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Calm is Back in Ethiopian Capital; Villagers Held Mass Burial for Loved Ones; Families of Miami Condo Hope for Miracles; Foreign Rescuers Help to Find Survivors; COVID Cases in Russia Picking Up Due to Delta Variant; South Africa in Dire Need of Vaccine; Florida Condo Collapse, Families Demand Answers As Rescue Efforts Enter Day 6; Disaster Raises Questions About Safety Of Similar Buildings; Coronavirus Pandemic, Australia Under Lockdown; Singapore Lays Out Plan To Live Normally With COVID-19; U.K. Government Planning To Lift COVID Restrictions; North Korea's Rare Public Acknowledgement; Communist Party Parties; Rockets Fired At U.S. Military Base In Syria; Historic Heat Wave Hits Western U.S. and Canada; Railway Arch Fire As Firefighters Battle The Rage. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 29, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, after months of fighting, Ethiopian troops pull out of Tigray's biggest city and the government announces a ceasefire.

New photos taken inside of Miami condo building, just hours before it collapsed. What they reveal about conditions in part of the context.

And the new COVID normal, Singapore says it will learn to live with the virus in a post pandemic world. We will tell you how.

Thanks for being with us.

The regional government of Tigray says its forces have broken the backbone of the Ethiopian army. In a sudden turn of events, the former rulers of the region say they are back in control of the capital Mek'ele after the Ethiopian military withdrew. And the Ethiopian government has now declared an immediate, unilateral ceasefire until the end of the farming season in late September.

But a spokesman for the Tigray People's Liberation Front says the conflict is far from over. The Ethiopian army with help from Eritreans has been fighting the TPLF for nearly eight months. The brutal war has killed thousands of civilians, forced millions from their homes and has left many in dire need of food.

Last week, seeing one of the deadliest attacks of the conflict when a government airstrike on a market killed at least 30 people. A CNN investigation in April in collaboration with Amnesty

international exposed the massacre perpetrated by Ethiopian soldiers. In the mountains of the Tigray region, where government troops have been battling regional forces.

Now CNN has obtained and verified new images confirming not only the identity of the victims, but the army unit of the perpetrators. And we have to warn you the images you're about to see are disturbing, but important. Painting a picture of extraordinary impunity.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): One by one, they enter the church. Carrying in stacks all that's left of loved ones executed by Ethiopian soldiers. Villagers risking their lives to retrieve these remains, but this was not just about closure, this is just press evidence of a January massacre.

Throughout the months long conflict in its Tigray region, Ethiopia has promised to hold all who break the law accountable, but they haven't. We must warn you what you are about to see and hear is horrifying.

This is how many saw their loved ones for the first time, some beheaded, others burned beyond recognition. For six months families have been denied access to the execution site by Ethiopian soldiers. The remains tell a grim story. Corroborating CNN's original investigation in collaboration with Amnesty International, this is the old footage of the massacre first broadcast in April.

We can't show you the moment of execution but in the aftermath, this soldier tosses a jacket. Notice the black and gray color scheme and the bloodstain. Same jacket, same bloodstain. The man who took this picture confirm this jacket belong to his brother which he found at the massacre site.

This video of bullet casings was also filmed at the site last week by family members and sent to CNN. We asked forensic experts to analyze the casings. They confirmed they were in line with bullets Ethiopian soldiers would use. The video also reveals the location. The same location as the execution site, notice the distinctive ridge in this new footage, and now in the footage shot by soldiers during the execution.

We also verify the digital footprint, it's a match. Crucially, locals say they have collected 36 I.D. cards from the scene, but the 37 more people remain missing. Indicating the massacre could have been much larger than previously suspected.


They believe the desecration of the bodies was a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence in the aftermath of our investigation. And more video has emerged to shed light on the perpetrators. Given to CNN by a pro Tigray organization based in the U.S. it revealed the nickname of the whistleblower. But more importantly, the rank and division of the unit committing crimes. UNKNOWN (on screen text): As you can see, we have killed them and the

TPLF bodies are scattered everywhere.

ELBAGIR: That's the voice of the Ethiopian soldier turned whistleblower.

UNKNOWN (on screen text): I am the one who is recording and filming this video for you. My name is Fati.

ELBAGIR: He names himself in the video twice and names his unit and division. Enough evidence for the Ethiopian government to pursue an investigation, but none has been confirmed. The whistleblower gives his phone to another soldier, so he can also be filmed carrying out an execution.

With this level of detail now revealed, we ask the Ethiopian government whether they have investigated and punished the perpetrators. We received no response.

