Return to Transcripts main page


New Challenges for Surfside Search and Rescue; War in Afghanistan; Health Officials Warn of COVID-19 Surge after July 4th Travel; Tickets to Rome Match Canceled for British Football Fans; Canada Reflects on Treatment of Minorities on National Day; At Least 20 Unaccounted for after Japan Mudslide. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 3, 2021 - 02:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New challenges for the search- and-rescue mission in Surfside, Florida. Officials decide they will have to tear down what's left of the building. But before that, a possible hurricane is on the way.

Plus, Afghan forces take over the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, as American troops leave the country behind. But a top U.S. general warns it could set the stage for civil war.

And bad news for British football fans. After watching scenes like this play out in London, Italy cancels their tickets to today's Euro 2020 match.

Hello and welcome to our viewers here, in the United States and right around the world. This is CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Paula Newton.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

NEWTON: And we do have breaking news out of Japan. We want to bring in CNN's Selina Wang, who's been following all of it from Tokyo.

And real frightening hours ahead, in Japan, Selina.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, really frightening images, indeed. At least 20 people are missing after a major mudslide hit Atami city in Shizuoka prefecture southwest of Tokyo. And we have confirmed at least 20 people missing and firefighters are currently conducting a search-and-rescue mission.

The Shizuoka prefectural government has asked for support from the self-defense forces in Japan. Evacuation orders have been issued. And we have been looking, poring through the video coming through on social media, extremely frightening video. You can see the immediate destruction of homes, roads, just being swept away by the mudslide.

Now Japan, right now, Paula, is in the middle of its annual rainy season. Japan's entire Pacific Coast has been experiencing torrential rains. And the government, the prime minister, has just set up a task force to evaluate the damage.

The disaster that we've been seeing in Atami city has been triggered by these torrential rains and, according to national broadcaster, NHK, weather officials in Japan are warning that there is much more, potentially much worse, to come, Paula. We will keep you posted throughout the hours today.

NEWTON: Yes, 3:00 pm local time, just after there in Tokyo. Selina, thanks so much. We know you will continue to follow it and we will bring you much more of the situation with that landslide as we get more information.

Now we have several major developments to tell you about in the devastating collapse of that condo building in Surfside, Florida. An emergency order was issued on Friday to tear down the remaining structure of Champlain Tower South over fears it may fall down.

Now that demolition is expected within weeks. At least 22 deaths have now been confirmed in the rubble, with 126 others still missing. An attorney for Miami-Dade County says the damaged building is unstable and poses a danger to search-and-rescue crews below. And now there are concerns about bad weather on the horizon.

We get the latest from CNN's Brian Todd in Surfside.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Miami-Dade County mayor announced she signed an emergency order authorizing demolition of the building.

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D-FL), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: This was not a decision we made lightly, and I know especially how difficult this is for the families who escaped the building and who have lost their homes and their belongings.

The building poses a threat to public health and safety and bringing it down as quickly as possible is critical to protect our community.

TODD (voice-over): While the timeline has not been set yet, two more victims were recovered and Thursday night, a heartbreaking discovery, the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami City firefighter found in the rubble. The father was not part of that rescue but he was called over by his fellow rescuers when his daughter's remains were found.

CAVA: Every night since this last Wednesday has been immensely difficult for everybody and particularly the families that have been impacted. But last night was uniquely different. It was truly different and more difficult for our first responders.

TODD (voice-over): New information showing the Champlain South condo board knew of severe concrete deterioration months before the collapse. In an October 2020 letter, an engineering firm hired by the building highlighted the pool structure as a problem area. They stated, "Full restoration repair work could not be performed in

part because it could destabilize the surrounding concrete and because the pool was to remain in service."

Meanwhile, the very similar high-rise on the next block is getting further inspection.

MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT (I-FL), SURFSIDE: Our building official, in conjunction with our experts, are now getting ready to X-ray columns and do a deep dive, a forensic study, into the structure.



TODD (voice-over): Structural engineer Allyn Kilsheimer says it's not clear if the standing structure of the Champlain South Tower is in imminent danger of collapse or if there is a risk of heavy slabs or other debris falling. Still the possibility of that and the fact that some of the rubble has shifted is worrisome.

QUESTION: Should it be demolished?

KILSHEIMER: The bottom line is we -- you know, there is the emotional issue and then there's the structural issue, right? OK. Most probably, this portion of the building that you see the debris hanging from, that portion of the building, most probably, should be taken down.

