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Afghan Forces Are on Their Own; War Left Thousands Homeless in Afghanistan. China Sentenced Canadian Businessman 11 Years in Prison; South Korea Struggles to Contain the Virus; Study Shows COVID-19 Can Be Eradicated; Children Facing the Risk Without Protection. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 11, 2021 - 03:00   ET




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

Just ahead.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They've got to fight for themselves.


CHURCH (on camera): The U.S. president taking a tough line on Afghanistan as the Taliban consolidate their gains and western powers wary.

Thousands flee the wildfires raging across Greece. But on the island of Evia some choose to stay and fight.

And we are waiting to hear from Lionel Messi about the soccer superstar signed a deal to play for Paris Saint-Germain.

Good to have you with us.

Well territory in Afghanistan is falling to Taliban militants at an alarming pace. It has U.S. and European officials on alert. At least eight provincial capitals have fallen in the past five days. The U.N. migration agency estimates nearly 400,000 people have been displaced this year. And some European leaders fear another migrant crisis.

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan is in Qatar for talks to urge the Taliban to end the offensive and reach a political agreement. Meantime, U.S. President Joe Biden is not backing down from the commitment to withdraw troops by the end of this month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: We spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and

equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces. And Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands, lost death and injury. Thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves. Fight for their nation.


CHURCH (on camera): And Clarissa Ward is in Kabul with the latest, she joins us now live. Good to see you, Clarissa.

So, this Taliban advance it has moved so fast, it's even surprised U.S. officials, and now Kabul could very well be next. What is the latest on all this and of course its ramifications?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, it's good to be with you. And as you say, I mean, it's just shocking how quickly this country appears to be (AUDIO GAP) Afghanistan's provincial capitals now under control of the Taliban. And many, many more are threatened.

We just did a trip on another story down to the provincial capital of Ghazni. It is completely surrounded on all sides by the Taliban. Last week, we were in the city of Kandahar, the second largest city in Afghanistan, it is also completely surrounded. So, the expectation is that things are moving a lot quicker than anyone could have predicted. And it's not quite clear what Afghan forces can do to stop the Taliban's momentum.

We did see President Ghani coming out yesterday, the Afghan president saying, really calling on people on Twitter to join, quote, "popular uprisings," trying to get the various warlords across the country involved in this fight and get normal ordinary Afghan citizens to participate in that fight by kind of registering with their local warlord.

But it's really not clear what kind of an impact that will make, Rosemary, because perhaps the most well-known grouping of these warlords was in the northern area of the country, the northern alliance, who fought against the Taliban in the past.

Well, five of those eight provincial capitals that have been taken are in the north of the country. So, this is a formidable fight that the Afghan government is up against. We are also hearing from my colleague, Kylie Atwood in the U.S. at the State Department, that the U.S. embassy is now seriously considering withdrawing a number of personnel and shrinking the U.S.'s footprint here even further.

That, of course, will only serve to further lower morale, which I have to tell you, Rosemary, even though the capital here Kabul is relatively secure at the moment, is at very low ebb. A lot of anxiety and fear about how quickly are things are falling apart, Rosemary.


CHURCH: Yes. And of course, understandably. But Clarissa, while this is all going on, there is a push for a political solution. But is that even possible given what the Taliban are doing right now? Executing Afghan troops who surrendered to them.

WARD: Yes, I think that Zalmay Khalilzad, who, as you mentioned, is in Doha, the U.S. representative trying to get everyone back to the negotiating table and push those peace talks. He's in a really tough position at the moment because the reality is there are atrocities being carried out by the Taliban. The Taliban is angry about airstrikes which they say are killing very many civilians.

And frankly, the Taliban has a lot of the leverage here. They don't have any real reason at the moment to make any concessions. Or even to sit down at the negotiating table. So that means it's going to be a very tough uphill climb for Khalilzad and the other parties involved to try to get those two different parties at the table to really thrush this out.

Right now, the Taliban thinks that they can win this. And as long as they think that they can win this there is very little hope for peace.

CHURCH: Yes, that is very sobering. CNN's Clarissa Ward, bringing us the very latest from Kabul, Afghanistan. Many thanks.

Well the U.N. migration agency estimates nearly 360,000 people have been displaced this year. And some European leaders fear another migrant crisis. The International Red Cross reports 4,000 Afghans have been wounded in the fighting, and hundreds of thousands more at risk.

