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CDC, FDA Say No Booster Yet; Delta Variant Causing COVID-19 Surge Across Asia; Haiti In Crisis; U.S. Capitol Insurrection Riot Footage; U.S. Presses Russia To Go After Ransomware Groups; North Korea Refusing AZ Shot; Tokyo Olympics Organizers Pushing Ahead With Games; Florida Condo Collapse Death Toll At 79; Excessive Heat In Western U.S. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 10, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. health officials seek to clear up confusion. We'll explain what the two top federal agencies have to say about whether Americans need COVID booster shots.

President Biden issues his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a warning. The U.S. will hit back if cyber attacks continue. We'll look at his options.

And the western U.S. braces for yet another dangerous heat wave this weekend.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching us here in United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: Well, the last thing anyone in the U.S. needs is more confusion over coronavirus shots. According to the CDC, less than half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.

But confusion is what we're getting after Pfizer announced it's seeing waning immunity from its shots. It announced it will try to get emergency authorization for a booster shot. Well, that caught U.S. health agencies off guard.

The CDC and FDA put out a rare joint statement, reassuring Americans that the coronavirus shots are working the way they're supposed to by stopping serious illness. And Dr. Anthony Fauci is offering his own clarifications.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: Nothing has changed with regard to the CDC's recommendations. So we respect what the pharmaceutical company is doing but the American public should take their advice from the CDC and the FDA. The CDC and the FDA say if you have been fully vaccinated at this

point in time, you do not need a booster shot.


BRUNHUBER: The world's top health agencies also agree with Dr. Fauci. Athena Jones has more on that and the worrisome spread of the Delta variant across the U.S.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Confusion and concern as Pfizer announces it's seeing waning immunity from its vaccine and plans to seek emergency use authorization for a booster shot next month.

The company citing a statement from the Israeli government to back up its claims but not releasing any new data of its own.

Within hours, the CDC and the FDA saying in a rare joint statement, "Fully vaccinated people do not need a booster shot at this time," adding, "FDA, CDC and the National Institutes of Health are engaged in a science-based rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary."

DR. JEROME ADAMS, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: It's troubling there's a lack of coordination on communication between the companies and the federal government.

JONES (voice-over): The World Health Organization also saying there's not yet enough data to say if boosters will be needed.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The Israel data conflicts with some of the other data that actually show that immunity may last for years.

JONES (voice-over): All this amid new warning signs in America's battle against COVID-19.

DR. ERIC TOPOL, CARDIOLOGIST: This is a diffuse beginning of a wave.

JONES (voice-over): Twenty-nine states now seeing rising case numbers. New infections per capita particularly high in states where fewer people are vaccinated, like Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. The seven-day average of new cases per day up 11 percent nationwide; hospitalizations up 7 percent.

Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the nation, now seeing exponential growth in COVID cases, up 165 percent over the past week, as the more contagious Delta variant becomes the dominant strain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A couple of weeks, we started to see a trickling in of coronavirus patients but in the last week, I've seen a significant rise.

JONES (voice-over): The surging case numbers also come as the CDC releases updated guidance for schools, emphasizing in-person learning as a priority while also promoting masking, physical distancing and vaccinations for those available.

Still, California, which has seen a 50 percent jump in COVID cases week over week, passed a bill, requiring public schools to offer remote learning options this fall.

JONES: And despite new concerns about rising case numbers in New York and in many other states, we're here outside the Javits Convention Center, one of three state mass vaccination sites that shut down on Friday.

It's part of the state's plan to allow for greater focus on local vaccination efforts in areas where the vaccination rates are below the state average -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: So if the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain in the U.S., the nation is looking at other countries to get a sense what may be in store.


BRUNHUBER: In Israel, daily cases have doubled since the variant was first detected but its death rate remained relatively low.

And while both cases and deaths have increased in the U.K., infections there have climbed exponentially faster than deaths. Experts say vaccines are critical in preventing the worst outcome. Both countries have inoculated more than 50 percent of their populations.

And as the discussion about possible boosters intensifies, the European Medicines Agency is weighing in. For more on that, let's bring in Cyril Vanier, who joins me from London.

