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Delta Variant Raise Concerns for Indonesians Government; Areas in Sydney, Australia Back to Lockdowns; France Lift Restrictions for Businesses; Tigray Rebels Shrug Off Ceasefire; Unrest in Tigray Region Blocks Humanitarian Aid; U.S. Troops Going Home Sooner Than Planned; Heat Wave Toast Roads in Some U.S. Cities; Record Heat Wave Damaging Roads And Causing Illness; Florida An Update On Champlain Tower Condo Collapse; Delia Fiallo Dies At Age 96; North Korea Reports Grave COVID Incident; Israel's Message To Its Neighbors; Euro 2020, England Reach Quarterfinals With 2-0 Win Over Germany. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 30, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): 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, COVID cases are skyrocketing in Indonesia propelled by the Delta variant. Now the Red Cross warns the country is tethering on the edge of catastrophe.

No truth. Tigrayan rebels call the Ethiopian government ceasefire a sick joke, and vow to fight on.

And Canada's punishing heat wave turns deadly and shatters records.

Thanks for being with us.

Well, almost a year and a half into the pandemic coronavirus cases keep surging around the world, mainly due now to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant which is moving faster than the rate of vaccinations.

The Asia-Pacific region, particularly Southeast Asia is suffering some serious spikes in infections. In Tokyo, cases have been rising for the past 10 days with the Olympics fast approaching. Only 10 percent of the Japanese population is vaccinated. Much of Australia is under lockdown as it battles the Delta variant in five of its eight states and territories.

And Indonesia is dealing with a dramatic jump in cases and severe shortages of critical supplies. The situation has become so bad the International Red Cross and Red Crescent warns Indonesia is on the brink of a COVID catastrophe. Indonesia has been reporting record case numbers in recent days with the number of new infections reaching 20,000. Hospitals can't keep up with the wave of incoming patients. There are reports of patients dying while waiting to be admitted at a hospital in the capital Jakarta. Public panic has cause demand for oxygen to skyrocket with prices nearly tripling in some places, putting even more strain on hospitals. It's causing some oxygen suppliers to worry they'll soon be facing shortages.


ERVAN KAUTSAR, OXYGEN SHOP OWNER (through translator): Oxygen cylinders are getting harder to find since the distributor is running out of stock. The oxygen supplies at the moment are still fine but it's being restricted as demand keeps increasing. I'm afraid if it keeps in high demand we'll be running out of oxygen, too.


CHURCH (on camera): The Red Cross and Red Crescent says treating the surge in cases has been made more difficult of Indonesia's thousands of islands.


JAN GELFAND, IFRC HEAD OF DELEGATION, INDONESIA: What we are finding is that over 50 percent or in some cases, 90 percent outside of Jakarta, in Java, the 9 out of 10 people that are tested are positive. So this is becoming, you know, a very large concern.

The logistics to get to people that are in remote areas in 18,000 islands is an easy thing to do. But I would point out also that the government so far day -- you know, each day is vaccinating about 1.3 million people which is quite a feat in and of itself. There are different kinds of vaccines that they're using, the Sinovac being one of them. But it's not an easy job when you have 275 million people, and there are still some vaccine hesitancy. People are tired just like everywhere else in the world.


CHURCH (on camera): In Australia, an outbreak of cases around Sydney has grown to at least 160 infections. New South Wales reported 22 new cases on Wednesday while its capital remains under two weeks of restrictive measures to slow new transmissions.

So, let's go live now to Sydney where CNN producer Angus Watson is standing by. He joins us now. Good to see you, Angus. So, as the virus spreads, so too, of course to the lockdowns, what's the latest from across Australia?

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Another lockdown announced today, Rosemary, this time in the northern territory. The central Australian town of Alice Springs where a nearby mine site has become a center for transmission. And that mine site is staffed by people that fly in and out of different cities around Australia to work there, so that's just one instance of a place where the Delta variant is pushing through a group of people and forcing another lockdown. [03:05:02]

That means there's lockdowns now in New South Wales, Queensland, the northern territory and west Australia, there is community transmission in south Australia too, as this Delta variant moves through the community. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Angus, what progress has been made with the very slow vaccine rollout there?

WATSON: Well, Australia's vaccine rollout has only just crept up to over 7 percent of people fully vaccinated with two shots of any vaccine. And Rosemary, that's far fewer -- a far smaller number of people than have been another under lockdown now at over 10 million people around the country under lockdown.

So, there is some confusion as well for people as to what vaccine that they should get the federal government and the states, I'm sure and don't have a unified messaging there to try to convince people to get this vaccine. So, there's hesitancy there, there's also a supply issue.

Australia is importing about 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to go with its locally produced AstraZeneca doses, Rosemary. The state of Queensland has just enough Pfizer doses for the next eight days, it says.

