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Worshipers Attacked in U.S., Sri Lanka, N. Zealand; Ongoing Rainfall Flooding Mozambique; Wave of Violence Hitting Veracruz State; "Avengers" Smash Box Office Records with $1.2 Billion Debut; U.S. And Sri Lanka Mourn After Attacks On Worshipers; Lori Kaye Stepped Between Gunman And Rabbi; Sri Lanka Still On High Alert After Deadly Bombings; Victim's Family Talk to CNN After Easter Attacks; Socialist Party Wins Closely-Contested Election; Spain's Far-Right Vox Party Wins 24 Seats. Aired 1-2 ET

Aired April 29, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Emotions are raw in Southern California as a Jewish community heals from an attack on a synagogue. A big night for Spain's socialists as they win the country's general election, but the far-right interest Parliament for the first time in decades.

Also, saving the universe or not, the Avengers have vanquished the box office records. We're talking mashed box-office records and we'll talk about it. Hello everyone! Thanks for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Two communities thousands of miles apart are grieving after attacks on their places of worship. Jews in Southern California are in shock after a gunman targeted a synagogue in the city of Poway. The shooting came on Saturday, the last day of Passover. Sri Lanka is also coming to grips with the string of deadly bombings at churches and hotels. Those blasts coming a week ago Easter Sunday. Hundreds of people were killed and there are fears more attacks could still be in the works.

We want to first turn to California and while the synagogue shooting there was horrific, it could easily have been far worse. 60-year-old Lori Kaye seen here is being praised as a hero giving her life to save others.

A friend says Kaye was at the synagogue to pray for her late mother. When shots rang out she got between the rabbi and the gunman. Kaye's husband is a doctor who rushed to treat the wounded. Here's how the Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein describes what happened.

YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, RABBI: I walked two, three, footsteps when I hear a loud bang. I thought Lori may have fell or the table tipped over in the lobby right here. I turn around and I see a sight that I can't -- undescribable. Here is a young man standing with the rifle pointing right at me and I looked at him. He had sunglasses on. I couldn't see his eyes. I couldn't see his soul. I froze -- I -- my first concern was what's with Lori. Where did that noise come from? What's happened to Lori?

And as soon as I did that, I took a look and more shots came running right at me and I lifted up my hands. I lost my index finger on this hand. After four hours of surgery yesterday to try to save the index on the left hand, I turn around and I saw the children that were playing in the banquet hall. I ran to gathered them together. My granddaughter 4 1/2 years old sees her grandpa with the bleeding hand, and she sees me screaming and shouting get out, get out. She didn't deserve to see her grandfather like this.

And I walk into the lobby and I see Lori laying on the floor unconscious, and her dear husband Dr. Howard Kaye who's like a brother to me is trying to resuscitate her, and he faints and he's laying there on the floor next to his wife, and then the daughter Hannah comes up screaming, daddy and mommy, what's going on. It's the most heart-wrenching sight I could have seen.


ALLEN: One 19-year-old college student did all of that. Another survivor also spoke with CNN about shielding his grandchild in the attack. He's worked as a medic in Israel and says he tried to help victims.


SHIMON ABITBUL, POWAY ATTACK SURVIVOR: I ran, I took my grandson and I put him on the carpet and all my body on him. And when I count you shooting, I -- and some a break, I take my gun some and get outside in some door here in this place, and run away to the neighborhood.

I don't know -- understand now. One of them say -- I thought it's in (INAUDIBLE) you know, we are rhythmically lying there. Then they take like a gun and shoot.

I think it's there in (INAUDIBLE), but it's not (INAUDIBLE). My grandson doesn't know. And then he won't detect to get up and I'm not giving. My granddaughter she's outside and (INAUDIBLE) parents take her and his nephew, and run away. When he run, he heard one shoot and he left.

[01:05:36] A woman who's died, she's a doctor wife. We start to do some CPR. We saw the hole in her chest but it's very, very hard to see this doctor. He's many years doctor, (INAUDIBLE). And as I know and his wife and they cannot do anything. It's very, very difficult.


