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President Trump Signaled to Retaliate Iran Then Pulled Back; Protesters in Hong Kong Not Giving Up Their Fight; Georgians Furious About a Russian Visitor; Moment of Truth Between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt; New York Times, Trump Approves Iran Strike, Then Pulls Back; Protest In Hong Kong Over Extradition Bill Continue; Ebola Outbreak In Dominican Republic Of Congo; India's Water Crisis; Close Encounters With -- What; Royal Breakup. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired June 21, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A new report says the U.S. president approved and then called off an attack on Iran. We're live on Tehran for reaction.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: For the third time in less than a week, thousands of people take to the streets in Hong Kong protesting the controversial extradition bill with China.
ALLEN: Also, this hour, a handshake that took 14 years to happen in North Korea. President Xi Jinping of China heads home after his historic visit to Pyongyang.
HOWELL: Welcome to our viewers around the world. We're live in Atlanta. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen from CNN world headquarters. Newsroom starts right now.
And we begin with a startling report from the New York Times that U.S. President Trump approved military strike against Iran but abruptly pulled back Thursday night. They were meant as retaliation after Iran shot down an American drone over the Strait of Hormuz.
HOWELL: That right. That report says the operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off. This according to a senior administration official who spoke with the Times. "Planes were in the air and ships were in position but no missiles had been fired when the word came down -- came to stand down," the official said.
ALLEN: The Times reports it is not clear whether President Trump change his mind or the strikes were called off for logistical reasons. It is also unclear if the operation might still go forward.
HOWELL: In the meantime, the military its released coordinates which it says proved the surveillance aircraft was over international waters at that time. But Iran says that the drone violated its airspace. Let's go live to the region, CNN covering every angle of the story with our correspondents around the world. Fred Pleitgen live in Tehran and Sam Kiley in the United Arab Emirates. Let's start in Tehran with you, Fred -- in Iran -- in Iran.
So, to get a sense, Fred, is there any reaction given what we're hearing from the New York Times about the U.S. president of course, giving the go ahead for the strike but then it being pulled back?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, George. At least so far at least officially there hasn't been any reaction to that New York Times report. Obviously, it only came out a couple of hours ago. Plus, today it's Friday when most officials have their day off.
So, news is going to be a little bit slower and reactions are going to be a little bit slower as well. But you could feel yesterday already, George, that the Iranians were ramping up their public efforts and their diplomatic efforts as well to really tell their side of what they believe happened there in the Persian Gulf as that drone was being shot down.
It was interesting to see that the Iranians shortly after the U.S. released its sort of grainy black and white video showing that drone falling or allegedly showing that drone falling from the sky with the smoke trail behind it themselves release video which showed the missiles allegedly being fired at that drone and then hitting it shortly after they had been fired.
And you know one of the things President Trump indicated last night when he was at his -- when he has the press in the Oval Office. He was saying, look, it might have been some sort of mistake that this drone was shot down, some rogue commander might have done it.
The Iranians are saying that's not the case, they say they shot the shot drone down deliberately because they continued to say that it was over their airspace. It's something that Javad Zarif, the foreign minister even tweeted. Yet a pretty detailed tweet where he outlined what he said was essentially the entire flight of that drone.
He said it took off shortly after midnight, he said it was flying in stealth mode which is something that other Iranian officials have said as well. Which seems to indicate they say that it had turned off its transponders so was not to be easily identified, he said that it violated Iranian airspace after several hours of flight. It was shot down at 4.05 a.m.
Now the Iranian foreign minister like the U.S. gave coordinates about where this drone was shot down and that's really where the big difference comes between the U.S. and Iran. The Iranians are saying that the coordinates are about -- we looked it up, it's about nine miles from the shores of Iran which obviously would have put it in Iranian territorial waters and the territorial airspace.
Of course, we know that the U.S. coordinates put it outside of that, I think about 20 miles off the coast. But that was really Iranian side of the story. So, they're not saying that this was some errant commander or some commander acting in a rogue way. They are saying this was deliberately done because the drone violated their airspace.
Of course, we've heard already yesterday a lot of the pretty strong reaction is coming, for instance, from the Revolutionary Guard. Which is the unit that shot that drone down saying that this is the way that Iran deals with its enemies, saying that airspace is a red line.
And then last night, George, you had the Iranians officially writing a letter to the United Nations condemning this incident and complaining about this incident, also saying by the way that they had allegedly tried to contact this drone several times and warn it off its territorial airspace, George.
[03:05:07] HOWELL: The U.S. president opening the door saying it could have been a mistake. Iran insisting no, we did it, we did for a reason. Fred Pleitgen with the reporting. Fred, thank you.
