Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Six Suicide Bombers Involved In Sunday's Attack; U.S. Will Sanction Countries That Buy Iranian Oil; Comedian Celebrates Landslide Victory In Ukraine; Apparent Car Explosion In China; Egyptian Expected To Extend President El-Sisi's Rule; 1,000+ People Arrested At London Climate Protest; Plastic From Abroad Swamps Malaysian Communities; Eiffel Tower Goes Dark To Honor Sri Lanka Victims. Aired: 11a-12p ET
Aired April 22, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thank you so much for joining me. We're live from CNN world
headquarters here in Atlanta. Now, Sri Lanka is in a state of high alert and soon will be under a state of emergency in the wake of those Easter
Sunday bombings. Just a short time ago, the military told CNN that six suicide bombers carried out those attacks and there's a race to find if
there are any more bombs out there.
So I want to show you the moment the bomb squad carried out a controlled explosion. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Well, that van was parked near a church where one of the bombs went off. Police have also found dozens of detonators at a bus station.
This is the government vows to investigate why it failed to act on warnings that an attack could be coming.
Now, the bombs targeted churches and luxury hotels across the country killing at least 290 people. Here's one survivor's account of what
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard the explosion and then the roof fell on us. We took the children and ran out from the rear door. But when I came to the
hospital, I saw my brother-in-law and son on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Ivan Watson has been on the ground in Colombo, reporting on this tragedy. Earlier he sent us this report. Take a look. Here's Ivan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Sri Lankan capital is on edge series of deadly terror attacks that ripped across parts
of this country. This church, St. Anthony's Shrine, you of three catholic churches targeted on Easter Sunday. You can still see shattered glass here
and the clock tower frozen at roughly the time when a suicide bomber attacked during Easter Sunday prayers.
And in the 24 hours since, the authorities are not taking any chances. Look, just down this road here you can see the remains of a suspicious
vehicle that an explosive disposal team detonated on Monday afternoon, sending real fear through an already traumatized community.
This has been a series of deadly attacks. Hundreds of people killed and wounded. There has been criticism that the security forces missed a
warning from a foreign intelligence agency about threats of suicide attacks against catholic churches, prompting one government minister to accuse some
of these security chiefs of incompetence and negligence and also prompting a government spokesperson to publicly apologize for letting this
potentially crucial bit of intelligence slip through the authority's fingers.
In the meantime, there has been no official claim of responsibility and some of the victims are still fighting for their lives in the intensive
care units of Sri Lankan hospitals. Ivan Watson CNN Colombo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Thanks, Ivan, for that. Will Ripley is also live in Colombo. Will, hi to you. So we're getting this new information from authorities,
they are confirming that six suicide bombers caused this devastation.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what that shows us, Robyn, is that this was, as suspected, a large, sophisticated, coordinated attack that
involved multiple players and you'll see on the rest here, but the concern on the ground is that there may be more suspects and more bombers out there
because behind each of those suicide bombers there is a support network, there are people who helped assemble the device, people who make sure they
got to the location on time.
And we frankly don't know what else they may be plotting. That's why you have the U.S. State Department warning Americans and others here in Sri
Lanka to exercise extreme caution because it's not just potentially hotels like this one behind me where you can see this hotel and all of the hotels
that are still open or on lockdown. I mean these security guards are here. There's bomb-sniffing dogs.
They're making sure that nobody is bringing explosives in. The Shangri-La and the Kingsbury just down the road there. Shangri-La is closed down.
You can see the street is pretty much empty now that the curfew is in effect, but closing down the streets, their main boulevard here, Galle Face
Drive which normally would have thousands of people. We're told on a typical evening, tourists out here enjoying the seaside promenade.
Instead, it's a ghost town because the concern is that they don't have a grip yet on the true extent of this network. They think that this
international terrorism, ASIS inspired, according to sources in Washington speaking to Barbara Starr and there could be more people out there and
that's why the government is trying to take every step that they can to try to keep people safe, which means empty streets here in Colombo.
[11:05:25] CURNOW: And Ivan mentioned they just have a lot of people, the survivors, many of them still fighting for their lives in hospitals. What
more do we know about the victims?