Prue Coakley is the head of programs for Medecins sans Frontieres in Afghanistan, and she joins us now from Kabul. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: I wanted to talk to you about this because at least eight provincial capitals as we've just been discussed have -- we've just been discussing have now fallen to the Taliban, resulting in civilians being trapped in the middle. What is happening to those people? And what help are they receiving? And what help do they need?

COAKLEY: Well, that's a very good question. Two of the immediate impacts of this fighting is mass displacement. And we are witnessing this in the location where we work at the moment, in particular from Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and also Kunduz. Lots of people are leaving their homes and seeking shelter either in districts where the fighting has stopped or they're heading towards Kabul with their family.

Also, they've been bringing nothing with them at all because they are leaving very quickly. So, there are very huge internal needs to meet the needs of all of these people that have left their homes. But of course, on the medical side, which is what we also see most, is we've seen the impact on civilians of the fighting. And that many of them are injured in cross fire. We are receiving a lot of patient on our medical facilities at the moment with gunshot wounds, blast wounds, and so on. CHURCH: And how graver are these wounds?

COAKLEY: It very much depends how close they are to the point of the fighting. So, some patients will have minor wounds. But some, of course, some more serious.

CHURCH: And the Taliban advance is also spiking concern about a new migrant crisis in Europe as Afghans flee the region. What will likely happen to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by this offensive, do you think?

COAKLEY: Well, that I cannot speculate on at the moment. I think it's a bit too soon to say because the situation remains very fluid. What we hear from our staff is that many people are trying to leave the country, and to secure visas to leave. And I expect that this will continue for quite some time.

CHURCH: And of course, in the middle of all of this, Afghans are also dealing with a severe drought and a third wave of COVID-19. So how are you, with Medecins sans Frontieres dealing with patients, not only are they coming to you wounded, some of them may very well be infected with the virus.

COAKLEY: Well, MSF took the decision sometime back that we would maintain our current medical activities in private centers around the country. Because indeed, as you say, the immediate trauma care needs that women still need a safe place to go and deliver. And yes, there is still COVID so we are continuing to provide all of those medical services, because there are still big needs, trauma is one need among many. And if we don't continue to do our best to provide those services, we leave those people without access to safe medical care.


CHURCH: And it has to be said, I mean, you are heroic in the midst of all this. As we're looking at all of these people gathered needing help from doctors, like yourself. Talk to us about how you deal with the vast number of people that are coming for health when it's almost -- does it get overwhelming for so many people with your organization?

COAKLEY: At times, yes, if I'm completely honest. But it's also important to know that when fighting is very heavy, this of course has an impact on movement. So, what we see, during moments when the fighting is heaviest, is that patients simply cannot access the hospital. They can only access when they feel safe to do so and when the fighting reduces.

So, this is impacting overall on, you know, the quality of care and the outcomes for the patients. Because we do see many patients coming much later than they would have if there was less fighting.

CHURCH: It is such a desperate situation on the ground. Prue Coakley, thank you very much for joining us and talking us through all of this. We appreciate it.

COAKLEY: My pleasure. CHURCH: Well the war between Ethiopian forces in the Tigray region

has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes. It's also drawn accusations of war crimes. And now the Ethiopian government is calling on civilians to take up arms.

Ethiopia is looking for new military recruits after Tigrayan forces retook the regional capital and began pushing into other parts of the country. Ethiopia's prime minister says now is the right time for all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the defense forces, special forces and militias to show your patriotism.

Well Canada's prime minister is calling it absolutely unacceptable and unjust. China's conviction of this Canadian businessmen on espionage charges and his prison sentence of 11 years handed down just hours ago.

Michael Spavor was detained in 2018 along with another Canadian, Michael Kovrig. Both were arrested after top executives of the tech giant Huawei was arrested in Canada.

So, let's bring in CNN's Kristie Lu Stout, she joins us live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie. So, what legal avenues are available to Michael Spavor?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Michael Spavor, his family, and Canadian diplomats are still processing this verdict. You know, after more than two years in detention, the verdict is in. In the case of the detained Canadian businessman in the court in Dandong, China, that's in the northeastern part of China that shares a border with North Korea.

The court had sentenced Spavor earlier today to 11 years for espionage. It also said that he would be deported but did not offer a timeline. Now western observers say that that ambiguity could open the door for negotiation. Listen to this.