TODD (voice-over): Kilsheimer has been hired by the town of Surfside to investigate this collapse and assess the safety of other nearby buildings. A key safety concern: a large column and a big concrete slab that are hanging from the open decimated facade.

KILSHEIMER: You know, the hanging debris is kind of unstable.

TODD (voice-over): Another big worry, Elsa, the storm that may be a hurricane when it approaches this area and may hit this area.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This area could see tropical form (sic) -- tropical storm force winds.

KILSHEIMER: The first thing I'd worry about, even if it's 40-mile-an- hour winds, is debris getting blown off of this building.

TODD: Allyn Kilsheimer says it won't be until after they can account for as many people as possible in that rubble. Then, after they demolish the rest of the existing tower right here.

Then, after he and other experts can physically get into the rubble and painstakingly examine all of it, only until after all of that, he says, can we begin to find out the cause of this collapse.

All of that could take months, Kilsheimer says, and he is asking all of us to be patient -- Brian Todd, CNN, Surfside, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: Now as you just heard there in Brian's report, as if they

needed more problems, a major storm could strike the Miami area early next week, possibly as a hurricane. And with tons of debris hanging precariously from the wreckage, the arrival of wind and rain could prove incredibly hazardous.


NEWTON: And just to give you a sense of how seriously local officials are taking concerns about building safety, this 156-unit condo building sits in nearby North Miami. It's even older than the one that collapsed, nearly 50 years old.

A report submitted Friday determined it was unsafe, so it was ordered closed and evacuated, with residents given a very short time to gather what they could and leave.


NEWTON: Now the threat of civil war is looming over Afghanistan following the most significant step yet in the withdrawal of American forces. All U.S. troops finished pulling out of Bagram Air Base on Friday, a major compound that became the center of military power over the past two decades.

The base has now been turned over to Afghan forces as the Taliban makes gains right across the country. Now according to the "Long War Journal," which reports on the global war on terror, the Taliban controls 164 out of nearly 400 districts in Afghanistan, while the government only controls 80.

The journal determined that 154 districts, those that you see there in red, are contested. CNN has not independently confirmed these details.

Meantime, the White House says the full withdrawal will be complete by the end of August, despite warnings of civil war by U.S. military commanders once American troops are gone. But President Joe Biden says he believes the Afghans will be able to hold on to their government.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain the government. We can be value-added. But the Afghans are going to have to be able to do it themselves, with the air force they have, which we are helping to maintain.


NEWTON: America's top commander, though, in Afghanistan warns that the situation there is not good and there are concerns that the U.S. is leaving behind a country no safer nor more stable than when its forces arrived. CNN's Anna Coren is there for us, in the Afghan capital.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vast might of the U.S. military transformed this dusty airstrip into a miniature city and the nucleus of America's longest war. Ultimately, that might could not transform Afghanistan.

Friday morning, nearly 20 years after U.S. soldiers captured Bagram Air Base as a launch pad for the war on terror, the last U.S. servicemen and women departed Afghanistan, a nation not left strong, prosperous or secure, despite the sacrifice of more than 2,400 American lives and over 100,000 Afghan civilians, according to the United Nations.


COREN (voice-over): Many of those fallen soldiers repatriated from these runways. Now in the position of Afghan government forces, as they continue their lonely fight with the Taliban, they are the only ones who will consider Friday's U.S. departure a victory.

GEN. AUSTIN SCOTT MILLER, COMMANDER OF U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: The security situation is not good right now. That's something that's recognized by the Afghan security forces and they're making the appropriate adjustments as we move forward.

COREN (voice-over): Taliban fighters have seized back swaths of the country Americans fought and died to liberate. After once boasting a force of over 100,000 in Afghanistan, there will remain as few as 600 U.S. troops here to provide security for American diplomats.

EDWARD PRINCE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We intend to maintain a diplomatic presence in Kabul. That is something that is important to us, given our enduring desire to have a continued partnership with the Afghan government and, crucially, with the Afghan people.

COREN (voice-over): The forever war will continue, as Joe Biden wades out of the mire, mire that trapped his predecessors in a brutal and bloody stalemate.

Bush, Obama and Trump, each bouncing in and out of Bagram, pledging Afghanistan will never be a haven for terrorists, as it was when Al Qaeda plotted the tragedy of 9/11, those terrorists long since routed out and destroyed.

