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Crimea Airbase Badly Damaged, Satellite Images Show; Iranian Charged For Allegedly Planning To Assassinate John Bolton; Trump Declines To Answer Questions In N.Y. Attorney; Chinese Military 'Completes Various Tasks' Around Taiwan; Kenya Elections 2022: Raila Odinga And William Ruto In Tight Race For President; North Korea's Kim Jong-un declares victory against COVID; Mexican Mining Company Under Investigation After Accident. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 11, 2022 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Wherever you are around the world, you're watching CNN Newsroom. And coming up this hour, new video shows at least three huge explosions at a Russian airbase in occupied Crimea, destroying buildings in Russian warplanes. Just minor damage says the Kremlin.

Monday was the FBI searching his home. Tuesday, a court ordered his tax returns handed to Congress. Wednesday, he pleaded the fifth repeatedly in a civil case. Oh, what a week for Donald J. Trump. And it's not over yet.

China calls its shipped home and troops to barracks declaring a successful completion of military exercises, which were meant to cow Taiwan into submission after a controversial visit by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: Russia continues to insist that only minor damage to its airbase in Crimea was caused by the accidental explosion of ammunition stored on site for the day after the blast and reality it seems is something entirely different.

New Satellite images show at least seven aircraft destroyed. Russia said no aircraft had been damaged. Four blast craters deep and wide can also be seen as well as damaged buildings.

Witnesses hurt a series of explosions up to a dozen one after the other, but the cause of those blasts remain unknown. This video shows three separate explosions. Ukraine, though has not claimed responsibility.

Russia has ramped up attacks across several regions of Ukraine. Heavy rocket fire and artillery strikes were reported Wednesday from Zaporizhzhiain the south and Kharkiv in the north. Ukraine's president says the only way to convince Moscow to reassess this war is to kill more Russian soldiers.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): When will the war end some say months, some say a year. Some even say more. But the matter of time actually depends directly on the question of the losses suffered by Russia. The more losses the occupier suffered the sooner we will be able to liberate our land and ensure the security of Ukraine. This is what everyone who defends our state and helps Ukraine should think about how to inflict the greatest possible losses on the occupiers in order to shorten the war.


VAUSE: Ukraine has been able to hit Russian targets more effectively than ever because of billions of dollars in military equipment from Western countries. And as CNN's Nic Robertson reports, the modern weapons are proving far more reliable than the aging Soviet era arsenal. They're replaced.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Suddenly, action camouflage off Ukrainian troops rushing their new NATO compatible artillery out of cover. The Polish Krabs, a 40-ton beasts of battle.

This state targeting Russian positions almost 30 kilometers, 18 miles away. They shoot and scoot.

(on camera): The whole operation took about two to three minutes they calculate. They've got about eight minutes to get back under the tree line here to be safe from a return fire.

(voice-over): There's a lot these troops like about their new kid safety high on the list. It's so much better than we had before. Gun commander Vasily says it's mobile route of danger fast.

(on camera): So this is your command vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Oh, my command vehicle.

ROBERTSON: Archon (ph) runs the whole battery.

(on camera): So you can see the whole battlefield here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. This is the towpath.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It's all high tech. So where there's a cross here, this is the target.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This started we shoot --

ROBERTSON (on camera): You already should have a target. (voice-over): A former math teacher. He had two weeks training on the Krabs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To learn it and it's very, I would say, it's --

ROBERTSON (on camera): User friendly.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Poland gave Ukraine 18 of the Krab system and they're buying another 56. Two months in service their accuracy making them popular.

ARTEM, UKRAINIAN BATTERY COMMANDER: So very big difference between is this new guns and Soviet old guns because these guns got the new GPS systems.

ROBERTSON: Each shot a better chance of hitting its target.

(on camera): These troops are really hoping the Krab system can make a difference.


So far this war has been fought mostly by artillery. The Russians massively out gunning the Ukrainians.

(voice-over): But even with the new guns, there's a problem. Ammunition here is tight.

(on camera): Do you have enough shells? His answer with a wry smile and chuckle. I'd like to have more rounds to send the occupiers back home. Nic Robertson, CNN on the Eastern Front Ukraine.


VAUSE: An earlier I spoke to CNN military analyst and former NATO supreme commander, General Wesley Clark about the damage done to that Russian airbase deep inside occupied Crimea.


GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This is operationally significant, it's also politically significant. So on the operational side, this airbase is part of the Russian forces reserve structure. These aircraft can come in, there'll be a danger to the Ukrainian troops when they do their counter offensive to try to regain Kherson. They could be used to launch air to ground missiles as well.

