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Scorching Fires Spread in Southeastern Europe; Bombing Took Place in Afghanistan's Capital; Belarusian Athlete Now in Safe Hands; Belarusian Dissident Found Dead in Kiev's Park; Belarusian Leadership Must Pay Its Price for Unexplained Killings; Spectators Excited to Witness Tokyo Olympic Games; China Back to Lockdown Measures; Ninety Million Americans Still Unvaccinated; U.S. Ramps Up Vaccination Push Amid Delta Variant Surge; U.K. Reports Vessel Safe Near UAE After Potential Hijack; Nine-Year-Old Indian Girl Allegedly Raped And Murdered; One Year Since Beirut's Port Explosion; FBI Probe Shows Amount Of Chemicals In Blasts Was A Fraction Of The Original Shipment. Aired 3-3:45a ET

Aired August 4, 2021 - 03:00   ET




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." Raging wildfires close in on a power station in Turkey as a heat wave adds fuel to fires raging across southeastern Europe.

It's not going well. That's what a U.S. defense official says about the military situation in Afghanistan as an official's home near the fortified green zone takes a hit.

And the Tokyo Olympics were supposed to launch her future, instead a Belarusian sprinter now in exile and flies to find safety in a foreign land.

And we begin in Southeastern Europe where emergency crews are racing against the clock to battle wildfires threatening cities, homes and forest in multiple countries. Temperatures are climbing across the region, fueling the fires you see here in Turkey.

One town had to call for outside help as the flames got closer to a thermal power plant. Hundreds of volunteers are helping to hold back the flames, but some haven't been so lucky. Of the thousands evacuated from their homes, many have lost everything.


UNKNOWN (through translator): I was trapped in the fire and you can see that my ears are burned. That was a narrow escaped. The rescuers sent me to the hospital. I inhaled fumes from the fire and now my voice has turned like this. My houses burned. There is nothing left but ashes.


CHURCH (on camera): To the west parts of Athens, Greece were evacuated after a fire ignited in the city quickly grew out of control. The country is under threat from an intense heat wave, one the prime minister describes as the worse in more than 30 years.

And CNN's Arwa Damon has been to the fire lines and comes to us now from Marmaris in Turkey. So Arwa, what is the latest on efforts to contain these wildfires and what assistance have locals received to fight them?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Rosemary, it's actually quite misleading when we hear that the fires are under control, because they spark back up so quickly. Overnight, for example, this entire area was initially under control and then it went up in flames. Now, it's smoldering again. But what we see as the day progresses, these fires grow larger and larger, at least they tend to depending on the weather conditions.

What are those weather conditions? As you've been mentioning, this extreme heat, this heat wave. Turkey has also been going through a drought. All things factor that are attributable to climate change. And that's why these fires are so hard to fight.

Now, yesterday we spoke to one of the volunteers who's actually a kite board instructor as he was fighting to battle the flames.


DAMON: That is the seventh pass that that helicopter has done over this one area. And it was a new tiny, little fire starting point that quickly engulfed the side here, and these firefighters, these volunteers, they are so exhausted and getting understandably so emotional.

UNKNOWN: Yesterday, it was amazing start. We were kind of in the middle of a vortex. That was amazing. Like I almost caught my mom and said, OK, mom, thanks. Yesterday was amazing.

DAMON: And today you've been fighting, but it keeps popping up.

UNKNOWN: We had no more time than anything, we just came in this island in the center, and it started all over.

DAMON: And today, how has today been?

UNKNOWN: Today? Worse because the fire is spreading to the direction of Izmir, Bozburun.

DAMON: So, there's different points now?

UNKNOWN: Yes, small, but it's getting bigger.

DAMON: You are quite emotional. UNKNOWN: Yes. Come on. Look at it. Look at it.

DAMON: This fire has been moving so quickly. And they are trying to get some of the water trucks to move further down.



DAMON (on camera): And Rosemary, part of the challenge that Turkey, in particular, is facing is that there wasn't really a plan in place to deal with fires on the scale, which many critics of the government will say, should have been at least put together and that this was largely predictable given the trend that our world is going, and when it comes to these sorts of warming temperatures.

But Turkey, for example, doesn't have its own aircraft, its own planes when it comes to fighting fires. And so, yes, there have been calls for international help, we have been seeing some arriving. But right now, these fires, even though the vast majority of them are under control, those that are under control are proving to be quite devastating.