CHURCH: Unbelievable. Hopefully they can get more doses and more into arms. Angus Watson, bringing us the very latest from Sydney, Australia. I appreciate it.

Well COVID cases in Japan may be down overall but Tokyo is reporting a new surge in infections. Officials also are worried about the Delta variant of the virus warning it shows signs of spreading in Tokyo. All this while the Olympics are set to begin there in less than a month.

Organizers are seeking to soothe fears of a fifth wave. The Japanese government is ramping up efforts to spot cases at points of entry, and to play a greater role in the quarantine process for delegations arriving for the Olympics.

And the Delta coronavirus variant may now be the most prevalent in the United States. A top researcher at a company whose tests identify variants says Delta is responsible for 40 percent of new U.S. cases. But that research has not yet been peer reviewed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention said on Tuesday the Delta accounted for about 26 percent of new infections in the two weeks leading up to June 19th.

Well, France is further easing out of lockdown as COVID cases are falling starting Wednesday. Capacity restrictions will be lifted for most indoor businesses including restaurants and cinemas.

And CNN's Cyril Vanier is following the latest on this from London. He joins us now. Good to see you, Cyril. So, what is the latest on France lifting its COVID restrictions and how much concern is there for the highly transmissible Delta variant given what's happening in other parts of the world?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary, that's a very, very fair question. And I think the best way to characterize it is that it is the calm before the storm right now in France. All the COVID indicators, Rosemary, are trending in the right directions. Infections are down, hospitalizations are down, deaths are down, and that obviously is reason to rejoice. And that is why France is moving to the final stage of easing restrictions.

You mentioned cinemas and restaurants which can now operate at full capacity. While the concerts, I h=beg your pardon, concerts and festivals are now going to be able to resume again. People need to be tested if there are more than 1,000 people in attendance. Nightclubs will reopen early next month.

So, right now, it feels -- things are feeling great in France. School is out, summer holiday is going to start. But there is another picture that is colliding with that one, and that picture is a lot darker. Which is that the Delta variant is indeed spreading.

A little over a week ago it was 10 percent of infections. Now it's 20 percent of infections. And the prediction is that within a few weeks it's going to be the majority. This is exactly what happened in the U.K., Rosemary. We found ourselves with very, very low cases and little by little, week after week, we've got this news that the Delta variant was starting to take over the Alpha variant.

That is what's happening in France. The prediction from the scientists who advised the government is that come late summer or early fall, it will not only be dominant, but it will be causing a fourth wave of COVID. How France will fare during that fourth wave will depend on the vaccination rate? Right now, a third of adults, a third of the population is fully vaccinated and just over half the population has received at least one dose.

It's way up from what it was only six weeks ago, but it is not enough to face a wave of Delta variants. So, the hope is that by the end of the summer, those numbers will have gone right up, Rosemary.


CHURCH: Yes. We certainly keep seeing the same patterns play out across the globe and clearly, we need to learn from this each time.

Cyril Vanier bringing us the very latest from London. Many thanks.

Well despite the celebrations in Ethiopia's Tigray region after the military withdrew, there are growing concerns the violence there is far from over.

Plus, this could be a critical week for President Joe Biden's pledge to end America's longest war. As U.S. troops could finish their withdrawal from Afghanistan way ahead of schedule. We are back after the short break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH (on camera): The rebels in Ethiopia's Tigray region are rejecting the government's announcement of a ceasefire fueling fears of more violence.

In a surprising reversal, Ethiopian military withdrew from the regional capital Mekele on Monday. People in the northern town of Shire celebrated the departure of government allied Eritrean forces. But the spokesman for the Tigray People's Liberation Front calls the truce a joke and rebels are promising to force the army and its allies out of the region.

Larry Madowo is following developments and joins us now live from Nairobi. Good to see you, Larry.

So, Tigray fighters rejecting Ethiopia's unilateral ceasefire calling it a sick joke, now vowing to keep fighting. What more are you learning about all of this?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, we know that aid agencies say two days after that unilateral ceasefire was declared in Tigray, they still don't have access. There are no open roads and they are not able to access the people that needed. Hundreds of thousands of people who are in famine-like conditions, children who are at risk of death if they don't get access really quickly. And that is a big problem here.

Because the defense forces, the TPLF as they were known before have still say that this unilateral ceasefire did not involve them, and the Ethiopian government has not declared a ceasefire without their participation. They consider that the Ethiopian military, an invading force, there needs to be eliminated and they will continue to do so.

So that is a concern for aid agencies, for the international community that has been demanding repeatedly that there needs to be access for aid workers, there needs to be an independent investigation. And there needs to be with a cessation of hostilities, but those things are still not happening. But at the center of it are people who are in dire need of food, in dire need of sometimes of medication and in dire need of access to reach the capitol and sometimes evacuation.

CHURCH: And that is the big problem here, isn't it? But why wouldn't Tigray rebels welcome a ceasefire in this situation given that Eritrean Ethiopian forces have withdrawn?