And so this shows -- this strike is part of the Ukraine campaign to sort of a trip and take away the Russians capability to react to the Ukrainian counter offensive it's taking form aimed at Kherson. But it's also politically significant because this is the first real stripe that's hit by NATO.

Now how this stripe was done, bit of a mystery some people's that was special forces. Somebody said it might be a long range Ukrainian design missile or maybe an air to sea, ground to sea missile that had been repurposed. We don't know exactly, and Ukraine has been on it. That probably means it's going to be done again on other targets in Crimea.

But I have to say this is a big step for Ukraine. And it does show promise that they could if they continue to receive supplies, and support in the West, they could regain Crimea at some point. This would be a really great precondition for starting the negotiations that end the war.


VAUSE: Now the details of an alleged assassination plot targeting two members of the Trump administration. The U.S. Justice Department announced charges against Iranian national Shahram Poursafi for allegedly trying to hire a hitman to kill for Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Officials say it was likely in retaliation for the U.S. air strike in 2020 that killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Prosecutors say Poursafi tried to pay $300,000 for someone to kill Bolton and $1 million for quote, a second job. Prosecutor say former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the target. Bolton reacted to the news and is calling on the current administration to end efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal.


JOHN BOLTON, FMR. TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: If this doesn't show anything about Iran's willingness to try and intimidate its adversaries, I don't know what else to say. I think we ought to put the kibosh on these negotiations and deal with the growing threat that Iran poses and not trying to appease them.


VAUSE: A source says multiple current and former U.S. officials are receiving significant personal security because of threats from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Poursafi remains at large. Iran is dismissing the claim calling it baseless.

But all Trump's legal problems they keep mounting and he's refusing to answer questions in a New Yorker investigation into the Trump organization's finances comes just days after the FBI searched his Florida home. CNN's Sara Murray has the latest.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump wrapping up his appearance after nearly six hours at a New York deposition where he pleaded the Fifth, which the former president once said was a move for mobsters.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The mob takes of it. If you're innocent why you taking the Fifth Amendment. MURRAY: Today, Trump changed a tune in a deposition led by Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James's office, part of a three-year civil probe into whether the Trump Organization misled lenders, insurers and tax authorities by providing false financial statements.

TRUMP: For years they've been going after my company.

MURRAY: I once asked, if you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment? Trump said in a statement. Now I know the answer to that question. He claimed everyone in his orbit was a target adding if there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home Mar-a-Lago on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped down any uncertainty. I have absolutely no choice.

The deposition coming just days after Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was searched. A source told CNN authorities came to suspect Trump's team was not being truthful and may have been withholding sensitive documents that he allegedly took with him when he left the White House.

ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: My father has worked so collaborative leave with them for months, all of a sudden I know notice they said, you know, 20 cars and 30 agents.


MURRAY: The perilous week highlighting Trump's mountain of legal troubles.

TRUMP: They want to put me in jail.

MURRAY: A constant frustration for Trump as he eyes another presidential run.

TRUMP: The outrageous civil and criminal harassment in New York and Atlanta of a person known as Donald Trump. Have you ever heard of him? I just want to find 11,780 votes.

MURRAY: In Georgia, Trump faces an investigation into whether his efforts to overturn the 2020 election there were criminal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to look at everything until that investigation is complete.

MURRAY: And federal investigators are probing efforts to block the transfer of power in 2020, including Trump's attempts to try to stop the election certification and seek fake electors.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: No person is above the law in this country. Nothing stops us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even a former president --

GARLAND: No -- I don't know how -- let me say that again. No person is above the law in this country. I can't say any more clearly on that. MURRAY (on camera): Now, we're also learning that when Wednesday's deposition got underway, one of Donald Trump's attorneys said that he very badly wanted to testify, but he was going to listen to the advice of his attorneys that he was not going to do so as Trump sat there for hours. While he was pleading the fifth, he just said repeatedly same answer to the questions that he was pelted with. Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: California now, former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman, and now host of the Talking Feds podcast, and sometimes not seen for a while. So it's good to have you with us.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You too, John, good to see you.

VAUSE: Thank you. To the surprise of absolutely no, I'm guessing Donald Trump plead the Fifth. And we'll get to that rank hypocrisy in a moment. But this is a civil case brought by the state attorney general of New York alleging Trump and the Trump Organization overvalued or undervalued assets like golf courses and high rise buildings, deliberately misleading lenders and tax authorities. That's kind of in a nutshell, given there is a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan DA was taking the Fifth the best legal move for Trump just purely in a legal sense.

LITMAN: You know, probably there's several reasons to do it. That's one, although that investigation has been considered indolent. Another one is that he could in fact have hurt wound up perjuring himself based on contradiction of other evidence that the AG in this investigation has found. And the third is that the stuff he would say here, which would tend to show his knowledge and set him up for a guilty verdict, again, in a civil case.