ALLEN: Yes, the doctor trying to save his wife's life but she died. We also have the story of the survivors in the attack. There were three. One of them an eight-year-old named Noya Dahan. She spoke in shocking detail about the attack with CNN Sara Sidner and her father also spoke with CNN about losing Lori Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NOYA DAHAN, POWAY ATTACK SURVIVOR: My uncle, he was holding my hand and he was like grabbing me and stuff. And the person who's shooting, he was aiming at him. So he hit him and the like -- it's like we're like that. It hit me too.



SIDNER: Little pieces.

DAHAN: Not like -- the knee one is pretty big but these are little pieces. So you know, his was like a pretty big piece, and then it went back.

SIDNER: So the piece of shrapnel went in your leg and then came out the other side. What were you thinking then? Did it hurt?

DAHAN: In the first place, when I was like catching my breath, I didn't even feel it. And then after like they wiped it and like the blood was off and it was like -- it felt like I had a giant bruise ever. It was just hurting bad.

ISRAEL DAHAN, FATHER OF NOYA DAHAN: Usually in a conversation, she was the one that talking, and she was the one that hugging, and she was the one that kissing, and just loving everybody, always happy. always talking. She was laughing always, saying some stories from the past week, what he's planning to do next week. And I know her husband personally and I know it's been -- it's going to be a hard time for them.

It's really hard for us that we lose this type of person in our community. I hope that community will stay strong and we'll pick up the pieces. We basically moved to Poway in the first place because we had some hate crime. Swastika is been sprayed in our garage.

SIDNER: Here in California?

I. DAHAN: Here in San Diego, in Mira Mesa area. And actually it was the same holiday, it was the same Passover about four years ago. It was -- I believe -- I don't remember really. I believe it was the first night of Passover and we decided to move from there and to go to a quiet neighborhood with bigger Jewish community, and I met Rabbi Goldstein, one of my friend meet me -- introduced Rabbi Goldstein to me. And I really fell in love with this person. I really, really fell in love with Rabbi Goldstein.


ALLEN: Some of the survivors there mentioned this man Almog Peretz who was also wounded. When the shooting began, he saw the gunmen aiming a rifle at children. This according to a congregation member. He was hit trying to help them escape. The gun jammed. If it hadn't, the children could have been shot. Peretz was visiting the U.S. from Israel joining his family at

Passover. He is being praised as a hero in his homeland. CNN's Oren Liebermann reports for us.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: The streets have still never felt quite safe enough for the family of Ahron Peretz. Too many times his family had to run to the bomb shelter as red alerts warned of incoming fire. In the city of Sderot right in the edge of Gaza here behind me living under the threat of rocket fire, of mortar fire is a constant. The family of Ahron Peretz left Sderot to try to get far away from that danger.

On Saturday morning during the Sabbath and the end of the holiday of Passover, police say 19-year-old John Earnest entered the Chabad Synagogue in Poway and opened fire. 34 year Almog Peretz was shot in the leg.

He was at the synagogue with his family when he heard the gunshots. He says the shooter aimed at him like a sniper and opened fire as Peretz rushed to get his niece and other children out an emergency exit. That niece nine-year-old Noya Dahan was injured by shrapnel from the shooting.

[01:10:28] SHIMON PERETZ, BROTHER OF ALMOG PERETZ (through translator): He's now not just a hero of the family which he's always been, he's a hero of the entire country of Israel. And I am very proud that I have brother like this, not just that he said his nieces but that he saved all of the kids that were there.

LIEBERMANN: In Sderot, Ahron Peretz was celebrating the end of Passover in Israel when news of the shooting shattered their party.

AHRON PERETZ, FATHER OF ALMOG PERETZ (through translator): We were very afraid my wife and I. We started to run to figure out how we could get hold of them, how to find out what happened to them.

