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U.N. Raises the Alarm Over Shelling of Zaporizhzhia Plant; Ukrainians Grapple with Decision to Stay or Leave; Justice Department Moves to Unseal Warrant, Property Receipt; 21 Chinese Warplanes, Six Vessels Spotted Near Taiwan Strait; 2 Dozen+ Killed in Anti-Government Demonstrations; Afghans More Impoverished Than Ever Under Taliban; Heat, Drought Creating Dangerous Conditions Across Europe. Aired 12- 12:45a ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 00:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM. Coming up this hour, extreme risk. Europe's largest nuclear power plant again under fire, as both Ukraine and Russia blame each other for risking a nuclear meltdown.


Calling Trump's bluff. For three days, the former president and his supporters demanded the warrant used to search his home be made public. Now, the U.S. attorney general has agreed.

And it's worse than we thought. Temperatures in the arctic are rising four times faster than anywhere else on the planet with dire consequences.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE: Right now, in Southern Ukraine for the first time, a hot war is raging around an active nuclear plant, in fact the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

Artillery fire caused minor damage to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex on Thursday, with a plume of smoke seen rising from miles away.

This is the second time in less than a week the facility has come under attack, but officials say radiation levels remain normal. But fears are growing the world could be one artillery strike away from major nuclear meltdown.

G-7 nations are demanding Russia, which has occupied the plan since March, hand full control back to Ukraine. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency session Thursday, and the U.N. secretary-general with support from Washington is calling for a demilitarized zone around the nuclear complex.

Moscow and Kyiv are continuing to blame the other for the attacks. Ukrainian president says Russia, though, is maximizing the risk of a nuclear disaster.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): What is going on now around Zaporizhzhia is one of the greatest crimes of the terrorist state. Russia has again hit the bottom in the world history of terrorism. No one else has used a nuclear power plant, so obviously, it can threaten the whole world.


VAUSE: Malcolm Davis is a senior analyst in defense strategy at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He is with us this hour from Canberra. It's good to see you.


VAUSE: It doesn't take a nuclear scientists or a rocket scientist to know that firing rockets and artillery in and around a nuclear plant is not a good idea, and even though that has been happening, it seems the plant has not, at least, been significantly damaged, at least not yet. Listen to this.


RAFAEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: All the experts have preliminary -- have preliminarily assessed that there is no immediate threat to safety as some of the shelling or other military actions. However, this could change at any moment.


In so many ways, this is uncharted territory, because there's never been a hot war around an active nuclear power plant before. Is the best way of describing what's happening is to say it's a dangerous situation, but disaster is not imminent?

DAVIS: Look, I think that's correct. I think what the Russians are doing is using Zaporizhzhia as a hostage, essentially, to try and coerce Ukraine into backing away from its counteroffensives that it's now launching in the South.

The Russians have this -- escalate to de-escalate, whereby if they are losing the war, they want to de-escalate that war to try and force the other side to back down.

Traditional assumptions have been that the Russians would use a tactical nuclear weapon to escalate, to de-escalate. But here we have Zaporizhzhia, which gives them an alternative path, that potentially, they could threaten to destroy the reactor, and thus, released a large plume of radiation across Europe, if the Ukrainians don't back down.

So my concern is that this is about another war that would escalate to de-escalate (ph) for the Russians.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations, warning of what could actually happen. Here it is.


SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Dear colleagues, none of us can stop the wind if it carries radiation. But together, we are capable of stopping a terrorist state. And the sooner we stop Russia, the sooner Europe and the world will be able to feel safe again.


VAUSE: So with that in mind, most nuclear experts, though, are talking down the risk. "Politico" quotes the head of the European Nuclear Society, who says the risks from shelling are limited, given the reactors are protected by up to ten meters of concrete. Only a barrage of targeted aerial bombings would be likely to breach the reactor walls. An attack on spent fuel storage sites would have a limited effect, as any released radioactive material would only travel around 10 to 20 kilometers."

It's a fairly selfish assessment, but fairly, it's the locals who will be most at risk and not much beyond that. So I guess what, it's in Ukraine's best interest to talk up the dangers?

DAVIS: Look, I think you could look beyond that. Essentially, you've got to remember that a nuclear reactor is never switched off. There's always fissile material in the core, and so if you breach the containment vessel -- the Russians are quite capable of doing that -- then you do release that fissile material. The sort of thing that we saw happen in Chernobyl in 1986 and more recently in Fukushima.