Now, just a quick point, he's pretty well set up already because if this goes to trial, all the evidence is going to be from the prosecution side, incriminating of this civil charge about the evaluations just as you said, and super important. They can use his taking the Fifth Amendment as further evidence against him. And he's got basically nothing on the other side.

So doing this really stacked the deck against him in the civil case, which won't land him in jail, but could give very harsh financial penalties and almost knocked the Trump organization out of business in New York.

VAUSE: Here's been quite the week. On Monday, the FAA (ph) served a warrant to his Florida home. On Tuesday, there's an appeals court which ruled the IRS has to turn over Trump's tax returns to Congress. And now we've got this on Wednesday.

Looking at the totality, though, Trump's legal jeopardy, the January 6 committee, the Georgia investigation, you know, the voter fraud and voter interference. Is this civil suit? This has to be the least of his problems. LITMAN: Well, except it's coming at him like a freight train and soon. He does have maneuvering room and in different aspects. And in particular, there's -- when you think about -- when you get off the calendar and stack it up with what's happening in Georgia and the DOJ, you see a scenario where maybe he can extend things out till 2024. And then, you know, that's the big question mark.

So, I wouldn't discount this, especially because he cares a lot about money. He cares a lot about the Trump Organization and it could be a body blow there, but certainly he's just say, it's nothing next to say a conviction for seditious conspiracy.

VAUSE: And for many Republicans, the fact that Donald Trump appeared before the state attorney general exercised his constitutional right to say nothing. That's evidence of the end of democracy, the collapse of civil society, and clearly the rise of tyranny. Listen to this.

LITMAN: There you have it.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): This is what happens in places like Nicaragua, where last year every single person that ran against Daniel Ortega for President, every single person that put their name on the ballot was arrested and is still in jail.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): This should scare the living daylights out of American citizens the way our federal government has gone, it's like what we thought about the Gestapo.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: You really are now seeing the ugly face of a tyranny. We have no idea whether or not they planted evidence.



VAUSE: At the end of the day, the pearl clutching is all over. Just explain what happened here in terms of the legality of Trump turning up and doing what he did.

LITMAN: It's so straightforward. It's what happens to civil defendants. What happened in Mar-a-Lago is what happens to criminal, you know, suspects, somebody come they did it, in fact, in a very low key, non-sort of grandstanding manner. So it all comes down to, you know, that would all be through in Ortega's Nicaragua, whatever, if there was no basis for law enforcement activity.

Of course, Trump has given law enforcement all over the country, huge basis and the, you know, the failure of the rule of law would be if they did nothing based on his control and political influence. This, on the contrary, is law enforcement without fear or favor.

VAUSE: It's like Bizarro (ph) world sometimes when you listen to some of the stuff on some of the Republicans and conservatives. But Harry, it's good to see. It's been a while. So thanks very much.

LITMAN: Likewise, John.

VAUSE: Taiwan's military holding another round of live fire exercises at this hour, and while China says its war games are over, now the threats from Beijing, they just keep on coming. We live in Taiwan's capital in a moment.

Also, with 10 miners trapped underground in Mexico for more than a week. Their employer is now under investigation.


VAUSE: After days of military drills surrounding Taiwan, China has announced has successfully completed its exercises. But the threats keep on coming. Wednesday, the China's State Council called for peaceful reunification with Taiwan but one it will use force if necessary.

Ministry of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council issued a statement rejecting China's so called One Country Two Systems model, calling it wishful thinking. This comes as Taiwan's military starts a second day of live fire until he drills.

CNN's Blake Essig is tracking all of these developments live from Taipei. So Blake just talked about the declaration coming out of China that basically that, you know, one country two systems Welcome aboard. It's been working so well in Hong Kong. How could they refuse?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, I'm surprised that the government here in Taipei has rejected the proposal from Beijing outlined in those white papers after two weeks of increased tensions around the Taiwan Strait. As you mentioned, the Chinese State Council issued a new white paper concerning what's called the quote, Taiwan question in it. China reiterates its proposal to a one country two systems model for unification similar to what's being used in Hong Kong.

Of course, at Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council has rejected China's proposal saying that only the 23 million people of Taiwan can decide the fate of Taiwan.


That being said, the white paper essentially says that China won't rule out using force against Taiwan. But it does emphasize that the priority is to achieve peaceful reunification perhaps a good sign at least for the moment that the crisis unfolding around Taiwan, the Taiwan Strait could start to ease up in that easing of tensions made more likely by the fact that as of right now, there are currently no ongoing live fire military drills being held in or around Taiwan.

