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Report: Uyghur Children Held In Mass Boarding School; Southern California Hit By Strongest Quake In 20 Years; British Royal Marines Seize Iranian Oil Tanker Bound for Syria; Iran to Begin Enriching Uranium at Higher Level in Days; U.S. Celebrates Independence Fireworks Show. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 5, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, Southern Californians, you live in a quake zone. And authorities warned the strongest tremors hit the region in two decades. It's a wake-up call. Be prepared. The big one is still coming. With tanks on flatbeds, warplanes and helicopters flying overhead combined with heavy rain and the baby Trump blip and there you have it Donald Trump's salute to America.

And the U.S.-Iran crisis escalates, British Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker for violating E.U. sanctions leaving Tehran outraged, Washington happy, and the chance of conflicts ticking ever higher. Hello, welcome to help you historians from all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

We all have those stories in a moment but we begin this hour with disturbing new allegations about China's treatment of the minority weaker population with claims children are being separated from their parents and placed in highly secure purpose-built boarding school while their moms and dads are detained in re-education camps.

The report is from an independent researcher and was partly commissioned by the BBC. We have more on this now from CNN's Matt Rivers live in Beijing. So Matt, assuming the allegations are true and if you look at you know, the history here, there's no reason at this point to believe that they are not. For what purpose? For what purpose is this being done? What is the ultimate goal here by the Chinese authorities?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, I mean, the ultimate goal I think what critics would say, John, and if you believe these allegations is that China is engaged right now in a very thinly veiled attempt to try and eradicate basically all ethnic Muslim culture and ideology in Xinjiang.

Basically let's remind our viewers what's been going on over the past couple years where the U.N., rights groups, and others would say that hundreds of thousands if not millions of ethnic Muslim minorities had been placed in these so-called re-education camps. What the Chinese government says they're doing is stamping out extremism in the region. But whatever what most of the international community journalists and

rights groups have alleged is what I just talked about that it's really no more than an attempt to erase Uyghur culture. Uyghur is the predominant Muslim group in the Xinjiang region that it's just an attempt to get rid essentially of this -- of this culture.

Now, the question about parent-child separation is one that we've been asking for a long time because well, if you take all of these hundreds of thousands of people away and put them in the camps, well, what happens to their kids. And it's a question that you know, relatives of those who have been put in camps outside of China have been asking us and have been telling us stories of you know, we're terrified about the fate of our kids. And what this new report kind of sheds light on is the fate.

So basically what this researcher has done is to use propaganda, he's used open-source documents, and he's talked about the vast array of boarding schools that have been built over the past couple of years in Xinjiang, boarding schools that are often look a lot more like prisons, high walls, security systems, alarm systems, and that's where the children of these parents who have been placed in camps, well that's where they're being sent, John.

So it kind of is a relatively simple equation. If you take away the parents, the kids have to go somewhere and this report sheds new light on that.

VAUSE: And let's just be clear because when we say boarding school, it sounds like Harry Potter and it's not, and these kids have done nothing wrong, right?

RIVERS: Absolutely right. And then the boarding school term you know, is not really indicative of what is happening in these particular places. I mean, what boarding school do you know that has electric fencing around it where kids are not allowed to leave.

You know, it's certainly a lot more nefarious than the term boarding school would suggest. It's not like these kids have a choice and frankly, the parents don't have a choice you know in the matter.

The parents are taken away and their kids are put in essentially another form of detainment. And this is exactly what is going on throughout this entire region. But Xinjiang is such a difficult place to report from. You know, we were there just a few months ago. You get followed 24 hours a day by security services.

And so trying to get this kind of information on the ground in Xinjiang by talking to people, you just can't do it because you would put the people that you would interview at risk if the authorities knew that they were speaking to Western journalists.

VAUSE: And they will found out. Yes.

RIVERS: So the only way that this kind of information comes out is you know, by researchers like Adrian Zenz, this German independent researcher who uses open-source documents to kind of come to this conclusion. It's a really important report that sheds new light on this incredibly disturbing trend in Xinjiang.

[01:05:07] VAUSE: I don't know if you have the answer to this Matt, but I'm going to put you anyway. Is there legal basis? Is there any kind of Chinese law which allows the authorities to do what they're doing or they just doing it anyway?

RIVERS: I think it's a little bit of a mixture of both. I think you know, they would say that these are voluntary re-education centers that these people are being put into, these boarding schools as the Chinese government would probably call it.

hey would say that it's a good thing, that were -- that they're putting children into preschool, that they want education rates to go up in this relatively poor part of China. So that's the Chinese government's you know reply to all of this that when you question the legality of any of this.

But the reality on the ground, John, is that the Chinese government could do whatever at once. You know, it says that this country is based on rule of law except when the Chinese government wants to ignore its own laws. It does so very quickly and easily.