And as you saw on that report, people are absolutely exhausted. And the thing is, is we are going to have to get used to this. It is up to us when it comes to whether or not this becomes our new norm because climate change does not start these fires, but it most certainly creates the situation for them to be able to multiply as quickly as we have been witnessing here.

CHURCH: Right. Arwa Damon joining us from southern Turkey. Many thanks for that.

A car bombing in Afghanistan's capital is underscoring the intensifying threat to security there. The attack apparently targeted a government official's home near Kabul's heavily fortified green zone. A government spokesman said the minister and his family are unharmed, but four attackers were killed.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is in Kabul and heard the explosion. She filed this report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was just before 8 p.m. when that loud blast shook the city. We actually ran up onto that roof. We could hear sporadic gunfire. There was a loud siren, then there were two smaller blasts. So far, nobody has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack, but we know that it happened in the neighborhood where Afghanistan's acting defense minister lives. We are told that he was not at home at the time. That he has not been injured.

And since that blast, it's been extraordinary to hear people all across the city have come out on to their balconies, and they have been chanting over and over again "Allahu Akbar," meaning God is greatest. They are doing that chant in support of the Afghan Security Forces, and essentially in defiance of this attack on the capital. All of this happening as you know while the Taliban continues a major offensive, gaining momentum and ground across the country.


CHURCH (on camera): The special U.S. envoy says the Taliban are demanding the lion's share of power in any new Afghan government.

CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling says the results of the negotiations with the militants are not surprising.


MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. Let's remind ourselves who the Taliban are. They call themselves the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan. They are a Deobandi Islamic organization that is stuck in the 14th century, they believe in the harsh interpretation of Sharia law, they have a long history of genocide, denial of food, extrajudicial punishment, you name that tune.

So, when we were negotiating with the Taliban, without the Afghan government at the table, there were a lot of people that would say, don't expect great results from them from a diplomatic perspective. They lied, they continue to lie in terms of what they're going to do, and you can't depend on them as a representative group of people of the entire state of Afghanistan.


CHURCH (on camera): The U.N. is expressing deepening concern for Afghan civilians as the fighting intensifies. And we will continue to update the developments there in the coming hours.

A Belarusian Olympian seeking political asylum is now on route to Austria. Sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya left Tokyo hours ago on a Vienna bound flight. It was originally thought that she would fly to Warsaw after Poland offered her a humanitarian visa, but it's now unclear where she'll ultimately end up.

Timanovskaya says she feared for her life after she was ordered to return to Minsk on Sunday, but her family warned her it was too dangerous to return. She had criticized the Belarusian team bosses for entering her in a race that she had never run before, and was told to pack her bags before she even got a chance to compete in her main event.

Thousands of kilometers away, a prominent Belarusian dissident turned up dead in Kiev under suspicious circumstances.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is tracking both stories.


[03:10:01] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): Another day, another dark episode for Belarusians. This time, an opposition activist found hanging from a tree in a park outside Kiev. Vitaly Shishov helped Belarusian dissidents escape to here neighboring Ukraine. Friends said the authoritarian regime in Minsk likely killed him, but Ukrainian police said they were investigating two main theories. Suicide or premeditated murder made to look like suicide.

Currently, we see abrasions on the nose, peeled skin, and on the left knee and chest, and police said this can be characteristic of a onetime fold. Whether it's Belarus' KGB, yes, they still call it that there. It would be pretty much unprecedented for them to kill opponents abroad.

You can see in how riot police tackled peaceful protest and how the regime is at home. But it now seems bolder abroad, forcing the landing of a Ryanair jet in May so they could arrest an opposition blogger and according to Olympic athlete Kristina Timanovskaya, ordering her home on Sunday after upsetting the president. Belarus has said she was distressed and emotional, but she denied.

She told me from safety in Tokyo that two men from the Olympic team escorted her to the airport, but it was her grandmother who made her realize that she could not go home again.

KRISTINA TIMANOVSKAYA, OLYMPIC ATHLETE: It's happening after my grandmother's call. Because before this call, I think maybe I can come back to home without any problem. But when she called to me and she say about this situation is (Inaudible). So, after visitation, I decided Belarus for me, it will be dangerous.

TIMANOVSKAYA (through translator): And they would most likely grab me at the airport. I don't know, maybe a jail or maybe to a psychological hospital.

WALSH: Did you ever imagine this would happen when you posted that Instagram video on Friday?

TIMANOVSKAYA (through translator): My trainer said that to send me home was not their decision, that it was just said to them to do this.