Earlier this morning for the second day this week, Taiwan held its own live fire artillery drills near the islands southernmost tip of those small scale drills, as I mentioned, have now been completed. It's worth pointing out that these were small scale pre-planned annual drills, and we're not held in retaliation to the military exercises that were just carried out by Beijing.

Now, China's Eastern Theater Command took to social media yesterday to say that China's most recent military drills held around Taiwan are also now officially over, and that the People's Liberation Army has accomplished all tasks in the air and at sea around Taiwan.

Now, despite the drills being complete, a command spokesperson that said that China's military will keep close tabs on the Taiwan Strait and continue to conduct war preparation and combat readiness patrols to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. These military exercises, which were held for at least six days in six different designated zones essentially encircling Taiwan.

These drills, of course, announced 30 minutes after the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taipei last week and then started the day after she left. Taiwan's Ministry of Defense essentially describe these drills, John, as a simulated attack on Taiwan's main island and accused Beijing of trying to set up a blockade.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig live for us in Taipei. Well, it's been almost a year now since the Afghan National Army folded like a cheap suit, allowing the Taliban to rise to power and the former President is speaking out and blaming the United States for the collapse of his government.

In an interview with Afghan Media Ashraf Ghani says the U.S. troop withdrawal agreement with the Taliban was so bad. It emboldened the Islamic militant groups and not negotiate with the future government. And he says he was deceived by the U.S.

Ghani fled the country after the Taliban took over but insists he remains president until another is elected by the Afghan people.

Votes are still being counted in Kenya's general election and it's turning out to be an incredibly tight race. Opposition Leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto are the front runners. If not, the candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote. There will be a runoff. CNN's Larry Madowo has the story


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Kenyan presidential race is turning out to be a nail biter. Results could still be days away, but the celebration has started for some. Deputy President William Ruto has upset the traditional political order and appears to be on track for a strong performance delighting his supporters.

(on camera): How does it look so far? Do you think Raila or Ruto is winning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruto is going to win.

MADOWO: Ruto's Kenya first coalition has taken it he believes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to win. MARGARET KAMAU, WILLIAM RUTO SUPPORTER: The last 12 years I've never voted. But this time round I went to vote because I wanted Mr. President, (INAUDIBLE) Ruto.

MADOWO: This painstaking wait for results is familiar to Raila Odinga who ran for the fifth time. His supporters think this will be his year.

(on camera): Are you afraid that maybe Raila lose this thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We won't lose. Not chances of losing. We are confident.

MADOWO: Every vote cast in Kenya eventually ends up at a place like this. So there's more than 16,000 of them for every elective seat because people don't trust the process. The only way they can believe it, is if they can manually count the votes one by one.

(voice-over): This happens everywhere in the country, and sometimes takes all night, even though many of the 46,000 plus polling stations submitted results faster than expected. But the verification before they're officially announced could take days. Everyone is trying to make sense of the early results.

(on camera): Can you say definitively at this time who is going to be the next president of Kenya?

CHARLES NYAMBUGA, LECTURER AND POLITICAL ANALYST, MASENO UNIVERSITY: Actually, it's very hard to tell. The elections have been thrown asunder once more and any of the two candidates that is Raila Odinga, or William Ruto can actually have it.

MADOWO: The conventional wisdom appears to be that William Ruto did much better than expected in this election.

NYAMBUGA: William Ruto started campaigns immediately after the 2017 general elections and he was able to define the agenda for this particular election.


MADOWO: Kenya's Electoral Commission has until Monday to declare the results, but that won't stop the whole nation from speculating. Larry Madowo, CNN, Kisumu, Kenya.


VAUSE: Despite having no vaccine program, no capacity for PCR testing, and the hospital system which considers reliable electricity a luxury. Kim Jong-un has declared victory over COVID-19 in North Korea, and it took just over 90 days.

Kim reportedly deeply suffered from a high fever euphemism for COVID during the outbreak and now he's sister calling for deadly retaliation against South Korea for spreading the virus to the North. CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul this hour for us. What are we to make of all this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is the message that Kim Jong-un wants to give to his people. When you look at the numbers, the sheer numbers of people who lost their lives, according to North Korea to this pandemic, just 74. And they say just over 4 million suffered these fever cases as they say. They don't have extensive testing or much testing at all within North Korea to confirm COVID-19.

But whatever the numbers and nobody really trusts these numbers, I spoke to one former North Korean doctor who called them rubber, rubber statistic -- rubber band statistics and that they're flexible as to what the regime wants to be telling.

But it does show that Kim Jong-un is giving a message to his people. He is potentially giving a message to China saying he's -- he could be ready to lift restrictions to potentially open border let trading, but the speech that we did hear from state run media was very upbeat. Let's listen to Kim Jong-un.


