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Earthquake Took More than 100 Lives in Indonesia; Charity Group Save the Children Act Fast; Players Protested in Silence; IAEA Breathe a Sigh of Relief; Russian Soldier Whining Their Situation; Boris Johnson Says Ukraine Need Faster Planes; Hero Saved More People from Getting Killed; More Protesters Killed in Iran; China Imposed More Stricter COVID Restrictions; People Leaving Twitter in Mass Exodus; Mission Completed by NASA's Orion Spacecraft. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead on CNN Newsroom, search and rescue efforts are underway after a powerful earthquake toppled homes and buildings in Indonesia, killing more than a hundred people including many children.

Plus, a powerful show of solidarity displayed by Iran's national football team. We will have more on the silent protests that highlighted day two at the World Cup. And CNN has obtained exclusive audio of one Russian soldier's conversation with a loved one. We will hear his brutal account of life on the front lines.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Well, rescue crews are combing through the debris in West Java, Indonesia, looking for survivors of a devastating earthquake. At least 103 people have been killed, but authorities fear that number will rise.

Video from the region shows homes and buildings destroyed. Piles of bricks and metal strewn on the streets. Survivors described a huge tremor followed by dozens of aftershocks. The quake triggered landslides, which are making it difficult to access rural areas. The government is putting up tents and shelters for more than 7,000 people forced from their homes.

Indonesia's location on the so-called Ring of fire in the Pacific Ocean makes it prone to earthquakes. This one was a 5.6 magnitude, a 2004 quake of Sumatra killed more than a quarter million people in the region.

And CNN's Anna Coren is following developments for us. So, she is live now this hour from Hong Kong. So, Anna, what more are you learning about the ongoing search and rescue efforts with this? ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, crews are certainly out there going through the rubble trying to find any survivors from yesterday's earthquake. It hit at 1.20 in the afternoon, local time. It lasted for all of 30 seconds. It was a magnitude 5.6, which isn't big, but it was shallow, only 10 kilometers deep, which is why we saw this, this violence on the surface.

The destruction it hit Cianjur, which is in West Java Province. It's about 75 kilometers southeast of the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, which is where tremors were also felt. But in Cianjur which is, you know, a regional city, these buildings are made of concrete. They just simply collapsed. Hundreds of them collapsed. Thousands of them have been damaged.

And you mentioned that death toll, it stands at more than a hundred. Authorities fear that could rise. And we should have the latest numbers in the coming hours from officials on the scene. A makeshift hospital was set outside the hospital fearing that it would also collapse.

And there are images of countless survivors being brought in on stretches to be treated. Most of the injuries being head trauma and fractures. But there are countless still missing including the child of this mother you are about to hear from.


UNKNOWN (through translator): I have seven children and one of them hasn't been found. The children were downstairs and I was upstairs getting laundry. Everything collapsed beneath me and I was crushed beneath this child. One of my kids is still missing. My house is flattened. Good God, two of my kids survived. I dug them up and this one, two others I brought here and one is still missing.


COREN: Rosemary, President Joko Widodo he is there in Cianjur district visiting with obviously the survivors, with the search and rescue crews. He's told them that their priority needs to be -- to find anyone who is still alive. He has also called for these homes and buildings to be rebuilt, to be earthquake resistant.


You mentioned that Indonesia, an Archipelago is on this Ring of Fire, it is prone to earthquakes. And there have been multiple aftershocks since that earthquake yesterday. But it's not just the destruction from the earthquake, it's also the landslides, multiple landslides. This is a mountainous area and it is monsoon season. The ground is saturated. So, with that 32nd earthquake, you know, hillsides just collapsed on buildings.

And we've heard from residents who are going through this mud trying to find survivors. But you know, as we know, Rosemary, with these things the longer it continues, they become a recovery operation.

CHURCH: Yes, that is the tragedy of all of this. Anna Coren joining us live from Hong Kong. Many thanks.

Well, the earthquake struck in the early afternoon on Monday, and many children were still in school. Save the Children reports about 51 education facilities were impacted, including 30 elementary schools and a dozen junior high schools. At least one teacher and a student have been killed, and there are reports that some children are still trapped in collapsed buildings.

So, let's take you live to Jakarta now. Selina Sumbung is the CEO and chair of Save the Children Indonesia. She joins me now. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, as these search and rescue efforts continue, we are learning that more than a hundred people have lost their lives so far, and tragically most, most of them appear to be children. Your organization reports, as we just said about 51 schools were impacted. What are you able to tell us about that, and of course, the children lost in this quake.

