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CNN NEWSROOM

Sturgis Biker Rally Repeats Superspreader Event; Tokyo 2020 Summer Games in Final Hours; U.N. Warns of Potential Unparalleled "Catastrophe" in Afghanistan; California Wildfires; Devastating Fires in Athens, Greece; Interview with Britain's Tom Daley, Diving Gold Medalist. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 8, 2021 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, appreciate your company, I'm Michael Holmes.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. moving in the wrong direction in the fight against the coronavirus. How the nation is, again, fighting to balance the pandemic with the hope of returning to normal.

Plus the Taliban's brutal advance in Afghanistan.

Are the Afghan people being bludgeoned into accepting?

We will discuss.

And we are live outside of Athens, Greece, where flames are swallowing forests and villages, whole. Many are forced to flee for their lives.

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HOLMES: A disturbing milestone in America's war with the coronavirus shows that the Delta variant is winning the race right now. The U.S. averaging more than 100,000 new cases, each day, for the first time since back in February before vaccines were widely available.

The worst of it is in Florida, where COVID hospitalization records have been shattered, in both adults and children. Florida, also seeing its highest, weekly number of COVID cases, ever. Still, the state's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, rejecting mask mandates for schools.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I have young kids, my wife and I won't do the masks with the kids, we never have. I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: In what might be the ultimate example of the glass being half full or half empty, the nation's COVID vaccination, rate now standing at just over 50 percent, far short of what's needed for herd immunity.

The U.S., fighting to balance the dangers of the pandemic and the hopes of returning to normal, despite the Delta variant causing a massive surge, nationwide. Thousands of bikers, gathering in Sturgis, South Dakota, for an annual motorcycle rally. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is there, with many throwing caution to the wind.

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ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Monday, South Dakota's governor will hop on a bike and participate in a charity ride. She is among an estimated 700,000 people who will show up to the world's largest motorcycle rally here in Sturgis. Longtime business owners, tell me thanks to the governor's support events like this can still go on during the pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, more than a dozen of people just ask me to put their hands together like they are praying and oh, god, thank you so much for giving us a place to go and be halfway normal and get away from the hellhole our city became. And we like your governor, we love her.

BROADDUS: Do you think this event will be a superspreader?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's highly likely. You can see in the instances in other states, where there have been large gatherings; most recently, the Milwaukee Bucks, where they had 100,000 folks and you had some significant spread. We're talking 700,000 people. And I wouldn't be surprised if we have a superspreader event there.

BROADDUS: You're worried about COVID or the Delta variant?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I got both my shots, I guess I'm OK.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope.

BROADDUS: What about you?

Are you worried about COVID at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: COVID?

I got my shots. Not at all, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Had it, fine, not concerned at all. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here.

BROADDUS: One rider told me, he still keeps a mask in his pocket. He said he didn't show up last year and he's still a little worried this year. The big concern among health officials is when participants step inside, for example, crowded bars or tattoo parlors. That is where there is an increased risk for transmission -- Adrienne

Broaddus, CNN, Sturgis, South Dakota.

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HOLMES: Let's bring in Dr. Scott Miscovich. He is a national consultant for COVID testing, joining us from Tucson, Arizona.

Good to see you, Doctor. The good news, I suppose, in the U.S., is that nearly 60 percent of the eligible population, 12 and older, are fully vaccinated.

The reality is, is it enough?

Especially given the virulence of the Delta variant?

And with that 7-day average, topping 100,000 again?

DR. SCOTT MISCOVICH, FAMILY PHYSICIAN AND NATIONAL CONSULTANT: That is exactly, correct Michael.

[02:05:00]

MISCOVICH: I think everyone has heard the concept of herd immunity. We were saying, maybe early on, 60-65 percent.

What we do have to understand as we have a variant that is so contagious and that is spreading at the rate of chicken pox and spreading almost double the rate of what the smallpox had spread, which was obviously, quite serious, most of us believe, we are going to need to hit 85 percent before we can start getting into the next big place of -- remember, it is suppression, elimination and eradication.