KIM JONG UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): The difficult war against the disease is now over. And today we are finally declaring the victory.


HANCOCKS: There was a far less positive note from his sister Kim Yo- jong, blaming South Korea once again for introducing the virus into North Korea claiming that with these hot air balloons that have flown across the border carrying anti-North Korea propaganda, which have been going over in recent months that that is what they believe, introduced the virus to the country saying that if it happens again, North Korea will respond by wiping out the South Korean authorities.

South Korea's responded the unification ministry saying that it deeply regretted this kind of messaging, and rejects the fact that they were the ones to introduce the virus in the first place.

But yes, 91 days, John, is quite remarkable, quite questionable. Experts would say as to whether or not this is the case, but certainly the numbers are really relevant when it comes to the messaging from North Korea. He's telling his people that this is over. And it shows that he is ready now to move on. John.

VAUSE: Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks live for us there in Seoul.

Well, Tibet has reported its first known COVID-19 cases in more than 900 days, according to health authorities in a prefecture in western Tibet for tourists from a city in the south eastern part of it tested positive while traveling to the region Monday.

In response officials from that city shut down restaurants, cinemas, bars, all the fun until further notice. Mass testing also began Monday for residents. One COVID case was fell into bed at the beginning of the pandemic and 2020.

Well, for more than a week now rescue efforts in Mexico have failed to bring 10 miners to the surface and now the owners of the mining company are under investigation. CNN's Rafael Romo has details.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It's been already a week since the miners became trapped inside a coal mine in northern Mexico. Authorities have been facing the same problem all along water that keeps flooding the mine makes it unsafe for rescuers to get inside.

Wednesday morning a top Mexican official said rescuers were hoping they were only hours away from being able to enter the mind and rescue the miners. Laura Velasquez Mexico's National Coordinator of Civil Protection said they were hoping to lower the water level to about 1.5 meters, which would make it safe for rescuers with scuba gear to enter the mind.

When the rescue operation started only hours after the mind flooded and the walls collapsed water was 34 meters deep. A total of 25 pumps are being operated around the clock to extract the water inside the mind. A submergible drone was used earlier this week in an effort to determine if there was any opening that would allow divers to reach the miners but the result was negative.


Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador said Wednesday that Mexican prosecutors have already opened an investigation to determine if the flooding and subsequent collapse was the result of negligence.

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ-OBRADOR, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): An investigation is being carried out to determine any responsibility on the part of the owners of the mining company. And everything that ensues from that since it is regulated.

What happened is that the procedures were not followed. What needs to be seen is to review how they were carried out the contract if it was allowed to make these wells for the extraction of coal.

ROMO: The coal mine in the state of Coahuila suddenly flooded last Wednesday. This caused some of the walls to collapse, trapping the miners inside.

For the first 24 hours, rescuers were able to safely extract five miners. But there are ten others who have been trapped since. There has been no communication with them and in their fate is unknown.

Nearly 700 members of Mexico's military, police and other government agencies have been deployed to the site of the collapse to aid in the rescue efforts.

Rafael Romo, CNN -- Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: The European rivers are running dangerously low and wildfires are raging. We have the very latest on the drought and heat in Europe in a moment.


VAUSE: It seems there will be no letup in the soaring temperatures across Europe with another heat wave setting in. While record daytime temperatures have been bad enough, it is the severe lack of rain which threatens to do the most damage.

CNN's Christina Macfarlane has the latest.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Extreme heat that has plagued much of Europe this summer, combined with the little rainfall is causing dangerous drought conditions. New data from the European Drought Observatory found that 63 percent of the land in the European Union and the U.K. is either under drought warnings or alerts. That is about the same size as India. And it has farmers worried.

CHRISTIAN DANIAU, PRESIDENT, CHAMBER OF AGRICULTURE: There have been a lot of heat waves, but it is mostly the lack of rain that damages the crops. We have had other heat waves, we've seen some already, but when they are combined with a lack of rain, then it is catastrophic.

MACFARLANE: The new figures show that 47 percent of the land is under a drought warning. Meaning there is a deficit of moisture in the soil. While 17 percent is under more severe alert, meaning the vegetation is stressed.


MACFARLANE: This satellite image of a cloudless western Europe shows the brown, dry land. Compare that to this image from May.

July was the driest month on record for many parts of the continent. In France, the Loire River is so low it can be crossed on foot in some places. On this river along the French-Swiss border, these tourist boats aren't doing any business. In Spain, one reservoir is 84 percent empty leaving officials concerned about the region's water supply.

Italy's longest river, the River Po, is seeing its worst drought in 70 years. And in Germany, near record low water levels on the Rhine could have a major impact on energy this winter.

