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More Than 1,000 Killed By Deadliest Quake In Decades; E.U. Set To Decide On Ukraine's Candidacy Status; Russia Ramps Up Grinding Offensive In Eastern Ukraine; Putin Boasts Of Growing Trade With BRICS Partners; Sources: New Subpoenas In Trump's Fake Elector Scheme; Sen. Johnson Denies Any Role In Fake Elector Scheme. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired June 23, 2022 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Live from Hong Kong, I'm Anna Coren, and this is CNN Newsroom.
Tragedy in Afghanistan. The latest on the desperate search for earthquake survivors, as the death toll is expected to climb. Ahead of day five of the U.S. Capitol riot hearings. CNN obtained the first look at new video evidence. And a new sleep study that's a medical wakeup call. The part of your bedtime routine that could lead to life- threatening consequences.
We begin in Afghanistan which is reeling in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. Officials say more than 1,000 people were killed in the disaster, and that number is expected to rise. The epicenter of the 5.9 magnitude quake was southwest of hosts near the country's border with Pakistan, with most deaths reported in Paktika Province.
Emergency relief has been deployed from multiple agencies. But the U.N. says $15 million in aid is needed immediately for rescue and recovery efforts. Well, that number is also likely to increase.
Bad weather is making digging through the rubble of homes and buildings even more difficult. The U.N. Humanitarian Affairs Office says strong winds and monsoon rains are making it difficult for helicopters to land with supplies. Many homes made of mud and other materials have simply been swept away.
Here's one U.N. aid official addressing the challenges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA HIEBER GIRARDET, U.N. OFFICE FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION: It is remote. And what we're going to be seeing is a lack of access. The roads are poor even in the best of time. And so, having a humanitarian operation put in place is going to be immediately challenged by the lack of easy access to the area, to the region. And I think that's going to be probably one of the big challenges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: CNN's Vedika Sud joins us now from New Delhi with the very latest. And Vedika, the loss of life is simply staggering.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely is. And we do know that the casualty numbers could be going up, Anna. This is the deadliest earthquake to hit Afghanistan at least in the last two decades. Now just start with the video that's coming in from the Paktika Province that you mentioned just a few moments ago, this is the worst hit region in eastern Afghanistan.
This one video encapsulates how graves are being prepared, a series of graves for the dead. For me, this encapsulates the grief, the struggle, the pain of this unfolding tragedy in eastern Afghanistan. Now we do know that the weather didn't hold up on Wednesday for rescue efforts to actually reach these remote village areas.
Also, what we do know at this point from officials and aid agencies is that the district of Gayan in Paktika Province has been impacted severely. According to aid agencies, about 70 percent of the housing in this area has been completely demolished. We also do know that the casualty numbers could be going up because a lot of people are still buried under the rubble. Aid agencies have rushed to these areas.
But like officials have been telling us, these are remote areas getting there and accessing these areas is turning out to be very difficult. What's compiling to this entire challenge is the issue of telecommunication being affected. So as of now, we still don't know what the extent of the damage is in terms of infrastructure, in terms of lives loss, but we're hoping there will be more clarity in the days to come.
A lot of aid agencies have sent their teams and they say they're overstretched, some say access is an issue, while others are calling the situation extremely grim at this point. Anna?
COREN: Let's hope those aid groups get there as soon as possible. Vedika Sud, great to see you. Many thanks for the update.
Joining me now from Kabul, Neil Turner, is the Afghanistan Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council. Neil, thank you for joining us. What are you hearing from the teams on the ground about the situation in these devastated provinces?
NEIL TURNER, AFGHANISTAN COUNTRY DIRECTOR, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: Well, the situation is really dire. This is misery upon misery for the Afghan people.
We have now over 1,000 deaths, we have over 2,000 households immediately affected by collapse. These figures are very, very likely to rise. We're looking at a situation where we have tens of thousands of people in need of immediate assistance.
COREN: The death rates as we've just been hearing is so high because at the time of the earthquake, it was early morning, people were asleep in their homes in these mud, you know, clay dwellings. We've seen the videos of grave after grave after grave. What is the priority right now for humanitarian groups like yours?
TURNER: So the priority is to get access. And we've already conducted assessments in Costa province, the neighboring province of Paktika, and we're looking at bringing in immediate shelter assistance there. That happened yesterday.
