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Connect the World

Afghan VP: Thousands Flee Homes as Taliban Advance; Tigray Lays Out Terms for Ceasefire With Central Government; Experts Urge Caution As UK Prepares to Lift Restrictions; Former South African President Compares Treatment to Apartheid; Rest of Surfside Condo Building Demolished as Storm Looms; Billionaire Jeff Bezos Stepping Down as Amazon CEO. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 05, 2021 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live on CNN. This is "Connect the World".

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Welcome to "Connect the World". I'm Lynda Kinkade filling in for my colleague Becky Anderson, good to have

you with us.

We start with Afghanistan's new reality coming into stark focus today with U.S. lead forces now gone from Bagram Airbase the country's first vice

president telling CNN that tens of thousands of people are fleeing their homes and heading to bigger cities. They fear increased violence as the

Taliban make advances into areas of Afghanistan that until now have largely been left alone.

The U.S. withdrawal from Bagram Friday in keeping with President Joe Biden's decision to get all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan by September

11th. CNN's Anna Coren visited Bagram Airbase after the troops left where the Afghan forces now are in control and face new challenges.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are here at Bagram Airbase this is the first time we've been given access to this facility since U.S. and NATO

forces departed on Friday, essentially ending America's involvement in the war.

It was the hive of activity at the height of this war, it has now been handed over to the Afghans and currently there are some 3000 troops on the

base assessing what the Americans have left. Behind me is the delegation from the National Security Council assigned by President Ghani to

strategize and work out how they are going to use Bagram Airbase moving forward?

But it certainly is a strange place to be it feels a bit like a disorganized a junkyard, we know that air hangers in the background, but

that those hangers are still locked. We were out at the runways which three kilometers long, and it was absolutely deserted.

Wasn't so long ago that there were fighter jets, cargo planes and surveillance aircraft landing and departing constantly, as I say it is now

quiet. And then here you have like a car yard. There are hundreds of vehicles that the Americans have left, whether there be four wheel drives,

pickup trucks, but this is what the Afghans now have to assist.

What is in their arsenal to continue this war? And we know that the security situation on the ground is deteriorating a lot faster than then

many realized. The Taliban have taken over 150 provinces in just the last two months.

One of the vice presidents of Afghanistan has said that tens of thousands of people in the countryside where the fighting is, is happening, are

fleeing to the cities and that has been backed up by the United Nations that says more than 56,000 people have had to flee four provinces in the

North East.

It is alarming and very concerning for Afghans on the ground. We spoke to one military personnel who said it feels like an old friend has left

without saying goodbye. There is a deep sense of abandonment here in Afghanistan but as the Americans have spelt out, other than limited air

support. This war is now up to Afghanistan to fight Anna Coren, CNN, Bagram Airbase.

KINKADE: And now Anna Coren joins us now live from Kabul. Incredible access to you had there and some incredible perspective of Bagram Airport and

what's been left behind. There are serious concerns that the Afghan war could escalate. Just how well equipped are the Afghans now that most U.S.

forces and NATO troops are leaving?

COREN: It's interesting that Lynda. Let's just take Bagram, which obviously, as we know, was almost a mini city in itself when the Americans

were there at the height of the war. It alone is a 500 acre compound. And that is going to be a logistical challenge to the Afghans to protect to


I caught up with the Brigadier who was in charge of that after we had visited the airbase and, and he said that that is his priority that he's

been brought from Kandahar to Bagram to make sure that the Taliban doesn't attack that very strategic position.

And of course, there have been many attacks on Bagram Airbase, and we know that the Taliban are very close by particularly in the mountains and we are

hearing through our sources that that is exactly what the Taliban are doing.

They are coming together to launch attacks because this is such an important position, not just for Afghan troops, but also for the Taliban

strategically positioned around the country. So this is just one of the dilemmas facing Afghan forces.


COREN: We know that the Taliban are taking these districts, you know around the country, particularly in the northeast where they have so much

momentum. And then we've got these internally displaced people, you know, people who've had to flee their homes because the Taliban has come through.

So they are now expected to be turning up in city centers. As for the Afghan national forces, we spoke to the Deputy Defense Minister; he was

there at Bagram attending this national security meeting, if you like that event, organized by President Ghani.

And he said that the Americans have left us enough troops, enough equipment that we are, we are well resourced, we had our own equipment, and the

Americans have left us plenty, but that doesn't translate to what we are seeing on the battlefield.

So certainly you know, I think it's very fair to say, Lynda, that there are deep concerns, grave concerns, as well as to whether the national security

forces can protect the local population.

KINKADE: And it's interesting, and when you talk about the Taliban, gaining more territory, more ground in the north of the country, but it's not just

a fear of the Taliban. How much concern is there that Al Qaeda could reemerge as a serious threat in Afghanistan?

COREN: I think it's very, it's very real. Lynda, you know, if Afghanistan heads the way that so many people are predicting, which is more violence,

you know, a potential civil war breaking out militia groups arming around the country warlords, having the armies to protect themselves and their

communities, then you are creating this vacuum, in which Al Qaeda insurgents Islamic State, terrorists can, I guess, regroup again?