Cyril, so what are they saying on the booster debate?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the European Medicines Agency, which has been asked about this, says it simply doesn't have enough data at the moment to decide whether boosters are needed.

You know, Pfizer is the head of the regulatory bodies both in the U.S. and Europe on this, which makes sense, Kim, because not only did they invent this vaccine, of course, but they were the first to have a vaccine marketed in the Western world.

And now they are just starting to get real-world data from the first six months of vaccination. And even then, it's only coming from the handful of countries that started early.

So the U.K. started vaccinating with Pfizer early December; Israel also. So now, you have those six months to start seeing, OK, well, how does the vaccine fare six months on?

And does the immunity weaken? Well, the regulators come downstream from this, Kim. Of course, everybody here is concerned about the Delta variant, which is going to become, in the next few weeks probably, the majority variant in Europe.

But the regulators simply need more information before they will allow a product to be injected in the arms of otherwise healthy people. And that's why the European regulator especially took time to approve the vaccines that were made for the European Union.

And I'll add something else, Kim, it's that, right now, the E.U. is not in a position, really, to be considering booster boosters, like a third jab, which is what Pfizer is proposing, six months after people are fully vaccinated.

Right now, the E.U.'s main priority is to just complete the full vaccination schedule. Only about a third of adults across the European Union, for now, are fully vaccinated -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, good point. Quickly before we go, since you're in London, I want to ask you about reopening in England. You and I talked on the growing pressure on Boris Johnson not to drop all the restrictions for reopening on July 19th as planned. I understand the final decision will be made on Monday.

What's the latest there?

VANIER: That's right. The government had allowed itself a tiny little out by saying we will look on Monday, July 12th, at the last set of data. And that's when we'll make the final call for reopening -- or not fully reopening -- on July 19th.

But look, barring a major turnaround in the next 36 hours, the U.K. government will stick with the decision it appears to have made to fully reopen. That means that wearing face coverings, social distancing, any limits on gatherings, all of those will be lifted July 19th.

There is a debate raging here, especially when you're told by the government it's no longer mandatory to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces like public transport. A lot of people do not feel comfortable with that. But for the government, it will become a matter of personal choice and not legal requirement -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much for the update, Cyril Vanier in London, appreciate it.

Police in Haiti say a manhunt is under way for five suspects still at large following the assassination of president Jovenel Moise. Right now 20 suspects are in custody and three others were killed in a shootout with police. So that brings the total of those allegedly involved to 28.

And as their fragile nation falls deeper into turmoil, dozens of Haitians gathered outside the U.S. embassy on Friday. Some carrying suitcases, hoping to flee their country and its uncertain future. Haiti's government is asking the U.S. and the United Nations to help

with the investigation and send troops to secure oil terminals and ports of entry. The White House said it will send officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security as soon as possible.

As we mentioned, three assassination suspects were killed in a shoot- out with police earlier this week and with five people still on the loose, there are concerns that confrontations like that could happen again. CNN's Matt Rivers reports from the site of that shootout in the Haitian capital.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a building where one of the shootouts took place between some of the suspects in this assassination and Haitian security forces.

And just by looking around at the damage here, you can tell just how ferocious this battle was. Look up here, in the ceiling. It's a concrete ceiling and there are multiple bullet holes. There are dozens just like that all across this building.

And if you come over here, look at this detail.


RIVERS: These are the bullet holes left behind, after multiple rounds pierced this metal window frame. And if you step back, you can see this was an entire wall of windows and frames that is now basically just gone.

And this kind of damage just extends throughout this entire building. Walking into this room, you can see lots more bullet holes in the concrete ceiling. And in here, more damage, windows just entirely blown out, more bullet holes.

And here is the thing. There are still suspects on the loose after this assassination.

So it makes you think that, could there be more confrontations like this one in store over the coming days and weeks?


BRUNHUBER: Earlier I spoke with Haitian journalist and activist Monique Clesca. I asked her what she thought about the calls for troops to go to Haiti to help in the latest turmoil. This is what she said.


