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Tokyo Olympics 2020; Louisiana Leads in New U.S. COVID-19 Cases; Greece Protests over Required Vaccinations; Brazilians Protest Bolsonaro; Companies Hesitate to Partner with Olympics; Hungary Rallies against Homophobic Law; Arizona Flooding; Global Climate Crisis; Crews Battle 88 Fires across the U.S. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 25, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Alison Kosik.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. breaks through. Swimmer Chase Kalisz taking the country's first gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo games.

Plus the Delta variant causing a spike in COVID cases across the U.S. We take you to one of the hot spots, the least-vaccinated state, Louisiana.

And thousands take to the street in countries around the world to protest tighter coronavirus restrictions.


KOSIK: Competition for Olympic medals isn't the only thing heating up right now in Tokyo. So is the weather. Olympic athletes are now competing in grueling heat and humidity. And there's a tropical storm on the horizon.

China leads right now with the four gold medals, followed by Japan with three. The U.S. has the most medals overall with seven, including one gold.

On Saturday, skateboarding and surfing made their Olympic debuts. But some of the athletes say they miss the excitement and energy of live spectators. COVID remains a serious concern. At least 137 cases are now linked to the games.

Top American golfer Bryson DeChambeau won't be competing after he tested positive just before he was due to leave for Tokyo. A top draw this Sunday is Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron. She played and easily won her first Olympic singles match after bowing out of the French Open earlier this year.

Patrick Snell of CNN "WORLD SPORT" is standing by in Atlanta with the latest on the competition. But let's begin with CNN's Blake Essig in Tokyo.

Let's talk about that weather.

Hot and humid right now, we understand?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alison, hot and humid, it's an understatement. It is really at times unbearable for long stretches, when you're outside.

Before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, it really was the weather that was supposed to have been dominating headlines around these Olympic Games. While cases in Tokyo are surging and Olympic- related cases continue to climb, it's the weather that could cause problems for organizers in the coming days.

A tropical storm is approaching Japan and could make landfall, hitting the Tokyo area on Tuesday. Japan's meteorological agency says that the storm is unlikely to strengthen into a typhoon but could still bring heavy rains, strong winds and high waves.

As a result, rowing events have been canceled on Tuesday and pushed back to Wednesday or Thursday. While the surfers have avoided the tropical storm for now, other athletes have those high temperatures and humidity to contend with as the threat of heatstroke will be a constant problem throughout these games.

According to Japan's public broadcaster NHK, more than 50,000 people are hospitalized and hundreds die each year as a result of Japan's heat. It's worth pointing out that with these Olympic Games, the last time that they were actually held here in Tokyo, back in 1964, they were pushed back several months to avoid these high temperatures.

KOSIK: Blake Essig in Tokyo, thanks.



KOSIK: To another reminder of the challenges facing Olympic organizers as they navigate the games during the pandemic. During an off-camera interview, an International Olympic Committee spokesman told Reuters that masks on the Olympic podium are not just nice to have, they are a, quote, "must have."

Mark Adams apparently made the remarks after these swimmers were seen removing their masks on the medal podium a short time ago. The Tokyo 2020 playbook says masks should be worn at all times except when eating, drinking, training, competing or sleeping.

COVID-19 cases are rising sharply in the United States, up nearly 60 percent from last week. And the dangerous Delta variant driving the surge is targeting the unvaccinated. Just three states account for 40 percent of all new cases, Missouri, Texas and Florida.

Florida alone accounts for 1 in 5 of new infections nationally, with a stunning 73,000 reported in just the past week. Those cases are primarily among the unvaccinated. Take a listen to what one Florida emergency room doctor says about his COVID patients.


DR. JASON WILSON, TAMPA GENERAL HOSPITAL: We've seen a rapid shift over the last two weeks at our hospital for hospitalizations. These hospitalizations are 9:1 unvaccinated people versus vaccinated patients.

For the most part, we see a case of a person who gets COVID and they're vaccinated, we're able to send that patient home (INAUDIBLE) by surveillance. But right now, our hospitals are filling with unvaccinated patients who are sick and much younger than the people we saw just a couple of months ago, in their 40s and younger.