MADOWO: So that is the other complication here, Rosemary. Because we haven't heard an officially a statement from either the Ethiopians or the Eritreans. So, we don't know if this is just a tactical move for the moment and they intend to come back again.

This conflict has been running for since November of last year. And the Ethiopian government sometimes declares victory, and they say they are very close to making sure that this area is again under their control and they consider the Tigrayan fighters as a terrorist force that hides behind civilians and that is why this conflict is so complex.

And we've just spent a week in Ethiopia. We just got back. And the issue of Tigray is one that divides many Ethiopians. Some of them support the government position, others support the fighters and what they are fighting for here. And in this election that they just concluded last week we are still waiting for results.

Whoever wins that election -- it is likely to be Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's party. The key priority for them is finding a solution to that conflict and trying to bring all these different factions to the table and find some kind of political solution which is also where the international community is.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, as you point, out communication blackouts are making it very difficult to know exactly what's going on. But what is the likely next military move here?

MADOWO: So that's part of the problem. Some aid agencies in Mekele, which as the Tigray regional capital reported that their communication equipment were completely taken apart by the military.

UNICEF, for instance, say their VSAT equipment which allows them to communicate independently was taken apart. And when it's difficult to communicate, when their connectivity is down, when you have no access it's hard to tell what's going on. And that complication, Rosemary, it makes it easy for all of the sides to this conflict to traffic disinformation and to traffic in propaganda.

And they are using social media, they are using Twitter, they are using other social outlets to try and present their message. We don't know what this means militarily for the Ethiopians and for the Eritreans like I mentioned. We don't have a statement. They are supposed to give a briefing sometime later today in Addis Ababa. So maybe that will be the first sign of what they're thinking.

CHURCH: Of course, and we will continue to watch this very closely as will you. Larry Madowo in Nairobi bringing us up to date on the situation there. I appreciate it.

Well because of the communications blackout it's difficult to know what is happening on the ground as we pointed out. But the U.N. says the fighting is keeping desperately needed aid from reaching people who need it. Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict that's been going on now for eight months. Millions have been displaced, and hundreds of thousands face starvation.

James Elder is UNICEF's global spokesman. He joins us now via Skype from Geneva. Thank you, sir, for talking with us.

JAMES ELDER, GLOBAL SPOKESMAN, UNICEF: Good morning. Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, it looks like eight months of civil war in Ethiopia's Tigray region will continue after rebel forces rejected a ceasefire declared by Ethiopia's government Monday. So, what will this likely mean for civilians who face a humanitarian crisis, of famine and disease right now?

ELDER: Well, we hope the ceasefire holds. I mean, that is the past day or two were obviously very tense but also very good news. But the idea that the ceasefire breaks, the idea that there are reprisals, the idea that there's not a political solution but terribly, terribly badly for as you clearly say, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of children.

We know tens of thousands of kids are almost on death's door. I mean, I was in Tigray recently and I saw the work UNICEF is doing on those frontlines, but I also saw the difficulty, the threats happening to humanitarian workers there. The complexity about getting that support to those children, to those mothers who need it most.

And that's getting worse and worse as your reporter said. Eight months of this. Now if this ceasefire isn't taken, if all sides don't give the people of Tigray a moment, the children a moment to plant, to get into some safety, then we risk a continuing horror show of people that have just endured so much.

CHURCH: And as you mentioned, you did recently visit the Tigray region. What else did you witness at that time? And what's the likely situation on the ground right now amid this communications blackout?

ELDER: I think right now, Rosemary, it's really tensed. I mean, your reporter mentioned what happened at the UNICEF office where we had, you know, entry from Ethiopian troops that took communication equipment. Why that's really important is because those staff, the staff I know in that office, they are the ones who are working at how to get clean water to a million people, working out next week how out to get 700,000 measles vaccinations into children's arms.

They need communication. And they also need safety. At that very moment they lost both those things. We saw last week the horrible tragic death of three Doctors Without Borders, Medicins sans Frontieres workers. So, you know, we need that safety. That's absolutely fundamental.


Because right now, when you don't have that, what I saw was aid workers being threatened in the field. I saw people going beyond the call of duty to try and reach pregnant moms and children with emergency medical help and being stopped.

So, when we get access, organizations like UNICEF, World Food Programme, they know what to do. We have it ready. We have it ready to go, we can stave off of famine, we can help people plant. We can maybe get a million kids back to school. But the ceasefire has to hold. And everyone needs to start respecting international humanitarian law which means respecting moms and dads and children and respecting that humanitarian workers need to be able to reach those people who need it most. CHURCH: Yes. Of course, the worry is that Tigray rebels have rejected

that ceasefire and they are vowing to fight on. But the U.S. has called for a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis. That will happen on Friday. What are you expecting will come out of that meeting, and what do you want to see the U.S. and international community do about this crisis in the region?