ALLEN: Well, let's cross over to the United Arab Emirates now and CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley who is near the area where that drone did come down. Sam, are you hearing any reaction to this strike news that almost happened by the United States?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the only reaction we've had since this incident or rather particularly since the New York Times reporting on this has been from the Saudis reiterating their support for action, any action taken by the United States.
Really, the Saudis are in lockstep with the hard-liners really within the Trump administration, not yet siding entirely with John Bolton who wants regime change but very much in the camp that believes that very tough line indeed should be taken with Iran.
But that's very different to the response or the attitude struck here in the Emirates which has been consistently ever since those four ships were attacked in the Emirati waters allegedly by Iran according to the United States and the United Kingdom, and indeed since the attack on two other ships in the Gulf of Oman behind me last week.
The Emiratis have interestingly insisted that whist they believe a state actor was behind it resisted the temptation to point the finger at Iran because of the dangers of escalation.
And in that context, the New York Times reporting that the mission of retaliation against Iran over the downing of a drone, an unmanned drone will be created in the Emirate with considerable relief since an escalation would have direct impact here not only on the potentially on the lives of individuals but of course on the economy of an oil exporting nation having to use into some degree the Strait of Hormuz to export the oil.
So, there is a palpable sense of relief here in the Emirates but still a degree of pressure coming from the wider U.S. allies to continue to maintain pressure against Iran. I should also stress that on the street in the Middle East the downing
of a drone is one thing. But retaliation that could've killed people inside Iran would have been seen as a very significant possibly even entirely unjustified retaliation for the shooting down of effectively as a flying robot, Natalie.
ALLEN: Absolutely. Very, very tense times here in the region. Thank you, Sam Kiley and to our Fred Pleitgen there inside Iran for us.
HOWELL: And again, we do want to emphasize it's not clear, you know, if these military strikes against Iran might still go forward, it's also unclear why President Trump called the mission off, whether he changed his mind or if it was for logistical reasons.
ALLEN: CNN's military analyst retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton provide some insight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The reason I think that the president may have done this was basically he wanted to do this as a show of force. So that's on the positive side of things, you know, he wanted to show the Iranians what we could do without actually doing it, so that's one possibility.
The other possibility is that he could have in essence gotten cold feet and decided that he didn't want to go that far because he became concerned after thinking about it, what Iran might do in response to this action.
So, you know, the risk of ever-increasing escalation is extremely high in a situation like this and it's certainly a possibility that he may have decided that this was not worth doing it at this particular point in time.
If I were in the Iranian shoes I would see it as a show of force, because it may -- even if it is a set of cold feet it could still be something that tells me that the Americans are coming in or doing these things that they have the capability of doing certain things. Their targets may have been command and control notes, radar sites and things like that.
And so, I would certainly be very cautious at this point about we're sending Tehran. Now Iran is, you know, definitely has its vulnerabilities, has its weakness. But the Iranians are also very experienced fighters and they've been doing this for quite some time. They fought in Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. They fought all kinds of paramilitary actions through their proxies as well as through the Revolutionary Guards.
So, they're a very experienced fighters and they've also had a lot of time to develop tactics and techniques that they would not have otherwise developed had they had more, peaceful or amicable relations with the United States.
[03:10:04] So, the Iranians are not only a difficult foe but a very dangerous foe and that is something that people in the White House and throughout the corridors of power here in Washington will really have to take a look at.
It's an opportunity for a reset if both Iran and the United States choose it to be that. It could, you know, in effect be a pause but the element of surprise is gone for the United States that we said at the moment. And that's a -- you know, it presents its own problems as well.
So, when you look at exactly what the state of play is here it's definitely fluid. It could go in many different directions, but it's definitely very dangerous situation right now in the Persian Gulf and it's something that I think we're going to have to watch very carefully, you know, probably not just a few days but for the next few weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: All right. And also, this from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. That agency put out restrictions on U.S. airlines flying over the Gulf region.
ALLEN: They put out a notice saying this. "All flight operations in the over water area of the Tehran flight information region above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman only are prohibited until further notice due to heightened military activities and increase political tensions in the region which present an inadvertent risk to U.S. aviation operation and potential for miscalculation or misidentification."
So, stay with CNN, we'll continue to follow this breaking story.
HOWELL: And of course, we will update you as we learn anything new. Right now, thousands of protestors are in Hong Kong, they are out in the streets.
ALLEN: Once again, they don't seem to be going anywhere and they want the government to completely scrap a bill that would make anyone in Hong Kong subject to extradition to mainland China.
Police have strongly condemned the protestors for blocking the main highway near government headquarters.