SUMBUNG: Yes. We are receiving updated information by the hour. Currently we're working with the government at the national, provincial and district level. With the information we receive from the district education office, unfortunately, the infrastructure has been severely damaged. Over 400 elementary, junior, and ECCD schools have been heavily damaged.

Unfortunately, 16 children have lost their lives, and this will only worsen because there are still, as you mentioned, many people still trapped under the rubble.

CHURCH: What more can you tell us about those, we hear that they are mostly children trapped in those collapsed buildings. What more are you learning about that?

SUMBUNG: Yes. Currently with the first responder team from the government who are excavating some of these collapsed buildings, we are also responding by ensuring that the most emergency initial needs are being supported, particularly for children and pregnant mothers. And this would cover emergency shelter, it would cover food, clean water, and sanitations, as well as hygiene kits.

So, we have actually sent over 2,000 emergency shelter kits. And over 1,300 family and hygiene kits to the site. We also have a team on the ground who is coordinating with government first responder team to ensure that children are going to be the main focus of their response and that their needs are immediately met.

CHURCH: Yes, that is so important, isn't it? And of course, we understand that more than 7,000 people have been displaced as a result of this deadly earthquake. What will they and their children do for shelter, and how much support are they receiving from the government and various organizations like your own. We did hear that there are tents being put up, but we're talking -- SUMBUNG: Yes.

CHURCH: -- about 7,000 people here, aren't we?

SUMBUNG: Yes. This afternoon, the national disaster agency will be officially releasing the report in terms of the response, the scale of the response from the government, and also, all the coordinating stakeholders, including Save the Children so that each of us understand what is being required from us and which target population we will be serving.

Right now, there are many locations for internally displaced people. As you mentioned, there are over 7,000 people and counting. We are making sure that of course, children first and foremost receive psychological first aid to cope with the disaster and its after effects.

We are also ensuring that children who have lost their parents are reunified with their immediate family, as well as those that have lost children, such as the mother who was in the first report that she also finds her children safe and sound.


CHURCH: Yes. It is just horrifying to think of what these parents are going through. Talk to us about what you think the greatest need for children is in the earthquake zone right now.

SUMBUNG: So, we've had unfortunately, many experiences of disasters in Indonesia. Most recently was the tsunami and earthquake in Palu in north Sulawesi, which Save the Children also responded. And we see there with the devastation that children are traumatized, that they are -- they have lost not only their homes, but also their schools.

And so, they've lost every familiar environment that they know. And I think this is the most urgent that we sometimes overlook is the mental state of the children themselves. Because it will affect them for the long term, for the long-term impact of their lives.

CHURCH: Yes, I mean, the whole sense of reality has been shattered by this, Selina Sumbung, thank you so much for talking with us and for all that you do.

SUMBUNG: Thank you.

CHURCH: Day three of the FIFA World Cup is just a few hours away and it's set to feature some of the most anticipated matches of the entire tournament. First, Argentina will kick things off against Saudi Arabia in what could be the start of Leonel Messi's final World Cup. The legendary Argentine has never won the title but he's hoping this year will be special.

After that, Tunisia will face Denmark, one of the semifinalists of the Euro 2020 tournament. Then Mexico will take on Poland and its prolific scorer Robert Lewandowski. And finally, the reigning World Cup champions France will start their title defense against Australia. Those matches will follow a dramatic second day of action. On Monday,

the Netherlands defeated the African champion Senegal. The U.S. and Wales finished with a draw, and England produced a dominant win over Iran. That match was arguably the most memorable, not because of the eight goals that was scored, but because of the powerful moments that happened before the game.

CNN's Don Riddell has our report.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: In the first two games of this World Cup, the two most local teams have played and been outplayed. On Sunday night, the host Qatar were well beaten by Ecuador and then England thrashed Iran six-two. It was a dream start for Gareth Southgate's men who went to the semifinals in Russia four years ago, and England assumed complete control at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Nineteen-year-old Jude Bellingham's first international goal was memorable and there were redeeming goals for Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford who missed penalties in the European Championship final last year, and both were racially abused for it.

But this game will be remembered for other reasons. England's players all took a knee before the game, a gesture to promote inclusivity. The significance of such an act cannot be underestimated in Qatar where human and civil rights are often denied.