And so on -- in the ground on Xinjiang, you know, the government is going to do whatever they want to do whether it's legal or not.

VAUSE: And without second thought. Matt, thank you. Matt Rivers with a disturbing report on just a continued persecution of the weaker minority in Northern China. Thanks Matt. Well, strong aftershocks have continued to rattle Southern California following a large earthquake north of Los Angeles.

The 6.4 magnitude quake was the strongest to hit the region in 20 years. The epicenter was not far from Ridgecrest a town best known as a stop on the way to the ski resorts in Mammoth. There have been no reports of death or serious injury but across the quake zone, damage is significant and widespread. An earthquake expert says it will be some time before the earth actually settles.


LUCY JONES, SEISMOLOGIST, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: What should -- always be preparing for a big one. This does not make it less likely. There is about a one in 20 chance that this location will be having an even bigger earthquake within the next few days that we have not yet seen the biggest earthquake of the sequence.


VAUSE: Adam Graehl is a resident of Ridgecrest. He joins us now on the line. So Adam, you were what, on the main street I'm told when the earthquake happened. You were in your car.

ADAM GRAEHL, RESIDENT, RIDGECREST: I was driving my car to the store and suddenly I felt like I don't -- I can't explain what happened to my vehicle but it felt like it moved from one lane to another. And by the time I pulled over and stopped, I thought my car had fallen apart but then I saw that intersections and the street lights and everything just waving back and forth. And I do what I can.

I knew it was an earthquake so I proceeded up to the store I was headed to and poked my head in. The people had been ushered out but I knew the manager there, one of the managers, then she let me come in for a quick look and I took a few pictures and those are the pictures of the grocery store of course, but it was a quite a sight to see.

VAUSE: Absolutely. And you use sort of a point of comparison. You know, many, many years ago, you were there what, for the same earthquake I'm told. And how does that compare --

GRAEHL: Yes, in 1971 -- in 1971, I was in San Fernando Valley and woke at 6:01 I think or 6:04 a.m. with it and it was significant but I felt this earthquake. This earthquake felt stronger to me. Maybe I'm just older and I just can't remember that well, but it seemed -- it seemed a lot more powerful.

VAUSE: What are the aftershocks been like? Are they still coming?

GRAEHL: When I was on hold just like two minutes ago, another one just shook the computer I'm staring at and it just was rocking back and forth again. So they've been coming on non-stop, some of them pretty good but there's just -- it's unbelievable.

I can hear the house creak. I know when one hit because I can hear all that things settling in the in the house. I can -- I can hear the movement in the house first, and then I feel it.

VAUSE: You know, that must be terrifying but given you know, the power of the earthquake, everything you've been through, what we're being told is the damage Ridgecrest itself is not particularly severe. It's fairly light. Does that surprise you?

GRAEHL: Yes. When I first pulled over against the side of the road, the magnitude of the swinging and all the items were having, the power poles, the lights, and everything, I thought I'm just waiting for the walls to start falling down on buildings but they didn't.

But everybody that I've talked to and in my house and everybody's houses, they all have things that have fallen off, the shelves, broken glass, and etcetera and things like that, but I haven't I didn't suffer any structural damage at all.

VAUSE: And they keep saying it to people in Southern California you know, get ready, be prepared. The big one is coming. And this is a wake-up call. As someone who obviously lives in the quake zone, you know, does that change you know, what you're doing, your preparations, your idea about baby living in that part of the world, how will you move forward with this?

[01:10:12] GRAEHL: Yes, you know, it doesn't scare me to move back east or to the -- anywhere specifically, but I -- you know, I believe you know, I've taken some steps prior and you always have a vigilance when you never know what's going to happen so sudden so you have to do the planning and the preparation way before. Somebody says, oh, don't get gas now, everyone lining up to get gas. Well, that's just one of the things that we do. We started to get water, get gas, we're worried that another one is going to hit I guess.

VAUSE: Yes, it isn't a good time for people who live there. Anywhere who lives in those quake zone to head out and make sure you have the emergency kit ready just in case because you never, never really know when these things are going to hit.

Adam, were glad you are well. Were glad that you know, nothing serious has happened to you, just you know, obviously a little bit of cleaning up to do but thank you for sharing your story with us. We appreciate it.

GRAEHL: OK. No problem.

VAUSE: Thank you, sir.

GRAEHL: All right. Bye, bye.

VAUSE: Take care. Let's get more now from our meteorologist Karen Maginnis. OK, so you've been tracking these aftershocks. And that's the part which you know, you had the big quake but then the earth keep moving, and moving, it's terrifying.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's unnerving -- it's unnerving for a lot of people because we keep talking about this drought of earthquakes, and there has been a 20-year drought between 1999 and now, we haven't seen any major or severe earthquakes. But the ten year prior to that from 1989 to 1999 --

VAUSE: There were quite a few.