ELDER: I think that, you know, the United Nations is pretty clear in terms of resolutions needed, with regard to respecting international humanitarian law. You know, absolute accountability when it comes to sexual violence which unfortunately has been rife against girls and moms and women in Tigray. And a ceasefire.

Let's open up access. Again, the United Nations agencies, UNICEF and partners, we know what to do. We've been doing it. But when we have threats, when we have access blocked, when right now we have no telecommunications, we have no roads open, no phone lines, no electricity.

So, Friday's meeting hopefully we fix those scenes. We get access, we get coms, and we get a ceasefire that holds. That gives the people, remember, these people, Rosemary, they've done so much themselves. I mean, aid agencies are tireless, but the moms and dads I saw on the ground who give their last piece of food to someone walking past who lost their home, or who would carry a neighbor's child because they just couldn't walk any further, these people need some response.

For whatever reasons the ceasefires happened, we need to take advantage of that. No reprisals political solution. We must have learned now that continued fighting is not in anyone's interest particularly those children you mentioned, tens of thousands of them facing starvation right now in Tigray.

CHURCH: And of course, the work you do, your organization and other groups do in the region, I mean, it is heroic. It has to be said. But the problem is for the international community they feel tuck down in the middle of a pandemic. How confident are you that something will be done?

ELDER: yes, it's a very good question. And this is part the children of Tigray have faced. They had a climate crisis, and these big and little swarms of locusts, and then of course the COVID which everyone in every corner of the globe has faced. And now of course conflict that are utterly unnecessary.

I'm really confident they -- what I saw in terms of the people on the ground who really are tireless and selfless -- and I mean all agencies here, I mean, local people, non- government organizations, and of course my own colleagues at UNICEF. And they ready, you know, we are ready to double the amount of water to supply.

We are ready to reach those double tens of thousands of more children with that most severe acute form of malnutrition and save those lives. We are going to find a way to get more than a million kids back into school, Rosemary, who haven't seen a classroom for more than a year. That's such a psychological torment of a conflict without a classroom. But to do that again, and I hope Friday's meeting moves to this and I

hope all the forces in Ethiopia or in neighboring countries, let's have a ceasefire. Let's give people a chance to plant, to start lives again. They've lost so much and they had quite a lot. They were living a pretty, a pretty good life. Let's give them that moment, let's allow the organizations like UNICEF get their telecommunications back, get back on the roads, open up the airwaves, proper humanitarian access.

And we still can stave off what looked like a month ago, you know, a famine unlike we've seen in a decade. So, there's an opportunity for the international community for Ethiopia to address eight horrible senseless months. but the coming days as you rightly say are really, really critical.

CHURCH: Yes. Let's hope we see some progress. James Elder, again, thank you for all the work that UNICEF does. We appreciate it and we appreciate you. Thank you.

Well America's war in Afghanistan could be over as soon as this week with the U.S. troop withdrawal winding down much sooner than the September 11th deadline.

CNN's Oren Liebermann has details now from the Pentagon.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The withdrawal of U.S. (AUDIO GAP) -- the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan could be complete within a matter of days according to multiple U.S. officials, making this a critical week for President Joe Biden and his promise, his pledged to end America's longest war in Afghanistan.


The completion of the withdrawal impending as it is, comes as the top U.S. general in Afghanistan warns the country could evolve into civil war as the Taliban make significant gains in the countryside. Even after the withdrawal is complete, there will be U.S. troops that remain in the country for two purposes. First, to protect the U.S. embassy there. The Biden administration made it clear it wants diplomatic relations with Afghanistan and an embassy in the country.

And second, troops may remain there to help protect Kabul International Airport. It will be the Turkish military leading that mission but the U.S. could support that. Kabul International Airport is a critical step for diplomacy because diplomats need to get in and out to their embassies. And that's why that is so important.

Up to 1,000 U.S. troops could remain in the country for those missions. Defense officials say the number maybe 650 for both of those goals. The Biden administration has made it clear it will not change its mind. It is determined to complete the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan even as President Biden has acknowledged there will be a difficult road ahead for the country.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is focusing on its goals post withdrawal, and that is protecting the U.S. embassy there, and building a new different bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, one that focuses on providing financial support for the Afghan military instead of support on the ground.

That doesn't mean all the questions about Afghanistan have been answered. There are still significant questions about what the U.S. will do about Afghan interpreters and their families who may be removed from Afghanistan in the thousands for their own protection. And then of course the question of how the U.S. will conduct counter- terrorism operations in Afghanistan, that's a question of what's called here over the horizon capabilities, still an open question the Pentagon is working on.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, in the Pentagon.

CHURCH: A deadly and dangerous heat wave is gripping western Canada as the country marks another day of record-breaking temperatures. Our meteorologist will tell us how long it might last.