LIEBERMANN: The family has watched the news non-stop trying to glean something, anything from San Diego. They're standing in the exact spot a Qassam rocket landed a few years ago destroying their kitchen.

AHRON PERETZ (through translator): We had Qassam rockets here. We were hit by two Qassam rockets in this house. The children always said let's leave, let's leave but my wife and I stayed here and they left for the United States. They left because of Qassam rockets and suddenly terror comes to them in San Diego which is unbelievable. I didn't believe something like this could happen.

LIEBERMANN: The family's top priority now is getting to San Diego as quickly as possible. The best thing they can do now, they say, is to be together. Oren Liebermann, CNN Sderot.


ALLEN: Well, back in California. The suspected gunman is in custody. He's been booked on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. He's been identified as a 19-year-old college student. Investigators believe he acted alone and was not part of an organized group. He may have also written an open letter on Web site 8chan.

It talks about the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that happened six months ago and the shootings at New Zealand mosques back in March. It also claims responsibility for a mosque fire in California last month. That mosque just nine miles right there from the synagogue.

OK, we turn now to Sri Lanka where the country's president is now banning burkas, some Muslim women wear in the wake of the deadly Easter bombings. He calls them a security risk and a flag of fundamentalism.

Meantime, the country is still on high alert as police believe more attacks could be planned in the coming days by the same perpetrators thought to be behind the bombings. More than 250 people were killed in those suicide attacks and at least 48 suspects have been arrested as part of a nationwide operation.

Police think a local extremist group called NTJ may be behind the bombings even though ISIS has claimed responsibility. Suicide bomber Zahran Hashim has been called one of the leaders in the attacks. His sister told CNN up to 18 of their family members are missing and feared dead since the Easter bombings. Our Sam Kiley has her chilling story.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Their plot foiled three terrorists rent. Bombs primed and on the brink of annihilation. They boast of taking their families with them. They made that video as the police and army were closing in on their position. And then they took the final option, self-immolation, suicide, and the murder of their children and wives.

Two brothers and the father of Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind of Sri Lanka's Easter massacres killed themselves, their three wives and six children with three bombs. The Hashim brothers were identified by the police and their sister who spoke to CNN. We have hidden her identity for her own security.

MOHAMED HASHIM MATHANIYA, SISTER OF ZAHRAN HASHIM (through translator): I have a suspicion that the six children who died from her family.

KILEY: Hashim's daughter and wife somehow survived and are stable in hospital. While they recovered, families of people his gang murdered in nearby Batticaloa were unable to attend services on Sunday. There are government warnings of more attacks.

Like this where last week a Hashim follower is filmed on CCTV idling outside the Zion Church waiting for the end of Sunday school, then he heads down the alley set off his bomb. The blast is felt by worshippers, and then they are struck with incredulous terror. He killed 26 people, 14 of them children. The (INAUDIBLE) family lost

Sharon 12, and Sarah ten. He loved art. She was sporty and mischievous. Silesia the little sister is now an only child. How do you feel towards the people who did this to you?

[01:15:15] VAIRAPERUMAL SANTHAKUMAR, FATHER OF VICTIMS (through translator): Because we are Christians, we are not supposed to retaliate. We did not expect this to happen, but still, we cannot do anything to them.

KILEY: Do you agree?

KAOWSALYA SANTHAKUMAR: Yes, the Lord has taught us about love. We cannot do anything, but they will reap what they sow.

KILEY: Terror has now been sewn here, but Sri Lankans are determined that it won't produce a harvest of poison.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.


ALLEN: Leaving families, communities and whole countries in grief, hate crimes have been alarmingly on the rise. Next, we take a look at some disturbing trends with an expert.

Also, the election is over, the votes are in. but with Spain's political divide, deeper than ever, looks like a lot of work to form a functioning coalition to govern the country, more about that coming up, next.



[01:20:00] ALLEN: Spain's Socialist Party is celebrating its election victory. It won the most parliamentary seats in Sunday's hotly contested general election, but they'll short of an outright majority.