Now, nobody guarantees that violent extremists won't reenter the vacuum left by the United States, as the last American soldiers out of Afghanistan return to a nation that has long waited to welcome them home -- Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.


NEWTON: Much more to come here on CNN. Football fans traveling from the U.K. won't be able to attend the Euro 2020 match Saturday. We will explain why in a live report from Rome.

And Americans are hitting the road and taking to the skies over the July 4th holiday weekend. Why health experts fear this could cause the Delta variant to surge, especially among the unvaccinated. (MUSIC PLAYING)




NEWTON: U.S. officials are warning of a potential surge in COVID infections, as many Americans hit the road and take to the skies for the July 4th holiday weekend. Now airports expect record travel over the weekend with some busier than pre-pandemic levels. That's interesting, there. Think about that, higher than July 4th in 2019.

Now we have to remember some of these travelers aren't vaccinated. And they are being asked to wear a mask. There's been a spike in cases lately, driven by the Delta variant. The seven-day average of new cases is up 10 percent from last week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Some 1,000 counties in the United States have vaccination coverage of less than 30 percent. And this is where it gets interesting. Some of those areas are already seeing an increase of spread, especially of the Delta variant.

Now concerns about rising COVID cases in the U.K. have prompted -- prompted an extraordinary move by European football and Italian authorities. They have cancelled the tickets of U.K. residents to Saturday's England versus Ukraine Euro 2020 match, which was to be held -- which is going to be held in Rome.

Now the football association said Italy's government requested the move out of fears that British travelers would circumvent the quarantine rules. The U.K. has reported the highest number of new COVID cases since late January.

U.K. residents who bought tickets before June 28th were given an hour to return them or transfer them. Our Barbie Nadeau is standing by in Rome for us right now.

Just reading those details, I can only imagine, you know, not an exaggeration to say shock and horror for the English fans. And yet -- and the decision was late. And yet, it seems to support those who say that, look, this was never a good idea to have fans at this event, anyway.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, that's right. That's the argument here in Italy. You know, this tournament kicked off in Italy. And it was a moment of celebration. Everybody thought, oh, we're back to normal.

But then, it didn't take long before people were asking, maybe it's just a little bit too soon. You know, with vaccination rates are low. The Delta variant is very strong. Tourism has opened up here again to international travelers. So there are a lot of people who are concerned that, after all these difficult sacrifices, they are throwing it away for a football game.

Now the fans, of course, wouldn't agree with that. They say it's time to get back into the stadium. Now the stadiums have required everyone to either be vaccinated or have a negative -- a negative COVID test. They have to wear masks. They're not supposed to hug.

But it's what's happening outside the stadiums, those celebrations in the streets and the piazzas that are really concerning authorities here.

NEWTON: We had seen those pictures of U.K. football fans celebrating in Britain, of course, in England, I should say. But still, I mean, it is fairly dramatic and especially, for Italians, who remain quite vulnerable, right?

Only 38 percent have had both doses?

NADEAU: That's right. That's a low vaccination rate. And you've got a lot of vaccine hesitancy here. There was some mixed messaging, especially surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was the powerhouse of the vaccines here in Europe and especially in Italy, when the rollout started.

You know, it was suspended for certain age groups, things like that. People are afraid. Also, people have gone on vacation so they are not able to come back to their hometowns to get their second doses. Things like that have complicated the vaccination rollout considerably. And people are concerned -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. And we will wait to see. It will be a while before we figure out, exactly, the impact Euro 2020 has had. Barbie, thanks so much for bringing us up to date on that. Appreciate it.

Now Indonesia's president's is appealing for calm as a lockdown goes into effect on the islands of Java and Bali. And these all but deserted streets in the capital, Jakarta, give you a sense of how serious that lockdown is.

Most times, those would be completely plugged with traffic. The country's health minister told CNN the nation is seeing a dramatic surge in COVID cases after recent holidays. He is blaming, of course, the Delta variant. Kim Brunhuber reports on the situation in Indonesia and other parts of Asia.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It lacks lifesaving ventilators and ICU units. But this small hospital in south Jakarta is packed with coronavirus patients.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): A hospital like ours should not be handling COVID-19 patients. We weren't prepared for this situation. BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Across the Indonesian capital, even hospitals

better equipped to care for serious cases are feeling the strain of the sheer number of coronavirus patients.

The bed occupancy rate in Jakarta's hospitals hit 93 percent this week. Some facilities are using outdoor tents to treat the sick. As Indonesia struggles with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia, where the Delta variant is spreading.