WALSH: Your message to people in Belarus who are frightened of their government? What do you say to them?

TIMANOVSKAYA (through translator): Do not be afraid. Always say your opinion. We have to have freedom of speech. And people must say what they think.

WALSH: All of this, for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's counterpart and friend Vladimir Putin, either a huge headache he can do without or a welcome new worst dictator for the west to sanction and rail against.

Last week, President Joe Biden met the woman Svetlana Tikhanovskaya who wants to lead Belarus out of the Kremlin's grasp. And this day, she met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London amid growing fears Belarus could get anyone even in exile.

SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA, BELARUS OPPOSITION LEADER: If regime wants that they probably could reach everyone.

WALSH: What do you need the west to do right now?

TIKHANOVSKAYA: I think this is happening because the regime feels impunity. So, it is high time to show teeth.

WALSH: Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


CHURCH (on camera): Denis Kazakiewicz is a Belarusian data analyst and journalist, who joins us now from Brussels. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, the world was already focused on the way Belarus treated its citizens, with news of Belarusian Olympian Kristina Timanovskaya fleeing her team managers and seeking asylum. Now, this prominent Belarusian dissident has been found dead in a park near his home in the Ukrainian capital. What do you make of all of this? And is there any possible link between the two do you think?

KAZAKIEWICZ: It is a stark warning to all of the diaspora abroad. And in my view, the regime is trying to spread their reach from inside the country to the outside. So first, they put this type of all this inside -- they closed all the NGOs basically who are doing anything. They closed a number of media. They tried to stifle civil activity inside Belarus. And now they are going outside with a stark message, if you are going -- if you work against us, you are going to get a hit from us.

CHURCH: And talk to us about how bad life is inside Belarus under the current leadership of Alexander Lukashenko and how much fear there is to speak out against his leadership.

KAZAKIEWICZ: In deep sea life, the most challenge in Belarus is -- if you talk about day to day life it's just a very poor country. You can hardly to make your living. And there in essence, Lukashenko regime is governed by fear. So, you cannot say anything against him. But that situation works like that for 26 years.


But the point of no return was his mishandling of COVID. When the COVID crisis started, it was clear that the government will do nothing to protect the life of their citizens. So, people just stood up against it and tried to change the government which and this movement continue until now.

CHURCH: And what would you like to say to the international community do about the situation life in Belarus, but also what we have just witnessed in terms of the Belarusian Olympian and also this very suspicious death of a dissident in the Ukrainian capital.

KAZAKIEWICZ: So, two things. First, it's a -- there should be a thorough international investigation of this suspected murder and everything. And second, more pressure should be put on the regime. There should be a sectoral sweeping sanction. The regime must be cut off from the western financial system, and basically our western taxpayers don't have to pay money for the bloody regime in Belarus.

CHURCH: Denis Kazakiewicz joining us from Brussels, many thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.


CHURCH: And still to come, new restrictions in Beijing and massive testing in Wuhan as the COVID outbreak spreads in China. We will have a live report.

Plus, we've got the latest from the Tokyo Olympics, including a look at one of the first medal events with spectators.


CHURCH: It is day 12 of the Tokyo Olympics with gold medals up for grabs in tense sports. Already, the U.S. won gold and silver in the women's 400-meter hurdles. Japan took the top two spots in women's park skateboarding.

Meanwhile, American gymnast, Simone Biles, has revealed her aunt passed away during the Olympics. It happened after Biles withdrew from the women's team final. On Tuesday, she won bronze on the balance beam after skipping four other events over mental health concerns.

Olympic cycling will soon be underway with the men's team pursuit finals scheduled to start in the coming hours. And the venue outside of Tokyo will feature something we haven't seen much of at these games, spectators.


JOJI MATSUBARA, CYCLING SPECTATOR (through translator): I love cycling. So, the idea of watching the world's top athletes right in front of me just brings me so much joy.


These Olympics are like none other. And they're taking place under unprecedented circumstances. But the games are underway, and the fact that I can even attend an event is a memory that I'm going to hold onto forever.


CHURCH (on camera): More now from CNN's Blake Essig.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Izu Velodrome behind me is one of five Olympic venues allowing limited spectators across the country and the only enclosed venue to do so. And that's because no state of emergency order has been declared here in Shizouka prefecture. And because of that, fans are allowed in the stands to watch track cycling and cheer on the athletes.

There are only three prefectures where events are being held across the country that aren't under a state of emergency, and have decided to allow a limited number of spectators, but those venues will only be allowed to be filled to half capacity not to exceed 10,000 people.