Little flow in the river will affect the output of coal-fired power plants and transporting the coal will become more expensive and difficult since ships won't be able to carry a full load. Parts of the river may become impassable for many barges as early as this weekend.

PETER CLAEREBOETS, SERVIA CAPTAIN AND OWNER: Normally, you have more than two meters under the ship, but now you only have 40 centimeters in some places. And then for, the challenge is to get past those points without touching -- without damaging the ship. MACFARLANE: Back to back heat waves have caused wildfires to spread

more rapidly. This blaze in southwestern France has already destroyed 6,000 hectares of land.

Europe is already seeing one of its hottest summers ever, the heat combined with months of very little rainfall also made it one of the driest threatening the economy and worrying residents.

Christina Macfarlane, CNN.


VAUSE: Joining me now from Providence, Rhode Island is Kim Cobb, director at the Institute of Brown University for Environment and Society. A new job, congratulations.


VAUSE: Ok. So you know, across the planet, temperatures are rising because of global warming, but Europe seems to stand out for heat waves which are increasing in frequency. This is the third one since May. Also intensity at a faster rate than anywhere else.

So if climate change -- it can't be the only factor at play here, right.

COBB: Well, certainly Europe seems to be getting remarkably unlucky this season but we've seen heat waves hitting the headlines across the globe every summer now.

Certainly the heat waves that Europe just had, you know in fact makes it something more likely that you may have a recurring heat wave, because of the amount of heat that is stored in the soil layers and drying out of the soil layers.

Unfortunately of course, these record shattering heat waves predicted for much of the U.K. and in France in the next few days, prompting an amber level warning from the U.K. office and extremely important warnings that folks should be heeding and keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

VAUSE: So is this -- is this a situation where moving forward, some has come in the next few years, there may be three or four or five intensive heat waves that will be affecting probably parts of Europe?

COBB: Well, actually, we can bring some great science to bear on that question, John. And that has to do with our ability to look at -- incorporating greenhouse gases into sophisticated weather models and running them with and without greenhouse gases and seeing how the exact physics of these kinds of heat waves are impacted by greenhouse gases.

Analyses that are just published on the mid July heat waves that raged across Europe, noting it is likely a tenfold increase in the likelihood of that kind of heat wave being in Europe today versus pre- industrial times and, of course, we know that will worsen going forward.

And so when we are able to bring these kinds of detailed frequency analyses to bear, we can look at how they are consolidated into reports like the inter governmental panel on climate change noting that these extreme class of heat waves, is kind of one in 50-year, one in 100-year kinds of events, getting much more frequent. Up to five times more frequent now than before.

Across the world, statistically speaking, going forward, we are looking at a doubling of that kind of a frequency. Into the warming levels that we might consider dangerous, the two degrees Celsius warming levels, really reminding us how important it is to put in place measures to limit the amount of fossil fuel emissions that we are putting into the sky right now and try our best collectively to meet those evidence based targets put forward at the Paris agreement.

VAUSE: Yes, there is an old joke which asked, how do you know it's summer in London. It's when the rain becoming warm. But according to a number of climate historians, July, it was record dry in parts of England, including London where virtually no rain fell less than one millimeter.

This past month was the driest dry in England since 1935. If that is to be the new normal, that is going to have an incredibly wide ranging implications and a change of lifestyle for millions of people.


VAUSE: And this is, you know, one of those direct impacts from a warming climate right?

COBB: Well, you know, we really have to look to the science for understanding when we can link a specific climate extreme or a climate condition to greenhouse gases.

We know that we would have been talking about extreme rainfall across Europe in years past of course with devastating impacts. And so one thing we do know from our understanding of these climate change impacts and their links physically to greenhouse gases is that we should expect greater extremes of precipitation going forward.

So on the one hand, extreme rainfall and on the other hand more extended drought periods. Those droughts driven by extreme heating of land surfaces and the removal of moisture from those services.

So indeed we should expect these two to be package together and of course, that has implications far beyond this heat wave into our advancement (ph) of freshwater systems, of course, agricultural productivity. Something that we have seen coming for quite a while now.

And we should be bringing to bear right now, for solutions that can keep community safe and thriving over the coming warming which is unfortunately will continue through the next couple of decades.

VAUSE: Also, it's not just how hot it gets, it's those nighttime temperatures as well. And the situation again in England, temperatures won't fall below 20 degrees Celsius, 68 degrees Fahrenheit. And that's way above normal -- and it might sound like (INAUDIBLE) but it's not for parts of England. What are the impacts of this sort of prolonged heat?

COBB: Yes, that is a really important point about the human health impacts of these extended heat waves. We often look at these chart- topping daytime extremes. Over 40 degrees, you know, many places in the U.K. And really we have to remember that less than 5 percent of the British population has access to air conditioning by the government estimates.