RIPLEY: Well, hundreds of people injured, obviously, and the vast majority of the victims are Sri Lankans who were killed when they were at Easter
service or at hotels, foreigners who were visiting. Sam Kiley has been looking into all of it and I know you've learned a lot about the foreigners
who were killed, but we can't underscore that the biggest human loss here were the suspects' own countrymen.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean 290 victims, that's dead victims, 560 injured. Of those dead, 38 believed to
be foreigners. Now, earlier on today, Will, I was at the St. Sebastian Church.
That was the scene of the greatest number of dead, at least 122 people there described how a suicide bomber wearing a backpack walk right in. We
spoke to the priest who was there on the ground giving the service and waited until there was this crowd gathered for the end of the service and
then detonated his device, killing women, children really, really disgusting scenes.
RIPLEY: And I mean these were people that look very nondescript. They just had essentially a backpack. I mean they would have completely blended
in. There was no heightened sense of alert even though the government apparently received a warning that there could be a terror attack, that
people were totally vulnerable.
KILEY: Yes, I mean that is the issue and that is the point of recrimination here that the government did have prior intelligence and
failed to act upon it at a time when clearly if you're going to be targeted by Islamist groups which is what the Americans are hinting, those sorts of
targets at Easter are going to be naturally selected. But also we're now getting information, Will, about some of the foreigners killed.
Among them is a very famous business figure billionaire. He wasn't killed but he lost three members of his family. He's the founder and a board
member of the ASOS group, which in Europe is a very big clothing retail. That's Anders Povlsen. He lost three members, three children in his family
during these killings in an attack on one of the hotels.
On top of that we've got a famous TV chef, Shantha Mayadunne, a great figure here in Asia in terms of TV broadcasting. She was killed along with
a daughter in one of these attacks. And, of course, we've now got the first American confirmed named Dieter Kowalski, an individual from Denver.
He'd only been here a matter of hours, walked into a hotel, sat down for breakfast after a long journey as people tend to do and was murdered in
this suicide attack. So these are a handful of the 38 foreigners. But, of course, the overwhelming majority of victims here are inevitably Sri
RIPLEY: Yes. I mean so many people, so many families. I mean Dieter Kowalski's family, the police had his phone and the family tried calling
the phone and the police answered. So imagine being somebody looking for someone who you love, who showed up at the hotel, goes to have breakfast,
and then they're gone.
KILEY: And then you hear from a policeman.
RIPLEY: And then you hear from a police officer. Just heartbreaking here, Robyn, and we're going to hear more of these kinds of stories in the coming
days sadly. But the hope is that's why you have the streets basically empty that the government can contain this before more bombers try to
CURNOW: OK, Will and Sam, thanks to you both there on the scene in Colombo. Thanks, guys. So the U.S. Secretary of State is vowing to keep
fighting terrorism in the wake of these attacks. This is what he has just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: ... what was supposed to be a joyful Easter Sunday was marred by a horrific wave of Islamic radical terror
bloodshed. We mourn the loved ones of the victims. Some of whom we can confirm were indeed U.S. citizens. This is America's fight too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Mike Pompeo there. And just a reminder, it has not being confirmed that Islamist were behind those attacks. But let's go to the
Pentagon, Barbara Starr is joining us now. We heard Mike Pompeo there. We've also heard from the U.S. President. The American government, at
least, suggesting that this is the work of some sort of Islamic network, terror network.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi there, Robyn. I mean you're very correct, of course, to point out we don't have the solid facts,
the actual founding of responsibility at this point and no claim of responsibility. But a U.S. official tells us they do believe the group
that carried out the attack on the ground in Sri Lanka was likely inspired by ISIS. Does it mean that they were radical Islamic terrorists
themselves? We simply do not know the answer to that fine point on this.
But the initial U.S. assessment is that they were inspired by ASIS and you'll recall, of course, there were a significant number of attackers,
multiple sites carried out. So this is a very complex attack, it would take planning, organization, financing, recruiting the people to carry it
out and that's all adds up in the minds of the initial assessment being done that it was most likely inspired by ISIS.
We do know that the U.S. State Department now warning American citizens and I'm sure other governments around the world warning their citizens if they
are in Sri Lanka to be extremely careful not to go to these public places, known tourist areas where additional attacks could be targeted. So a lot
of concern, a lot of worry and a lot of effort being made to nail down exactly what did happened here and who was behind it, Robyn.