For the event today at Izu Velodrome that seats 3,600 people, because of COVID restrictions only a total of about 1,800 seats can be filled. But the total number of people who actually show up will likely be much less than that, that's because tens of thousands of people who had tickets, two events where spectators were allowed have asked for refunds. And while COVID-19 remains a huge concern, some lucky fans couldn't pass up the opportunity to experience these Olympic Games in person.

Blake Essig, CNN, Izu.


CHURCH: Masks indoors, proof of vaccinations, more on the measures being taken in the U.S. to curb the spread of the Delta variant. That's next.

Plus, what's China is doing to keep its children safe as COVID-19 spreads in that region. We will have the details ahead.


CHURCH (on camera): Coronavirus cases are on the rise around the world as the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to spread. U.S. President Joe Biden is renewing his calls for more Americans to get vaccinated as cases surge nationwide. And New York will soon become the first major U.S. city to require proof of vaccination before entering restaurants, entertainment venues, and gyms. That will begin September 13th.

Well, France is also tightening its COVID restrictions and outdoor mask mandate is being reinstated in various vacation spots including Cannes and Nice, rather. And the digital health pass which provides vaccination status could soon be needed for access to all public venues including restaurants, bars and shopping centers. France's constitutional council is expected to rule on the measure on Thursday.


Well, as China struggles to contain a growing outbreak of COVID cases, Beijing is now restricting passengers from hard-hit cities from entering the capital by air or train. China has also approved its homegrown Sinovac vaccine for use on three to 17-year-old children.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins us now from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie.

So, let's talk about why China is struggling to contain this outbreak this time around, considering how well it went in the initial stages. And what might this signal about its own vaccine efficacy?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, it all has to do with the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant, and as Yanzhong Huang, the Council of Foreign Relations pointed out to CNN, the fact that China needs more effective vaccines. The Delta outbreak is growing in China and it is causing alarm.

We've already seen scenes of panic, panic buying underway in the city of Wuhan where the coronavirus first emerged. And now, we know that the Delta variant has been detected there. Earlier today, local Chinese government officials confirmed that the Delta variant is behind the latest infection the cluster there in Wuhan.

It first emerged on Monday when about seven migrant workers were confirmed to have COVID-19. The next day on Tuesday, nine additional locally transmitted cases were reported in Wuhan. Today, China reported about 71 new local transmitted cases of the virus. And that's higher than yesterday. And the fact that the virus has spread to what, 26 different cities and 16 different provinces across China in the last two weeks is generating just more and more concern.

Sweeping pandemic restrictions are in place with mass testing campaigns underway in Nanjing, in Wuhan, as well as Zhengzhou, that's a city in central China where we saw those devastating floods take place recently. Millions are under lockdown including in the city of Zhangjiajie, which is a popular tourist destination. Both residents and tourists are not allowed to leave there. There are sweeping travel restrictions in place.

We know that 22 railway stations have stopped selling tickets to Beijing. Provinces and provincial area -- or province level areas in China are now telling residents that they cannot go areas where there is medium risk, let alone high-risk of catching COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

Now, China is throwing the entire pandemic playbook at the Delta variant. Will it work? Listen to this.


BEN COWLING, PROFESSOR AND HEAD OF DIVISION OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AND BIOSTATISTICS, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: Yes, China can use its playbook again. It has worked successfully for the last year. The things they can do in China maybe can't be done elsewhere. They can use the mass testing, the lockdowns, the quarantines to get Delta under control. But it may take a little bit longer than previous outbreaks have taken.


LU STOUT (on camera): And it's got to work because today marks six months to go until the Beijing Winter Games. Rosemary? CHURCH: All right. Kristie Lu Stout, joining us there from Hong Kong.

Many thanks.

Well, as we mentioned earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden is renewing his calls for Americans to get vaccinated. On Tuesday, Mr. Biden acknowledged the country is making progress, highlighting that 165 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. But he says around 90 million have still not got a shot. The president encouraged state leaders to continue their efforts to vaccinate Americans, and specifically called out governors who he says have made things more difficult.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I say to these governors, please help. If you are not going to help, at least get out of the way of the people that are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.


CHURCH (on camera): Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is an internal medicine specialist and viral researcher, and he joins me now from Los Angeles. Thank you, doctor, for talking with us and for all that you do.