On the islands of Bali and Java, where 60 percent of the population lives, new emergency restrictions are in place to try to contain the outbreak. For the next 2.5 weeks, schools will be online only. Grocery stores will have limited hours. And there's no dining in restaurants.

A strict new week-long lockdown is also underway in Bangladesh, where COVID-19 cases are surging, especially in rural areas. Armed personnel have set up checkpoints around Dhaka. The police chief says anyone out without a good reason could be fined or jailed. One man says the measures are too severe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We barely have money to buy food. I want to tell the authorities to, please, loosen the lockdown and let us work by maintaining the required hygiene.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): New daily COVID-19 infections in South Korea are the highest they've been in nearly six months. Authorities in Seoul have delayed relaxing social distancing rules. They say 40 percent of the new cases in the past week have been reported among people in their 20s and 30s.

India, where the Delta variant was first identified, just surpassed 400,000 deaths. Half of them have happened in the second wave of the virus though new cases have dropped since their peak in May.

New Delhi recently reopened gyms at half capacity and allowed restaurants to partially open as well.

In Nepal, domestic flight service resumed after a gap of two months.

But with the Delta variant still circulating, along with a slightly changed version called the Delta plus variant, experts say yet another wave of the virus could be coming if countries relax their rules too soon and don't have enough people vaccinated -- Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


NEWTON: So Canada Day is celebrated on July 1st and usually with barbecues and fireworks, a lot like Independence Day here in the United States.

But this year, the national holiday was, instead, a time of reflection for many. That's how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put it. The mood darkened, of course, as remains of hundreds of children were found, again, near what used to be a boarding school for indigenous students.

[02:25:00] NEWTON: Bringing Canada's troubled past to light. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No pride in genocide.

NEWTON (voice-over): After chants of anger, the statue of a monarch is toppled. Protesters in Winnipeg, Canada, expressing their rage Thursday, as they knocked down effigies of Queen Victoria and also Queen Elizabeth II.

On a day traditionally celebrating Canada's history, recent discoveries are sparking a reckoning with its dark colonial past. Since May, at least 1,000 unmarked graves have been found in two Canadian provinces.

They were discovered at former residential schools, which had mainly been run by the Catholic Church and funded by the government. It was apparent evidence of what the indigenous community had tried to call attention to for so long, what some say was a cultural genocide.

For 165 years and as recently as 1996, tens of thousands of indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and sent to what some described as more like concentration camps than boarding schools.

ERNIE DANIELS, RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SURVIVOR: That's why we're called survivors. We survived the torture. We survived the containment. We survived the punishment, the brainwashing that happened to our kids. That's why so much through our lives, we survived that. That's why we're called survivors.

And some did not survive that, that onslaught.

NEWTON (voice-over): As Canadians grow more aware of a disturbing truth, shock is turning to protest, demanding justice for indigenous peoples. And the country's leadership is joining the public in confronting a painful past.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: We should be, every day, committing ourselves, each and every one of us, to the hard work we need to do to actually rebuild a path forward that reflects the terrible intergenerational trauma and present-day realities of suffering, that are -- that we are, all, collectively responsible for.

NEWTON (voice-over): Well, a long-ignored legacy of abuse comes to the fore. It comes after decades of outcry from the indigenous community, which seemed to fall on deaf ears.

BOBBY CAMERON, CHIEF, FEDERATION OF SOVEREIGN INDIGENOUS NATIONS: We had concentration camps here. We had them here in Canada.

We try to put our -- ourselves in the eyes and the bodies of these children, who were now being found in the ground, who have been waiting for decades to have a proper burial and to be honored properly amongst our own protocols, traditions and customs.

And a small First Nations voice said, "They found us. They found us."


NEWTON: And indigenous leaders tell us, they will, indeed, find more unmarked graves.

We will have much more news in a moment.





NEWTON: And a warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton.

The White House says the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan will be completed by the end of August, even as the Taliban make rapid gains right across the country. Friday's departure of U.S. troops from Bagram Air Base was a big step toward that goal. It was, in fact, the center of U.S. military forces during the nearly two decades-long conflict.

Now top U.S. military commanders warn the country could descend into civil war, once coalition forces are gone. And they worry Afghan military is no match for the Taliban's militias. But President Joe Biden says it will be up to Afghanistan to decide its own future. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more now from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With little fanfare, the U.S. left Afghanistan's largest air base and effectively ended two decades of war.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're on track exactly as to where we expect it to be.

