Return to Transcripts main page


Crews Dig Massive Trench to Aid Search and Rescue Efforts; Tragedy Hits Home for South Florida Jewish Community; Hungary Bans LGBTQ Contend in Schools; All-Time Temperatures Hit U.S. Pacific Northwest; Nelly Korda Wins First Major Championship. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 28, 2021 - 04:30   ET




JOSE "PEPE" DIAZ, CHAIRMAN, MIAMI-DADE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: Once we understand what actually really took place, because this is a big talk that's going on now. What took place. Once we understand, I am guaranteeing you legislation will be taking place so this will never happen again.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A solemn vow there from a Miami-Dade County Florida official as search and rescue efforts at the collapsed building enter their fifth day. Crews are sifting through piles of debris in hopes of finding survivors. More than 150 people remain unaccounted for while nine people are confirmed dead. Brian Todd has the latest now on the progress being made in the around the clock search efforts.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The grim and very dangerous work of the rescue teams is continuing 24/7. Rescue officials telling us that about 200 rescuers at a time are combing through the rubble trying to find survivors, trying to find victims to pull them out. What we've learned is that they've dug a massive trench to tunnel into the rubble, and that trench has enabled them to pull bodies out and identify people. That trench is about 125 feet long and at least 40 feet deep.

One top fire and rescue official described the trench as horrific. He also gave some bad news saying that they have not been able to find what he called the voids what they need to find, those pockets of air, pockets of space that survivors can sometimes find to find oxygen and to find space to make noise and signal rescuers. Well this top fire official told CNN that they've not been able to find the voids that they had hoped for. So that is not good news right now.

What is good news though is that they have been able to contain a fire that's been inside the rubble that took days to get to and isolate that fire. It took them a long time and that fire cause a lot of problem for rescuers. Emitting smoke and fumes and particles and they couldn't even see where they were going half the time because of that fire. But that fire has now been contained.

So, the grim work of this rescue effort continues, and municipalities all around Surfside are now taking time to inspect their buildings to make sure this kind of calamity doesn't happen in their areas.

Brian Todd, CNN, Surfside, Florida.


CHURCH: And conditions have been brutal for rescuers. The fire chief of Miami-Dade described the environment at the collapse site.


CHIEF ALAN COMINSKY, MIAMI-DATE FIRE RESCUE: It's horrific. That could be the one word that I say. Again, the whole thing collapses and one of the most difficult collapses to deal with, the operation in which we're seeing. Is just an extremely difficult situation.


CHURCH: This tragedy has struck especially hard in south Florida's Jewish community. One rabbi told CNN three generations of one family from his temple are among the missing. Members of another synagogue held a service on Sunday to pray for their community and everyone else affected. Randi Kaye has our report.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're at the Shul of Bal Harbour where they had a prayer service for the community. We've been in touch with the rabbi here, Rabbi Zalman Lipskar. And this prayer service was very important to him to bring the community together, honor the victims of this terrible condo collapse, and also, their family members. So the synagogue here, he believes, has about 20 people missing who are associated with his synagogue ranging in age from 20 years old to their 60s. And so that's why it was so important to him to bring the community together.

The rabbi actually did go and visit the rubble pile and he is also working with those families who are visiting the rubble pile, as well. And he's in touch, more importantly, with Israel's national rescue unit. They have arrived here on the site. They have ten people who have come to help dig for survivors in that rubble pile. And I spoke with the minister of Minister of Diaspora for the state of Israel.


He is heading up that unit, that delegation from Israel that is Nachman Shai, and he said that they are very hopeful. He said, 11 years ago they found someone buried in a rubble pile after 108 hours. So his team is very hopeful. They're also very confident in the work that Miami-Dade County is doing here in Florida. And he's happy to be alongside them.

He also said it's important that Israel help the United States because the United States has helped Israel so many times in the past. But the families are frustrated and the Israeli delegation is also working and talking with these families to help console them and tell them they believe that what is being done here in Florida is working and they do hope to find survivors. I'm Randi Kaye reporting in Surfside, Florida. Back to you.


CHURCH: Well CNN also spoke with a leader of another nearby synagogue, Temple Menorah. Rabbi Eliot Pearlson explained to CNN Wolf Blitzer how he's helping his congregates keep the faith.


RABBI ELIOT PEARLSON, TEMPLE MENORAH: You have to understand that I personal personally believe in God, very much so. I believe in God, I feel God's presence and I invoke my years as a rabbi, I've seen miracles occur. I've seen people that are given, you know, six weeks to live and they're still with us and danced their children's weddings. Here in South Florida -- and I tell the story many times -- I remember 30 years ago hurricane Andrew a woman and her child were found in a bathtub 100 yards away from their house days later. It happens. So I tell these people persevere and believe in God.


CHURCH: Families of the missing were able to visit the site of the collapse. The Miami-Dade County mayor spoke earlier with our Wolf Blitzer about what they're going through.


DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MAYOR OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: I think we know that in grieving there is a process and there are steps and, obviously, people are angry and frustrated. And then as they see what's being done, they see the work that is around the clock, that they believe that people are truly caring for what happens to their loved ones. It helps them to have some peace and some closure, even as they're still grieving for the potential that they'll never see their loved ones alive again.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Are they still holding out hope though do you think?

CAVA: I think some are. I think some are. But I think others are recognizing that the chances are closing and, for example, not only that bodies have been found but even body parts. And so that's really sobering news. It doesn't mean that there couldn't be a chance that there is an air pocket or a place where someone could still be rescued. So we're all holding out hope for that.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: In an op-ed, the "Miami Herald" newspaper expressed the fears that many residents of Florida high-rises are feeling right now. They wrote: If a failure like this could happen in a building constructed in 1981, what might happen in older buildings for those with delayed or shoddy maintenance? Hundreds of thousands of condo residents, perhaps even millions around the country deserve to know exactly what happened in Surfside. They need an honest, open, and urgent investigation of how our condo safeguards went so catastrophically legally wrong. This horror must never be repeated.

Hungary's Prime Minister claims he's a defender of gay rights while banning LGBTQ content from schools. Still ahead, why the government said they are no plan to reverse the country's controversial new law.



CHURCH: This was the scene in Istanbul over the weekend where police in riot gear fired tear gas into crowds to break up a pride march. Istanbul and Ankara have banned both ban pride events in recent years. Local reports said 20 people including a photojournalist were detained on Saturday after clashes between demonstrators and police.

New York City held its annual pride parade on Sunday, and it was notably smaller because of the pandemic. Organizers say this year's march was largely virtual but also missing from the crowds was the NYPD. Parade organizers banned officers from marching for the next five years after an altercation with demonstrators at an unremitted pride event last year. The city's gay officers are speaking out saying they feel caught between both groups. Not wanting to be thrown back in the closet for either aspect of their life.

Well meantime, a new law in Hungary has banned materials in schools deemed to promote LGBTQ content. A move much of Europe is speaking out against. CNN Scott McLean has our report.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the banks of the Danube River, the striking Hungarian Parliament was built more than a century ago. Another era that some say is better suited for a bill that just passed inside of it. The bill which erodes gay rights in a country where there are already precious few, passed with almost no objections inside the chamber but plenty outside.

Last week, protesters filled the streets of Budapest to rally against the bill just signed into law. It outlawed any content available to children which "portrays diversion from gender identity assigned at birth, gender alteration or homosexuality." Effectively barring any discussions on the topic inside classrooms or even in advertising like this 2019 Coke ad which was controversial in Hungary. This was all added to a bill meant to better to protect children from pedophiles, making it difficult for lawmakers to vote against. Leftist opposition parties boycotted the vote.

ATTILA KELEMEN, SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST (through translator): To mix up homosexuality with sexual crimes is disgusting.

SZEKERES ZSOLT, COORDINATOR, HUNGARIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE (through translator): Each abused child who fears asking for help because of homophobic or transphobic hatred will suffer because of those MPs who voted for his hate-provoking law proposal.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the law simply states clearly that only parents can decide on the sexual education of their children and the ban does not place limits on the content adults can view.

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted she was very concerned about the new law, saying she believes in a Europe which embraces diversity, not one which hides it from our children.

The government says it is not going to apologize for "protecting our children" and Orban himself insists that criticism of the law reinforces the Central European conviction that today's liberals are in fact communists with degrees.


MCLEAN: I wonder what you think this bill says about the direction that Hungary is headed in.

GRAEME REID, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, I think it's a continuation of what we've seen in the past. This is straight out of an autocrats label. It's part and parcel of the erosion of the rule of law and a sustained attack on human rights in Hungary.

MCLEAN (voice over): Gay people in Hungary already can't marry or adopt children. But it's not just Hungary clamping down on gay rights. Last year some Polish towns declared themselves LGBT ideology-free zone and a 2013 law in Russia banned so-called gay propaganda.

GRAEME REID, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: In Russia we had groups that billed themselves as anti-pedophile groups who targeted young gay men, would subject them to harassment and torture, filmed that and then uploaded that on to social media.

MCLEAN: You think that this law goes even further than the Russian law did.

REID: It does go further in the sense that its wording is broader than the Russian law. I expected it could have graver implications than the propaganda law in Russia.

MCLEAN (voice over): One more example of Hungary looking less and less like the rest of Europe.

Scott McLean, CNN, London.


CHURCH: The president of the Czech Republic was defending Hungary's new law with he made disparaging remarks about the transgender community. Milos Zeman said in an interview with our affiliate CNN Prima News. He finds transgender people, quote, disgusting. He also said he doesn't understand transgender people and equated gender reassignment surgery to a crime of self-harm. His remarks come as many cities and countries around the world celebrate June as pride month for the LGBTQ community.