[11:11:01] CURNOW: Yes, what's interesting about this both by the U.S. President, a statement has been out about his phone call with the Sri
Lankan leader and also what we heard Mike Pompeo there saying even though there has not been confirmation that Islamist terrorists were behind it,
the Americans very much painting this as some sort of global battle, sing it beyond what - that this isn't a national incident for just Sri Lanka.
STARR: Well, here's the problem for the Trump administration, western government and those governments that are attacked, if you have a lone wolf
attack, so to speak, you know what you're dealing with. But these days, terror networks, ISIS in all of its iterations, Al Qaeda inspired groups,
groups in South Asia, these are networks. They don't have to send their own members abroad to other countries to carry out these attacks. They
often recruit and inspire online, in cyberspace and they can plan and organize from a great distance and get people to carry out their attacks
So the notion that the ISIS caliphate, the physical caliphate, for example, is gone in Syria and Iraq as we well know that's important, but it doesn't
end the ideology. It doesn't end the group. They are even in Afghanistan, of course, these days. This is the big concern. You are dealing with
people able to inspire attacks, indeed on a global basis around the world, Robyn.
CURNOW: Which is why the Sri Lankans have argued that they justified in shutting down social media.
STARR: I think that's their feeling very much now, because they want to stop any further inspired efforts online and they also like many countries
have a lot of concern that there will be essentially information attacks, if you will. In other words, people will post false information online
deliberately and that could cause a lot of concern, anxiety and unrest inside their country.
CURNOW: OK, Barbara Starr there with the latest from the Pentagon. Thanks so much, Barbara.
CURNOW: So Pope Francis has offered a message of solidarity as well to the people of Sri Lanka. He also issued an appeal for help for the nation and
its victims. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS(through interpreter): I pray for the many victims and the wounded and I ask everyone to not hesitate to offer this dear nation all
the help necessary. I hope that everyone condemn these terrorist acts, inhumane acts never justifiable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Pope Francis also said he has a close relationship with the Archbishop of Colombo and Sri Lanka's entire Roman Catholic Church. So
still to come here at CNN, he's only played a president on TV until now, a comedian with no political experience has just won a landslide victory in
Ukraine. We're live in Kiev straight ahead.
[11:16:41] CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow. We're hearing from authorities in Sri Lanka that six suicide bombers carried out the
devastation on Easter Sunday. We're also hearing that in the coming hours a state of emergency and curfew will be put in place. I want to talk more
about the security considerations here.
Matthew Rosenberg is a CNN U.S. Security Analyst, U.S. Security Correspondent for The New York Times as well. He joins me from Washington.
Matthew, thanks for chatting to us. Just from your experience in terms of analyzing terror attacks, the sheer scale and coordination of this, what do
you make of it?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: We've seen a lot of these attacks over the years. They're hard to pull off, but they're not
impossible. Sri Lanka also has a long history of acts of terror. For two decades, there's a separatist rebellion by a group called the Tamil Tigers.
They've represented a Tamil minority, which doesn't look had anything to do with yesterday's attacks.
But the Tigers did sort of perfect the suicide vest, so this is knowledge that exists Sri Lanka. Was it ISIS inspired? Was there a foreign help?
Those are questions that need to be answered still.
CURNOW: And the fact that it was six suicide bombers who managed to detonate in different parts of the country, all in areas where there were
either people worshipping or in luxury hotels, it also indicates that they are cells, that they were teams helping them, that there are a large amount
of people involved in this.
ROSENBERG: It looks like a tremendous amount of reports are already there. Twenty-four people have been arrested. These things take a lot of
coordination and the other thing was Sri Lanka - I stayed at both those hotels that were bombed, two of the ones that were bombed. They weren't
really ready for this. Nobody had this kind of security where there'd be metal detectors at a hotel lobby or churches would have armed guards.
So when you catch people off guard, it's very easy to carry out an attack. It's much easier, not very easy.
CURNOW: And what do you make about the fact that there seem to be some sort of warning, from what I understand some sort of foreign intelligence
service told the Sri Lankans that there was a possibility of an attack, but the warning wasn't followed through on. Do you know anything about that,
anything more about that? The kind of detail --
ROSENBERG: That is a massive security failure on their part. The Prime Minister says his cabinet never got it. The President and the Prime
Minister are at odds with each other. It's not clear if the President got it as well or did not get it, but that kind of security failure where
you're warn the full 10 days in advance and take no action is something that has to be examined, and this kind of situation going to lead to, I can
imagine, serious recriminations.