It could be that the Russians are threatening to utilize this reactor as a means, as I said, to escalate to de-escalate, to coerce.

Yes, certainly, sort of the odd artillery shell will probably not do a huge amount of damage. But if you, for example, if those artillery shells hit the cooling system, a cooling system collapses, then the reactor melts down and you have Chernobyl.

And we all saw what happened in Chernobyl, so I'm not convinced that talking this threat down is the right approach.

VAUSE: OK. So right now, we have Ukraine blaming Russia, Russia blaming Ukraine for the recent attacks of the plant. At the end of the day, would it be possible to have a third party come in and operate the plant safely?

DAVIS: If the Russians allow it. The Russians control the area around the reactor. At the moment, the Russians are refusing to allow, essentially, a decentralized zone around reactor.

So that third party would somehow need to get access to the reactor if the Russians blocked them. Then, short of that third party being supported by combat forces, perhaps from NATO, of all the escalatory possibilities that go there, there's no way for them to get there.

So unless the Russians are prepared to allow a neutral party to come in and operate the reactor, I don't see about how that's possible.

VAUSE: Malcolm, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it. Malcolm Davis there in Canberra.

DAVIS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

Ukraine says it's beaten back two Russian attempts to advance in the East, saying the Russians took heavy troop losses before being forced to retreat. Ukraine has recently ordered a mandatory evacuation of all civilians from the Donetsk region.

CNN's Nic Robertson has the latest now, reporting in from Eastern Ukraine.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Inside a sweltering train station, families wait for a journey to the unknown, a government offer to escape the war in Eastern Ukraine.

Artem (ph) is saying good-bye to his wife, Sofia (ph), and son Philip (ph). "The situation is getting worse," he says.

"The son is scared," Sofia (ph) adds. "Yesterday, the shelling was so bad, we decided we just had to go."

On the platform, the old and confused helped and heaved aboard. The free train ride westwards ramping up efforts to relocate civilians before winter.

Ludmila (ph) leaving with her family. "We don't want to go," she says, "but the missiles are flying. I've had no salary for five months. I don't even know where we're going."

ROBERTSON: Officials here are telling us there are far fewer people on the trains right now. Just a few months ago, they say there were hundreds of people crammed into these caravans. It's much emptier now.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Hampering evacuation efforts, some who left months ago are coming back.

"I spent all my money on rent," Valentina (ph) says. "I'm broke. I have to come back, even though we've been told there would be no heating or no water here this winter."

OLEKSANDR HONCHARENKO, MAYOR OF KRAMATORSK, UKRAINE: Now we're asking people to leave, there are many people to leave as much as possible the city.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): The mayor of the region's biggest city, Kramatorsk, is struggling. Sixty-five thousand civilians here, he says, even as soldiers dug new trenches and rockets regularly impact. HONCHARENKO: It's difficult to protect the city with our army, if we

have a lot of citizens.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Even closer to the creeping Russian advance in Bakhmut, where officials say seven civilians died in shelling Wednesday, there is resistance to leaving.

ROBERTSON: The Russians are already on the edge of the city.

If there was ever a moment for these people to leave, it would be now.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): "I know the government wants us to leave," Sergei says, "but I can't. I've got three houses. Who will look after them?"

He's rigged his basement to be a shelter.

ROBERTSON: This is where they're living in here. It is just dust, dirt, corridors (ph).

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He isn't sure if the walls will hold a heavy blast but says he's got a whistle if the worst happens.

In Ukraine's East, it's clear it will take more than an offer of a free train ride to get citizens to safety.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


VAUSE: McDonald's says it will soon reopen for business in Ukraine. The company's posted the news on its website, saying some restaurants in Kyiv and Western Ukraine will be the first to open. It comes six months after closing their doors because of the Russia invasion.

The war also promoted McDonald's to permanently close and sell all its Russian restaurants.

Now to the FBI search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. The former president says he will not challenge a move by the Justice Department to unseal the search warrant and the list of items seized by the FBI.

Attorney General Merrick Garland made a surprise announcement Thursday that he wanted the information made public. He also said he personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant.

"The Washington Post" is citing anonymous sources who say FBI agents were looking for documents related to nuclear weapons. "The New York Times" reports government officials were concerned that foreign adversaries could try and get access to classified materials stored at Trump's home.

More now from CNN's Evan Perez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to authorize the release of court documents that would, for the first time, shed light on what the FBI took during an hours-long search of Donald Trump's Palm Beach home.