And Iran's players also made headlines by not singing the national anthem that was widely interpreted as supporting the demonstrators who've been protesting against the Iranian government, many of whom have paid for it with their lives.

England's win now sets up a mouthwatering clash against the United States of America in group B on Friday. That's the day after Thanksgiving. The USA are back in the World Cup for the first time in eight years, playing against a Wales team that hasn't played in the tournament since 1958. Team Wales gave the Americans a deserved first half lead, but they had to settle for a draw as the Welsh megastar Gareth Bale leveled the score with a late penalty. One-all is how it finished.

Monday's other games saw the African champion Senegal lose to the Netherlands, but the game was also heading for a draw until a couple of late goals from the Dutch Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen on target there.

So, we're now looking ahead to an action-packed Tuesday where four games will be jammed in from Group C and D. The defending champions France will be playing Australia whilst Argentina will be taking on Saudi Arabia, meaning the legendary Leonel Messi will be taking center stage in what is his fifth and quite possibly final World Cup.

Back to you.

CHURCH: And earlier I discussed the World Cup matches with Kyle Bonagura, a staff writer at ESPN, and I asked him what we can expect from Friday's game between the U.S. and England given what we saw from them on Monday. And here's what he had to say.


KYLE BONAGURA, STAFF WRITER, ESPN: If you look at the results from day one of the group, you have to imagine that England is a pretty heavy favorite in that match. And I don't know if that's new information. I think when everyone looked at this group from the start of the draw, England was always going to be the heavy favorite.


And then you look at the results, certainly remains the case given England was so dominant against Iran. U.S. did look good for about 60 minutes against Wales, but kind of lost some steam at the end of the game before allowing the equalizer for bail.

CHURCH: So defending champs France play Australia Tuesday. Do the Aussies have any chance at all?

BONAGURA: I mean, I wouldn't write them out. You know, you could -- you could -- they could certainly sit back and bunker and try to play for a draw. But yes, I mean, I think every expectation here is that France will probably have a pretty easy time against Australia. It's one of the bigger mismatches talentwise that we'll see. It's certainly a match day, a match day one.

CHURCH: And global superstar Leonel Messi is on a quest to lead Argentina to a third title when his team face Saudi Arabia in the coming hours. So, what's likely to happen there, do you think?

BONAGURA: Yes, I mean, Argentina is one of the hottest teams in in world football right now. They've won, or they win unbeaten in 35 straight games coming into this tournament. As you know, odds makers are calling them the second favorite behind Brazil to win the entire thing. Right? So, if that's the case, I think that Argentina should be considered a heavy favorite today against Saudi Arabia, and certainly should be kind of prime for making a deep run in this tournament.

Leonel Messi everyone knows, you know, everyone across the world knows who he is, and he's probably here in his last tournament, so I think you'll certainly see him try to make an impact and leave a lasting impression.


CHURCH: ESPN's Kyle Bonagura speaking with me earlier about the World Cup. And still to come, a soldier's phone call to his girlfriend reveals how Russian troops really feel about the war in Ukraine. How it clashes with the Kremlin narrative.

Plus, major internet disruptions in parts of Iran as the government unleashes a deadly crackdown in the Kurdish region.

We'll have the details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog says there are no immediate

safety or security concerns at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine following heavy shelling over the weekend. A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency assessed the damage and reported that key equipment remained intact. All six reactors are said to be stable, but there was widespread damage at the site.

Meantime, Ukrainian power facilities are imposing additional blackouts. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the high demand for energy is more than the country's damaged electrical grid can provide. And that has the World Health Organization warning of a difficult winter ahead for millions of people.



HANS KLUGE, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Half of Ukraine's energy infrastructure is either damaged or destroyed. This is already having knock-on effects on the health system and on the people's health. Put simply, this winter will be about survival.


CHURCH: In the recently liberated city of Kherson, residents are being urged to evacuate before those harsh conditions set in. Russian state media have often downplayed major losses in Ukraine, but at least some Russian troops caught in the fighting are being brutally honest.

CNN has obtained the audio recording of a Russian soldier in Ukraine calling his girlfriend, and compared to the usually optimistic gung-ho tone from the Kremlin, the soldier is blunt and candid in his comments about the war.