CURNOW: And just such heartache, nearly 300 people have been killed, 500 people, more than 500 wounded, many of them still fighting for their lives.
When we're talking about capabilities here, we've also heard that there are still concern that there might be some sort of threats. We've also heard,
I think, that there were 87 detonators found at a bus station, a six-foot long pipe bomb was found on a route towards the airport. What does that
[11:20:55] ROSENBERG: I mean it tells me that there are people in Sri Lanka who were looking to blow things up. They probably still are, just
today the police have set off more unexploded bombs they found I think in a van as - it was at least one of them and that the controls for bringing
detonators into the country aren't really tight. You need explosives and you need detonators.
Explosives, that's hard to come by. Detonators are even harder. Those are happy professionally made. You there make them in Sri Lanka or import them
from elsewhere. But the fact that 87 were still out there suggests that there was intent to do more violence here.
CURNOW: Yes, which is terrifying itself. I think in that initial assessment or warning, there was concern about the Indian embassy or the
high commission and we know that embassies and diplomatic places weren't touched in this, so no doubt high security on that level for many foreign
embassies, but also the explosions. In terms of what we're hearing about the size of these explosions, what does that tell you? I mean one of the
eyewitness who spoke to us said he was on the 25th floor. I think it was of the Shangri-La, and he heard and he felt it at 25 floors up.
ROSENBERG: These were not small bombs.
ROSENBERG: These were well made by people who knew what they were doing. If you can feel that explosion 20 stories up in a very well built building
that means this is a big bomb that went off. And look, you don't hit an embassy. These embassies are hard to hit. Churches are very easy to hit.
Places of worship, hotels in countries that are not expecting a terror attack, they also represent an incredibly soft target.
CURNOW: Matthew Rosenberg, thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us, Security Correspondent for The New York Times. Thanks, Matthew.
ROSENBERG: Thank you.
CURNOW: OK, so at least five people are dead we know after a powerful earthquake in the Philippines. The area is now being hit by dozens of
aftershocks. The quake had a magnitude of 6.1. The Philippine news agency says 20 people were rescued from a supermarket that collapse north of the
capital. And then in Manila, rail operations are now suspended. We'll keep you monitored on that as well.
And we're also watching the story, the U.S. is putting more pressure on Iran by putting pressure on countries who do business with Iran. The
Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has just said the U.S. will no longer ground waivers to countries that buy Iranian oil. Now, that means any
nation that purchases oil from Tehran could be subject to U.S. economic penalties. Pompeo said Iran knows what it needs to do to end sanctions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: We've made our demands very clear to the ayatollah and his cronies any pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop testing and proliferating ballistic
missiles, stop sponsoring and committing terrorism, halt the arbitrary detention of U.S. citizens are pressures aimed at fulfilling these demands
and others and it will continue to accelerate until Iran is willing to address them at the negotiating table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Pompeo there. Well, oil prices are spiking higher after Pompeo's statements. Let's bring in John Defterios who watches all of this, so what
is the impact of this decision?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, you might think and recall, Robyn, that a year ago Donald Trump was banging the drum
saying he was going to take Iranian exports down to zero. He seems determined to do so in 2019 and that's where we see the pressure on oil
prices. But he has help from two Middle East allies in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates who are regional foes, as you know, Iran.
That's the spike up in prices better than 2%. We're above $74 a barrel earlier. What this means is that the eight countries that had exceptions
to be able to import Iranian crude will face sanctions going forward. As Mike Pompeo was saying at the briefing, we're going to zero across the
board and telling those countries, "Look, the risk is not worth the reward, continue to take that oil from Iran."
Now, these are the highest prices we've seen since November and some are suggesting in the market, we could hit that high we saw early in 2018 of
$86 a barrel. Now, you recall again that many times last year that Donald Trump was sending tweets, putting pressure on OPEC in places like Saudi
Arabia and the UAE every time the price got above $70 a barrel, but it's U.S. sanctions, particularly against Iran and Venezuela, and then the
challenges we're seeing in Libya today that are driving the prices higher.
So in a sense, Donald Trump has to point the finger at himself but he seems determined to keep that pressure on Iran. It's number one earnings coming
from oil exports, of course, as high as $50 billion a year when the nuclear accord was in place. That's certainly not the case right now as the U.S.
continues to tighten the screws on the Iranian regime.
