Return to Transcripts main page


Simone Biles Withdraws from Some Events; CDC Says the Vaccinated Can Spread Delta Variant; U.S. Businesses Take Hard Line on Vaccines; Taliban Still Maintain Ties with Al Qaeda; Ethiopia's Tigray Crisis; Asian Nations Tighten Restrictions against Delta Variant; Turkey Wildfires Kill Four. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired July 31, 2021 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone, I'm Michael Holmes, appreciate your company.

Coming up on the program, taking care of her mental health. U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, withdrawing from more Olympic competitions. The latest on that and all of the action in Tokyo.

Soaring COVID cases in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. President signaling more COVID restrictions could be coming.

And, frightening, almost apocalyptic scenes in Turkey, as deadly wildfires sweep the southern coast.


HOLMES: Welcome, everyone.

More surprises on day 8 of the Tokyo Olympics. U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, one of the game's biggest stars, will be sitting out 2 more events, the vault and the uneven bar finals.

USA Gymnastics, saying she could still compete in the floor exercise and balance beam finals, early next week. Biles says she is suffering from what gymnasts call the twisties, a debilitating mental block that could lead to dangerous injuries. Fellow U.S. gymnast Michaela Skinner (ph) is replacing Biles in the vault final on Sunday. She posted on Instagram, "Doing this for us. Simone Biles, it is go time, baby."

Joining me now, "CNN SPORT'S" Andy Scholes here, in Atlanta.

Given what we've seen in recent days, how surprising is it to see Simone Biles pull out of more events?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORT CORRESPONDENT: We certainly knew it was a possibility, after what Biles was saying on Instagram over the last few days. She says she is suffering from a case of the twisties, which is a term used by gymnasts when they feel like they get lost in the air, just doing the same movements that they have done thousands of times.

Simone, posting videos of her practicing, just struggling, saying that her mind and body, simply are not in sync right now.

USA Gymnastics, releasing a statement earlier, saying, "Today after further consultation with medical staff, Simone Biles has decided to withdraw from the event finals for vault and uneven bars. She will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether to compete in the finals for floor exercise and balance beam."

The floor final is on Monday and the beam final on Tuesday. Of course, we will wait to see if they can compete in those. Biles did add to people, she quit. They don't realize just how dangerous it is on how to land those incredibly hard moves, especially with knowing the hard competition surface is right below.



HOLMES: We are seeing COVID cases in Japan hitting record highs. The country, topping 10,000 new infections for a second day in a row on Friday. And now, the number of cases linked to Tokyo's games has risen to more than 240. CNN's Blake Essig with more, from the Japanese capital.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The 5th wave of infection is continuing to swell in Tokyo and across Japan. Japan's prime minister says, infections are increasing, spreading faster than ever before.

As a result last night, the state of emergency order was declared for Osaka and several prefectures near Tokyo. The prime minister also extending the current state of emergency in the capital, until the end of August.

For now the vaccination rate nationwide, remaining relatively low, at only 28 percent. The prime minister, urging people to stay vigilant until vaccines further demonstrate their effectiveness.


YOSHIHIDE SUGA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Vaccinations have had a noticeable effect. But there are still some things that are very worrying. One of them is the rapid increase in the number of infections among the younger generation.


ESSIG: Tokyo's most recent state of emergency was put in place for two weeks and shows little to no success in slowing the surge in cases. The top coronavirus advisor says he feels a great sense of danger that there is barely any prospect that the current outbreak can be reduced.

That is because the general public does not share a sense of crisis. Infectious disease experts say the Delta variant is fueling the latest spike in cases but some people in Japan say that it's the Olympics that are also playing a role.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Of course I think the rise in COVID cases is related to the Olympics. The IOC said it's a parallel universe and it is not related. But I of course, think it is related.


ESSIG: Japan's medical association fears that if the surge of infection continues, the medical system will collapse. According to the head of Japan's doctors' union, who I spoke with the other night, cases could more than triple in the next two weeks, if stricter measures are not put in place -- Blake Essig, CNN, Tokyo.


HOLMES: Well, just when it appeared that vaccines could end the pandemic, the super aggressive Delta variant is threatening to undo all of that progress. U.S. health experts, again, urging everyone, even vaccinated people, to mask up in public places, where transmission rates are high, which is all of the area you can see in red. There is a lot of it.