Right now, we aren't close to any of those. So we need to think 85 percent.

Why is that a problem?

We know, probably, about 12-15 percent of the country won't even dream of getting a vaccine. So anyone eligible needs to be vaccinated.

HOLMES: That's depressing, to be honest. But it's accurate. There is a huge annual motorcycle gathering, we mentioned earlier, in Sturgis, South Dakota, up to 700,000 people, likely to attend. Last, year it turned into a superspreader event.

What do you think when you see a gathering, like this, at a time like this?

MISCOVICH: You know, my mind, it just looks at that and it just makes me realize, I start to count and think, do these people realize how many of them are, truly, just going to die because of this? If that's the case, there will be people who will succumb to COVID, because they attended that event. We are still seeing the mortality rate of 1.8 percent and it is probably closing in on 2 percent. So the superspreader events are, I looked at the clip within France, when you look at them walking through, with the green pass protests, not one mask anywhere.

And you know in the Sturgis event, we won't see any masks on those individuals. So it's quite dangerous. And hundreds will die.

HOLMES: It's a good point. You mentioned, in France and Europe, we are seeing several countries moving toward, so-called green passes, proof that you've been vaccinated before you can get into a variety of places. Yet, we see the pushback by many people.

It's interesting; given we have driver's licenses and the law says you have to wear a seatbelt and so on and we do, why do you think that such passes are being so, fiercely, opposed?

They seem to make sense, don't they?

MISCOVICH: They make so much sense. We have seen that the danger is indoors. Indoor environments, right now, with Delta, what we are telling our patients and we are telling groups, is that if you are unvaccinated and you go into an indoor environment and people have COVID, you are going to get it.

I have come up with a fact that, I believe, CDC and World Health needs to change their guidance to say that it only takes 2 minutes, within 6 feet, not 15 minutes. We need to start pushing that, so that people understand how easy it is to get the new Delta variant.

It is just unfathomable as we watch the hospitals overrun. Everyone, now is probably one degree of separation from knowing someone with COVID. It is remarkable. I have no idea why they would think that.

HOLMES: Really quick, we have to mention the global situation and, in particular, the low vaccination rates in so many countries, that cannot even get vaccine doses. The thing that is mind-boggling, is meanwhile, in the U.S., thousands, thousands of doses, are being thrown out because they are out of date and no one is coming to use them.

MISCOVICH: Yes, fortunately, I am in Tucson, with my group and we have a creative program going on with the Mexican government. And we are taking the vaccines that are close to expiration and having the administration time down to the border for the high risk.

I think it is a great pilot that needs to be expanded. But let's face it Michael, the world needs to be vaccinated before we have this COVID moving into the elimination and eradication.

We have to find a world, a way for the world to come together and the United States and the European Union, have to take bigger leadership. Yes, we focus on our population but until we turn to places like Africa or some of the other third world countries, we will be living with this through 2024 or 2025.

HOLMES: It is so clear. Variants thrive where there is rampant spread. So we will get another variant, as people are saying, that could beat these vaccines. Have to leave it there, unfortunately, Dr. Scott Miscovich, thank you so, much I really appreciate it.

MISCOVICH: Thank you Michael.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[02:10:00]

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HOLMES: And we are down to the final competitions of the 2020 Summer Olympics, only a few hours remain before the closing ceremony brings the games to an end.

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HOLMES: And closing ceremony for the Summer Olympics less than 5 hours from now. Ahead this hour, we take you live to Tokyo for a preview with our Blake Essig.

And later, gold medal diver Tom Daley of Great Britain shares his secret for staying calm and focused in the heat of competition.

Quick break; when we come back, another provincial capital is under attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Coming up, I will speak to the author of a book about life under the Taliban and ask her, what can be done to stop a return to pre-9/11 rule?

Also --

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are seeing truly frightening fire behavior. And I don't know how to overstate that. But we have a lot of veteran firefighters who have served for 20 or 30 years and have never seen behavior like this.