MONIQUE CLESCA, ACTIVIST AND JOURNALIST: Absolutely not. We do not want U.S. troops, U.S. boots, U.S. uniforms, none of that because Haiti -- Haitians have been traumatized by the occupation of the country during 34 years by the United States. We do not want U.S. intervention or troops or anything. And the

international community is complicit in what is going on in Haiti because it has not heard our cries, has not provided a certain amount of solidarity to the point that, sometimes, I have asked, do Haitians' lives matter to anyone?


BRUNHUBER: Clesca says the current situation in Haiti is a nightmare but the right solution is a Haitian one.

Coming up, the U.S. tries to draw a red line from Moscow over ransomware attacks believe to be coming from Russia. Next, a pushback from President Biden and what may happen if it doesn't work.

Plus, key border crossings in Afghanistan fall to the Taliban. We'll have the latest on the group's rapid advance, as U.S. troops exit. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: All right. I want to share with you some video of the U.S. Capitol insurrection that's just been released after CNN and other media outlets sued for access.

The police body camera footage shows the moment three officers waded out into a mob in effort to save a pro-Trump rioter who had been trampled. And a warning, the video and the language used is graphic and disturbing.




BRUNHUBER: And things, believe it or not, got even worse seconds later, as the attacking mob started to drag the officers. Have a look.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fuck you. Fucking traitor. (INAUDIBLE) --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him go. Hey, no. (INAUDIBLE) --




BRUNHUBER: The officer you see here was hospitalized and needed staples in his head to stop the bleeding. The medical examiner says the rioter the police tried to help died of an accidental drug overdose.

A warning to Moscow from the U.S. that ransomware demands blamed on Russian hackers will have to stop. Recently, some American companies have been targeted by cyber attacks, which, among other things, led to temporary gas shortages and shutdowns of meat plants. Jeff Zeleny has more.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Biden drawing another line in the sand with Russian president Vladimir Putin on cyberattacks. They had another hour-long phone call on Friday, of course, coming after their summit only three weeks ago, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Cyberattacks, front and center in that meeting. Now President Biden urged Vladimir Putin once again to take more action against the Russian companies that are involved in the hack. We asked President Biden about that phone call on Friday.


ZELENY (from captions): How did President Putin response to your call today, sir?

BIDEN: Well, I made it very clear to him that the United States expects, when a ransomware operation is coming from his soil, even though it's not sponsored by the state, we expect them to act and be given enough information to act on who that is.

And secondly, that we have set up communications now on a regular basis to be able to communicate to one another when each of us thinks something's happening in another country that affects the home country. And so it went well. I'm optimistic.

ZELENY (from captions): You said three weeks ago there would be consequences.

Will there be, sir?



ZELENY: So it is unclear what consequences exactly President Biden has in mind. He later said that he would consider going after the software companies, the servers of these Russian companies that are involved in the hack.

One thing is clear: the White House is increasingly stepping up its pressure on Russia.

The question is, will President Putin do anything about it?

Will he respond to this push from the White House?

Now there is a meeting scheduled next week on cyber between U.S. officials and Russian officials as well. President Biden believes an open line of communication with Vladimir Putin, of course, was the point of that summit, in the first place, is key to this.

But it also is clear that this red line seems to be closer and closer to being crossed -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.




BRUNHUBER: Joining me from Washington, D.C., is John Herbst, he's the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and the director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center.

Thank you so much for joining us. You wrote on the red line President Biden has drawn on the issue and the threat to U.S. credibility if Russia crossed it and there wasn't sufficient U.S. response.

You've written, "If Biden fails to act then his attempt to rebuild cyber deterrence will be an order of magnitude more difficult and Putin will be further emboldened. The question is how."

What I want to get at is the administration is promising action in the next days and weeks.

So what do you expect the administration to do/

And what would be the appropriate response?

JOHN HERBST, DIRECTOR, ATLANTIC COUNCIL'S EURASIA CENTER: Well, we don't know if the administration is going to act. I hope it is but we don't know. The point is, at this stage, Biden laid down a clear red line. Putin crossed it and Biden has not responded.

And the statements coming out of the White House, ever since the attack, which is now a week old, have been rather weak. We don't know if Putin will believe Biden this time, since clearly he did not believe him last time. What should happen is there needs to be an American cyber strike back at Russia.