Matthew Chance has the story and a warning parts of his report are graphic.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Russia's military highlights its barrage of Ukraine, CNN has obtained exclusive recordings of a Russian soldier describing the brutal of life on the front lines.

UNKNOWN (through translator): The commander's position was shelled, so he packed up and moved further back. But what about us? Aren't we humans too?

CHANCE: The Russian soldier was recorded phoning his girlfriend back home according to Ukrainian intelligence. And telling her candidly about the severe military setback suffered in the two months since he arrived. UNKNOWN (through translator): We had 96 people in our unit, but now

there are less than 50. You don't know what to expect here. Sometimes there's friendly fire and idiots shoot at us because they don't see our coordinates.

CHANCE: But it is advancing Ukrainian forces that are the major threat compounding low morale with high bloodshed. Ukrainian officials now reacting to this extraordinary video of Russian soldiers, apparently surrendering geolocated by CNN to a recently liberated town in Eastern Ukraine.

"Come on out one by one," a Ukrainian soldier calls out. Then a short burst of gunfire before the video cuts off. Later, a Ukrainian military drone shows what appears to be the same men in pools of blood. The Kremlin says it's an execution, but Ukraine says the soldiers fain surrender and fired the Ukrainians accusing Russia of its own war crime. No one disputes the horror.

It's unclear if the dead Russians were regular troops or deployed as part of the Kremlin's partial mobilization seen here earlier this year, but the soldier recorded on the phone indicates he was recently conscripted, complaining bitterly at being unable to leave the war zone.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Being mobilized is crap. Nobody can go home until Putin announces the order. There's no way to return. And if we weren't here, they, the Ukrainians would already be at our borders. They would shell Moscow, Yekaterinburg, shell everything.

CHANCE: And that constant threat of Ukrainian attack is having a terrifying effect, in particular drone strikes which appear to have left the soldier particularly nervous.

UNKNOWN (through translator): My nerves are on edge. I'm afraid of every rustle, every bang, every click makes me drop to the ground.

CHANCE: In Russian controlled eastern Ukraine, the funerals underway for more of those killed on the brutal frontline. That's Ukrainian officials insist would never have happened, but for Russia's war.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Kyiv.


CHURCH: And let's bring in CNN's Scott McLean joining us live from London.

Good morning to you, Scott.

So, let's start with the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and no immediate safety concerns, but still a dangerously close call after heavy shelling over the weekend. What is the latest on this?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is precisely right, Rosemary. Look, I want to bring up a map just to show you what exactly we're talking about and what these four experts who actually live on the site saw when they were surveying this area.

So, obviously, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is in just outside the city of Enerhodar, and you can see the six nuclear reactors there on a street that's a little more than a kilometer long. And in between those reactors and that set of buildings just to the right there you can see that there is a road there.

And so, amongst the damage that these experts actually found is that there were impacts to that road that runs right along there. Now the reactors themselves are shut down and they are housed in containment buildings that are built to withstand, theoretically, the force of an accidental plane crash.


But their -- their building structure is now going to be tested by these weapons of war, and it's really not clear what they can withstand. You also see those six rectangles at the bottom of your screen there. Those are containment pools, where you have, or sorry, these are -- these are the cooling ponds, excuse me, that hold this nuclear material that's been left over after going through the nuclear process. And these are right out in the open. So this is literally a minefield.

Now, both the Ukrainians and the Russians are blaming each other. They're also putting out these statements that really express their concerns. So for instance, here's what the head of the Russian nuclear agency said.

We are informing the world community that the nuclear power plant is at risk of a nuclear accident. And it is obvious that Kyiv considers a small nuclear incident acceptable. This will be a precedent that will forever change the course of history.

Now this episode is also setting off alarm bells in Europe. The French President, Emmanuel Macron urgently called President Zelenskyy to express his deep concern. President Zelenskyy said nothing about this over the weekend, but here's what he said yesterday.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): We are working to ensure the implementation of the IAEA's order to stop any hostile activity against Ukrainian nuclear objects. And for this, the demilitarization of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is extremely important. Russia must withdraw all its fighters from there and stop shelling the power plant.


MCLEAN: So, the IAEA reported that there was no shelling on the actual site of the power plant yesterday, but there was shelling in the city of Enerhodar and in the industrial area next door. We are also hearing reports that there was shelling on the Ukrainian held territory just across the river, Rosemary. So, the battle continues. CHURCH: Indeed, it does. And Scott, we saw in Matthew Chance's report

that the reality faced by Russian soldiers stands in stark contrast to what we've been hearing from the Kremlin. What more are you learning about this?