Plus, no new signs of life from the collapse condominium tower in south Florida. But rescuers say they're not giving up hope. We will hear the audio from emergency dispatchers on the night the building came down.


CHURCH: The historic heat wave gripping the western U.S. is now causing roads to buckle and crack in Seattle. Several cities in Washington State including Spokane recorded all-time highs on Tuesday. Residents seeking relief have turned to cooling centers like this one.


The Washington Health Department has reported more than 1,300 heat related emergency room visits and three potential deaths from the heat.

The extreme temperatures are also a problem in Western Canada, were officials are reporting a sudden rise in deaths. At least 233 people have died in British Columbia since Friday far higher than normal. In neighboring Alberta the scorching heat is hitting vulnerable residents especially hard.

Paige Parsons from CBC News has the story for us from Edmonton.


PAIGE PARSONS, EDMONTON BASE REPORTER, CBC NEWS (voice over): Handing out water and bananas in central Edmonton, this outreach worker took a day off her job to try to help those who have no place to shelter from the heat.

UNKNOWN: There's going to be a lot of people are ending up in the hospital. And being really, really sick from this. Because they don't, some of them don't know how to look after themselves.

PARSONS: With temperatures in the high 30s across many parts of the province, Alberta is Canada's hot spot today. Putting pressure on the vulnerable, the elderly and the very young. Many Edmonton homes don't have air conditioners. Leaving parents scrambling to find ways to keep kids cool.

DIANNE CARILLO, MOTHER: We hibernate in the basement because it's a little cooler down there. And we are trying to survive with our stand fan.

PARSONS: This mom has been driving all over the city looking for a fan for her son with no luck. She stays up during the night, trying to keep him cool with cold towels.

SYDNEY GRAY, MOTHER: There's only so much I can do to try to keep him cool because we don't have central air. We don't have ac. And we certainly don't have any fans.

PARSONS: In a rural Alberta farmers are feeling the heat as their crops are pushed into survival mode.

UNKNOWN: So what it means in the long run is, is a yield that is not going to be up to our average. In fact it would be way below the average. In a lot of areas.

PARSONS: Livestock are having trouble keeping cool as well.

UNKNOWN: So pigs on sweat. So we need to really make sure they have a lot of mud. And it's actually a natural sunscreen.

PARSONS: The warnings to hydrate, cover-up with sunscreen, and hats, and seek shade are expected to last through the week. Alberta is expected to break more high temperature records before finally getting some relief Friday.

Paige Parsons, CBC News, Edmonton.


CHURCH (on camera): And our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri joins us now with the latest forecast. Pedram, we heard there a bit of relief perhaps Friday. Is that what you are seeing when you look across these extreme high temperatures, people putting up with this and of course some people losing their lives?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Absolutely. You know, it's as dangerous as it gets. It is more dangerous than hurricanes, than tornadoes when you look at the fatalities on average per year, Rosemary, associated with heat waves than any other weather element. And you look at these numbers. 121 Fahrenheit, or 49.5 degrees Celsius. Third consecutive day of Canada's all-time national record has been set and broken in this particular location.

And of course, you take a look at this observation of the top 10 hottest temperatures in the world. I looked this up to see what the hottest temperatures had been in, in the past 24 hours on earth. And nine of them, they were all in Kuwait, in Saudi Arabia, and in Iraq. And guess where the 10th one was? Right there in British Columbia. Kind of shows you the disparity of where the heat belongs.

This kind of heat at least and where it's been experienced at this hour over the last several days across parts of the northwestern United States into areas of Canada. Now your body has done an incredible job evolving to be able to offset extreme heat. In fact sweating is your number one cooling. About 22 percent of your body's heat is removed through just sweating alone.

Unfortunately with this particular heat wave that you're seeing in the northwestern U.S. and parts of Canada, a lot more humidity is involved than where you see heat across the Middle East where it's dry. That's sweat evaporates off of your skin, that evaporative cooling rapidly cools off your body and brings your core temperature back down to a safe level.

In these areas where it's rather humid, of course that prohibits evaporative cooling off of your skin. Your body continues to sweat and you lose additional fluid and that alters the potassium and also the salt and sodium intake within your blood. That is what makes it dangerous. That is what can alter your heartbeat, of course your breathing pattern and become very dangerous and lead to onto the fatalities that we are seeing across parts of North America.

Now, these numbers again as impressive as it gets, Rosemary, and impressive as well, climbing up to near 50 degrees. We think this amount of heat, this excessive nature of it is going to dwindle here in the next couple of days. But still remains above average into this weekend. Rosy.

CHURCH (on camera): Alright. Thank you so much, Pedram, for keeping a very close eye on all of that. We always appreciate you.

Well, rescue crews in south Florida are working through the night. But hopes are fading of finding anyone alive in the pile of debris with the Champlain Towers South once stood. The body of another victim has been pulled from the rubble. That brings the death toll to 12 with 149 others still unaccounted for.