[11:25:39] CURNOW: OK, thanks for that update from Dubai, John Defterios. Thanks, John. Now, a comedian whose campaign was initially dismissed as a
joke has just won the presidency of Ukraine by a landslide. Volodymir Zelensky has never held public office although he plays a president on
television. With more than 99 percent of ballots counted, it's clear that voters were so determined to reject the establishment that they were
actually willing to gamble on a political unknown.
Zelensky thanked the voters as he claimed victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMIR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT(through interpreter): I will never let you down. To all post Soviet countries I tell you, look at us,
everything is possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: So let's go to Kiev, Phil Black monitoring the reaction. He's saying everything is possible but many people particularly looking from the
outside think, "Wow, it's a comedian playing a president who's now the president." Life imitating art.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, and he achieved it through the blurring of lines between fiction and reality. He doesn't just play a
president on TV, he plays a regular guy who becomes president and goes on to fight corruption and clean up the political system. That's what his
campaign was based around as well. The same sort of idea, the same sort of message and promises but painted in very broad brushstrokes.
He did not have detailed policies, he did not submit to interviews, he did not give rallies or make many public appearances. Instead, he released a
lot of slick online videos largely attacking his opponent, Petro Poroshenko, and the established political class here. He promised change
but didn't go into a lot of detail about how it would be achieved.
By comparison, Poroshenko run a far more conventional campaign with lots of rallies and public appearances. All of the time trying to criticize his
opponents, Zelensky, for not being experienced enough, not being worthy of the presidency or not being ready to be commander in chief of a country
that is still at war. Despite those efforts and he really tried, he was unable to cut through the enthusiasm and the momentum that Zelensky was
able to build.
And so very shortly after the voting closed here last night, Poroshenko conceded defeat. Here's a little of him speaking around that time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETRO POROSHENKO, OUTGOING UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT(through interpreter): Dear Ukrainians, next month I will leave the position of the head of state.
That is what a majority of Ukrainians have decided and I accept this decision. I will leave office but I would like to firmly stress that I am
not leaving politics. I am staying in politics. I will keep fighting for Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: So Poroshenko also tweeted last night that this result will be celebrated in the Kremlin because President Putin will be pretty happy to
be going up against a very inexperienced Ukrainian president. The new Ukrainian president will still have to deal with that ongoing five-year war
in the east of the country and it is a concern that is held here by some people that Zelensky isn't experienced enough and yet we have spoken to
people who hold that concern and decided to vote for him anyway, such as the desire for change here right now, Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes, new era certainly. Phil Black in Kiev. Thanks, Phil. So you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, we'll have the latest on our
top story. Those terrible terror attacks in Sri Lanka and now of course, the search for answers. Stay with us.
[11:31:26] CURNOW: You're watching CNN. This is Connect The World. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for joining us. Welcome back. Another
latest on those Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka. In just the last hour we've heard from a military spokesman told CNN six suicide
bombers carried out these coordinated attacks at churches and hotels.
The bombers killed nearly 300 people. We know that more than 500 people are still injured. A state of emergency goes into effect in Sri Lanka at
midnight, local time. That's about three hours from now. Earlier on Monday though, Sri Lankan minister apologized for the government's failure
to act on multiple warnings that an attack could take place.
So I want to go back to Colombo. Will Ripley is standing by. Will, just talk us through where you are and also this curfew that I think is now in
RIPLEY: Hi, Robyn. Yes, we've been asked to actually move away from the street because the streets are now on lockdown and only authorized vehicles
are allowed outside. And in fact, we're sitting inside the hotel, the kind of terrorist area. You see that yellow bus over there, that was full of
security officers who we just saw marching across the gates that are in front of this hotel here.
So they basically bolstered the security in this area and this is the area that was struck within a couple of hundred meters from where I'm standing
right now. You have the Shangri-La, you have the Kingsbury, you have the Cinnamon Grand. Those are the three hotels where three of the six suicide
bombers went in, detonated their devices and killed a lot of people, 290 people died, a lot of them died also at the churches that were targeted
here in Colombo.
But what you see now here as a result of these attacks is very heightened security. You have a uniformed officers all over this hotel. There are
dogs sniffing for explosives when you check in and you can feel the tension in the air here. There is a sense in this country of a return to the civil
war era of a decade ago. This fighting ended 10 years ago, the anniversary is next month.