A decision could come as soon as Friday, and the attorney general, Merrick Garland, says that he personally approved a warrant, and that he's taking the extraordinary step to release the document, because Trump himself made the FBI search public.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The department filed a motion to make public the warrant and receipt. In light at the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter.

PEREZ: The move comes as we've learned new details of the interactions between the Justice Department investigators and Trump lawyers. The center of this dispute of records that Trump took with him to his beach home at the end of his presidency were concerns about possible exposure of some of the nation's most closely-guarded national security secrets. Some labeled as special access programs.

CNN has learned that investigators served a grand jury subpoena before a June meeting at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump property in Palm Beach, and they left with classified documents.

There was another subpoena seeking surveillance tapes from the property. Now, this tells us that this but the claims from Trump that he has cooperated all along, the Justice Department's interactions with his legal team had become more contentious well before the Monday search.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Joining us now is former federal prosecutor and host of the podcast "That Said" with Michael Zeldin.

Michael Zeldin, thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: OK. So why go to a judge in the first place to unseal a warrant. Isn't that something the attorney general could have done himself? And if it is made public, specifically what will it reveal about the search at Trump's home in Florida?

ZELDIN: Under the procedures, you do go to the judge who issued the warrant in the first place to unseal the warrant. That's the process. The judge issues the warrant, and the judge unseals the warrant.

What the warrant will reveal is was searched, the who, what, when, where of it, the specifics. And also, you'll receive a receipt of what it was that was taken from the place searched. It won't tell you much more than that. VAUSE: OK, because "The Washington Post" is reporting that, among the

documents at Mar-a-Lago, was classified information about nuclear weapons, highly-classified information.


If that does, in fact, prove to be true, does that explain some, in part, at least, why the FBI turned up at Trump's Florida home, why this search took place in such almost urgency, if you like, and why there wasn't some back-channel communications, you know, some kind of deal being made with the president and his people?

ZELDIN: As I understand it, the negotiations between the DOJ and the Trump people was months in the making. They took 15 boxes of documents in January. They served a grand jury subpoena in June to receive more documents, and then they received a tip, if you will, that there were still more documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's residence, and that Trump had not been forthright about their existence.

There was also a belief that those documents contained highly- classified information, as is being reported now, pertaining to the nuclear weapons of the United States or other countries. That, I think, is what really caused the government to act as quickly as it did with the search warrant for fear that there may be a leak of the contents of those to somebody who shouldn't have them.

VAUSE: So ever since the FBI conducted the search on Monday, Trump and his supporters have demanded the warrant be unsealed. Attorney General Merrick Garland now agrees. Here he is.


GARLAND: The department filed a motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter.


VAUSE: It sounds like Garland is calling Trump's bluff.

ZELDIN: Well, in a sense, what we have here is the Justice Department adhering to its policies of not to speak about an ongoing investigation.

The president, who was the victim of that search, talking about it and complaining about it, and Garland says, Look, you have everything that the public needs to know about this search. If you're so concerned about it, release it.

And I think cynically, when the president, the former president, is doing instead is complaining and then fundraising off the back side of his complaints.

So now Merrick Garland said enough is enough. We're going to ask the judge to release this, and America will get to see what it is that can be seen in a warrant and the affidavit, if ever that's released down the line.

VAUSE: One thing that was interesting in the court filings, the department goes out of its way to stress that Trump has a right to object to all this. On page four of five, it reads, for example, "The former president should have an opportunity to respond to this motion and lodge objections, including with regards to any 'legitimate privacy interests' or the potential for other 'injury' if these materials are made public."

And makes this sort of point two or three times in the filings. And what seems odd, though, is to go out of the way to say that, considering that this is precisely what Trump wanted. Why would he object in the first place, if that's the case?

ZELDIN: I don't think he should object. I think that his interests and the American public's interest is for transparency. If he chooses not to, or he chooses to object and not to release the evidence, then I think, there's a political motive here, and that's unfortunate.

VAUSE: Michael, we'll leave it there. Thanks for being with us. Former federal prosecutor and host of the podcast, "That Said," Michael Zeldin. Michael, thanks so much.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

VAUSE: The de facto head of Samsung has been pardoned for his conviction on bribery and embezzlement charges in 2017. Lee Jae-Yong holds the title of vice chairman and was paroled one year ago with the condition that he not work for Samsung.

Under the terms of the special presidential pardon, Lee will again be allowed to run the family business. Samsung is one of the country's largest corporations. The justice minister said reinstating Lee to run the company was necessary to help revitalize the nation's post- pandemic economy.