And today, there's a big effort from all the aid agencies in particular to make sure that we get the assessments done. And we've already started moving supplies towards the area in relation to tents, blankets, household items, hygiene kits, and everything that we think is going to be immediately necessary to assist the population.
In the medium term, it's not only people's lives which have been lost, it's also their livelihoods which have been lost. And we need to gear up to look at how we help people re-establish their businesses, their farms, and everything else. There will also be water and sanitation needs. It's a huge undertaking, and it needs international assistance, and it needs collaboration and cooperation with all the agencies on the ground at the moment.
COREN: Neil, we know that this is a mountainous area. Are teams having difficulties accessing these areas?
TURNER: We've already conducted assessments in close province. It is a difficult situation. The terrain is difficult. There has been some rain. But our teams have managed to access the areas so far. Paktika, there have been some initial assistance.
The search and rescue operation is going on by the Taliban authorities. There have been some agencies which have been able to distribute medical supplies. But we need to ramp this up as quickly as possible, notwithstanding the difficulties of accessing the area.
COREN: Since the Taliban took over last August, the country has been in economic freefall. The Taliban, they know how to fight, they are struggling to govern. How would you describe the Taliban's disaster relief response to this earthquake?
TURNER: Well, what they've done is they've given humanitarian agencies full access to the area, and we're responding as quickly as we can. On a wider note, I think the difficulties of Afghanistan, the humanitarian situation is underpinned by an economic crisis. And when we look at responding to this particularly humanitarian crisis, we have to look beyond that to assisting the Afghan people to get their economy up and running.
COREN: Neil, what's your appeal to other aid organizations and perhaps, you know, viewers watching this broadcast right now? How can they help?
TURNER: Well, we need to have additional assistance. The humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are well known. There are over 24 million people at risk of severe food insecurity. We have had an appeal, which was in March, which was funded about half. We really need to make sure that that appeal is fully funded. And that was only the existing humanitarian needs that we had identified at the beginning of this year. Now, obviously, with this earthquake, there's a need for more, and we need to make sure that the Afghanistan situation is fully funded, and the misery of the Afghan people is brought to an end. And that we are able to assist not only in this crisis, but in the wider humanitarian needs.
COREN: International community has pulled out of the country. They did that last year. Let's hope that they step up and help these people so desperately in need.
Neil Turner, many thanks for your time.
In Ukraine, Russia is ramping up its offensive in the east just as Ukrainians hoped to get a step closer to the West. European Union leaders begin a summit in Brussels in the coming hours to decide if Ukraine should get a green light to start the process of joining the group.
A full membership would still be years away. The senior E.U. official says all current members are expected to get behind Ukraine's candidacy. But on the eve of the summit, President Zelenskyy was embarking on some last minute lobbying of European leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): From the very morning, I continued the telephone marathon for a positive decision on the candidacy for Ukraine. Tomorrow, I will continue this marathon. We must provide maximum support to our state. We expect a key European decision tomorrow night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: The E.U. summit comes as Ukraine faces an uphill battle on the front lines. Ukrainian officials say they still control 45 percent of the Donetsk region where grueling battles are underway, and in the Luhansk region next door.
Russian artillery keeps on pounding the city of Severodonetsk, but grinding street battles have been going on for weeks now where Russian ground forces inch forward.
For more, let's bring in CNN's Salma Abdelaziz live in Kyiv. Salma, the Russian takeover of a number of embattled cities in Luhansk, in particular, appears imminent. What can you tell us?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely a very worrying battlefield picture there where Ukrainian forces are absolutely on the backfoot facing an ever inching advance by Russian forces using, of course, their superior superior military might to push back these Ukrainian defenders. The most concerning part is around Lysychansk, that's the sister city of Severodonetsk. Those brewing battles have been going on for nearly two months. In and around, Lysychansk, particularly to the south Ukrainians admit that they have lost territory, that they have lost villages, that they are now being occupied by Russian forces being used as artillery positions. And it's not just about artillery, airstrikes, Russian air support coming in to try to push this advance. It appears Ukrainian forces there are succumbing again to that Russian military might. And that would be very important because it would bring Russian forces one step closer potentially to getting the city of Severodonetsk.