Meantime, we are getting our first listen to audio from emergency dispatchers on the night of that collapsed.



UNKNOWN: We have a 13-story building with most of the building gone. This is going to be a high priority. We're going to need TRT. We are going to need a full assignment on this, everybody. Some people evacuating. They sound like they heard a bomb. A quarter of the building was left, we still have people standing up stairs that need to be evacuated. I see many people on the balcony. The building is gone. There's no elevators. This is nothing. I mean, it almost resembles the trade center.


CHURCH (on camera): The rescue mission is now in its seventh day. Workers have removed more than 3 million pounds or 1.3 million kilograms of concrete from that site. And those teams are risking their lives as they look for survivors. On Tuesday chunks of debris fell from the section of the building that still standing. One Israeli expert on the scene says this is the most difficult sight he has ever worked at. But he is still hopeful.


COL. GOLAN VACH, COMMANDER, ISRAELI NATIONAL RESCUE UNIT: There is a pancake. Pancake is not rare. But the distance between the floors is minor. But I must say that every day we found new spaces, new tunnels, and we get into them, from the side, from below, from the sides, from above.

We are trying to find new places to penetrate. And to find, no, maybe there is a confined space that somebody that left and somebody is alive in there. We are looking for the bedrooms because people were sleeping. And the bedrooms, were the inside -- some of them are inside the building and they were covered in about three or four concrete -- meters of concrete. So to reach them, we have to penetrate meters of concrete. So, it takes time.


CHURCH (on camera): A family which managed to escape the collapsing building told CNN they heard knocking sounds not long before the building came down. Sara Nir says she initially thought neighbors were doing late night construction. And went to speak with a security guard. That's when she realized something much worse was happening.


SARA NIR, COLLAPSE SURVIVOR: It was a big boom, and I was running to see where the sound came from. And I saw all the garage collapse. I couldn't believe it. I thought I was in a movie. I look again, and I ran back to the hallway and I saw my two kids standing next to the door (inaudible) f my apartment, and don't move. And I was screaming, it's an earthquake. An earthquake. I was thinking very fast. I said, it's not construction, it's an earthquake.

And while I was running I told the security guy, call the police. Pull the alarms. So people will you know, be aware about this. So, when my daughter was looking, I said but I'm with my bathroom. I said I don't care, run, as fast as you can. She was running with her brother towards the exit of the building, the security guy was shock. Do you know what to do, he says -- is call the police? And he said, but what is the others of this building?

UNKNOWN: He didn't even know.

NIR: He didn't know even know. He was so confused. And I said. No, no, (inaudible) right from me, and I told my son write for him. He wrote and we run out of the building. And I told my kids run as fast as you can crossing the street, in cross calling. We just crossed calling, god watch us. God was waiting for us to leave the building. And then another big boom, then we didn't see anything. It was suddenly quite after the big boom and it was white clouds all over.


CHURCH (on camera): Terrifying experience there. And Nir says they ran several blocks before stopping to take a breath and turned to see the scope of the devastation.

Given screenwriter Delia Fiallo, who is considered the mother of the Latin American soap opera has died. A source close to the legendary writer told CNN Fiallo passed away early Tuesday morning. She penned more than 40 radio and television works including Crystal and Esmeralda. Her novels have been adapted throughout two continents spanning from the U.S. to Argentina.

Earlier CNN on Espanol, Juan Carlos Arciniegas spoke about her distinguished career.


JUAN CARLOS ARCINIEGAS, CNN EN ESPANOL (on camera): She started in her native Cuba writing (inaudible) 10 years after or sun wells was bringing the war of the worlds to the U.S. audience. She wanted to be a veterinarian.


She love what we are seeing her now with her dog. She loved the countryside and animals. But her mother according to an interview Fiallo gave to CNN Espanola a few years ago told her to go for something more ladylike. And we are talking about the 40s. And that's why she started philosophy and literature. As you mentioned, through her life, she wrote over 40 telenovelas and we are talking about intense mellow dramas that we watch all over the continent.

Countries like Columbia, Mexico and Venezuela produce their own versions of her work. In the U.S. it takes up to 10 writers to write an episode at a regular TV show. It was not in her case. She always wrote by herself. She told CNN Espanol that her daily output could be 30 to 40 pages, very prolific.


CHURCH (on camera): Delia Fiallo was 96 years old. She once told variety, quote, a telenovela is basically about sentiments. If you don't make the public cry, you won't achieve anything.

Is North Korea facing a COVID crisis after claiming zero cases in the pandemic? The country is now reporting a grave incident related to the virus. Details on that when we return.

And Israel issues an invitation to its neighbors to come talk. We will have an update on the Israeli foreign minister's trip to the UAE.