This is a country that lived through 26 years of terror, suicide bombings, attacks that were a part of life here. But this is a country that has
tried to move on in the decade since it has become a tourism hotspot and you have high end hotels, five star hotels like this one that have opened
up. It's hard to see now because it's nighttime, but all along Galle Face road here is a beach front promenade that normally would be full of people
who are out having cocktails, walking around, enjoying what's supposed to be a kind of a South Asian island vacation like atmosphere and instead you
have the streets empty, people terrified, frankly, of what could happen next because while they say that there are six suicide bombers and they've
identified, what is unclear is the size and extent of this terror network, a previously unknown terror network that just now coming to terms with here
in Sri Lanka and trying to get a handle on how big it is, what else they may be planning.
CURNOW: OK, Will Ripley there on the ground in Colombo. It's 9:00 pm, thank you so much. So now to some of the survivors. One family overslept
and that may have saved their lives. Just a short time ago, I spoke to Akshat Sarat who is now back home in Bangalore. He was holidaying in
Colombo with his wife and infant daughter and they were staying at the Shangri-La Hotel when the blast hit. This is what he told me a little bit
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:34:54] AKSHAT SARAT, WITNESS: At the time of the exclusion, three of us, we were in a room which is in Shangri-La on 25th floor. We were just
getting ready to go downstairs for breakfast was when I heard the first loud explosive noise. At that point, I wasn't sure what the nature of the
sound was. I personally thought it was loud thunderstorm, probably the loudest thunderstorm I've ever heard of because the entire room started
A few seconds later was when we heard the second explosion and that's when I thought I should investigate as to where the sound is coming from. So I
looked outside my room and I was trying to see if there's any structural damage in the Shangri-La building but from the 25th floor I cannot see any
smoke or debris falling from the building.
So I was still confused at that point. This was probably just two or three seconds after the second explosion, but I did notice that there were a
group of individuals who started gathering towards the roadside and looking towards the Shangri La building and pointing at something. That's when I
realized that probably the sound the explosive noise did come from a building and I asked my wife to just pick up the passports and we
immediately left the room and took the emergency exit stairwell and just climb down 25 floors.
CURNOW: You climbed down 25 floors, you've heard the two blocks from high up there on the 25th floor. When you reach the ground floor, the lobby,
what did you see?
SARAT: So we did not go through the lobby, the emergency exit had a separate entry point or exit point. So as we were deescalating probably
around the third or fourth floor was when we started seeing blood stains on the stairs and that's when we realized that something is not right. Since
we had evacuated our room even before the official evacuate alarm was sounded off. There were not too many people who are coming down the stairs
So we were still confused at that point till the time we saw blood everywhere. And as soon as we exited the building was when we could see
that some of the ambulances were already present at the spot and a few of the injured were already being taken to the nearby hospitals. The hotel
staff although they were victims as much as we were, they were trying to help all the guests throughout the ordeal and I personally saw probably 10
or 15 injured guests being taken away in ambulances or the hotel bus itself.
It was quite horrific, because - not just the injured but when we were outside in the open area for about two hours I also interacted with a lot
of other guests and some of them had very painful stories where they were safe, but they had no knowledge of their family member as well. So yes it
was quite a tragic incident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Such a lucky escape there and I do want to bring you some new news in from Sri Lanka. State media is reporting that there was a controlled
explosion near the St. Anthony's Church. This was today, Monday. There was a controlled explosive and after an explosive device was found inside
of that also interestingly the security forces say they located this van near the church after interrogating suspects who were arrested in
connection with those bombings on Sunday.
And I think we have up to 25 people we know have been arrested in connection so far. So certainly still a moving investigation. I want to
bring in Roel Raymond. She's the Associate Editor of Roar LK media. She is live from Colombo. Great to have you with us.
ROEL RAYMOND, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, ROAR LK: You're there on the ground. You just heard this new information. In many ways this trauma, this attack is
still not over for many people because there is concern even based on this latest information that there are other bombs out there.
Yes, very much. So people are very worried about getting out on the streets. There is still a sense of panic even with simple things like
getting into the store, the grocery stores and getting groceries for the day. For the next few days, people are worried, scared, even though
there's an effective ban on what's happened and what's happening in Facebook, people have still access those sites on VPNs and a lot of the
content there indicates that people are terrified which I know is what a terror attack brings about.