The Centers for Disease Control says that Delta is as contagious as chicken pox and can cause even more severe illness. What is worse, a single infected person might initially spread it to at least five people instead of one or two, with many more infected later.

The so-called herd immunity is generally thought to be around 70 percent to 80 percent inoculated people. Right now, slightly less than half of all American adults are fully vaccinated. Unless that improves quickly, U.S. President Joe Biden warning additional guidelines and restrictions could be coming.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In all probability -- by the, way we had a good day yesterday, almost 1 million people got vaccinated. So I am hopeful that people are beginning to realize how essential it is.


HOLMES: But 33 U.S. states, reporting at least 50 percent more COVID cases than the week before. None have shown a decline.

Now the latest CDC data, showing that the Delta variant does not behave like earlier strains of COVID. It is far more prolific and far more aggressive. As virus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci explained to National Public Radio, the Delta variant poses a whole new set of public health challenges.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: I think the simplest way to get people to understand is that we are dealing with a different virus. The Delta virus has characteristics that are different than the Alpha variant and other variants we have dealt with.

So when someone says that the war has changed, what it really means is the virus has changed. We have got to keep up in our understanding and what our policies are, related to the fact that we are dealing now with a more formidable virus.




HOLMES: Dr. Raj Kalsi is a board certified emergency medicine physician, joining me now from Illinois.

Good to see you again, Doctor, I wanted to ask about your concerns about this notion that vaccinated people, even though they won't get as sick or die as the unvaccinated, can spread the variant just as easily.

DR. RAJ KALSI, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Yes. So the Delta variant is a player we didn't anticipate. The virologists did but we were hoping this thing would have been over and done with.

But there is some concern that the new data from the CDC, saying that the vaccinated people can spread the variant, as much as non vaccinated people, maybe a little less than that. This is concerning, because there's already a great schism among people who are vaxers and anti-vaxers.

And now you are telling them they can spread it, regardless. It's concerning.

What do you do?

Do you go back on lockdown?

Do you mitigate with masking, closing down infrastructure?

Or do you move forward and anticipate this concept of herd immunity?

So it is concerning on all aspects.

HOLMES: If vaccinations were, at least, in part, about breaking the chain of infection, if infections are continuing, is the notion the herd immunity becoming out of reach, because of this variant?

KALSI: One is, herd immunity is still something that we can achieve. For the vaccinated, then those who are getting the illness, who didn't get vaccinated, they're getting essentially forced into a vaccine by natural immunity from the disease itself.

They didn't want the vaccine but they're going to get the illness and hopefully, they don't die from it and have these long haul symptoms because of it.

Or, this herd immunity thing takes too long and by the tie we get herd immunity to the current Delta variant, there is a Lambda variant or a Gamma variant or some new variant, Omega variant that is not only more contagious but also more deadly.

HOLMES: When we look at countries with low vaccination rates not to mention dozens of countries which can't get vaccines, there are risks obviously in the global sense.

I heard a doctor last week say Delta isn't the last letter in the Greek alphabet.

Do you fear more and stronger and more deadly variants, ones that could defeat the vaccines?

KALSI: It's always a fear on my mind. I'm an ER doctor, boots on the ground and I'm not the guy thinking in the think tank, that the CDC or wherever the virologists sit and ponder public health.

That being said, I think we're scientifically, based on all of the data we are reading, we are still very far off from an extremely contagious and extremely deadly virus. However, nothing that we have anticipated has really come to fruition with this pandemic. Everything is really defying everything else we have projected. So that is a bit scary.

When it comes to your boots on the ground status, what are you seeing in terms of people with the virus, who, are perhaps, unvaccinated?

Are you seeing plenty of buyer's remorse and non buyer's remorse?

KALSI: At times, I am. There are heartfelt stories. There are people that are very sick and, regrettably, lamenting the fact that they didn't get vaccinated.

We are also seeing people who did got vaccinated with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, some other Moderna and they are getting COVID. They did all of the right things and they moved forward in their life appropriately according to the guidelines and they're getting COVID-19, albeit I feel like they're getting a less severe COVID, which is a good thing.