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HOLMES (voice-over): A race against time in California, as crews battle one of the largest wildfires in state history. We take a look at where things stand, when we come back.

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HOLMES: Welcome back. A worst-case scenario looks to be playing out in Afghanistan at the moment, as the Taliban take advantage of the U.S. military exit. The U.S. and the U.K. are already advising their citizens to leave as the Taliban pushes on a multifront offensive on government forces.

One of the latest points, flashpoints, is the city of Kunduz. It's an important city in the scheme of things. A local official says that there has been heavy fighting in the area, casualties on both sides.

For months the Taliban have been advancing across Afghanistan and they are pressing their assault from the countryside into these cities, the major population centers. Now if Kunduz falls it would be at least the third provincial capital taken by the Taliban. And the Taliban were already laying siege to other major cities like Kandahar.

It has been 20 years since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and there is a real risk right now.

[02:20:00]

HOLMES: The country could return to what it was, a haven for jihadists under near total Taliban rule. CNN's Clarissa Ward reports for us now from Kabul on what some say is an impending disaster.

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CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly unraveling, which is why you saw the U.S. embassy come out and urge all Americans to leave the country.

This comes on the heels of the Taliban taking control of two provincial capitals. This is a big deal. They are the first but by no means, unfortunately probably the last. At least three other cities are under imminent threat.

We spoke to ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the helped the hospital in Kandahar, who said that in the first six months of this year alone, they saw more than 2,300 weapon-wounded patients.

That's more than double the amount that they saw in the first six months of last year. We also heard from the new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan. She warned that if the international community does not act soon, Afghanistan could be a potential catastrophe with few if any parallels this century.

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HOLMES: Now for some analysis on Afghanistan, I'm joined by Ashley Jackson. She's co-director of the Center for the Study of Armed Groups at the Overseas Development Institute.

She's also the author of a forthcoming book about life under the Taliban, "Negotiating Survival: Civilian Insurgent Relations in Afghanistan."

And it's great to have you with, us Doctor. The Taliban are a movement committed to force, dominating by force by arms. How do you see the next few weeks or months playing out?

ASHLEY JACKSON, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF ARMED GROUPS, OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE: I think that's hard to predict. No one at the beginning of May, when U.S. forces started to leave the country officially, would have predicted that the Taliban would advance so quickly, capturing half of Afghanistan's districts.

And now it seems laying siege to the cities and reportedly capturing three. So we can expect them to press on. But how quickly is anyone's guess.

HOLMES: When you look back, there have been words and more words at the U.N. and in Doha, calling on the Taliban to stop fighting and killing. The Taliban agreeing to things that they never carried out.

The battlefield would suggest that the Taliban is not interested in words. It seems pretty clear they never planned to share power or hold back militarily.

What then, is the answer to stop this onward march, in what could be a pre-9/11 style rule once again?

JAVAHERI: The Taliban, in their agreement with the U.S., never committed to stopping the war against the Afghan government. It was a truce between the U.S. and the Taliban for the U.S. to withdraw and get out of the country.

This is -- it's pretty predictable honestly. And I think the failure of inter-Afghan negotiations, the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, I mean, they kind of linger on. But there really has not been significant pressure.

You are very right to say that there have been a lot of words. But the international community could be doing far more to pressure the Taliban and we just don't see that happening.

HOLMES: They don't seem to want to negotiate or be interested; they say they will not work with Al Qaeda, things like that and they're shoulder to shoulder in some areas. The thing that is tragic -- and I've been there a couple of times myself -- the Afghan people are always in the middle, exhausted, terrified, trying to survive.

Civil war, Soviet invasion, a corrupt central government, warlords and so on, do people support the Taliban or are they being bludgeoned into accepting Taliban rule or die?

JACKSON: In traveling the country and talking to people over the years, they are exhausted, rightly. As you say, after four decades of conflict, they haven't really been given a choice.