Well, more than a week underground, but now maybe hours away from rescue. Still to come, authorities in Mexico are hoping to bring ten miners to safety. A live report in a moment.

And China said its military drills around Taiwan were over, but its campaign of intimidation, that will never end. China's latest aggressive actions in a moment.



VAUSE: A day at the amusement park turned into a nightmare for dozens of people in Germany. At least 31 people were hurt in a rollercoaster accident, some taken to the hospital.

Police say one person suffered severe but not life-threatening injuries. This happened at a Legoland theme park in Germany.

On Saturday a 5-year-old woman died when she fell from a rollercoaster at another German theme park.

Authorities in Mexico hope to rescue ten miners in the coming hours, more than a week after they became trapped underground. Rescue crews have been working around the clock to access the flooded coal mine in the country's north.

But debris, obstacles, meters of water have slowed their efforts. CNN's Rafael Romo live with us this hour with more on the story. So, what do we get on these rescue efforts? How close are they?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're not close enough yet, John, and Mexican officials had said Wednesday that they were only hours away from being able to enter the mine and rescue the miners.

They said something similar Thursday, but it seems like they have run into new challenges that have made it nearly impossible for rescuers to get access to the spot where they believe the miners may still be.

John, the main challenge continues to be the water that flooded multiple mine shafts last week on Wednesday. Just to give you an idea of how challenging flooding has been, Laura Velazquez, Mexico's national coordinator of civil protection, said Thursday morning that in the eight days since the collapse happened, they have pumped out nearly 150,000 cubic meters of water.

John, that's enough water to fill up around 60 Olympic pools. At one point, the water was 34 meters deep when the rescue operation started, only hours after the mine flooded, and the walls collapsed. With 25 pumps running around the clock, they have been able to bring that level to less than nine meters. So getting close, but not quite there yet.

Now Mexico's defense minister, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, said rescuers made four attempts to enter the mine on Wednesday, but they found too much debris blocking the way inside. That the coal mine in the state of Coahuila, suddenly flooded last Wednesday.

This caused some of the walls to collapse, trapping the miners inside. Within the first 24 hours, John, rescuers were able to safely extract five miners, but there are ten others who have been trapped since. And there has been no communication with them, and 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.

And last, John, Mexico's attorney general's office issued a statement late Thursday night saying it has requested a judicial hearing with the purpose of filing charges against the owner of the mine, accusing him of, quote, "illegal exploitation of a mine."

John, back to you.

VAUSE: Rafael Romo, thank you for that live update. We appreciate it.

Well, when China announced the end of military drills near Taiwan, a promise to regularly conduct patrols in the area. It seems those patrols may already be underway.

Taiwan's defense ministry says it's spotted more than 20 Chinese warplanes and six ships on the Taiwan Strait on Thursday. This latest move from Beijing comes more than a week after the U.S. House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, visited the self-ruled island. Here's CNN's Selina Wang.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This show of force was made for TV. Chinese soldiers preparing for battle. Warplanes flooding the skies, destroyers encircling the waters around Taiwan.


U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Taiwan for less than 24 hours, but Beijing's military drills and response are lasting for days.

CHENG LI, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Nancy Pelosi's visit, actually, I see it as a gift to President Xi Jinping, because he can use that to unite the people.

WANG (voice-over): Before her visit, outrage was booming in China over brutal COVID lockdowns and economic devastation, from Xi Jinping's zero-COVID policy. Ever since news of Pelosi's visit leaked, propaganda has been in overdrive, captivating the nation.

Some prominent hawkish voices even suggested China should shoot her plane down. The country rallying behind Beijing's view that Pelosi's visit is a direct challenge to China's sovereignty.

Even though the Communist Party has never ruled over Taiwan, people in China are taught from elementary school that Taiwan is part of the motherland, and unification is only a matter of time.

The night of Pelosi's visit, millions of people in China tracked her flight in real time, waiting to see if the military would intervene. When she landed safely, most hard-core patriots were disappointed, some even breaking into tears that state media had lied to them about the unprecedented measures Beijing will take to stop her.

But the military chills that followed proved to be more provocative than before, shooting rockets towards the Taiwan Strait, even over the island for the first time. Chinese warplanes flew ever closer to Taiwan, and in greater numbers this time, encircling the island in a practice blockade.

And, well, the mood in China quickly changed. Some even started thanking Pelosi on China's Twitter-like platform Weibo. One wrote, "The unification of our motherland will soon be realized. Thanks, Pelosi, for your helping hand."