CHURCH: Kim Jong-un has fired several high ranking officials in North Korea after a quote, grave incident related to COVID-19. According to state media, Kim accused the officials of neglecting their pandemic duties and creating a crisis for the country. CNN's Will Ripley is in Taiwan and joins me now live. Good to see you, Will. Of course you have spent many years reporting in North Korea. So what do you make of this new development of officials being fired over this unspecified grave COVID-19 incident?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Rosemary, you and I have spent many years talking about how difficult it is sometimes to ascertain what's really happening inside North Korea based purely on state media reports which are often deliberately vague, short on details. But they provide just enough information that we can try to get a sense of what is happening. So what does this report say?

It says there's a great but unspecified incident. As you mentioned related to quarantine negligence that has led to some sort of COVID-19 crisis inside the country. It called the party officials ignorant, and confident, irresponsible and said that they failed an organizational technological and scientific measures related to the COVID-19 quarantine efforts in North Korea that have been underway since the start of the pandemic.

Efforts that have ravaged that nation's economy. They have shut down their border particularly shut down trade with China which has been economically devastating. North Korea has -- just last week announced a food crisis. Even their leader Kim Jong-un has been appearing on camera looking thinner and thinner, and that was acknowledged.


Very rarely acknowledged in North Korean state media with people being interviewed saying they were heartbroken about how gaunt in their words he looked. And now you have the self-proclaimed COVID crisis and you have party officials who have been fired. But I say fired in close, because fired in North Korea can mean a lot of things. It could mean that they were terminated from their positions and reassigned. It can mean they were sent to Reeducation camps. Being fired can even mean firing squad depending on the severity of the offense.

And we know that COVID-19 is a matter of national security inside North Korea, Rosemary, because they are medical system is so dilapidated. Any COVID-19 outbreak is not only a threat to many, many lives in that country of some 25 million people. It's also a threat to the leadership of Kim Jong-un and his authority because you now have a country that is grappling with multiple crises all at once. And they need somebody to blame.

Could these officials be the fall guys for some sort of broader laps in the system? This is the kind of thing that, again, because North Korea which is already isolated, it is even more isolated these days with almost no foreign diplomats left in the country, or NGO workers because of the border shutdown. They are running out of food, they are running out of medicine. People are going hungry. And now a COVID crisis as well. Very turbulent times and very little concrete information coming out of North Korea right now, Rosemary.

CHURCH (on camera): Yes. Most definitely. Will Ripley bringing us what he can on this topic of course. Many thanks as always.

Well, Israel's new foreign minister is opening an Israeli consulate in Dubai today. Yair Lapid inaugurated the first Israeli embassy on the Arabian Peninsula on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi. His trip comes after Israel and the UAE normalized ties last year. He called the day a moment of simplicity with people choosing piece over hate.


YAIR LAPID, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Israel wants peace with its neighbors, with all its neighbors. We aren't going anywhere. The Middle East is a home, and we are here to stay. So we call on all the countries of the region to recognize that and to come to talk to us. Difficulties will not be overcome by themselves. Hostility won't disappear by itself. People create them, people can make them disappear.


CHURCH (on camera): Dov Waxman joins me now. He is a professor and chair in Israel studies at UCLA. And the Director of the UCLA Y and S Nazarian Center for Israel studies. Thank you so much for being with us.

DOV WAXMAN, PROFESSOR AND CHAIR IN ISRAEL STUDIES, UCLA: Thank you for having me on the program.

CHURCH: So, Israel's new foreign minister Yair Lapid, traveled to the UAE on his first official state visit to inaugurate the Israeli embassy there. And he offered an olive branch to other former adversaries saying we are here to stay. How significant was that, and who was he likely directing that comment to?

WAXMAN: Well, I think in many ways, it was, you know, a message directed to Israelis to remind them that Israel is a permanent place in the region to show how much has been accepted into the region after decades of being ostracized. So I think in many ways it was a message to an Israeli domestic audience. But also to the Arab world. Particularly those countries that are still hesitating about making their relations with Israel like Saudi Arabia to show that Israel is a prominent part of the region, and wants to have good relationships with other Arab states in hopes that they will now follow suit.

CHURCH: And what all are you expecting to come out of Lapid's two-day visit to the UAE, and how has it gone so far, do you think?

WAXMAN: Well, it seems to have gone by well so far. He's been very warmly welcomed in the UAE. And I think that's an important demonstration of the warmth of the relationship. It's not just they've established this diplomatic relationship. But they really have embraced each other. I mean, trade has skyrocketed, over 200,000 Israelis have visited. So there is really a strong desire on the part of both sides to have a close and warm relationship.

And I think this visit really helps cement that. And it also shows that this relationship has already survived early tests. It survived a change of government in Israel, it's survive a change of administration in Washington. And most recently, it survived a recent conflict between Israel and Hamas and the escalation and violence between Israel and the Palestinians which have shown that this relationship is resilient, and that it will continue to deepen in the years to come.