COLLINS (voice-over): Although the official drawdown from Afghanistan isn't over yet, the departure from Bagram Air Base sends a strong signal that U.S. operations are.

COLLINS: What is the latest date that the White House is looking at right now?

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, we currently expect it to be completed by the end of August.

COLLINS (voice-over): The sprawling compound was often visited by U.S. leaders and became the center of military power in Afghanistan after being the first to house U.S. forces following the 2001 invasion. The U.S. is handing the air base over to the Afghan government amid new concerns about what they're leaving behind.

QUESTION: Are you worried that the Afghan government might fall?

I mean, we are hearing that the Taliban was taking more and more districts.

BIDEN: Look, we were in that war for 20 years, 20 years. I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain a government.

COLLINS (voice-over): The top American commander in Afghanistan, General Austin Miller, recently warned that civil war is, quote, "certainly a path that can be visualized."

GEN. AUSTIN SCOTT MILLER, COMMANDER, ABSOLUTE SUPPORT: We're starting to create conditions here that won't look good for Afghanistan in the future if there is a push for a military takeover.

COLLINS (voice-over): President Biden growing frustrated when pressed on what could happen.

QUESTION: A follow on, Afghanistan --

BIDEN: I want to talk about happy things, man. I'm not going to answer more questions on Afghanistan. Look, it's the 4th of July.

COLLINS (voice-over): There are also other major concerns, like what happens to thousands of Afghans, who are now targets of retaliation from the Taliban, after working alongside the U.S. troops. The U.S. is reportedly in talks with three central Asian countries to temporarily house those Afghans while they wait for U.S. visas.

PSAKI: They will be relocated to a location outside of Afghanistan. There are a range of options that will happen before we complete our military drawdown by the end of August.

COLLINS: And during that briefing, Jen Psaki defended the president's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, ultimately saying that, when they were doing this review earlier this year, making the decision about how to move forward, they did not sugarcoat it and they did not base it off of best-case scenarios -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


NEWTON: You saw in Kaitlan's report there, President Biden was quite sensitive to the questions.


NEWTON: Now earlier, CNN spoke to retired U.S. general and CNN military analyst Wesley Clark about America's troop drawdown and asked him if he believed this was the right time for the move. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I know why friends and colleagues in the military, they don't want to leave. They -- they've shed their blood. They've put their lives on the line here. They've sacrificed their families and they want to stay and they want to finish the mission.

But from a perspective of the President of the United States, he says it's time to leave. I agree with him. We are going to have to let this work its way out. We are going to give the support we can. But we can't stay forever in a country when there are strong, local external forces working against the very government that we put in place.


NEWTON: Indeed.

So what does come next now that those U.S. troops have, in fact, left Bagram?

Here is CNN's Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The final withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces from Bagram Air Base just north of Kabul in Afghanistan is a major milestone after nearly 20 years of a U.S. presence at the sprawling military complex that became the heart of U.S. operations in the country.

What was a dilapidated runway when U.S. forces showed up shortly after 9/11 became a mini-city in its own right, complete with shops, gyms, classrooms.

Many, if not all, of the tens of thousands of troops who fought in the war on terror in Afghanistan entered the country through Bagram and nearly all of the 2,400 service members who lost their lives in that war came home in their final journey from Bagram Air Force Base.

The closure of the base -- or rather the transfer of the base from the U.S. to the Afghan military, is an indication that the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is nearly complete.

On Friday, the Pentagon and the -- and the White House said the completion -- the complete withdrawal would be done by the end of August. Now that's a bit slower than was expected with multiple officials saying, especially with the withdrawal from Bagram Air Force Base, that the completion of the final withdrawal could be done and announced within days and weeks.

So the end of August is a bit slower than was expected, especially with far more than 50 percent of U.S. troops already withdrawn from Afghanistan. Now even after the final withdrawal is complete, there will be some 650 or so troops in Afghanistan, protecting not only the embassy and the diplomatic presence there but also Kabul International Airport, a necessary facility to get diplomats in and out of the country. As for U.S. military operations continuing in the country, the U.S.

and military leaders have made it clear that they will, if necessary, conduct counterterrorism operations against suspected terrorists working on plans to attack the U.S. homeland or allies.

But CNN has learned, in the past few days, that the U.S. also retains the authority and the military retains the authority to carry out strikes against the Taliban in support of Afghan air forces, according to two Defense officials, though according to one of those officials, it's unclear if or how often such strikes will be carried out.