And so, what happens is, that people can't cool down and is getting through those daytime temperatures is a big enough challenge, but when our body needs to restore our core temperatures back down to safe levels, it needs to have cool nighttime temperatures.

And when those temperatures are elevated day in, day out and night after night after night, that is when we start to pile up risk.

And in fact, it is nighttime temperatures which are the most closely linked to morbidity and mortality outcomes in the general populations. And it's important to note, that heat-related illnesses and deaths are really the leading cause of weather and climate-related deaths, more than all of the other range of weather and climate extremes combined.

And so they are the most lethal form of climate and weather extremes and certainly something that should be a wake up call now and going forward with how to manage these kinds of extremes. Because they will be getting worse before they get better.

VAUSE: Yes. We're getting a lot of wake up calls over the years, let us hope this one is in fact a real wake up call.

Kim, thank you so much for being with us.

COBB: Thanks for having me, John.


VAUSE: Ok, that's how, let's look at the now, the forecasts for Europe. So what have you got now Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Now John, you know, the additional alerts here for excessive heat that could continue for at least 2 to 3 days. And we're talking 33, 34 degrees across portions of southern and central Europe and U.K. I should say where these temperatures are really going to be posing health and heat related illness concerns.

And notice, even in France, running more than ten degrees above average that it's forced heat wave in the past seven weeks by my estimates here. So we are talking about essentially a significant heat wave every other week for the entirety of summer so far.

And notice in the U.K., when it comes to July 2022, 1.3 degrees Celsius above the previous 30 year average. But temps certainly have been historic levels here in recent weeks. And notice up to 33 degrees.

In Dublin, sunny skies, cloud (INAUDIBLE) cover, aiming for 24. Paris, also in the 30s, Berlin at 31 degrees in particular heat wave has lasting power, which again, the cumulative effect of the heatwave elements that are really going to be concerning because very little relief in the overnight hours. And then you climb up and stay into the middle 30s in the afternoon hours.

Notice, finally Sunday and Monday, we do see some relief and perhaps come back down closer to seasonal averages. But for London, we get an area where you have very limited access to air conditioning units within households. Temps staying at this value for multiple days. A cumulative effect certainly going to have severe impacts before conditions began cooling down.

Now, a quick glance at what is happening across portions of the Korean Peninsula because rainfall across Seoul has generally been limited during the last couple days. As the energy shifts a little farther towards the south.

But tremendous rainfall, still observed across portions of central and southern South Korea. And I want to draw your attention towards Japan, because there is quite a bit of wet weather in place there as well. In fact, the models not bringing the entirety of this energy over towards portions of Japan where 200 to 300 millimeters could come down in the next couple of days.

And look at what is looming. There's a high probability here as a tropical system tries to form in the coming days. It could be eyeing areas of Japan. So additional rainfall, there goes, indirectly or very close to Tokyo here over the next couple of days.


JAVAHERI: So on top of what has already come down, this could be another round of heavy rainfall. And we know this region again experiencing its wettest type of year. So quite a bit of wet weather on top of already a wet season.

Pretty much John, like what's happening across the U.K. You expect it to be warm this time of year, but it is excessive heat on top of when you expected to be warm that is really becoming a major concern. And this is how it's playing out across Asia as well.

VAUSE: We better get used to it, I think.


VAUSE: Pedram, thank you.

Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, how baby shark and clown fish are helping restore the ecosystem of the coral reef of Thailand.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: Well, sharks play an important role in marine ecosystems. Nearly a third of all species in the world are threatened with extinction. Today on Call to Earth, a bamboo shark's breeding program that also helps protect their coral reef habitat.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On a tiny island off Thailand's Andaman coast, a crew of divers is bringing precious cargo on board. These are captive red bamboo sharks. And they're about to take their first plunge into the wild with marine biologist Kullawit Limchularat.

KULLAWIT LIMCHULARAT, MARINE BIOLOGIST: We found find that around this area have a lot of coral. And this is a perfect place for bamboo shark because this shark is a rare species.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom, for the first time.

LIMCHULARAT: The bamboo shark is a small species. They will swim on the bottom. They are not aggressive and their teeth is not sharp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sharks in general may have a bad reputation with humans. But they are essential for the marine habitat, says Limchularat.

LIMCHULARAT: The sharks play the important role in their environment because they are a predator. They will control the weak prey. The environment of the coral reef will leave you stronger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bamboo shark numbers have declined in recent years due to fishing practice and habitat destruction potentially putting reefs like this in jeopardy.