CHURCH: Right and of course, the UAE and Bahrain normalized relations with Israel last year, drawn together by shared concerns about Iran, and a desire to pursue commercial opportunities. Sudan and Morocco have since moved to establish ties with Israel as well. How important are these relationships with regional neighbors and beyond for Israel's fragile new unity government?


WAXMAN: Well, I think it's important first of all for him to -- appear to -- to kind of take on this foreign minister role as Foreign Minister and to really show that although there's a change in government which may have alarmed (inaudible), because they obviously had a close relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, former Prime Minister Netanyahu, I should say. But it's showing that this new government, that this important relationship will continue. And I think it also sends a message to Israel that you don't need Netanyahu to be Prime Minister to have these kinds of relationships.

For many years, Netanyahu told Israelis that he was indispensable and that Israel's foreign relations really depended upon his personal connections. What Lapid has shown is that no, Israel can have good relationships, strong relationships, important relationships beyond Netanyahu. They don't need Netanyahu. Although I think at the same time Lapid was magnanimous in his remarks today, in crediting Netanyahu with this relationship. He's also shown that the relationship really doesn't need Netanyahu around.

CHURCH: Yeah. He did make it clear that Netanyahu was the architect of this deal of course, but U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, welcomed Lapid's visit and said the U.S. would continue to work with Israel. And the UAE in an effort to create a more peaceful secure and prosperous future for the Middle East. Do you get a sense of a new clean start for Israeli U.S. relations and of course relations with the regional neighbors?

WAXMAN: Well, certainly the personalities are different. And I think there is a desire on the part of the Israeli government to really improve its relationship with the United States and especially with Democrats in the United States. And to take the disagreements that still exist but to make sure that those disagreements aren't being voiced as publicly as they were in the past, and to have them behind closed doors.

So, I think some of the issues that have divided Israel and United States continue. Most particularly the Iranian issue and the Palestinian issue. But the way of handling those issues I think is different. And there was a desire for a much more cordial and less combative relationship. With the UAE and other gulf countries, I think it's really more of the same. I think it's signaling that this relationship will continue to develop and deepen.

And I think particularly for the UAE, it's important for them to know that the Israeli government is committed to this relationship even though the UAE did actually make some criticisms of Israel's policies towards the Palestinians before the recent outbreak of violence. So, there's an awareness that even though they may have different views on the Palestinian issue, bilaterally they still want to deepen their relationship and in particular strengthen the trade and investment ties between the two countries.

CHURCH: Dov Waxman, thank you so much for your analysis. We appreciate it.

WAXMAN: Thank you.

CHURCH: And still ahead here on CNN Newsroom, the curse is broken. England's long drought against Germany comes to an end at the Euro 2020 tournament. We will have more on the other side of the break.



CHURCH (on camera): Football fans in London roaring with glee for the three lions England booked a trip to the Euro 2020 quarterfinals with a two nil win over Germany. They will face Ukraine in Rome on Saturday, supporters were ecstatic as the home team notched its first knockout stage win over Germany since 1966.


UNKNOWN: Absolutely wild. It's crazy. It's coming on.



CHURCH (on camera): Very happy fans there. CNN World Sport contributor Darren Lewis has more now from Wembley Stadium.


DARREN LEWIS, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR (on camera): The wait is over. England have ended their last big psychological hoodoo by beating the Germans. They've lost on four previous occasions stretching back to 1966, but goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane have put them into the quarterfinal. And also left a very, very joyous nation with a firm belief that they could go all the way in this European championship. The German fans have been magnanimous in defeat. The English now firmly of the belief that football is coming home.

UNKNOWN: Elated, great victory.

UNKNOWN: Very sad day, but we will keep on going.

UNKNOWN: We didn't look like losing all night. It's an amazing performance.

UNKNOWN: A little devastated to be honest.

UNKNOWN: I was in Germany (inaudible). I thought I'd never see such an emotional night as tonight. It's wonderful with the fans back in stadium. Fantastic.

UNKNOWN: After this, next time we win again.

UNKNOWN: Amazing. We beat Germany for once. For once! We beat Germany. My wife, how do you feel about the game?

UNKNOWN: I'm not going to sleep on the sofa tonight.

UNKNOWN: You are sleeping in the garden.


LEWIS: Yeah, the fans are optimistic. But England's head coach Gareth Southgate very keen to play down expectations. He wants his players to focus on just one match at a time. Fortunately, he has men within his ranks used to doing just that which is why there are so many champion leagues, Premier league and Europa League winners at his disposal.

And here's a stat for you. England had kept clean sheets in each of their opening four games at this European championship. Last time they did it at a major tournament they went on to win it in 1966. Could this be another of those occasions? Darren Lewis, CNN, London.


CHURCH (on camera): And thanks so much for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. I will be back with more news in just a moment. Don't go anywhere.