MAGINNIS There were eight and we've seen none in the last 20 years. All right, let's go ahead and show you. What you're looking at here looks a little crazy. This is Southern California. There's one major fault. We know that as the San Andreas Fault. We typically think that all earthquakes must take place along the San Andreas Fault, but there are dozens and dozens and dozens, a very small fault lines

Most of these are not going to be big previses that open up, they're slip fault lines. There's Ridgecrest, it did not have the epicenter at Ridgecrest. It was about ten miles away, or about 15, 16 kilometers away.

On the naval air weapons station, and that's located just out in the desert, this was out in the desert. Can you imagine this what it would do if it was in the highly populated area like Los Angeles or, some of the surrounding areas. 6.4 magnitude, they revise that early on, when this earthquake struck, just after 10:30 in the morning. That was local time and Los Angeles.

That is seven miles deep. That was also a revision on what has taken place earlier. All right, how many aftershocks? So many. Hundreds of aftershocks. Each one of those little dots indicates where there is an aftershock. Where it's red, that's happened in the past hour.

As you can imagine, people from Ridgecrest, the Searles Valley area, to the Trona Region. I just spoke with someone from Trona, he said considering what happened today, we're all doing pretty well.

But you can see kind of this O-shaped area, a well-known seismologist, Doctor Lucy Jones, she says we tried to figure a pattern, we try to figure out when it's the next big one, we just can't do it. Prior to this major earthquake or this strong earthquake, there were two four shots. There's about a five percent chance they could actually see a stronger one. So this would be the foreshock.

Essentially what that means is, were hoping there's not going to be bigger than this one, the 6.4 magnitudes, but there's a slight chance that over the next couple of days that could happen. But we know that these aftershocks last for months and months. Back in the 1980s near Bakersfield, there's 5.1 magnitude earthquake.

There were aftershocks from that earthquake from 5.1 for six months. Might this be six months? Certainly could be. All right, the original magnitude of this, 6.4 magnitude, we might see a 5.4 open up in the up-coming days. That's going to be strong enough of an aftershock. And by the aftershock, we mean these are smaller earthquakes taking place.

Still underground, they kind of geologically speaking, the ground is kind of getting used to the idea that it's in a different shape. And that's why we are still seeing a continuation of these shaking.

VAUSE: I forgot how long these aftershocks continue for. Remember China, the Sichuan earthquake, it was 8.0, it continued for months, and months, and months.

MAGINNIS: Months. And it's so unnerving for everybody because you have to be prepared for each one of those.

VAUSE: Yes, and you repeat through terrifying experience and just keeps going. Karen, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Well, Iran has summoned the U.K. ambassador to answer why British marines stormed an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar. More on that in a moment.

Also, Donald Trump gets the crowd he always wanted on the national (INAUDIBLE). Who doesn't love a big parade? That's next on NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: Well, tensions are rising between Iran, and this time, the U.K. That's after British Marine stormed an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar. They say the Grace 1 was carrying oil to Syria, a violation of E.U. sanctions. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh explains why the ship was even near Gibraltar, in the first place.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a really remarkable journey as to how the Grace 1 ended up in the early hours of Thursday, in the custody of British Royal Marines off the coast of Gibraltar.

And it seems, according to shipping experts, to have started its journey in early April, near the Iranian coast, possibly in an oil refinery there. Then, rather than going straight through the Suez Canal, shipping experts say, in fact, it was too heavily loaded in that 300,000 tons to pass through that particular channel.

It journeyed all the way around the continent of Africa, a startling route, but one that took it eventually to the Gibraltar Straits, where U.K. Royal Marine Commando seemed to have intercepted it, now, relatively uneventful boarding, as far as we understand.

Now, there's an interesting development in this, and that the Spanish foreign minister said that that actual interception occurred because of the request from the United States. The U.S. hasn't commented directly yet at this point.

But now, we are in a situation where the Iranian media is using words like taken hostage, and the British are saying they intercepted it because it seemed to be on route to Syria, where it may have about to deliver this oil, possibly fuel oil, according to shipping exports, to the Baniyas Refinery, that would violate E.U. sanctions against the Syrian regime, for their atrocities in the country's north.

On top of that, too, the Iranian government has stepped forward and said this is an Iranian tanker registered in Panama, but it seems to be carrying some kind of Iranian oil. And that, of course, could potentially be in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, so a lot going on here.

But really, escalation yet again, because the unsurprised -- the very surprising journey taken by the Grace 1 supertanker, which in a period of time, where I think 10 days ago, people would breathe a sigh of relief that President Donald Trump wasn't going to launch a military strike against Iran because of a downing of a U.S. drone, and after the standoff over tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

Once again, we're talking about escalatory rhetoric. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


VAUSE: For more, CNN Global Affairs Analyst and Executive Editor for the New Yorker website, David Rohde, is with us now from New York, David, good to see you.


