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Remainder of Partially Collapsed Florida Condo Demolished; Elsa Expected to Empact Florida Keys by Late Monday; Biden Shares Optimistic COVID Message on July 4th Holiday; U.K. COVID Cases Rising, Driven by Delta Variant; Official: Three Dead, Dozens Still Missing in Japan Landslide. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 5, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE FLORIDA MAYOR: This is a tragedy. Taking down this building is a sad affair.


CHURCH: Racing against an approaching storm, authorities in Florida bring down the rest of the partially collapsed condo.

The White House falls slightly short of its fourth of July vaccination goal. How President Biden is convincing Americans to take that jab.

And in Afghanistan families flee the Taliban as they move to take control of the country. We are live at Bagram Air Base.

Thanks for being with us. And we begin with the latest efforts to find survivors after the collapse of a Florida condo 11 days ago. Crews have now demolished what remained of that high rise. Officials say they had to bring it down to resume search and rescue operations safely. 121 people remain unaccounted for while 24 people have been confirmed dead. The demolition might not have happened for days or even weeks had it not been for fears of what approaching tropical storm Elsa might do.


CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE FLORIDA MAYOR: The approaching storm may have been a blessing in disguise for us in that it initiated the demolition discussion. That discussion has accomplished several things. It's eliminated a looming threat, a dangerous threat for our rescue workers. It will potentially open up probably a third of the pile so we can all, you know -- so the teams can focus on not just two thirds of the pile but on the whole thing which is important, and you know, we want to make sure that we control which way the building falls and not A hurricane. So all of this together I think ended up being a good thing.


CHURCH: The U.S. Congresswoman who represents the area says the demolition compounds the tragedy for those impacted by the collapse.


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): This demolition is a tragic situation. This is a very tragic situation not only for those who are still hoping to find loved ones that have survived but also to the survivor families who got out of the building and all of who's belongings are in that apartment building. And so this is tragic not a celebration, not a spectacle, and we need to think about the loss, the further loss that the demolition of this building means for all of these families.


CHURCH: And earlier I spoke with Forest Lanning, a structural engineer with experience in demolishing damaged buildings, and he explained why this was required and what the possible risks are.


FORREST LANNING, PRINCIPAL STRUCTURAL ENGINEER, ENDAPT CONSULTING: The building definitely needed to be brought down. There was major concerns of that building given how the ground force slab has failed and fell into the basement. These columns that were not designed to be twice the length as what they are now with the floor that has collapsed, makes that last portion of the building very precariously hanging over the rescuers. So it needed to be brought down.

Using demolition and using explosives, it's more risky. If you want it to be the safest way to bring down a building would be bringing it down, deconstructing it. But I understand the urgency of it and needed to be brought down because of the storm. The vibrations need to be taken into consideration with anything nearby, and those buildings need to be inspected to see if any types of vibrations will negatively affect those structures.



CHURCH: And that was structural engineer Forest Lanning speaking with me earlier.

Well, U.S. President Joe Biden has issued an emergency declaration for Florida ahead of tropical storm Elsa's arrival. But before it reaches Florida it's impacting Cuba. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins me now to talk more about this. So Allison, what is the latest on this storm, and how bad will it likely be?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, so Rosemary, the next 12 hours are really going to be key especially across areas of Cuba. This is where we anticipate it's going to make landfall likely late morning on Monday. Now current winds are 65 miles per hour gusting up to 75. And that forward movement to the northwest at just about 15 miles per hour. We do have the hurricane warning, that red color here you see here in southern Cuba but also these yellows and blues indicating the tropical storm watches and warnings not only for Cuba but also for Florida. Because that's where we anticipate the storm to continue to go to next.