MICHAEL RASKA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY: It provided a lot more benefit for the Chinese, because they used it as an opportunity to demonstrate power, the military power and provide political ammunition that Xi Jinping needs to solidify his position as the head of the party congress. WANG (voice-over): Xi Jinping may have turned this crisis into his

advantage at home, but abroad, he's further antagonized the U.S. and increased Taiwan's resentment towards the mainland.

Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


VAUSE: Protests in Sierra Leone leave dozens dead, including a number of police officers. We'll tell you why the country is in an uproar, when we come back.



VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Police and protesters are among more than two dozen dead after anti- government demonstrations erupted across Sierra Leone. Officials say many others have been hurt.

CNN's Stephanie Busari has details.


STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN DIGITAL SUPERVISING EDITOR, AFRICA: Calm has been restored to the streets of Sierra Leone after hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the capital Wednesday, protesting inflation and the rising cost of living in the West African country.

A nationwide curfew was imposed, and the country is now facing the high cost of the violence. Eight police officers, six men and two women were killed, the country's youth minister told CNN Thursday.

Well, hospital sources told Reuters that at least 21 civilians were killed in different locations in the country.

Graphic images and videos showing seriously injured protesters and some members of the security forces surfaced on social media. Security forces were also seen firing guns at citizens.

President Julius Maada Bio, who was out of the country when the protests happened, said in a tweet, Wednesday's events would be "fully investigated."

Youth minister Mohamad Bangura said arrests have been made and accused the main opposition party of orchestrating the protest, which he called an act of terrorism.

The opposition All People's Congress released a statement condemning the violence and calling on all citizens to respect the rule of law. And the mayor of Freetown, a leading opposition politician, pleaded for an end to the violence and called for peace. The protests are unusual in Sierra Leone, where more than 50 percent

of the population lives below the poverty line. A country with a tragic history, including am 11-year civil war and a deadly Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Stephanie Busari, CNN.


VAUSE: A hostage taking in a bank in Beirut, Lebanon, says a lot about the country's financial crisis. It ended peacefully when the bank agreed to give the armed suspect his own money from his own frozen account.

Lebanon's state-owned news agency said the suspect cursed, fired two straight shots, demanded access to his own cash so he could pay for his father's operation.

He threatened to torch the bank, kill everyone inside. Lebanon's financial crisis has driven most Lebanese into poverty. Banks have been allowed to restrict money from people's accounts.

The man surrendered after he was promised $30,000 out of the $210,000 in his account.

Monday marks one year since the Taliban retook control in Afghanistan. What followed was a mad dash to evacuate U.S. and allied troops, foreign civilians, thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. and its allies.

By the time the airlift ended two weeks later. I mean, a small fraction of the Afghans made it out. Thirteen U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bombing at the airport before it was over.

Today, the guns are mostly silent, but the country is more impoverished than ever. Afghan women have been all but erased from public life under the Taliban.

Food has become a luxury many cannot afford. Huge percentages of Afghan children no longer attend school.

CNN's Clarissa Ward returns to Kabul and has this report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you can probably see behind me, we're at the market. There is a sense of normalcy on the streets of the city. There is not the same sort of anything approaching the levels of chaos and violence that we saw playing out during those heart-wrenching scenes last year.

But the change has also brought about a real decrease in the standard of living here. And a lot of people are now fighting to put food on the table.

The U.N. says that nearly half the country is in a state of acute hunger. The International Rescue Committee says by the second half of this year, they believe -- we are now in that second half of this year -- more than 90 percent of people will be living below the poverty line.

And that's for a whole plethora of reasons, partly because of sanctions and the freezing of Afghanistan federal reserves after the Taliban took power, partly because of the food crisis, partly because of inflation.

But what you see when you go around, and I just want to show you a little bit, seeing as we're here in this market, you could see there is food. There is food that you can buy. The markets stalls are full.

But the conversations that we've been having with vendors make it clear that, for the vast majority of people, it's become unaffordable, this food.

So flour, I was told, by these vendors, has doubled in price. Cooking oil, which is obviously one of the basic necessities, has more than doubled in price.


And that's not even before you start talking about the very real changes and the impact that they've had, as the Taliban has gradually become firmer in implementing its vision or version of Sharia law.


VAUSE: Clarissa Ward there, reporting from Kabul. The country director for Save the Children International will join us next hour from Kabul to explain the dire circumstances now facing many Afghan children.

An hours'-long standoff for the government in Cincinnati, Ohio, has ended with the death of the suspect. Police say he tried unsuccessfully to enter an FBI office Thursday morning, then fled in his vehicle. He eventually stopped and exchanged gunfire with the officers.