[01:20:10] VAUSE: OK, on the one hand, we had the Spanish authorities and, you know, traditionally, Spain disputes British claims over Gibraltar, but they're saying the supertanker was seized by the British, in Spanish waters, at the request or interestingly, the demand of United States. Listen to this.


JOSEP BORRELL, ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER OF SPAIN (through translator): Naturally, we were aware of this operation. Police patrol boats were guarding the area, but we are studying the circumstances in which it happened. It was a demand by the United States to the United Kingdom.


VAUSE: But we have Gibraltar's chief minister, you know, making no mention of any U.S. demand, no mention of sanctions on Iran, he says the seizure was enforcement of E.U. sanctions, not on Iran, but on Syria. Here he is.


FABIAN PICARDO, CHIEF MINISTER OF GIBRALTAR: This action arose from information giving the Gibraltar government reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace 1, was acting in breach of European sanctions against Syria.

In fact, we have reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipments of crude oil to the Baniyas Refinery, in Syria. That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria.


VAUSE: So, in the bigger picture here, you know, do these word games actually matter because the end result seems to be the same?

ROHDE: Yes, the broad dynamic here is that the conflict between the Trump administration and Iran is spreading. This is, you know -- this is, sort of, creating an incident involving the U.K. and Spain, the story about enforcing the Syria sanctions and sort of a cover story.

I think, unquestionably, Britain did this because of pressure from the Trump administration, and this is an effort by the Trump administration to pressure the Iranians, to crack down on oil sales that were not cracked down on -- I'm sorry, cracked down on before.

VAUSE: Yes. We have Iran state media reporting that the foreign ministry in Tehran (INAUDIBLE) U.K. Ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, informing him of Iran's protests over what they say is the illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker.

You know, essentially, you know, making no attempt to deny it's their ship, it's their oil. And if you look at the route the ship had taken in a long journey around Africa, 23,000 kilometers, as opposed to 6,000 and some kilometers through the Suez Canal.

You know, this gave the British a lot of time to plan the boarding and the seizure of the Grace 1. The Iranians, though, they've been supplying oil to Syria for a very long time despite E.U. sanctions on Damascus. It's hard to remember the last time the E.U. sanctions were actually enforced so aggressively. Does that suggest that Iran may have been genuinely surprised that the Grace 1 was boarded, they never expected it, or perhaps, an expectation around that, you know, the British or other E.U. countries would let this shipment slide in the face of U.S. pressure?

ROHDE: Yes, you're -- that's a great point. Something changed here because there has been a tremendous amount of Iranian oil supporting the Syrian government. Iran, I would say, has been, you know, the biggest supporter of the Hassad regime, and Russia is in second position.

So, maybe, U.S. intelligence noticed this ship and they alerted the British, but something clearly happened. Maybe, the U.K., you know, intelligence services saw it. But again, this is, you know -- this is the U.S. pressuring Britain to do this.

You know, the public statements are, you know, accurate, but there's no question we're seeing the escalation of the, you know, standoff between the Trump administration and Iran. And so, I think Iran will push back, you know, and there'll be some response to this.

The Iranians are threatening to now increase the amount of highly enriched uranium. They're going to produce beginning on Sunday. So, we are seeing a tit-for-tat that's intensifying and I think it's increasingly dangerous.

VAUSE: And this all comes back to the Iran nuclear agreement. You know, we have the U.K., France and Germany, still part of the agreement, still trying to convince the Iranians to comply by the conditions laid out by the 25 deal --- 2015 deal, I should say. That seems to be an incredibly difficult task now for the British. You know, boarded and seized the Grace 1.

ROHDE: Yes, this is a bad sign for the Iranians. They were hoping that they could get the Europeans to give them some economic release, in terms of (INAUDIBLE) really crushing sanctions that the Trump administration has put on Iran. And so, this is a sign that the British, sort of, are going to, you know, at least temporarily side with the Trump administration.

So, you know, Sunday will be a big day. They say they're going to increase the amount, enriched uranium that is designed to get Europe to help them economically. And this whole effort by Iran is to get, hopefully, Europe and the U.S., and the U.K., to split over this Iran nuclear deal issue. That's not happening. So, I -- the Iranians are going to do something, I would say, in the next week.

[01:25:03] VAUSE: Very quickly, if they go ahead and the E.U. actually enforces the E.U. sanctions on Iranian oil, what impact will that have on Iran's economy?

ROHDE: Even more, you know, devastating. I think the Iranians shot down this drone and they're doing these more provocative things, talking about enrichment, because the economic pressure is so intense. So, if there are new European sanctions, you know, I think, the Iranians will act. You can see, you know, more attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. They can increase world oil prices. That's Iran's (INAUDIBLE) and again, it's very dangerous. This is accelerating week by week, and, you know, this could get very messy.