HOWELL: And in the middle of it all our Anna Coren live in Hong Kong this hour. Anna, just about an hour ago, there is a lot of activity happening around you, what's happening at this point?
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, I've just going to show you from our vantage point these protestors are covering the CCTV cameras here and just applauded the guy who's covered them with plastic. They were taping ones further up.
Look, the police I must say are being very, very patient. We are yet to see them come out in force. We saw the police officers beforehand with helmets, with batons and shields within the police headquarters. And I should add, this is police H.Q. here in Hong Kong and it is currently surrounded every entrance exit is currently blocked by protestors.
And as you can see, they are continuing to cover each of those CCTV cameras. How long please tolerate this? This is anyone's guess. But I am sure that it is only a matter of time before there is some sort of reaction. As you can see there, they are putting the umbrella up there to stop it from viewing all these protestors.
Look, these people have turned out in the thousands. And I just want to take you now down to the main protest. They've turned out in the thousands and it is one of those things that it started off with just a few hundred people, thousands have now gathered.
They've walked from LegCo, the legislative council to where we are at the police headquarters and they have gathered here at the front. And it is a scene which is currently peaceful, but protestors are certainly prepared for the worst. They have come with their gas masks, they have their helmets, they've got cling wrap in case there is tear gas.
So, this is a situation that could get ugly very, very quickly, and certainly if police decide to retaliate and they will need to clear out these public areas, I mean, that road that I showed you just beforehand, (Inaudible) Road. that is a major artillery road here in Hong Kong and that has been blocked.
Steel barricades, plastic barricades were put onto the road by the protestors earlier this morning and they have stayed in place. Police are being very patient, obviously they have condemned these actions. They say they are highly irresponsible; they could cause serious problems if emergency services require.
They've asked for the protestors to remain peaceful. But we have to remember, these are very busy areas. This is an international city. This is a major financial hub that needs to function.
The protestors they are saying, they are not going anywhere, they are not going anywhere until their demands are met. Those demands being the complete withdrawal of that very controversial extradition bill that would allow for extradition to mainland China.
[03:15:05] The resignation of the city's chief executive Carrie Lam as well as those people who have been arrested to be released. They also want the police officer who were involved in last week's ugly clashes with police who used excessive force, they want those people charged. And they also want the government and police to revoke the claim that it was a riot.
So, these protestors are saying they are not going anywhere until their demands are met. But George and Natalie, we should stress that the 1st of July, that is a major date in the calendar, not just for Hong Kong but obviously for these protestors.
The two million people that we saw last Sunday they could very well turn out again on the 1st of July. That is of course the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China, it's one of (Inaudible) special administrative region and Hong Kong has enjoyed the freedoms under these arrangement for the last 22 years.
Where the people here they say that they are fighting for their freedom, they want to continue enjoying these freedoms, they say they are fighting for their future.
HOWELL: Anna Coren, live. Anna, thank you.
ALLEN: We will of course stay in close contact with Anna in that situation. We turn now though to Georgia where the capital city of Tbilisi is on edge after a night of violent protests there.
HOWELL: Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd and several people were injured there. Our John Vause has this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thousands gathered outside the Georgian parliament Thursday, protesting a controversial visit from a Russian lawmaker to the Georgia's capital of Tbilisi. The protest quickly turned chaotic, Georgians furious their parliament invited Sergey Gavrilov, a member of Russian communist party to their country. Some carrying signs saying, "stop Russia."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is the expression of -- the peaceful expression of the protest to show to them that we will not tolerate Russia (Inaudible) to Georgia and we will not tolerate the rationalization of Georgia, which is happening unfortunately under this government for the last seven years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Gavrilov told Russian state news he believed he was met with protest because of his alleged participation in the separatist conflict in Abkhazia in the early 1990s. Gavrilov denies ever being involved in any armed conflicts. Tensions flared between Russia and Georgia in August of 2008, when a Russian-backed separatist movement in the province of South Ossetia when Georgian troops tried to regain control over the self-proclaimed autonomous region.
Russia responded by moving tanks and soldiers through South Ossetia further into Georgian territory. Opposition representatives even protested Gavrilov's appearance infuriated when he sat in the speaker's chair at the Georgian assembly session.
Protestors were met with tear gas from police. Some seen holding bloody faces while officers fired rubber bullets towards the crowd.
Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement calling on protestors to immediately stop the violations of law of violence. "Do not follow provocations, obey police request and leave the territory of the parliament. Otherwise, police will take measures provided by law."