And perhaps we'll see it. Perhaps it will happen.

(CROSSTALK) BRUNHUBER: Well, Biden says -- Biden says what the U.S. does sort of depends on what action Russia takes. He said there is a means of communication now on a regular basis, to be able to communicate to one another when each of us thinks something is going to happen in the other country.

So U.S. officials say they've relayed multiple specific requests for actions on cybercriminals through official channels, I'm quoting them there. The Kremlin says it hasn't received any requests.

So do you expect any meaningful cooperation when they can't even agree on that?

HERBST: Well, certainly, the Kremlin saying that is not a good sign. But my point is that, again, Biden said if there -- in Geneva, he said, if there are more attacks, we're going to strike back and that has not happened. There's just been a series of nasty attacks. Maybe Biden does mean it this time, let's hope so.

BRUNHUBER: We've heard a lot about successful hacks and cyber attacks against the U.S. We don't hear much about the successful countermeasures the U.S. has made targeting individuals, groups, even Russian infrastructure. So take us through what has worked.

HERBST: Well, you had an instance, you had a couple instances in the past several years, where the United States took serious offensive actions but for defensive purposes against Russia.

It happened around the time of our 2018 election, where we went after Russian hackers in a major way and we thwarted largely their interference in our midterm elections.

And in preparation for the 2020 presidential election, we also put in place certain malware, which we could have activated had the Russians intervened in our 2020 elections, like they had in 2016.

And both times, American offensive operations for defensive purposes seemed to work. I'm not a cyber expert. I know a good bit about Russia. But my understanding is we have the best cyber capacity in the world. I know that the Kremlin respects power and if we demonstrate a willingness to use that power they will back off. We need that now.

BRUNHUBER: And if not, you've sort of compared this to the red line that President Obama drew about Syria. And the that didn't go anywhere. So the cost of not doing enough, if that red line is crossed, you argued, this might not just mean emboldening Russia but also other countries like China.

Why is that?

HERBST: Correct. Look, both Russia and China are pursuing revisionist foreign policies, designed to change the rules on which the world order has operated since the end of World War II and the end of the Cold War. And the United States has been the principal power standing up for this rules-based system. And if China sees that we don't respond to Kremlin provocations, then

they could say, well, why in the world would the United States respond to our provocations?

And we know that China is casting an covetous eye on Taiwan. So this is very dangerous stuff. When a superpower sets down a red line and it's crossed and doesn't respond, it weakens credibility. It weakens stability. And Biden needs to reestablish that the United States is serious when it lays down warnings.

BRUNHUBER: A lot at stake, obviously, as you lay out there. We'll be watching to see what if any response the U.S. has here. Ambassador John Herbst, thank you very much.

HERBST: My pleasure. Thank you.



BRUNHUBER: The Taliban are seizing territory more rapidly in Afghanistan now that almost all U.S. troops have left. Two strategic border crossings have just fallen under their control. Anna Coren reports on the latest developments from Kabul.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Taliban continues to make sweeping gains across Afghanistan, seizing one of the country's main trading gateways with Iran. The militants took control of the dry port of Islam Qala in the western province of Herat, where millions of dollars' worth of fuel and supplies cross.

The Taliban also claimed another border crossing bordering Turkmenistan. The government says security forces are attempting to recapture these key areas. It comes after President Biden vigorously defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces and end America's 20- year war in Afghanistan.

He said the decision was overdue that America did not come here to nation build and that it was up to the Afghan government and its security forces to defend its people.

Meantime, a delegation from the Taliban meeting with the Russian government in Moscow gave a press conference, stating that it had claimed 85 percent of Afghan territory, a figure denied by the government.

It also said that humanitarian groups should keep operating, that schools and hospitals must stay open and that the border crossings and customs offices which have been seized will remain operational.

But attempts to portray the extreme Islamist group as an alternate governing body is not convincing anyone. The fighting continues to rage on the battlefield, with tens of thousands of people being displaced, while those who can plan for an exit strategy out of this country -- Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.