But people are genuinely scared. Nobody wants to go to public places anymore. There is a fear that in the days - not just the days going
forward, but in time to come. Will we ever be able to walk into a hotel again and enjoy an Easter buffet or Christmas buffet or something of that
of that nature, so things are very tense in Colombo, definitely.
[11:39:59] CURNOW: Yes, and also for a nation trauma, additional trauma, for a nation that already is bearing the scars, the trauma of war, how are
people trying to digest this latest horror and how does that, perhaps, impact on a nation that is already so much after all those years of
RAYMOND: Yes. I mean what's sad is that we had really thought we were past all of that. It's been 10 years and next month we mark 10 years since
the end of the war. We were reluctant, I would say, at the early stages of the absence of violence to even accept that we were finally at this place
where bombs were not going off, that there was no heightened security in the country. But now 10 years down the line when we have actually accepted
the dividends of peace. Tourism was momentum there. They're aiming at 3 million tourists this year.
When everything was going, I'm not saying that there were no attentions on the ground, there have always been tensions between communities, but when
things were going so well and most definitely when people did not expect at all a return to any kind of violence, this sort of incident has thrown the
collective psyche of the people. I mean people are just very, very concerned and scared about what this means.
CURNOW: And I mean the big question is how is this missed. There appears to have been repeated warnings that something bad could happen, that there
was a vulnerability particularly with churches. Is there anger and any real questions being asked about why it was missed?
RAYMOND: There is a lot of anger, definitely. Again, like I said on social media and the people that I'm speaking to, people are very angry
now. Yesterday, the mood was very different. Yesterday, people were very cooperative. They felt that the government was blindsided by these attacks
just as they had been. They were OK with the ban on WhatsApp and Facebook. They were willing to - the cause were for not spreading unverified news and
to being vigilant and careful and not letting the situation get out of hand and people were very cooperative yesterday.
But today, I would say, the general vibe has changed. People are angry now. They feel that this information was out there. Yesterday, it was
just a suspicion that the government was aware of these incidents beforehand, but it was dismissed as fake news yesterday. But by evening it
was accepted or legitimized by the Prime Minister as being credible information that came to the government, but was not given to him.
So by today, people are very angry that this information was not used and that the government was so caught up in its own politics between the
leaders that they didn't think about the people enough to put the safety of the people foremost.
CURNOW: And let's not forget nearly 300 people killed, over 500 people wounded. Roel Raymond there in Colombo, thank you so much for giving us a
sense of the mood right now. I appreciate it.
So you're watching Connect The World. Coming up, tracking the spread of measles. We'll have much more on a global spike cases easily preventable
have been spiking. Wait first for that one.
[11:45:38] CURNOW: So in the U.S., the number of measles cases is on track to set a new record. New figures show there'd be more than 600 new cases
just this year alone and official say the nation could break its most annual recent record in just a few weeks. Measles are also soaring
worldwide. This map shows the worst affected countries based on WHO figures. Ukraine tops the list, as you can see here with more than 72,000
cases in the past year.
So Alex Field joins us now from New York with more on this. I mean measles was supposed to have been eradicated and we're seeing these huge spikes,
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, pretty amazing to consider because this was declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000. You have
seen outbreaks since then. The largest happened back in 2014. But now it looks according to health officials like we are on track to break that
record, the kind of record that you do not want to break, 626 cases just this year. In the next few weeks, they say, they expect a few dozen more
and that would mean a bigger outbreak even than 2014.
You've got these cases spreading domestically now. They're in 22 different states and what we're hearing, Robyn, from health officials is that 72
percent of the cases that have been reported are among people who have not been vaccinated. Also, this outbreak is disproportionately affecting young
people with the vast majority of these cases found in people under the age of 19.
Officials are saying that anti vaccine rhetoric certainly seems to appear to have made an impact here. Also, there are people who are not being
vaccinated for personal or religious beliefs as we know, Robyn.
CURNOW: OK, thanks for that update, Alexandra Field. I appreciate it.
So I do want to get you up to speed on some other stories that are making news right now. Japanese prosecutors are bringing a fourth set of charges
against former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn. He was charged with breach of trust on Monday for reportedly funding billions of company dollars into a
car dealership he controlled. He denies that. The charges mean he'll stay in jail unless a court agrees to bail.
And now to some pretty scary video out of China of what appears to be a Tesla exploding. Take a look at this. First you see smoke pouring out of
the car, then it explodes. The Model S sedan was parked at a lot in Shanghai. Tesla has actually sent a team out to look into exactly what
happened. Luckily, no one was hurt in the fire.
