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Taliban Seize Key Afghan City of Jalalabad; U.N. Agency Warns of Crisis as Taliban Advance; Haiti Devastated by 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake; Some States Running Out of ICU Beds as COVID Cases Surge; Israel Opens Third Vaccine Dose to over 50, Medical Teams; Sweeping Taliban Gains Follow 20-Year U.S. Mission; Gangs Blocking Some Areas Affected by Haiti Quake; More Children Sick from Infections of Delta Variant of COVID-19; Airline Travel Slows as Concern Rises over Delta Variant. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired August 15, 2021 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow.
So ahead on CNN, as the Taliban continue to make gains in Afghanistan, the U.S. is sending in more troops to help draw down American personnel.
Also, hundreds are dead, thousands more hurt after a major earthquake rocks Haiti, causing widespread destruction in parts of the country.
And heavy rains unleash floods and mudslides in Japan, as millions of people are forced to seek shelter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.
CURNOW: We are tracking this breaking news out of Afghanistan, where the Taliban have seized Jalalabad. That's according to an Afghan official. The last makes care (ph) the capital Kabul, the only major city still controlled by the central government.
We are, also, learning that the city of Nili has fallen. That means at least 24 of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals are now in Taliban hands. The news comes, as U.S. President Joe Biden has authorized sending a thousand more troops to Afghanistan. That's on top of 4,000, already, cleared for deployment.
They're meant to help get U.S. personnel and their allies out of the country, as the Taliban offensive rolls on. Now that swift advance has triggered an exodus. Thousands of people, trying to escape the Taliban, have fled to Kabul.
And that's putting even more pressure on a weakened government, surrounded by enemies. Cyril Vanier has reported from inside Afghanistan and, for the latest, he is tracking events now from London.
Certainly, this breaking news coming that Jalalabad has fallen, what does that mean?
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It means the -- the advance of the Taliban is almost unstoppable, at this stage. Yesterday, Robyn, when we spoke, half of the provincial capitals were under Taliban control. Now it's more than two-thirds. That's in the space of 24 hours. We're talking about a big country.
It is stunning that the Taliban are able to take that much ground. Now the explanation for this, Robyn, is that a lot of these territories and provincial capitals are falling to them not after a protracted battle but after a surrender.
The -- either the local-government authorities or the security forces, either through negotiation or simply through fleeing the cities that they're supposed to protect, just essentially hand them over, de facto, to the Taliban.
And that is what happened, for instance, in Mazar-i-Sharif, a town that fell in the last-24 hours, the biggest town in the north, an area that is, traditionally, anti-Taliban. It sees a lot of resistance to the insurgency.
Well, the security forces that were supposed to guard the city, actually, made a beeline for the bridge into neighboring Uzbekistan. And this is just a week after president Ghani was there, calling on people to join a resistance against the Taliban.
So that's very symbolic, in itself, as is Jalalabad. It means, as you said, that only one, major city remains under government control and that is the capital, Kabul, Robyn.
CURNOW: OK. Thanks for that update there, Cyril Vanier.
Well, the Taliban's sweeping takeover of Afghan cities has alarmed the U.N. Refugee Agency. They say the country is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. And they say that women and children will pay the highest price.
Well, I want to take you straight, now, to Kabul. Caroline Van Buren, the agency's representative to Afghanistan, is standing by.
Good to see you. Thank you very much for joining us. You just heard our reporter there bring us up to date on these movements. But you're in Kabul. You're there, right now.
What -- what is the mood?
And -- and -- and -- and how are you doing?
CAROLINE VAN BUREN, UNHCR REPRESENTATIVE TO AFGHANISTAN: Thank you, very much, Robyn. I am in Kabul. The situation is very dire. UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, is very concerned about the displacement that's taking place.
Since the beginning of this year more than 400,000 people have been displaced within Afghanistan. Most people move to safety with their relatives, with their friends. They move to communities.