So now, it's on to the hard task of forming a governing coalition, something Spain has never had to do before. Incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, seen there, says he's motivated to collaborate with other parties.


PEDRO SANCHEZ, PRIME MINISTER OF SPAIN (through translator): The only condition we are going to put, is respecting the constitution and promoting social justice towards co-existence and political transparency. Because they are also watching us and listening to us outside Spain, particularly in Europe, and we will form a pro-European government to strengthen and (INAUDIBLE)


ALLEN: The Socialist Party's victory was followed by the Conservative People's Party, the center-right's Citizen's Party, and the far-right Box, which won 24 seats. It was a smaller win for Box than expected, but, the first time, a far right party has won parliament seats in decades.

Let's break it down now with CNN European Affairs Commentator, Dominic Thomas, joining me from Los Angeles. Dominic, always appreciate you. We talked with you the other day, now we have an outcome, so let's look at this. The center-left Spanish Socialist Worker's Party, won Sunday's general election in Spain, but came out short of an overall majority. Let's talk about that aspect in a minute.

But first, what does this win, their win, signify, for Spain?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that, first of all, looking at the turnout, this historic heist, certainly in the last 20 years, this is the largest number, percentage-wise, that people have participated in the election.

And I think that after so many years of multiple elections of so much distraction around the Catalan question, the question of austerity and the downturn in the economy, but I think it is possible to look into this, as Spain, making some kind of positive turn here, that the voters had the opportunity to turn down Pedro Sanchez's Socialist government here.

He's only been there for about one year, and instead of that, he was able to turn his number of seats in the Congress, and increase them by 50 percent, while at the same time, watching the P.P., the People's Party that he displaced in the vote of no-confidence, lose approximately 50 percent of their votes.

So, I think that that is quite symbolic and although he, as you said, has fallen short of an absolute majority, and is a very strong message from the electorate that they have a leader, in Pedro Sanchez, here.

ALLEN: And we talked about the other parties and how they fared in this election, but I want to talk to you about Vox. We know the far- right party Vox, surged from zero seats, in the current parliament, to 24, what does that represent?

THOMAS: Well, I think what's really interesting is that in the last few years, the entire narrative leading up to individual and European elections, and has been about the role of the far-right. They've shaped the conversation around immigration and Islam, and national identity, whether it's, you know, politically first, but Spain first, and they did well.

One cannot underestimate the significance of gaining about 10 percent of the votes and entering into the Spanish parliament, for the first time. We certainly saw this happen in the general elections, with the alternative for Germany.

But having said that, what's also really interesting about this election is that the trend in Europe has been to move to the right.

And here, we have one of the very few potential Socialist prime ministers, in the guise of Pedro Sanchez, being returned to power, and not only that, but really, the central issue that Vox was fighting for was around the question of Spanish unity, particularly because of the destruction around the Catalan question.

And what we did see here is that the parties that scored the highest votes, in other words, the top five, are all unambiguously committed to a united Spain. And so, even though Vox has made inroads in this particular case, I think that this, sort of, virtual collapse of the P.P. Party and, you know, gun-led some votes to go in that direction.

But then, all in all, they did not do as well as one thought, and it is likely that they could very well disappear because, ultimately, the question of the Catalan issue might very well have been rendered mute by the voting in this election.

ALLEN: Right. The prime minister pointed out that this was a step away from authoritarianism, this outcome. But, his Socialist Worker's Party, even though it won, came out short of an overall majority. So now, they must create a coalition to govern. Where will they turn?

THOMAS: Well, it's interesting, sort of, numerically, and where they could just go to the Citizen's Party, who, of course, have said that they are not interested in being in government with the Socialist.

[01:25:08] They have said this previously, and joined up with other parties. You would have the magic number of above 176. The most likely outcome here, and they have enough voted to do this, is to work with the United (INAUDIBLE) Together We Can or the United We Can Party.