MCLEAN: Yes, look, the reality here, Rosemary, is that neither side is all that forthcoming about their losses, and they likely probably inflate the scale of the damage that they've inflicted on their enemies as well. And this perhaps is especially true for the Russian side.

And one good example of that is just two weeks ago or so, there was a letter posted on a prominent Russian military blog purportedly sent from a brigade, from soldiers in a brigade on the front lines in the Donetsk region. And it, this letter complained that the troops were taking heavy losses, some 300 men either killed or injured, and that 50 percent of their equipment had been lost and what was described as an incomprehensible battle.

Now, the reason that this letter was sent is because the troops felt that the senior management or the senior leadership of the military wasn't really getting the message directly from the front lines that things were not going well, that losses were high, and so that is why they sent it to a regional governor hoping to get his attention.

Now, officially, the Kremlin or the ministry of defense came out and really downplayed any of all of the claims that were made in that letter, downplayed the scale of the losses here, but just one more example of this mismatch between what the Kremlin is saying about how things are going and what the reality is on the ground.

CHURCH: All right. Scott McLean, many thanks bringing us up to date on both those developments. I appreciate it.

Well, CNN's Richard Quest recently had an exclusive interview with former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Among other things, he asked about the war in Ukraine. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We need to supply them with better artillery, but we also, and frankly, should be giving them, not just helicopter, but fixed wing aircraft that can go fast enough to take out the drones. And you don't need very sophisticated planes to do it. The Ukrainians came to see me about it. You could do it with Spitfires. We don't make Spitfires anymore. But you just need a plane that can go a few hundred miles an hour.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: If you can't get even that element of escalation what on earth is going to happen in the depth of winter where the, I mean, assuming it's a -- if it's a cold winter in Europe where citizens are facing recession and they say, why are we doing this? You know, we support Ukraine, but enough is enough. How do you keep populations in Europe on side?

JOHNSON: Well, you come to very, very influential audiences in places like Lisbon and you try to get your message across because I agree with you. It's going to be -- it's going to be a tough one. But I happen to think that the Ukrainian resolve is being strengthened by the attack on their -- on their infrastructure.


I mean, remember what happened to London in the Blitz? It didn't lead to a collapse in morale. On the contrary, morale was stiffened by the -- by the aerial bombardment.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: To see the rest of Richard's exclusive interview with Boris Johnson, watch Quest Means Business. That's all part of a special event to mark CNN Portugal's one year anniversary, and we will bring it to you at 8 p.m. in London, 9 p.m. in Paris.

Still to come, a man hailed as a hero in the Colorado nightclub shooting speaks to CNN describing how he went into combat mode to help save lives. We're back in just a moment.


CHURCH: Police have now identified the five people killed in Saturday's shooting rampage at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado. They include two of the club's employees, Derek Rump and Daniel Aston, as well as patrons Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Raymond Green Vance.

The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich is expected to face multiple charges, including five counts of first degree.

Police are calling two men heroes for taking down the gunman and saving many lives. One of them is Richard Fierro, a retired army major who says he went into combat mode as bullets were flying. Fierro spoke to CNN about the nightclub rampage, and a warning, parts of the interview are very graphic, raw and emotional.


RICHARD FIERRO, TOOK DOWN GUNMAN IN CLUB Q SHOOTING: I went to the ground because as soon as I heard the rounds, I dove down. I pushed over my friend at the best I could and we both hit the ground, me and Chip. I put my back against the -- I fell. I tried to stand up and I fell and then I fell against a, it's like a bench seating. And I -- and I, at that point I saw the shooter.

I had no idea what was going on, but apparently, I saw him go going to the patio area. Because I saw a lot of people in the window. Or it may not even be a window up, but I saw a lot of people. And this guy was there and I saw the ACU pattern flag vests. And for me that was like, there's a handle. I'm getting it.

So, I ran across the room, grabbed the handle, pulled him down, and then started to, well, actually I think I went for his gun with him. His rifle flew in front of him. And the young man that tried to jump in there with me, he -- we both either pulled him down or whatever, but he ended up at his head, and right next to the AR.


