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CNN NEWSROOM

Simone Biles Back to the Games; Delta Variant Surge in Chinese Cities; Vaccination is Up in the U.S.; Iran Welcomes its New President; Beirut Blast Still Without Answers; Human Rights Watch Hopes to Get Justice for Lebanese People; Polish Embassy Help Belarusian Athlete; Taliban Making Advances in Afghanistan; Turkish Villagers Left on Their Own; Global Warming Showing its Wrath in Southeast Asia. Aired 3-3:45a ET

Aired August 3, 2021 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead on CNN Newsroom, USA gymnastics great Simone Biles is set to return to the Olympic Games competing next hour after stepping away for days to focus on her mental health.

It's about one month later than planned but the U.S. has finally reached a COVID vaccine goal set by President Joe Biden. But the White House has even bigger goals now with the Delta variant a major threat.

And a brutal heat wave threatens to make Turkey's wildfire outbreak even tougher to contain.

Good to have you with us.

Well, it's just past 4 p.m. in Tokyo where next hour Simone Biles will be back on the beam. It's the last chance of gold for the U.S. gymnast considered one of the greatest of all time. Her American teammates Suni Lee will also compete on the balance beam. Biles pulled out of four other individual events citing mental health concerns. But she won a silver medal as part of the team final. Biles is the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast ever with four gold medals in the 2016 Rio Games.

Well, meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee is launching a formal investigation into what led a Belarusian athlete to flee from her team managers and seek refuge in the Polish embassy. Krystsina Tsimanouskaya received a humanitarian visa from Poland on Monday. She says she was being forced to return to Belarus against her will and feared arrest. More on that ahead on CNN newsroom.

So let's go live to CNN's Blake Essig in Tokyo for more on Simone Biles return. Good to see you, Blake. So, the pressure must be intense, even more intense, in fact. But Simone Biles is poised to compete next hour. What is the latest on this, and of course, other events?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, Simone Biles and team USA gymnastics are officially in the building. And Rosemary, look, like they are ready to go. We saw them walk by just about an hour ago, decked out in their red, white, and blue warmups to start preparing for their final night of competition.

In just under two hours Simone Biles, arguably the greatest gymnast of all-time is set to make a dramatic return to Olympic competition right here at Ariake Gymnastics Centre. She will do it on the balance beam. While spectators aren't allowed inside to watch tonight's competition, a handful of people waited several hours during the hardest part of the day just for the chance to see the great one in person.

And for some lucky fans that did happen. I spoke with one person who said she almost cried when Biles waved at her and said that it was the highlight of her Olympic experience. Just seeing Biles cross the street and acknowledge her with a wave.

But before these games started Biles had a chance to win six gold medals and was a heavy favorite to win at least four. But so far, she will only take home a silver medal. Biles last competed a little more than a week ago during the women's team final. Of course, she withdrew herself after stumbling on the vault citing mental health concerns.

Now Biles also has since said that she's been struggling with the twisties which is a mental block in gymnastics where competitors lose track of their positioning midair, but, Rosemary, she is back, you know, competing tonight in the balance beam and going for gold here in Tokyo. So, it will be exciting to see the eyes of the world will no question beyond this venue right here in about two hours.

CHURCH: Yes. We will all be watching for sure. Blake Essig, joining us live from Tokyo, many thanks.

We will have more on the Olympic Games ahead on World Sport. And while Japan hosts the Olympic Games, the country is experiencing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. Another Asian country, China is struggling to contain the virus as well. At least 16 Chinese provinces and 26 cities are now reporting locally transmitted COVID cases in its latest outbreak.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins us from Hong Kong. So, Kristie, how has China been dealing with this outbreak?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's responding with the same pandemic playbook it's used before with lockdowns, targeted ones, as well as mass testing campaigns, contact racing campaigns, but the Delta variant being that it so highly contagious is proving to be quite a challenge for China.

[03:05:01]

Look, China on Tuesday reported 61 new locally transmitted cases of the virus, it's as far lower than other places in the world like the U.S. and the U.K. But the fact that if you see on the map, we'll bring it up to you in just a moment, that it is spread to over 26 cities and 16 provinces across China in the last two weeks. That is sparking major concerns sweeping pandemic restrictions are now in place in Wuhan. That's the city of course where the coronaviruses first detected.

The Delta variant is there and Wuhan is city of 11 million people they are testing all its residents for COVID-19. In Nanjing, a city of over nine million people they have gone through over three rounds of testing in the last two weeks. Indoor venues, the (Inaudible) and gyms are closed.