VAUSE: David, thank you, good to see you, David Rohde there, in New York. Thanks.

ROHDE: Thanks.

VAUSE: Sudan's military council has reached an agreement with the opposition over a future government. The African Union envoy to Sudan says both sides will take part in a power-sharing arrangement, a rotating council made up of military and civilian representatives.

That will last for, at least, the next three years. They'll also work on establishing a civilian government in the meantime. Talks between the two sides broke down last month, after forces voted a pro- Democracy sit-in. More than 100 people were killed. Well, the U.S. is ending its 243rd birthday celebration with

fireworks, from sea to shining sea. One of the biggest and best displays is in the nation's capital. And this year, Donald Trump, the president, turned the July 4th holiday into a tribute for the military, details now from CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Despite scorching temperatures earlier in the day, and intermittent rain, a reasonable size crowd showed up here to see the President as he came out to give his unusual address to the American public on Independence Day, and he focused generally on American exceptionalism, not only in the military, which was the theme of all this, but in general, as well.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That same American spirit that embolden our founders, has kept a strong throughout our history. To this day, that spirit runs through the veins of every American patriot. It lives on in each and every one of you here today.

It is the spirit, daring and defiance, excellence in adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love, that built this country into the most exceptional nation in the history of the world. And our nation is stronger today than it ever was before. It is its strongest now.

FOREMAN: Despite a lot of fears, the President did not focus on partisan issues, but instead, talked about Americans as a whole, never really mentioning Democrats or Republicans, and talking about how, as a group, Americans can move forward. An important message, no doubt, on this Fourth of July, when his very actions and holding this rally, cause a lot of division. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Still to come here, a lot more on the tremor which has left Southern California on edge, a live report from the town closest to the epicenter. Also ahead -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, based on what they are hearing, one plane came by, and dropped four bombs.


VAUSE: The absolute nightmare that is already playing out in Syria's Idlib province could soon get a whole lot worse.


[01:30:51] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. Thank you for staying with us.

I'm John Vause with an update now on our top news stories this hour.

More than a hundred aftershocks have rolled across southern California since a 6.4 quake shocked the community of Ridgecrest north of Angeles. The strongest to hit the region in a generation. No fatalities have been reported but many buildings have been knocked out. The damage has been significant and Ridgecrest, which actually escaped most of the damage has declared a state of emergency.

A new U.N. report says Venezuela security forces are killing thousands of young men, stating evidence (INAUDIBLE) they were criminals who resisted arrest. The report says it's part of a government strategy to target the opposition. It comes as Venezuela's national assembly president, Juan Guaido, is calling for a major rally to be held on Friday to mark the country's independence day.

Angry reaction from Iran after Britain seized one of its oil tankers off the coast of Gibraltar. Authorities say the vessel was carrying fuel bound for Syria, a violation of E.U. sanctions. Iran summoned the British ambassador. A maritime general meantime says the tanker turned off its tracking signal shortly as it began its journey to avoid detection.

Southern California has not felt a major earthquake of magnitude 6 or greater since 1999. That all ended abruptly Thursday morning when a 6.4 quake rolled across the desert. The epicenter was not far from the town of Ridgecrest. When the quake struck in that small town, there was panic.


VAUSE: The young children there were performing in a holiday musical. That's when the ground and the stage started to shake. They went running for their lives. Everyone -- their moms and dads, their brothers and sisters, inside that hall -- they all escaped unharmed.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Ridgecrest this hour. That is -- the community was really on the very edge of the -- right in the center of the powerful quake. Paul, many now are asking, is this a sign, is this an indication, a warning -- call it what you want -- that this big -- the big one, the ultimate quake is that coming? And is it coming soon?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the question -- John. And scientists are looking at that very carefully. We heard from Lucy Jones, the famed scientists in southern California who tracks these quakes. She gave it about a one in ten chance of something bigger happening.

But no matter if that's on the way not, as I stand outside this hospital where they had to move ten patients away, it's the aftershocks right now that are menacing in Ridgecrest. They've had so many of them, some of them four points on the scale and it just jangled nerves.

Earlier, our camera lens was moving during an aftershock, strongly so. And so many of these residents feeling them.

We talked with one man who felt the quake downtown and he races to his house, he sees damage inside his house and thinks he's doing pretty well. And then in the garage something is stirring. Let me have him pick up the story from here.


JACK MINTON, OWNER OF CLASSIC CARS DESTROYED BY FAR: I heard something crackling a little bit, and went to that door, and opened it, and it was all fire in the garage -- in the frontend of the garage. So I immediately slammed the door.


