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CONNECT THE WORLD

Fuego Volcano in Guatemala Wiped Out Entire Villages; Argentina Calls Off Friendly Football Match with Israel; Democrats Need 23 Seats to Retake House Majority; Firefighters Responding to London Blaze in Knightsbridge; Unions in Jordan Strike Over Proposed Income Tax Law; Iconic Beauty Pageant Ditching Swimsuit Segment. Aired 11-12n ET

Aired June 6, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta filling in for Becky Anderson. Good

to have you with us.

We begin with more prayers and panic in Guatemala after the Feugo volcano began exploding again. Searchers were sent running for their lives three

days after the initial eruption. Searchers are looking for nearly 200 people. Despite the risk of mudslides and more explosions. So far 75

bodies have been recovered. Now take a look at this landscape. You can't even tell what was here a few days ago. Ash and lava pretty much wiping

everything out.

Well, let's go to the disaster zone. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is near one of those hard-hit areas. And Patrick, rescuers are still bracing for the

likelihood that they will find more bodies. So far only a handful of the victims have been identified, but there have been some remarkable rescues.

What can you tell us?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Lynda. We've just seen some of those rescuers come down from the mountain after working their

shift. Obviously very tired, covered in soot. We were up on the mountain earlier this morning and I have to say it is still a very active scene,

still a very dangerous place. There were fires cropping up here and there, volcano ash that completely swallowed whole houses. And some of that

volcano ash when you touch it, it was still very, very hot. And in the distance, you could still see the Feugo volcano smoke coming from it. So,

all eyes are on that volcano as people rush to find any survivors and any of the remaining victims of this terrible incident.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPPMANN (voice-over): A desperate search for survivors is now under way in Guatemala. Those who escaped still reeling after the Fuego volcano's

sudden eruption Sunday afternoon. This pyroclastic cloud of ash, rock and volcano gases tore through villages at more than 100 miles an hour

destroying everything in its wake. Mandatory evacuation orders came only hours after the mountain roared to life, leaving little time to flee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My mother's house was buried with my entire family inside, my three sons, two daughters, and my

grandson, my mother, my sisters, my nieces and nephews. I went to a bridge nearby to get help. They said the lava was coming back and they didn't

listen to me.

OPPMANN: Entire communities once nestled in the foothills of the mountain are now buried beneath debris. Cars have been pushed and piled from the

force of the volcanic flow. This vacation resort once pristine now unrecognizable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE RESCUE WORKER: It has been very hard to see kids, families, whole families knowing that they are buried under the ashes and

knowing that they are there, and we cannot do -- we cannot work fast in order to get them out.

OPPMANN: This afternoon teams of rescuers are hoping to pull more like this infant alive from their homes. Any and all survivors are being

carried out with care, but this deadly eruption has left an apocalyptic scene.

IXMUCANE MONSANTO, RESCUE WORKER: Basically, there's no homes and to my assumption, I don't think there is nobody left there with life.

OPPMANN: Guatemala is observing three days of mourning as funerals begin for the few victims that have been identified. White paper signs taped to

their coffins list the names of parents, friends and children. All this as officials warn the Feugo volcano remains active and dangerous for days to

come.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OPPMANN: And I was just talking to a rescue worker moments ago and he said even though it is a race against time, they still have hope. But when we

were up in the mountain this morning, you could smell the stench of dead things and the rescue workers said that they were sure under so much of bad

volcanic ash -- again, volcanic ash that swallowed whole towns -- they are sure there are bodies and they hope to get to them very soon.

KINKADE: Yes, certainly, a very active scene as rescuers work away. And of course, Patrick, we've been seeing the surreal scenes of the disaster.

I just want to point out to our viewers two different shots we've got of a popular hotel and golf resort in Guatemala. We've got a shot what it

looked like back in 2016. You can see it there on your screen. And then on the right in eerie picture of what it looks like now after it is covered

in ash. How dangerous is it right now for rescuers given that these eruptions are continuing -- Patrick?

[11:05:00] OPPMANN: I was talking to one rescue worker who took us up to the scene of one of the hardest hit areas this morning and he said when he

got there on Sunday night, he had to go from roof to roof that he couldn't walk on any part of the ground. It was too hot. It would melt his boots.

Even today he would he would point to me and say touch there and you could only keep your hand on the ground for a few seconds.

And that's because water has gotten trapped under this volcano ash and it is creating a vapor that eventually is released and can burn and kill.

And, you know, it is just tough work for these guys. They said yesterday they found a house with six children that had died from burns after the

explosion. And that to see that is something they said they will never forget. So, you see how this is taking a toll on people, they go up there,

the air is almost impossible to breathe, and they know that they could find horrible scenes that will stay with them the rest of their lives.