So after it goes back out over the open water, it will encounter a bit of sheer, a little bit of some cooler temperatures there before making a likely second landfall somewhere around the Tampa Bay region late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. Storm surge is going to be a concern all along southern a Cuba, about 3 to 5 feet -- 2 to 4 feet potentially north of Naples and then up into the Tampa Bay region. But rainfall is also going to be a concern, and we have the potential for flash flooding for both Florida and Cuba. But Cuba especially also looking at the potential for some landslides because in this area we're talking about widespread 4 to 6 inches. So isolated locations as much of a foot of rainfall.

This storm will eventually begin to veer back towards the northeast impacting Jacksonville, Savannah and likely even up around Charleston, South Carolina before finally going back out to sea. Because of that you do have the flash flood threat that exists for the entire state of Florida and then continuing on for some other states as well.

Now we often talk about the different models here, the American model versus the European model. One thing to note is that the two of them are in good agreement about the timing of this particular storm. Notice both of these, the placement of where this storm will be at midnight on Tuesday local time it's almost identical. But one thing to note is the intensity of the storm. The American model is trying to make this storm just a little bit stronger than the European model, but a lot is at play here. How warm are the sea surface temperatures? How much sheer is involved? What are the steering mechanisms involved?

So what we do know is that the storm will make landfall in Cuba in the short term. The real question becomes where does it go after that, and what impacts does it have on Florida in the coming days? And that's going to be one of those key things. But already this is a very impactful storm. It's the earliest ever fifth named Atlantic storm previously taking Edouard, which was July 4 of just last year. So again, something to certainly keep an eye on, Rosemary, over the next 12 to 24 hours.

CHURCH: And we know you shall. Thank you so much. Our meteorologist Allison Chinchar joining us there.

Well America threw a coast to coast party for Independence Day on Sunday. In south Florida massive crowds gathered on the beach in Fort Lauderdale for a concert and fireworks. In the nation's capital, thousands came together to celebrate on the National Mall. Very few appeared to be wearing masks or social distancing. There was also no sign of pandemic precautions in Nashville, Tennessee, as crowds gathered in the city's downtown area. And at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden shared an optimistic message about the country's battle against the pandemic and the fights that still lie ahead. CNN's Arlette Saenz him reports.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden declared this Independence Day that America is coming back together. Speaking both in terms of combating the coronavirus pandemic and also largely unifying the country. The president really reflected on the progress that has been made over the past year in the fight against COVID-19 saying that it showed the power of science. And he also issued a call to action as he encouraged Americans to get vaccinated, to protect not just themselves but also others. Take a listen to a few of the president's remarks at that fourth of July barbecue here at the White House.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 245 years ago we declared our independence from a distant king. Today we are closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. That's not to say the battle against COVID-19 is over. We've got a lot more work to do. COVID-19 has not been vanquished. We all know powerful variants have emerged like the delta variant. But the best defense against these variants is to get vaccinated.

SAENZ: Now, the president also honored the service and sacrifice of military families and also those essential workers.


And he really drew on that signature sympathetic tone as he talked about so many lives that were lost over the course of the past year due to the pandemic. Even saying that he was thinking of his own son, Beau Biden, who had served in the military as he delivered those Independence Day remarks.

Now this was the largest gathering that this White House has hosted since President Biden took office. Guests were treated to one of the best views in Washington with the fireworks here in the city. And there were about 1,000 people who had been invited, military families and essential workers. As the president reflected and thanked so many people for the sacrifice and service they've made in the past year of the pandemic.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: U.S. health experts are sounding the alarm over areas with low vaccination rates as the contagious delta variant spreads. So let's break down what's happening in the country. Only 20 states reached the Biden administration's goal to partially vaccinate 70 percent of their adult population against COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci says there are some states with vaccination levels of 35 percent or less. Dr. Fauci also says more than 90 percent of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. were among unvaccinated people. He points out that most of the deaths were avoidable and that vaccine skepticism is making the situation in the U.S. deadlier than it should be.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It's all the more sad and all the more tragic why it isn't being completely implemented in this country, and whatever the reasons as you said some of them are ideologic, some of them are just fundamentally anti-vax or anti-science or what have you.