We take every opportunity to engage with a patient around what's best for them that we can. Sometimes when you have COVID and we're trying to treat the illness, talking about the vaccine with that specific patient may not be the best strategy. But family members, other people around that patient, certainly we look for those opportunities.


KOSIK: Meantime, Louisiana's spike in new cases is rising to levels not seen since the winter surge. The state now has the nation's highest rate of new infections per capita. Making matters worse, it's among the least-vaccinated states in the U.S. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has the latest from Louisiana.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: It is a dire situation in the state of Louisiana as it leads in the number of new-COVID cases per capita. More than any, other state in the country, at this time.

There are pop-up vaccination sites trying to address this crisis situation. But if you just take a look at the numbers, alone, 208 percent increase in number of COVID cases over the last couple of weeks; 80 percent -- more than 80 percent -- coming from the Delta variant; 40 percent of those in Louisiana residents receiving one -- at least one out of two doses of the vaccine.


MALVEAUX: That is much too low, according to the governor, who says that Louisiana has a long way to go. Despite the fact that there are some-1,400 vaccination sites, throughout the state, where folks can get it for free, there is, still, a sense of urgency here.

Take a look at these numbers. It is extreme here. Of those people who are testing positive for COVID, 92 percent, not fully vaccinated; of those hospitalized, 90 percent, not fully vaccinated; of those who have recently died, 91 percent, not fully vaccinated.

Healthcare professionals, who are monitoring and who are running this vaccination site as well as the global outreach, say that these are the main factors. These are the things to be concerned about, what is driving this, now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at vaccine and the barriers to vaccination, there are four, major factors that impact that. And the way that I categorize them is, number one, is the issue of mistrust. The second one is misinformation. The third is complacency. And that alludes to that fact. And the fourth is convenience.

MALVEAUX: Health officials are using a program called Faces in Spaces. That is going to where people are to reach them and try to convince them to get vaccinated, whether it's at a crawfish boil or a fish fry or the Laundromat or here, at the mall, to stress the sense of urgency in getting that vaccination -- Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.


KOSIK: Protesters in Paris are fed up with government COVID restrictions. And those restrictions could soon get tougher. A live report from France coming up.

And the unrest in Brazil is about more than just the pandemic. Why people in dozens of cities are in the streets -- next.





KOSIK: Major cities around the world are seeing protests over COVID restrictions. Greek police used tear gas and water cannons in Athens on Saturday, this amid reports people were using petrol bombs. The protesters want the government to back off requiring vaccines for health care workers.

In Australia, protesters marched in Sydney, fed up over a month-long lockdown that could get longer. Officials are warning they may extend the restrictions past next Friday's deadline.

France is also seeing protests. For the latest, let's go to CNN's Jim Bittermann. He is outside Paris.

Jim, great to see you.

What are you hearing from protesters on the streets?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've seen a little protest here yesterday. The fact is, the police have been using water cannon and tear gas, just as in Australia, to keep things under control.

According to the interior ministry, there was about 160,000 protesters in the streets across France, which sounds high and looks dramatic. But in fact, when you compare to it the overall population, 66 million here, it's a pretty small slice of things.

Also it has to be kept in mind now just about half of the French have been doubly vaccinated. These anti-vaccination protests are caused by the government's plan to make people carry around a health certificate if they want to go into bars and restaurants and cafes and other kinds of events, where people are going to be gathering inside.

The senate has now passed a version of that; the national assembly took it up last week and passed what is essentially the government's version. The senate had some modifications. They excluded terraces; for example, if you're outside at a bar, then you don't have to show your health pass.

If you're going inside, you've got to provide the evidence that you've been either vaccinated or tested negative recently.

KOSIK: Is there the understanding, though, that the reason to have this health pass, to have these restrictions, is to try to prevent an actual lockdown?

I'm assuming they all understand this.

BITTERMANN: Well, they certainly do understand it if they read the numbers every day coming in because every single ,day there's an increase in the number of cases. It's been, over the last month, we've seen the cases jump from less than 2,000 to now more than 22,000, almost 23,000 cases per day.

So when you see those caseloads coming in, you begin to realize that this is still a very current problem. This is all caused because -- or mostly caused because of the Delta variant that accounts for over 85 percent of the cases here, caused by the Delta variant.