They would be short of a majority. But it looks like the arithmetic is there by working with some of the Basque parties that they could arrive at a majority. And not only at a majority, but a majority that would not involve them going into coalitions with some of the Independentist or Separatist parties.

So, that in and of itself, is quite a strong indication. There is a path to this, and we went into this a few days ago, there was concern that the numbers would not be there and that we might end up with another snap election.

It looks like there's a strong possibility that they would -- that there is a path here towards creating a government, and therefore to being able to legislate, and to do so in a relatively quick manner, which has not always been the case after European elections in recent years.

ALLEN: Right. And all the elections they've had in the past few years to try to stabilize the political process there, in Spain. All right, we always appreciate you helping us break it down. Dominic Thomas. Thanks, Dominic.

THOMAS: Terrific. Thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: And we'll have more news right after this.


ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Natalie Allen, here are our top stories. Spain's Socialist Party led by the incumbent prime minister, is celebrating its election victory, but the party did not win enough seats for an outright parliamentary majority, so it will have to form a governing.


[01:29:53] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Natalie Allen.

Here are our top stories.

Spain's socialist party led by the incumbent Prime Minister is celebrating his election victory but the party did not win enough seats for an outright parliamentary majority. So it will have to form its governing coalition. Meanwhile the far right party Vox won 24 seats.

More than 270 election workers have died apparently from illnesses related to overwork following the April 17th vote in Indonesia. According to CNN Indonesia, the elections chief admits the tight timeline to deliver results and holding presidential and legislative elections at the same time were partly to blame.

The city of Poway, California is mourning after Saturday's attack on a synagogue. Survivors are speaking out about the shooting which killed one person. The rabbi, wounded in the attack, says the gunman was wearing sunglasses. He says he looked at the shooter but could not see his eyes. He said, "I couldn't see his soul."

It has been just over a week since the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka and the remains on high alert where government warnings that more attacks could be imminent. Also, Sri Lanka's president is now banning burqas, calling them a security risk and a flag of fundamentalism.

Let's talk now with Brian Levin. He's the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. It's always good to have you with us, Brian. And I'm always sorry that we are talking about these egregious outrageous acts.

I want to start here. We know about the New Zealand suspect, that attack, the Pennsylvania gunman who attacked the synagogue and now this college student in California. You know, they all have one thing in common. They weren't known to law enforcement. They didn't have a criminal record. And then they make a decision to attack worshippers. What is going on?

BRIAN LEVIN, CENTER FOR STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM, USC: Thank you -- Natalie. And our hearts and prayers go out to the victim, their family and the Chabad congregation in Poway. Thank you so much for having me. I think there are a variety of developments that are going on. First of all, there has been a fragmentation with regard to social media. So whereas we have like a lot of people at the top of the funnel much of the extremism, though not all of it, has actually migrated to more splintered and fragmented, what we call, affinity base platforms. And they can include ones that allow offensive speech like Gab, Telegram, VK the Russian Facebook.

So we have this fragmented communication age that we are in, but we are also in a very polarized and splintered sociopolitical landscape as well. And when that happens particularly during a time when we've seen over decades in erosion and trust of institutions, you name it -- the news media, academia, organized religion -- these phishers (ph) that come up during times of change often allow a spectrum of extremism.

But what all guides them is this conspiratorial folklore. And the first stop on that train it anti-Semitism.

ALLEN: Yes, and it is fueled by social media, our digital world, for the hate that turns into these heinous acts, isn't it? And do social media forums bear some responsibility here?

LEVIN: Yes. But you know, I think part of it, too, is that there has been such a change. Not only -- this is really interesting, we have a report coming out really soon. We not only saw a spike in hate crime, but we saw a spike in some of the more bigoted terms, particularly those arising around white genocide and anti-Semitic terms. And they almost dovetailed around certain events, like Charlottesville or the November 2016 election, which was the worst month for hate crimes in 14 years.

Charlottesville was tied for the second worst month FBI-reported hate crimes for the better part of a decade. So clearly there is something going on.