LYNETTE ONG, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: I think there is plenty of scope for ambiguity. And I think ambiguity is always good in these sorts of cases because from a Chinese perspective, it gives them bargaining power. And from a Canadian perspective, it allows us to expect a more favorable outcome than 11 years sentencing.


LU STOUT (on camera): Now Canada's ambassador in China said that they interpret the verdict, meaning 11 years in prison followed by deportation. Canada's ambassador in China also said that he spoke to Michael Spavor shortly after the verdict was released. And Spavor had the following messages, three of them. That want -- he wanted to say, thank you for your support, it means a lot to me, I'm in good spirits, and I want to get home.

It was in June of last year when Michael Spavor and fellow Canadian, the former diplomat Michael Kovrig were charged with espionage. In December of 2018 they were arrested in China shortly after the detention by Canadian police officers of Meng Wanzhou, the former chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei. She is also the daughter of the CEO Huawei, Ren Zhengfei.

And she has been charged of misleading HSBC about Huawei's business dealings in Iran, potentially causing HSBC to violate sanctions. She is in house arrest in Vancouver. She is fighting extradition to the United States. She insists that she is innocent.

China insist that there is no link between the detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and the Meng Wanzhou case. Western observers say otherwise. They've been calling a hostage diplomacy. And a very sharply worded statement was released earlier today by the U.S. embassy in China. We'll bring it up for you.


The statements say as follows. Quote, "these proceedings are a blatant attempt to use human beings as bargaining leverage, a practice roundly condemned by the global community and inconsistent with China's international human rights commitments. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Canada and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor."

Now, as for the former diplomat, Michael Kovrig, the Canadian embassy said no news yet. We don't know when the sentencing for him will take place. I should note that in China courts have a conviction rate of 99 percent, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Kristie Lu Stout bringing us the latest from Hong Kong, many thanks.

LU STOUT: You're welcome.

CHURCH: Just ahead here on CNN, South Korea is grappling with its most severe COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began. And setting new caseload records. We'll have a live report, next.


UNKNOWN: I want to go home. I know, we're getting there, we're getting there.


CHURCH (on camera): Pediatric ICUs are filling up with children infected with the Delta variant. Ahead, why experts and hospitals are warning it is going to get worse.


CHURCH (on camera): China is struggling to contain a growing number of COVID cases with 20 high-risk areas now reported across the country. At the same time, South Korea set a new record on Tuesday with its highest daily number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

Journalist Manisha Tank is tracking these disturbing developments for us. And she joins us now live from Singapore.

So, Manisha, South Korea and China initially did well in fighting the virus. But now the situation appears worse than ever. What went wrong here and what's the latest on all this?

MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST: Well there were a couple of things, Rosemary, that the health ministry in South Korea is saying. The Delta variant, of course, is one of those problems. That is partly what went wrong. It is the fact that COVID-19 as we earlier knew it, mutated, and now we are dealing with this very infectious variation of it.

But also, pandemic fatigue has been cited as being a problem in South Korea. Of course, fighting wave after wave of COVID-19 comes with lots of restrictions. And that has certainly meant some degree of pain on the economic and the social front for many people.

President Moon Jae-in has weighed in this Wednesday, also to address this new number of cases, more than 2,200 cases being reported, as you said this is the highest number since the pandemic began for South Korea. So, a great deal of concern as to how the country gets ahead of this. There are hundreds of people who are also seriously ill in hospital. So that is also a figure that we are tracking closely.


Elsewhere, the health commission in China has issued a new figure for caseload there. Another new 111 cases, and we know that some of these are popping across six provinces, 83 of these. Beijing as we're told about 24 hours ago that you can't travel outside the city unless it's for an emergency.

But it is also worth noting that according to Chinese state media and official statements, some 47 officials, at least 47 of them have been punished for negligence over failing to control the spread of this Delta variant. And the kind of officials we are talking about are health officials, also local government officials, those that work in hospitals, those that work in airports as well.

And airport was one of the places where we saw that spread really kickoff in China. And that, of course, has been a huge concern. So, it is really the Delta variant, this highly infectious version of COVID- 19 that is causing so much concern across this region, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Manisha Tank, joining us live from Singapore, many thanks.