And it's just rampaging through the country here. And I think that people are beginning to understand that. The health passes, they've made it pretty easy. You can do it online, you get this health pass that proves that you've been vaccinated.

But you've got to get vaccinated. And it has worked to some extent. This is the kind of stick the government was using after years -- not years but months of trying to get people vaccinated with using carrots. The stick, in fact, people have to have something if they want to enjoy the normal social activities and they have to show this pass.

So it has increased the number of vaccination applications; every day there are more and more people getting vaccinated. Like I say, about half of the French now have been doubly vaccinated.

KOSIK: All right, Jim Bittermann, thanks so much.

We just heard from Jim about protests in France over the health pass. As of last Wednesday, it's required for anyone wanting access to a venue of more than 50 or more people. That includes cinemas, theaters, playhouses, sporting events and museums. In Italy, the government announced a mandatory green pass, limiting

access by the unvaccinated to leisure and public venues. People with one dose can enter places like restaurants or cinemas, while the fully vaccinated can enjoy crowded gatherings.

COVID measures in the U.K. are creating confusion. Even as England lifted most social restrictions, prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to isolate if they're pinged by a COVID tracking app.



KOSIK: Peter Drobac is a global health and infectious diseases expert from the University of Oxford and he joins me now live from Oxford, England.

Great to have you with us.


KOSIK: We are seeing these different approaches all over Europe when it comes to the vaccine, whether it's France's stringent measures, Italy's mandatory green pass, England planning something similar, even as it lifts restrictions.

Are these measures likely to work to incentivize people to get vaccinated?

Or will they just harden the attitudes of those who are opposed to getting the vaccine?

DROBAC: This is a tremendously difficult issue leaders are facing, as we see with the spread of Delta. The percentage of people we need to get vaccinated to slow the spread through vaccinations rather than through restrictions is extraordinarily high, it may be as high as 85 percent.

What we're seeing now, it's sort of a new phase of the pandemic where it's really becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. I think we've seen, at least the early results in France, is that it did actually stimulate quite a number of people to get vaccinated over the last week, about 900,000 in one day.

But it's extremely difficult. I think what's important is that these kinds of measures, so-called vaccine passports, have to be in a setting where people do truly have access to the vaccine if they want it.

In most cases what we're seeing is that, instead of proof of vaccination, you can show proof of a negative test, which can allow for people who either have a medical reason not to get vaccinated or perhaps a strong personal belief not to, to still participate. So on balance, this is difficult. But I do favor these kinds of interventions.

KOSIK: The pushback on these new restrictions all over Europe could be happening in part because, look, we all just have COVID fatigue.

Is there, do you think, a way to counter COVID fatigue at this point?

DROBAC: I think, as you pointed out a few minutes ago, one of the important incentives with these kinds of measures is actually to prevent this surge from getting to the point where governments need to consider new restrictions again.

So this is actually a way to protect our freedoms and protect our ability to move and work and get on with our lives and see others and actually prevent new restrictions, lockdowns, et cetera. And I think that's really important.

You know, we don't want to get into a place where we're starting to blame people for not getting vaccinated, because I think that will harden attitudes. Different people have different reasons for being hesitant about getting the vaccines.

So I think, along with the kind of stick that these measures provide, we really need to redouble our efforts, both to combat the misinformation online about the safety of vaccines but also at the same time to really accelerate grassroots efforts at the community level to inform and persuade people that it's in their best interests and their community's best interests to get vaccinated.

KOSIK: You said not to blame the unvaccinated but President Biden, I think said a few days ago, that this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Do you think he's right?

DROBAC: I think that's true. If you look at the number of cases, 99 percent, for example, here in the U.K. of cases that we're seeing, severe cases, are in the unvaccinated. So I think that's a true statement.

But as you said, there is a risk in some who have hesitancy to get a vaccine, that if they feel like they're being blamed or pushed into a corner, they could become more resistant.

We do need I think to continue to inform and persuade. Our M.O. as public health professionals is to listen, to not blame, to inform, to persuade people to make smart health decisions for themselves and their communities.