But you know, we just need to put that aside now. We're dealing with a historic situation with this pandemic, and we do have the tools to counter it. So for goodness sakes, put aside all of those differences and realize that the common enemy is the virus, and we have a tool, a highly effective tool against this virus.


CHURCH: And earlier I spoke with Dr. Saju Mathew. I asked him about whether he thinks more people would take the vaccine if it was approved by the FDA.


DR. SAJU MATHEW, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: I think it would make a big difference and I think that it would actually give a push for employers to maybe even mandate the vaccines if they are fully approved. I know that at the hospital where I work if it does become licensed, then, yes, our CEO has more of a power, if you will, to mandate these vaccines. I also know that a lot of people think that this is still an experimental vaccine. So if it is fully approved then I think a lot more people will feel safer in getting the vaccine.


CHURCH: Dr. Mathew also says he agrees with wearing masks indoors as the delta variant spreads throughout the country.

Well, just a few hours from now British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lay out his plan for the final steps of England's reopening. He's expected to focus on working from home, face coverings and social distancing. And to stick with a projected reopening target of July 19th. But COVID cases are surging once again in the U.K. driven by the delta variant.

So let's bring in our Cyril Vanier from London. So Cyril, plans to reopen still going ahead despite surging cases driven by the delta variant. What's the calculation here, and what about vaccination rates?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the final lifting of restrictions, Rosemary, is now expected to go ahead on July 19th. We believe that's what Boris Johnson will be saying this evening. Even though they'll have a last look at the data next week to decide ahead of July 19th, which is in two weeks. It's known here as Freedom Day, and already cabinet secretaries have been sent on TV shows yesterday and today to try to start selling this idea to the public that now things are really going to be a matter of individual choice when it comes to social distancing and wearing masks. Listen to the housing secretary yesterday on Sky News.


ROBERT JENRICK, U.K. SECRETARY FOR HOUSING COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: I don't particularly want to wear a mask. I don't think a lot of people enjoy doing it. We will be moving into a phase tough where these will be a matters of personal choice. And so some members of society will want to do so for perfectly legitimate reasons. But it will be a different period where we as private citizens make these judgments rather than the government telling you what to do.


VANIER (on camera): So, Rosemary, masks potentially no longer a matter of legal obligation come July 19th but a matter of personal choice.


As against that, look, I wanted to show you a screen grab of my phone because I think this represents what's happening in the U.K. at the moment with the surging infections due to the delta variant. There is the NHS, the health tracing app here, which is popping up on my phone almost every day to tell me it is verifying exposure to COVID-19. So this is the app that, you know, if somebody tests positive and declares themselves as positive on the app, it will then contact and ping all the other apps phones that have come into the vicinity of that infected person.

It's pinging almost every day on my phone now, which means that I have had a brush with COVID pretty frequently without of course realizing it, just during the course of my daily life and I'm being careful, Rosemary. This is how much the variants and the coronavirus is currently in circulation in the U.K. 25,000 cases yesterday as opposed to just 1 or 2,000 two months ago -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Extraordinary numbers there. I mean, thankfully you are fully vaccinated, of course, but it's just extraordinary to get an idea of how close you come each day. Cyril Vanier, joining us live from London, many thanks.

Well Russia is reporting its highest daily number of COVID cases since early January. According to state news, more than 25,000 new infections were posted Sunday. The figure has not been this high since January 2nd. Russia reported record daily deaths for five days in a row last week. But Sunday's death toll fell slightly. Despite being the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, Russia lags behind much of the world in vaccination rates.

Well, Myanmar is also breaking COVID records reporting an all-time high number of new cases Sunday. More than 2,300 new infections were posted by government officials. All this as the country continues to be racked by protests following the military coup on February 1st.

Well, coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, just two days after a deadly mud slide in Japan, rescuers are battling time and the elements in their search for survivors. We will have a live report. Plus the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan gets real. Once busy military bases sit empty now as the Afghan government faces a rising threat from the Taliban. We'll have the latest.