It's less likely for a vaccinated person to get the Delta variant. That being said, we are starting to see an uptick in admitting people at one of my bigger institutions, with the Delta variant.

HOLMES: And, less likely to die. I think the latest statistic is almost 99 percent of deaths are unvaccinated people. It makes it a bit of a no-brainer. I think the argument stops there, really, when it comes to vaccinations.

Quickly, before we go, in the U.S., there are new mask mandates, moves by companies as well as the federal government to require workers to be vaccinated and similar moves in Europe with green passes and so on.

Are these tactics the right way to go?

Are there risks in coercion versus persuasion?

KALSI: Listen, I am an American, I was born and raised here. I believe in autonomy, freedom of speech. And I support Americans that feel like their autonomy is being violated by being mandated to be vaccinated.

That being said, the double edge of that sword is, if you get COVID, you could die from it. You could have a long haul syndrome or set of symptoms from COVID. That is on you. You make your choice and you lay in bed with it and that is on you.

But there is two edges to every side of this. And I believe in human autonomy and people have a right to make that determination. However, this time it's affecting everybody.


HOLMES: Yes, that's the point. You have your freedoms as long as they don't infringe on my health. And that's the ongoing argument. Doctor, got to leave it there, appreciate your, time always good to see you

KALSI: You too, thanks for having me.


HOLMES: We will take a quick break, when we come back on the program, the first Afghan interpreters who risked their lives to help American troops landed in the U.S. But thousands, tens of thousands remain living in fear of the Taliban.

We will speak to a former Pakistani ambassador about his nation's relationship with the insurgent group.

Plus, Turkey in the midst of a massive wildfire raging as smoke swallows whole villages and tourist resorts. Why experts say we bear some of the blame. We will be right back.




HOLMES: The first group of Afghan interpreters who worked alongside American troops have finally arrived in the United States. It's part of President Biden's vow never to abandon those who helped in America's longest war. These Afghans are the lucky ones. Thousands more remain in danger. CNN's Kylie Atwood reports.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST (voice-over): It's the beginning of an effort to uphold a promise. Those buses are carrying about 200 Afghan interpreters and their families, pulling into U.S. Army base Fort Lee in Virginia, now safe on U.S. soil.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose.

ATWOOD: President Biden welcomed the interpreters home and thanked them for putting their lives on the line alongside U.S. troops in America's longest war.

Those arriving today are part of a group of 700 special immigrant visas or SIV applicants who have completed the majority of their background screening process. It'll be at Fort Lee for about a week, some in temporary housing and hotels.

Securing a medical clearance and getting the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia talked about their arrival.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): We feel particularly supportive and even proud that we could be the initial place of touching soil in the United States as these Afghan SIVs and their family members began and next exciting challenging chapter of opportunity in this country.

ATWOOD: These Afghans were essential to America's efforts on the ground in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.

Army Captain Sayre Paine who served in the country described the wartime commodity.

SAYRE PAINE, FORMER ARMY CAPTAIN: I'm grateful to anybody that sat in the trenches with me fully knowing the hazards that we faced that more than likely one of us was going to die. And the interpreter was right there with us. And I owe them a duty as much as I owe any soldier that I was with.


ATWOOD (voice-over): Of the 20,000 Afghans in the SIV pipeline, about 10,000 of them have just begun the application process, according to the State Department. Applications can take years to process.

That could be a deadly problem for some, with the Taliban issuing death threats for Afghans who worked with the U.S. and seizing control of the country.

NAYAB, SIV APPLICANT: If I don't get out of Afghanistan, I am counting down my end of life.

ATWOOD: President Biden said these arrivals are just the first of many as the administration works to relocate Afghans out of harm's way. The remaining question is exactly how many Afghans the United States will be able to relocate before the complete U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in September -- Kylie Atwood, CNN, Fort Lee.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: The arrival of those Afghans in the U.S. is good news but it's a drop in the bucket and it comes late in the game for tens of thousands of others, whose lives are at risk right now and who continue to wait.

Meanwhile, Afghans and Afghanistan have myriad other looming challenges and risks ahead, even from next door neighbors, which brings me to Husain Haqqani. He is former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., also director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute.