BRUNHUBER: Coming up, the final sprint to the Olympics. We'll explain the changes organizers are making to host safe games during a COVID surge. We're live in Tokyo, next.

And it wasn't long ago that most travel destinations were off limits for Americans. Well, that's now a thing of the past. Some have made it to Paris and have the whole city virtually to themselves. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world.

The Biden administration is making good on its promise to send COVID vaccines to countries in desperate need. On Friday, the U.S. was to send some 3 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Indonesia, one of the administration's largest single shipments yet.

It's expected to ship another 1 million doses soon. Countries like Singapore are also helping out, as you see here, sending desperately needed supplies of oxygen and protective equipment.

The Delta variant is surging across Indonesia. On Wednesday alone, the country reported more than 1,000 deaths and 35,000 new cases.

But the U.S. probably won't be sending its excess AstraZeneca vaccines to North Korea anytime soon. South Korean intelligence sources say Pyongyang is refusing to import or administer that particular vaccine. CNN's Paula Hancocks explains why.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It may surprise some that North Korea may be picky about which coronavirus vaccine it's received. But this is what South Korea is claiming at this point.

Now it's important to note, this is not coming from Pyongyang themselves. They have not mentioned too much about vaccines. But we're here in this think tank, which is affiliated with the intelligence agency of South Korea, saying on Friday that North Korea have not received any vaccines at this point.

Also said that North Korea is rejecting the AstraZeneca vaccine, fearing side effects. Now according to this report from the INSS, also saying that North Korea is hesitant to import the Chinese vaccine due to mistrust and also would like to be offered the Russian vaccine at no cost.

Again, this can't be corroborated as North Korea has not commented or even acknowledged this report itself. But this is coming from the South Korean side.

Now we know, since March, according to the intelligence agency and this think tank, any North Korean citizens in China and Russia have been receiving vaccines themselves from their host countries. But there have been, at this point, no plans to import them.

Now North Korea had been planning to receive the vaccinations from COVAX. It was expected to be underway. We heard from the intelligence agency earlier this week as well, telling lawmakers that that appeared to have been delayed and saying it was due to negotiation issues but not elaborating on that at all.

Now we know that the U.S. has offered to give certain countries some of its excess vaccines. We know that North Korea would be eligible. But we have not seen any movement on that at this point.

Certainly, from North Korea's point of view, accepting vaccines from the United States, when there are no ongoing talks or diplomatic efforts between the two, would be quite a step forward, shall we say. And we know also that South Korea would be keen to try and use some vaccine diplomacy to push things forward -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, South Wales.


BRUNHUBER: Pressure is mounting on Olympic organizers as Tokyo 2020 is now less than two weeks away. The games will seem very different this year with fans banned from events in and around the Japanese capital because of surging COVID infections.

CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo for us.

Blake, take us through what banning spectators will mean for the Olympics.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kim, these Olympic Games have turned into a TV event. The buzz and excitement that typically comes with the Olympics doesn't exist.

Now in the buildup to the games and without fans, it's hard to imagine that changing. While the biggest impact will likely be felt by fans who are excited about seeing the games in person and for the athletes, hoping to feed off the crowd's energy, financially, the impact is minimal.

Revenue from ticket sales would only have totaled about $800 million. The big profits come from broadcast rights and sponsorships. In fact, 75 percent of the IOC budget comes from media rights. So it should come as no surprise, with billions of dollars on the line, that these games will be held despite safety concerns.

[05:35:00] ESSIG: For months, we've talked about how unpopular these games have been with the general public and medical professionals. While holding them without spectators is generally seen as a good move, the fact that they're being held at all remains a point of contention.

Tokyo has been living under a constant quasi- or full state of emergency since April and on Thursday Japan's prime minister declared a fourth state of emergency for the capital, lasting until August 22nd.

Now this decision was made at a time when Tokyo is experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases, largely driven by the Delta variant. And just today, cases reached its highest number since mid-May.

And the vaccine rollout is still moving incredibly slow. Only about 17 percent of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated. Now as a result, organizers announced events in Tokyo and several other prefectures, including Fukushima and Hokkaido, will be held without spectators.

