in the middle of stage 2 of COVID restrictions. It's only a week after that photo is taken that people can start hugging, only a week after that photo was taken that really we see an easing of social restrictions.
So you can see how people would be spitting feathers at the thought that you had a health secretary, who is the architect of these rules, then going about breaking them. And people have been angry because, as you can imagine, many people haven't been able to see their loved ones.
People at the time couldn't see their family members who were dying in hospital, couldn't go to funerals, so I think it made his position untenable.
But there is another aspect to this that I think you'd see in the coming days, a question of the accusation of cronyism because Gina Coladangelo was brought in as a nonexecutive director for the health department.
And she was brought in by him. He brought her in and she was being paid public money. So many questions really being raised but critically the main one here is the question of hypocrisy.
SOARES: And the fact many of the MPs around him couldn't support him.
BRUNHUBER: Convoluted. Thanks so much for that, CNN's Isa Soares, appreciate it. Yet another coronavirus variant is causing alarm, this one a slightly
changed version of the Delta variant called Delta plus; 200 cases found in 11 countries so far and scientists are trying to figure out how well the current vaccines work against it. Salma Abdelaziz reports.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Delhi's colorful markets are alive again. India has survived the world's worst outbreak of COVID-19, helped along by the highly transmissible Delta variant. For now the surge is under control but medical experts warn the threat is far from over.
India's health ministry is also concerned about a new variant termed the Delta plus and say it shows increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and a potential reduction in antibody response. Some Indian healthcare experts are sounding the alarm.
DR. SANDEEP BUDHIRAJA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, MAX HEALTHCARE: If a potential mutation happens, it will again be explosive can be more explosive or can be less explosive but it will lead to a clear wave.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The Delta plus variant was detected in three Indian states. But most cases are reported outside the country official said. From Japan to Poland to Portugal to Switzerland, the new variant is popping up across the globe. The United States and the U.K. appear to be the most effective with dozens of cases already.
DR. RAVI GUPTA, VIROLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE: The first of the --
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But Dr. Ravi Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, said the impact on spread is limited.
GUPTA: It does, you know, in some people help the virus to get around our immune defenses. But it only does that to a small degree and in some people. So that's why it has to be taken in context.
ABDELAZIZ: Should we be concerned about vaccine efficacy when it comes to this plus variant?
GUPTA: No, I think the Delta is not to worry about in terms of vaccine efficacy.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Even without that one additional mutation the Delta variant is a formidable enemy. The whole situation the World Health Organization said the strain is set to become the most dominant one globally and the U.S. is braced for impact.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19.
ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The British government delayed the easing of restrictions largely due to the variant. As tourism season begins, Europe is watching nervously. E.U. modeling forecasts the Delta variant will make up 90 percent of infections in the bloc by the end of August.
But as the virus morphs and mutates, experts say the best defense against it remains the same: vaccination -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.
BRUNHUBER: There's a debate here in the U.S. over whether companies can compel employees to get COVID vaccines. More than 150 hospital workers are out of a job after refusing to do so. Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas says the number includes both those who resigned and those who were terminated.
The hospital required the vaccination to keep jobs but some refused, held protests and eventually lost a battle in court. One employee preferred giving up her job to getting a vaccine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I found out they were going to mandate it, my husband and I had a very difficult conversation. I was like, OK, do I need to go ahead and do it?
I don't want to. But to keep my job, which also has insurance for our family, it was a very hard decision. I love the people that I work with. And then the connection of the patients. But we both agreed that it's not for us and there's not enough research about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Joining me from Pasadena, California, is labor law expert Thomas Lenz.
Thank you so much for being here. I want to start with the basics.
Can your employer say, get the shot or you're fired?
THOMAS LENZ, LABOR LAW EXPERT: Yes. Under federal law in the United States, an employer can require that employees receive immunization. There are a couple of exceptions related to religion or a health condition, say disability, but generally speaking, yes, an employer can require vaccination.
BRUNHUBER: Some employees are challenging this in the courts.
Do they have any chance of succeeding here?
LENZ: Well, I think that the law is pretty clear on this.
LENZ: Unless they meet one of those exceptions, they have a minimal chance of success. But I think since this issue was so politicized, it's not going to stop people from trying.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. You know, one of the thorny things many companies are grappling with then is how to identify who has been vaccinated and who hasn't.
If you're allowed to go maskless at work, only if vaccinated, how do you prove it?
Do you require people to wear a badge or a bracelet?
Can you do that?
LENZ: Well, employers can require employees to provide proof of vaccination and employers need to be careful if, let's say they obtain the card, that an employee might get after vaccination.