After the ceremony at the church the families gather to bury the dead in a mass grave. Their grief, they say, inflamed by their government's inaction. The identities of the victims unknown, the division of the perpetrators is known. Hard to imagine how that inaction can be justified.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


CHURCH (on camera): It is just past three in the morning in South Florida where families and rescue crews are holding out hope that they might find someone still alive in the rubble of Champlain Towers South. But that hope is fading with each passing hour.

The death toll stands at 11, with 150 people still missing. Teams are searching around the clock but no survivors have been found since Thursday. Family, friends, and neighbors, holding a vigil on the beach near the building, as one says, praying for a miracle.

Miami-Dade County's mayor says it's a painful time for everyone.


MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: So, we have people waiting, and waiting, and waiting for news. That is excruciating. We have them been coping with the news that they might not have their loved ones come out alive, and still hope against hope that they will. They are learning that some of their loved ones will come out as body parts. I mean, this is -- this is the kind of information that is just excruciating for everyone. And they know that we are working around the clock on the search and rescue efforts.


CHURCH (on camera): The question on the minds of those family members facing the loss of a loved one is how this could've happened. But experts warn it could take months to find out the exact cause.

CNN's Boris Sanchez has more.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We do obviously need to identify why this happened.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Urging patients, officials in Surfside, Florida vowing to get answers tonight.

DESANTIS: It is something that is going to be through and it is something that is not going to happen in a day or two. This is going to take a long time. That's the time horizon they work on.

SANCHEZ: As rescue crews race to save lives, investigators and engineers studying the potential causes of Thursday's collapse. A report done three years ago by a consulting company hired by the Condo Associations is raising serious questions.

And engineer describing major structural damage to the concrete slab under the entrance drive and the pool. The report said, quote, "the waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive, as well as all of the planter waterproofing is beyond its useful life, and therefore must all be completely removed and replaced."

The 2018 survey called for quick repairs to prevent bigger problems. Warning, quote, "failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially."

Documents obtained by CNN show condo owners were facing assessments for $15 million in repairs. Payments were supposed to begin just days after the building collapsed. The report was sent to a surfside building official Rosendo Prieto who two days later assured residents the tower was in very good shape according to meeting minutes obtained by CNN.

The engineering firm Morabito Consultants said it had been retained this month by the Condo Association for the building's massive repair project. The company says roof repairs are taking place at the time of the collapse, but concrete restoration had not yet started.


Residents also voiced concerns about water leaking and cracked concrete in the garage. With the tower frequently shaking amid construction next door. Prieto who no longer works for the city of Surfside has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment. Though James Cohen, an engineer who studied these kinds of collapses for 40 years, says the report did not include key details about the buildings foundation and didn't indicate any immediate danger.

JAMES COHEN, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: There's nothing I saw that would suggest that people needed to vacate the building. The inspection did not include the foundations, which would be covered by a slab. It may have been prudent to open up the slab, to see how things were doing below where one could see.


SANCHEZ (on camera): A note on those assessments for $15 million in repairs, the condo owners actually approve that plan back in April, and they were set to make payments on it on July 1st. Exactly one week after the building came crashing down.

Boris Sanchez, CNN, Surfside, Florida.

CHURCH: And as the rescue efforts continue, the families of the missing are keeping vigil waiting for any news of their loved ones.

And earlier, CNN's Don Lemon spoke with Rachel Spiegel, her mother Judy still has not been found.


RACHEL SPIEGEL, MOTHER MISSING IN SURFSIDE BUILDING COLLAPSE: We hope and pray that my mom is alive under the rubble but we know that the odds are against us. We know that there is fire. We know that there is smoke. We know that there is rain. We know that there is time. There is thunder.

There is so many things that are against us and we're keeping up hope and we will keep up hope until we have an answer but the reality is that, if we need to consider that things are really bad, we want a body. We want -- we want confirmation.

I don't -- I don't think that it's -- that the city or the team is withholding anything. I don't. I just think they don't have it. And, you know, but that's what we want as a family and as a -- in order to grieve, like, we want something confirmed.


CHURCH (on camera): Meanwhile, dozens of families are enduring the agonizing wait for answers from afar.

CNN's Matt Rivers reports from Mexico City.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN has been talking to various families from Latin American countries who have their loved ones that remain unaccounted for at this point after the partial collapse. And a common theme that we've heard from these people is that it's the not knowing exactly what happened to their loved ones that's the worst part at this point. Or at least part of how terrible all of this is for these families.

I think many of the families that have spoken to CNN are realistic about the chances of finding their loved ones alive. They know that the more times goes the less of a chance they have to find their family members amidst that debris. But still, so many people are saying we just want more information. If it's not closure, at least it's some idea of the fate of their family members. And there are some groups here in Latin America that are trying to

help those people understand what happened to their family members. There is people here in Mexico known as Los Topos which means the moles. And these are experts in search and rescue, especially in building collapses like the one that we saw in Miami.