ANDERSON: We're just looking at those pictures of that ash, ash clouds thick in the sky there. Patrick Oppmann, good to have you with us. Thanks

so much.

Well, the rainy season in Guatemala is making a bad situation worse. And for more on what we can expect going forward, I want to bring in

meteorologists, Chad Myers. Chad, given that these eruptions are continuing, what can we expect in the coming days?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Certainly, more ash in the sky, maybe the pyroclastic flow, another one or two, still possible. But the problem is,

Lynda, as you talked about, there may be a couple of meters of ash on top of that mountain. Not inside the crater, but on the side of the volcano

itself. So, when it gets rained on, you get these lahars, you get mud flows. There really almost like moving concrete down the side of the hill.

It is a mudslide. And that mudslide slide could get down into the towns below the Feugo volcano. And that's called a lahar. And it is so thick

and so mucky that it's hard to get out of the way. This is just a rolling disaster going right through towns. So, as you run away that just takes

things with it, just like a typical mudslide would.

Why is it the rainy season? Because now we're into the tropical season and there are a few tropical storms out there possible. Tropical storm Aletta

is already out there, not going to make its way on shore there. But certainly, it's the moisture, it's the heat, it's the humidity. It's that

time of year and when you get rain especially, some of these areas could about up 250 millimeters of rain and all of a sudden that's washing down

with all of that ash in it and then all of a sudden, those mudslides coming turning very, very deadly. We'll keep watching.

KINKADE: Absolutely horrific conditions. Chad Myers, good to have you, of course, for us. Thanks so much.

Well, Argentina's football team has been dragged into Middle Eastern tensions. Just eight days before the World Cup kicks off. The team was

supposed to have a friendly match against Israel this weekend, but it's just been canceled. It was set to happen in Jerusalem, one of the reasons

why the game was so controversial. Palestinian football authorities have urged Argentinian's star player Lionel Messi not to play. Messi reportedly

received threats and provocations ahead of the meet.

Well let's jump right into it. Phil Black is joining us live from Jerusalem. Alex Thomas joins us live from London. Phil, the Palestinians

had urged fans to burn the shirt of the Argentinian star striker and any replicas of Messi's shirt if he was to play in Israel. Was the potential

of violence, the key factor here, for the reason this match was canceled?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does appear so, at least a fear of it, Lynda. That's right. Speaking a short time ago in Barcelona, the

President of the Argentina's football Association confirmed that the match has been called off. And he said he made the decision out of concern for

the safety, the integrity, the well-being of those who would be traveling to Israel.

And he talked about the threats and actions that had been made and received over the last 72 hours. So, it does appear that there were threats of some

kind made against the squad either collectively or individually and that has led Argentinian football association to cancel this trip.

That follows with what we've been hearing from the Israelis. They talked about threats against the players and their families being the main reason

why this hasn't happened. And you're right, the Palestinian football association has been aggressive in its campaign against the Argentineans

visiting here. Calling and specifically targeting Messi, asking fans around the world to burn his image and national jersey and so forth. And

the Israeli point of view is that that sort of talk has incited and raised tensions to the point where perhaps stronger more violence threats have

been made as well -- Lynda.

KINKADE: All right. And Phil, I want to go to Alex. Because of course, this World Cup is starting next week. This was meant to be a friendly

match. The soccer world body realize that this would be controversial given that this was meant to be played in another location, Israel pushed

for this to be played in Jerusalem?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT: It was no doubt, Lynda, that FIFA, world football's governing body, do not like any sort of political interference

in their game. Like many other sports.

[11:10:00] But as we all know life does not work as simply as that. So, yes, maybe they could have had an inkling of what would happen. They've

tried to get the Palestinian and Israeli football associations to be more compatible for years now, not with a huge amount of success. But let's be

fair, none us on our sports desks or other broadcasters have raised this as a problem when that was announced as a warm up fixture for Argentina before

the World Cup, until now. It now looks in hindsight a dreadfully misguided decision. Because bar one minor game against tiny Haiti,

Argentina has not had a significant practice match now and are unlikely to unless they change their schedule very late on before their opening game

which is as soon as a week on Saturday against Iceland in Moscow. Argentina not in an easy group, group D alongside Nigeria and Croatia as

well. And despite Lionel Messi's greatness in the world football, he has yet to one of his famous predecessors Maradona did, and single handedly

lead his country to World Cup glory.

KINKADE: And so, does this happen very often, Alex, where a match like this is canceled for political reasons and have you had much reaction from

any of the players?