Moreover, the polarization that we have and this nationalism as a response to demographic and other change has really become a coalesced sociopolitical force. And what happens is, when we see one type of extremism go up and certainly this is a very broad and transnational one. We will see others as well.

So what is the takeaway? We are seeing all kinds of extremism, but white nationalism is the most ascendant. We had an increase in homicides last year here in the United States from 13 to 17 by white nationalists and the far right.

[01:35:05] ALLEN: Yes.

LEVIN: But we are seeing also the splintering of social cohesion, and unfortunately anti-religion hate crimes are bearing the brunt of some of this.

Since 1992, we only had four years where 20 percent of all religion hate crimes are bearing the brunt of some of religion hate crimes are bearing the brunt of some of this. Since 1992, we only had four years where 20 percent of all hate crimes were religion based. Three of them were the last three.

And our latest study, just coming out now, ten United States cities -- 2018, the latest data, anti-Semitic hate crimes had the second highest rate of increase, 9.3 percent, of any of the groups that we tracked in 2018 --

ALLEN: Right.

LEVIN: -- and in 30 of the major cities, we are seeing a fifth consecutive rise in hate crime overall.

ALLEN: Right. So many people want to see the U.S. President, yes he condemned this attack, but want to see him do more to quell the hate and the violence that we are seeing in this country, certainly. He has used some rhetoric that might have charged up some of these neo- Nazis that we are seeing come forward in this country.

We'll have to leave it there. We appreciate your expertise in this area -- Brian Levin. Thank you -- Brian.

LEVIN: Thank you -- Natalie. As always.

ALLEN: Mozambique is still reeling from the strongest cyclone to ever make landfall there. Streets are flooded, thousands of homes destroyed. The question, how much longer will it continue?

Pedram Javaheri will be joining us coming up.


ALLEN: It has been four days since Cyclone Kenneth struck Mozambique. And now at least nine people have been confirmed dead and four on the Comoros Island off the coast.

[01:39:55] The entire area is still struggling. The Save the Children Fund is saying ongoing rain is causing flash floods, leaving thousands without access to any aid.

For more, here's CNN Tom Sater.


TOM SATER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bailing out and biding time until the rain stops. The aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth is still pouring misery across Mozambique.

Rushing waters flood the streets of the northern town of Pemba, making the task of daily life difficult.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today morning starts the raining coming too much.

SATER: The U.N. says 200,000 people live here now in saturated conditions as some people try to salvage what's left of their belongings, while others just wait for the weather to clear.

Cyclone Kenneth slammed ashore last Thursday, leaving behind bands of rain, several millimeters of which have fallen on already water logged ground.

The aftermath of the deadly and devastating Cyclone Idai which hit southern Africa just six weeks ago. Rescuers and aid agencies say they are having trouble getting to the areas hit by the latest storm because of the submerged roads. Though the U.N. released these aerial views of what could be beyond those flooded barriers, showing entire neighborhoods wiped out with no shelter in sight.

In another hard-hit village, a shopkeeper picks through what's left of his home and his business, saying he has lost everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My life is bad. I want help. Please, people.

SATER: A plea echoed thousands of times over as parts of Mozambique pray for drier times and the arrival of desperately needed help.

Tom Sater, CNN.


ALLEN: Two cyclones and so many people hurting. Pedram Javaheri joining us now with more about it. Hi Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Natalie -- you know, of course, it was six weeks ago we had a tropical Cyclone Idai comes ashore, very slow-moving system. At that time, it was the strongest storm we have seen in a decade.

And then you work your way to the north where Kenneth made landfall some four days ago. The strongest storm ever observed in fact this portion of Africa.

And then of course the damage left behind in Pemba. Believe it or not, the landfall location well north of Pemba. This is the most populated location as far as having about 200,000 residents across this region, but the damage widespread around this region. And the rainfall, that's going to be the big story moving forward.