KOSIK: As new restrictions go into effect, what do you think this says about where we are in terms of fighting this disease?

DROBAC: Again, it's a new phase in this pandemic. I'm not sure where this is going to go. We have seen some protests. I imagine many of the people protesting are the same ones who are protesting lockdowns over the last several months.

The other thing we need to understand here about the larger dynamic is, these debates that are raging in relatively wealthy and high- vaccination countries exclude the fact that, around the world, most countries still have extremely limited access to vaccines.

So we really have become a world of haves and have-nots with regard to pandemic control. So as we have these debates right now in Indonesia, in subsaharan Africa, Delta is raging in places where vaccination rates are less than 10 percent. So we also need to redouble our efforts to improve vaccine access around the world.

KOSIK: All right, Dr. Peter Drobac, thank you for your perspective.

DROBAC: Thank you.


KOSIK: Protests erupted in cities in Brazil on Saturday, demonstrators are livid with the president, not just for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Journalist Anthony Wells with our affiliate CNN Brasil has more from Sao Paulo.



ANTHONY WELLS, CNN BRASIL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets for the fourth weekend this year, demanding the impeachment of president Jair Bolsonaro amid corruption accusations against the administration's handling of the pandemic.

In Sao Paulo, for example, the nation's biggest and richest state capital, protesters clashed with police as they marched toward the center of the city.

In Rio, in Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, residents displayed their frustration and anger toward the government.

Meanwhile, in Brasilia, the nation's capital, Bolsonaro greeted supporters while out on a motorcycle ride. Facing reelection next year, a recent poll shows Bolsonaro is losing to former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

He continues to argue, without evidence, that the current election system is fraudulent, a claim that the Brazilian government has denied. The South American nation continues to face a COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed over 540,000 Brazilian lives -- Anthony Wells, CNN Brasil, Sao Paulo.


KOSIK: Still ahead on CNN, why some companies fear a consumer backlash for sponsoring the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Plus skateboarding makes its debut at this year's event.

Why did it take so long for this multibillion-dollar sport to make it to the Olympics?




KOSIK: Welcome back, I'm Alison Kosik in New York and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Competitions at the 2020 Tokyo games are in full swing. And China and the U.S. lead the overall medal count right now at eight.


KOSIK: China has the most gold medals with four. Meantime, skateboarding is making its Olympic debut in Tokyo. An Olympian from Japan just won the first-ever Olympic gold medal in the sport after the men's street final on Sunday. CNN's Blake Essig joins us once again this hour from Tokyo to talk more about skateboarding at the Olympics.

Great to see you again.

ESSIG: Yes, Alison, look, exciting times. Skateboarding made its Olympic debut today. As you mentioned, 22-year-old Yuto Horigome of Japan won the first-ever gold medal in skateboarding. He won the men's street final, in a huge moment not only for Japan but in skateboarding.

In recent times, this niche counter culture has become a global commodity and high fashion obsession but while skateboarding is increasingly becoming mainstream, here in rule-loving Japan, not everyone is convinced that perceptions will shift so quickly.


ESSIG (voice-over): At Triangle Park in Osaka, creativity is king. Here, it doesn't matter who you are, where you come from or how much air you can catch. It is all about innovation, art and self expression.

TAICHIRO "CHOPPER" NAKAMURA, SKATEBOARDER (through translator): People should feel free when they skateboard. It is better if there are no rules.

ESSIG (voice-over): For more than 30 years, this park is been home to Japan's underground skateboard scene, the birthplace of alternative skating. And a diverse group of skaters, known around the globe, is the Osaka Daggers.

Taichiro Nakamura, better known as Chopper, is considered by many as its father. He has been skateboarding on the streets of Osaka since he was a teenager.

CHOPPER (through translator): Skateboarding represents freedom and diversity for me, so I'm trying to inspire younger people to value those ideas too. We want to foster an environment where everyone is free to express their own unique style.

ESSIG: The Osaka Daggers are not a team but instead a culture pioneering group that was once considered nothing more than rebels and misfits, now represents the foundation of skateboarding here in Japan.