In Beijing, the capital city of China, they have banned any visitors coming in from medium risk or high-risk areas. Now, Rosemary, we are also closely monitoring the situation in Southeast Asia especially in Malaysia.

Malaysia on Monday reported its highest daily death toll from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. On Monday, it posted 219 new deaths from the virus. It was just a week ago when Malaysia surpassed one million total COVID-19 infections for the very first time.

We've been reporting on the prolonged and painful lockdown in Malaysia in places like the capital in Kuala Lumpur and how some people have resorted to waving white flags outside their homes in a desperate plea for help.

Now, in the meantime, the Malaysian government they have ramped up the vaccination program. In Malaysia it is posted about 21.5 percent of the total population have been fully inoculated. Back to you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Kristie Lu Stout, many thanks for bringing us up to date on the situation there.

Well, across the world, the highly contagious Delta variant is fueling a rise in COVID-19 cases in at least 132 countries. Here in the U.S. one out of three new cases occurred in Florida and Texas over the past week. The White House says these cases are concentrated in communities with low vaccination rates and have been driven by the Delta variant.

Dr. Eric Topol joins me now from la Jolla in California. He is a cardiologist, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us and for all that you do.

ERIC TOPOL, PROFESSOR, MOLECULAR MEDICINE, SCRIPPS RESEARCH: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, while the Delta variant continues to drive up cases around the country particularly in Florida and Texas. The White House announced Monday that 70 percent of all adults have now received at least one COVID vaccine dose. How much hope does that increase in vaccination rates give you?

TOPOL: Well, it's a step in the right direction. It's a month behind the planned schedule but it's not nearly enough. We have that much nearly in Vermont. The state with the highest vaccination among the total population fully vaccinated it. And now it's been effective for blocking the effects of this Delta wave. But the 70 percent only the first dose isn't going to be enough in just in adults.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, Sunday mark five days in a row of more than 700,000 Americans getting COVID shots. But that of course means 90 million Americans have still not received any shots at all. So, how do you get the message across to those hesitant and resistant people and break through the misinformation and all of that noise being put out by conspiracy theories.

TOPOL: Right. Well, it's a challenge. What's interesting is most of those people that you referred to that are getting vaccinated now are from the states that are having the worst problems with the Delta wave. And so, that's of course very bad timing because it's already there in very high circulation levels.

But to get to the wider mass of people who are reluctant we have need to counter the misinformation. We have to get an offensive going. That's just getting started now, Rosemary. But it would have been ideally started many months ago.

CHURCH: So, what is the message then that you put out? What do you say to try to counter that? How do you without confusing people? Because a lot of the problem is that along with the misinformation people are not reading the correct data, are they?

TOPOL: No, they are not. They don't realize that this is a momentous life science medical breakthrough, safe and effective vaccines with a remarkable efficacy, holding up quite well to the Delta variant. But they are not getting that message. They are still s seeing it as experimental, not FDA approved, and all of these fabricated things that the vaccine does, which actually it doesn't do.

And that of course is, you know, trying to convince them is a very daunting challenge. And it's unfortunate because more they are going to be the vulnerable ones who succumb to these infections.

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And these are affecting the young people especially. So, no one who is unvaccinated now is really going to be protected?

CHURCH: Right. And CDC data shows that fewer than 1 percent of fully vaccinated people are experiencing a breakthrough COVID-19 infection. How significant is this? And how might that change the message being sent out to people who are not yet vaccinated?

TOPOL: Well, it could go both ways. The main problem is that breakthroughs are occurring more frequently because Delta is such a formidable challenge, very high viral loads. Just a huge massive virus that is so easily contagious. So, the naysayers are saying if there's breakthroughs in these vaccines aren't working.

But as you emphasized, Rosemary, they work extremely well, especially in preventing hospitalizations and fatalities. But, you know, these people, so often, are just not willing to accept hard truths, the real data. And we have to keep working on this because it's vital that we get these people protected.

CHURCH: Yes. We really can't lay the point enough, can we? And states and cities are responding in very different ways to CDC advice on wearing masks indoors while the Delta variant spreads through the unvaccinated population.

New York City is advising masks to be worn but it's not mandating them. While Florida's governor is leaving it up to parents to decide whether their kids wear masks at school. What's your medical advice when it comes to the wearing of masks at this time?