And their Ukrainian defenders appear to be making a last stand in a chemical plant. Hundreds of civilians also inside that plant across Severodonetsk. Thousands of civilians still trapped, still pinned down in the fighting. Yet again last night, President Zelenskyy appealing, pleading for help. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENSKYY (through translation): In Donbas, there are massive air and artillery strikes. The goal of the occupiers in this direction remains the same. They want to destroy the whole Donbas step by step. They aim to turn any city into Mariupol, completely ruined. That is why we repeatedly emphasized the acceleration of weapons supplies to Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: Now it's not just in the Donbas region, in the Luhansk area, of course, part of the wider Donbas, it's not just there that Ukrainian troops are facing a challenge from Russian forces. Also to the north of the country, in the Sumy area. Ukrainian officials saying that there's cross border attacks that Russian forces are using kamikaze drones to take out tanks and APCs. In Kharkiv, there's been intensified shelling on civilian areas. In Mykolaiv all the way to the South that very key city along the coast there, there was seven missile strikes.
And what's also very important here, Anna, is the -- Russians are claiming they're taking out howitzers, American made long-range weapons that are very important. There's precious few of them for Ukrainian forces, absolutely critical to them being able to strike back at those artillery positions. Look, it's shaping up to be one of the worst weeks for the Ukrainian military since the fall of Mariupol.
COREN: Salma Abdelaziz, we appreciate the report. Thank you.
Ukrainian military officials are increasingly concerned Russia will make a renewed push to take Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv. Russian forces were driven out of the area several weeks ago. But as Sam Kiley reports, Ukraine's military believes they're not done trying.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Preya (ph) is on return to her bombed out home.
PREYA (PH), UKRAINE (through translator): I hope and believe with all my heart that light will conquer darkness, that peace will triumph over evil.
KILEY (voice-over): It's a distant prospect because here, Ukrainian say that Russian forces are massing for a new assault on their home town. She fled the last Russian attacks in April when this area, Saltivka, bore the brunt.
(on-camera): Thousands of people were driven from their homes in this Northeastern suburb of Kharkiv. Hundreds across the city were killed in missile strikes that did this kind of damage to whole apartment blocks. The remains of some of those missiles are still scattered in the rubble here. And it still smells of death.
(voice-over): Kharkiv is under constant and intensified shelling, ending a lull after Russian forces were driven back several weeks ago. This college dorm was hit on a day when 15 people were killed in and around the city. On the front line, it's easy to see why Russia calls one of its rocket systems grad, it means hail.
Many Ukrainian fighters raise private funds to buy civilian drones. It spots a Russian soldier who hears the tiny aircraft and shows potentially fatal curiosity. Less than 100 yards sometimes separates the enemies on the outskirts of Kharkiv's north. Ukrainian forces called conventional trench warfare like this, the meat grinder.
Loki has been fighting in those same dugouts.
LOKI, SPECIAL UNIT ODIN: The main disadvantage, and everyone knows it, and it's the only one that I will tell is the numbers, the raw numbers. There are just too many of the forces and stuff.
KILEY (voice-over): Ukrainian intelligence officers forecast for Kharkiv is a new threat of hail.
ANDRII MOGYLA, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES: On this picture, you actually can see well hidden vehicles and they are placing them almost on forests. We have firing positions of two self-propelled artillery and the fire and control unit right here. They actually tell us that they are going to prepare another invasion of Kharkiv.
KILEY (on-camera): Do you have an estimate when that might happen?
MOGYLA: I can't be 100 percent sure, but I am kind of confident. So in nearest week, I would say.
KILEY (voice-over): This is proving to be a long war. Prayer often the last line of defense.
Sam Kiley, CNN in Saltivka, Kharkiv.
COREN: Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be brushing off economic sanctions by the West and is aggressively pursuing more trade with a handful of global economic partners to fill the gap. Known as BRICS, the trade bloc is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It accounts for about 25 percent of global GDP. The group met Wednesday in a virtual Summit hosted by Beijing. In his remarks, the Russian leader claimed his country's trade with BRICS members had grown some 38 percent in the first quarter.
Let's bring in CNN's Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson live here in Hong Kong. Ivan, it certainly appears Vladimir Putin still has friends despite the war and atrocities he's waging on Ukraine.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He certainly does, Anna, and this is an opportunity to once again demonstrate what a close friend Xi Jinping, the Chinese President is to the Russian President. That's no secret. That's something that they've been repeating, making phone calls on each other's birthdays, for example, congratulating each other, talking about a relationship with no boundaries, no limits.