Now even as the withdrawal nears completion, there are some major questions hanging over the Biden administration. Key among them, what to do with some 18,000 Afghan interpreters and others, who have helped U.S. forces and their families.

That question being worked out by the administration who are in discussions with nearby countries to hold them there until their visa process continues.

That being said, military leaders have warned of the state of Afghanistan after the withdrawal, saying the possibility of a civil war between factions, between the Taliban and the Afghan military, is certainly there -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

NEWTON: We return to our breaking news out of Japan, where authorities say at least 20 people are unaccounted for after a mudslide suddenly smashed into the city of Atami, southwest of Tokyo.


NEWTON (voice-over): This was just a few hours ago. Have a look at this video, devastating. The country's Pacific Coast has been hammered by torrential rains recently. Officials had set up a task force to monitor the impact.

According to Tepco officials, more than 2,800 households in the city are now without power due to the flowing debris, as you see there, extraordinary pictures there. Want to bring in CNN's Selina Wang, who is joining us from Tokyo.

This is just devastating, Selina. And thankfully, it is still late afternoon in Japan, just working there on 3:40 in the afternoon. And as we say, in fact, officials are on their way to the town.

The problem is this is in the middle of the rainy season, the monsoon season in Japan. The torrential rains continue to come down and they are becoming increasingly worried about precarious roads throughout the entire region.


NEWTON (voice-over): We will see what happens, at this point in time, especially, as you can see there, that communications and hydro (ph) are out to the area. Japan is putting together this task force, as we were telling you, to try and get together some kind of a rescue mission.

It is very clear, though, that this was a dramatic landslide and -- and -- and that it really happened with next to no warning. You can see, in the pictures that we are looking there, right now, some type of a car or van was completely engulfed by the landslide as it came down the hill.

Anyone who's been to Japan knows how precarious those homes are on those hills, at any given time. And clearly, this was a large piece of property that just gave way and came rumbling down the hill.

Yes. I -- I know that, at this point in time, authorities are looking at this video and wondering, just how best to try and mount this rescue mission, especially, as I say, given the fact that the land there is, still, completely unstable as it continues to rain.

What they do have on their side is that it is still daylight. And there will continue be to daylight for several hours as they try and get themselves through this situation. Now as Selina Wang told us before, this is the rainy season. Japan is used to this but not this kind of devastation.

We continue to tell you that 20 people so far are unaccounted for. But as you can see, from the video that we're looking at, there are people that are just completely stunned by what they see coming down this hill.

I mean, you can see debris from what is likely would have been very large structures, just continually being washed down that hill. We will have an update for you as soon as we get more information out of Japan. So stay with CNN.

Though, in the meantime, I am Paula Newton.


NEWTON: I want to let our international viewers know that "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is next for you. But everyone else, stay right here, as we continue to follow the breaking news out of Japan for you.





NEWTON: We continue to follow breaking news out of Japan, this hour. We want to bring in CNN's Selina Wang, who is joining us now from Tokyo.

And, Selina, I am stunned looking at these pictures.

What is the latest you have heard from Japanese authorities?

WANG: Well, Paula, at least 20 people are missing after this destruction and devastation that you can see in this video in Atami city. This is in Shizuoka prefecture southwest of Tokyo. No deaths have been reported yet. Firefighters are currently conducting their search-and-rescue mission.

But they are asking for help. Shizuoka prefecture officials are asking for help from the self-defense forces. Now this video on social media, you can see that terrifying destruction, houses being destroyed, the slurry of debris sliding down that big road, as you can see from the video.

And, Paula, we are, right now, in the middle of Japan's rainy season. Oftentimes, there is flooding; landslides occur. A very severe destruction happened in 2018. And right now, the entire part of Japan's Pacific Coast has been dealing with torrential rain, which is what triggered this destruction.

And as of 2:00 pm local time, more than 2,800 households in the city where this destruction happened are out of power. Now we are still following developments, closely, to see how many people the search- and-rescue team can surface.

Right now, national broadcaster, NHK, is also reporting that weather officials are warning that there is, still, much more to come here -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. And that's what's so disturbing. I mean, Selina, when we are looking at this video, in the first instance, it continues to rain; in the second, this was a catastrophic event, obviously.

And -- and the amount of debris that we see coming down the mountain. I know, Japan is prepared for these kinds of search and-rescue missions.