But now, we're, also, seeing a large number of people who are leaving Afghanistan. Flights are full. And those people are, of course, people who have travel documents, who are able to get visas, who have resident permits in other countries.
But now, we also see a trend of people who are on the move in an irregular way, people who are fleeing for safety, without these travel documents, without visas.
VAN BUREN: And they are, very much, at risk for exploitation, smugglers, traffickers. And we have information that some 20,000 to 30,000 people are leaving through irregular manners on a weekly basis.
CURNOW: And what is it like in Kabul?
A lot of people came to Kabul looking for safety from the outlying areas. You now know that Kabul is, pretty much, encircled by the Taliban. Many people, saying it's almost inevitable that the -- that the capital will fall.
What is the refugee situation, where you are?
VAN BUREN: So with regard to Kabul, the government estimate that some-120,000 people moved into Kabul, internally-displaced persons.
CURNOW: And -- and where are they?
VAN BUREN: Most of them are staying with family and friends. The government made some buildings available to accommodate them. Some are staying in mosques. And then, we also have some who are sleeping rough, who are sleeping in the open.
UNHCR, as part of the wider United Nations country team, is making assistance available for these people, for these Afghans, whether it's shelter or food, health, water, sanitation. One major concern is, of course, the concern that we have with regard to women and children.
CURNOW: That was going to be my next question. That is a real concern for the international community, of course.
VAN BUREN: Exactly. We're getting reports that women who are fleeing are giving birth on the road, without any medical assistance. The information that we have now is that women and children are almost 50 percent of the civilian casualties, people who are killed or injured during all of this violence. We have reports that women, in certain areas, are not able to move
without a close relative. They are not able to go to work. They are not able to go to school. And this is a real concern because there are a lot of women who are heads of households, who have to work to take care of their families.
So these restrictions are not going to help. And we have to ensure that we safeguard the rights of women and children.
CURNOW: So what you're saying is that the -- the Taliban -- the influence of the Taliban is, already, being felt, even though they are not technically running the country, for example?
VAN BUREN: We have reports, in some areas, that this is the case, yes.
CURNOW: What are your teams across the country telling you about what women and children are saying to you?
What is the mood?
What is the conversations you're having with many women, who -- who now realize that things might be changing, dramatically and not, you know -- and not for the best?
VAN BUREN: So first of all, Afghans, in general, including women and children, they want peace. And they want peace, now. They have suffered enough.
But when it comes to women, the discussions that we're having, they're asking, can you help us to leave?
We need to go to a country where we can be safe. So we're seeing a lot of these discussions, a lot of that desperation. And people need help. Afghans need help.
CURNOW: What next?
What are you planning for?
Because, no doubt, there is concern that -- that foreigners need to leave.
Are -- are you -- are you planning and many other international agencies planning to stay on the ground?
Or are you very much aware that, perhaps, the -- the support and help that you're giving is, also, going to wane, in the coming days, as the Taliban presses on forward to where you are?
VAN BUREN: So the United Nations, as well as our NGO partners, we will stay and deliver, as long as it's safe for us to do so. So we will be here to provide humanitarian assistance. We will be here to provide emergency response. But it has to be safe. And we have to have access to all areas where people are in need. CURNOW: OK. Well, good luck. Stay safe. Thank you very much for
joining us and thank you, also, for the work that I know all of you are doing there, on the ground, in Afghanistan. Caroline Van Buren in Kabul, thank you.
VAN BUREN: Thanks, Robyn.
CURNOW: Well, I want to turn, now, to Haiti, where a state of emergency has been declared following a major earthquake there that has left hundreds of people dead, thousands more injured.
Now I want you to take a look at this. You can see the destruction here, huge chunks of debris are lining the streets; buildings that, once, stood, now reduced to rubble. At least 304 people, we know, that's the latest toll, were killed by a 7.2-magnitude quake that hit the nation on Saturday morning.