I think, as you do in any civil war, it's two Afghanistans. You have people who are predominantly in the cities, who benefited from the international intervention and who have jobs and school. And all the international aid reached them. You also have people in the countryside who, with all the warlords we

empowered after 9/11, went after them. They gave the Taliban an excuse to come back. And it's those people, in the rural areas, that the Taliban now controls, who really, I think, have borne the brunt of the conflict, not only the Taliban violence but U.S.-led airstrikes, night raids.

And they're absolutely exhausted. They have no -- they don't support anyone, they just want a break, they just want peace.

HOLMES: Yes, they're getting beaten up by both sides there and, for decades, really. For the U.S., after 20 years, it was pretty much in the end a run to the exit, turning off the lights.

What were the failures of the West?

Could things have been different?

JACKSON: Yes, this is the heartbreaking part.

[02:25:00]

JACKSON: It could have been so different. The international intervention was very flawed in many ways. But the big flaw is that we did not negotiate sooner with the Taliban.

In 2001, they wanted to surrender; Donald Rumsfeld said no. They could have joined the Karzai government. In 2010-11, you see peace negotiations starting or at least talks about talks starting under Obama.

The U.S. isn't ready to negotiate. And at that point, the Taliban was making pretty modest demands. And talks fall apart. 2014, you have the drawdown of forces again, the U.S. is trying to get out and talks again, because the U.S. is not ready, don't really happen.

And now what we have seen with this particular agreement, as you said, it's really a fig leaf where withdraw (ph). The U.S. presence is only making things worse. We have to get out and our leverage with the Taliban is almost nonexistent.

HOLMES: Really quickly, we're almost out of time, I'm wondering your thoughts and a broader look, the risk of regional instability with the Taliban takeover. You have India and Pakistan competing for influence; China, Russia, Iran, they all have their own interests.

What is the potential for those competing interests creating even more problems outside Afghanistan's borders?

JACKSON: A high potential, it could be catastrophic. We talk about Afghanistan as a graveyard of empires and all these kinds of cliches. But the truth is it is a regional crossroads. And there are all these -- Pakistan, India, Russia and China, all these countries are fighting for influence in Afghanistan to sort of leverage against their perceived enemies. And you can see them very easily backing various factions, inflaming

an already bloody civil conflict for their own short-term objectives. When you haven't seen in the U.N. or in the U.S., trying to lead this, is a real effort on regional engagement, to make sure everyone is on the same page, no one throws gasoline on the fire at the very least.

And we have a real full frontal effort among these regional countries for peace. That is really missing and crucial to pursue.

HOLMES: Exactly and, as we said earlier, the civilians in the middle, hundreds of thousands internally displaced or fled the country altogether. Have to leave it there, Ashley Jackson, really appreciate your expertise on this. Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Meanwhile, we've just gotten news that the Taliban have seized Kunduz, the city we were just talking about earlier. If that is true, it means that they now control three provincial capitals in Afghanistan. They are sweeping through the country.

And an official reported heavy fighting in the city earlier, casualties on both sides. We can't independently confirm this Taliban claim. But it would appear that Kunduz has fallen.

Now a girl from the Nigerian town of Chibok is free seven years after she was abducted by Boko Haram militants. The state's governor says she turned herself in to the military 10 days ago, along with a Boko Haram fighter she said she had married.

She has since been reunited with her parents. In 2014, some 270 girls were abducted by the group during a raid on their school. It sparked an international outcry. Authorities believe about 113 of the girls are still being held.

The final Olympic events are taking place right now, as we speak. We will update you on who's leading the medal count, what the plans are for the closing ceremony as well.

Also, when we come back, wildfires raging so badly in Greece, hundreds of people were forced to jump into the sea to escape the flames. That's after the break.

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[02:30:00]

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HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, I appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Let's get you up to date on the medal standings. As the Tokyo Olympics

near completion, the U.S., securing its place at the top of the table, after clinching a golden women's volleyball.

It will leave the Tokyo games with the most golds and the most medals overall. It was a tight race with the golds. China, second in golds and in total medals. And host Japan, have the 3rd highest gold haul of the games. They had a pretty good run.