He's written about some of these challenges in "Foreign Affairs" magazine, focusing on neighboring Pakistan.

It's good to see you again, Husain. Let's start with this. The Taliban gains have been fast; predictable in many ways. As you write in "Foreign Affairs," Pakistan's hardliners have been supporting the Taliban for decades. They are getting what they wished for. But as you put, it they will come to regret it. Explain what you mean.

HUSAIN HAQQANI, FORMER PAKISTAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Pakistan now does not want the Taliban to have a military victory because it would result in 2 things. One would be chaos in Afghanistan; second, the international isolation for both Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban and for Pakistan for enabling it.

So Pakistan would have preferred some kind of a brokered settlement in which the Taliban's ascendancy was accepted by the international community in a negotiated process.

And all of a sudden, those who have supported the Taliban in Pakistan are realizing the fact there, which has been granted may not necessarily end the problems they had hoped to combat.

Pakistan's reason for supporting the Taliban historically has been that they want to deny Indian influence in Afghanistan. And that is something they might be able to achieve but at a much bigger price, which is the loss of international support from other quarters.

HOLMES: Which is a good explanation on your piece.

How might a Taliban regime next door affect Pakistan's domestic peace and security?

You write, quote, "Islamist extremism has already divided Pakistani society along sectarian lines and the ascendance of Afghan Islamists next door will only embolden radicals at home.

How might that play out?

HAQQANI: Pakistan's current military chief has disagreed, publicly, with his predecessors by saying that the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban, who are responsible for many terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, including that very brutal attack on Pakistani school children a few years ago, that group is inextricably linked with the Afghan Taliban. You had on CNN the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, saying we are

working with the Afghan Taliban, so TTP will be the first threat that Pakistan will face. They will want not only Afghanistan to be Islamic; they want their vision of Islam to also spread to the areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.

The second threat for Pakistan will be refugees, not all Afghans will accept the Taliban rule and many will resist.

Third, having a civil war next door is never good for a country's economy. That will be another problem for Pakistan to deal with. Of, course whenever the Taliban come into power or Afghanistan descends into chaos, there is always the increase in narcotics production in remote border areas. That will become a problem for Pakistan.

And lastly, Pakistan will have to deal with being blamed for the Taliban having taken over and it will be in a difficult position of not being able to totally break with the Taliban, because this is a country right next door. And Pakistan would like to have relations which whoever is in power there.

But at the same time, the other problem will be that they will not be in Pakistan's control, while the international community will demand that Pakistan bring them under control.

HOLMES: As I said at the outset, there are myriad issues for Pakistan.


HOLMES: The major U.S. demand in talks with the Taliban was that they break off ties, and cooperation with Al Qaeda, don't allow a terror base in the country. But that was pretty naive, really.

The evidence is the Taliban not having broken off ties and Al Qaeda has even been fighting alongside the Taliban. Then you have the Haqqani Network in Pakistan, with its links to Al Qaeda.

Do you believe Al Qaeda will reconstitute itself in Afghanistan?

And what is your fear if that happens?

HAQQANI: Well, Al Qaeda, according to the U.N. report on the subject, already have relations with the Taliban and it is already -- stands reconstituted. It may not have the same vigor as in the past.

But once they have the control of Afghanistan and are an international pariah, we will go back to the 1990s, where the Taliban will get some kind of international connection through Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda will have the protection of the Taliban.

These are groups that are ideologically connected. And they are also connected by marriage. They have been together in form or another going back all the way to the Soviet occupation.

And we must acknowledge that then, Americans who were naive enough to let these people come and operate out of Pakistan, thinking they would only fighting the Communists and not be a problem later, well, they did become a problem.

And then, after 9/11, there was an American naivete in thanking they could go after Al Qaeda without going after the Taliban.

Lastly, there has been this naivete that, if only the Taliban can come to the Ritz-Carlton in Doha, they will sit together with us, sign an agreement and then they will say goodbye to Al Qaeda.

None of those naive presumptions will be fulfilled, because the Taliban have a core ideological belief. They believe that they are doing God's work in whatever they do. And when you feel that, then you do not compromise.

HOLMES: I wish we had more time, we never even got to China, Iran, Russia, their interests in the country as well. Always a fascinating discussion with you, Husain Haqqani, thank you so much.