Well, an adviser to the U.S. Drug and Food Administration tells CNN the clock is ticking on authorizing a COVID 19 vaccine for children under the age of 12. This, as President Joe Biden says he is worried about children returning to school before they can be vaccinated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: My concerns are deep. The reason that children are becoming infected is because, in most cases, they live in low vaccination rate states and communities. And they're getting it from unvaccinated adults.


CHURCH (on camera): The U.S. is seeing a spike in cases among children, with an alarming number of them ending up in hospitals.

CNN's Nick Valencia reports from Louisiana.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When you think of people infected with COVID-19, think of Nelson Alexis. The 17-year-old with down syndrome has been in the pediatrics ICU at the Children's Hospital of New Orleans for a week. Every breath he takes is a struggle.

It's hard to breathe, huh? Is that helping, that oxygen, helping you?


VALENCIA: A little more than a week ago, Nelson's parents knew something was wrong when he stopped eating. His mother says things got so bad they thought he was about to die when they brought him into the hospital, he was immediately placed in the ICU. His parents say he's since lost 20 pounds.




EDWARDS: He couldn't do anything.

BENNETT: He vomited a lot. He was sweating more.


BENNETT: He expressed his discomfort more. You just knew it,

VALENCIA: It's been a widely held belief throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that the virus doesn't get kids as sick as adults. But with the emergence of the Delta variant, that may be changing, especially here.

VALENCIA (on camera): The ICU is packed here with COVID patients. This small girl behind me isn't even two years old.

There are 18 children being treated for COVID here. Six are in the pediatric ICU. Kendal Jaffe is one of the ICU nurses. She's worked here throughout the pandemic and says it's never been this bad. KENDAL JAFFE, ICU NURSE, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NEW ORLEANS: Over the

last year we haven't seen as many kids get acute covered lung disease as much as we are seeing now, the Delta variant is definitely hitting them a lot harder, a lot faster than we had seen in the past.

VALENCIA: It's a game-changer.

JAFFE: It is. The kids are definitely sicker than they have been.

VALENCIA: The surge across the country of COVID-19 cases among children is alarming. The American Academy of Pediatrics says there's been almost 94,000 reported cases counted in kids. In the week ending August 6th, calling it is substantial increase from a week before.

Chief physician Dr. Mark Kline says it's disorienting and unnecessary to see so many children suffering from the virus.

MARK KLINE, PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL IN NEW ORLEANS: Our ticket out of this is vaccination, vaccination of every eligible adult of every eligible adolescent.

VALENCIA: I know your mom and dad are really worried about you. The doctors here are helping you out a lot.


VALENCIA: For Nelson and his parents, his diagnosis has made the family reconsider getting vaccinated. Until now, they said they didn't want to get the shot because they weren't sick. Although he is on the road to recovery, they say, seeing their son fight for his life has them rethinking their decision.

EDWARDS: I want everyone to take precaution because it is serious. It is serious. And no one wants to sit up here and watch their child fight for their life.

UNKNOWN: I want to go home.

EDWARDS: You want to go home? I know we're getting there. We're getting there.


VALENCIA (on camera): We know those images are difficult to see especially for parents. But this is the sad reality of COVID in this country today. Inside the children's hospital we saw babies, some of them just a few weeks old, struggling to fill their tiny lungs with air.


And what's even more troubling is what doctors say here they expect to happen is with the school year starting back up, that we are nowhere near as bad as it will ultimately get.

Nick Valencia, CNN, New Orleans. CHURCH: Herd immunity, it's what we've been working towards this entire pandemic. And that's when enough people become immune to a disease that it can't easily spread in a community. But now one expert says because of the Delta variant herd immunity from COVID is simply impossible.

On Tuesday, the head of the Oxford vaccine group told U.K. lawmakers, and I'm quoting here, "the Delta variant will still infect people who have been vaccinated. And that does mean that anyone who still unvaccinated at some point will meet the virus. And we don't have anything that will completely stop that transmission."

Well, not everyone agrees with him, of course. According to new research, eradicating COVID-19 across the globe is not just possible, it might even be easier than getting rid of polio.

Now one of the authors joins me now, Nick Wilson is a professor at the University of Otago's Department of Public Health in New Zealand.

Thank you so much for talking with us.


CHURCH: All right. So, you say COVID-19 can be eradicated and that it will likely be easier than getting rid of polio. But that took years. How can eradication be achieved of this virus?