But this is a bigger forum than just the bilateral Moscow-Beijing connection. Because you have India and South Africa and Brazil attending this virtual Summit, as well. The Chinese and the Russian leaders at the Business Forum on Wednesday, they took this opportunity to slam U.S.-led sanctions against Moscow. What the Chinese President argued was weaponization of the global economy to talk about the threat of hegemony as Xi Jinping put it.
And Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia was working to find alternative markets and to focus on the other BRICS countries as potential markets to evade Western sanctions. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): Contacts between Russia and business circles in the business community of the BRICS countries are being activated. For example, negotiations are underway to open Indian supermarket chains in Russia to increase the share of Chinese cars, equipment and machinery in our market. And of course, we are actively engaged in rerouting our trade flows and foreign economic contacts toward reliable international partners, primarily the BRICS countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: Now, it's no secret, Anna, that as the sanctions have taken hold, Russia has largely lost its traditional kind of markets for its oil and natural gas exports that's to Europe, and that China and India have been purchasing that fuel, those energy exports. China last month its crude oil imports from Russia hit a record high surpassing its imports from Saudi Arabia.
India has been buying energy as well, though, at a discount. The call for a new international order that Russia and China have repeatedly made, it doesn't seem that this BRICS grouping will necessarily lead to that. After all, you do have divergences within these five countries. India has fought a deadly border clashes with China within the last couple of years. India is also a member of the quad group with Japan and Australia and the U.S., which China denounces. And Brazil, in fact, voted in the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine last February. Anna?
COREN: But it certainly does seem these BRICS countries are more than happy to fill the void for now. Ivan Watson in Hong Kong, many thanks.
Well, the U.S. Justice Department steps up its investigation into Donald Trump's election conspiracies. We'll tell you about new subpoenas for key people involved in his team's fake elector scheme.
Plus, we're counting down to the next hearing into the January 6th Capitol riot. The new evidence the committee is reviewing and why they're planning to take a break.
COREN: When Donald Trump lost key swing states like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan in the 2020 election, his team came up with a plan, present a slate of alternate electors who would vote to keep him in office despite Joe Biden's victory. Well, now some of those fake electors will have to answer for their actions. CNN's Katelyn Polantz explains.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: New reporting Wednesday of a fresh round of subpoenas in the Justice Department's probe into fake electors used by Donald Trump in 2020. So what we are learning is that federal investigators have issued a subpoena to the Georgia Republican Party Chairman. His name is David Shafer, and he is a top person not just in the party, but he was an elector for Trump in 2020.
When the electors for Trump were not needed, they gathered to try and supplant Biden's win in that state. So he served in that group, but he also was a key central person in touch with the Trump campaign as the electors in Georgia were trying to convene. So in addition to Shafer getting a subpoena, we are also now learning that other electors, fake electors in battleground states that Trump lost so they weren't needed, the others have received subpoenas as well. That's in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Georgia.
So this ongoing federal probe is existing in at least three states. And this is a significant expansion of a probe that we have known about for some time already. Previously, our understanding was that there were fewer states that the Justice Department was at least actively known to be looking in and also that they were looking at lower level, people among Republicans, people who had been set to be electors for Trump and then dropped out.
This ratchets that up, it goes closer to the heart of the people who gathered after the election to try and become electors for Donald Trump and send certificates that were fakes to the federal government. But one of the things that's important to remember about this is that this isn't just about what happened in battleground states. This is also a probe that looks into the Trump campaign itself.
All of these inquiries are not just asking for information about the electors, but also about people that are top level staffers and lawyers in the Trump campaign. People like Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Justin Clark, those are all lawyers that were working with the campaign and with Donald Trump himself after the election. And we're hearing a lot about fake electors this week.
While the Justice Department has been looking at them, we also know that the grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia has been looking at them. And the House Select Committee earlier this week in their last public hearing, did bring forth information that Donald Trump and the Trump campaign were orchestrating these electors coming together in various states, just like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.
COREN: The House hearings Katelyn just mentioned will resume in the day ahead. Members plan to highlight Donald Trump's pressure on the Justice Department to back his false claim that the election was stolen. Then the chairman says the panel will take a break until mid- July to evaluate new evidence.
One of the things that they're looking at is a British filmmaker's footage documenting the final weeks of the Trump presidency. "Unprecedented" will be released this summer by Discovery Plus which is owned by the same company as CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father, he's very honest, and he is who he is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believes everything that he's doing is right.