As competition wraps up, Tokyo preparing now for the closing ceremony. That will be a little over four hours from now. So let's pop over to Tokyo, Blake Essig is standing by there where it will be happening.

What might we expect?

There wasn't a whole lot of detail about what was going to happen but there obviously won't be the atmosphere of closing ceremonies of years gone by.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, for now, we don't really know much about the closing ceremony, although standing outside of the stadium, throughout the day, we have heard rehearsing going on, going on right now. Lots of commotion, some dramatic music being played, maybe a little precursor of what to expect later tonight.

We do know the theme is The World We Share. Organizers say that, even if we can't be together we can all share the moment and open the door to a brighter future.

As we take a step back and focus on the last few weeks, these games have been anything but normal. We expected that. Here on the ground, it has been very much a tale of two cities.

On the one hand, the constant protests and fierce opposition to these games really haven't changed. But at the same time, many people here have tuned in to watch the games on TV and gather for any opportunity to experience the Olympics in person.

To make that point right now, as I look up and down the street, surrounding the national stadium, there are hundreds of people gathering just to take a picture. The stadium, very close to what we saw on the opening ceremony.

But rather than a shift in support for the games as a whole, many people I have spoken with throughout the past two weeks say they've specifically tuned in to support the athletes rather than the Olympic movement as a whole.

Even the cases within the Olympic bubble have been remained relatively low, health and safety remains a serious concern, especially given the surge in cases here in Tokyo and around the country. Despite its state of emergency put in place medical professionals here say people are not taking the current crisis seriously.

[02:35:00] ESSIG: And I'm told that is because of the mixed messaging, by the government, asking people to stay, home and businesses to close early but at the same, time going ahead with these Olympic Games.

Japan's prime minister, since coming out to say, the Olympics has not resulted in an increase of COVID-19 infections. But medical professionals, warn as an indirect result of the Olympics increasing the flow of people, that the case counts could triple in the coming weeks -- Michael.

HOLMES: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig, outside of the stadium, in Tokyo. Appreciate it.

We will take a quick break here on the program. When we come back, extreme heat fueling massive wildfires in Europe and North America. We will see why it's anything but a normal fire season.

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HOLMES: More than 100 large wildfires, currently burning across the U.S. fueled, in part, with severe droughts in the West. The largest is California's Dixie Fire, which scorched nearly 450,000 acres so far.

To give you a sense of the scale of that, that is more than twice the size of New York City. Right now, the fire is only 21 percent contained and is still growing. CNN's Camila Bernal is in the town of Chico.

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CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is dry and it is hot. And the fire is spreading so quickly, in many cases, it is impossible to stop. Firefighters with 20 or 30 years of experience said they've never seen a fire like this one.

They describe the Dixie Fire as having frightening behavior. Over the weekend, the focus is to find people who are still unaccounted for.

Law enforcement saying that they have already found some but they will continue to search over the next couple of days. Firefighters are working around the clock to contain the Dixie fire, which already has destroyed around 200 structures. They say, around 14,000 others are still at risk.

[02:40:00]

BERNAL: The River Fire, which is around 100 miles from where I am at the moment, also destroying about 100 structures. So a lot of work still to be done in this area.

These two fires, essentially surrounding the town of Paradise, which was destroyed in 2018, by the Camp Fire. We spoke to Franci Lamb, who owned a home in Paradise and lost everything she had. She says, she understands what people are going, through right, now who have lost everything.

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FRANCI LAMB, FORMER PARADISE RESIDENT: I would take them in in a heartbeat. They need a place to shower. They need a place to get some food. They need a place to sleep. And they need to be hugged. They need to be held and told that it will get better. It Will get better. It did get better for us but it took a long time, a long time.

BERNAL: And after the Camp Fire, Franci Lamb bought an RV. It is full of food, supplies and she is ready to go, in case she has to evacuate one more time.