TOPOL: Right. Well, everyone should be wearing masks. It's higher quality, tighter fit indoors for sure because even if you are vaccinated you are still potentially vulnerable. That's how tough this Delta is. And so, the idea that certain states would have a mandate against mandate is just preposterous. And the lack of this consistent plan and strategy across all country is another that holding us back.

CHURCH: All right. Dr. Eric Topol, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it, and we appreciate you.

TOPOL: You bet. Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And still to come, amid escalating regional tensions Iran is confirming a new president this hour. We will take you live to Tehran for details, that's next.

And growing calls for accountability in Beirut one year after the devastating port explosion that claimed so many lives.

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CHURCH (on camera): Iran's supreme leader is confirming President- elect Ebrahim Raisi today. And Raisi will be sworn into office Thursday. He was selected in a largely noncompetitive vote after his series rivals were barred from the race.

[03:15:04]

Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran with the very latest on this. Fred, good to see you.

Iran's new president being confirmed. In what direction though will Raisi likely take the country? And what will this mean for global relations?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's going to have a pretty big impact on Iran's relations especially with western countries. Of course, first and foremost the United States, but also internally and domestically as well.

And you could hear that, I was just listening to the ceremony Ebrahim Raisi was speaking there. And essentially, one of the things that he criticized about the predecessor administration, the Rouhani administration, he said that they often relied very much on international negotiations to try and lift sanctions and hoping that that would move Iran forward.

The new direction, if you will, is going to be the Iranian, especially the sort of conservatives here in this country have called a resistance economy where the Iranians are saying look, of course, they are going to try and get sanctions relieved, but first and foremost, they are going to try and solve their problems and get economic growth going domestically here in this country.

Of course, that policy has its critics as well. But that is really one of the big dividing factors between the conservatives and the more moderate forces here in this country at least as far as domestic policy is concerned.

Then internationally, Ebrahim Raisi has already said that Iran is going to be very active and very dynamic in foreign policy. And certainly, it's not going to take into consideration any of the opinions of the United States.

It was very interesting because I was at his first press conference after he got elected and he was asked there whether or not he would ever go into direct negotiations with the Biden administration or President Biden himself. And he just simply said no. He didn't offer any sort of explanation, he just flat out said no.

And as far as the big negotiations that of course are going on right now indirectly between the U.S. and Iran to try and arrive the Iran nuclear agreement those are still ongoing. There are still some differences there, and certainly with this new administration coming into power, not clear whether or not there's going to be any hitches in those negotiations.

But certainly, the Iranians have still expressed their interest in getting that nuclear agreement back on track. However, as far as foreign policy is concerned, the Iranians say they are going to remain active in this region, remain very active globally as well.

But I think one of the interesting things that we're looking forward when that inauguration comes around is whether or not there's going to be and how big a Saudi delegation that could be there. Because the Saudis and the Iranians have already started talking directly to one another, and that certainly is something that could also have big implications here for this region as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. We'll continue to watch this very closely. Fred Pleitgen bringing us a live report from Tehran. Many thanks.

Well Wednesday marks one year since the deadly port explosion in Beirut which killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and destroyed large areas of the city. And yet, after all this time the country's official investigation remains stalled. And critics say justice is long overdue.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports now from Beirut. BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sometime between

five and six p.m. on Tuesday the fourth of August 2020, a fire broke out here. Here it used to be hanger 12, a warehouse that contained perhaps up to 2,750 metric tons of highly flammable ammonium nitrate. Plus, 23 tons of fireworks and a 1,000 car tires.

The fire burned. There were attempts to put it out. they failed. And at eight minutes past six there was a massive explosion. Describe by some as one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history. And of course, it sent a shock wave right over there into some of Beirut's oldest neighborhoods shattering glass, toppling walls, killing. And the final death toll as many as 210 people, perhaps more. A final death toll is not even known at this point.

More than 6,000 people were wounded. More than 300 people were rendered hopeless, around 77,000 housing units were either damaged or destroyed. And according to the World Bank, the cost of the damage caused by the explosion is somewhere between 3.8 and $4.6 billion. A sum of money this country, which is bankrupt, simply cannot afford.

Now there's been an investigation going on since says after the blast. But it hasn't found anyone culpable. It hasn't come up with the reasons for the explosion. It hasn't explained why all of that ammonium nitrate was left, apparently very poorly secured in very improper conditions.

[03:20:01]

And the relatives of the victims are increasingly angry with the fact that it appears that the government and the politicians are just trying to protect themselves and avoid any kind of blame.