VERCAMMEN: And what it was was textbook earthquake cause and effect, so often we see this. First the quake hits and then you have to keep your eyes open for gas fires. That resident strongly suspecting that gas ruptured somewhere near his water heater, and it was soul crushing. He lost two classic cars, one a 1941 Buick, the other a convertible woody Chrysler gone in this blaze.

And a lot of little stories like that playing out throughout Ridgecrest -- heartbreak, jangled nerves. But we are not seeing widespread casualties or injuries, and there are not, in this high desert valley a lot of tall buildings or unreinforced masonry building.

[01:35:04] So John -- it looks rather good. It looks like they may have really avoided major, major catastrophe and casualties.

VAUSE: Yes. Because in 1994, you know, the North Ridge quake, it was 6.7. This one on Thursday was 6.4 and that's a significant difference but when you compare the damage in North Ridge and the death toll is significantly higher compared to what happened on Thursday.

But there is also now a lot of questions too because there is this app, Shake L.A. Alert, it's an early warning system, but it did not turn out any early warnings. And you know, a lot of people now are concerned that, you know, that maybe this app isn't working. Maybe it isn't effective but the people behind it say listen this earthquake just did not meet the threshold for sending out an alert.

And then the city of L.A. tweeted out this, "Shake Alert App only sends out alerts if shaking is 5.0 or higher in L.A. County." Explained the epicenter was 6.4 in Kern County. And L.A.'s shaking was below 4.5.

But they do say that they heard these complaints and they're going to lower the threshold for alerts.

I guess the problem here now is while they keep sending out a lot of alerts, just that, you know, there's going to be a lot of aftershocks and, you know, these kinds of things are not uncommon. Do people then get complacent?

VERCAMMEN: Well, the buzz after all of this is that at least they're trying. It seems, John, they do have to move that threshold, that yardstick.

I can tell you, and you worked in that (INAUDIBLE) on the very same floor on that third floor of that 15-story building. We felt this thing just whipping from side to side. And I'm sure any one would appreciate some kind of warning.

And the reason being is, what you've articulated. Is this a foreshock to a greater quake, or it's just a quake that is in remote high desert valley and we're going to feel more. You just don't know.

And so, that is why they are going to work as hard as they can to even this thing out, change the threshold. I'm glad to hear, as a southern California resident, that there seems to be some meaningful dialog about these apps -- John.

VAUSE: Yes. I'm a little bit surprised because I was always told you cannot predict the earthquakes. You cannot give out warning. But I guess you can give, you know, a bit of a heads up. We're not talking minutes here but that's enough to save lives.

Paul -- thanks for being with us. Appreciate it. Appreciate the live report.

Well, in Syria's Idlib Province, renewed military operations which began in April by the Assad regime have killed more than 300 people to date, according to the U.N.; more than 300,000 have been forced from their homes.

CNN's Arwa Damon has a look at life during war time. And a warning -- the images in her report are graphic.


ABU BAKR: The fighter jet is above Jabal al Zawiya.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's barely enough of a lull for Abu Bakr to talk to us.

BAKR: Sukhoi 22 MiG 23, Sukhoi 22 from Homs at the same are. Warning to all cities and all areas. Fighter jet warning.

DAMON: He hit the village, Abu Bakr tells us, relaying what he just heard on the pilot frequency. Abu Bakr, a former communications officer during his Syrian military service cobbled together this rudimentary set up, to spy on the regime's radio frequencies.

"This one, we modified it to hear the strikes of the pilots," he explains, describing how he uses that information and what spotters on the ground send in to warn people and rescue teams over the walkie talkie radios many now carry. There is no other way to protect the population.

There was a call on the radio about a plane. They're getting calls now on the radio.

These guys in southern Idlib Province the last rebel's stronghold feel like they are constantly filled with the menacing war of Syrian regime and Russian fighter jets.

So, based on what they're hearing, one plane came by and dropped four bombs. Sometimes there are 12 planes at a time that are overhead.

Life, if it can even be called that, is dictated by the bombs.

Early morning lulls mean that the farmers can head out.

He says a barrel bomb fell over here.

Hassan tells us they came to their field one morning only to find it in flames. When we ask about his feelings, he turns and walks away.

It's not just about the loss of this year's harvest, it's the overwhelming realization of the price they are paying, the scorched earth campaign repeatedly targeting Idlib's agriculture, ensuring that people will have nothing to return to, if they ever even can.

The bombings have thrust (ph) even more people up against Turkey's border. Over the last few months, hundreds of thousands have fled.

[01:40:04] There is no room left at the main camps in the province. They cluster under the olive trees in makeshift shelters, even giving birth here.

Or as 88-year-old Maryam tells us, wishing she had been killed rather than live out the last of her days like this where she doesn't even have a tent.

Some do venture back south to collect what they've left behind. Their towns and villages mostly abandoned, turned into the front lines.