Mexico is a country that has unfortunately a lot of experience with collapses like this because of how earthquake prone this country is. Los Topos have a lot of experience going through this debris. And members of the group called Los Topos Azteca actually have members in Miami right now offering their assistance to authorities in South Florida, to help see if they can find anyone alive even if that could be a miracle at this point.

The head of that group talking to CNN earlier in the day on Monday, basically saying look, if there is even a small chance that they might be able to help find someone alive, they want to be part of that effort.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

CHURCH: Coming up here on CNN Newsroom, Russia boasted that it was first to develop a vaccine. Now, coronavirus deaths are rising to record levels in its cities. We will go live to Moscow for the latest details.

Plus, South Africa battles a third wave of COVID-19. We will hear from a doctor about how the country's medical system is handling the pressure.



CHURCH (on camera): The World Health Organization is warning people not to let their guard down against the coronavirus, saying the highly dangerous Delta variant and others pose a significant risk even to those who are vaccinated. The WHO's top scientist says vaccines only provide up to 90 percent protection against COVID variants.


SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN, CHIEF SCIENTIST, WHO: Everyone should recognize this pandemic is not over. The virus hasn't gone, in fact, it's looking for opportunity to spread and to change itself, mutate and develop new variants. So, I think this is the time precaution. It's not that nobody can travel or do anything, but this is really not the time for us to encourage a lot of social mixing, to encourage mass events, especially without precautions.


CHURCH (on camera): And here you can see where cases are spiking worldwide. Russia, Australia, Bangladesh, and parts of Africa are among the hardest hit areas. So, as you have just seen from that map the virus is wreaking havoc in Russia. On Monday, Moscow and St. Petersburg reported new daily records for

deaths and vaccination rates in the country are very low.

For more, CNN's Matthew Chance joins us live from Moscow. Good to see you, Matthew.

So, Russia was very quick to claim to be the first with a COVID vaccine. So, why are Russians reluctant to get vaccinated? And what is the latest on the spike in infections and of course these record deaths?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and it was the first to register a vaccine for public use back in August of last year. With its COVID -- with its, you know, with its Sputnik V vaccine that it developed here in Moscow. And so that's a fact.

The reason for the fact that not many people have taken it up are much more complex, though. There are about mistrust in the country's health care service, they are about, you know, kind of, lots of internet conspiracies have rally taken a grip here about the potential impact of the vaccination, theories that have been discredited, you know, among scientists.

But it still led to the situation in Russia where you've got this extraordinarily low rate of vaccine uptake, it's hovering somewhere around 11 percent. And we look at other countries like in Britain and the United States it is much, much higher than that for their adult population.

Coupled with that a kind of laissez-faire cavalier attitude, I think in the last several months at least towards precautions in cafes, in the streets, and things like that has led to this, you know, really dangerous spike in coronavirus infections. And so, the last couple of days you've seen some of the highest numbers of deaths because of COVID-19 in Moscow, the capital, and in St. Petersburg. There's been more than 611 deaths in the past 24 hours. And rates of infection also at an all-time-high across the country.

Ans so the authorities have kind of been forced to act. I mean, for months they have been trying to tempt people to control them into getting the vaccination. Offering them sort of prizes in some instances like cars and tickets to the theater and things like that to have the vaccination. But that hasn't really worked because of the reasons I've set out.


And so what they have done now is said, look, the vaccination is still voluntary but if you are in a public service -- public service industry like in transport industry or in the catering industry, or in the hospitality industry or anything like that, then if you don't have the vaccine by the middle of July then you have to look for work in another area of the economy.

So, basically, they are giving people an ultimatum, saying that look, if you work in these areas of the public facing areas of the Russian economy and you don't have a vaccine in the next couple of few weeks, and basically you are out of the job. And so even though it's still theoretically a voluntary vaccine situation that we have here in Russia, actually, you know, if you want to keep your job, you know, it's compulsory.

CHURCH: All right. Matthew Chance bringing us the latest on the situation joining us from Moscow. Many thanks.

Well thousands of demonstrators, many from the Economic Freedom Fighters party marched in South Africa on Friday. They are demanding a faster COVID vaccine rollout. The country is in the middle of a two- week lockdown facing its third wave of the coronavirus. South Africa's government has responded with its toughest pandemic restrictions yet including bans on the sale of alcohol and any gatherings except for funerals. For many South Africans it's a grim outlook.


UNKNOWN: I think everybody should be afraid of the variant. It is killing people by the thousands. So, my opinion is everybody should be scared. Because the variant is taking -- is frankly taking over our lives.