All of this while the country's economy has melted down. There has been political unrest, there has been a government in paralysis for a year now. And of course, the country is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. All of this leading those Lebanese who can to ponder leaving this country for good.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from the port of Beirut.

CHURCH: Well, now I want to bring in Aya Majzoub, she is a Lebanon researcher for Human Rights Watch and she joins me live from Beirut. Thank you for being with us.

AYA MAJZOUB, LEBANON AND BAHRAIN RESEARCHER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Thank you very much for having me.

CHURCH: So, your organization, Human Rights Watch will release a report next hour on the August 4th Beirut bombing. What all was revealed in that report?

MAJZOUB: We collected hundreds of pages of official documentation and correspondents between various ministries, security agencies, the president, and the prime minister. And we supplemented those with interviews with government officials, security officials, and judicial sources to build the picture of why the ammonium nitrate came to Lebanon in the first place, which Lebanese officials knew about the existence of the ammonium nitrate and the dangers that they posed to public safety but failed to act. And then what triggered the explosion?

We found that senior officials from the president to the prime minister to the former head of the army, to former heads of other security agencies all had knowledge of the ammonium nitrate and the dangers that they pose. But all failed to take the appropriate action to protect the public from the risks posed by that ammonium nitrate.

CHURCH: So, who do you think should be held responsible for the blast?

MAJZOUB: Anyone against whom there is evidence that they knew about the ammonium nitrate and failed to take action within their mandate to protect the public which should be held responsible.

Unfortunately, the domestic investigation in Lebanon is stalled and the judicial investigator is having to sidestep various immunities for the president, parliamentarians, ministers, and high-level security officials. Such that, currently, the only people in prison, people who have detained for more than a year now are relatively low-level port security and customs officials.

CHURCH: So why has there been a lack of any real official investigation into the Beirut blast. No answers on how it happened or who is responsible. Is it all about politics?

MAJZOUB: I mean, the Lebanese justice system has historically been either incapable or unwilling to hold high-level officials to account. Over the last several decades we haven't had accountability for political assassinations, for allegations of torture, for security forces excessive use of force. We've really seen the judiciary failed to play its role in protecting the public good and holding these high- level officials accountable.

What we have today in Lebanon is a culture of impunity where high- level officials routinely escape accountability for their grave human rights violations and their corruption. And they use, you know, they interfere in the work of the judiciary in ways that have been documented by Human Rights Watch and other organizations to get the outcome they want.

And we're seeing this exact same thing play out with the investigation into the Beirut blast where all of the political class have banded around each other, protecting each other from the domestic investigation, and effectively telling the victims that, you know, they won't have any justice, they won't have any accountability.

CHURCH: So, no one taking responsibility, no accountability. Meantime, what has happened to all of the people who lost loved ones, homes, and businesses in that blast? And they also try to cope with this in the midst of the worst economic crisis and a pandemic?

MAJZOUB: The scars of the Beirut blast are still very much visible across the entire city. There are still neighborhoods littered with rubble. There are still collapsed buildings on the street. You still see homes with no windows with just plastic sheets covering -- covering their windows were glass used to be.

[03:25:06]

Many people have been made homeless. More than 150 people have sustained permanent disabilities as a result of the blast. But we've seen again and again the government shirk its responsibility and failed to provide any adequate redress or compensation for the people impacted by the blast.

The compensation schemes have been discriminatory, they've been not adequate and they really left people to fend for themselves as you say in the middle of one of the worst economic crises in modern history according to the World Bank.

CHURCH: So, what are you hoping that your organization's report will reveal and perhaps solve? I mean, can it do anything more than just shine a spotlight on this?

MAJZOUB: First and foremost, we did this report in order to provide some historical narrative. Some measure of truth for the families of the victims and the Lebanese public. We didn't want the officials to be able to set the narrative for what happened.

Currently, all of the officials have been holding press releases saying that they weren't involved and that and they had no knowledge. We wanted really to set the record straight to show which officials knew of the ammonium nitrate and failed to act.

We are hoping that on the one hand this investigation will aid the current judicial investigator in his battle to lift the immunities off of officials who are implicated in the blast. And on the other, we are hoping that the international community will use this report to see that there were state failures from the highest levels, which amount to grave human rights violations that necessitates a U.N. Human Rights Council investigation into the Beirut blast.

We are also hoping that governments with global Magnitsky sanctions and other human rights and corruption sanctions will impose those targeted sanctions against officials responsible for the ongoing human rights violations resulting from the Beirut blast.