THOMAS: We know that lots of sports and lots of events have been affected for political reasons down the years. But I've certainly can't think of

this sort of situation specifically to do with just a friendly warm up game which shouldn't had much significance this close to World Cup before.

Certainly, Israel has staged other international football matches and they've gone ahead.

But as Phil was alluding to there, Messi is more than just another good footballer. He is an icon of his generation alongside Portugal's Cristiano

Ronaldo, probably the pair of them will go down alongside the likes of Brazil's Pele, Argentina's Maradona, as the greatest players all-time.

There is added significance about him going there. Remember the story about the little boy -- I think it was in Afghanistan -- wearing the sort

of blue and white striped bin liner because he wanted to be like Messi. That's how pervasive an influence these top footballers have to every

corner of the planet. Maybe we should have seen this coming.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. And just back to Phil, because you spoke about the Palestinian reaction. Does Israel regret moving and pushing to move this

game to Jerusalem? What have they lost here?

BLACK: No, they wouldn't say that, Lynda, not for a moment. You're right in the sense that choosing Jerusalem is one of the key controversies in all

of this because of its disputed status. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital after annexing the eastern side, a move that the international

community doesn't identify with. But the Palestinians say that East Jerusalem should be the capital of their future Palestinian state. It is

fiercely contested, one of the most emotive issues in the whole Israeli/Palestinian dispute.

And so, yes, Jerusalem's decision to hold the game here when the promoters were initially looking -- I should say, the Israeli government's decision

to hold the game here. When the promoters were initially looking at another less controversial city, is a big reason why the Palestinians have

responded in this way. Their overall concern from the Palestinian point of view is that having the visit -- the Argentinean team visiting, having

superstar like Messi here, particularly in Jerusalem, legitimizes Israeli policies that they don't like, that most of the world frowns upon, and

while the Israeli view really is that this is our city, it's our capital, we should be allowed to hold a big football match here and invite a big

superstar like Messi if we want to -- Lynda.

KINKADE: All right, Phil Black for us in Jerusalem, Alex Thomas for us in London. Good to have you both with us. Thank you.

Coming up, Democrats in the U.S. are determined to retake at least one House of Congress in the midterm elections. But did they get enough

momentum from Tuesday's crucial primaries? We'll break down the results, that's just ahead.

[11:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANDERSON: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.

Well, the political battleground is shaping for crucial midterm elections in eight U.S. states after voter cast ballots in Tuesday's primaries.

Votes are still being counted in California, the biggest and most closely watched primary election of all. Democrats hope to win back the U.S. House

of Representatives in November and California is key to that fight. CNN's John King explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF U.S. CORRESPONDENT: The big primary in California, out here on the West Coast, critical to perhaps the biggest fight in the

2018 midterms, which party will control the House of Representatives. This is the national map now. Republicans with the advantage. The Democrats

trailing. But Democrats are in play to take back the House this year.

Here's how we look at it right now. Most of these districts across the country are locked in because of the way they are drawn. The Democrats are

likely to win the ones you see in blue, Republicans likely to keep the ones in red. Democrats have a slight advantage when we sign the races where

we're fairly certain of what will happen in November.

Then you get to the more competitive races, and you watch this play out across the country, you see a lot of them are Republican. You have

Democrats, 15 races trying to protect-- let's bring it down in here -- you see a lot of them are Republican. Right? You have Democrats, 15 races

they're trying to protect. But look at the Republican number, 81, so advantage for the Democrats. More Republican seats are in play.

One of the reason that matters and why California looms so large then, is Democrats need 23 seats to take back the House of Representatives. There

are ten competitive races out here in California and only one of them is a Democratic district. You see the blue there. Ten in play, nine of them

are Republican. That helps the Democratic chances.

So, let's take a closer look at California. Again, this is the entire state. Let's break it down a little bit for you. These are those ten

districts, only one of them a Democratic seat viewed is in jeopardy, so Democrats are thinking if we can pick up some of the red -- look at them

all -- we start to build toward that 23, 24 seats. So, of these 10 race, one likely Democrat, two lean Democrat, two toss-up, even right there, if

it is a blue year, a Democratic year, two, four, and they hold that. They pick up these two leaning Republican that's 6, 6 of the 23 they would need.

That's why the candidates the Democrats pick tonight was so important and that's why California poses a problem. Because we take a closer look now,

just at these seven districts, these were coming into the year the big Democratic targets. Why? Seven Republican held seats all won by Hillary

Clinton in the presidential election. So, you know that there are Democratic voter here. Democrats think these are their best targets in

California.

Here is the problem. California rules, the top two finishers in the primary go on to November. In some of these districts, especially these

three districts, Democrats are now worried because so many Democrats ran, they will split the vote and the top two finishers could be Republicans.