But frankly, most employers are choosing not to do that, because it creates employee relations problems. Employees are fearful that their privacy might be compromised. And employers often don't want to deal with the recordkeeping and keeping such information separate.
So many employers are opting to have employees self-attest instead.
BRUNHUBER: What about organizations that aren't companies?
Indiana University, a public institution, has been taken to court because students aren't allowed to go on campus unless they get the vaccine.
Do you think that will stand up in court?
LENZ: Well, that's a great question. I think that because they are attending a state university and government is subject to due process and equal protection obligations, that private companies typically are not, there is, I think, perhaps a different likelihood that they could potentially succeed.
And much is going to depend, I think, on the consistency of such rules, not only in terms of how they're written but how they're applied.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, exactly, consistency is the key here. It seems to be all over the place. Some states have strict protocols, like California, where you are. Some are going in the other direction, like Montana, which passed a law discouraging employers from asking about vaccination status.
Can they do that?
Can they stop employers from doing something that could protect the employees' health?
LENZ: It's going to create some interesting conflicts between state and federal law. I think states can certainly try. But to the extent federal law allows otherwise, I think those state enactments may well be void. BRUNHUBER: All right, so then, from an employee perspective, there's
been a lot of debate about the rights workers have to know about, outbreaks in their workplaces. And some cases workers only find out weeks or months later.
Shouldn't workers have the legal right to know especially when many people are coming back to non-socially distanced and maskless workplaces?
LENZ: Yes, I think that's a great question and I think that workers will make that case. I think it will depend on courts, very likely may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
BRUNHUBER: All right, so much still to be decided, as we try to figure our way through this. Thanks so much for shedding some light on it, Thomas Lenz, really appreciate it.
LENZ: My pleasure. Happy to help.
BRUNHUBER: The Boss is taking charge again on Broadway. Bruce Springsteen brought back his solo show to New York Saturday night, one of the first since the pandemic shut down all performances last year.
He is, as one of his songs says, "Born to Run." His run will include 30 shows until early September. Great news for his fans and fans of Broadway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here to see Springsteen on Broadway. I'm excited to see anything on Broadway. I'm so glad Broadway's back. I wasn't even going to come but I wanted to be in the audience on the first night Broadway comes back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing about the news that, you know, Springsteen was the first opening, I thought that was definitely the light at the end of the tunnel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just extra special, opening night, post pandemic, everyone's going to be pumped for the Boss. And I think that the energy that he brings is going to be truly amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Coming up, the death toll in Florida's devastating building collapse edges up, as desperate families await news of their loved ones still unaccounted for.
BRUNHUBER: Then we're hearing from the daughter of one of the missing, sharing the heartbreaking questions from her own child. That's just ahead.
BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
Returning now to Florida and the latest on the catastrophic building collapse in the city of Surfside. Search and rescue teams are again working through the night after another body was found in the rubble on Saturday. At least five people have now been confirmed dead, 156 others are still unaccounted for.
Families awaiting news of their loved ones have been gathering at the family reunification center a few blocks away from the disaster site and, after 72 hours, so many say the hardest part of it all is just not knowing. Officials are relying on DNA samples from families to help identify any victims.
As crews continue their search, the families of the missing are facing agonizing uncertainty and praying for a miracle. CNN spoke with the children of Judy Spiegel, one of the 156 people still unaccounted for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL SPIEGEL, DAUGHTER OF MISSING WOMAN: My mom is just the best person in the world. She is so caring and loving. She, like, loves my kids. And obviously, I'm dealing with my own stuff but I also have to worry about my daughter.
I have two daughters, but one's too little to really know and understand. The picture that we just saw was Scarlett with my mom.
But my daughter keeps asking. We told her last night that my mom is missing and we can't find her.
R. SPIEGEL: And she told me that, "Well, she's really good at playing hide-and-seek, so she's probably hiding in her house.
"Can I go with there with you?
"I know where she hides."
And I said, we have a lot of people helping. We told her that I've been on the news. We're doing everything that we can.
But my husband told me that, she asked again today, "Have they found Grandma? Has Mommy found Grandma?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: People are putting up pictures of the missing a few blocks away from the collapsed building and also bringing flowers and candles. Families have been gathering there, along with people devastated by what happened. CNN spoke with one of the people who helped set up the memorial wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE SOTO, MEMORIAL BUILDER: What were those families thinking for those last 10 seconds?
If they were woken up by the loud sound of the first collapse, you know, what were they thinking?
Were they able to hug their loved one?
Were they able to tell them I love you?
Were they able to recognize, this is the moment that, you know, that -- that maybe this is the last moment of our lives?