But there is fear, of course, that that number could rise much, much higher, possibly into the thousands.
CURNOW: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it struck about 125 kilometers west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The Caribbean nation is, still, recovering from the devastating earthquake, back in 2010 that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Now the deadly earthquake is, yet, another burden for Haiti, a nation that really seems to be in a constant state of crisis. Here's Michael Holmes with that report -- Michael.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A powerful earthquake rocks Haiti, some of the video circulating on social media showing just how devastating it was.
This man saying he was lucky to be in a building that didn't collapse. But with streets filled with dust and rubble scattered on the ground, others were not so fortunate.
For Haitian prime minister has declared a state of emergency. One hospital in the southern city of Jeremie said that it is overwhelmed with patients and has set up tents outside.
"When it comes to medical needs," said the prime minister, "this is our biggest urgency. We have started to send medications and medical personnel to the facilities that are affected. We have sent more personnel to help out."
The country's civil protection service says, so far, hundreds of people have died but experts say that death toll is expected to be much higher. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to say at this point. The USGS is
currently projecting that the number of fatalities will likely exceed 10,000, which is an incredible number.
HOLMES (voice-over): Saturday's quake registered a magnitude of 7.2, that's stronger than the 7.0 earthquake that struck in 2010, which left between 220,000 and 300,000 people dead.
One aid agency with a team on the ground near the epicenter says that it's a mainly rural area, already hit by poverty and food insecurity. They say people are already in need of assistance and they're going to need a lot more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're anticipating the needs, you know, to be around essentials, right?
Making sure people have the basics, water, electricity, food for the time being. But we are still trying to assess.
HOLMES (voice-over): Search and rescue teams will need to work quickly. A tropical storm is headed for Haiti that could bring strong winds, heavy rain and possible flooding.
The country already in crisis, a little more than a month ago the president assassinated. And it is struggling with challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and food insecurity, a punishing list of problems for Haiti.
But right now the biggest priority is to search out and help anyone who can be saved -- Michael Holmes, CNN.
CURNOW: Joining me, now, is Alessandra Giudiceandrea. She is the head of the Haiti mission for Doctors without Borders and she joins me, now, live, from Port-au-Prince.
You are coordinating; you are speaking to your teams in the field.
What do you know?
ALESSANDRA GIUDICEANDREA, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Yes. So far, we know that there are big damages to the building, especially in the main cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie. The other towns surrounded so affected, the houses and most concerning, the hospitals.
CURNOW: Talk us through, with the hospitals, I understand that capabilities and capacity are -- are real issues here?
GIUDICEANDREA: Absolutely. It was already enough challenge before the earthquake. Now we know that in Cayes and among the three main hospitals, two are not full functioning so we are left with one public hospital. Then, there is an hospital in Port-Salut. And then, in Jeremie, we are
still trying to -- to -- to have -- how to say -- a better vision of it because, as you can imagine, the search and rescue takes quite a moment. And it's ongoing.
CURNOW: Do you really have an effective sense of -- of -- of the damage, yet?
Or are you still trying to really assess it?
And -- and how are you able to get to some of the worst-affected areas, particularly around the epicenter?
GIUDICEANDREA: No, unfortunately, we still do not have the full picture, I'm afraid to say. We, also, to consider that the area affected is quite large. So it's -- it's extremely complicated (INAUDIBLE) remote areas. There are many remote areas that are cut (ph).
So I'm afraid that before tomorrow morning, we may not have a full picture of the situation.
CURNOW: So essentially, are there still groups of people, towns, cities, that nobody's got to, yet and has no sense of the damage or -- or -- or of the fatalities there, yet?
GIUDICEANDREA: I would say, at this stage, mainly, all the town have been reached. But not all of them.
CURNOW: What is the damage?
Obviously, we can see, from the images, that we are playing now, that we have managed to get out of Haiti.
