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Extreme Weather; Biden Tests Positive Again; Russia's War On Ukraine; Protesters Storm Iraq's Parliament For Second Time; California Wildfires; Chinese Rocket Debris Enters Atmosphere. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 31, 2022 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and all around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Homes are destroyed. We just need help. We need as much help, please, I'm begging anyone who sees this, help my town, help my people.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Misery, devastation and fear for the missing, as historic flooding in Kentucky leaves residents questioning their future.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): And will she or won't she?

Uncertainty building on whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit Taiwan during her visit to Asia. We'll have a live report from Beijing.

Plus --


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): -- political chaos in Iraq as protests in Baghdad force sessions of parliament to be suspended.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: It's 5:00 am in eastern Kentucky. An area that has already suffered through days of heartbreak and anguish after massive flash floods is waking up this morning to more dreaded news: more heavy rain is on the way.

A flood watch is now in effect and that's raising concerns about the ongoing search and rescue operations. At least 25 people have been killed and that number includes four children, all from the same family.

Their aunt telling us they were siblings between 2 and 8 years old. Neighbors say the parents tried to hold onto them but the young children were swept away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a house there and this trailer with this family of six and it just washed them away.


BRUNHUBER: Kentucky's governor says it is not known how many people are still missing but says the death toll could rise for weeks as bodies are discovered. Washed out roads and dozens of destroyed bridges are slowing the efforts. And with hundreds of homes destroyed, the misery seems to deepen by the hour.


JERRY STACY, DIRECTOR, PERRY COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: It's hard to put into words just the amount of devastation that we've seen. You know, you're talking about some really, really good people here in Eastern Kentucky, you know, don't have a whole lot. And a lot of them have lost everything they've got.


BRUNHUBER: For some residents of eastern Kentucky, the true scale of their own loss is becoming heartbreakingly real. CNN's Evan McMorris- Santoro has that.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the flash flood came to this part of Kentucky, locals watched houses, cars, their lives get submerged by water, wondering just what kind of damage would be done.

Now that those waters have receded, they are getting a chance to see it. A huge swath of destruction across many counties in this area and crews still going out, trying to find people who may be trapped in their homes, maybe to resupply (ph) in their homes and may have perished when those waters came through.

One local here in Breathitt County described the impact on this area of these floods.


DREWEY LEE JONES, BREATHITT COUNTY, KENTUCKY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Thinking about all the devastation that I've seen all over the county, they some things that can't be rebuilt. These people that -- there's water that had got in homes that had never been concerned with water issues. Now their homes are gone.

Where are all these people going to go?

Where are they going to live if they don't have a family member that they can go to?


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Here in Jackson, crews are staging from this shopping center parking lot, going out and trying to find people amongst the destruction. People say it will be a long time before this place recovers at all and it will need a lot of help to get there -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Jackson, Kentucky.


BRUNHUBER: The sheer scale of the devastation is hampering rescue and recovery efforts. CNN spoke to the mayor of Hazard, Kentucky, he explained the challenges his town was facing. Here he is.



MAYOR DONALD MOBELINI, HAZARD, KENTUCKY: At city hall, they had a corner set up and people came in all day long with pictures or photos of relatives that are missing and just any kind of marking (ph) because, I'm, this is sad to say but we got a team of coroners here working the three-county area with cadaver dogs and such, just trying to find people and identify people.

And, you know, I know they say we got three dead at this time, but I talked to the county judge of my county and -- Breathitt County -- and it is over 30-some total for just our three counties. And that's just -- I think that's just the tip of the iceberg, truthfully.


BRUNHUBER: Well, earlier I spoke with Zach Caudill in Whitesburg, Kentucky, victim of the flooding there, he's also working to help others. And I asked him to describe the conditions he's facing and the challenges he's dealing with. Here he is.


ZACH CAUDILL, FLOODING VICTIM AND VOLUNTEER: Yes, it is complete devastation. It's just our hometown is utterly wrecked (ph). The entire region has been hit insanely hard. It is something that you never would've thought would happen.

And now in the blink of an eye, everything is just gone.