WILSON: Well in our analysis we compared COVID-19 eradication possibilities with smallpox and polio. And that gave us some insights into suggesting that this is a technically feasible thing to do. It would require both vaccinations, but also, the use of the other public health and social measures that have work to date in countries that have achieved elimination, such as New Zealand where I live.

So, it would be a matter of using both these tools so that we are not reliant on achieving herd immunity. And progressively expanding countries that have achieved elimination and joining them up in, say, quarantine free travel zones. So, it would be a long-term process. But technically, it is feasible. It seems, from this analysis.

CHURCH: The problem is, we do have these tools. And people aren't using them. So how do you eradicate COVID-19 when so many people across the globe are refusing to take the shot? And so many more have -- they don't even have access to these vaccines. So, that has been the problem. We've got all of the tools here. We are not using them.

WILSON: You're right. We have the tools and we need to make better use of them. We need to get vaccines to low and middle-income countries. We need to lower the cost of getting those vaccines to those countries. And we need to do a better job, jobs in communicating the value of things like mask wearing and social distancing when outbreaks are occurring.

So, these are definite challenges. But part of the reason why we think this is a worthwhile goal to consider is that the cost of COVID is just so large, in health terms and in economic and social terms. So, it does make sense to seriously look at this prospect, even though it's going to require an emerge enormous amount of effort. It might be much better than trying to live with COVID and dealing with things like booster doses every year for the rest of people's lives.

CHURCH: You know, all of that makes perfect sense to me. But again, the challenge, certainly here in the United States, is politics is intruding upon public health policy. So, you've got governors in some states in this country, in essence, not giving people the tools. They are not allowing the mandating of masks.

So, children are going to be going to school and essentially being exposed to this virus. This is the problem. Again, it goes back to, we do have all of this, and it makes perfect sense if we can use these tools, then we can eradicate it. But we are not using them.

So that is the challenge. How do you get various leaders and people to understand they have to wear masks; they need to get vaccinated? Because that message is not getting across.

WILSON: You're right. It is a big challenge. But when you look at the comparison diseases that we did in this analysis, there were also major challenges. For example, polio has been eliminated in many countries where there has been civil war occurring, smallpox required cooperation during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the U.S. and other countries. That cooperation did occur.


So, it is a matter of governments actually explaining the goal and outlining the importance of using the tools and in places where herd immunity is far from being achieved. It will be necessary to make use of those other strategies to a greater extent.

And unfortunately, there will be places where there are high levels of infection and herd immunity is increase just through this process of infection which is very problematic, but it will actually make COVID more controllable when a large proportion of the population has been infected if they are not going to be vaccinated.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): And if all of these nations are able to pull together and use all of these tools available and make sure that everyone has access to these vaccines, how long do you think it would take, perfect case, to actually eliminated, eradicate this virus?

WILSON: Well, it would no doubt take a number of years, if everything went very well. But we may be seeing the emergence of the peak level of viral infectivity with the Delta strain. It may not be likely that the virus gets much more infectious. So that would mean we could have the best vaccine available in development over the coming years, and that would be yet another valuable tool. But certainly, this is not an easy challenge, and it would really be a matter of the world willing, pulling together.

CHURCH: But what makes you say that there wouldn't be another variant more deadly and more contagious than Delta? Because certainly, a lot of the medical experts suggest that that is going to be the next stage if more people are not vaccinated.

WILSON: Well, most of these variants actually arose last year. And so, since the start of the year, there hasn't been a lot of new developments in terms of the variants. They have certainly spread, but the actual variance in terms of the mutations, there hasn't been big changes. That -- it is possible that the virus will get more infectious, but we have to remember that this Delta variant is way less infectious than measles, possibly two to three less infectious than measles. And the globe has been able to wipe out measles in a very large areas. In fact, all of Americas was declared measles free about a decade ago. Unfortunately that didn't last, but that shows what can be achieved with a highly infectious viral agent.

CHURCH: And let's hope it happens. It's very encouraging and we are crossing our fingers. Nick Wilson, joining us there, many thanks for your analysis. I appreciate it.

WILSON: Thank you.

CHURCH: And you are watching CNN Newsroom. Just ahead.


UNKNOWN: We are afraid, but we have to stay.


CHURCH: Wildfires close in on Greek villages who would rather stay and fight than flee their homes. We are live in Greece. That's next.