And then with the AR, he -- we, I told him, push the AR, get the AR away from him. The kid pushed the AR. I don't know what his name was. And then I proceeded to take his other weapon, the pistol, and then just start hitting him where I could, but the armor is in the way, and I just started, I found a crease in his, between his armor and his head, and I just started wailing a way with his gun.

And then I told the kid in front of me, kick him, keep kicking him. And we were, I was -- I was guided. I was telling people call 911, call 911. I tried everybody in there. I still feel bad that there's five people -- there's five people that didn't go home. And this guy, this guy, I told him why I was idiot. I said, I'm going to kill you, man, because you try to kill my friends.

My family was in there. This guy, man, this whole thing was a lot. My daughter, wife should have never experienced combat in Colorado Springs and everybody in that building experienced combat that night. Not to their own accord, but because they were forced to. I'm not a hero. I'm just a guy that wanted to protect his kids and his wife and I still didn't get to protect her boyfriend.

I want to apologize for the people that didn't get their kids. Because all of them deserve to have their kids home tonight.


CHURCH: And Fierro is especially mourning the loss of his daughter's boyfriend. Twenty-two-year-old Raymond Green Vance who was among the five victims killed.

In China, state media report 38 people are now confirmed dead after a fire broke out at a factory. Two of those killed were previously reported missing. Heavy flames and smoke gutted this trading company in the city of Anyang, south of Beijing. It took fire crews more than six hours to extinguish the blaze. It's not clear yet how the fire started, but police have reportedly taken suspects into custody.

Iran's government has intensified its crackdown in Kurdish regions of the country. A human rights group says at least 13 people have been killed in the past 24 hours.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Human rights monitor Hengaw and activists are very concerned about the situation right now in the western part of Iran, in the majority Kurdish region. According to Hengaw, as we have seen in new wave of protests erupting across Iran this past week, they say the government's crackdown on protests, many of those concentrated in the Kurdish region has intensified.

They're saying, the brutality of regime forces has increased significantly. According to Hengaw, regime forces have been shooting directly and deliberately at protesters, and they say that they have also been firing indiscriminately in a number of towns, including into the homes of people.

The casualty figures have been rising over the past few days, especially since Sunday. Hengaw and others very concerned about the situation right now in the town of Javanrud where they say the situation there is really dire, they reported that security forces were attacking protesters, reports that there was an urgent need for blood donations in that town.

But since activists are reporting that they have lost contact with Javanrud, as well as the majority of the Kurdish region. According to Hengaw, they say there has been a total internet shutdown in the region, major internet disruptions being confirmed by the internet watchdog NetBlocks. There's always the concern about what might be happening, or may it happen under the cover of an internet shutdown.

The regime for its part is saying that it has sent security forces, military reinforcements into the western part of the country to confront and deal with what they're describing as terrorists and separatists. And this has been the narrative that the regime has been pushing for weeks, saying that the unrest in the majority Kurdish region is being caused by separatists and terrorists. Completely dismissing the grievances of its own people.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.

CHURCH: Almost three years after the world's first case of COVID- 19 was reported, Beijing says it's now facing its most complicated and severe phase of the pandemic to date. And that means China is tightening restrictions even more.


It comes as Chinese officials are reporting the country's first COVID related deaths in nearly six months.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout has the latest.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A surge in COVID 19 infection across China with outbreaks in multiple Chinese cities. From the Chinese capital in (Inaudible) in the north to the economic engine of Guangzhou in the south and the mega city Chongqing in the country's southwest.

On Monday, China reported 26,824 new local cases of the virus, that is the highest daily COVID cases reported since mid-April. And although these case numbers are very low compared to global standards, China has been holding tight to its zero COVID policy. This policy of mass testing, snap, lockdowns, and border controls, which has disrupted both lives and livelihoods.

And that policy is testing residents across the country. In Beijing's most populous district, Chaoyang, which is home to nearly three and a half million people, officials have urged residents there, including students and workers to stay home.

According to the deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, quote, "the number of cases discovered outside quarantine is increasing rapidly at present, and there are hidden transmission risks from multiple places. The pressure on Beijing has further increased."

Also in the north, Shijiazhuang is undergoing five days of mass testing as the city urges its residents not to leave unless necessary. Our shopping centers, entertainment venues are closed. Dine-in services and in-class learning suspended and the tough measures there come just days after the city relaxed COVID restrictions according to state media.