BRUNHUBER: You know, a lot of the people out there who are waiting to be rescued, I, mean they are the elderly, they're patients in hospitals. I understand you've been helping some patients trying to get them to safe ground. Tell us about that.

CAUDILL: Yes, I've been trying to organize, to get cancer patients within my community transportation to the American Cancer Center in Lexington, Kentucky. That way we can make sure that, in this time of need, people still recognize the prominent danger of cancer in our community and that cancer patients still need the attention that they require.


BRUNHUBER: For more information about how you can help victims of the Kentucky flooding, go to

After testing negative for COVID on four consecutive days, President Biden tested positive again.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey, folks. Joe Biden here. Tested positive this morning.


BIDEN: I'll be working from home for the next couple of days. I'm doing fine. Everything's good. Commander and I have got a little work to do.


BRUNHUBER: He had very publicly gone back to work just four days earlier. Now the president is back in isolation. CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak has more.


KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden says he's got no symptoms after testing positive for COVID again. The White House doctor says he's doing quite well and President Biden even told some folks on the phone earlier today that he was working out in the White House gym.

So medically he certainly seems to be doing fine. But this is a disappointment for President Biden after really it seemed like he was finished with coronavirus after testing negative last week.

And the White House said that he tested negative each day since Tuesday evening. But he did have a positive test on an antigen test earlier Saturday morning. So the president will be isolating here at the White House.

The White House did have to cancel a number of out of town trips that the president had scheduled. But he does have his dog to keep him company.



LIPTAK (voice-over): It was only four days ago that the president emerged from the White House really sort of triumphant after testing negative for coronavirus. What the White House says is that they were testing him each day but he did throw that positive test this morning.


LIPTAK: What they're really attributing it to is this antiviral drug, Paxlovid, that he had been taking. There are some rare instances of people first testing negative then testing positive again after taking Paxlovid. President Biden does now seem to be in the faction of people for whom that is true.

The White House has sort of downplayed the prospect that this could happen over the course of the president's illness, noting how few people that is happening to. But they did say that it could be a possibility.

And for that reason, they upped the president's testing cadence. They had him wear a tight-fitting mask around the White House. Now he will have to go back into isolation.

His wife is away from the White House; she is at their home in Delaware. So it will be another weekend home alone for the president. He will be able to leave isolation again when he next tests negative -- Kevin Liptak, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: There is a logical explanation for why President Biden was at risk with COVID-19 rebound positivity. Here is CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner.


DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The president's Paxlovid rebound I think was entirely predictable. Older data suggests that maybe Paxlovid rebound was a kind of a rare event, maybe happening in about 1 percent of people who got Paxlovid.

But apparently, now with BA.5 it's much more frequent than that, maybe between 20 percent to 40 percent of people who take five days of Paxlovid will rebound with symptoms and a return of their positivity.

So when the president tested negative this week, many of us thought it was likely that he would have rebound. And that's exactly what we're seeing now. The good news is that an immunocompetent person, like the President of the United States, at age 79 with rebound symptoms, this should be short-lived and not really a threat to his health.


BRUNHUBER: Our thanks to CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner there. New York City has declared a public health emergency due to the

growing outbreak of monkeypox. It is the second major American city to do so, following San Francisco earlier this week.

New York's governor says cases in the state account for more than one in four of the national total. In a statement, officials say, "New York City is currently the epicenter of the outbreak and we estimate approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure."

The World Health Organization says more than 19,000 cases have been confirmed in 78 countries so far this year, including five deaths. The agency says Europe is at high risk. Spain reported its second monkeypox-related death Saturday.

Ukraine is telling some civilians they'll have to get out of the Russian line of fire but that means hundreds of thousands of people will soon be on the move. We'll explain.

And protests in Iraq are escalating, with demonstrators occupying parliament. We'll have a live report straight ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Ukrainian forces have just, in the words of a pro Russian official, rained on Russia's Navy day parade. Moscow says a Ukrainian drone hit the headquarters of the Black Sea fleet in Sebastopol today. Five people were injured.

The attack happened while Russian forces were celebrating their Navy Day holiday. But after the strike, the official said that the rest of the celebrations in Sevastopol were canceled.