You notice the amount of rainfall we have across this region -- 300 to 400 millimeters has come down across portions of town. Of course, we know nearly three quarters of a million people impacted by this storm, over 150,000 people displaced, and over 30,000 properties destroyed or damaged with this particular storm. So certainly a major system once again.

But notice on satellite imagery, still plenty of wet weather to be had across the area. And once you factor in instability, the afternoon heating we see across this region every single afternoon, thunderstorms are into the forecast across northern Mozambique unfortunately with what is left of what was once Kenneth across the area.

Now, how much rainfall are we talking? Incredibly it is similar to what has already come down. Some of the models here put down 300 to 400 millimeters potentially, isolated spots as much as 500 millimeters. And this area is in the tail end of its wet season, about 600 millimeters falls in the first couple of months of the year. And then the quiet season approaches which would begin in the next few weeks.

But over the next couple of days we could pick up another half a meter of rainfall on top of what has already come down, just because of how slow what is left of Kenneth is across this region to move.

And notice this -- 90 percent, 90 percent, and 100 percent probability of thunderstorms each and every single day the next couple of days. So this is a concerning forecast in an area that does not need any more rainfall.

And Natalie -- we know about 10 percent of Mozambique's GDP was what was lost there; with the previous storm, about a billion dollars estimated in the losses. So certainly another major impact across this region.

ALLEN: Certainly they are going to need a lot of help. Pedram -- thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

ALLEN: Now to Mexico, where a deadly crisis is plaguing the coastal state of Veracruz. Hundreds of people are being killed there in a new wave of violence. The latest victim -- the 25 year old mayor of a small town? Here is more from CNN's Rafael Romo.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A candlelight vigil for a woman whose untimely death has left an entire town in mourning. Maricela Vallejo Orea was shot to death as she was traveling on a highway near a Mixtla de Altamirano, a small town in the Mexican state of Veracruz where the 25-year old was the mayor. Her husband and their driver were also killed.

Cries for justice can be heard around the state of Veracruz. The mayor's death happened only days after an armed attack at a party that left 13 dead, including a one-year-old baby. A brother-in-law of one of the victims says he had been threatened months before the shooting.

[01:44:55] Veracruz, located on the Gulf of Mexico, continues to be plagued by a wave of violence. According to government figures, there were nearly 700 homicides in the state between January and March.

The state's governor is asking for support from Mexico's newly-created national guard. The federal government has responded by sending soldiers and increasing security in state highways.

Reacting to the violence, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said filing crime is the result of failed economic policies, as well as corruption of past governments which robbed the Mexican people.

He took office in December, promising among other things, a reduction in crime. But in the first three months of this year, nearly 8,500 people were murdered in Mexico, an increase of just over 10 percent compared to the same period last year.

Veracruz has been for years the epicenter of a turf war between criminal gangs -- a bloody conflict that seems to have no end.

Rafael Romo, CNN.


ALLEN: Next here on CNN, a marvelous debut for "The Avengers: Endgame sets box office records all over the world. Ahead, the secret to the superhero epic's success.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no fears, no regrets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Part of the journey is the end.


ALLEN: No regrets for this film. A historic weekend at the box office for the latest Marvel movie, "Avengers: Endgame" snapped sales records, bringing in more than -- look at that number right there -- more than $1 billion dollars worldwide. It is the only film in history to ever cross that mark in its opening weekend.

The film's box office dominance was propelled by China, where it made a record $330 million. "Endgame", the 22nd installment and Marvel's cinematic universe.

Let's talk about this -- what do we call it, I don't even know what to call it -- with Rebecca Davis. She's "Variety" magazine's China bureau chief. And she joins me live from Beijing.

I mean we need a new name for "Endgame", don't we? A blockbuster doesn't begin to describe it. Record breaker plus -- it beat its own box office prediction, Rebecca. And it all started there in China, I guess.