Only a handful of events taking place in Miyagi and Shizuoka where state of emergency orders aren't in effect, will allow venues to be filled to 50 percent capacity or a maximum of 10,000 spectators.

Despite the speculator ban, there's a lot of frustration among the people here in Japan regarding the Olympics for months, Kim. Businesses have been closed and people have been asked to make sacrifices to prevent the spread of the infection. Yet the Olympic and Paralympic Games are still being held. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much for the update, Blake Essig in Tokyo, appreciate it.

American tourists are finally back in Paris. Even between lockdowns, which started over a year ago, few travelers could make it to France, which is obviously a disaster for the country's tourism industry. Our correspondent Melissa Bell shows us how it's trying to bounce back.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Versailles, the home of French kings until the revolution and, until the pandemic, a favorite destination for American tourists, once again open for business.

"Historically for us," says the president of the chateau, "Americans have always been the most important foreign tourists. In 2019, they represented 16 percent of the tourists who came to Versailles, just behind the French."

BELL: In 2019, American tourists spent $4 billion here in France. But then for more than a year, from the start of the first French lockdown in March of 2020 until June 18th, when Americans vaccinated or not were allowed back in the country, the splendors of France were much, much quieter than usual.

BELL (voice-over): In fact, for six months over the winter, they were entirely closed. Inside the Louvre, you could have heard a pin drop.

But even in between lockdowns, the streets of Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world, were hard to recognize without the foreigners, a disaster for France's tourism industry, which represented more than 7 percent of the country's GDP as of 2018. Now with Americans allowed back in, there is at least hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are about 25 percent of our passengers at the moment so which is very encouraging because we didn't expect Americans to be so early back in Paris.

BELL (voice-over): But many have rushed over, making the most of the opportunity to travel abroad. And with places like the Champs-Elysees still much quieter than usual.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So beautiful. Like I'm enjoying everything about. It's so different than the United States. So we're like we're enjoying it to the boys (ph). It's so breathtaking.

BELL (voice-over): The Eiffel Tower reopens a week from now. American tourists are back already.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It's the first time we've been on a plane in over a year. And the flight was great though the flight was full, which was interesting. It took about an hour to get through the airport, just to get out of the airport. But yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you're in, you're in.

BELL (voice-over): With a chance to see Paris as few tourists ever get to see it, without too many other tourists around -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


BRUNHUBER: Workers continue to search through the rubble of that condo collapse in Florida, hoping to give families some closure. And now officials are inspecting a nearby tower to determine if it's safe. We'll have the latest on the search and the investigation.

Plus, we'll give you an update on a huge fire at a factory in Bangladesh, where these kinds of deadly incidents are far too common.





BRUNHUBER: Another victim has been found in the rubble of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. That brings the confirmed death toll now to 79, with dozens of others still unaccounted for. CNN's Randi Kaye has the latest on the recovery effort and the investigation into what may have triggered this catastrophe. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Major progress in the recovery mission at the debris pile of Champlain Tower South and it continues around the clock.

MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT (I-FL), SURFSIDE: The pile that originally was approximately four or five stories is now almost at ground level.

KAYE (voice-over): At least 13 million pounds of concrete and debris now removed and the mission remains the same, return loved ones to their families.

Meanwhile, a few effort is underway at the sister tower just a few blocks away, a detailed inspection of Champlain Tower North to make sure it won't suffer the same fate.

CNN got a close-up look at the process as inspection teams went underground today using X-rays and testing concrete for salt residue.

ALLYN KILSHEIMER, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: We did a scan of the thickness of the slab here to know how thick the slab is. We're going to be doing that again today with a different device that can go deeper in measuring the thickness of the floor.

KAYE (voice-over): Just a few miles away in North Miami Beach, residents at Crestview Towers, who were hastily evacuated a week ago based on a delinquent recertification report that showed the building to be structurally and electrically unsafe, were allowed back in the building with a police escort today for just 15 minutes to grab any personal belongings they could carry out by hand.

GUSTAVO MATA, RESIDENT EVACUATED FROM CRESTVIEW TOWERS: They told us yesterday and they told all of us that we have just 15 minutes today to take some stuff, personal stuff. Just 15 minutes. It's nothing for us.