ESSIG (voice-over): A foundation that Daisuke Hayakawa, coach of the Japanese Olympic skateboard team, says will, in a sense, be on display when skateboarding makes its Olympic debut here at the games in Tokyo.

DAISUKE HAYAKAWA, COACH, JAPANESE OLYMPIC SKATEBOARD TEAM (through translator): At the Olympics, people will be able to see how skaters express their creativity and ideas through skateboarding. While skateboarding became an Olympic sport, it's important to remember the culture around it.

ESSIG (voice-over): A culture that could become more widely accepted as the sport goes mainstream.

HAYAKAWA (through translator): I think the future is bright for skateboarding.

ESSIG (voice-over): Back in Osaka, while the Olympics have already had a big influence on shifting perceptions around skateboarding, these skaters say acceptance and change means a constant struggle, that skating here is still technically against city rules.

CHOPPER (through translator): From the outside, it looks like this park belongs to young people. But when we skateboard here, police always come.

ESSIG (voice-over): But that hasn't stopped Chopper and his crew from doing what they love at Triangle Park and just down the street at the indoor skate park, sharing the passion and the culture embedded in their DNA with the next generation.

HOKUTO YONEMURA, SKATEBOARDER (through translator): I started skateboarding when I was 3. I think it's a really fun sport.

ESSIG (voice-over): Hokuto Yonemura, at 9 years old, is the youngest Osaka Dagger, a talented skater with big aspirations.

YONEMURA (through translator): I want to make it to the Olympics because I really want to win the gold medal.

ESSIG (voice-over): A dream starting this year that could become a reality, as sport and culture collide for the world to see.


ESSIG: As far as skateboarding is concerned, there will be two disciplines on display here in Tokyo, both street and park. Street is held on a course that looks like a street, with hand rails, stairs, curbs and walls.

The park competition is held in a hollowed-out course that looks like a bowl with steep sides. All competitions will be judged on things like speed, originality and difficulty of tricks.

Alison, it will be a lot of fun to watch. Skateboarding isn't the only sport making its Olympic debut in Tokyo. Other newcomers include speed climbing, karate and surfing. Baseball and softball are also making their return to the Olympics after not being included since 2008.

KOSIK: I happen to love the variety. I'm all for it.


KOSIK: CNN's Blake Essig in Tokyo, thank you.

Some Olympic sponsors are frustrated and worried about how their association with the Tokyo games will impact its bottom line. Not only do they risk losing a return on their investment.


KOSIK: Some companies fear consumer backlash for linking their brand to a controversial event during the pandemic. CNN's Selina Wang reports from Tokyo.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Olympics, normally a golden opportunity to boost corporate image. But this year, the fear is brand damage because of intense opposition to the games in Japan.

After Japanese sponsors spent a record of more than $3 billion to be associated with the 5 rings, COVID-19 cases are surging. Spectators largely banned while the Japanese public, just 20 percent of them fully vaccinated, are urged to stay at home during the games. Sponsor plans are falling flat.

WANG: I'm at the top of Tokyo Sky Tree, the world's tallest broadcasting tower. It's one of many Japanese Olympic sponsors that have had to cancel or scale promotional events tied to the games.

WANG (voice-over): "We were planning to hold events to boost the mood for the Olympics but, because of COVID-19, it is not the right time to hold a festival," he tells me.

"We've canceled events, a veiling site in tour trailing al veeling spot (ph)."

Toyota, a top Olympic sponsor, is not airing Olympic related TV commercials. The editorial board of another sponsor, Asahi Shimbun newspaper, called for a cancellation in May.

There is little Olympic spirit in the host city. Tokyo is in a state of emergency and alcohol is banned from restaurants. The CEO of Suntory (ph), one of Japan's biggest beverage makers, says the economic loss from no spectators will be enormous.

TAKESHI NINAMI, CEO, SUNTORY: I've expected that from a lot of spectators from abroad to visit you know, restaurants and bars, where they sell our products and they promote our brands.

So we had a plan to open more than a couple of the bars and restaurants only for products sponsored by us. But we canceled it.

WANG: Do you think that these games could still boost international businesses for Japanese countries?

NINAMI: More and more, I don't think so. I think the Olympics have been losing its value.