One protestor say, the government should be held responsible. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELENE KHOSHTARIA, MEMBER, EUROPEAN GEORGIA PARTY: It's a big shame, and a big insult for Georgian society that the Georgian government has made it possible to see the Russian occupant, an enemy of this country in the chair of the chairman of parliament. This is not acceptable for Georgian public. You see so many people protesting this. And this is unfortunate, the result and responsibility of the government. The government has to pay the price for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
John Vause, CNN.
HOWELL: Rekindling an old friendship. China's Xi Jinping was in North Korea for an historic summit with Kim Jong-un. A summit that's taking place there. How these two leaders hope to benefit from stronger ties.
ALLEN: That's coming up here. Plus, meet the last man standing in the race for prime minister of the United Kingdom. When we come back, we explain what still ahead for these two.
HOWELL: And Ebola kills nearly 70 percent of the people who catch it and the terror of the virus spreads much faster, much further.
Later, how the Democratic Republic of Congo is dealing with a fierce outbreak there.
[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: After years of strained relations, China and North Korea are rekindling there once close relationship.
ALLEN: Xi Jinping has finished a two-day summit with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang and is now on his way back to Beijing. North Korea media quote Kim describing the visit as an occasion to boast to the world about the invincibility of the friendship between their countries.
For more on it, Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul, South Korea. Paula, hello to you. What are you learning about President Xi's talks with North Korea and the summit itself?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, the optics of this meeting were particularly important. It was an official state visit; it was long overdue as Kim Jong-un had ask Xi Jinping to come 15 months ago. But the fact was it was about the images, it was about portraying as Kim Jong-un said to the world that these two countries are very close.
China is still the main financial benefactor to North Korea by a long way. And clearly, for Kim Jong-un this was a propaganda too. He was able to show to his people that the Chinese president had come to him to Pyongyang the first time a Chinese leader had done that in 14 years.
So certainly, from a domestic point of view, Kim Jong-un will be very pleased with the optics that we could see. It was a lot of pomp and ceremony even at the welcoming ceremony at the airport, there was a 21-gun salute, there was a military parade and then driving through the streets of Pyongyang in that open top car.
Both leaders were cheered on by tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Pyongyang residents. So certainly, there was a desire from the North Korean side to show that they are very close to China. And from Xi Jinping side he is endorsing, officially endorsing North Korea run Kim Jong-un and he was endorsing some of his policies, most particularly the economic policies as opposed to the nuclear ones.
And then of course, there is the question that just a week away from Xi Jinping meeting the U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 meeting in Japan. It can't harm that he has shown how pivotal he is to the North Korean issue, and he has publicly said as well how important it is that he is re-injecting himself into that issue.
ALLEN: Right. And, Paula, the U.S. president set to meet with the Chinese leader at that summit. Are North Korea and trade issues expected to be at the top of their agenda?
HANCOCKS: Well, certainly the trade issue is going to be the one of the very sticky issues they have to deal with. This stall discussion, a very bitter trade dispute between two these superpowers. When it comes to the North Korean issue, and bear in mind, China has repeatedly said that North Korea issue is very separate to the trade dispute.
But it can't harm that the Chinese president having come off fresh from a meeting with the North Korean leader showing that he is effectively in control of what could happen.
[03:25:03] He could be very helpful and trying to secure denuclearization or he could hinder it. He is showing the power that he has over North Korea. And from Kim Jong-un's point of view, he's also showing the U.S. president some experts would suggest that he has other more powerful friends, so if it doesn't work out with the United States, he is still has China.
ALLEN: We'll hear what President Trump says about that as well. Paula Hancocks for us, thank you so much.
HOWELL: In the United Kingdom the race to become the next conservative party leader and the next prime minister of that nation it is down to two candidates now.
ALLEN: Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson remain in the running after two other hopefuls were knocked out in secret ballots Tuesday. Johnson secured more than 50 percent of the vote in the latest ballot. The finalists will now try to win over conservative party members who will choose the next leader.
Meantime, at a summit in Brussels, leaders of the E.U. failed to agree on who should take over the top jobs.
HOWELL: The European Council leader said there is no majority on any candidates so they will meet again on June 30th. Jean-Claude Juncker, the outgoing president of the European Commission joked about the difficulty of choosing his successor. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION (through translator): I know there is some pleasure of satisfaction, amusement, happiness even that I'm not that easy to replace. Donald has had all sort of consultation. You'll have more. The next meeting will be on the 30th of June, but we will also be in Osaka for the G20 in the meantime. And we'll have opportunities to discuss follow-up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The European Council did agree that the leaders should reflect the diversity of the E.U.
ALLEN: Well, the New York Times is reporting that President Trump approved a military strike against Iran and then abruptly pulled back, called it off. We'll have the latest on this breaking news story when we come back here.