So, in three districts Democrats thought they should have a good chance to win, there is a possibility as we count the votes, and this will take a

couple days, into Wednesday, Thursday and beyond, they might not even have a candidate on the ballot. So, they could lose three target seats just

tonight as the count goes out in California. Doesn't mean they can't take back the House, but it does mean the hill is steeper, the math gets

tougher.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: Our thanks to John King.

More than 100,000 people in California got a shock when they went to their polling station and discovered their names were not on the roster of

eligible voters. A random printing error caused the confusion.

[11:20:00] And apparently it did not discriminate even "The Fonz". Actor Henry Winkler who played Fonzie on "Happy Days "was left off the list. He

and others mistakenly excluded were supposed to be given provisional ballots. And that error could delay the vote count for days.

Let's bring in White House reporter Stephen Collinson for more on all of that. Of course, Stephen, California being key, and Democrats avoided a

disaster in California given the threat that a huge field of candidates could have split the vote.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Lynda. As John was saying, normally in American politics you have a Republican primary

election and a Democratic primary election to choose the candidates from each party who will move on to the general election in November.

California is different. Everyone goes in the same election. So, if you have two Republicans and six Democrats, the Democrats could split the vote

and that means the first two candidates could conceivably both be Republicans in earn is certain districts and that is what was worrying the

Democrats. Targeting these vulnerable Republicans seats that Hillary Clinton won.

It looks just like in the preliminary results is that the Democrats sort of didn't fall into that trap. In most of the seats it looks like there will

be a Democratic candidate even if we don't know exactly who that candidate will be. That's very good news for Democrats. They're looking to pick up

at least three or four or even more seats in California. And that will cut that number they need, 23 seats they need to lake back the House of

Representatives in November. And really change the face of American politics and have a chance to constrain the Trump presidency.

KINKADE: And, Stephen, it is hard to overstate the importance of California, both in terms of the number of seats up for grabs in the

congressional elections, but also as a powerhouse economy. Last month California surged past Britain to become the world's fifth largest economy

and some believe that the financial boom could fuel a revival for the state in national politics. Just explain like how many people typically vote in

these primaries we're seeing right now compared to the midterms we'll see in November?

COLLINSON: Well, in recent decades, California has been solidly Democratic in Presidential elections. It is a key part not just of the Democrat's

path to the 270 electoral votes you need to win the White House, but it's a massive area of fundraising for the Democratic party.

What you tend to see in these primary elections especially in a midterm election year is that fewer voters actually turn out. The people that do

turn out, however, they're the ultra-committed activists on both sides. And there are some really Republican districts in California despite the

fact that the state as a whole is more Democratic. So, what you tend to get is the activists nominating candidates that really reflect their views

and sometimes they're perhaps more radical candidates. So, occasionally you get someone who is beloved at the political base of the party, but then

is less effective in the general election because they are further from the center ground. So, it's one of the sort of curiosities of U.S. politics,

but clearly California is going to be very, very important for the Democrats as they seek to win back the House in November.

KINKADE: Yes, a key state. And the other interesting thing we noticed so far coming out of these primaries is women did very well across both

parties.

COLLINSON: Right. And that's something we're seeing not just in California, but in all the primary elections and sort of special election

we've seen is that women voters in particular are very important. I think there's a couple reasons for that. You have the backlash among Democratic

women voters to the defeat of Hillary Clinton who would of course have been the first woman president. I think you have many women, suburban women who

are deeply opposed to the presidency of Donald Trump. They could be very important in suburban areas of big-city places like Denver and some other -

- sort of in Colorado and in some other battle ground states.

And then you have the whole issue of the "Me Too" movement, the reaction to a lot of the sexual assault scandals, that has really sort of changed the

face of society in many ways especially in the coastal states, in New York and California. And that's really playing into politics. And I think it

is something that we need to look forward to as well as we sort of contemplate the Democratic field in the 2020 presidential election. You

have a number of women candidates that are clearly positioning themselves. And I think that the demographic of women voters is going to be hugely

crucial as Democrats select their candidate and as Donald Trump tries to seek re-election in 2020.

KINKADE: All right, Stephen Collinson, always great to have your analysis from D.C. Good to have you with us, thank you.

The date and city were already set, but now we know the exact place where Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will sit down for their historic summit next

week.

[11:25:00] The U.S. and North Korea have chosen the luxury Capella hotel on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa. Security was a chief concern and the

government is already marking off a special security zone on the island as the summit nears. You can take a tour of the hotel yourself and walk

around its grounds -- well, online at least. A website gives a detailed look at Capella, Sentosa. You just head to CNN.com.