TRUMP: I think I treat people well unless they don't treat me well, in which case you gone at war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we talk for a minute about January 6th?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: More now from CNN's Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New evidence is emerging as the January 6th committee prepares to hold its fifth public hearing. That new information includes extensive footage from a British filmmaker who interviewed former President Trump, his family, and others before and after the January 6th insurrection. A source tells CNN it includes an interview with Ivanka Trump from mid- December 2020, where she says her father should, "Continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted."
Her comments then seemed to contradict what she told the committee under oath at a deposition, acknowledging she believed then Attorney General Bill Barr when he told her in November 2020, that there was no widespread election fraud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did that affect your perspective about the election when Attorney General Barr made that statement?
IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he -- was saying.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): According to extremist experts, calls for violence against members of the committee are circulating on some of the same online platforms that helped fuel the lies that led to the insurrection. Members have told CNN they are taking additional precautions and several have security details.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I had no involvement in an open slate of electors.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, Senator Ron Johnson is denying any role getting the name of fake electors into then Vice President Mike Pence's hands after the committee unveiled text Tuesday, showing one of his staffers texting an aide to Pence saying Johnson wanted to hand deliver slates of fake electors for Trump for Michigan and Wisconsin to replace the legitimate ones for Biden.
JOHNSON: We got handed an envelope that was supposed to go to the Vice President. I didn't know. So we called up the Vice President. He didn't want it. We didn't deliver it. It's a non-story -- guys this is such a non-story.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The committee is now continuing its push for Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to testify publicly after he spoke with them behind closed doors.
LIZ CHENEY, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE VICE CHAIR: Our committee is certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr. Cipollone to testify here.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): And Chairman Bennie Thompson says Ginni Thomas has responded to the committee's request to speak with her but no word on when that will happen or if it will be public. On Thursday, former top officials from the Justice Department will testify about how they pushed back on Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the election, including then acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and his deputy Richard Donoghue.
RICHARD DONOGHUE, FMR. U.S. ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: And I recall toward the end saying what you're proposing is nothing less than the United States Justice Department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.
[01:29:46] SCHNEIDER: After Thursday's hearing the committee is delaying all future hearings until mid July, because of what Congressman Jamie Raskin calls a deluge of new evidence that includes that new documentary material, plus new tips that have been coming into the committees tip line.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
COREN: Well you can see the entire hearing plus in-depth analysis right here on CNN starting two on Thursday afternoon in Washington. That is seven in the evening in London, Friday at 2:00 a.m. here in Hong Kong.
Still to come, more on the rescue efforts in Afghanistan after a deadly earthquake rocked the region.
Also ahead, time is running out for residents in a South African township that is dangerously close to running out of tap water. Will they get rain anytime soon? We will get a look at the forecast after the break.
COREN: New details on the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan that has claimed more than a thousand lives. This was the scene after the strong quake toppled buildings in the area, as people slept inside during the early hours of Wednesday morning.
A Taliban spokesperson says, humanitarian aid from Qatar, Iran and Pakistan have now arrived in the country. And although search and rescue operations are still ongoing, aid groups say they are seeing major challenges getting help to the region due to the difficult terrain and the bad weather.
CNN's Scott McLean has the details but a warning -- some of the images you are about to see are disturbing.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the sound of help arriving in Afghanistan's Paktika Province. Overnight, the extremely remote area was struck by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake, destroyed buildings and killed more than a thousand people, the deadliest quake in more than two decades.
In one village, a group of men searching for survivors pulled out a lifeless body instead. Elsewhere, this man lifts the shrouds of the latest victims.
"These people died in the earthquake," he says, "and 33 members of one family were killed."
The epicenter was a sparsely populated area along the border with Pakistan and an active fault line about 100 miles south of Kabul. "The kids and I screamed," this woman says, "one of our rooms was
destroyed. We heard our neighbors screaming."
MCLEAN: Taliban trucks moved bodies out of the area, some homes were badly damaged. The government says some entire villages were destroyed, and that is just what they know about so far.
SAM MORT, CHIEF OF COMMUNICATIONS, UNICEF AFGHANISTAN: Some communities are not accessible, there's a lot of rain here in Afghanistan at the moment so we've had landslides and there is a lot mud. And of course, because these areas that are affected are so rural and remote, there's no sophisticated equipment there.
MCLEAN: The man shooting this video says that one of his grandchildren was buried in the rubble but they managed to pull him out alive.