CHURCH: Rescuers in Atami, Japan are combing through debris in hopes of finding survivors two days after a deadly mud slide. A local official told CNN three people are confirmed dead, and the number of missing now stands at 80, following Saturday's disaster in the coastal city. Rain and the threat of another landslide have been complicating rescue efforts. And for more let's bring in CNN's Blake Essig who joins us live from Atami, Japan. So, Blake, so many loved ones unaccounted for at this hour. What more are you learning about these search and rescue efforts?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Rosemary, the search and rescue efforts continue. They started at 6:00 this morning. And if they're anything like yesterday and the day before, they're going to go until it is completely dark out searching for, you know, friends, family, loved ones, people that were in the path of that landslide that left very little behind it.

The good news more than two dozen people who were stranded inside structures have been rescued which is incredible given the devastation caused by the massive landslide that swept through the seaside resort town here of Atami. Now as of right now, hundreds of people have been evacuated. The shelters -- as you mentioned three people are dead and dozens more either reported missing or remain unaccounted for. For the second full day more than 1,100 people are now assisting in the search and rescue efforts. We've watched as crews use search dogs to search collapsed buildings, and chainsaws to cut through wreckage, all in an effort to find survivors.

Now the landslide dig cut a path of destruction turning what was once a residential area into a wasteland. Atami officials say 130 homes have been completely destroyed either buried or swept away while an additional 100 to 300 homes have been damaged.

Now the governor of Shizuoka says that the prefecture will investigate the cause of this landslide that some residents believe was a manmade disaster. One theory that will be investigated is whether the landslide was caused by housing and development projects that have deforested area above Atami and possibly reduced the mountain's ability to retain water -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Blake Essig joining us live from Atami, Japan, bringing us the very latest on those efforts there.

Well officials in the Philippines say everyone has now been accounted for in Sunday's military plane crash. At least 50 people were killed and dozens more were hurt after a Philippine air force plane crashed while attempting to land. Three of the fatalities were people on the ground. The aircraft burst into flames after missing the runway and crashing into a nearby village. Video shows a large plume of smoke rising from the wreckage. It's the country's worst military air disaster in decades.

Well, the owners and insurers of the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March have agreed to a settlement. The Evergiven container ship will be allowed to sale on Wednesday. The Suez Canal authority held the giant ship during the authority's dispute for compensation. No details of the settlement were given. The authority originally demanded $916 million for salvage efforts and lost revenue. It later lowered the request to $550 million.

Well, officials confirm four Egyptian nationals have been killed in Cypress as wildfires rage around the island. Video shows a helicopter spreading fire suppressant to put out the flames.


The EU says Italy and Greece have pledged to send firefighting planes of their own to help efforts. The entire situation is unprecedented according to the president of Cyprus. While no cause for the fire has been announced, police have arrested a man in connection with the blaze.

Flooding brought on by heavy rains is impacting parts of the Russian annexed Crimean Peninsula. 64 people were forced to evacuate one region on Sunday -- that is according to the Russia back to ministry of emergencies. It adds one person is missing. The region you're seeing in this drone footage is near central Crimea. Floods started hitting coastal regions in the middle of June.

And still to come, as U.S. nears a full withdrawal, the Taliban seizes more territory in Afghanistan. We report live from Bagram Air Base in just a moment.

And China's biggest ride hailing app is under pressure from the country's cyberspace regulator. The crack down on data security. That's ahead.


CHURCH: Crowds once again gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to watch the fourth of July fireworks display. Across the country Americans came together to celebrate Independence Day. This is the first since the pandemic started that saw communities able to commemorate the holiday together. U.S. president Joe Biden marked the nation's 245th birthday at the White House where he delivered an optimistic message about life getting back to normal.


BIDEN: From silent streets to crowded parade routes lined with people.