Ukraine is ordering civilians in the Donetsk area to get out. President Zelenskyy says hundreds of thousands of people are still in the region, which is in the crosshairs of the main Russian offensive. He says the goal is to save lives. Here he is.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): There's already a governmental decision about obligatory evacuation from Donetsk region. Everything is being organized. Full support, full assistance, both logistical and payments (ph).

We only need a decision from the people who have yet not made it for themselves. Please follow the evacuation. We will help you. We are not Russia. We would do everything possible to save the maximum number of human lives and to maximally limit Russian terror.


BRUNHUBER: In the south, the Russian artillery isn't giving the city of Mykolaiv a break. It has been taking Russian fire almost every day for the past month. But several hours ago, the city saw what was likely its strongest shelling since the beginning of the war, according to its mayor.

He also says there was damage and casualties. Our reporters are standing by with the latest on those developments.


BRUNHUBER: Jason Carroll is in Kyiv. But first, let's go to Nic Robertson.

Mykolaiv, where you are, has been pounded by Russian shelling, as we have been saying.

What is the latest there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, overnight, at about 12:30, 1:00 in the morning, you could hear, several times, cluster munitions going off over the city. There were many other heavy impacts across the city.

Some of the heaviest seemed to come at 5:00 in the morning. And these came sort of four or five missiles at the same time. The biggest of the impacts here, literally rattling the windows on this building here.

We have been out to talk to people, we have been out to the site of some of these explosions. One of them was a residential property. We talked to neighbors there. They told us that they heard the explosions, come out to see what had happened to their neighbors.

One house, the big mansion house, took a direct hit. We know from firefighters now, the husband and wife, they're very a successful businessman and his wife, were hiding in the basement. The firefighters there now say that the couple are believed to have died.

Talking to those eyewitnesses there, those neighbors, one of them said, you know, he didn't know what he was going to do next. He was going to have to fix his roof and his windows. They were blown out.

But he and another neighbor saying they were going to have to consider leaving the city or at least leaving the houses here. They don't feel as safe as they did before. Other parts of the city are the people we talked to, saying that they intended to stay.

We were talking to people getting water from a water truck today. There is no clean drinking water in the city. It has to be trucked in. People are collecting water there. They were telling us that they intended to stay in the city.

But there were a number of different sites around the city, heavy impact. And I climbed into one of the big craters to give you the sense of the size of it. The top of the crater way over my head. It stretched out on either side several meters across, a very big crater.

That is the type of munition that was landing on this city overnight. And as I say, people here are saying, from their perspective, this was the heaviest night of shelling and bombing that they have witnessed in this city so far. So people rattled and nervous but residents, many of them, saying they're not going to leave.

BRUNHUBER: Such a vivid portrait of the damage you're giving us there, Nic. Let's turn to Jason now.

Those calls from President Zelenskyy for the evacuation of Donetsk, a huge undertaking there. Walk us through what is behind it and how it would work.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There has been fierce fighting in that area of the east in Donetsk and in the surrounding areas. This message coming from the president.

It is more really about what is to come and that is frigid temperatures that will be descending upon the country in the east, come late fall and come in the winter. There are as you say hundreds of thousands of people who are still there.

The president says that there are tens of thousands of children who are there, families. And so this evacuation order, this message going to them, saying, anyone out there who has family or knows people with family, with children, now is the time to get out.

With so many people, that undertaking is going to take time, especially when you consider what the Ukrainian government says, what will eventually happen. There will be no heat. There will be no power, no electricity; likely trouble getting access to water.

Some of the basic necessities that are needed really to survive are, in all likelihood, not going to be there. This is why this message is going out again. Now, at this point, now is the time to leave, now is the time to get out. As bad as things are now, the thought is that things could possibly get much, much worse. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, great to have both of you. Reporting there from Ukraine, Jason Carroll, and Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is in St. Petersburg, marking his country's Navy Day, as we mentioned. Putin has been shown giving a speech and meeting with Russian forces. Ships, troops and aircraft will be on display as the day goes on. And we know cannons are part of the spectacle. Have a look.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Putin used the display of force to send a message about the future of the Russian Navy.