Foreign aid organizations say they are already on the ground but the head of one local NGO says that Taliban-led search and rescue effort is desperately under resourced.
OBAIDULLAH BAHEER, LECTURER, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF AFGHANISTAN: There probably weren't more helicopters to send, out because when the United States was leaving it disabled most of the aircraft, whether it belonged to Afghan forces or to them.
So, it is just that we constantly keep dealing in absolutes and right and wrong, and black and white, and the world isn't like that.
MCLEAN: At a press conference, the Taliban pledged to send more than $500 to those injured, and more than $1,000 to the families of those killed. A bold pledge for a cash-strapped government in the midst of an economic crisis, unable to feed even its own people.
Scott McLean, CNN -- London.
COREN: For more on how you can help the aid groups operating in those areas hit by the earthquake, go to CNN.com/impact.
People in the Nelson Mandela Bay Area -- formerly Port Elizabeth -- South Africa, are about two weeks away from Day Zero. That is when they will completely run out of tap water. A system of four dams in the area has been drying up for months because of extreme drought, water system leaks and poor management.
Heavy rains could help the situation, but none are expected anytime soon.
CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins me now from Atlanta with more on the forecast. Is there any rain in the forecast, Derek?
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And I'll answer that in just a moment. But I want you and our viewers to picture this, envision this. You have one communal tap within your town where your individual family has to walk to every single day to collect 50 liter jugs of water, and wheelbarrow them back to your house because there is literally no water coming out of your faucet or your taps at home.
That is what some people are having to deal with in the eastern cape, just outside of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. Amongst several- year drought that is ongoing and plaguing this part of South Africa.
This is a significant problem because the drought conditions have led to the failure of several dams that filter about 1 million people their drinking water. In fact, just last week, we had the Impofu Dam just outside of Kobaham (ph) or Baha -- this is a formerly known as Port Elizabeth in the eastern cape. That dam has failed. We have five days left of water in the Churchill dam.
Collectively these four dams, actually encompass about 11.9 percent of remaining water for that city. And the time is literally ticking as we go through the days and weeks without proper water to help refill the reservoirs and the dams.
Now what is leading to this, we have got myriad problems from climate change, changing weather patterns, poor management, but also leaking water systems across this area. And to make any kind of meaningful change to the levels of water within the local dams that supply the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality with their drinking water, we need several days of rain accumulating over 50 mmm, that is according to the South African Weather Service.
We do have precipitation moving through within the next few days through the course of the weekend. But will it be enough? Some of our computer models depicting across the eastern cape, there's Port Elizabeth, again it is now currently known as Korbela (ph)-- that particular area expected rainfall in total of about 25 millimeters.
So not meaningful enough to make a change just yet, but we can hope as we get into the rainy season here through the rest of the winter in the southern hemisphere, maybe it will, Anna?
COREN: I hope it holds (INAUDIBLE).
Derek, good to see you, thanks for the update.
VAN DAM: Thank you.
COREN: Meantime, days of heavy rains and devastating floods have displaced over a quarter of a million people in India's northeastern Assam state. 12 people have died there in the past 24 hours alone including four children bringing the death toll across India and neighboring Bangladesh to at least 123.
Assam State has opened more than 1,800 relief tents in distribution centers to help the more than 5 million people affected by the disaster. Officials say they expect the heavy rainfall to continue until Saturday.
Well, still to come this hour -- [01:39:56
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump was shameful for America, and Boris is shameful for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Voters express their feelings about the British Prime Minister ahead of by-elections in the UK. Those details ahead.
Plus, new research finds that even a small amount of light when you sleep can be bad for your health. We will speak with the lead author of the surprising study.
COREN: Boris Johnson facing more pressure as his conservative party is at risk of losing two parliamentary seats in by-elections. The polls open next hour.
CNN's Bianca Nobilo explains what's at stake.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A world away from Westminster. Boris Johnson's political future hangs in the balance. Determined by two small elections triggered by sex scandals. But the real issue maybe whether his election-winning personality is now a liability.
The first in Wakefield, a cathedral city in northern England was called to replace a member of parliament from Johnson's conservative party who was convicted for sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
The second Tiverton and Honiton will see voters heading to polls in the bucolic farmlands of southwest England. There is a history of battle here, this time it is political.
The by-election is happening here because local conservative MP Neil Parrish was caught watching pornography in parliament, not once, but twice. But he said he was looking for tractors.