Well, we have some news just into CNN. The London Fire Brigade says dozens of firefighters are responding to a blaze in the central part of the city.

In a post on Twitter, the brigade says 15 fire engines and 97 firefighters and officials have been called to the blaze in the Knightsbridge area.

Images on social media shows smoke billowing into the air. The city's transit authority says bus and train services are disrupted and roads in

the area are closed. We're working to get more details on that story and we'll bring it to you as soon as it becomes available.

Well, you're watching connect the world. Still to come, higher prices and higher taxes. A combustible combination in Jordan. We'll take you there

for the latest protests.

And could this soon be how you drive to work. We zoom into the future aboard a new flying car. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:00] KINKADE: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I am Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.

Want to update you first on the breaking news where following what appears to be a huge fire in central London. You can see those pictures of the

massive plumes of smoke. The London Fire Brigade says dozens of firefighters responding to the blaze in the Knightsbridge area which is

very affluent area of London. We are seeing those images from social media. That's smoke billowing in the air. London's transit authority says

bus and train services are disrupted, roads in the area are closed. Now for viewers who know London, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which seems to be

the source of the fire, is right next to the Harvey Nichols department store and just yards away from Harrod's. We're going to bring you more

details as we get them.

Well, until then, we turn to Jordan where this was the scene earlier. We continue to see extraordinary scenes out of Jordan, trade unions hit the

streets today for a general strike after a week of protest over austerity measures that even led the prime minister to resign. CNN's Jomana

Karadsheh has spent years covering the kingdom. And she says these protests are like nothing she's seen before. Jomana joins us now from

Amann. And Jomana, really this is the country's largest protest we've seen in years, and bigger than anything you've ever witnessed.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Lynda, over the past couple of days since the prime minister resigned, since a new prime

minister has been appointed, the crowd seemed to be a bit smaller right now, but there are calls for more protests. What's so different about

this, Lynda, is the level of anger that we're seeing on the streets. You know, last night we were out at one of these nightly protests that have

been taking place here not far from where we're standing, in the Jordanian capital. And you talk to people, they are just absolutely fed up with this

situation.

You know, they say that for the past few years, they've been putting up with this cost of living that has continued to rise. Their wages that

haven't changed and just in the past few months, you've had hikes in the prices of energy, fuel, petrol for their cars. We're talking about

electricity at people's homes. That they really say that they've had enough. And they've also had to pay lots of other taxes like the sales tax

that has also gone up in the past few months, it's also part of the austerity measures that are backed by the IMF.

So, people are saying why are we expected now to pay another tax and that's this new proposed controversial income tax when they say that they are not

receiving anything in return. No real good basic services as they describe it. So, there is so much anger, so much frustration on the streets. But

we have to say, Lynda, in the past 24 hours or so, it does seem -- we've seen smaller protests, but again, there are calls for another large-scale

protest to take place tonight in Amann.

KINKADE: And so, all these protests, the prime minister has resigned or been forced out, but will any of these moves be overturned?

KARADSHEH: Well, that's the big question. And this is what's really dividing the people right now. So, when these protests started, they were

over these economic measures, then it turned into calling for the dismissal of this government, and that happened. They've got their first-of -- and

you know, one of their main demands. So, now the calls are from the streets. You know, people are divided. Some saying that, you know, we

should give this new government a chance, wait and see what happens, while others are saying that they should stay on the street, keep the momentum

going to make sure that that controversial draft law is scrapped -- Lynda.

KINKADE: All right. Jomana Karadsheh in Amman, good to have you with us. Thank you.

I want to go back to the breaking news about that fire in London. CNN's Nina dos Santos joins me now live from London. And Nina, this is

essentially a major fire in Knightsbridge, a very affluent area with department stores and luxury hotels in the region. What are you learning?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems -- but this hasn't yet been confirmed -- that the source of the fire is likely to have been the

Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. This is a hotel that has hosted foreign dignitary, it's in one of the most expensive zip codes of London.

Prime real estate right on top of Hyde Park. It's next to one of the most expensive apartment buildings, Number One Hyde Park, anywhere in the entire

planet here.

As you can see from some of these pictures, it seems as though smoke is billowing from the roof of this particular building, the London Fire

Brigade has sent about 15 fire crews towards this building to tackle this blaze with 96 firefighters currently working on the scene.

[11:35:00] So far, we haven't managed to contact the Mandarin Oriental. There have been some guests who have been saying in this hotel posting on

Twitter that they have been evacuated. I should point out I'm very familiar with this particular hotel having hosted events there and also

interviewed people inside this hotel. Part of the hotel faces on to Knightsbridge at the closer and to Hyde Park corner.