HAQQANI: Such a pleasure.

HOLMES: Now there is a serious food shortage in war torn Tigray. Hundreds of thousands at risk. The U.N. is warning of an urgent need for help in that Ethiopian region. We will be right back.




HOLMES: More than 10,000 migrants are stranded in a Colombian coastal town, as they try to make their way to Central and North America. The mayor of Necocli says it is causing a humanitarian crisis and a public health emergency.

The surge of people plus border closures with Panama caused a bottleneck in the town. That is according to the Colombian Migration Agency. The government calling for a roundtable with local authorities help get aid to the migrants.

The United Nations saying, they don't have enough food to feed all of those in need in wartorn Tigray. The U.N.'s World Food Programme, warning that hundreds of thousands of people in the Ethiopian region are on the brink of famine. CNN's Larry Madowo with the story.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As (INAUDIBLE) beginning to access areas of Tigray in the north of (INAUDIBLE) were inaccessible it's raising an alarm about the health and the well-being of the children there


MADOWO: Warning that at least 400,000 children could face severe, acute malnutrition over the next year. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Tens of thousands of people have

been displaced, food stores have been looted. Without sufficient humanitarian assistance, child malnutrition will rise beyond the already alarming levels, leading to increased risk of mortality among a vulnerable population.

UNICEF is dispatching supplies now to meet new emergency needs in Afar and Amhara (ph). We need unfettered access, into Tigray and across the region, in order to provide support to children, that children and women urgently need.

MADOWO: Mekelle is the regional capital of Tigray. It's an important part that the Ethiopian forces pulled out of allowing the TPLF, the Tigray People's Liberation Front to take control of and claim victory.

But the bigger picture here is that now, the Ethiopian federal government and the fighters are trading accusations about who is to blame for this blockade. And in the middle of that is people who need food, who need nutrition and medical supplies and are not getting it because, aid organizations cannot access them.

In part of a conflict that's already claimed the lives of thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million people and in Djibala (ph) last month reporting on their election, it's an issue of Tigray that divides people between those who support the government and those who see the fighters in another country as a nationalist revolution -- Larry Madowo, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Now China is reporting dozens of new COVID infections. Just ahead, what China and other countries are doing to stem the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.




HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world I appreciate your company I'm Michael Holmes this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Health officials in China are implementing new restrictions after 55 new cases were reported on Friday in 6 provinces. Some of them are closing tourist sites and banning mass gatherings. Some have even begun mass testing including tests for tourists.

This comes as several other Asian countries are already taking action to try to stem further outbreaks.


HOLMES (voice-over): In the warehouse of a Bangkok airport, nearly 2,000 cardboard beds will soon become a field hospital for COVID patients. Thailand's capital already under lockdown as the country reports record new infections this week.


HOLMES (voice-over): It's just one of several Asian nations seeing dramatic renewed outbreaks and imposing measures to fight a new wave in the pandemic amid a spreading Delta variant. South Korea and Vietnam seeing an all-time high of daily infections in the past week. Tight curbs on public activities and movement in both countries, wrestling to contain outbreaks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

HOLMES (voice-over): On Friday, the Philippine president approved a lockdown in the Manila region. It's expected to cost the economy some $4 billion as the country battles one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the region.

In India's southern state of Kerala, residents prepare for a lockdown in the country's coronavirus hot spot. Overall, India has seen new infections largely level off since a devastating surge in late May. But Friday saw the most new cases in 3 weeks.

India's new cases, however, surpassed by Indonesia, which has become Asia's COVID epicenter. On Wednesday, Indonesia saw more deaths than any other day of the pandemic.

Leaving loved ones to mourn those lost, as coronavirus sets grim records across the region.


HOLMES: Australia is sending hundreds of soldiers to help enforce COVID rules in Sydney. The troops will join a large police contingent who are already on patrol, to ensure that people who tested positive are indeed isolating.

The news came as prime minister Scott Morrison announced a plan to fight the COVID outbreak, including tough lockdowns and a travel shutdown at the border, all without firm end dates. Cyril Vanier reports.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A path to freedom. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison laying out a staged plan to break the back of the coronavirus.

SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINISTER, AUSTRALIA: Australians, we have to take each step together. And that starts with walking in the door of that vaccine clinic and seeing that GP, that pharmacist, the state hub and getting that vaccine.

VANIER (voice-over): So what does the government say is the way out? Phase A, suppression of the virus. It's where the country is now and for the near term, will continue to be with parts of the country with high infection rates going in and out of lockdowns to contain outbreaks.

Phase B will be reached when 70 percent of adults in the country are fully vaccinated. Morrison hoping this can be achieved by the end of the year, saying those who get the shots will be subject to fewer COVID-19 restrictions.

MORRISON: So if you get vaccinated, there will be special rules that will apply to you. Why? Because if you're vaccinated, you present less of a public health risk.

VANIER (voice-over): Morrison says international borders will begin to reopen in phase C, when 80 percent of that population is fully vaccinated.

But getting people to follow the steps will be one of the government's biggest challenges. So far, just over 18 percent of people over 16 years old in Australia are fully vaccinated because of a vaccination drive that got off to a slow start due to a shortage of doses.

Also, Sydney's 5 million residents are under stay-at-home orders because of the highly contagious Delta variant, restrictions that are wearing thin with some people.

Last week in Sydney, anti-lockdown protesters, fed up with coronavirus rules, turned out by the thousands, defying social distancing measures. The premier of the state of New South Wales warned protesters not to repeat them this weekend.

GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN, PREMIER, NEW SOUTH WALES: Your actions will hurt -- forget about the rest of us. But you could be taking the disease home and passing it on to your parents, your siblings, your brothers and sisters.

VANIER (voice-over): Officials say there will be a thousand police officers on hand this weekend and the Australian defense force has been called in to crack down on non-compliance. From Monday, some 300 army personnel will help police go door-to-door to ensure people who have tested positive are isolating.

The government saying these tougher measures are the only way to contain a virus that's becoming tougher to control.


HOLMES: Cyril Vanier reporting there for us.

Now Israel is blaming Iran for an attack on an oil tank that killed 2 crewmembers. According to the crew of the Mercer Street (ph), a drone exploded into its superstructure on Thursday off of the coast of Amman.

The Japanese owned ship is connected to an Israeli billionaire. Owners say it's now sailing under its own power to a safe location, with a U.S. Naval escort. Israel's foreign minister says the attack deserves a harsh response. So far no reaction from Iran.

More than a dozen wildfires are burning along the Mediterranean coast in Turkey.



HOLMES (voice-over): This was the terrifying scene as a group of friends tried to escape one of those fires. Turkish officials say at least 4 people have been killed, many villages consumed by the flames. Our Arwa Damon is on the ground there.



ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just look at the damage that has been done here. This is Mo Sayomas (ph).

(Speaking foreign language)

MO SAYOMAS, RESIDENT: (Speaking foreign language).

DAMON: He lives in the building. He was here and he ran away to that side, climbing over the fencing. He had to break through some of the fencing just to try to save himself. And the fire was just chasing him down. And he was describing how it felt like an explosion of flames.

The things that made these fires also so hard to control is that there were so many of them in just the span of a few days. There were dozens of fires that broke out, not just in this part of the country but other parts as well -- oh, wow.

That was the bedroom. He was saying that even things that we never thought could melt melted. And they didn't pull out any of their belongings from here. It's just that literally is nothing, there's just nothing left.

That plume of smoke that you see right there, that is yet another fire that just erupted in the few short minutes that we have been here. And just when the firefighters think that they're beginning to get the situation under control, it just jumps out once again. And this is all our fault.

According to a forestry expert that we spoke to, 95 percent of forest fires in Turkey are due to human error or complete and total carelessness and disregard for nature. What is making them especially aggressive and difficult to control, well, that is also on us. That is due to climate change.

Here, in particular, temperatures have been abnormally hot. There has also been a drought, two factors that experts attribute to climate change. But then add to it what caused a perfect storm, high winds and low humidity.

What we are seeing on the ground though, is villagers coming together, trying to support one another because no one knows when this is going to end. And experts say fire season this year is going to be much longer than it was in the past -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Manavgat, Turkey.


HOLMES: Thanks for spending part of your day with me, I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at Holmes CNN. I will see you back here in 15 minutes or so. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is coming up.