And Egyptians are voting for a third and final day on a proposed constitutional amendments, but the outcome isn't really in doubt. Voters
are expected to approve sweeping changes that would keep President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in power until 2030 and expand his control over the military
And coming up here on CNN, the world's growing plastic problem where much of that plastic you throw into the recycling bin doesn't actually end up
there. That's next.
[11:50:54] CURNOW: Well, London police have arrested more than a thousand people at an ongoing climate change rally. They began a week ago. All of
these rallies and the group behind them is called Extinction Rebellion says the campaign will continue for another week. The rallies have caused major
disruptions in London and other cities around the world have been seeing similar protests.
So keep in mind also it is Earth Day which is supposed to remind all of us how we can help save the planet. But it turns out one key measure, plastic
recycling doesn't always have the intended result as Ivan Watson now explains.
WATSON(voice-over): Did you ever wonder what happens after you put things in a recycling bin? Some of it could end up here at the Ecology Center
recycling plant in Berkeley, California. This nonprofit organization has been engaged in community recycling since 1973.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN BOURQUE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ECOLOGY CENTER: There's no magical land of recycling with rainbows and unicorns. It's much grittier than
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON(voice-over): While the center recycles metal and glass, it now sends much of its plastic to landfills in the U.S. That decision after the
center used a GPS tracker to discover that some of its plastic believed to be destined for recycling was actually being shipped all the way to
Malaysia. In fact, since 2018, Malaysia has seen a surge of imported plastic scrap that's because until recently China, one of the world's
biggest plastic importers banned most of the trade.
The Chinese ban led to a flood of this stuff descending on Malaysia. Last year residents in the rural town of Jenjarom began complaining about
respiratory illnesses due to acrid smoke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If feel something wrong with the air, but I didn't know where it come --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON(voice-over): Residents investigated and discovered scores of unlicensed factories like this processing and burning plastic scrap. Most
of it appears to be foreign.
This is Poland spring bottled water and it says here on the label that it is manufactured in Stamford, Connecticut. My home state in the U.S.
What's your message to me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please bring home - bring it home. This belong to you, not us.
WATSON: You want me to take it back home with me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. Yes.
WATSON: I used to think I was doing the right thing when I put a plastic bottle in the recycling bin. It's disappointing to say the least to learn
that some of that plastic might end up in places like this.
In an ideal world used plastic bags from U.S. retail giants like Wal-Mart would end up in Malaysian recycling plants like this. Machines like the
cyclone takes scrap plastic from around the world that helps clean and purify the stuff so that it can be sold for reuse. For some entrepreneurs
plastic scrap can be bought processed and resold as raw pellets for a considerable profit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: When you see that pile of plastic right there, does that look like trash to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no, no. Right now, definitely no. That's the gold to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON(voice-over): The problem is many fly by night operators set up shop without following regulations, prompting the Malaysian government to take
action. Recently, Malaysia's Environment Minister took us on raids of unlicensed recycling plants. Officers rounding up the operators and
laborers they claim were working illegally here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YEO BEE YIN, MALAYSIA'S ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: It's illegal. It's illegal and it's against the environment policy act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON(voice-over): The minister says she shut down at least 148 illegal plastic recycling factories in the last nine months. She's also suspended
imports of foreign plastic scrap.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YIN: I will take care of my own rubbish. You should take care of your own.
WATSON: You don't want American garbage anymore.
YIN: Well, I think Malaysia has no capacity to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:54:57] WATSON(voice-over): The Minister says it's not just about wealthy countries selling their garbage to poorer countries, society needs
to change patterns of consumption, she says, or else we'll one day drown in all this plastic. Ivan Watson, CNN Jenjarom, Malaysia.
CURNOW: So in our parting shot this hour, a tribute to the victims of the Sri Lanka, the Eiffel Tower went dark at the stroke of midnight last night
and sadly you probably feel like you've seen this before. The tower was darkened twice before in recent months to honor victims of the mosque
bombings in New Zealand and of the shooting in Strasbourg, France. This is just one of many ways communities are marking the attacks in Sri Lanka
So thank you so much for joining us. I'm Robyn Curnow. That was Connect The World. THE EXPRESS is up next with Richard Quest. You're watching