CHURCH: So, not only did President Biden call on all those unvaccinated citizens to get their COVID shots as soon as possible, he also held to account the Republican governors of Texas and Florida for their anti-mask orders in the midst of surging and deadly COVID cases.

As a doctor, what is your reaction to governors not doing all they can to protect their citizens?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, you know, as a doctor, as a human being, it's completely nauseating, to be quite honest. It goes against everything, a, that we are taught, you know, to try to help other people. But also, here are governors that are flying the freedom flag, but you know, they are not allowing people or institutions that want to protect their people, schools that want to allow students to wear masks, they're not allowing them that.


So, you know, how ironic, they're disallowing people certain freedoms that will protect their health. So, as a physician, it is the wrong thing to do period, period.

CHURCH (on camera): And Doctor, President Biden also called on other states and cities to follow New York City's lead by mandating vaccinations for all employees and patrons of restaurants, fitness and entertainment venues. Is this what needs to happen everywhere to offer more incentive to those who are vaccinated and to keep people safe? RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. We keep forgetting that not only do the people

that are unvaccinated have the right to not get vaccinated, if they wish. But those of us that want to stay healthy have the right to stay healthy. So nobody is keeping people from going to the theater or going to a stadium. They just have to follow the requirements of that private institution, and get vaccinated. It's like no shirt, no shoes, no service, no vaccs? You are not coming in. I think it is logical. I think it is the right thing to do. And at the end, if it does cause more people to get vaccinated, all the more power to it.

CHURCH: And we will see if other cities step up. And according to "The New York Times," the FDA aims to give full approval to the Pfizer vaccine by the start of next month, perhaps sooner. What impact could this potentially have on current vaccination rates do you think?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I hope it has a great impact. You know, the cynical part of me says, the people that don't want to get vaccinated are not going to get vaccinated. But there is a portion that says, well, this is experimental. Once the FDA gives it final approval, it is no longer experimental. It has been looked inside and out and found to be safe and effective, which it already is.

But this is also going to allow certain institutions, for example, the armed services or certain colleges or universities to now be able to require this vaccination, which is no longer experimental, to be part of what people have to take in order to serve, in order to come to class, in order to work. It could be a good thing.

CHURCH: Yeah. And it's just a few weeks away, which is very positive. And San Francisco's health department, doctor, will now allow those who received the Johnson & Johnson single COVID dose to get a supplemental Pfizer or Moderna shot. Is there sufficient data to support that move?

RODRIGUEZ: Well -- you know what? Not really. But there is some data that shows that getting a second vaccination, you know, is safe. And it probably -- it not probably -- it is going to raise antibody levels. We know that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, even though effective, has across the board shown lower efficacy but still good efficacy. So, I think it is sound, and I think it is going to be safe, and I think it's a good thing.

CHURCH: And Doctor, just very quickly, your message to patients who come in to see you for various ailments and they are not vaccinated, how do you convince them to get that shot?

RODRIGUEZ: Oh, my goodness. I'm a physician, not -- not anything more than that. I just tell them the truth. And I tell them the facts. And the fact is that this is now and it has become this horrible sort of trope in a way, that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The vaccine is going to find a host. And it's not going to find a host to kill and the people that are vaccinated.

So unfortunately, it's going to bounce to children. It's going to bounce to unvaccinated people. That's a fact. That's not a fallacy. So, you know, my patients have the right to do what they want. But they don't have a right to do it and then stand around myself or other people. And you know, that's what I tell them.

CHURCH: Good point, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, thank you so much for talking with us, we appreciate you.

RODRIGUEZ: My pleasure. Thank you.

CHURCH: And just ahead, it has been one year since a massive explosion at Beirut's port, and this is what remains, devastation, damage and a stalled investigation. We will have the details next.



CHURCH: We are getting new details about a possible ship hijacking near the Persian Gulf. The British Maritime Trade Agency reports borders have left a vessel, and it is now safe, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. On Tuesday, the agents who reported a potential hijack was underway. Iran denied involvement in the incident. The U.S., Britain, Israel and Romania blamed Iran for a drone attack on a ship off a man just last week.

Well, police in India are investigating shocking allegations of the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl. She was a member of the Dalit community, India's most oppressed caste. A crematorium priest and three employees are under arrest. And the horrific crime has sparked angry protest.

Vedika Sud is in New Delhi at a protest with more on this. And Vedika, it is a shocking and heinous crime. What will likely happen to the perpetrators of the rape and murder of this child because, sadly, many times in the past, they have been released.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): Well, shocking details indeed, Rosemary. I'm standing up at Pradesh side in this village area where the heinous crime was committed, an alleged gang rape and a murder of a 9-year-old girl belonging to one of the (inaudible) in India.