So what I am experiencing here, it's been very moving. I have seen a lot of people go up to the memorial, you know, shed tears. I have hugged a lot of people.
So it's been very moving to have a place where the community can come together, apart from everything that has to do with the government and trying to find answers and just have a place where they can have a spiritual connection with somebody else, that is also suffering with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: We have very touching pictures of firefighters honoring the victims. Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue released two photos of the chaplain and firefighters visiting the memorial site near the Champlain Towers. They prayed for strength and peace for the families affected by the collapse and the protection and endurance of those involved in the ongoing rescue efforts.
The impact of this tragedy extends far beyond South Florida. Many of those unaccounted for are from Latin American countries. Their loved ones outside the U.S. are watching the situation unfold from afar. Matt Rivers has more.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so many American families are awaiting news, any sort of word on the fate of their loved ones as a result of this partial collapse.
So, too, are dozens of Latin American families whose loved ones are among those that are missing. Remember there are multiple South American countries that have citizens that are among the dozens and dozens of people that remain unaccounted for at this point.
We've done some reporting over the last several days, talking to different family members from some of those South American countries. And the consistent theme we hear is that, among the worst of all of this is just the lack of information, the lack of any sort of news on the fates of their missing family members. We know this is an international response. Both Israel and Mexico
saying that they have sent workers, rescue workers, to try and help with the international effort, with the search and rescue effort that is currently underway in South Florida.
We also know the U.S. government, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's office trying to expedite visas for the foreign nationals who have family members who are among those missing at this juncture.
I tried to get family members the ability to even come to South Florida and be their present as these rescue efforts continue but, unfortunately, we know that the more time goes by, as each hour ticks by, the chances of finding people alive in that debris continues to go down -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.
BRUNHUBER: To learn how you can help the collapse victims and their families head to cnn.com/impact.
When we come back, a hot air balloon flight in New Mexico ends tragically after the balloon crashes to the ground, with no survivors. We'll have the latest.
And an historic heat wave is baking the northwestern U.S. We'll find out if there's any relief in sight from this record-breaking hot weather. We'll ask the man who knows -- ahead. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: U.S. authorities are investigating a deadly hot air balloon crash. The balloon went down in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday, killing five people. The crash involved power lines, temporarily knocking out electricity to 13,000 people.
The area is popular with ballooning enthusiasts. Albuquerque's mayor explained how hard the tragedy is hitting the community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR TIM KELLER (D), ALBUQUERQUE, NM: For all of us in New Mexico, you know, we think about ballooning and what it means to us. I do know that this is a tragedy that is uniquely felt and uniquely hits hard at home here in Albuquerque and in the ballooning community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are supervising the investigation. According to the NTSB data, there have been at least 12 fatal balloon crashes across the U.S. since 2008.
More than 18 million people are under excessive heat warnings across parts of the Western U.S. Portland, Oregon, hit 18 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday. Seattle, Washington, is sweltering as well, with temperatures in the triple digits. Saturday was the second hottest of all time there.
BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden is correcting course after his comments on bipartisan infrastructure bill drew swift fire from the other side of the aisle. Arlette Saenz breaks down the White House's apparent about-face.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden dove into cleanup mode Saturday after making comments earlier in the week that threatened the future of his bipartisan agreement on infrastructure.
Just hours after that agreement had been reached, the president tied that bipartisan plan to a larger reconciliation bill that's expected to just pass on Democratic votes, saying he said he would not sign one without the other, comments which really frustrated those Republican senators who had been working with him on that agreement.
Now on Saturday, the president acknowledged the frustration and said that Republicans were understandably upset.
And he added, "My comments also created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent."
The president went on to say that he fully supports that bipartisan proposal and that he intends to support it and promote it with vigor. Now the White House really jumped into damage control mode, trying to ease the concern of those Republican senators and moderate Democrats.
President Biden even holding a personal phone call with Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. And after the president's statement on Saturday, two of those senators, Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sinema, a Democrat, both tweeted out their support for that original bipartisan agreement.
Now the president is planning to take his sales pitch for this plan out on the road, giving a speech in Wisconsin on Tuesday. But really this is going to be a long road ahead as the president is trying to seek this bipartisan support for his infrastructure proposal. But it's already off to a bumpy start -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.
BRUNHUBER: An Iranian wrestler was executed after taking part in anti- government rallies. Now Iranian athletes in exile demand action against Tehran by the International Olympic Committee. Stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)
BRUNHUBER: The Tokyo Olympics are just 26 days away and organizers say they're enforcing strict measures to minimize the threat from coronavirus. The Tokyo Olympic Committee president says holding the games without any spectators remains an option.