BRUNHUBER: CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Moscow. Fred, given the context, I imagine there was a lot of patriotic

bluster. Take us through what Putin had to say.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There certainly was patriotic bluster, if you want to put it that way. And really what Vladimir Putin did is he praised the strength of the Russian navy.


PLEITGEN: He said anybody who tries to encroach on Russia's freedoms and Russia's interests will be dealt with, with lightning speed.

He also sort of alluded a little bit to the current situation, that Russia is obviously in, with that invasion of Ukraine, ongoing, which also sees the Russian navy as being a big part of that as well.

One of the things he said, at the current time that Russia is in, requires some very decisive decision-making on the part of the Russians, decisive actions on the part of the Russians.

And the way that he phrased that was that he said that Russia is going to deploy the Tsirkon hypersonic missile there very soon. This is a hypersonic missile that the Russians tested in May, successfully. And now want to bring it to service as quick as possible.

This hypersonic missile technology is really something where the Russians believe they have an edge over their adversaries, specifically over the United States. They believe this is not something that, for instance, missile defense systems could cope with.

The Russians allegedly have already used hypersonic missiles. The Kinzhal, which is air launched, in the invasion of Ukraine, and the Tsirkon is now set to be deployed on a frigate, one of Russia's most modern frigates that apparently has stealth technology as well.

So that's the part of what happened today during this parade. Obviously a lot of ships on display, a lot of pomp, a lot of music, a lot of people out in the crowd as well.

One of the things we didn't hear very much of or not at all was Russia's, what they call the special military operation in Ukraine, which obviously is also seeing the Russian navy playing a big role in that as well, launching missiles, for instance, caliber cruise missiles at Ukrainian territory.

But the Russians have taken a lot of naval losses and that's something that, of course, we have been reporting about. For instance, the flagship of the Black Sea fleet, the Moskva destroyer, was hit by Ukrainian missiles and sank, which was a huge deal for the Ukrainians.

There was also a Russian landing craft, which got destroyed in the port of Berdyansk. And the battle for Snake Island, which the Ukrainians decided for themselves, a Russian ship being sunk as that was going on. So certain things that, you know, weren't mentioned a lot today. But

you did see a big show of force, as is customary on the part of Vladimir Putin, on the part of the Russian navy, and obviously saying the Russian navy very important to Russia's defense and Russia's military doctrine, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. Thanks, great to get that update from you. Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, appreciate it.

In Iraq, sessions of parliament are suspended until further notice after thousands of protesters stormed the capital's green zone twice in a week. Protesters loyal to Muqtada al Sadr are angry that one of his rivals has been nominated as prime minister.

Those protesters still occupying the parliament building. Iraq has been gripped by political uncertainty for months. Nada Bashir is following the latest developments from Istanbul.

There are calls for de-escalation and peaceful dialogue.

Any sign that anyone is listening?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, as you mentioned, we are still seeing protesters occupying the parliament building. We have seen two massive demonstrations in less than a week, protesters breaching the green zone, storming the parliament building, many of them loyalists to Muqtada al Sadr, as you mentioned.

And a lot of them have grievances over the political stagnation we have seen over the last few months. And Muqtada al Sadr, his faction came out in top in October elections but falling short of the absolute majority.

But for the last nine months, he has been unable to form a government. Now on Monday, we have seen a nomination of his rival and, in response to that, these massive protests.

We have heard repeated calls for a de-escalation of tensions, for the leaders of the various political factions within Iraq's parliament to come together to reach some sort of resolution. At this stage, those protests are still ongoing. We heard from the Iraqi prime minister yesterday, he urged for peace in the green zone. Take a listen.


MUSTAFA AL-KADHIMI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The political blocs must sit down, negotiate and reach an understanding for the sake of Iraq and the Iraqis. A thousand days of quiet dialogue are better than a moment in which a drop of Iraqi blood is shed.


BASHIR: There is real concern around whether or not these protests could escalate and cause further turmoil in Baghdad. We saw already more than 100 protesters injured yesterday at this stage.