UNKNOWN: Yes, I'm very much afraid of COVID. It is alive. A lot of people say it's not alive but I've lost a lot of relatives, friends of mine which I have lost.

UNKNOWN: I can tell you this thing is very dangerous. I mean, even in the location you are not safer. You are not safe anywhere you go, you're not safe really.


CHURCH (on camera): And for more on this, I'm joined by Dr. Sheri Fanaroff, a family physician in Johannesburg. Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: So, doctor, the spike in COVID infections across South Africa is putting a strain on the medical system there. How bad is the situation in Johannesburg's hospitals?

FANAROFF: The Johannesburg is in Gauteng. Our smallest province and we have 60 to 70 percent of the infections in South Africa at the moment. Our hospitals are overwhelmed. Private hospitals are full. Our ICU's and our health care centers do not have beds available for sick patients. Public hospitals are also full, and every day there are more and more cases. So, Johannesburg really is under tremendous pressure at the moment.

CHURCH: A very grim situation. So, what is the solution to the COVID vaccine supply problem across South Africa? And indeed, the African continent?

FANAROFF: Unfortunately, our vaccine rollout has been extremely slow. At the moment, most of our health care workers are vaccinated. Some of our over 60-year-olds are all vaccinated but it comes down to less than 3 percent of South Africans having received a vaccine so far.

So, you know, we are not (Inaudible) of the vaccines. Of those three million people who have had a vaccine many of them have only had one dose of Pfizer which as you know doesn't give full protection. So, you know, in the midst of the third wave we come for that on vaccine protection at this stage.

CHURCH: And when do you see more of the vaccine arriving there in South Africa? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel here?

FANAROFF: So, it's a very slow process unfortunately. And you know, the government have tried, we have got vaccines in that it's just a slow process than others. Being much too slow.

CHURCH: And doctor, until there is enough vaccine supply for every one people will need to wear masks and practice social distancing and hand hygiene. Lockdowns will be a common occurrence clearly. Is that message getting through to everyone? Or is there some resistance when it comes to masks and social distancing?

FANAROFF: I think that masks in some areas are well received and well worn. In other places it just doesn't happen. It's quite difficult to police areas that are very full and very busy. And in South Africa in general the rules are very difficult to enforce. So, we have labeled full lockdown now which hopefully will be a circuit breaker and will slow down the rate of infections that we're seeing.


Unfortunately, it's just a little bit too late in Gauteng and we had exponential growth with the Delta variant that's taken over. So, you know, as you see it before I came on, restaurants are closed which is a huge strain on the economy and (Inaudible) in terms of slowing down the number of infections that we are seeing.

CHURCH: And doctor, you mentioned that you, and the doctors and nurses and other health workers have been vaccinated. But how are you and your colleagues holding up under this incredible situation?

FANAROFF: I can talk on behalf of general practitioners in Johannesburg. We are taking a huge amount of strain. We all have dozens and sometimes hundreds of patients who we are looking after at home. In general, we need to monitor these patients really closely. We need to check for deterioration. We need to try and organize oxygen at home and sometimes we need to try and find them a hospital bed.

But in general, as general practitioners, we are trying to treat our patients well at home for as long as possible simply because they are urging hospital resources. My hospital colleagues are taking enormous strain, they are completely overwhelmed.

CHURCH: We are so sorry to hear it. And of course, sadly, it is a story we keep hearing again and again as this virus sweeps across the globe. Dr. Sheri Fanaroff, thank you so much for talking with us. We do appreciate it and appreciate you.

FANAROFF: Thank you.

CHURCH: And coming up here on CNN Newsroom, as investigators begin unraveling exactly how that South Florida condo tower collapsed, work is already underway to make sure it doesn't happen anywhere else.

Also, ahead, coming to terms with COVID-19. Singapore lays out a post- pandemic plan on how to live normally with the virus. We'll explain.


CHURCH (on camera): We want to get you up to speed on the race to find survivors kin South Florida. Officials say the death toll in the Surfside building collapse has risen to 11, with 150 people still unaccounted for as of Monday.

Rescue workers including international teams from Mexico and Israel are working through the night. They're using dogs to scour the rubble, hoping to pick up any scent or sound that might lead to a living victim.


But as rescue efforts stretch into a 6th day, the chance of finding survivors fades. And families are growing more impatient for answers.


PABLO RODRIGUEZ, MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER MISSING: It is very difficult, not knowing, and really the only hope I have is that finally we can have some kind of proper burial, some kind of closure. And hope that they investigate this and that the people responsible are held to be responsible, or are held to be accountable so that this never happens again.