HOWELL: Plus, as Ebola spreads throughout parts of Central Africa, a new style of treatment is giving some families a little more hope.
HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.
The headlines this hour. The New York Times reports U.S. President Donald Trump approved military strikes against Iran but abruptly called them off Thursday night.
One official says according to the Times, the planes were in the air and ships in position when word came to stand down. The stripes were meant as retaliation for Iran's downing of a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: In Hong Kong this hour. Live images showing you the scene of what's happening on the streets there just outside of the police station. Thousands of protestors gathered and they want the government to withdraw a controversial bill that would make anyone in Hong Kong subject to extradition to mainland China. The bill was suspended by the chief executive last week, but protestors say that's not enough. They wanted scrapped entirely.
ALLEN: Turning now to Georgia, riot police there clashing with protestors outside of the country's parliament. Thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against the government which they say is collaborating with Russia. Several people were hurt as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. HOWELL: We're turning now to our breaking news and top story. The
New York Times reporting that President Trump approved military strikes against Iran, but then abruptly pulled back.
ALLEN: And the big question. Why where the planes apparently called off?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: We don't know whether he backed off, we know that the strikes were not carried out and that maybe that he changed his mind. Perhaps at the behest of the Pentagon. It may also be that, you know, that there was cloud cover, that logistics weren't right that they missed their night window to hit its warning in Iran. So, maybe they missed the window. This may still be happening. So, you know, we don't know that he has changed his mind and the real risk is here of enormous escalation that just keeps on going.
ALLEN: As it stands now, the first time we expect to see President Trump on Friday is at an event late in the afternoon. Of course, that could always change especially since there are so many questions.
HOWELL: Earlier our colleague John Voss spoke with Samantha Vinograd to get her take. Samantha, a CNN national security analyst and former adviser to the U.S. National Security Council. Here's what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This will be seen as all Barr can no bite. President Trump has escalated tensions to this point and response to Iranian as a behavior, but at this point, John, this is kind of a worst-case scenario. The president is showing that since we made a decision, how the national Security Council meeting and wasn't willing to follow through which is really parts of the course when we look at this posture on North Korea, for example. We are fire and fiery until we weren't. And this (Inaudible), this is all already going to play right into the Iranian regime's hand.
They will now be able to say, that the United States is planning to attack them. And that if any further actions that they take are purely defensive in nature. They don't blame the victim part for several months, now several years even, and they now have even more fuel to say that the United States is coming after them and that they have to respond.
Having been part of these kinds of conversations in the Situations Room before, I often really wonder what kind of message this is sending to our closest allies extensively the U.S. military would had brief. Some of its counterparts if not all before the planes took off and the ship were put into position, only to them have to call them back and say, the president changed his mind, who flip-flop. So, all in all, it shows gross this organization and the president who can't seem to make up his mind even on something as important as a military strike on Iran.
JOHN VOSS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's a little more from The New York Times. The report -- it was not clear whether Mr. Trump suddenly changed his mind on the strike or whether the administration over cause, because of logistics or strategy. It was also not clear whether the attacks might still go forward. In your experience, having been in the national security council and from what you know about the past U.S. military strikes, has anything like this happen before that they were like minutes away from flying the missiles, you know, and the president says no?
VINOGRAD: It sounds like a really bad action thriller John. And in my experience, the military develops (inaudible) or the plans for a strike like this, they are finally tuned, they're fully ready to go and if the planes really had taken off. If they were really 90 minutes away from a strike. I don't see how logistics would've been really messes up. The military preposition assets. It is unlikely to a logistical failure would had been what pulled this operation back.
It sounds more likely that the president change his mind or somebody convinced him that this is not the right strategy. And I don't disagree on that, launching military strikes to against Tehran would had been met at a minimum with the strong counter response from Iranian proxies and potentially Iranian forces from within the country itself, let's not forget that Houthis in Yemen, Iranian proxies, all throughout the region and really American that are in the region as well could had been vulnerable to counterattack in places like Iraq and elsewhere. And so, it would had been a misguided strategies to perceive with the strike.
[03:35:00] Not to mention John, I'm very unclear on what the legal basis for the strikes were -- would had been. There is no Congressional authorization to launch a military strike in Iran. And so for all those reasons, the reporting is accurate I'm very glad that the president change his mind or pulled this back for whatever reason.
ALLEN: Sam Vinograd there earlier on CNN, of course we will continue to follow the story. A reminder, President Trump does have an event in the afternoon, but we'll wait and see if perhaps he says something about this or makes a statement as we approach more in a few hours.