In Guangzhou, the Bayun district is under lockdown until Friday. Now the district is home to the Guangzhou/Bayun in international airport. And on WeChat local health authorities said this. Quote, " the risk of social transmission of the epidemic in Bayun district has continued to increase and the prevention and control situation is grim."

Last week, scores of angry residents in another Guangzhou district took to the streets to protest China's tough anti-pandemic policy.

Chongqing, China's biggest city with a population of over 30 million is also battling an outbreak. Last week, the city government announced that residents are not allowed to leave the city unless necessary.

As winter is coming, COVID-19 cases across China are set to rise. The state-run People's Daily warns that the pandemic may worsen writing in an editorial this. Quote, "the situation of pandemic control is severe. We must maintain confidence that we will win, resolutely overcome issues such as insufficient understanding and insufficient preparation." Unquote.

Now earlier this month, Chinese authorities eased parts of its pandemic policy. And Goldman Sachs says China could start to reopen the April, June quarter of next year. But experts are warning that a full reopening requires higher vaccination rates, a change in messaging and broader access to medical care.

And given the rise in cases nationwide, it'll be even harder for China to unwind its nearly three-year long zero COVID policy.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.

CHURCH: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is in the Philippines amid simmering tensions between Manila and Beijing. She rejected what she called China's intimidating actions during her visit to a Philippine Island in the South China Sea.

Harris met with the Philippines Coast Guard and announced new security updates to beef up Manila's maritime safety. On Sunday, a Chinese vessel blocked a Philippine naval boat from towing away Chinese rocket debris that was floating in Philippine waters.

And still to come, Twitter's troubles go global. Top executives overseas are getting caught up in the mass exodus. And in Africa, laid off employees are now claiming discrimination against the company. We're back with that and more in just a moment. [03:45:00]


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, the impact of Twitter's mass layoffs is now being felt around the world. Hundreds quit last week after refusing Elon Musk's demand to work extremely hardcore. And now, Eric Zuckerman, the head of U.S. News partnerships at Twitter, said he's leaving the company as well. And in Europe, Damien Viel, the head of Twitter France, announced his departure from the company simply tweeting, it's over.

French regulators are expressing deep concern over the layoffs and whether the remaining staff can do enough to keep the platform afloat. And a small team of Twitter Africa employees who lost their jobs in Ghana are fighting the company over severance terms and accusing Elon Musk of discrimination.

CNN's Larry Madowo has more on that.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could be a David versus Goliath fight, but this small Twitter Africa team is standing up to Elon Musk. They claim they only received a severance pay offer after CNN reported on their plight, and this letter claims that it was arrived at after negotiation with the employees.

But they tell CNN that they have never negotiated anything with Twitter. In fact, they don't even have a way to contact anyone on Twitter because their e-mails keep bouncing back. They've rejected that severance pay offer. Hired a lawyer and sent a demand letter to Twitter asking it to comply with Ghanaian employment law.

They have also petitioned the chief labor officer in Ghana's employment ministry asking it to compel Twitter to do the right thing. Here's a portion of their notice to that office. It is clear that Twitter, Inc. under Mr. Elon Musk is either deliberately or recklessly flouting the laws of Ghana is operating in bad faith and in a manner that seeks to silence and intimidate former employees into accepting any terms unilaterally thrown at them.

Without pressure from high authorities, they're clearly not willing to provide a fair or just package in order to minimize the hardship of this takeover in resulting in loss of jobs on their workforce in Africa. Some of these employees were hired from other countries and moved into Ghana, and they say they need reputation fees. They want three months severance for all the team and other relevant benefits.

And so far, CNN has contacted Twitter for comment and has not heard back.

Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.

CHURCH: Disney's new CEO, Bob Iger says major plans to restructure the entertainment company will be announced in the coming weeks. Iger on the left returned to the media empire after his successor. Bob Chapek was ousted. Disney's problems are vast and fixing them all may not be possible.

Last quarter alone, the company suffered $1.5 billion in streaming losses. Iger says he will dedicate the next two years trying to turn the company around.

Well, it may be years until astronauts land on the moon again, but NASA is one step closer to a lunar return. After the break, I'll speak with an expert about NASA's ambitious mission and where the Orion is headed next. Back in just a moment.



CHURCH: NASA is one step closer to putting astronauts back on the moon. The Orion spacecraft completed a flyby of the moon on Monday, a critical step in the Artemis mission to reach lunar Orbit. It's now set to spend nearly a month going around the moon, saving fuel, and testing its systems before heading back to Earth.