Trenches are being dug, preparations for a ground war between the regime and hard-core rebel fighters.

In other towns previously bomb, shops reopen under the ruins, an act of sheer defiance or perhaps folly as jets despite Russian and regime denials regularly target markets, bakeries, schools and hospitals. Right. There is an ambulance coming in.

People wounded are rushed into this hospital, the only functioning one in the area. The strike was close by, raising fears that the hospital itself could be targeted again. It has already been hit multiple times before.

Another victim from another bombing is already undergoing surgery, while others in the ICU cling to life.

He just opened his eyes for the first time about 10 minutes ago after three days of no response.

"My message is help us, that's it," Dr. Basil al-Ahmed (ph) says. We're human beings.

Rana (ph) thought she would be able to keep her children safe. They fled their home to another village but it wasn't far enough. Her son's face etched with wounds, hers with a mother's pain too deep for words.

She was pulled out from under the rebel but two of her other children they were killed. One was nine and one was five and a half, she tells us, unable to say more.

In the same room, Buthayna (ph) looks on helplessly at her son, just four years old, injured in the same strikes that day.

Humanitarian organizations are warning Syria is on the brink of a nightmare. Those who are living it will tell you that that nightmare began a long time ago. What they are about to enter is an even darker realm, one that defies logic and imagination.

Arwa Damon, CNN -- Idlib province, Syria.


VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, a third meeting between two major world leaders where Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin discuss in a wide ranging talks at the Vatican.

Also the race for 10 Downing Street is in its final stage. Voters prepare to seek Britain's next prime minister. They'll will be voted by the Conservative Party. We will tell you what's still ahead.


VAUSE: At the Vatican on Thursday, the man referred to as God's emissary on earth met for the third time with a man many consider the biggest threat to global stability.

And true to form Russia's Vladimir Putin was an hour late for his meeting with Pope Francis. They exchanged gifts. The conversation we're told was cordial.

Here's CNN's Phil Black reporting in from Rome. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A third meeting for TWO global figures with very different global views. For Pope Francis, a chance to maintain dialog and engage with a powerful leader and perhaps influence world events, especially with those that hurt vulnerable people. While for President Putin a chance to engage with, listen to, and be seen listening to a moral authority, the spiritual leader at the world's biggest Christian church.

President Putin again kept that spiritual leader waiting as he had done with two previous visits. Today, he was about an hour late for his meeting with the Pope. Apart from that discourtesy, the two men were polite and friendly with each other in front of the cameras.

They then spoke behind closed doors for about 55 minutes. We know some of the subjects but not the detail or the opinions expressed. They talked about wars in Ukraine and Syria, where Russia remains a key actor. They talked about Venezuela where Russia has influence. And they talked about one of the popes passions -- the fight to save the natural world.

When it was all over, Vladimir Putin thanks the Pope for an interesting and substantive discussion. Vladimir Putin then went on to enjoy something he rarely gets to experience, meetings with a Russian friendly government in western Europe.

The populist, anti establishment coalition government in Italy is very open in its desire to establish better relations with Russia. It is very open and it's believed that European Union sanctions against Russia over its behavior in Ukraine, it says they should be stopped.

One particular leader in the coalition, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti immigrant hard right party, known as The League is so open in his adoration for Putin he's been known to wear a t-shirt with Putin's face on it.

In Rome, standing next to the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, Vladimir Putin expressed his gratitude for the Italian government's position on E.U. sanctions.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are thankful for Italy's position which is supportive of restoring our relations with the European Union.

Se see the efforts of the Italian government in direction. We hope Italy can express its position in a clear and consistent way for the full restoration of relations between Russia and Europe as a whole.

BLACK: Vladimir Putin returned to Russia but first he scheduled time to catch up with his own close personal friend, the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Phil black, CNN -- Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: We should know by the end of the month who will be Britain's next prime minister. Members of the U.K. Conservative Party will vote for the next party leader and by default the next resident of Number 10.

Here's CNN's Bianca Nobilo.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On July 23rd, one of these men will be named as the new leader of the Conservative Party and Britain's next prime minister.

Over a series of votes, ten Tory hopefuls were whittled down to two -- foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt is now running against his predecessor and former mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Who gets the keys to 10 Downing Street will be decided by a round of 160,000 people -- the members of the Conservative Party. They will vote for their choice of leader in a postal ballot starting July 6th.

The key issue in this leadership race is the same issue that defined and destroyed the premiership of Theresa May.

THERESA MAY, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.

BORIS JOHNSON, FORMER MAYOR OF LONDON: We can take back control --

NOBILO: Johnson -- a key architect of Brexit, says the U.K. will leave on October 31st, come what may, do or die. Hunt, who back in 2016 campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the European Union says he's now fully behind Brexit. He promised to make the call on a deal or no deal withdrawal on September 30th.