If Boris Johnson loses one or both of these elections it will show that he is no longer in the driving seat. His position as prime minister even less tenable. And his own MPs will be looking for ways to hasten his political demise.
And now the prime minister's unpopularity is their problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This MP of ours going in that way and the one in Wakefield going the same way over certain sleazy matters. You kind of get the feeling of this drip, drip from the top. I mean he's shallow, he's self serving. He is a serial liar. Matters if his own MPs are disgusted with him.
CHESSIE FLACK, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT ACTIVIST: Boris Johnson needs to look at the past whether he is leaving and that is coming from the top.
If It is ok for him to lie, then it's all right for that to filter down to his MPs as well.
NOBILO: But the damage these voters say goes deeper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump was shameful for America. And Boris was shameful for us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't agree more. I've always been very proud of (INAUDIBLE). I'm starting to feel less proud of actually the country that I come from.
NOBILO: Johnson, once a glittering election winner, Brexit deliverer, star of the show, now airbrushed out of his own party's political campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the prime minister is a complete liability for the conservative party. He just can't do it right. And unfortunately, he just can't see it.
RICHARD FOORD, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE: There is a really understanding here amongst us -- astute voters in our community that we can send a message on behalf of all of those people who don't have the opportunities away from those things.
NOBILO: That message could be that Boris Johnson's once winning political formula has become toxic.
Bianca Nobilo, CNN -- London.
COREN: Well, Britain's Prince Charles is in Rwanda for a commonwealth leaders summit this week and he took some time Wednesday to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Hutus, who were killed by extremist Hutus during the brutal genocide in 1994.
CNN's Max Foster is in the Capital of Kigali with the story.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Bloodstained shorts belonging to just one victim of the massacre at Nyamata church. Also found here, tools like machetes used so bluntly by the perpetrators. Before they attacked, they threw grenades, and the holes created by the shrapnel still pepper the roof.
In the basement, the Schools of anonymous Tutsi man, suspended above the coffin of a woman from the same ethnic group, who lost her life in a act of barbarous sexual violence.
Even now, more bodies are being discovered and brought here, as the attackers identify other murder sites as part of the reconciliation process that began in 1999.
Around 10,000 people were killed in this church across two days, and they are buried here behind it, along with around 35,000 other victims of genocide. A quarter of a million more are buried here at the genocide memorial in the Capital Kigali. They include Freddy's family.
FREDDY MUTANGUHA, KIGALI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL: They came and attacked my house. And they killed my family, my parents and four sisters.
FOSTER: Did you see that?
MUTANGUHA: Yes, of course, I heard -- I was hiding, but I could hear their voices actually until they finished.
FOSTER: You were the only survivor?
MUTANGUHA: I survived with my sister, but I lost four sisters, as well.
FOSTER: It is Freddy's mission to keep the memories of his family and hundreds of thousands of other victims alive. He now runs this memorial site. He was keen to welcome Prince Charles to learn more about what happened here and help counter a growing online threat from genocide deniers. Freddy compares it to the Holocaust denial.
MUTANGUHA: More than a million of Tutsi lost their lives because of this kind of ideology. If this ideology is given a place, and the ideology is the ideology of genocide, who promote the ideology of genocide are given platforms.
And this comes back. We are going to lose people. We are going to lose lives. And I don't want this to happen in Rwanda, and I don't want this to happen anywhere around the world.
FOSTER: It is a familiar theme, as memories of tragedy fade, anonymous conspiracy theorists crawl in to rewrite history and prevent much- needed reconciliation, healing and peace.
In a statement after this first day of their tour to Rwanda, Prince Charles and Camilla said they were struck about how important it is never to forget the horrors of the past. And how deeply moved they were meeting people who have found ways of living with and even forgiving the most appalling crimes.
Max foster, CNN -- Kigali, Rwanda.
COREN: The "Wall Street Journal" is reporting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might soon ban e-cigarette maker Juul's Products from the market. This follows a review of the brand over concerns it may have helped encourage vaping among underage users. The FDA hasn't formally announced the move yet, and CNN is unable to verify the "Journal" report but it resulted in shares of the cigarette company Altria, plunging Wednesday. Altria owns a 35 percent stake in Juul.
Medical research at Northwestern University has found that even a small night light whilst you sleep can have a detrimental effect on your health.