In the meantime, however, she is dealing with the smoke, as are many other people in this area. Some of the counties here even telling people to not go outside, because the air quality is unhealthy. That smoke, affecting not just people in this state but other states, that are nowhere near this fire -- Camila Bernal, CNN, Chico, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And dozens of wildfires, burning across Greece. Officials say, firefighters are waging a, quote, "very big battle," especially with this huge fire, on the island of Evia. All of the residents there having been evacuated to the coast.

The Coast Guard, actually, rescuing about 1,400 people on Friday, who were forced to escape by sea. Elinda Labropoulou joining me now from a town just outside of Athens, in Greece.

Bring us up to date on what you have been seeing. It just looks like devastation behind you.

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: It is complete devastation behind me. We are looking at areas that suffered immense damages from the big Athens fire. Luckily, this fire is now under control.

There are fears of it rekindling, because the temperatures remain very high and the winds are very strong. We've seen a lot of police, a lot of firefighters, here, on alert.

As you can see, this beautiful forest, has completely, burned down. It is an area that the citizens consider as the lungs of Athens. So we are looking at immense destruction. We went for a walk around this area, talked to some locals, let's take a listen.

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LABROPOULOU (voice-over): It was another long night for firefighters in Greece. Exhausted figures moving like shadows in the darkness, battling a wall of orange flames, trying to save the houses in this neighborhood in an Athens suburb.

Desperate residents throwing buckets of water at the intruding flames. But they still burn. The light of day brings little relief. It's just easier to see the extent of the damage. A question many people are waking up to, what, if anything, can be salvaged?

Local resident Nikos Defteraios shows us what is left of his home, the place his family has lived in for generations, now reduced to twisted metal and shattered bricks.

NIKOS DEFTERAIOS (PH), LOCAL RESIDENT (through translator): We are looking at 30 years work. My parents, I got the house from them, for 30 years work here. They had also taken the house from my grandmother.

How will I be able to rebuild what was there, when?

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): His loss shared by countless other homeowners across Athens -- and businesses. The Greek government says it plans to reimburse people affected by the fires but right now it's just trying to save lives.

LABROPOULOU: Until some days ago, this was a popular Athens tavern. Now it's just one of dozens destroyed buildings, a result of the huge fire that burned in the north suburbs of Athens.

Greek authorities are trying to put out the flames but the destruction here is really immense. Local residents have told us that at least three-quarters of their homes have been destroyed.

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): Much of the forests around Athens have been destroyed. Officials say climate change contributed to the high temperatures and dry conditions that turned areas into tinderboxes.

The Greek prime minister said the land will be reforested. But for Nikos, the charred landscape of his beloved city represents an even bigger disaster.

DEFTERAIOS (through translator): We are talking about the lands of Athens. This area is a living land for Athens. Right now the flames are burning them. It doesn't matter where it happens, people live. We all take our oxygen from here.

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): In his community, there are some small signs of perseverance amid the wreckage. Volunteers pick up dogs lost in the fires. Utility crews work to fix damaged power lines.

[02:45:00]

LABROPOULOU (voice-over): But it's a long way forward before these streets ever feel like home again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LABROPOULOU: It will take a while before many places in Greece feel like home again. There is a huge fire raging on the island of Evia and there villages are still being evacuated. People are being moved to the seafront of the beach so they can be evacuated by boat, a number of other fires in the Peloponnese as well.

So we are looking at, yet another day ahead, with very difficult conditions in Greece. Michael?

HOLMES: Yes, just dreadful. It really is. Thank you for your reporting on this, Elinda Labropoulou, just outside of Athens. Thank you.

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HOLMES: Now this developing story we've been following this hour. A member of the Kunduz provincial council in Afghanistan, confirming to CNN, most of the provincial capital has, indeed, fallen to the Taliban. The airport, however, not yet under Taliban control. That is significant.

This would be the third provincial capital to fall to the militants, the Taliban claiming that all parts of Kunduz city were taken and CNN cannot independently confirm the Taliban angle on that. So we are keeping an eye on as it's developing.