CHURCH: We'll see what sort of solutions come out of this and what consequences. Aya Majzoub, thank you. Joining us live from Beirut. We appreciate it.

MAJZOUB: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, as the people of Lebanon mark one year since the Beirut tragedy, join CNN for press special coverage this Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Beirut, 4 p.m. in London.

Belarusian Olympian wasn't even talking politics, yet struck a nerve and was ordered home. But she decided that was not a safe move. How Olympic authorities are getting involved. That's ahead.

And fighting against Taliban advances in Afghanistan. Coming up, the militant's push to take over major cities.

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ROSEMARY CHURCH CNN ANCHOR (on camera): All right. Live images from Tokyo where suspense is growing ahead of legendary American gymnast Simone Biles return to competition.

And where not long ago the U.S. men's basketball team advanced to the Olympic semifinals after a win over Spain. Off the playing field, the International Olympic Committee says it will investigate the case of the Belarusian sprinter who defied her country to seek political asylum.

Olympic authorities say they have spoken with Kristina Timanovskaya and that she described feeling safe and secure after receiving a humanitarian visa from Poland. She is reportedly staying at the Polish embassy and could leave for Warsaw tomorrow.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has the story.

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NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): It was a simple complaint but no criticism is safe if you come from Belarus. Sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya unleashing criticism of her Olympic team managers for entering her in the four by 400 relay race without her consent. Something she'd never competed in before because Belarus didn't have enough runners.

It was a rant that would not only enter Olympic bid but also her life in Belarus. Forty-eight hours after posting the video she said she was escorted by Belarusian team reps to the airport. Her bags packed and ticket home book for her, she was terrified.

KRISTINA TIMANOVSKAYA, OLYMPIC ATHLETE (through translator): I asked the International Olympic Committee for help. I was put under pressure and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent. I asked the International Olympic Committee to intervene.

WALSH: She said the instant recall had, quote, "come from above," a one-way ticket home to likely repression. She was terrified of returning to Belarus for good reason. This man, President Alexander Lukashenko dubbed the last dictator in Europe, friend of Vladimir Putin, has unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.

Allegations of brutality have been constant. CNN reporting on male raped in police custody and extreme brutality against peaceful protesters. Activists have mysteriously died in police custody. And last week, a court banned an independent news station as extremist amid a wider assault on the media. The government denies accusations of brutality.

So, at the airport, Timanovskaya reached out to Japanese police who held her in safety as news of what she called her force returned spread. The Belarusian Olympic Committee said she had, quote, "psychological and emotional issues and must take off the team," which she denies.

YURI MOISEYEVICH, BELARUSIAN TEAM COACH (through translator): She stood out with a behavior. We know her and we've known her a long time. There was something strange. Sometimes she would isolate, sometimes she wouldn't want to socialize.

WALSH: She said it was because she criticized the Olympic managers and annoyed this man. Quickly, Democratic Europe came to her aid. Poland offering her a humanitarian visa, and perhaps asylum.

MARCIN PRZYDACZ, POLISH DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: Of course, she can continue. She is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland but would be her decision.

WALSH: She entered the Polish embassy in Tokyo at roughly the same time her husband fled Belarus into Ukraine. Hers a very public and clumsy sign of how Belarus has treated even the most slightly outspoken critic, so many of whom suffer silently behind bars.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.

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CHURCH (on camera): The Taliban are intensifying their push to seize provincial capitals in Afghanistan. A source says the militants have taken over a TV station in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. The U.S. has ramped up air strikes around that city, as well as Surat and Kandahar to try to push the militants back.

Nic Robertson is in London with the latest. He joins us now live. Good to see you, Nic. So, what more are you learning about the Taliban advances including taking over this TV station? And what is the significance of that particular move?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, when any group tries to take over from any other, any government that's often one of the things they go for. So, the Taliban going for the TV station, they are not just symbolic, they'd be able to push their own propaganda message out, you know, through using the TV channel -- using the TV station when they get themselves organized. That would be the expectation they took Lashkar Gah themselves inside the station.

[03:34:58]

It's not clear if they're going to be able to hold it if the Afghan forces would be able to retake that part of Lashkar Gar. It's certainly being contested at the moment. The U.S. Department of Defense is saying that, or at least some of the officials there are saying that the situation in Afghanistan is not going well, that they are aiding in airstrikes, that they Afghan forces on the ground in the south around Kandahar, around Lashkar Gah.