WANG: Do you think the game should have been postponed?

NINAMI: Considering the current rollout of vaccines in this country, two months from now should be the ideal timing.

WANG (voice-over): According to Robert Mayes (ph), a sports marketing executive in Japan, several local sponsors were pushing for the Olympics to be delayed.

ROBERT MAYES (PH), SPORTS MARKETING EXECUTIVE: The sponsors were paying a lot of money but basically the return is extremely limited. You have the five rings, then you have what used to be (INAUDIBLE) to the Olympics, which is the spirit of sport, the pleasure, the youth, the sparkling ideas of sport. But that has all gone now.

WANG (voice-over): But sponsor Asics is staying optimistic. It's the official outfitter for the Japanese Olympic team and volunteers. Opening this experience center in central Tokyo, showing us designs all the way back to the 1964 Tokyo games.

"There will be no spectators in the games, we are sure that many people will experience the atmosphere of the Olympics through media like TV," he says.

Some experts say it's too early to say how brands will be impacted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point not sugarcoating, you know, this is not an ideal situation.

Have sponsors been able to get their short term marketing gain?


Will they be able to get a long term marketing gain?

Still possible.

WANG (voice-over): And all that depends on whether the games are held safely without turning into a superspreader event -- Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


KOSIK: Opponents speak out against a new law in Hungary that's widely condemned as homophobic.


KOSIK (voice-over): Next, a pushback against the law at a huge pride march in Budapest.



KOSIK (voice-over): Plus Floodwaters are hitting communities in India, China and Germany. And scientists say it's going to keep happening as long as climate change continues unchecked.







KOSIK (voice-over): An estimated 30,000 people joined a pride march in Hungary's capital on Saturday and pushed back against a new law that's been widely slammed as homophobic. It prohibits any discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools and bans gay and trans characters and certain others from appearing on TV for much of the day.

The prime minister Viktor Orban says the law is about letting parents decide how their kids should be educated.


KOSIK: Opponents say the law is part of a standard political playbook by the prime minister. But as Melissa Bell reports, they believe this time he may be getting more than what he bargained for.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The gay pride here in Budapest wasn't just the usual celebration this year but also a protest and for the LGBT community a show of force. The organizers say that tens of thousands turned out, despite an atmosphere, that they say, has become increasingly oppressive.

Now legislation that paused that came into effect earlier this month, it is the culmination of what has been a month long, several month long, campaign of demonization essentially, of the LGBT community.

So a lot of people coming out to try and show their support. So far, Viktor Orban, in power now for 11 years, has used what has been a fairly successful playbook of targeting minorities in order to galvanize his base. We see it with migrants, we've seen it with the homeless, we've seen it with transgender people. This time, the question is really, if he isn't trying to take on

minorities, they are simply not small enough to not possibly cancel next year's elections. What they are hoping for is a real show of support to say Hungarian society is not in favor of this referendum he has announced.

It is behind what Brussels has said it's now doing, which is taking on Viktor Orban over this very controversial legislation. In a meeting with a bunch of people these last few, days families, corporates who say that, this time, they're really standing up against the government and against Viktor Orban's populist streak, in order to make themselves heard.

The next big test will be the referendum, that we expect to be held before the end of the year -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Budapest.


KOSIK: Coming up, dozens of wildfires are raging in the western U.S. and one in Oregon is even spawning tornadoes. That's next.





KOSIK: At least 136 people have died in western India after heavy monsoon rains triggered flooding and landslides. It's some of the heaviest July rain the region has seen in decades, with some areas getting almost 2 feet of rain in 24 hours. Rescue crews are racing to find survivors but the heavy rains have hampered those efforts.

India isn't the only part of Asia dealing with devastating flooding. At least 58 people have died in central China after historic rainfall battered Hunan province. The city of Shenzhou saw almost a year's worth of rain in three days.

Scientists say the devastating floods we're seeing aren't a fluke; they're the natural result of a warming planet and it's only expected to get worse, as Allison Chinchar reports.


ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): By raft, by bulldozer, even on the backs of rescuers, people are ferried to safety from the floods that submerged parts of China this week.