This is the end that's closer towards Buckingham Palace, looking like about a mile away from Buckingham Palace. And the other part of the hotel at the

rear faces on to Hyde Park. And if people have been evacuated from this building, it is highly likely that they would have been evacuated onto the

Hyde Park end. Obviously, because it's easier to control the large amount of people that would have been in the building like this and if indeed they

have evacuated it.

It's a situation that obviously, we're watching the transport authorities here in London have been tweeting saying that Knightsbridge station, which

is a key station, as you said, for tourists visiting key destinations like for instance, Harrods department store, that has been closed at the moment.

Knightsbridge itself as a street is a major thoroughfare from the West End of London towards the West.

So, if you're heading toward Heathrow Airport, that would be a road that you would be taking at the moment. Obviously, traffic is backing up along

this road as that road is being diverted. And also, some of the underground stations, including also Baker Street underground station

apparently has not seen trains stopping there.

So, it is a situation that we're continuing to watch. It may be that this fire has been tackled and brought under control. I'm just monitoring the

London Fire Brigade's Twitter account here and for the most that hasn't been an update apart from they're previous message, which was posted about

10 minutes ago saying around 100 firefighters are tackling a large fire at the hotel of 12 floors in the Knightsbridge area -- Lynda.

KINKADE: So, we are just seeing these pictures out of London right now of that smoke still billowing from the region of Knightsbridge. Of course,

you said you know that hotel well. It is about 4:30 in the afternoon there approaching peak hour traffic. No doubt this is going to cause a lot of

problems in the area. What more can you tell us about the actual hotel, whether there are any residents living there, of course no doubt

restaurants in that hotel?

DOS SANTOS: Yes, some of the most famous in London. In fact, one of the most famous chefs in London opened a restaurant there about three or four

years ago. And it was quite difficult to get a table at the time and probably still is at the moment. And this is a hotel that also has a large

ballroom, it hosts a lot of conferences and big events there. It's a very luxurious, and also very expensive hotel, if indeed, the hotel in question

is the Mandarin Oriental.

I must say, it is the only hotel on that particular stretch on that particular part of the street. I couldn't confirm to you at the moment

whether it's 12 floors high. But the London Fire Brigade is confirming that the blaze that they are tackling is indeed at a hotel of 12 floors in

the Knightsbridge area. There's a number of other very luxury hotels on the same stretch of the street. A bit further along though from where this

fire appears to be.

I can confirm to you knowing full well the Mandarin Oriental Hotel that it looks like a red brick building like that. There are other hotels, the

Bulgari Hotel and some very, very expensive apartment blocks where a number of Middle Eastern dignitaries are said to have apartments, their London

residence is there. And that's just less than a block away from where this blaze may well be taking place at the moment.

But as I said, part of this building faces on to Knightsbridge which, Lynda, you mentioned, is a very, very busy street. It's a street that is

normally clogged at this time of the afternoon, as you said, when the rush hour starts to get going. But the other part of it faces onto Hyde Park as

well. So, it may well be that if people have been evacuated from that building, and probably also other buildings as well in the nearby vicinity

largely because of concerns about smoke inhalation, well they may well be waiting in Hyde Park behind this particular building. And that's not

something that we've seen yet as per some of the earlier images that are coming through on platforms like for instance social media -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, right. And I've been reading just as you are finishing speaking that if this is indeed the Mandarin Hotel, which we can't confirm,

but if it is, apparently, it just finished some major renovations there in the last few months. Of course, a lot of people must be remembering the

Grenfell Tower disaster right now as they see these image in London of all this smoke in the skyline.

DOS SANTOS: Yes, and the comparison is slightly unfortunate and that this is one of the most offensive, luxurious parts of the same borough of

Kensington and Chelsea, Lynda, that Grenfell Tower [11:40:00] -- it was in Grenfell Tower just a couple of miles towards the northwest of

Knightsbridge.

[11:40:02] Are still in Kensington and Chelsea, which by the way, is one of the two most affluent boroughs in London. The other one being Westminster,

which is just very, very close in fact to where the Knightsbridge Hotel is. So, these are in similar boroughs except obviously we're talking about very

different people living and frequenting these buildings.

Grenfell, obviously, is a huge tragedy that people have tried to come to terms with over the last year or so. And there's been a lot of pressure

for fire regulations especially in some of these council-run state buildings that have been undergoing renovation jobs. I wouldn't like to

compare what's going on here with obviously what happened in Grenfell. But obviously a fire regulation, obviously, a hot topic in this country at the

moment and obviously we're just two, three days away from that Grenfell inquiry that is the anniversary of the Grenfell disaster. Which obviously,

still is still upon people's collective memory, not just in London but across the whole of the U.K. And also, the inquiry that has been going on

over the course of the last week or so with many harrowing stories from some of the survivors and also harrowing stories of people who didn't make

it out of that tower block alive -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, absolutely. We wish the firefighters well. We hope they can bring it under control quickly. Nina dos Santos good to have you

report this story for us in London, thank you.