CURNOW: Clearly, some widespread damage. There was some reports that some towns and -- or villages were flattened, completely.
What do you know about the infrastructure?
GIUDICEANDREA: So we know that main road from Port-au-Prince (INAUDIBLE) to Les Cayes is accessible, which helps a lot in bringing the -- the aid by road. We know that the road from Les Cayes to Jeremie was destructed (si) and we are -- work in progress, as we speak, to -- to clear it.
We know the coastal area is -- is free on the south. So it's possible to reach the main town in the south. Luckily, we didn't have landslide. As you can imagine, there was (INAUDIBLE) immediately after the earthquake.
And this is why for some hours we had to wait before passing. In Les Cayes, for a moment, there was a -- the water level seemed to increase. And then, the -- the alert was lifted, luckily. But as you can imagine, this also delayed for -- for -- for few hours -- the -- the possibility to reach the city.
CURNOW: Obviously, this is all amplified by COVID.
How is Doctors without Borders managing in these areas and having to deal with the pandemic at the same time?
GIUDICEANDREA: It's not only the pandemic; we should not forget the security, as well.
GIUDICEANDREA: A reminder, we had to lose a project (INAUDIBLE) Port- au-Prince, which had been open for 15 years and we had to close at the end of June. And we are trying -- we are -- today, we had to open quite in a rush exactly to respond to the emergency in another location.
So I think the earthquake is just another problem, on the top on several other problem that we were facing in the last months.
CURNOW: And you are potentially expecting a tropical storm to come through the area, in the next few days.
GIUDICEANDREA: Yes. That's coming on Monday, in the south, there might be a storm, which will be completely a catastrophe because, as you can imagine, there are no building.
And we are -- we are doing the -- the -- the medical activities in tents. So this would be a complete catastrophe. We will not be able to -- to be there and we will -- we have to evacuate all the patients. And, yes, and we have few hours to get ready for it.
Alessandra Giudiceandrea from Doctors without Borders, many thanks for joining us. I know you have had a very, very long day. Please send our regards and thanks to all of your teams out there in the field.
GIUDICEANDREA: I will. Thank you very much.
CURNOW: So tennis superstar Naomi Osaka says it, quote, "really hurts" to see the devastation in Haiti. So she's pledging to donate any winnings from the Western and Southern Open next week to support relief efforts.
Osaka has a personal connection to Haiti. Her father's Haitian. The four-time grand slam champion made the announcement on Twitter, saying, "I know our ancestors' blood is strong. We will keep rising."
And you can help the people of Haiti in this earthquake. You can go to cnn.com/impact. And coming up here, at CNN, the coronavirus situation in the U.S. is
so bad, hospitals are now having to turn people away. We'll tell you why it is so desperate. We have that story.
Also, Israel makes more people eligible for a third-vaccine dose, as severe cases rise, despite its best efforts. We have a live report from Jerusalem. That's, also, coming up.
CURNOW: Right now, hospitals across the United States are packed full of coronavirus patients. Doctors describe intensive care units that are, quote, "bursting at the seams." I want you to take a look here at how many COVID patients are now hospitalized.
It's mostly concentrated here, in the South, where the vaccination rates are the lowest in the country. That's, also, where hospitals are finding themselves running totally out of room.
In Jackson, Mississippi, a hotel parking garage is now a field unit for COVID patients. This doctor says the situation is, quickly, spiraling out of control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: This is starting to look really ominous in the South where I am. I mean, we're now, if you look at the rates of transmission in Florida and Louisiana, they're actually probably the highest in the world. That's how badly things have gotten out hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: And then, in Texas, more local officials are defying the governor's ban on mask mandates in schools. Hays County, which includes part of the city of Austin, is the latest to require students, staff and visitors to wear masks.
This all comes after the Republican governor signed an executive order last month to prevent that from happening. But several counties are pushing back, saying it is a matter of protecting the safety of children and school staff from the coronavirus.