The Olympics are supposed to be an apolitical event, with athletes free to compete without facing discrimination. But some Iranian athletes in exile say that's not how it plays out. They want the International Olympic Committee to ban Iran from participating in the games. Don Riddell asks them why.
DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The International Olympic Committee is proud of its Olympic charter which states that sports should be free and fair for all. But athletes from Iran say, that is not the case for them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARDAR PASHAE, FORMER IRANIAN WRESTLER: We had a simple question, can IOC member states torture and arrest athletes and violate the charter?
Are you doing anything to protect this athlete?
Because their rights have been discriminated every single day.
RIDDELL (voice-over): Back in 1998, Sardar Pashae was a junior world champion wrestler. He also coached the national team in Iran but constant interference from the government forced him to flee his country. He now lives in the United States.
The charter calls for a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. But many Iranian athletes say that they have been forced to lose matches or pull out of competitions because of the unwritten rule that states no athlete can share the stage with an athlete from Israel.
MAHDI JAFARGHOLIZADEH, FORMER ASIAN KARATE CHAMPION: There is somebody from Israel and we're not allowed to compete with them.
They said there is no why. You're just not allowed to do it.
And if you do it?
Your life is in your own hands. Take it or leave it. RIDDELL (voice-over): At the World Judo Championships in 2019, Saeid Mollaei was pressured to lose his semifinal match so that he wouldn't have to face Israel's Sagi Muki (ph) in the final. That led to the World Judo Federation banning Iran for four years, a key piece of evidence which this audio clip of the order being given.
ARASH MIRESMAEILI, PRESIDENT, IRAN JUDO FEDERATION (from captions): Make him understand that he has no right to compete under no circumstances. He is responsible for his actions.
RIDDELL (voice-over): The charter makes clear that sports organizations within the Olympic movement shall apply political neutrality. But Mahdi Jafargholizadeh would beg to differ.
He says his opposition to the government was known and, in 2004, he was arrested, detained and tortured for six months. Jafargholizadeh says he was accused of planning to be an Israeli spy.
JAFARGHOLIZADEH: They break my nose, many different stuff that I don't want to even talk about or I don't want to remember it.
RIDDELL (voice-over): The charter prohibits discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other. But the football player Shiva Amini says that she constantly faced discrimination as a female athlete.
And when she was picketed in 2017 without her hijab, a compulsory headscarf, she realized it would be too dangerous to return home to Iran. Ever since, she says, both she and her family have been threatened.
SHIVA AMINI, FORMER OLYMPIC ATHLETE (through translator): I get SMS messages from people, saying, "We will cut off your head and send the photo to your family."
RIDDELL (voice-over): All of these athletes now live abroad and all have united to tell the stories of Iranian athletes to the world. They've been motivated by the execution last year of wrestler Navid Afkari, who was put to death as punishment for a murder that his family and supporters say he did not commit.
RIDDELL (voice-over): On the day of the alleged crime in 2018, Afkari had been taking part in the anti-government protests that were sweeping the country. Now the campaign group United for Navid wants the world to pay attention to their plight. And they're calling on the International Olympic Committee to take action.
MASIH ALINEJAD, UNITED FOR NAVID: I strongly believe that Iranian athletes are so powerful. And they can bring change within the society because, you know, they are the true heroes. I really love them because, you know, it's a risk for them as well. Most of them, they have family inside Iran. And they know how cruel this regime is.
RIDDELL: In three separate letters sent in March and April, the campaign group has supplied case studies of 20 different athletes to the IOC. In these pages are contained testimonies of discrimination, harassment, reprisals, detention and torture.
The identities of eight athletes have been concealed because they are still living in Iran and their well-being could be in jeopardy. The IOC has not responded to CNN's request for comment. But the campaign group is calling for urgent attention. They say they are determined to keep fighting and are not afraid of the consequences.
PASHAE: Until we get an answer from the IOC we're not going to give up. This is the right thing we're doing to raise up, you know, and it's about our dignity. And we are going go to the end.
JAFARGHOLIZADEH: I died 20 years ago. If you kill me again, you just killed a dead person. I lost everything when I was in Iran, what all happened to me.
RIDDELL (voice-over): Don Riddell, CNN.
BRUNHUBER: CNN sought clarification on the government's official position. We asked, does the government of Iran acknowledge that, in the past, it hasn't allowed Iranian athletes to compete against Israelis?
And will Iranian athletes be allowed to compete against Israelis in the Tokyo Olympics?
And we haven't received a response.
I'm Kim Brunhuber. The latest on the deadly building collapse in Florida when CNN continues. Please do stay with us.