The waterlogged area is now recovering from the equivalent of a year's worth of rain dumped on it in just a few days. But there is more rain in the forecast, compounding the misery of some of the residents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I would never have thought that my home would have been completely destroyed. All of my belongings were damaged by water.

CHINCHAR (voice-over): It's the latest nexus of extreme weather that has been unleashed across the globe in recent weeks.


CHINCHAR (voice-over): Monsoon rains continue to deluge parts of India, downpours lasting for days, washing away houses and bursting river banks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I cannot see anything here. My house, my people and my neighbors, I cannot find anyone.

CHINCHAR (voice-over): Studies show that monsoons in India are getting stronger and more erratic and powered by climate change. The World Meteorological Organization say that water related hazards dominate a list of global disasters over the last 50 years.

One expert explains how warmer air allows for more water to be evaporated into the atmosphere and what goes up eventually comes down.

JOHNNY CHAN, PROFESSOR OF ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE, CITY UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: When you have a wet towel, you squeeze so much water out of it. But if you have a much wetter towel, you squeeze a lot more water out.

So therefore when you have more moisture in the atmosphere and if you can squeeze out the water, which then becomes rain, then you have a lot more water to be squeezed out.

CHINCHAR (voice-over): Scientists say climate change is likely to increase the intensity and the frequency of large flooding events, like the kinds seen in Germany recently. Germany's transport minister estimates the flooding caused more than $2 billion worth of damage to infrastructure in the affected areas.

Many roads, buildings and bridges just not equipped to weather such conditions. Subways particularly vulnerable to flooding, like these scenes in New York City earlier this month. A summer of rain soakers and a warning that the waters will continue to rise if climate change continues to go unchecked -- I'm meteorologist Allison Chinchar, CNN.


KOSIK: On the opposite end of the spectrum, dozens of wildfires are raging in the western U.S. California's governor has declared a state of emergency in four counties as fires burn thousands of acres, destroy buildings and force people to evacuate.


KOSIK (voice-over): These are time-lapse images of one of those fires in California. Watch as it overtakes and completely wipes out this ridge in the Plumas Natural Forest. The devastation taking just six minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KOSIK: The Tamarack Fire in Nevada started on the 4th of July as a small burn on a single tree caused by a lightning strike. Now it's an out-of-control inferno. Lucy Kafanov is tracking it for us.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Tamarack fire has been burning out of control. Crews still struggling to get a handle on it and you can see the impact all around me.


KAFANOV (voice-over): Take a look from above. You're looking at the city of Reno. In the distance you should be able to see mountains; instead, you have thick fog, fumes, haze blanketing the air. You can smell it, you can taste it, you can feel it in your lungs.


KAFANOV: This fire, in addition to several others, has prompted California governor Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency on Friday for several counties.

Also in Oregon, the Bootleg Fire, one of the largest the state has ever seen, still burning out of control. We were able to embed with crews on the front lines of that blaze. Take a listen to how one firefighter described the challenges of battling it.


JOE TONE, INCIDENT MANAGER, BOOTLEG FIRE: The fire itself is faster than the firefighters can get control over it. The winds and the trees and the brush that is so dry burns at a rate faster than we can keep up with it. No matter how many people we're throwing at it, it outpaced us for several days.


KAFANOV: And that's the challenge of fighting fires across the west right now. You have extreme drought conditions in so many states. That makes it really difficult for firefighters to get control of these blazes -- Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Reno, Nevada.




KOSIK: Monsoon-level rains are causing dangerous flash flooding in Arizona. The conditions leading to this dramatic rescue near Phoenix.


KOSIK (voice-over): Video from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows two people being rescued by a helicopter. That's after rising floodwaters swallowed their food delivery truck.


KOSIK: Finally, Jackie Mason, a star of the old Borscht Belt resorts in New York state, has died at age 93. Mason was once an amateur boxer and became a rabbi. But as a standup comedian, he hit the big time.

His rapid-fire schtick was decidedly Jewish and riddled with Yiddish references. He was a TV variety show regular and had a one-man Broadway show, later voiced a character on "The Simpsons" sitcom. A friend said Jackie Mason died at a hospital in New York on Saturday, with friends and family at his bedside.

I'm Alison Kosik. More CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.