CHURCH: The Prime Minister of Greece is pledging almost $600 million in emergency aid for people affected by the countries raging wildfires. Many villagers on the island of Evia are refusing to leave their homes, instead working alongside firefighters to battle the blazes.

So let's go live now to CNN's Eleni Giokos, in Evia, Greece. Good to see you, Eleni. So what is the latest on these incredible efforts to contain the fires?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN MONEY AFRICA CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We've been driving around Evia for the morning to see exactly what people are doing. You've got firetrucks and firefighters on standby. The big issue today is about the rekindling of fires and to ensure that it doesn't spread. I want you to take a look behind me. There is a truck that is chopping down trees. They are creating what they call a fire break to ensure that when one fire starts, on one side of the mountain it doesn't spread to pristine fires.

Now, firefighters tell us they worked relentlessly through the night to try and stop this fire from spreading across the road. And honestly, Rosemary, the efforts, the international effort, the local authorities working together has been one of the biggest reasons that you've seen a lot of the big blazes put under control. But spending a few days here, what we have seen is unprecedented and we are hearing it from locals and from the firefighters here in Evia. Take a look.


GIOKOS (voice over): A blaze so powerful, engulfing entire forests, apocalyptic scenes capturing the devastation. All of the residents escaping their homes.

Evia is now sitting in the eye of the storm when it comes to the fires that are ravaging Greece. We have seen fire upon fire over the past eight days. And now, you are also seeing international assistant on the ground. What you see behind me is firefighters from Slovakia, as well as local firefighters.

Hundreds evacuated on to ferries, watching their island burn. Despite the blaze approaching, some opting to stay behind to protect their homes. They say they won't leave. They are ready to fight the fire. Emotions are high in Evia.

UNKNOWN: Now the game is lost that everyone is coming. Now are friends have to say, the little piece of baggage are send. Some village are not burned. All the others are burned. They forgot us.

GIOKOS: Local volunteers standing by with fire extinguishers and even branches say it's too late. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitting there were weaknesses in the response.

KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The extent of the destruction, especially in Evia and (inaudible), (inaudible) in all of our hearts. And I'm the first to apologize for whatever weaknesses existed. I completely understand the pain of our citizens who saw their houses and property burning. Evia people are having to abruptly leave their homes.

GIOKOS: The source of these wildfires, the Prime Minister says, is the climate crisis. The country is experiencing heat waves, the highest temperatures seen in almost 40 years. Twenty-two countries have sent help to Greece, including France, Romania, Slovakia and Poland. They've sent firefighters, fire engines, as well as other resources.

UNKNOWN: We are here to support the Greek teams in these big fight with this fires.

GIOKOS: It's a combination of this camaraderie between countries and people and the locals who are determined to save the island from further devastation.


GIOKOS (on camera): And the camaraderie that we've seen, were working together between authorities and volunteers is part of the reason that you are starting to see some of the fires under control. But now we are thinking about what the future holds.


The Prime Minister announced almost $600 million worth of packages for reforestation and restoration of Evia, as well as compensation for the victims of the fires, for households, and businesses, and farmers. But, Rosemary, the destruction, the despair that comes with that and just how much rebuilding will have to occur, is beyond understanding right now.

We spoke to one firefighter this morning and he says, he doesn't think this is going to end anytime soon. That the slow burn of the forest will continue for probably a few months. People are working across days, you know, over 24 hours to try and get this under control. In the next couple of days, it's going to be important, it's very hot here. The extreme weather conditions are compounding the problem.

And of course, with the assistance now of international forces, that is very vital. Importantly, the atmosphere is very dense. Very bad visibility, which of course hinders the assistance of aircraft to try and douse some of the flames. In the meantime, volunteers and locals are trying to do their best. And as we hear, many just don't want to leave, they want to protect their property.

CHURCH: It is a heartbreaking situation. Eleni Giokos, bringing us the very latest from Evia in Greece. Many thanks.

In North Africa, at least 42 people have been killed by wildfires in Algeria since Monday. Local media report 25 of those were soldiers who were fighting the flames. Algeria's Prime Minister says the government is working with European partners to hire planes to help put out the flames. The country's interior minister says he believes the fires are a criminal act, saying 50 wildfires at once is impossible.

Well, climate change has brought what some are calling the worst drought in history to Chile. These are winter months there, but the Andes Mountains have barely any snow on them. Officials say the rivers that run through the capital are drier than at any point on record. And climatologists warn things may never return to normal.