LT. NATHAN DENNIS, OHIO STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: Less than lethal tactics were utilized at that time. They were also unsuccessful. The suspect then did raise a firearm toward law enforcement, and shots were fired by law enforcement officers on the scene. At that point, the suspect was deceased. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene.


VAUSE: The gunman has been identified as Ricky Shiffer. His online postings are now under investigation for ties to right-wing extremist groups. An account with Shiffer's name on Donald Trump's Truth Social platform talks about an attempt to storm an FBI office.

Well, Europe is battling another severe heat wave that is triggering wildfires and drought across the continent. In a moment, we'll show you the devastation that extreme weather is bringing, along with the extreme hardship. We're back in a moment.


VAUSE: Now to the impact of the climate crisis in the Arctic, where temperatures have been rising four times faster than the rest of the planet.

The findings were made by scientists from Finland who say that's a faster pace than climate models currently show. It's caused by heat traffic emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Experts say the raising temperatures are melting away the region's sea ice, which in turn, further amplifies global warming, raises ocean levels worldwide.

And Europe's long hot summer is set to get even worse. Some regions have not seen rain for years. Extreme drought, extreme heat are causing extreme hardship.

In Italy alone, some farmers have lost 80 percent of their crops, totaling in the billions this year. Other parts of the continent are not doing better.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soaring temperatures and few signs of rain. Millions across Europe are experiencing some of the hottest and driest climate conditions since records began, creating a tinderbox.

More than 600,000 activists have burned in wildfires already this summer. French authorities report numerous outbreaks. Emergency services in Southwest France have gone door to door, urging more than 6,000 residents to evacuate.


MARTIN GUESPERA, SECURITY OFFICIAL (through translator): The fire is still progressing. It caught us by surprise with its direction and created its own wind, its own story, its own movement.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): France has experienced its driest July since 1959. And like much of Europe, is braced for another heat wave over the coming days.

Large parts of England are under amber warnings, where homes are typically ill-equipped to deal with extreme temperatures, straining a health service already feeling the heat.

Wildfires continue to burn in Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Portugal, where, for five days, a fire has ripped through the heart of one of the country's national parks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It really breaks my heart. Everything has burned. Everything is ruined. There is nothing green left. It will take many years to regenerate, and I won't be around to see it.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): These images in central Spain highlight the severity of the drought. The reservoir stands nearly empty. Locals fear for the future of their economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator) It's been several years without rain, and we're hitting rock-bottom. If it doesn't rain, unless they find some alternative water supply, the future is very, very dark.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, temperatures will rise in all European areas at a rate exceeding the global average, and are projected to keep rising.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


VAUSE: More now on the extreme weather across Europe, and CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis is with us from the CNN weather center.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, John, this has been so widespread and very persistent. That has been the problem. If we had one or two heat waves, that's unbearable enough.

But now we're going into these multiples of heat waves that encompass a good portion of Western Europe. Just to give you some idea, where in France, 39 degrees may not set a record, but the normal temperature is 27.

I point that out, because in that region, the region, that's where they have a 6,200 hectare fire that is burning there. They are throwing everything at it to get it under control.

It has been so tinder-dry there. Not just there. Now we've got Amber warnings across a good portion of the Southern U.K., because it's still exceedingly hot. That heat-related illnesses are definitely a possibility there over the next several days.

How long is this going to last? I'll show you in just one minute. Very few people, very few small percentages of the households from Germany to France to the United Kingdom have household air conditioning. Compared to the U.S. and into Japan, where more than 85 percent have home air-conditioning systems.

All right. Here is the good news. Even though we have several more days in Paris, where temperatures are going to be in the mid-30s, exceedingly hot, it does look like, the click on Sunday, the temperatures drop. And look at this.

Going all the way into Thursday, now we're back to near normal levels. The normal high temperature in Paris this time of year is 25 degrees. To see 33, 34 degrees is exceptionally hot. So please take care, not just of yourself but for you neighbors, as well. There's the Amber alert across Southern sections of the United

Kingdom, where temperatures are expected to reach into the low to mid- 30s. And look at this. Going into Friday, doubling 23 degrees, and down to around 30. But I think over the next five days, John, we'll see a definitive decrease in some of these temperatures. That will be good news.

VAUSE: For a while, at least, until they crawl back up. Thank you, Karen. That's at least some good news.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT starts after the break. See you back here on Tuesday.