REBECCA DAVIS, CHINA BUREAU CHIEF, "VARIETY": Yes. China is a huge contributor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe box office but especially this film. It's broken the $300 million mark and it's set -- it's projected to break $500 million, which would make it the fourth highest grossing film in China of all time, right behind three domestic movies that are a bit more nationalistic in tone. But this is going to be the biggest Hollywood film, the biggest foreign film that the country has ever seen. ALLEN: People love it. Critics love it. The writing is superb. The

acting, the stories. What stands out for you, or is it all of the above that just makes it such a winner?

DAVIS: Well, I think it's very interesting here in China to see that Chinese audiences are so involved in the Marvel Universe. This is one the earliest franchises to enter the country back in 2008 with "Iron Man". And there's been 22 films since. So there's really been a time for the fan base here to grow really organically.

I mean back in 2008, there weren't that many Hollywood films that were in China. And the country only had less than 5,000 screens. And now they have over 60,000 and they're quickly becoming the largest box office in the world.

And so you really see with Marvel, China's movie industry growing as well. And you see that in their response with people, you know, getting up, dressing up, getting excited. For them, this is the end of their childhood and sort of a capsule into this era just as much as it is for American audiences.

ALLEN: Yes. There's comic book cinema and, then there is this comic book sentiment which, has been called the masterpiece of comic book films. What does this mean for Disney? And where does the Marvel brand go now?

DAVIS: Well, I think Marvel has done really, really good well marketing in China specifically. So it's been quite interesting to see how they've tried to localize the franchise by working with local brands, working with local stars.

There was a bit of a misstep last year at their -- at the -- last year when "Avengers: Infinity War" came out at Shanghai Disney at the premier. They used some local stars and people were so excited about the local star that they almost took precedence over the Avengers stars. But other than that, they've done really a marvelous job at getting into the hearts and minds of people here.

And you know, people here, they grew up a, lot of the fans are sort of millennials who sort of came of age during China's reform and opening period when consumerism, you know, consumptive behavior was really beginning to occur. People finally had pocket money to spend, and theaters were growing and so it's really sort of followed China's own development as well.

ALLEN: Yes. You know, we talk about the "Star Wars" franchise, you know, that has always had so much success with people worldwide. It looks like this franchise could be taking that on the way it is going.

DAVIS: Yes. I mean "Star Wars" is actually much less popular in China. I think in part because the earliest films did not come out here the way that, you know, "Iron Man" hit Chinese theaters the same as it did in the U.S.

But "Star Wars" was not something that people really had access to. So when the later films did enter China, people are sort of like, "Star Wars" what? Like what is it? It didn't resonate in quite the same way.

Whereas people here grew up reading the comic books, they grew up sort of idolizing these heroes as well and so it has much more resonance here, you see, than the "Star Wars" films which haven't done quite as well.


ALLEN: Right.

DAVIS: Another franchise that has done well is the "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, which I guess you can see that in China, if you have something that is consistently putting out big hits, and has had a chance to organically grow here, it does quite well.

[01:54:57] ALLEN: And what about the cast? I was just rolling through the cast members, this ensemble that has just gone on and on and on. They've had this relationship for years, and they've kind of had this camaraderie in person, and you see it on the screen as well.

DAVIS: Yes. And I think that really resonates here where, you know, especially Chinese authorities are trying to push this idea of (INAUDIBLE) which is positive energy. So they see cinema as a way to sort of push that kind of feeling.

And I think these films are very family-friendly so they're much more popular than say "Game of Thrones" which is a little bit more gearing towards the middle class, a little bit more adults-oriented which is censored in China. These films are able to come on as they are and people flock to them.

ALLEN: A win, a win, a win -- and more than a billion bucks. That's just mind-boggling, isn't it?

We really appreciate it. Rebecca Davis -- thanks so much for talking with us.

DAVIS: Of course. My pleasure.

ALLEN: And thank you for joining, us everyone. Enjoy the movie. Don't be left behind.

I'm Natalie Allen.

The news continues next with the Rosemary. You're watching CNN.