How either candidate will be able to break the Brexit deadlock remains to be seen.

[01:50:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ayes to the right 202; the noes to the left, 432.

NOBILO: MPs have already rejected the withdrawal agreement three times and the E.U. says the deal is not open to renegotiation. MPs have also voted against a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson says he wouldn't ruled out suspending parliament to force an exit on the 31st of October. That is something Jeremy Hunt has guaranteed he won't do.

Bianco Nobilo, CNN -- London.

VAUSE: Well, a piece of Ancient Egypt has been auctioned for millions of dollars. Cairo though is livid it was up for sale at all. What that controversy is all about in a moment.

Also we'll meet Maurice (ph) the Rooster and find out why, why this (INAUDIBLE) the walk is going to court.


VAUSE: A bust of Egypt's most famous pharaoh has slowed at auction for nearly $6 million dollars. And the sale went ahead over the objections of Cairo which claimed it may have been stolen.

Nick Glass has details.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was created as a propaganda image to struck awe among the masses. The pharaoh as deity, beautifully and naturalistically carved some 3,000 years ago.

Unmistakably to those who know these things, the face of the boy king, Tutankhamun, almond-eyed, high cheek boned, full sensual lips. But it was Christie's right to sell this statue at auction.

ZAHI HAWASS, FORMER EGYPTIAN MINISTER OF ANTIQUITIES: This is a black day for our archeology. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should be ashamed.

I an angry. And you have to be angry. The whole world has to be angry because there is no ethics here.

GLASS: Ethics or not, here was the statue for all to see under the bright lights of a London sale room. The Egyptian authorities wanted the auction postponed, say it breached international agreements.

They demanded proof that the statue left Egypt legally. They asked the auction house for documentation about the statue's provenance, and say that they did not get it. Christie's refute this.

LAETITIA DELALOYE, HEAD OF ANTIQUITIES, CHRISTIE'S: We have been in touch with the Egyptian authorities both in Cairo and the Egyptian embassy here, and we phoned them about the sale, even before the catalog was published.

So, we have collaborative relationships with them, and we have given them all the information that we have for the piece. Christie's has a role to play in providing a transparence and legitimate markets. We would never offer a piece, where there's any concern about the provenance.

GLASS: Dr. Hawass believes that the statue was removed illegally from the Temple of Karnak near Luxor sometime after 1970. Again, Christie's disputes this. They say their research shows that the piece has been in the European collection since the 1960s.

The statute is carved from brown (INAUDIBLE), not only is it very beautiful and very rare, but the subject, of course, has been a celebrity for almost a century.

[01:55:02] HAWASS: Tutankhamun is the king of the kings. Tutankhamun is unique. Tutankhamun is different. GLASS: Tutankhamun matters because he's famous. We've all heard of

him because uniquely his tomb was found a 1922 with all of its golden treasures intact. These treasures will be the main attraction, when the new grand Egyptian Museum finally opens near Cairo next year.

Despite the auction, of Egyptians say they will persist in their attempt to recover the statue.

Nick Glass, CNN -- in London.


VAUSE: Well, Christie's released a statement after taking their commission from the $6 million dollar price tag and of course, the auction, saying this. "We recognize that historic objects generate complex discussion about the past. Yet our role today is to work to continue to provide a transparent, legitimate marketplace, upholding the highest standards for the transfer of objects."

We should note CNN will seek further comments from Egypt about the sale.

Finishing up here with a rooster in western France, running afoul of the neighbors. Their feathers a little ruffled by this early morning crowing. Apparently the whiners come from the cities, and they visit a country home just a couple of times a year. Maurice wake them up, as roosters do they say -- that stuff.

Apparently, the city folks have taken the country owners of Maurice to court, accusing the roosters of noise pollution. A flock of supporters are trying to save Maurice. More than 120,000 signed a petition. Some of them even brought their own roosters to court on Thursday.

But here is the plaintiff's attorney. Listen to this.


VINCENT HUBERDEAU, PLAINTIFF'S ATTOREY: My clients just want peace and tranquility, this is a secondary residence. they are retired, they want to be able to sleep until a normal time in the morning, and they would like the rooster in question clocked in at night as it's daylight usually that triggers the rooster's crow.

BRUNO DIONIS DU SEJOUR, GAJAC, FRANCE MAYOR: It's a disgrace that rural people have to go to court because of people who come from elsewhere. People from the city are welcome in the countryside, but only if they respect it as it is, that's all.

We are not asking any more than that. When I go to town, do I ask for the traffic lights and cars to be removed?


VAUSE: You go to the country, you get roosters. And we should note the rooster is one of the national symbols of France. And a verdict in this case is not expected until September. So there's going to be a lot of early mornings until then.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for your company. I'm John Vause.

Natalie Allen takes over after a very short break. You're watching CNN.