KAYE: CNN has obtained video from Fiorella Terenzi, showing inside the parking deck at the Champlain South Tower, which two engineers told CNN shows corrosion. It was shot in July 2020. It is not clear if this damage had anything to do with the collapse.

Back at the pile at Champlain Tower South, where the rescue mission has officially become a recovery mission, the first responders aren't giving up, despite the personal toll it takes on them.

CHIEF NICHOLE NOTTE, FLORIDA TASK FORCE, 2-K-9 UNIT: I'm physically digging but I'm also emotionally digging for more strength to continue.


KAYE: Amid all the sadness, one small piece of good news to come out of Surfside today: WSBN is reporting rescue workers found Binx the cat alive today near the pile. The station says Binx belongs to the Gonzalez family that lived in apartment 904. It reports the mother and daughter are in the hospital and the father

is still missing. Binx has been reunited with the family.

Now the Broward County medical examiner is sending in teams here because the pace of finding bodies has quickened so much, they are going to help onsite.

Also we understand from the fire chief that they are using schematics and floor plans to try and find more of these victims. They believe they're in the master bedroom, since the collapse did happen at 1:30 in the morning.

But they are digging in all areas of the pile and they've made a lot of progress. Digging in the pile, they now have reached victims on the second floor and the third floor and made their way in some areas deep into the garage -- Randi Kaye, CNN, Surfside, Florida.


BRUNHUBER: Police in Bangladesh are investigating an enormous factory fire that started on Thursday and, according to officials, killed at least 52 people. Firefighters finally got it under control the next day.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Clouds of black smoke billow through the air of this multistory building, as firefighters struggle to put out the flames of this massive fire.

It started Thursday afternoon at a juice and food factory located just outside Bangladesh's capital. It burned until Friday afternoon. According to a fire official, the fire started on the ground floor. Workers tried to escape to the roof. But many were trapped, as the fire spread to the stairway exits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If the workers could have reached the rooftop, we could have saved them like the 25 people we rescued with our crane. If only they could have reached there, we would have been able to save them.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): A few who were able to reach the roof jumped off and at least three died, a fire official told the national news agency. The cause of the fire is unknown. But according to the fire chief, the presence of highly flammable chemicals and plastics inside the factory made it difficult to tame the fire.

Distraught relatives of the victims surrounded the factory, waiting to hear back about their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My son called me and said, "Oh, Mother, a fire broke out."

After a while, his colleague called me and, he said, "He's no more."

How could he survive? BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The bodies recovered were charred beyond recognition, a fire official told local media. The rescue units wrapped the remains in white body bags and piled them into a fleet of ambulances before they were transported to the hospital for DNA testing.

In 2013, more than 1,000 people were killed when an entire garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh's capital, bringing safety standards for the country's factory workers into the spotlight. But since then, blazes and other disasters have been all too common.


BRUNHUBER: And I'll be back right after a quick break.





BRUNHUBER: More than 30 million across the western U.S. are under heat alerts. The region is bracing for another record-breaking heat wave this weekend as temperatures are again poised to reach well into the triple digits Fahrenheit.

And to make matters worse, the area is parched because of the historic drought, a perfect recipe for wildfires. Already the scorching heat has aggravated many large fires in northern California.



BRUNHUBER: Billionaire Richard Branson wants to go where no space tycoon has gone before. He hopes to fly to the end of space in a ship built by his Virgin Galactic company. If he goes, he'll start the billionaire space race. Jeff Bezos is set to launch his rocket nine days later.

Branson posted pictures of himself with crew members, saying he's not racing with Bezos.


RICHARD BRANSON, CHAIRMAN, VIRGIN AMERICA: Whether I go a few days before him or a few days after him, honestly, it doesn't -- it doesn't matter to either of us.

What we want to do is do something extraordinary. And we're both doing something extraordinary, coincidentally on the same month, and opening up space, hopefully, for thousands of people in the years to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: Branson and Bezos are developing commercial spaceflights for tourists.

Well, that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is just ahead. For everyone else, it's CNN's special "Tech for Good."