HOWELL: Absolutely. Now to the Ebola virus that's spreading fast through northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This is the second largest, the second deadliest Ebola outbreak ever recorded.
ALLEN: The World Health Organization has recorded more than 2000 Ebola cases there with more than 1400 confirmed and probable death. The U.N. refugee agency says hundreds of thousands of people had had to flee a recent uptick and violence this month and health officials worry this could -- they could take Ebola with them. Are David McKenzie got a rare look inside the treatment center there. He joins us now live from Goma, Congo. And you saw the treatment that people were getting and it was heartwarming especially considering what they're going through?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, this is a disease that is both very intimate and can affect communities and entire region that is what's doing and the area that I'm standing in north (inaudible) in the eastern DRC. That violence you described Natalie is a very big worry. It has push people out of their zones and this means people are moving and if they are infected, they could move it even further into areas which are hard to reach and difficult to respond to. This outbreak has taken many health responders by surprise. It continues to spread and there's no sign of it stopping.
MCKENZIE: Dr. (inaudible) enters this exhausting battleground. We're a transparent barrier isolates a highly contagious Ebola patient from the outside world. His team rushes to stabilize a young woman who lost her baby and her husband to the virus. The death rate in this outbreak nearly 70 percent.
Sometimes you forget even for myself, this is my third Ebola outbreak, the terror that this strikes into people, when people come here, they feel they might die. In fact, they believe there's a good chance they will, but if they're inside there, they'll be able to see the eyes, the emotions, the care of the doctors and also for the family members coming in, they'll be able to interact with them, they are no longer isolated in the same sense.
They call these new units the cube. The family can begin to trust us say Dr. (inaudible), because they can see with their own eyes that we are caring for the loved ones. Its design a hard lesson learned from the 2014 West African epidemic, where Ebola killed more than 11,000.
This time around, teams are also armed with an effective experimental vaccine. Advances that meant this outbreak was supposed to be different. It wasn't supposed to last as long or kill so many. Ten months later, it is still spreading, for the vaccine to work the teams need to be able to reach all of this, but this is eastern Congo. A region wrapped by decades of violence where armed groups continue to thrive in a dysfunctional state. The most trusted community is understandable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's at stake here is whether we can break this transmission or not. If it continues to be interrupted, it's likely that the virus will continue to propagate.
MCKENZIE: And what would that mean for this region and further global health?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It remains a threat to surrounding provinces, it remains a threat to surrounding countries. So we cannot let it spread.
MCKENZIE: For the spread to stop, (Inaudible) needs to work. Keeping track of those most likely to become infected.
So that is 36.8. So that is safe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that is safe. MCKENZIE: Unlike so many health workers here are being threatened
even enough by his terrified neighbors. Sometimes all the world knows is fear, but then I look at the individual people.
We need to treat these patients with empathy he says, we need to treat them like they're a member of a family.
In the nearby crash, Ebola survivors are now immune to the disease, like Masima (ph) become family to young babies, to wait to see if they're infected mothers will live or die. You have a smile on your face. Why do have a smile on your face?
[03:40:07] My smile is the joy of being alive she says. I beat Ebola, I'm smiling to the god who gave me life.
MCKENZIE: Well, Natali, George, I'm joined now by Doctor Ben Dahl of the Center For Disease Control, the U.S. base group and now their operations are here in Goma. Now Dr. Ben Dahl, in the first seven months you saw a thousand cases then a rapid acceleration. Did this surprise the CDC nature of this outbreak?
DR. BEN DAHL, U.S. CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: No it didn't. When we look at the underlying indicators, a very low percentage of cases being effectively followed and effectively isolated. It really was a poignant that we would see this acceleration and some of our CDC models had somewhat predicted this.
MCKENZIE: But it seems that could caught many people by surprise, they thought perhaps that an experimental vaccine would be the magic bullet. Why isn't it in this outbreak?
DAHL: Well, I think, were very fortunate to have this vaccine. It has really probably reduced in some of the cases, I think without this we would have a much larger number of cases. But really what has happened is they have not been doing the public health fundamentals of quickly following all the context, listing all the context, and isolating them as soon as they become symptomatic.
MCKENZIE: Why is that important? Why is it important to trace those contact?
DAHL: It's because this contacts could become a case. So a contact is around the case. If they were developed symptoms and become a case, then they can spread the disease onward.
MCKENZIE: We are here in Goma, right next to Rwanda, this is a border region, we've had a case move into Uganda. Why is this a particularly dangerous outbreak from a public health standpoint?