Florida has the second highest rate of new cases per capita in the entire U.S. It saw more than 150,000, just last week. That was a record for the state and local officials are now begging the governor to rethink his position on mask mandates. Nadia Romero tells us what's going on.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor Ron DeSantis, rolling out a rapid response team, a mobile unit behind me where people with COVID- 19 in the first 10 or so days can come out and get an antibody to try to fight back against COVID and limit the chances that they will end up hospitalized or die from the virus.
But the governor says he does not support any kind of a mandate, no mask mandates, no vaccine mandates, not even vaccine passports. But we know that, this weekend, the mayor of Miami Beach, asking the governor to have a new executive order that allows local municipalities to do what they feel is best to limit the spread of the virus.
The governor, also, battling with school districts, some, who want mask mandates, despite the governor saying he'll strip them of funding or salaries from superintendents. Well, we heard from the U.S. Department of Education, who says they back those superintendents and that they support their right to have mandates, like mask mandates, in their schools to keep students safe.
Now the CDC says they are, also, seeing a record rate of 30- to-39- year olds who are being hospitalized from COVID-19. Children's hospitals, all across the South really and -- and here, in Florida, are also saying that they are seeing more kids that are going to the hospital because of COVID-19.
That's another concern, as the schools are now back in session, more of them, in just a couple of days will begin classes for the first time on Monday -- Nadia Romero, CNN, Jacksonville, Florida.
CURNOW: And Israel is expanding the rollout of its third vaccine dose. The country is trying to shore up immunity for some vulnerable groups, as severe COVID cases continue to rise there. Let's go straight to Jerusalem. Hadas Gold joins me.
So talk us through this booster shot and who is getting it. Hi, Hadas.
HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. As of Friday, anyone over the age of 50 is now eligible for this booster vaccine. In addition, any medical staff, people with underlying-health issues, as well as prisoners and wardens can all get this third dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
This comes just about two weeks after Israel rolled out the booster campaign for anyone over the age of 60. More than three-quarters of a million people in Israel have already received this third booster. And this comes as the numbers continue to rise here, Robyn, to the levels that Israel hasn't seen since the first few months of the year.
In the past few days, we have hit several days of more than 6,000 positive cases per day. And right now, the serious cases in hospital are approaching around 500.
Now there's serious concern from people in charge of hospitals, that the hospitals could come under strain. And there have been some criticisms leveled toward the Israeli government for not imposing further restrictions.
While there is a green pass in effect, saying you have to show either a negative COVID test or vaccination to enter places like restaurants or other public places, there is a mask mandate in place for crowded outdoor activities as well as indoor activities.
So far, there have not been, really, any further mass lockdowns, mass restrictions. Now prime minister Naftali Bennett defending his government's policy in a Facebook post last night, saying that their focus right now is on the current restrictions in place --
GOLD: -- the mask mandates, the -- the green passport, as well as this booster campaign, trying to encourage people to go out and get the booster shots, rolling these sort of nighttime vaccine booster locations in different places around the country to try and encourage anyone who needs the booster shot or anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so.
He was saying, though, essentially, that lockdowns cost the country so much, saying previous lockdowns cost Israel around $62 million when they were done.
So in the past, saying essentially, that everything possible is being done to avoid lockdowns, which he said are destructive tools for livelihood, for the economy and for the education of our children, because the school year is soon to start in Israel, on September 1st.
Naftali Bennett, the prime minister of Israel, saying lockdowns will be the absolute last resort.
CURNOW: Thanks for that, Hadas Gold in Jerusalem.
The Taliban are moving in Afghanistan with blistering speed, conquering one city after another.
How did the group build itself up to pull off these victories?
We are going to talk about that next.
Then, rescue operations are underway in Japan after rainfall described as, quote, "unprecedented" triggered mudslides there. Officials say, the danger, though, is not, yet, over. A live report from Tokyo. That's just ahead.