CHURCH: More disturbing information is coming to light about the condition of the building, in the days prior to the collapse. The Miami Herald, obtained new pictures of damage at the condo taken by a contractor, only 36 hours before it fell. A reporter, who broke the story, spoke earlier to CNN.


AARON LEIBOWITZ, REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: We spoke to a contractor who was working through our company that was bidding to renovate the Champlain Tower south, the pool, as part of their 40-year recertification process. And on Tuesday, two days before the collapse, he did a walkthrough of the property initially walked through the lobby, walkthrough the pool area, didn't notice anything particularly alarming. He was being escorted by a building employee, who then walked him downstairs to the north part of the building, and the garage below. And that's where he told us that he saw deep standing water in the

parking garage that he found it odd and concerning, he asked the employee what it was about at the time, the employee said it was probably a waterproofing issues that was going to be fixed. Then, he was lead over to the south side, underneath the pool area, still in the garage, to wear the pool equipment room once.

And inside that room, he saw major concrete sprawling, exposed rebar in one of the beams there. He found it alarming enough that he snapped photos, actually sent them to his boss at the time, to say, you know, this project might actually cost a little bit more than we initially thought. That particular area was actually not what collapse, but what experts tell us is that the photos looked quite bad, and it could be indicative of significant issues in the rest of the building.

And we know from a 2018 report that waterproofing issues from the pool deck that were affecting the concrete in the garage were significant concerns, at least three years ago.


CHURCH: And CNN has, independently reached out about the report, and a spokesperson for the Champlain Tower South Condo Association declined to comment.

Well, this disaster is also raising concerns about the safety of similar buildings in the area. CNN's Brian Todd, takes a look at what is being done to make sure this doesn't happen again.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Municipalities on the Florida coast are scrambling to make sure the kind of collapse that happens in Surfside doesn't happen to them. CNN got exclusive access to the re-inspection and repairs going on at the Winston Towers complex, in Sunny Isles beach just and a few miles north of Surfside. We saw worried residents, complaining about the red tape.

UNKNOWN: We didn't get marching orders for 40 years (inaudible).

TODD: There are seven buildings in this complex, each either the same age or older than the condo that collapsed in Surfside, each more than 20 stories tall with at least 250 units in every building. Inspectors show us the damage inside the parking garage right under the pool deck, a layout similar to the Champlain Tower's complex.

UNKNOWN: Similar design.

TODD: The pool water drained for this repair. There are columns and concrete floors cracking, rusted rebar and cables that support the concrete. Inspector Robert Conde looks at a support column that needs repair.

When you look at this now, given what happened at Champlain, how big a concern is this?

ROBERT CONDE, INSPECTOR: It's a big concern.

TODD: Why?

CONDE: Because it could fail and people could die.

TODD: These inspectors emphasize this is normal wear and tear for buildings like this and it doesn't mean the building is in imminent danger of collapse. Still, the work will have to be done to prevent a repeat of the Surfside collapse. A contractor points to something he's concerned about.

CONDE: The chlorine from the pool has deteriorated the reinforcing and the post tension cable in these areas. So that's why we have a massive repair underneath this pool.

TODD: And Sunny Isles Beach's Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin points out, if the owners of each unit who have to pay for repairs.

UNKNOWN: These buildings are up against a huge assessment potentially up to $25,000 apiece. These is where our families live and middle class or working class, the people that are working in the restaurants, all the kids that go to the school, all the kids that would normally use this pool. These people are not in a situation where they are able to afford that kind of money.


TODD: Brian Todd, CNN, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.


CHURCH: In Australia, more than 10 million people, that is more than a third of the entire population will soon be under lockdown. Authorities are enforcing stay at home orders before of the eight capital cities, the latest state to impose restrictions is Queensland, after reporting two new locally transmitted cases and two acquire from overseas.

In New South Wales, the premier says people will have to live differently until more are fully vaccinated. It's currently home to an outbreak that started in Bondi, now up to at least 141 infections. Australia has given more than 7 million vaccine shots, but less than 5 percent of its population are fully vaccinated.

Well, Singapore is looking to take a different approach to life amid the pandemic. Their goal? Living normally with COVID-19, as they accept that the virus is not going away. Reporter, Manisha Tank, joins us now with details. It's good to see you, Manisha. So, how does Singapore plan to live normally with COVID-19? What does that mean exactly?

MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST (on camera): Yes, well that has been an operative question, since we saw this op-ed come out a few days ago. The roadmap really points to a situation in which most people here will be vaccinated. So by August 7th, Singapore wants to see at least two thirds of the population vaccinated, and this is really key to this roadmap and to this living with COVID plan.