DAHL: Well, it's an area that previously had not been experience with Ebola outbreaks. And most of the Ebola outbreaks have been in other areas of Congo, and if it were to get into Goma which is a heavily populated area, we will be concerned that you would have cross border transmission. That you have transmission within Goma, and that's one reason why the U.S. government is focusing on preparedness here in Goma.
MCKENZIE: Why is this important for the world to pay attention to this outbreak after that large outbreak in 2014, but it was felt that maybe the lessons would be learned. What hasn't been learned?
DAHL: Well, I think that each outbreak is unique, but that we need to quickly try to work to control each outbreak. And so this potentially could've been controlled earlier in the outbreak, when it was in the rural area, but letting it go fester a little bit underground with unknown chance of transmission, has really prolonged it, and we really need to make sure we can do everything we can to stamp it out now.
MCKENZIE: The communities we met were mistrustful. They felt that Ebola was a myth, that the outsiders were coming in to do something bad to them. How is the Ebola response need to be part of a wider response for people who have been neglected for so long?
DAHL: That is a very good point. We have seen that this community has been neglected for over the past 20 years. And so they were asking, why are you coming in to treat a disease we have never seen before, when you've not been here to treat measles? They've had 70,000 cases of measles this year. You've not been here when we had community violence and so there were some of that questions. So we need to really pivot to have better community engagement, and I think it's something that on all levels, the ministry of health, WHO, the U.S. Government are working with them to pivot that way.
MCKENZIE: It seems there's been a restructuring of the response. What needs to happen now to really stamp this out?
DAHL: Well, I think they need to maintain a level of surveillance in all areas. We are seeing that there are cases back in where -- the area where it started. And so, you need to make sure that the surveillance is continuing in all areas, we need to again, go back to community engagement, hire local people that can speak the local languages to be part of it and really ensure that the committee understand that they are at risk, and that seeking treatment early is the key to them surviving.
MCKENZIE: The WHO Emergency Response coordinator call this a new normal. The CDC and WHO is dealing with health emergencies all over the world, possible pandemics. Why is the work that you do so critical for global public health?
DAHL: Well, I think, in the public health community, we all work together. We are a key part of the ministry of health, we work very closely with WHO, and so no one stands alone. We need to do this together. And really the key to public health is early detection. If this had been detected and limited to the couple cases when it started back in May, we would not be talking about this now, but it was a breakdown in the public health fundamentals of having good surveillance to detect extraordinary events like this.
MCKENZIE: Thank you, Dr. Dahl and that's something, Natalie and George that I had been hearing a lot in our time in North (inaudible) that the fundamentals are key to stamping out this virus and if those aren't done in the next few days and weeks, we could see a very long, protracted, very dangerous outbreak. Natalie? George?
[03:45:04] ALLEN: Excellent reporting and that interview as well. David McKenzie for us, thank you so much, David.
HOWELL: Millions of people desperate for water at scorching temperatures have made an already bad situation even worse. The story ahead here on Newsroom.
ALLEN: One of India's largest cities has just run out of water. Scorching temperatures in the late monsoon season had created a water shortage crisis in Chennai.
HOWELL: We are talking about an area that is home to nearly 5 million people. And as are Isa Soares reports some rain Thursday, won't have much more in effect there.
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the most significant rain Chennai as seen since December of last year. So far, it's not much. It's a well can change for India's six largest city. Which has been sweltering through a scorching heat wave and is fast from running out of water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Our day starts at four in the morning, when we reach this place to get water. We can only take water until 10 am, after which it gets very hot. It is a very difficult time for us.
SOARES: High temperatures combined with prolonged dry weather have left Chennai's waters reservoirs virtually empty. The satellite photos showed the dramatic change in just the past few months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is an acute water crisis looming now, and for the last month, there has been no water supply, as bowl wells have gone dry and supply is erratic.
SOARES: Water trucks are now a daily reality for the city's residence who are forced to queue for hours to fill their buckets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. we come here with buckets and just wait and watch. The tanker goes frequently to nearby streets, but on our street, it doesn't come often enough. We cannot go to work, we are not able to cook food at home.
SOARES: Last summer's monsoon season, failed to deliver its usual deluge and monsoon is late, every year, groundwater wells are running dry faster and faster.
Local authorities have been criticized for not doing enough to prepare for the inevitable water shortages.
[03:50:00] D. JAYAKUMAR, TAMIL NADU FISHERIES MINISTER (through translator): As far as water management is concerned, the government doing the maximum. It has undertaken the cleaning up of water tanks, lakes, and reservoirs and their deepening.
SOARES: While today's rain is a promising sign that the monsoon season is on its way, it's only a temporary reprieve. Environmentalists warn the situation in Chennai is just an indication of things to come, as the realities of climate change and extreme weather events become common. Isa Soares, CNN, London.