We understand as well that the U.S. has now put, deployed on the ground additional troops or additional pilot rescue teams on the ground. There are helicopter-based teams but long-range helicopters that can go out and rescue pilot should they be downed. And this is -- this is indicative of the U.S. stepping up these airstrikes. Not just from drones but fast jets as well. So that's happening.

Also, the Afghan Air Force are saying that they've been able to hit Taliban targets, that they've killed a number of Taliban in their airstrikes as well. But what we are hearing from international humanitarian groups, the U.N.'s mission in Afghanistan, Medecins sans Frontieres, Doctors Without Borders, they are all reporting a significant increase in civilian casualties, particularly in Lashkar Gah and particularly in Kandahar.

Medecins sans Frontieres say that in Lashkar Gah at the moment for the past few days a lot of people are just too afraid from airstrikes, from street battles to leave their homes. So, this is a very intense flight that's going on. It appeared in Lashkar Gah the TV station was clearly one of the targets for the Taliban so that they can get their message out. Although it doesn't appear that they've started broadcasting from there as far as we know so far.

But this is likely to be really the beginning of what's emerging as a war of attrition between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Afghan government say that they will fight the Taliban to a stalemate because that's the only way to force the Taliban to negotiate.

And it's clear which way that battle is going to go. Certainly, the Afghan forces have the numbers, have the equipment but it's not clear that they are going to be able to roll these Taliban advances back quickly. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Nic Robertson, many thanks for that analysis. I appreciate it.

And still to come, a heat wave in southern Europe is fueling fires across Turkey. And near record temperatures in the coming days could make matters even worse.

And Simone Biles is in the building. The gymnastics great is expected to compete again very soon after bowing out of several key events. And the world will be watching. More on this ahead in World Sport.

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CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone.

Well, the Turkish government is under scrutiny as firefighters worked to contain deadly wildfires burning on the country's southern coast.

[03:40:03] Some villagers have taken it upon themselves to fight the flames choosing to stay and risk their lives rather than evacuate. They say the government has not sent enough resources to help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN (through translator): It started yesterday evening. Let me tell you what we saw here. Officials came, they took selfies and they just left. We, and the other villagers had to fend for ourselves. We fought by ourselves using hoses, water tankers, and buckets. Nobody offered us any help at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): A government spokesman rejected the criticism, saying people will be compensated for their losses. But making matters worse for the firefighters is the heat wave in southern Europe, pushing temperatures to near record levels.

And Turkey is not alone in dealing with these fires. In Italy, wildfires have a burning on the Adriatic Coast and in Sicily driven by strong winds and the excessive heat. And several villages in western Greece have been destroyed by wildfires. The soaring temperatures are expected in the region for the next few days.

Well, in addition to the wildfires, people in Turkey and across Asia are grappling with dangerous flooding.

Meteorologist Tom Sater reports the extreme weather is another sign of global warming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice over): People cry in horror as they watch their homes washed away in raging waters. This is the town of Bashkia in eastern Turkey. This 23-year-old woman covered in mud finally comes to after she was nearly swept away.

Torrential rains have been pounding Asia on and off for weeks. In central China, at least 300 people have been killed after heavy downpours in July. The provincial capital saw nearly a year's worth of rain in just three days. Dozens have been killed and scores are still missing in a Taliban controlled district of Afghanistan. Rescue operations are underway in parts of Nuristan province where homes have been reduced to rubble and animals are buried in the mud.

UNKNOWN (through translator): I was sleeping at my house, in 10 minutes the floods came and destroyed everything. Ten members of my family were killed. We've just found a child and a woman. The others are still missing.

SATER: The death toll continues to rise in India after a monsoon swept through the state of Maharashtra. Heavy rains cause landslides and left entire villages underwater. More than 200,000 people having been evacuated. But many survivors are left with nothing. CHAMPA DEVI, DISPLACED FLOOD VICTIM (through translator): There is

nothing we can do right now. We have nothing to eat, no rice or lentils. Everything was destroyed in the floods. We have to buy or beg for food.

SATER: There are similar scenes in New Delhi where the Yamuna River worth surpassed the warning level. Officials have stepped up evacuations of those residents living nearby but flooded streets have caused a traffic nightmare in the capital. Residents in Bangladesh evacuate by boat. Some 300,000 people in the country's southeast have been left stranded in their villages.

South Asia is used to getting seasonal monsoon rains from June to September every year. But scientist say these more extreme weather events are just the latest sign of a global warming crisis.

Tom Sater, CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): And that's it for this hour of CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back in about 15 minutes. But first, World Sports is up after a quick break.

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