Pope Francis has sent a letter encouraging a priest's work with the LGBTQ community. The hand-written letter in Spanish was sent to Father James Martin. He's an American Jesuit priest who works with LGBTQ Catholics. Martin posted the letter on his Twitter account. In it, the Pope thanked him for work calling him a priest for all men and women. Just as God is a father for all men and women. Pope Francis did not specifically mention the LGBTQ community in his letter.

Well, Palestinians protested for a fourth day on Sunday following the death of well-known critic of the Palestinian Authority. Hundreds of people demonstrated in Ramallah and Bethlehem in the West Bank. Police fired tear gas and scuffles broke out. Nizar Banat was an activist who accused the authority of corruption. Palestinian Authority forces arrested him on Thursday. His family said he was beaten repeatedly with a medal rod.

When we come back, a slaughtering heat wave is scorching parts of the U.S. and Canada shattering record high temperatures. We will check in with our meteorologist on whether any relief is in sight.



CHURCH: Nearly 20 million people in the Western U.S. are under excessive heat warnings. Some areas broke records on Sunday with temperatures as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 Celsius. Eugene, Oregon is one of those places. It hit an all-time high of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so hot the U.S. Olympic track and field trials had to be suspended there. The final day of the event was able to resume Sunday night.

More than 33,000 customers in Oregon are without power during this heat wave. In Portland, the extreme heat has forced officials to suspend some train and streetcar services and they're urging people not to travel unless it's an emergency.

And in Washington state, Seattle broke its all-time record high hitting 104 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday. Nearly 11,000 customers across the state are without power. Some places are offering cooling centers for anyone impacted.

Our meteorologists Pedram Javaheri joins me now. And is just extraordinary, these temperatures are unbelievable. And they're hitting some places that aren't used to this. They don't have cooling systems in their homes, in some instances.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. You know, this portion of the United States from Portland on into Seattle, top three for the least air-conditioned cities in the United States. So you put that together with not only above-average temperatures, not only historic temperatures, but if look at 120 plus years of recordkeeping and these temperatures are well above the highest observed, in some cases. And you notice places such as British Columbia with temperatures into the one teens. Hottest ever observed in Canada. And notice these heat warnings not just in Canada, not just in the United States but even as far north as the Arctic Circle. So we're talking expansive coverage with the tremendous heat that is in place.

Places such as Salem, Portland 112 and 113 degrees. Breaking records that have been standing for a couple of days in some cases, as the records initially set on Saturday across Salem are being broken. And in Portland, once in 1981, once on Saturday getting to that 180 degree mark, notice 112 on Sunday. And of course additional temperatures falling across the region as well.

But just to show you how hot it is across the atmosphere, you get up to the highest elevation Washington state has to offer, and it's the summit of Mount Rainier, high temperatures in the 60s on Sunday. Get down to 10,000, which is the Camp Muir area, that's where the base camp is, temperatures there observed at 73 degrees, 10,000 feet up into the mountain air. That is about where it should be at sea level in Seattle this time of year. If you're getting that relief 10,000 feet above the rest of the city.

So here is the perspective, highs expected to be around 108 degrees, which would be a third consecutive day where records are going to be expected in Seattle. Temps do drop off rather sharply but even still 15 to almost 20 degrees above average going into the holiday weekend. In Portland much the same, temperatures in Portland equivalent to what you did across portions of the Middle East, Abu Dhabi high temperatures around 105 degrees on Monday.


Look at where Portland is with 116. So an incredible turn here for temperatures being in a dangerous territory for the next couple of days -- Rosemary.

Unbelievable isn't it. Pedram, many thanks for bringing us up to date on that.

Well there's a new world number one after the women's PGA championship and tennis star serena Williams reveals her plans regarding the Tokyo games. CNN's Patrick Snell has that and more in our minute in sports.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well Rosemary, we start this Monday with the reflection from a history equally weekend for American golf start Nelly Korda, a breakthrough first ever career major for the 22- year-old from Florida who won the women's PGA championship Sunday right here in Atlanta. Korda who's family is one of a huge sporting pedigree, ceiling a famous three shot win and the Atlanta athletic club to overcome compatriot Lizette Salas, also recording a record equally 19 under par for the tournament. Elsewhere, and no Serena Williams at next month's Olympics in Tokyo.

The American tennis great who turns 40 later in this year, confirming she won't be traveling to Japan.

In the NBA playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks have taken a 2-1 Eastern conference final lead over the Atlanta Hawks after Sunday night's 130- 102 victory. Also here in Atlanta, game four is on Tuesday.

And at the European football championship, defending champs Portugal and super star Cristiano Ronaldo have been eliminated by top tanked men's team in the world, Belgium. This in the round of 16. Later today Croatia-Spain, world champion's France facing Switzerland. And with that, Rosemary, is right back to you.


CHURCH: And we thank you so very much, Patrick.

And thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Be sure to connect with me on Twitter @RosemaryCNN. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a wonderful day.