BASHIR: It doesn't seem to be escalating as much as we saw yesterday but it is still early in the day. And there are still concerns around that. We heard from the U.N. secretary-general urging peace, urging for a de-escalation of violence and tensions in the city.

But of course, there is that onus on the political factions to take part in discussions and dialogue. That has been called upon them by the Iraqi prime minister and president. They are expecting to gather leaders of the political factions within Iraq's parliament over the coming days.

When that will happen is still unclear. But they have urged all political leaders to take part in these discussions to reach some sort of resolution. What we have seen in the last few months, an absolute political deadlock in trying to form a government.

Of course, people have grievances over who will take that position as prime minister but also around the current situation in Iraq when it comes to the economy and social life there.

We heard from people speaking to CNN teams on the ground, talking about the high unemployment rate, the rising food prices. People are really struggling there and there is a real sense of frustration around the government's inability to really get its act together and stabilize the political outlook for Iraq. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Nada Bashir, appreciate it.

When we come back, just what Kentucky doesn't need: more heavy rain in the forecast.

And crews are making progress against a large wildfire burning near California's famed Yosemite National Park. But other fires in the state are getting worse. We'll hear from firefighters on the scene coming up. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Let's return to our top story. There is more heavy rain in the forecast for already devastated Kentucky. The Weather Prediction Center has issued a three out of four moderate risk for excessive rainfall across the southeastern part of the state today.

Historic flooding from earlier in the week killed at least 25 people. And one local mayor says that's the tip of the iceberg. Raging floodwaters wiped out countless homes, roads and bridges. The governor says the damage could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars and the infrastructure could take years to rebuild.

We're also hearing stories of courage. This 17-year old spent hours on the roof of her neighbor's home, escaping the danger with her dog, just one example of hundreds of people who are now having to dry out and figure out what to do now that floodwaters ripped apart their lives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what we're going to do. We don't have no place to live now or anything.

PAUL FRANCIS, FLOODING VICTIM: The water got to about up to there. We had about this much more room before we got flooded. And I've never seen it that high. We came out of the house and it was so swift that even a jetski was hard for him to handle. And he took us out one at a time.


BRUNHUBER: A couple who survived the floods spoke earlier to CNN's Pamela Brown, showing her the damage. David Gillespie and his wife, Holly, were in Lost Creek, one of the worst hit areas. Have a look.


DAVID GILLESPIE, FLOODING SURVIVOR: You can kind of see here over the -- the Memorial Bridge. You can see some of the garbage that's still over here.

And you can actually see how high the water has come. It is really up an incredible height. All the way over the bridge and enough to bring a lot of -- sorry about that -- bumping into people here -- a lot of garbage has come up.

There's even some framework from homes. Lot of garbage, lot of personal belongings.

The more you go down the river, the more things that you see. Just incredible devastation. And it's really sad to see.

Like I said, a lot of community members have really come together and been very helpful.


BRUNHUBER: And the Gillespies have been helping deliver supplies and rescuing people by boat. And in addition to helping people, they say they're also bringing supplies for animals.

Catastrophic flooding isn't just happening here in the U.S. According to Iran's Red Crescent Society, the death toll there has risen to 59 and at least 30 people are missing in Tehran and three other provinces, according to Iranian officials. On Saturday the president toured the area; from the air he surveyed

damage caused by days of floods that affected 400 towns and villages. Rescue operations are ongoing.

In Pakistan, rain may finally be letting up in areas hit by massive flooding. But the monsoon deluge has already taken a toll, killing at least 384 people.

Now here you see a town in northern Pakistan, inundated by floods on Saturday. But it doesn't stop the vendors working in ankle deep water. The majority of rain over the next few days is expected to be in the central and eastern parts of the country.

California's governor declared a state of emergency for some of the northernmost parts of the state as multiple wildfires prompt evacuations.

Meanwhile, in central California, the Oak Fire, threatening the famed Yosemite National Park, is now more than 50 percent contained. Crews have largely managed to halt its spread. The Oak Fire has destroyed more than 100 homes so far. CNN's Bill Weir is there.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It actually started right around here?

JOE AMADOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, OAK FIRE INCIDENT: It started right over here, this ridge over here.