LIMCHULARAT: The coral is a habitat for a lot of fish. They just like oasis in the desert, just like rainforest. If we have no sharks, the ecology of the reef will be destroyed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those juvenile sharks cut their teeth here. At the Marine Discovery Center at site PP island village.

LIMCHULARAT: It would be the -- (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's part of a holiday resort with a focus on sustainability. These shark embryos come from Phuket Marine Biology Center. Between one and three months later, they hatch as baby sharks.

LIMCHULARAT: These guys around just two weeks after they hatch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they reach 30 centimeters, they're move to a bigger tank for another 3 months before they are released introduced to the ocean. The center is also home to a fish made famous by Disney Pixar animated classic, "Finding Nemo".

LIMCHULARAT: Everyone knows this orange and white clownfish is Nemo. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These clown fish are bred here and will be

released in the wild if local populations are depleted Limchularat says.

LIMCHULARAT: Do you know how many species of clown fish in Thailand?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Although part of a resort, the marine discovery center is open to the public and dedicated to educating locals, and tourists alike on how to take care of the marine environment.

LIMCHULARAT: The local community is the one who lives here. They need to know what they have and how important that they have to protect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By fostering change above and below the ocean. Programs like this, for these species, and their reef habitat a chance at recovery.

LIMCHULARAT: When we leave them we feel like we give something back to nature, maybe give them a chance, so Mother Nature can heal himself.


VAUSE: And please, please let us know what you're doing to answer the call with the hashtag, call to earth. That's hashtag call to earth. We'll be right back.


VAUSE: Some sad news from France. A beluga whale stranded for days has died during a rescue mission. Belugas usually live in the icy quarters of the arctic, but this one ended up stuck in the River Seine.

CNN's Max Foster has details.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An unusual sight in France's Seine river. A beluga whale. First spotted more than a week ago. Trapped in a freshwater log about 43 miles, 70 kilometers, downstream from Paris.

A rescue team of more than 80 people worked through the night, Tuesday into Wednesday. Lifting the whale unto a barge, designed to transport the stricken passenger back to sea.

Veterinarians hope the salt water revitalize the whale's ailing health. In transit, however, the whale had to be euthanized after its breathing had deteriorated.

It had lost significant weight, and was refusing to eat. The prognosis for survival was poor.

GUILLAUME LENCOLAIS, DEPUTY PREFECT OF LISIEUX: Six veterinarians unanimously advised us to proceed with the euthanasia of the animal which was two weeks be put back into water. So it was a decision that we took collectively, and so I am sad to inform you of the death of the beluga. FOSTER: In recent years, many species of marine mammals have been

reported in France. Far from their primary habitat.

In May, a sick orca separated from its pod died in the Seine after attempts to guide it back to sea failed.


FOSTER: The all white beluga, normally live in arctic and sub arctic waters. Loss of sea ice in the arctic has opened the area up to more shipping, fishing, and other human activities all of which impacts the beluga whales ability to communicate and navigate.

While it is impossible to say how this one lost its way, finding food and the search for mates have become much more difficult for the species.

Max Foster, CNN.


VAUSE: A French free diver has broken the world record for a dive with fins. Using a depth of 120 meters. And old journal (INAUDIBLE) an annual free diving competition in the Bahamas.

It's the seven time he's broken this record, maybe he should give someone else to turn. Here he is.


ARNAUD JERALD, FRENCH FREEDIVER: It was an amazing dive, can't believe I made it. I put all my efforts this winter for my training here, to make it. But for sure at the end when you made it, it's bigger than what I can imagine.

And if it is safe with the team here With my seven world records. And now I think I will enjoy, because it was over than just the statue of the (INAUDIBLE). . It was just enjoying my dive first, and after everything can become easily. I was m focused the day before, and for sure now we can say after I did that, what we can do, what I used to do. I just need to enjoy more and to continue my way to train more.

Yesterday I was thinking to Rafael Nadal (INAUDIBLE). Because we never stop and this (INAUDIBLE) with Federer is amazing. And I can find a way to just release myself and enjoy my life.


VAUSE: So it took a few seconds to confirm the record of 120 meters. After that spectators (INAUDIBLE) and Jerald himself erupted into celebration.

Actual the time of the dive, three minutes and 34 seconds. Never in a million years would I do that.

Serena Williams has lost her first match since announcing plans to step away from tennis. The American star lost third set on Wednesday at the game opening in Toronto. The 23-time grand slam winter says she will compete at the U.S. Open in a couple of weeks. Then plans to move in a different direction.

40-year-old Williams said she has never liked the word retirement. And would like to focus on things that are more important to her. Good for her.

Thank you for watching, I'm John Vause.

CNN NEWSROOM continues with Alison Kosik after a very short break.

I'll see you right back here tomorrow.