CURNOW: More, now, on our breaking news out of Afghanistan. The Taliban have seized the city of Jalalabad in the east, according to an Afghan official, leaving the capital, Kabul, the only major city still under government control. We are also learning the militants have taken the city of Nili. that
means the Taliban have now seized at least 24 of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals.
CURNOW: Now sources tell CNN, both, Jalalabad and Nili fell without resistance. We are also learning Taliban forces have taken over government offices near a key-border crossing with Pakistan.
Sources tell CNN Pakistani officials have, now, sealed the border crossing, which is one of the busiest ports of entry between the two nations. We will keep you posted on that angle.
But this, of course, all comes, as U.S. troops have started arriving in Kabul, with more on the way. On Saturday, U.S. President Joe Biden authorized sending 1,000 additional troops to help protect American- allied personnel. That's on top of 4,000, already, cleared for deployment.
Now few people, if anyone, saw this swift resurgence of the Taliban coming. Five years ago, the militants were divided after losing their leader and disagreeing about who should pick up the mantle. But as Nic Robertson now reports, the group knew how to adapt and rebuild. Take a listen.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Twenty years after being driven from Kabul, the Taliban are poised to re-enter Afghanistan's capital once again.
In many ways, they've changed little; a rural movement led by deeply conservative clerics. But the Taliban have shown themselves smarter on the battlefield, adept at the negotiating table, as they've seized one province after another.
They've deployed a slick PR campaign to trumpet their victories, coaxing footsoldiers to hand over their arms and equipment, then sending them home. But as CNN has reported, also executing commandoes, assassinating air force pilots and other selected officials.
In just a week, they've executed the swiftest land grab in the nation's history, seizing more than half of Afghanistan's provincial capitals. Five years ago, the picture looked very different.
The group was split over a new leader, after Mullah Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike. The leadership settled on a quiet religious scholar, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, who is rarely heard from or seen, cloaked in secrecy. His two deputies set about building the Taliban in all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
The Taliban's military commanders were convinced that they should join peace talks, one prize being the release of thousands of veteran fighters from Afghan prisons. Sensing the U.S. was exhausted by the Afghan conflict, the Taliban
simply waited and planned. They joked, Americans had the watches; it had the time. It raised hundreds of millions of dollars.
A recent U.N. report said that, last year, the Taliban likely earned over $400 million from the mining sector and similar revenues from opium crops. It also profited from highway taxes and extortion.
It acquired weapons, such as drones and magnetic mines. With these weapons, it began targeting highways and local militias and building up a presence around provincial capitals.
All the while, its delegates were turning up for stuttering peace negotiations in Doha but making few concessions. The U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said, in 2018, he was cautiously optimistic that a peace deal would be reached.
The Taliban's chief negotiator, Mullah Baradar, had other ideas. Any peace deal would be on the Taliban's terms. There would be no space for the puppet government in Kabul.
Now the Doha process is superfluous.
The question is, when and how the newly strengthened Taliban reach Kabul, by force or through some transitional arrangement?
Whether they will be any better at governing than the last time or more merciful is still very doubtful -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Lewes, Delaware.
CURNOW: Thanks to Nic for that.
And another story we are following here at CNN. The Caribbean nation of Haiti is coping with, yet, another tragedy. The Haitian government has declared a state of emergency for parts of the country, after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck early on Saturday morning.
More than 300 people, we know, are dead, scores more injured. It has certainly left a trail of destruction and rubble in its wake. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Saturday's quake struck about 70 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Well, earlier, CNN spoke to Haiti's former-prime minister and asked what the biggest challenge facing the nation, right now, is as it deals with another crisis. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURENT LAMOTHE, FORMER HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER: The biggest problem not only is, certainly, the emergency assistance but is a logistical nightmare that we're going through.
[02:40:00] LAMOTHE: Because the four departments that are hit by the -- by the earthquake today have a huge issue. There is only one road leading to them. And that road is being dominated and controlled by gangs in the Martissant area.