RAUL CORDERO, CLIMATOLOGIST (through translator): Much of the effects of climate change in the short term and medium-term are irreversible. So, unfortunately, it is unlikely that the precipitations is in Chile's central area of the eighties and nineties will overturn.


CHURCH: Santiago, Chile has seen less than eight centimeters of rain so far this year.

Well, Brazilian lawmakers have voted down President Jair Bolsonaro's proposal to include paper ballots for next year's presidential election. He says the vote conducted electronically, will be rife with fraud and he won't accept the results without paper backups. And now, those lawmakers say he tried to intimidate them into backing his demand with tanks and soldiers.

CNN's Matt Rivers has our report.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A very unusual military parade that took place on Tuesday morning in the Brazilian federal district of Brasilia, has prompted a lot of criticism from both the left and the right to be directed at Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over the timing of that military parade. We have some video of the parade that we can show you, more than 100 different vehicles were involved. It did not actually last very long with Bolsonaro himself overseeing the parade.

The official reason given for this parade happening as it did on Tuesday was that this was some sort of elaborate way for the Brazilian military to formally invite Jair Bolsonaro to attend upcoming military drills that are set to be led by the Brazilian navy. At one point during the parade, a Brazilian officer actually walks up and hands Jair Bolsonaro an invitation.

But here's the thing, these drills are not new, they have taken place every year for more than two decades now. And never before have tanks been required to deliver an invitation to the sitting president of Brazil to attend. So that has left a lot of critics saying, well, there are other reasons why this parade happened when it did. And they point to a vote that also took place on Tuesday, a key piece of legislation that lawmakers in Brazil voted on that was pushed by Bolsonaro himself. This was a piece of legislation that would require paper ballots to be a part of next year's presidential election.

Bolsonaro saying that without those ballots, he's afraid there will be rampant fraud in those elections, despite not providing any proof as to exactly what that fraud would be. But he said, without those ballots, he's not willing to accept the results, or might not be willing to accept the results of next year's presidential election.

Critics are saying that this parade took place for two different reasons. One, for Bolsonaro to show that he has control of the military. But two, critics say that he did this as a clear or perhaps thinly disguised attempt to influence lawmakers ahead of that vote. And it's not just his critics saying that, the president of the Brazilian House Chamber was also a Bolsonaro political ally, called the timing of the parade a tragic coincidence, and said that because this military act took place when it did, it opens up the space for people to quote, "speculate." That there was some sort of pressure being put on lawmakers. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


CHURCH: Up next on CNN Newsroom, Lionel Messi has only just arrived in the French capital. But Paris Saint-Germain are filming his every move, and even rushing out a music video, ahead of today's big reveal. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: One of the beautiful game's all-time greats is getting a

beautiful welcome from Paris Saint-Germain.




CHURCH (voice over): Lionel Messi, full of smiles, waved while wearing a shirt that translates to this is Paris. Supporters have been cheering for him at the airport, at the stadium, and outside his hotel.


CHURCH (on camera): And in just over an hour, Messi is expected to address the world at the news conference with his new club. PSG fans of course are related, but for his former club, Barcelona, this is going to be very painful.

CNN's Don Riddell, explains.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It wasn't supposed to end like this. After all the goals and the trophies, the excitement and joy, Lionel Messi's love affair with Barcelona ended suddenly and in tears. Barcelona is almost all he's ever known. Messi joined (inaudible) iconic youth academy at the age of 13.

The little Argentine grew up to become the heartbeat of one of the most famous clubs in the world. His trophy collection is more befitting LaLiga's cave than anything most football players could ever dream of. Four Champions League titles, 10 times a LaLiga winner, record six (inaudible). Nobody has played more games for Barcelona, nor scored more goals for any club anywhere.

At one point, he was the driving force behind what was considered to be one of the greatest club teams ever assembled. His skills were mesmeric. His ball control magnetic. Messi's understanding of the game was instinctive, an extraordinary combination that made him one of the all-time greats.

For much of his career in Spain, he was judged alongside Cristiano Ronaldo who played for Barcelona's bitter rivals, Real Madrid. Both were exceptional players, but they were different. If Ronaldo was a more ruthless goal scorer then perhaps Messi was a more intelligent player on the field, certainly a more private man off it. He was never braggadocious, but he was an effortless entertainer with a knack for conjuring decisive plays in memorable moments.