The latest study found, quote, exposure to any amount of light during the sleep period was correlated with the higher prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and hypertension in both older men and women. People should do their best to avoid or minimize the amount of light they are exposed to during sleep.
(INAUDIBLE) Dr. Phyllis Zee. She is the chief of sleep medicine and a neurology professor at Northwestern University School of Medicine. Doctor, great to have you with us. what have you with us. It certainly is a fascinating study, please tell us about your findings.
DR. PHYLLIS ZEE, CHIEF OF SLEEP MEDICINE, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Yes, thank you.
So what we did was we wanted to look at the effect of light at night, especially in the sleep period on cardiovascular, metabolic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, and also hypertension.
And what we found was that what was surprising to us, in older adults that more than 50 percent of people were really not sleeping in darkness. And so -- which is really quite surprising.
There's always some light on and even any light on was associated with an increased risk or increase prevalence of hypertension, heart disease, as well as diabetes and obesity.
COREN: Explain that to us. I mean I sleep with blackout curtains, so you are preaching to the converted, but explain to us the physiological effects that light has on your body when you sleep, and the health problems that it leads to.
DR. ZEE: Yes, these are biological effects, so that even a small amount of light appears that your body, or your brain is aware of that light being on during the night.
And we have other studies that show that perhaps the mechanism that links the risk of -- relation between light and that of, you know, cardiovascular metabolic disorders really needed through changes, in the Circadian system. But also can have direct effects on what we call the autonomic nervous system. This is the system that regulates, for example, your heart --
COREN: You mentioned that your study found that up to 50 percent of people will sleep with a light on, are you talking about having devices in your room that emit light? Or are you talking about leaving the curtains on and having the street lamp or the moonlight come in? DR. ZEE: I think it would be any of those conditions. In the study, we
could not determine where the light was coming from. We just measured the light that the individual was a wristwatch that they were wearing, so the light was detected from that wristwatch.
So it could be from the night lamp. It could be from the outside, or it could be from any source in the room.
COREN: What about people who like to wake up with the sun? So, you know, they certainly do not close their curtains, what would be your vice to them?
DR. ZEE: I think it is great to wake up with the sun, but it is really important to also, you know, turn down those lights, or dim those lights a few hours before bedtime, and certainly try to keep your bedroom, or your sleeping environment, or your most inactive period as dark as possible. But of course, it is not always possible to be in total darkness for safety reasons.
DR. ZEE: And I think there we have methods. So for example, keep your lights as dim as possible. But also, there are ways where you can change the color of your light so that it's more in the red or brown tinge, yellow tinge -- colors so that that light is less likely to affect your brain or cause awakening, or change your heart rate.
COREN: So what -- blue lights and white light, is not good for you?
DR. ZEE: Correct. Blue light would probably be the worst because, it is the one that has the most effect, the most potent effect on the brain.
COREN: Can I ask you, you mentioned that this is affecting older people, what about children? Particularly children who sleep with a night light? Is that a problem for them in these younger years?
DR. ZEE: Well, our study cannot directly address that because it was in older adults. We have another study about a year ago where we would look at younger adults, but we have not yet studied children.
And children mainly needed night light on, but if you do need to do that again, try to keep it as dim as possible. Yet still be in a safe environment.
And also, you know, tune those colors of light, the frequency, the wavelength that the light will be an important way to decrease the adverse effects of light on your body.
COREN: Dr. Zee, just finally, what do you recommend for a solid deep night sleep?
DR. ZEE: I think it is most important to get regular amounts of sleep, that means establish a good bedtime routine, regular bedtime, regular wake up time, very important. Yet allow yourself at least 7 to 8 hours of time in bed, and get more light during the day. So morning night is very important step and some blue light it's really an important during the day, cause of alertness. So it's been shown that more and more light or daylight is also important, positively for your health.
And then as the evening comes forward, dim those lights down diminish the amount of light during the night, and protect that fact (INAUDIBLE) stream the night, as much as possible. But still within safety, you know considering all the safety issues that light may help provide, and in those cases for older adults or children, to perhaps change the color of the light and the intensity of the light.
COREN: Ok, we will certainly take that advice on board. Dr. Phyllis Zee, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
DR. ZEE: Thank you, it was a pleasure.
COREN: Thank you so much for watching. And for your company.
I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong.
CNN NEWSROOM continues with Nick Watt in just a moment. You are watching CNN.