What they've done in this op-ed is talk about COVID-19, as being endemic in the same way we think of flu, hand foot and mouth disease, or chicken, pox all of which you can receive a vaccine for. So, when it comes to vaccinations, there is also talk in this right up about the idea of having multiyear vaccination programs, where you will get booster shots to cover you for COVID 19.

Of course, it does cite variance and on that note, one of the reasons this has come out is because it has been an acceptance that with the Delta variant, in particular, which is highly transmissible, they will need to admit that they cannot keep cases at zero. So, this is why we have to learn to live with it.

Another key (inaudible) of this plan, is around testing. That is to make test much more readily available, so that you can literally, daily test for COVID, if you need to. So, you could pick them up in pharmacies, for example. They've been rolled out rolled out across employers as well, to make them far more accessible.

Singapore, also working on the tech. So, for example, breathalyzer testing are in the pipeline, which could be done within minutes. You would know and really (inaudible) that you would self-isolate. A lot of questions have circled around, what is really a financial hub for Asia in terms of travel. What would this mean for travel? This is mentioned in this latest roadmap that's been issued, and Singapore has said that it will recognize vaccine -- vaccinations from other countries, various certificates, and this is certainly, for countries which have this virus under control.

But what this hasn't said is whether or not life right now is going to change. It still encourages social responsibility, distancing, the wearing of masks, and the observation of all of these meme and restrictions to control the massive spread of this. But it really does hinge on vaccinations.

And the reason why bring it back to that, is because if we compared it to some other financial hubs here in Asia, for example, Hong Kong, we are still seeing difficulty in vaccine uptake. Singapore, itself, is surrounded by Malaysia, Indonesia, but we are still seeing cases that are soaring, and lower vaccine uptake, in terms of percentage of the population.

So, there is still a long road here, Rosemary, and a lot of work to be done. But, this feels like a milestone, in terms of the next stage of how you handle a virus like this.

CHURCH: So, is there much vaccine hesitancy at all, across Singapore?

TANK: Not particularly. And what we have seen is that there's been quite an uptake. It's actually had been boosted now, where vaccinations are being opened up to those who are over the age of 12. So, those over the age of 12, all the way up to age of 39 and, now able to access vaccinations, and there is, obviously, a sense of people getting vaccines -- excuse me, pandemic fatigue, this is a term that we've heard in the international media quite a bit. And there is an urgency, and people are being encourage to remember

that this doesn't mean that you can let your guard down in any way. So, the uptake has been there, the success rates are coming in, for example in comparison to Hong Kong. Singapore is at least doubled in the terms of the number of people who have got those two doses.

All of this, of course, subject to supplies, and so that rollout is continuing. T's been happening in schools. So, Singapore does feel very much feel like it is on target to meet that August 7 outcome. But of course as we had been hearing in the experience of Australia, you know, this are countries that are all at different levels, and I am just going to that point about travel. It will only work, if we're all on the same page, and this of course, is something that that World Health Organizations has been talking about too.


CHURCH: Yeah. That is critical, of course. Manisha Tank joining us live from Singapore, many thanks. In the U.K., COVID cases have been rising in recent days, but the government is pushing ahead with plans to lift its final restrictions, in just three weeks. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has the details.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): We are going to stay the course. That was a message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the final easing of lockdown restrictions, set to expire on July 19th. The Prime Minister saying that is very likely to take place, and according to his conversation with scientific advisers, he sees no reason why normal life, or something close to normal life, cannot begin to resume after that July 19's day.

This is also the date that the new health secretary took his post, Sajid Javid coming to the job over the weekend, after the previous health Secretary, Matt Hancock was forced to resign, for breaching social distancing guidelines. Hancock was caught, in leaked video, kissing an aide, that's caused a firestorm of criticism, across the country, but of course, all of that is put aside today when Health secretary, Sajid Javid addressed M.P.'s in parliament.

He says, he sees his new mission, in this new post, as restoring civil liberties. As bringing back the economic and cultural freedoms that make this country great. And he says, that all comes down to the vaccination program.

SAJID JAVID, U.K. HEALTH SECRETARY: The more people that are getting vaccinated, we are seeing clear evidence that we are breaking the link, and this is absolutely crucial. We are breaking the link between people and getting infected by COVID-19. So the number of cases versus those who are actually ending up in the hospital.

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): Now, the Delta variant, the variant first identified in India has posed a great challenge to health officials across this country. And so far, it accounts for about 95 percent of cases across the country. And while the authorities say that this is still a concern July 19th. That is still the date that these restrictions and rules will expire. But now, the Health Secretary saying, the goal is to get more people vaccinated with boost shots. He wants to see two thirds of adults, received both doses of the vaccine, by July 19th. That should provide adequate protection to begin to resume normal life again. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And coming up here on CNN Newsroom, cities across China, lit up in red lights, as a communist Party celebrates a century of existence. A live report, just ahead.