It seemed that Lionel Messi could do anything he wanted except, in the end, the thing he really wanted. Messi couldn't stay in Barcelona, even though he had agreed to half his wages. He had simply become too expensive, almost pricing himself out of the market entirely.

His arrival in the French capital confirms that Paris Saint-Germain, with the Qatari backing, is where the power lies in football's new world order. And the sight of Messi's image being stripped from the facade at his old home in Spain lays bare that stark reality. Messi has quickly move on. His Barcelona love affair is over. It's not the ending football romantics were hoping for. Perhaps he was weeping for the beautiful game.

Don Riddell, CNN.


CHURCH: A great report there. Well, CNN senior producer, Saskya Vandoorne, is live in Paris where Messi is getting ready to speak. Saskya joins us now. So, a lot of pressure building on Messi to deliver here. What is he expected to say next hour about his monumental move to Paris?

SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (on camera): Well, Rosemary, exactly as you say, I mean, it has finally happened. He has now signed that two-year deal with an option of a third. You know, PSG released a video yesterday. You may be able to see it over my shoulder, showing Messi in his new club kit wearing number 30 and undergoing his medical.

Now, Messi also released a statement saying that he was looking forward to this next chapter with PSG and that he was looking forward to getting on the pitch. Now, I just want to speak, Rosemary, about yesterday, about the emotion of the fans, you know, when Messi landed. I mean, it was just in stark contrast really with that tearful goodbye he gave in that press conference Sunday in Barcelona. You know, you've got to understand. He has given two decades to Barcelona and it's all he ever really known.

And so yesterday was just incredible when he arrived. The fans, lit a fireworks, they let off smoke machine as Messi wave to them from this window. And I just want you to take a listen to one of the fans that we spoke to, so we can really understand the excitement.


UNKNOWN: You are asking me if I'm excited that the goat, the best player ever is coming to Paris. Of course. It's awesome. It's great. And it's another message that we are sending to the Europe and to all over the world that Paris Saint-Germain is growing up, growing, growing up. I mean, it's amazing. Well, it's like living the dream.


VANDOORNE: So you've got to understand that the fans really believe with Messi, that they have a chance of winning the Champions League. He is a six-time Ballon d'Or winner, has won the Champions League four times, so hopes are high. And it wasn't just the fans that are happy to see him land here in Paris, fellow players as well. (Inaudible) Instagram a picture saying back together here (inaudible) played with Messi in Barcelona. You also have (Inaudible), who said he was looking forward to playing with the best player in the world.

Now, the next question is when will Messi actually get on the pitch? There is a match here -- a league or match here on Saturday, but from what we hear from the club, we don't know whether he will be playing there on Saturday just yet. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Alright. A lot expected of him. Saskya Vandoorne, joining us live from Paris, many thanks.

And do stay with us. CNN World Sport will bring you special coverage of the Lionel Messi, PSG news conference. That's coming up next hour. And we are going to take a quick break here on CNN Newsroom. We will be back in just a moment.



CHURCH: A stunning fall from grace. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing he will resign after a scathing report by New York's Attorney General found the Democrat sexually harassed 11 women. Cuomo defended himself as he tended his resignation on Tuesday, claiming he had never intentionally made anyone feel uncomfortable, but he acknowledged the scandal, which has unfolded for months, has become too much of a distraction to stay on the job.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore, that's what I'll do, because I work for you. And doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you. Because as we say, it's not about me, it's about we.


CHURCH: New York Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will replace Cuomo and become the state's first female Governor after he leaves office in two weeks. Well, here's what CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson had to say about the allegations against Cuomo.


JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: In 2019, this Governor signed legislation here in New York which would make it more favorable for victims to come forward. How? Extending the statute of limitations from one year to three years, eliminating the component in the law that said it had to be persistent, right? And pervasive in terms of severe and pervasive discrimination, no, it doesn't have to be that at all.

One incident, if the proper incident and the proper misconduct could constitute in fact the violation and a whole host of other things that make it more likely that victims could come forward, including not even reporting, right before you have to report it now, you don't have to report.


CHURCH: And stepping down doesn't mean the allegations go away, of course. At least one of Cuomo's accusers has filed a criminal complaint and there's a possibility of civil suits as well.

Thanks so much for joining us. I am Rosemary Church. I will be back with more news after a short break. Do stay with us.