And certainly on my previous trips to Afghanistan, when I've spent time with American troops and spoken to the commanders, it's always been that,

that mission, that to ensure Afghanistan never becomes a safe haven for terrorists again.

So yes, Al Qaeda is a real concern, because without the presence of the Americans without that, you know, physical footprint here. It does

certainly open the door to insurgent groups. And you know I was speaking to an NGO, the other day who said that is his greatest fear that this is going

to become a Narco-state, which is a hotbed for terrorism in the future.

And I should also add, Lynda that a U.S. Special Forces member who I have kept in touch with over the years. I'm having embedded with them, you know,

some years ago, that was his concern as well that America's war in Afghanistan fighting Al Qaeda fighting terrorism is not over. It may not be

this week, next month next year, but it is not done as yet.

KINKADE: Anna Coren good to get that perspective from you. Good to have you there in Kabul our thanks to you. Well, food and fuel are quickly running

out in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Ethiopia's government has caught a unilateral ceasefire, but Tigray fighters have their own demands before

joining it.

And aiders starting to struggle into the area after the conflict between the fighters and the government soldiers brought it to a halt the United

Nations wanting nearly 2 million people that are on the brink of famine. I want to get an update now from Larry Madowo, who joins us from neighboring


Larry, eight months of fighting the U.N. talking about all these people on the brink of famine, just explain what's being done to get aid to them?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lynda at this point, this has been described as maybe the worst famine in Ethiopia since 1984, which is

historic, and that is how many people need urgent aid. 400,000 people already in famine conditions and another 1.8 million on the brink,

according to the UN, because there's a major bridge that was blown up over the weekend destroyed by what aid agencies say our forces allied to the


There are other blockades coming into the region. It's difficult for agencies even when they have supplies to get food to get nutrition supplies

to people that needed. One what's being considered is air drops, but on the ground the humanity humanitarian situation continues to worsen day by day



MADOWO (voice over): Truckloads of supplies bound for people desperate for food in Ethiopia's Tigray region, standstill at a checkpoint for days.


MADOWO (voice over): This footage filmed by Reuters more than a week ago shows sacks of aid eventually being unloaded from the trucks at a warehouse

near a checkpoint controlled by government allied forces.

The stockpile here is little help to the people of Tigray without enough to eat. The UN warns shipments like these are critical, as shortages of food

in the war torn region have sharply increased in the past few weeks.

RAMESH RAJASINGHAM, ACTING UNITED NATIONS AID CHIEF: One of the most distressing trends is an alarming rise in food insecurity and hunger due to

conflict. More than 400,000 people are estimated to have crossed the threshold into famine and another 1.8 million people on the brink of


MADOWO (voice over): The World Food Programme says it has resumed operations in Tigray, but is facing access problems from ongoing fighting

and the destruction of key supply routes like this bridge. The UN says was targeted by forces allied to the government.

The Ethiopian government denies blocking aid and blamed the grand fighters for gutting the bridge. But the spokesman for the People's Liberation Front

which has been battling the government in an eight month civil war says the damage is part of the government's plan to cut off the region.

GETACHEW REDA, SPOKESMAN, TIGRAY PEOPLE'S LIBERATION FRONT: These forces are really destroying and blowing up bridge so there could one prevent

humanitarian aid from reaching the people of Tigray. And second and more importantly for them to prevent Tigray defense forces from taking over the

western part of Tigray.

MADOWO (voice over): The urgent need for food aid coinciding with a major shift in battle. A week ago, the Tigray defense forces retook the regional

capital Mekelle. It's a blow to the government, which with the help of Eritrean soldiers forced the fighters out of the city last November.

The foreign ministry criticized Tigrayan forces for at first rejecting a ceasefire called by the government.

DINA MUFTI, SPOKESMAN, ETHIOPIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY: The cessation of hostilities was taken unilaterally from our side. However, to implement the

ceasefire fully, it needs two to tango; the other side has to react appropriately.

MADOWO (voice over): But on Sunday Tigray set out conditions for a negotiated ceasefire that include an independent investigation into alleged

war crimes and the safe corridor for aids to reach the region. This follows a show of power by Tigrayan forces, as they paraded thousands of captured

Ethiopian soldiers through their recaptured territory, but it's a victory that could be short lived.

Food and fuel are running out in the city because of a blockade by Ethiopian forces. Eye witnesses say government forces and militias are

obstructing roads out of the city, and there is no power there leaving many homes without running water conditions that will surely bring more misery

to civilians, if help does not arrive soon.


MADOWO: This is a conflict that has already claimed thousands of lives and displaced nearly 2 million Lynda and there is one ray of hope here the

World Food Programme saying that it's cautiously optimistic, that an air bridge could be set up in the coming days to speed in aid delivery.