And, North Korea, takes the unusual step of publicly commenting on the health of its leader, and changes in his appearance.



CHURCH: It's a celebration of century in the making in China, despite fierce criticism for its handling of COVID-19 and human rights abuses, over the past year, the communist party is marking its 100th anniversary. President Xi Jinping, has been on hand for fireworks, and other massive displays, leading up to the official anniversary on Thursday.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout, joins us now from Hong Kong to talk more about this. Good to see you Kristie. So, what would be the highlight of the celebrations, and how much of this is about sending a message to China's many critics across the globe?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, it is about sending a message, but sending a message of strength and unity to people inside China. The intended audience here is very much a domestic audience. Look, on Thursday China will be marking the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party but the celebrations have already started. On Monday, light shows taking place in cities across China.

Also on Monday night, big celebrations of power technique displays at the Bird's Nest stadium, or the national stadium, that is the iconic centerpiece arena built for the 2000 Beijing Olympic Games. And, earlier today, we saw Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was also the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, hand out these July 1st awards, and medals to outstanding Communist Party members.

He gave a speech at the Great Hall, the people commending the award winners for their selflessness and their humility of the big event takes place, of course, this Thursday. And ahead of that day, the Chinese central government is not taking any chances.

Traffic has been shut down in the Chinese capital, with police on standby, with road blockades. There has been a ramping up of security, ramping up of surveillance as well. Covert rehearsal had been underway. We have seen this type of micromanagement before in previous big anniversary events in China. For example, in 2019, I was in Beijing for the national day October one holiday, which is also the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

But, this is different. This, here, is the Chinese Communist Party Centennial. This is a very big messaging opportunity, again, for that domestic audience inside China, about the Party and its legitimacy. Take a listen to this.


GRAEME SMITH, FELLOW DEPARTMENT OF PACIFIC AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: How do you prove that you are the legitimate government of China? You do so by putting on an enormous show to remind people of what you have given them. So you have lifted them out of poverty, you have given them economic growth, and you have restored China to its central place in the world.


LU STOUT: Graeme Smith, the Australian National University there, and the messaging is everywhere in China. You see banners and slogans out in the streets, but also in the virtual world as well. When you talked to our colleagues in Beijing, they say that if you fire up an app or you go to a website, even an online shopping platform, you will see banners advertising the Centennial of the Chinese Communist Party.

You are also seeing it outside mainland China. In fact, here in Hong Kong, where there are banners, slogans, posters, praising 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party. Even the iconic trams that travel through Hong Kong, are entirely decked out in red, marking 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party. This is unprecedented sight in Hong Kong. It is something that we have never seen before. Back to you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Alright. Kristie Lu Stout, bringing us the latest there from Hong Kong, I appreciate it.

Well, state media in North Korea say, people there are heartbroken when they see Leader, Kim Jong-un, after his apparent sudden weight loss. It is a rare public acknowledgment from the regime on the health of its leader. CNN's Paula Hancocks has more.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It is highly unusual for anyone in North Korea to talk about the health of the leader, Kim Jong-un. And yet here, we actually have a, quote from an unnamed individual, being interviewed for a news program on state run media. Talking about the fact that Kim Jong-un has lost weight, talking about how disappointed and how upset he was, when he saw images. Let's listen to what he said.

UNKNOWN (through translator): The people, including myself, were most heartbroken when we saw the respective general secretary looking gaunt. Everyone said it brought them to tears.

HANCOCKS: Now this is a very rare acknowledgment, but the fact is, the state run media is highly choreographed, it is highly edited, and quite, often it is used to put up messages to an international audience. This is more likely to be for domestic consumption. It is an acknowledgment to the people of North Korea, that yes, Kim Jong-un has lost weight and is visibly thinner.

We saw him on June 4th, at a (inaudible) meeting, and he hadn't been seen for around a month before that, at least publicly. And, his appearance was not changed. Now that's not the first time they've spoken about his health back in 2014, when he was not seen again in public. In fact, for the longest time to date. And then he reappeared with a cane, and physically limping. State run media did acknowledge that he is feeling unwell.


So, it is not unheard of, but it is very unusual, and those who follow North Korea very closely, experts are wondering, why they have decided to publicly acknowledge this? There has been speculation on the fact that, Kim Jong-un just recently has spoken of food insecurity in North Korea as well, and of tough times coming ahead, something that has been corroborated by the United Nations and by other bodies, and reports.