These protesters you see behind me had been protesting since the morning. Most of them belong to this area with the locals. They are very clear, they want justice for that 9-year-old girl.

We spoke with the mother of the victim and she was in no condition to talk. All she would say is she would call out for her other daughters, saying come to me, embrace me, you have to be with your mother in this moment of grief.

What we are getting to know of after speaking to police officers on ground is that very serious charges had been leveled against the four accused including the priest, but there is still a lot to be uncertain when it comes to the charge of gang rape because the body of the girl was committed and is only when (ph) with the parents and this is what the mother claims, alarmed and alerted the villagers that a man (ph) should pull out the remains of her body and only a very small part of the body anchors below is left. How do you investigate such a case, Rosemary? How do you investigate rape in such a case when you don't have enough evidence? Like I said, they act (ph) because is what the parent's claimed. The girl, according to the mother was called the crematorium by the priest saying that she hasn't visited the crematorium in four days. She's go every evening to collect water for the parents herself (ph) from there.

So as of now, this will go to court of laws. The four people who had been accused of gang rape and murder have been arrested. There are serious charges that had been proved against and they will be tried in court for this.

This is not the first case we've seen against the Dalit community. If you remember last year, there was a case in (inaudible) in India's biggest state, Uttar Pradesh, where a girl was eventually -- she died after being gang raped there in the village.

So the problem here is the trial period. It always takes too long in India and that's the complain that most of the activist have, justice denied is justice delayed according to them and justice delayed and justice denied. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Indeed, and clearly for a lot of people there out on the street, enough is enough. CNN's Vedika Sud reporting there at that protest, many thanks.

Well, it has been one year since the deadly blast at Beirut's port, and human rights watch says, some government officials likely foresaw fatal risks posed by the large amount of chemicals stored there, and quote, "tacitly accepted the risk of deaths occurring."


The rights group is calling for an international probe into the explosion, and says evidence shows multiple authorities were at a minimum, criminally negligent. This, as the people of Beirut remember the victims, the thousands who were killed and wounded, and the hundreds of thousands who were left homeless by the blast.

Our CNN international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, joins us now live from Beirut. And Ben, one year after this deadly blast in Beirut, very little has changed and certainly the investigation has stalled.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, some things have changed. There have many of the houses and buildings that were damaged in the blast have been repaired or are in the process of being repaired. But it is worth noting that, by and large, it is not because of government assistance of the state intervening. It is because people are doing it themselves or being helped by nongovernmental organizations.

Because what was clear from almost immediately after the blast is that the Lebanese is simply incapable of addressing the needs of this country, whether it's the aftermath of the blast or the fact that the country is in economic and financial freefall. But Lebanon's politicians are merely busy squabbling over the seats in the cabinet, who gets to control what ministry while the country is falling apart.

As far as the investigation goes, just a few days after the blast, then Interior Minister, Mohammad Fahmi is now the Caretaker Interior Minister said, maximum five days, we will find out who was responsible for this blast and we will hold them accountable. Well, nobody has been put on trial. Nobody has been held accountable. And at this point, it is not at all clear when or if this investigation will actually come up with the names of those who are responsible for this horrendous explosion. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Ben, what's sort of aid is coming to Lebanon in the aftermath of this blast?

WEDEMAN: Some aid is coming through. And there were several donor conferences in the aftermath of the blast in which money was being collected for Lebanon with the stipulation, however, that it not go through the government, because there is so little faith. Not only among the people of Lebanon, but among the donor community in the government, fearing that the money will be stolen.

Now today, French President, Emmanuel Macron, will be holding a donors conference, where he is hoping to raise $357 million, which is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to what Lebanon needs. But given that nobody wants to send any money -- channel any money or aid through to the government, that's about all they are going to come up with until Lebanon enacts reforms, and who knows when that's going to be. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right, Ben Wedeman, joining us live from Beirut, many thanks. And be sure to join CNN's "Connect The World" at 6:00 p.m. in Beirut, 4:00 p.m. in London, as the people of Lebanon mark one year since this tragic explosion.

In the meantime, stay with CNN, "World Sport" is up after a quick break, with the latest from the Tokyo Olympics, and I'll be back in about 15 minutes. Thanks for watching "CNN Newsroom," I'm Rosemary Church.