We'll take a quick break. When we come back, an Olympic champion in the pool and a master with wool outside. We speak with British diver, Tom Daley, about his time at the Tokyo Olympics.

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[02:50:00]

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HOLMES: Welcome back.

The British diver, Tom Daley, taking home two medals from the Tokyo games, a gold and a bronze. But perhaps his most talked about moments have come outside the pool. He was frequently spotted knitting when not in competition, much to the delight of those on social media. The diver shared his Olympic experiences with our Will Ripley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM DALEY, BRITISH OLYMPIC DIVER: I'm someone who really struggles to sit still. I'm always a fidgeter. I'm someone that has like a -- feels like I -- if I wanted -- it's like a cupboard or something that needs to be sorted through, I have to be doing that. I can't just sit, still and do nothing.

So it was great for me to be able to find something where I could just sit back, relax, knit and have something to stay calm, stay focused, mindful. But yes, I knit and I crochet and I basically do it everywhere.

This morning, I made a little cozy for my medals to stop it getting scratched.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Are you going to make another like little thing for that medal? DALEY: I mean, I've been asked if I will make another medal pouch. But I've already done that. So I was thinking, maybe just a hat --

(LAUGHTER)

DALEY: -- or a little scarf, I don't know. It does get cold in London.

RIPLEY: You talk about mindfulness, you talked about visualizing your dives ahead of time. And I thought that was so fascinating and important, because mental health has been at the forefront of the conversation this Olympics.

What did you learn from Rio that you put into practice here, that has led to you winning your gold and your bronze?

DALEY: I mean, in Rio, I was completely heartbroken with how the whole event went. I came away with a bronze medal but then in the individual event, I was completely heartbroken. And it was afterwards that my husband said to me that maybe it wasn't to be -- the reason why I didn't win an Olympic gold medal at that Olympics was because our future child was meant to see me win an Olympic gold medal.

And the fact that my son got to watch me win an Olympic gold medal is something that's so special to me. And I cannot wait to be able to tell him more stories as he gets older.

RIPLEY: What did you think when you saw that video of your husband?

And it was your mom, right?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

DALEY: That was amazing.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

DALEY: Yes, I mean my -- I mean, Lance was screaming very loud, bless him (ph). But --

(CROSSTALK)

RIPLEY: Have you ever seen him scream like that before?

DALEY: Yes, on roller coasters. He screams quite a lot like that. But, you know, it's just -- I think (INAUDIBLE) because behind these medals, it's not just me. It is my coaches, my support team that are around me.

[02:55:00]

DALEY: But then most importantly, my husband, my mom, who were there, too, love me and supported me through this whole thing and have allowed me to fly higher than I ever thought I might. And you know, I have a lot to thank them for.

RIPLEY: So you are now a television personality, gold medalist, husband and father.

DALEY: Yes.

RIPLEY: How is that going?

DALEY: I mean, being a parent is the best thing in the whole world. And I have loved every second of it. I mean, there's a lot of sleepless nights at the beginning. But he's just the best. I mean, he inspires me every single day. He gets me excited about the world again and what the future might hold

RIPLEY: You are still so young but you speak with the wisdom of somebody who is older.

Where did that come from?

DALEY: I think I've had to grow up pretty quickly. I was 14 at my first Olympic Games, then I started to travel on my own to Australia, without my parents, when I was 10. So you have to grow up quickly.

Also, losing a parent when I was 17 years old, suddenly, I needed to take on quite a lot of responsibilities. But I don't know. I think I've always kind of been a little bit of an older soul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: What a great interview. Our Will Ripley, speaking with Tom Daley.

The closing ceremony, now just a few hours away. I'm going to show you some live pictures in Tokyo, as competition winds down. Do be sure to stick around with us for the latest on the final Olympic action.

Meanwhile, thank you for spending part of your day with, me I am Michael Holmes, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. Stick around. My colleague Kim Brunhuber is on set and has more CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.