So, the speculation is are the two linked? Now, of course, I have to stress, this is all speculation. Why Kim Jong-un has lost the weight, and why North Korea has decided to publicly acknowledge this. And it will remain speculation until North Korea decides that it wants to clarify the matter and quite frankly they are highly unlikely to want to clarify the matter. So, it may be that we don't learn much more. Paula Hancocks, CNN, South Wales.


CHURCH: U.S. Forces came under rocket fire in eastern Syria on Monday. A U.S. defense official says the rockets were likely launched by Iranian-backed militias, operating in eastern Syria near Deir Ezzor. There were no injuries among U.S. troops. The attack came just hours after U.S. air strikes on Iranian-backed militia groups in the region. This video, from a pro militia social media channel, allegedly shows the aftermath. U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, defended the action on Monday.


ANTHONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We took necessary, appropriate, delivered action that is designed to limit the risk of escalation. But also, to send a clear and unambiguous, deterrent message. This action, in self-defense, to do what is necessary to prevent further attacks. I think, sends a very important and strong message. And, I hope, very much, that it is received by those who were intended to receive it.


CHURCH: And still to come, record high temperatures are scorching major cities in the Western U.S., and parts of Canada. The latest on the intense heat, coming up.


CHURCH: Many Canadians are trying to stay cool as temperatures soar and in some cases, hit all-time highs. The country's highest ever recorded temperature came on Monday, in one small village. Over 117 degrees Fahrenheit, or 47 Celsius.

And, Canada isn't alone. Record high temperatures, are also being reported across the western U.S. in major cities, including Seattle, where the high reach 107 Fahrenheit, Monday. More than 20 million people in the western U.S. are under excessive heat warnings or advisories, stretching from the Mexico border, all the way up to Canada.

So let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, who has been watching all of this very closely. Good to see you, Pedram. So how much longer will people be exposed to these extreme, record breaking, temperatures? Particularly those not used to these hot conditions, and many don't even have their own air conditioning?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): you know, at least one more day, Rosemary. We got to get through Tuesday, then temperature cools off significantly, and it still going to stay above average. But it will cool off significantly from these historic values.


And you notice, these high temperature, the warmest, the state of Washington in particular has ever seen, a 48 degree afternoon coming in across the Dallas port area, which is the southern Washington state, that as it comes in with the highest observation on record. And you know the community in Canada, in British Columbia with that 47.7 observation, comparable to what is happening in Baghdad. Kind of give you a sense of scale of an area that has a lush landscape, a lot of foliage, a lot of trees, and is able to absorb a lot of the radiation that comes in from the sun.

So, it says quite a bit when you are able to see the atmosphere warm up to these values, where in areas such as a desert landscape in Baghdad, can be easily heat to those values this time of year. But here we go, widespread coverage if excessive heat (inaudible) you to Washington, a 44-degree observation, the reason that is impressive, that community sees on average, eight feet of rain every single year.

Their average temperature in late June, is 18 degrees and they topped up at 44 degrees. So, an incredible disparity between where it should be, and where it has been in the last couple of days, as far as temperatures are concerned. And you noticed from Sunday into Monday, the observations, 18 to 20, all-time record temperatures are set across the Pacific Northwest.

And Rosemary, you are asking when it is going to cool off? Well, there is a 36 degree (inaudible) which is just shy of 100, that is excessively hot for this region. But, it does cool back down, and unfortunately by cooling back down, we are talking about the 30s, it tries to go back up again towards the holiday weekend.

But you'll notice, it almost seems like the new normal, at least this particular summer here is going to keep us well above average for the foreseeable future. That is across portions of the northwest, on into the northeast, heat indices here above 100 Fahrenheit, or around 40 degrees Celsius. And we take a look at this, the next several days, the north eastern U.S., it does see some relief with temperatures coming back down to reality. It could be back into the 20s there around New York City by later in the week.

Lastly it will leave you with what's happening across the tropics, near the coastal region of Georgia and South Carolina. We had a tropical system make landfall, a very weak one. A kind of a homegrown system, meaning it formed just offshore, as it was moving ashore. And this is what is left of tropical depression Danny, the storm, kind of raining itself out. And you see where Danny is, there is potential that Elsa, is in the works across the Caribbean, over the next week, Rosemary. So the tropical season also beginning to heat up.

CHURCH: Just incredible, isn't it? Pedram Javaheri, keeping an eye on all of that weather activity, I appreciate it.




A huge fire, send a ball of flames and thick black smoke, shooting into the sky in south London. Police say the fire in a railway arch at the elephant and castle station was not terror-related. There was no immediate reports of injuries. Trains had to be diverted, as flames raced through three commercial units. A London fire brigade said 10 engines and 70 firefighters, were on the scene.

And thank you so much for joining us, I'm Rosemary Church, I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stay with us.