So basically, those four departments are basically cut off from the rest of the country. So one of the biggest, certainly, challenges will be to free up the access to the departments, to bring assistance, aid and a lot of help needed to rescue the victims of this -- of this catastrophe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Haiti is, also, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, food insecurity and a worsening political turmoil after the assassination of the president.
Now authorities in Japan say at least four people are presumed dead, two others, missing, after very heavy rains triggered mudslides there. Rescue operations are ongoing. Parts of Japan have received unprecedented amounts of rainfall and it is not, yet, over, as you can see from these images. I want to go straight to Tokyo. Selina Wang joins us.
What is the situation right now?
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. Well, this unprecedented amount of rainfall hitting Japan is triggering these devastating floods and landslides. In Nagasaki, officials have confirmed that a 59-year-old woman died when the mudslide, the landslide destroyed her home.
And now, more than 300 people are focused on search-and-rescue operations there. And meanwhile, in Nagano prefecture, officials say that at least three people are presumed dead and two people are missing.
And in the videos from the hardest-hit areas, you can see towns inundated with floodwater, people wading through water up to their waists; streets, cars submerged.
And in Saga prefecture, rescuers are taking people out of flood zones on lifeboats. Take a listen to what residents in Saga prefecture had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Well, right now, my wardrobe is completely ruined, along with all furniture. Two years ago, we had the same occurrence of floods. But all the furniture is new. We had replaced was completely ruined this time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was really shocked by the flooding. I, also, experienced the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake. But this has left an impression on me in a different way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WANG: Robyn, on Saturday, officials had evacuated 5 million, asked 5 million residents to evacuate, warning residents for more torrential rain and potential devastation to come.
Now Japan is extremely prone to floods and landslides. In fact, over the past decade, Japan has experienced up to 1,500 landslides per year. And experts say that about half of the Japanese population is concentrated in flood-prone areas.
Just last month, in the resort town of Atami, it was hit by a devastating landslide, in which more than 20 people were killed and several people are, still, missing. And in 2008, more than 200 people died from devastating floods that hit the western part of Japan.
But what we're seeing, Robyn, in Japan is part of this global trend of what scientists say is climate change increasing the risk, the extreme levels of extreme flooding around the world.
CURNOW: It, certainly, is. Selina Wang there, in Tokyo, thanks so much for bringing us up to date with that story.
Now a family in Missouri learned the hard way that children should get vaccinated against COVID. Up next, an unvaccinated teen has a very close call with the virus. And a mom wants others to learn from this mistake.
CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow, live, in Atlanta.
Now the U.S. surgeon general says COVID vaccines for children under the age of 12 could be available by the end of the year. But already, more vulnerable children are heading back to school, as the rate of even partial vaccination for teens in the U.S. lags behind adults.
And more of the young are getting sick and going to hospital, as Gary Tuchman reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Knock, knock.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A children's hospital in Missouri and sitting on the couch is Angel Baker, a mother who has gone through a horrifying week. Her 14-year-old daughter, Marionna, tested positive for COVID, got very sick and was put an oxygen for five days. Angel says her daughter has received excellent treatment here at the Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might make you cough, but that's what we want. That's good. I warned you. Good job.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marionna and her mother live about 150 miles away in Southern Missouri. She started feeling ill at home. It quickly got worse.
ANGEL BAKER, MARIONNA'S MOTHER: I was scared. I was panicking. Monday, the second -- August 2nd, I decided to take her to Urgent Care because she told me she couldn't breathe.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The decision was made for Marionna to be transported by ambulance to this renowned Children's Hospital. For Marionna, it was like a nightmare.
MARIONNA BAKER, INFECTED WITH COVID-19: Really scared.
TUCHMAN (on camera): When you saw her struggling to breathe with the oxygen, what was going through your mind?