But do you get the sense that, given what's going on in that community, that they were able to start?

And certainly, before it gets dark. As I said, 3 -- about 3:45 pm in the afternoon, in Japan, they have several hours of daylight left but not that many.

WANG: Right, Paula, exactly. Japan is used to a lot of heavy, very disturbing weather patterns. And they are used to, as I have said, during the annual rainy season, dealing with these types of landslides, mudslides.

As far as we know, according to national broadcaster NHK, this disaster occurred this morning around 10:30 am local time. So they have been conducting the search-and-rescue mission for many hours. And the fact, as you say, we are in daylight, that is working in their advantage.

And again, we will be following to see how many members of the self- defense forces are able to aid in the search-and-rescue mission. Very terrifying video on social media, indeed. Very, very difficult for residents in Shizuoka prefecture right now.

NEWTON: All right. CNN's Selina Wang for us in Tokyo. You are going to bring us the latest from that, as we continue to get more information in this really devastating landslide that's occurred in Japan. We'll continue to keep you updated. Selina, thanks so much.

Now we have new information on the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. An emergency order was issued Friday to tear down the remaining structure. Now that demolition is expected in the coming weeks. The Miami-Dade County mayor explains that a lot of planning is, of course, needed to bring the building down safely.


CAVA: So engineers have told us that it takes a while to determine the best way to do the demolition. There are different technical ways to do it. There is different directions that the debris could fall. There's processes that have to be undertaken and permits that have to be received.

It's quite an elaborate process and we must not proceed quickly. We do not want it to jeopardize our search and rescue effort. So basically, this is the beginning of the process.

There are definitely ways that we could demolish the building that will make sure to allow the search to continue. But, again, this is going to take weeks to move forward. So we'll be making critical decisions in the days and -- and weeks ahead.

Also, the building, itself, is a safety -- public health and safety hazard for the rescue workers but also for the buildings in the vicinity and people in the vicinity. So we know the building is unstable and we know it has to come down.


NEWTON: Now two more victims have been recovered from the rubble, bringing the confirmed death toll to 22. But with a possible hurricane early next week, officials say those rescue efforts may be suspended; 126 people are, still, unaccounted for.


NEWTON: First responders from around the world have descended on Surfside, meantime, to help in the search-and-rescue efforts. And up to 600 of them will, soon, be housed on one of Royal Caribbean's cruise ships.

Now the Explorer of the Seas docked in Port Miami on Thursday; 80 responders have already boarded the ship and the company's CEO said the ship will stay in port for at least a couple of weeks. Now the race to space is getting personal. Up next, what Virgin

Galactic's Richard Branson told CNN about his upcoming trip and what his company's main rival has to stay about it.




NEWTON: Richard Branson wants you to know that the billionaire space race is not in fact a race at all, OK?

Yesterday we told you how the Virgin Galactic founder will be on its next suborbital flight, set to launch on July 11th. And maybe it's just a coincidence, OK, but that's more than a week earlier than the flight his rival, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, plans to take on his company's Blue Origin spacecraft.


NEWTON: That would make Branson the first person to travel to space on a rocket he helped fund. Branson spoke to our Poppy Harlow, saying all that really matters is that they are both doing something extraordinary.


RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GALACTIC: I'm not nervous. I'm incredibly excited. I'm 17 years trying not to get excited until I had that call yesterday from our chief technical officer saying, we have ticked every box. You know, we're ready for you to go.

I'm just going to enjoy the fact that, you know, I'm representing these wonderful people -- 800 magnificent engineers and scientists and rocket engineers who build this incredible spaceship and will share the experience and a wonderful team.


NEWTON: OK, but the Blue Origin CEO does want you to know that Bezos' aircraft will be going higher than Branson's. I guess it is a competition.

Now while we're on the subject of space, how about some breathtaking images from our planet and beyond?

They're on the short list for this year's Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.


NEWTON (voice-over): Here you see a lavender field in southeastern France, lit up by the Milky Way.

This one shows the Aurora Borealis in Russia. And here is a comet passing over Stonehenge in the U.K.

Stunning, aren't they?

More than 4,500 images across 75 countries were submitted by amateur and professional photographers. Winners will be announced in September. Breathtaking.


NEWTON: Gorgeous.

Now we will have much more for you on the breaking news out of Japan with that landslide. In the meantime, thanks for watching. I'm Paula Newton and we will be right back with more CNN NEWSROOM after the break.