The unmanned Orion will go more than 40,000 miles past the far side of the moon. That's about 65,000 kilometers and further out than any spacecraft intended to carry humans has ever gone before.

Well, for more on the Artemis mission, I spoke earlier with Daniel Dumbacher. He is a former NASA official and an executive director at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


CHURCH: Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, as NASA's Orion spacecraft completed its lunar fly by, we got that magnificent, but tiny image of planet Earth far, far away in the distance. What was your reaction to all of this?

DUMBACHER: My reaction is this is a fantastic accomplishment. NASA's and the industry team are doing a fantastic job and it's great to be back at the moon.

CHURCH: Of course, this brings NASA one step closer to sending astronauts back to the moon. So, what are all the next steps that need to happen to make that a reality?

DUMBACHER: You'll see NASA do a couple of what they call burns, running the -- running the rocket engines to get into the right orbit and get the energy and all the orbits lined up the way they want it.

And then you're going to see them test out all the systems. All of the operational approaches, all of the communication systems, et cetera, just to make sure that it's safe and we're ready to put people on the next mission.

CHURCH: And when do you think, we'll see Artemis 2 land on the moon with a crew on board? What is the likely timeline for that?

DUMBACHER Well, Artemis 2 is going to be a, the next mission will have crew go out to the moon. They will not land on the next mission. It'll be two missions from now where they will Artemis 3, where they will actually land on the moon with the new human lander system. And that's, they're targeting 2025 for that.

CHURCH: And what are you looking out for as you follow the progress this mission? Are there any concerns that you have at all?

DUMBACHER: No. Well, this is a test mission, so you're always paying attention to making sure how, how are things working, versus what we expected or how it was expected to operate. And as you might have heard on the NASA press briefing earlier, right now they don't have any big issues that they're working.

They're seeing a couple minor things that they're trying to understand. But, as far as the mission is going, it is going as planned and they are getting all the data that they need. This is fantastic.

CHURCH: And it is fantastic, isn't it? And extraordinary as well, because there were so many problems in the initial stages leading up to the launch. And yet, I mean, one would not want to jinx this, but it has gone so smoothly, hasn't it?

DUMBACHER: It has gone smoothly. And we all have to remember that these rockets in this spacecraft have millions of parts and lots of software that all has to work together and has to work perfectly at the right time. And so you expect some of these challenges along the way, because it's -- it never works on hardware the way it might appear to on paper.

But as, as NASA gets into this Artemis 1 mission, we are seeing that the planning and the design and the operation is working extremely well.


The NASA industry team with Lockheed Martin and all of their suppliers for Orion are doing a fantastic job. This is great.

CHURCH: And of course, you mentioned Artemis 3, when it's going to have a crew on board landing on the moon, would that probably be the most dangerous part of this mission?

DUMBACHER: That would be a dangerous part of the mission. And also, getting the crew back off the surface of the moon and then headed home. And then of course the reentry back to earth. You have to realize that when you are operating at orbital speed and orbital velocity and the amount of energy that has to be managed, there are lots of dangerous steps here.

And that's why NASA takes all the precaution and does all the design work and thinks about all the possibilities that can happen so that they're prepared to be able to handle any contingency that occurs. CHURCH: Absolutely. Daniel Dumbacher, great to have you with us. I appreciate it as we go through all of these steps. A very exciting time for human history, isn't it?

DUMBACHER: My pleasure. Yes, this is, we are on our way to back to the moon and into deep space.

CHURCH: Wonderful stuff. Thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

DUMBACHER: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, the famed Champs-Elysees in Paris is once again lit up for the holiday season, but this year as much of Europe faces an energy crisis. There have been a few tweaks to the twinkles. Officials say new energy efficient lights are being used that will consume the same amount of electricity as a modest sized apartment. The lights will also be turned off earlier each night and will be up a week less than last year.

And the German city of Dortmund is also looking to go energy efficient this year with its giant Christmas tree. Most of its 48,000 bulbs are LEDs, and they will only be lit for eight hours a day. The tree has been described as one of the largest Christmas trees in the world. And Germany is famed for its Christmas markets and celebrations.

But the energy crisis is forcing people to balance how they stay festive while saving power. Well done.

And thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. CNN Newsroom continues next with Bianca Nobilo and Max Foster in London.