AMADOR: And in the first 24 hours, this fire grew 10,000 acres.

WEIR: Now put that in perspective, that's crazy fast.

AMADOR: Crazy fast.

WEIR: The Oak fire is the biggest fire in California. And because fire season winds haven't really started blowing yet, there are almost 4000 firefighters here from all corners of the state. They managed to keep flames out of Yosemite National Park but not the smoke. And they say they won't fully contain this blaze for weeks.

So what makes this Oak Fire especially scary, though, is it devastated a lot of land really fast and the winds aren't howling like they would be --

AMADOR: Correct.

WEIR: Like Santa Ana or Diablos, right?

AMADOR: Correct. That's correct. And we're in extreme conditions but things can always get worse.

WEIR: Any ecologist will tell you that a healthy forest needs occasional fire to rejuvenate itself. But ever since World War II, Smokey the Bear has been preaching fire suppression.


WEIR: And across much of California, all this fuel has been loading up over the decades of fire drought really just in time for the old- fashioned drought, a 22- year megadrought. This combination now making Californians rethink everything they know about property values and insurance markets and defensible spaces.

BRIAN VITORELO, CALFIRE MENDOCINO UNIT: In the course of my career, I've seen the biggest fire happen year after year after year. It's impressive.

WEIR: Now no offense, you don't look like a grizzled veteran. But it's not the years, it's the fires these days, I guess, right?

VITORELO: The fires, yes.

AMADOR: Well, that back, you know, they're -- these fires have been happening within the last 10, 15 years. I mean, you can go back to, you know, 2003 and then and then all of a sudden, something happen.

WEIR: I wonder about folks who live in amazing spots like this, a great find in the 70s when the fire like this was once in a lifetime.


WEIR: Now it's once every couple of years.

AMADOR: Yes, sir.

WEIR: Do you see a change in the psychology of folks in these wild places?

AMADOR: It takes a special person to come live out here and we just hope that if you do decide to live out here that you learn how to prepare yourself, prepare your property, get prepared emergency escape plan and create some defensible space.

Like as you see here, this person did a great job at clearing out some combustible vegetation and brush away from this fire.

WEIR: And these guys will take all the help they can get in doing this job, especially when it's 97 degrees outside here as well. They've got a couple of dozen helicopters, over 300 fire engines, a bunch of water tankers and all of that.

But ultimately it comes down to sometimes how much yard work they have to do around a house that hasn't been properly hardened against fire.

And again, this is just the beginning of the fire season now. The deadliest month typically are in the fall out west after a couple more dry hot months. And this is a mutual aid state. You put out my fire, I'll put out yours. At a certain point they worry that there'll be too many fires to go around -- Bill Weir, Mariposa, California.


BRUNHUBER: Simmering tensions between the U.S. and China over a possible but unconfirmed trip to Taiwan led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We'll go live to Beijing after the break. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: A possible but unconfirmed U.S. congressional trip to Taiwan is creating tension between Beijing and Washington. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a delegation of representatives to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore this week.

In a statement released in the last few hours, Pelosi's office says the trip will focus on security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific. There is no mention of a stop in Taiwan.

But the possibility has created friction between the U.S. and China in recent days. Selina Wang is in Beijing and joins us now live.

More saber rattling from Beijing but, from Pelosi, still no mention of Taiwan on her itinerary. Bring us up to speed.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kim. Important to note, though, that even though Taiwan was not on the official itinerary, that doesn't mean that she won't go.

This actually could denote, if she goes to Taiwan, it is not an official trip, so it essentially means they do not see Taiwan on the same level as the other independent countries that were listed.

So some experts say that might be able to simmer U.S.-China tensions. Still, we're seeing escalating anger and threats coming from China. Officials have threatened powerful action if House Speaker Pelosi ends up going to Taiwan.

And China's military, Kim, has been sending signals. At a press conference on Sunday, an official said that Chinese military warplanes flying around Taiwan would enhance its abilities in a potential conflict.

The background here is that, in recent weeks, there have been nearly daily incursions of Chinese fighter jets into Taiwan's self-declared air defense zone, all of that putting pressure on Taiwan before this latest point of friction.