ALLEN: Ivan Cabrera joins us now with more about it, yet today Chennai, I mean, tomorrow, who is next?
HOWELL: Yes, who's next?
IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and they really have to anticipate these things now becoming cyclical. So we are talking about this day or season and season out from last year to this year and that will continue as far as the numbers so, you get, you know, officials getting criticize, well, it's because of the anticipation, right?
This is not something that all of a sudden happened, this has been a problem that has been ongoing over the last to several seasons of monsoon which have not been delivering. So, we will get are monsoon, we will get the rain and in fact the areas will begin to flood, but we kind of forget about it, but we shouldn't be, because by next year, we will going to do this again, probably.
All right, 43 percent below normal so far and it early in June. We should be here on the monsoon will (inaudible) further down the south. It will eventually work its way up and so by late summer it ends up across the north, right? And that is what the precipitation will be more significant.
But this is what I was talking about here. Again, not a surprise. Look at the water table, it's been dropping 10 to 25 millimeters from 2002 to 2016. And that's been happening each and every year, and that will continue to happen, as we get this bigger heat wave, as we have this reduced and very late starting monsoons. But this is good, 29 millimeters of rainfall, normally it get 54 in the month of June. So we had about half of what we typically get and that happen in a very short amount of time.
Of course, when that happens, groundwater really can't sip and so we get these run offs and these flooding events here. So, it's one of those things that we can't have that much that quickly. The monsoon low beginning to spin here. That is a great indication of rainfall here and I think that is going to be (inaudible) over the next few days.
It could put down another 25 millimeters certainly plus of rainfall as we take a look at some of the numbers here coming into the upcoming weekend. So again, it's a short term relief and by that, I don't mean the rain is coming up in the next couple days, I mean the season will get all rain, but this is just going to continue as the months continue to get the longer (inaudible) that we don't get the rainfall then. So 1.5 billion people by (inaudible) that is going to be a huge thing to -- have to undertake.
HOWELL: It's significant.
CABRERA: Yes. Absolutely.
HOWELL: Ivan, thank you.
CABRERA: You bet.
ALLEN: Well, next here on CNN Newsroom, Congress is now receiving classified briefings on some unusual phenomenon. Have there been UFO encounters?
HOWELL: Well, close encounters are getting a closer look in the United States.
ALLEN: Who would have thought it? CNN's Tom Foreman says UFO talk has gone straight to the top of the U.S. government.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The grainy images captured by U.S. military pilots don't look like much, but they're released by the Pentagon was more than enough to prompt a classified briefing for lawmakers, including Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the intelligence community.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): One of few takeaways I have is that the military and others are taking this issue seriously, which even previous generations may not have been the case.
[03:55:06] FOREMAN: But president told ABC, he has been brief too.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are saying they're seeing UFO's. Do I believe it? Not particularly.
FOREMAN: Also revving up interest, some pilots are talking, describing strangely shaped aircraft flying faster than the speed of sound, dramatically changing direction and nearly colliding with the military jet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These objects have been out there all day, and the speed that they are exhibiting as well as the flight characteristics, there's no platform or really energy source that I'm aware of that could allow something to stay in the air as long as this objects were.
FOREMAN: Reports about a now defunct 20 million dollar program to track such sightings, started by Senator Harry Reid, emerge a couple of years back, triggering similar interests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These aircraft, will call them aircraft, are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the U.S. Inventory, nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of.
FOREMAN: Late night's Jimmy Kimmel has questioned former president about such encounters time and again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm not telling you nothing.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can't reveal anything.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: Really. If we were visited, someday I wouldn't be surprised. I do felt that -- it's not like Independence Day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking at worldwide destruction in the next 36 hours.
FOREMAN: Still, if it's not that. The question remains up in the air. What is it?
The military is clearly skeptical of any claim that this has anything to do with space aliens, but amid a lot of noise from conspiracy theories that maybe this is some sort of advance technology being operated by a foreign power, they have set up a new system for pilots to report what they have seen in these close encounters. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: As we often like to say, we will follow up. Especially that one. All right, well, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are setting up their own charitable organization and leaving the royal foundation, which until now, coordinated there benevolent work, with their relatives.
HOWELL: Royal aides at Royal (inaudible) I should say, say it is a mutual decision between Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, and Prince William and his wife Catherine. Both brothers are on different paths. William set to be the future King, he has denied rumors of a rift between the couples. They will continue appearing together at royal engagements and other sheer causes.
ALLEN: Well, thank you so much for joining us, I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell, the news continues next hour with our colleague Max Foster in London.