We're going to take a quick break right now. We're going be back in just a moment. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIDEO FROM MISS AMEICA ORGANIZATION: Headlines, Atlantic City 1921, Margaret Gorman is crowned the first Miss America. And with the roaring

'20s, a great tradition is born.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: You are looking there at the very first Miss America pageant. Believe it or not, the women are actually in their swim wear there. How

times change. It would've been a total scandal to wear a remotely like what it looks like today. That is until right now. Miss America surely

the world's best-known beauty pageant quite literally sending the bikini up in smoke. Ditching the swim wear as part of the show. They're doing it

with a new chairwoman running things, so let's hear from her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETCHEN CARLSON, MISS AMERICA 1989: We have always had talent and scholarship. And we need to message that part of the program better as

well. But now we are adding in this new caveat that we're not going to judge you on your outward appearance because where interested in what makes

you, you. Tell us about your goals and your achievements in life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: To discuss this, let's bring in Cassie Myers, she helps run a popular beauty pageant right here in Georgia that's happening this week and

bikinis are staying put.

[11:45:00] Can you explain why?

CASSIE MYERS, VICE PRESIDENT, MISS GEORGIA BOARD OF TRUSTEES: Myers, Yes. So, Miss America decided to eliminate the swimsuit portion of the

competition for the pageant that's in September. But because there have already been contestants that have been crowned already that will compete

in September, they just thought that it was fair to go ahead let each of the state pageants just kind of do what they have been doing.

Our girls check in this Friday and we'll start competition on Tuesday. And so, they've worked really, really hard for the past year on their swimsuit

bodies and everything else that goes along with competing for Miss Georgia. So, it just wasn't fair to take that away from them. We give the

preliminary award in scholarship money for swimsuit. And those sponsors have already been -- you know, those sponsorship dollars have already

accounted for and the girls are expecting it. So, it just was an easy decision to keep everything the same because otherwise we'd be scrambling

for the next 48 hours trying to figure out what we were going to do differently.

KINKADE: Cassie, this is a competition. We're just looking at those pictures of competition when it started back in 1921 here in the U.S. a

year after women got the right to vote. And even back then when the competition began, feminists protested against it. Do you think that it is

a good idea to get rid of the bikini segment of this?

MYERS: I think -- we totally understand where Miss America is coming from, especially this day and age where we do have a lot more people that are

identifying as a feminist. And these girls, you know, get to make their own decisions and they compete in the pageant in their own right. But just

one of those things where it obviously is in the best interests of their organization. The women that are running the Miss America organization

right now are all formal title older, whether state or national. And so, they've been through this. They've lived it.

I don't think that the decision was made without lots of options and lots of thinking and lots of asking questions from different organizations and

different competitors past and present. So, we're excited about the change. We have a lot of girls here in Georgia who are excited about the

change. Some that are not. But it is just kind of one of those things that change is never easy. So, we'll all end up getting used to it.

KINKADE: We heard from Miss America herself, my colleague, Hala Gorani, spoke to her. I just want to play you some of that sound for our viewers.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARA MUND, MISS AMERICA 2018 (via phone): As Miss America, I have not put on a swimsuit since the day that I was crowned. And so, if we're

evaluating our candidates, if that's not part of the job, then we shouldn't be evaluating them on it. So, that's just my perception.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: So, in light of this "Me Too" campaign, women wanting to be treated equally as males judged by talents, our abilities, and not compared

by looks and to be paid the same, do beauty pageants glorifying women and comparing bodies change that, is that holding women back, is that holding

us back?

MYERS: I don't necessarily think that it is holding us back. But I do obviously completely understand where Cara is coming from. Miss Georgia

never puts on a swimsuit either after she's crowned, so that makes sense. It is not part of the job, so why should it be part of the job description.

But in the sense of objectifying women like I've said, the girls sign up for this, they know prior to the change that swimsuit is a portion of the

competition.

And I think that it is one of those things that it was always the lifestyle and fitness in swim wear competition, so it was promoting a healthy

lifestyle, not being necessarily a size 0 or size 2 and rail thin or unhealthy. That's what they were promoting is that healthy lifestyle. But

like you just heard, Miss America say, she has never put on a swimsuit. Our contestants never put on a swimsuit after their crowned. So, it makes

sense.