A. BAKER: Just praying asking God to bring her back. Keep her safe.
TUCHMAN: Were you afraid she wasn't going to make it?
A. BAKER: Yes, sir.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The 40-year-old mother says she received the COVID vaccine, but says her daughter did not.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Why didn't she get vaccinated?
A. BAKER: I don't know. I left it up to her and she decided she didn't want to get vaccinated.
TUCHMAN: I don't mean to make you feel badly because you've gone through so much. My guess is and I'm making an educated guess that you wish you insisted upon are getting vaccinated?
A. BAKER: Yes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): There are currently children as young as two years old in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the regular patient rooms at this hospital. Of course, children under 12 cannot yet get the vaccine.
TUCHMAN: Last year at this time, doctors here say the typical numbers of children with COVID coming into the emergency room on a daily basis were zero, one, or two. Now they say that daily number is usually 11,12, or 13.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Dr. Wail Hayajneh is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the hospital. DR. WAIL HAYAJNEH, CARDINAL GLENNON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: We are seeing more severe cases. We're seeing more cases in the ICU. We are seeing more cases that require longer duration of treatment in the hospital.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Dr. Aline Tanios, who is the Surgical Unit Medical Director here.
DR. ALINE TANIOS, CARDINAL GLENNON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: It is agonizing sometimes, especially when you see some of these sick -- some of these kids spiraling down before they head to the ICU.
TUCHMAN (on camera): How many children who are ill with COVID in this hospital have gotten the vaccine also?
A. BAKER: Ready to go?
M. BAKER: Yes.
A. BAKER: Yes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marionna has turned the corner and is looking forward to recuperating at home.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And then being well enough to start her life as a high school freshman. She left us with this message.
M. BAKER: Get the vaccine so you won't have to be in the hospital and can't breathe.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And her mother has one, too.
A. BAKER: Please, parents. Get vaccinated and get your kids vaccinated. It is real. Don't let no school, no governor not -- it is real.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is Gary Tuchman, in St. Louis, Missouri.
CURNOW: Thanks to Gary. Really important story.
We'll be right back. You're watching CNN.
CURNOW: Welcome back.
Strong earnings reports from Disney and Airbnb show Americans are eager to resume traveling. But as the Delta variant spreads, that rebound is, of course, now in jeopardy. As CNN's Pete Muntean reports, airlines are already seeing a slowdown -- Pete.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Long lines persist at airports across the country but new data shows that travelers have new doubts because of the Delta variant.
Tuesday was the slowest day for air travel since mid-June, with the TSA screening 500,000 fewer people than the pandemic record, set only 10 days before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are concerned for good reason.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all over the news and it scares people. But as long as I stay six feet away from people and I have a mask on, I feel like I'm OK.
It's just going to make me more aware of my surroundings and just be careful.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): With infections surging in all 50 states, Southwest Airlines says it has seen a decrease in bookings and an increase in passengers canceling trips, making it difficult for the company to be profitable.
Even top destination Disney says its plan to keep reopening theme parks could be changed because of the unpredictable nature of the virus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there's no question the Delta variant's having an impact on travel.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): Airlines are making some changes that convince passengers that flying is safe. United Airlines is requiring that all 67,000 workers in the U.S. get vaccinated by October 25th or face getting fired; the move has been matched by Amtrak. But so far United is the only major airline to institute such a mandate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope it's not a competitive advantage for us because it's far more important for safety that everyone get vaccinated.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): The transportation-wide mask mandate remains in place, including inside airports through at least September 13th. For now, millions of passengers remain undaunted, still taking off, as the virus does, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We considered postponing this, too, but we -- we're going to give it a try.
MUNTEAN: There is a silver lining for those who are still traveling. Travel management site Trip Actions says ticket prices have dropped $76 on average since they peaked in June -- Pete Muntean, CNN, Reagan National Airport.
CURNOW: Thanks for watching. I'm Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta. I'll be back with more news after the break.