State media reporting on a military drill this weekend in China's province, directly across the sea from Taiwan. Beijing basically sees a visit to Taiwan by one of America's most powerful politicians as tacitly supporting Taiwan independence, which is a clear red line for Beijing.

And during Chinese leader Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden's more than two-hour call on Thursday, Xi warned Biden that, quote, "Those who play with fire will perish by it."

But all of these threats from Beijing have been vague. And some experts say that is by design because they say, look, this is all just strong language. China doesn't actually want conflict to escalate any more than the U.S. does.

But on the other hand, there is concern that this trip, potential trip, would be humiliating for Xi Jinping. We're months away from a key political meeting when he's expected to seek an unprecedented third term.

And at this moment, he needs to look strong. Even though most believe that China would not take direct hostile action, there is concern that, with all the military assets in the region, there could be a miscalculation or accident that spirals into a real conflict. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, we will be tracking the trip and we won't be alone, I'm sure. Selina Wang in Beijing, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

One of the last living Navajo code talkers has died. The Navajo Nation reports World War II veteran Samuel Sandoval passed away on Saturday. He and other code talkers were crucial in the Allied defeat of Japan by using a code based on their language to pass secret messages.

Sandoval was at battles like Guadalcanal, Guam and Okinawa and was close to 100 years old. New Mexico's governor says, after Sandoval, there are only three living Navajo code talkers left.

We'll be right back.







BRUNHUBER (voice-over): This new video shows what appears to be bits of a massive Chinese rocket burning up over the Indian Ocean. The images are from Malaysia. The rocket blasted off a week ago to deliver a new module to the Chinese space station and fell in an uncontrolled descent toward Earth.

This is the third time China has been accused of not properly handling space debris from its rockets.


BRUNHUBER: A robot created by Stanford University is taking the plunge. Have a look here.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Diving down to deep sea shipwrecks and exploring the ocean floor, OceanOneK resembles a human diver, with arms and hands and eyes, able to capture the underwater seascapes in full color. The robot gives scientists an unheard-of window into our underwater world.


Well, someone or maybe some very lucky people here in the U.S. have hit the Mega Millions jackpot. The winning ticket was sold at a gas station in Des Plaines, Illinois. The top prize, a staggering $1.3 billion.

People flocked there, taking pictures and buying tickets for the next drawing in hopes that good luck would rub off. Omar Jimenez has more on the big payday.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, it was already going it be a great payout at $1.28 billion. Then we learned it jumped to about $1.34 billion because of last minute sales. It is the second biggest in Mega Millions history, the third biggest all time across all U.S. lotteries, and has officially changed someone's life.

We still don't know who that person is at this point. But we do know where the ticket was sold, right here at this Speedway gas station outside of Chicago in Des Plaines, Illinois, near O'Hare airport.


JIMENEZ: People have been streaming in and out throughout Saturday, even trying to see if lightning could strike twice here. Take a listen to Illinois lottery officials, explaining how much this gas station gets.


HAROLD MAYS, ILLINOIS LOTTERY DIRECTOR: That lucky retailer will receive $0.5 million in the selling bonus for selling the winning ticket.

As far as the winner is concerned, we have not heard from the winner yet. We don't know whether they even that they won the prize. So I encourage everybody to check your ticket.


JIMENEZ: Now technically this person has 12 months to come forward or 60 days if they want to choose the $780 million cash option. So the clock is ticking. But the jackpot winner wasn't the only winner. There were 26, at least, $1 million winners across the United States, from California to Louisiana to New York.

And six of those had two times multipliers on, which means they basically paid $1 extra on the front end for that chance and then got $1 million on the back end for a total payout of $2 million. That's probably the best investment you could possibly have.

Not to mention one of those $1 million winners was from here in Illinois as well. Again, we're waiting on the identity of who this jackpot winner is. They could choose to stay anonymous if they would like and that's probably the smart decision. But we're just going to have to wait and see -- Omar Jimenez, CNN, Des Plaines, Illinois.


BRUNHUBER: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. For viewers here in North America, "NEW DAY" is next. For the rest of the world, it is "Tech for Good."