KINKADE: Back in the day, this was a competition that was judged just by men. Women lining up in their swimsuits and a group of men sitting down

and judging them based on how they looked. These pageants are very American. You don't see them very often, they're not very common in other

countries. Why are they so popular here?

MYERS: You know, I don't know. I think it is just one of those things that it is a women's empowerment thing. And because it started as

something like you said as a bathing beauty contest and has evolved over the past however many years. I think it's just one of those things that

gives women empowerment. I mean, the great thing about the Miss America organization is the scholarship. And I think that is one of the things if

you are not an athlete or if you're not brilliant in the sense of going to get an academic scholarship to a school or athletic scholarship to school,

a lot of these young women compete in the Miss America organization, so they can help pay for school. Even with smaller scholarships college is

expensive these days. And so, I know a lot of the girls in Georgia, that's what they're working for. Sure, they'd love to be Miss Georgia and go on

to win Miss America, but the money that they're earning in scholarships is really what drives them to compete.

[11:50:03] KINKADE: Right. Cassie Myers, Vice President of media, on the Board of Trustees for Miss Georgia. Thank you very much for joining us on

CONNECT THE WORLD.

MYERS: Thank you so much.

ANDERSON: You are watching CNN. We're going to take a quick break. Will be right back, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KINKADE: You are watching CNN and CONNECT THE WORLD. We've got some breaking news. I am Lynda Kinkade. We have been following this story out

of London, a major fire there. The fire brigade says dozens of its personnel are fighting a large blaze at a downtown hotel. London Fire

Brigade says dozens of firefighters are responding to the blaze at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. We're seeing these images come

to us on social media showing that billowing smoke above the London skyline. Transit authority says bus and train services are disrupted and

roads in that area are closed.

Let's go back to speak to our Nina dos Santos who joins us now in London about this breaking news. We've just had it confirmed that it is at the

Oriental Mandarin hotel in Knightsbridge, this of course a luxury hotel that's been used by the royal family on many occasions. You've been there

hosting events on many occasions. What can you tell us about it?

DOS SANTOS: Well, it's very luxurious in the inside. It has a ballroom, and it has luxury restaurants, it has a jazz bar, it also has a number of

rooms that are extremely expensive, and I understand it does have permanent residents as well. So, presumably all of these people have been evacuated.

I should tell you that the front of the building faces on to Knightsbridge at the Hyde Park corner end, that's the eastern end of Knightsbridge. It's

one of the busiest thoroughfares in London, in a very exclusive part of town just yards away from Harrods. Which is of course, a key tourist

hotspot, the department store. And there are very expensive other apartment buildings and luxury hotels in this area.

But before I give a bit more description about the area, Lynda, I do want to bring you up-to-date with some news that we've had confirmed from the

London Fire Brigade. Which updates us on the total number of firefighters and fire engines that have been sent to the scene, 20 fire engines and 120

firefighters and officers they say have been called to a visible fire at a hotel in William Street in Knightsbridge, that would be concurrent with

details of the Mandarin Oriental's address. It says that the brigade's 999, so, that's its emergency service number, control offices have taken

about 40 calls from people to report this fire. Largely because the fire is also producing a lot of smoke, so you can imagine that presumably people

from neighboring buildings may well have been evacuated as well.

They say that the brigade was called at about five minutes to 4:00 local time. And that fire crews from a number of neighboring boroughs -- this is

the significance bit --Chelsea, Kensington, Hammersmith, Battersea, and other surrounding parts of London have also been called to respond to the

scene. And that would be concurrent with the number of people on the scene. There are 125 firefighters and officers currently tackling that

significance blaze of a 12-story hotel.

And, Lynda, again, just to give you some idea of the vicinity here, Knightsbridge. This is a part of the Western part of Westminster. It's

one of the most expensive boroughs in London. Overall Westminster is the most expensive borough in the United Kingdom. To own a house here or

property, with the average house price being 23 times the average earnings. And this is probably the most expensive part of Westminster as well.

There is a building block called Number 1 Hyde Park which is just yards away from where we're seeing this fire. Which is where apartments have

sold from upwards of $189 million. And a number of foreign dignitary's own apartments in some of these nearby buildings. So presumably some of them

may well have been evacuated to the rear of this particularly building, the Mandarin Oriental, is Hyde Park. So, there is obviously some space to

safely keep people away from the fire without the risk of smoke inhalation, as obviously, 120 of the fire crews tackle this ongoing blaze in London --

Lynda.

KINKADE: All right. Nina dos Santos for us in London, we are going to stay across that breaking news out of London. I am Lynda Kinkade. Thanks

so much for watching us and joining us for CONNECT THE WORLD. Stay with us for this breaking news story.

END