KINKADE: And Larry, just talk to us about what the regional leaders in Tigray are saying about this ceasefire, under what conditions will they

agree to it?

MADOWO: It's been a week since the Ethiopian government declared that unilateral ceasefire and the leaders of the Tigrayan region now say they

are open to a negotiated ceasefire under seven preconditions including the withdrawal with Eritrean troops from the region and from neighboring

Amhara, the independent investigations that are by the UN the observance of the Ethiopian Constitution, the release of political prisoners and the

restoration of basic services in this region.

The Ethiopian government says it's already spent $2 billion to restore basic services and build up infrastructure that was destroyed by the

Ethiopian Prime Minister today told the House of Representatives that there are elements that are invested in having a protracted conflict. That's what

he said.


ABIY AHMED, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER: In my view, those interested in seeing the conclusion of the conflict in the Tigray region are very few. It

seems their interests that seek to see the weakening of the Ethiopian state through a protracted conflict.


MADOWO: So Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed there a man who two years ago won the Nobel Peace Prize now his army accused of atrocities including what will be

illegal and international law several things that the UN other international actors are worried about.

And it's been two weeks since Ethiopia held its parliamentary elections, which is part is expected to win that will strengthen his hand in dealing

with this conflict, which is at the top of everybody's mind everybody I spoke to in Ethiopia when we were there, just over a week ago. This is at

the top of their mind, but they're very hardline positions Lynda.

So getting some kind of solution this negotiated political settlement that everybody is calling for, might still be a few weeks or even a few months


KINKADE: All right, we will continue to follow it Larry Madowo good to have you there for us in the region thank you.


KINKADE: Well, still ahead on the show the Russian President urges people to listen to the experts when it comes to COVID vaccines. The fight for

trust as a country sees more COVID deaths than ever before.

And the UK is preparing to lift COVID restrictions in England but with Delta Variant spreading and cases on the rise. Is the government taking an

unnecessary risk? And as South Africa's former president battles corruption allegations he's lashing out at the court Jacob Zuma's accusations ahead.


KINKADE: Welcome back. COVID-19 is just not letting up in Russia. The Delta variant and vaccine skepticism are fueling ever worsening numbers. On

Sunday, the country recorded its highest number of new daily infections since early January and last week, a record number of daily deaths for a

fifth day in a row.

But despite all of this, there has been no new talk of a lockdown. Let's bring in our Matthew Chance who joins us live from Moscow. Matthew despite

these crazy numbers was seeing day after day. What is the government doing about it?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right to say they're not talking about a lockdown. They want to avoid that

particularly with the parliamentary elections coming up in September lockdowns very unpopular, they want to do anything to further you know,

kind of alienate the voting public.

But what they have done is introduced some strict new rules over the course of the past 10 days or so which means that people working in public facing

jobs like in the transport sector or in hospitality in bars, restaurants, things like that.

They have to get vaccinated by the middle of next week, or face dismissal. And so that's an attempt by the Kremlin to try and tackle the fundamental

problem when it comes to the spread of COVID and particularly the new Delta variant, excuse me across the country, is because there's extremely low

vaccination rates.

There is a very high rate of vaccine skepticism in Russia; something like 35 percent of the population according to one opinion poll does not want to

have the vaccination at all. And it's left the country in a situation where despite having been the first country in the world, to have introduced and

registered a vaccine for public use Sputnik-V - Sputnik-V rather, back in August last year.

It's still only got at best around 15 percent of the population. So it's hoped that, you know, the basically compelling sectors of the economy to

actually get vaccinated or lose their livelihoods. It's going to go some way to you know, redressing that problem Lynda.

KINKADE: We are hearing new data here in the U.S. when it comes to how vaccines are working in terms of the number of people in hospital? Over 99

percent of those currently in hospital with COVID-19 are people who haven't been vaccinated.


KINKADE: Yes it's that sort of data making headlines there in Russia and tell us what else they're doing to try and I guess encourage people who was

skeptical hesitant to get a vaccine?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, look, I mean - I haven't seen the figures on this. But I've no doubt at all that the majority of people who are being

hospitalized with COVID and dying of COVID in this country are people who haven't been vaccinated, but that's the vast majority of people in the

country anyway.

In terms of the efficacy of Sputnik-V, which is the oatmeal, it's the main Russian vaccine is that one that was, you know, the first to be released.

It's in the 90s in terms of percentage points. And that's been sort of peer reviewed around the world, and from reports from other places where

Sputnik-V has been delivered to sort of general population. That seems to be - that seems to be accurate, it does work. And so that's good.

But I mean it doesn't work if you don't take it. And that's the fundamental problem that the Russians have been have been faced with. They've, you

know, in some ways on Russian state television, they've even been promoting sort of vaccine skepticism, promoting sort of internet theories about how

this is all the conspiracy to make Russian, you know, people in fertile for instance, is one of the internet conspiracies has been - around.

And so over the past couple of months, they've been trying hard to really try and claw back on some of that propaganda that's been out there

circulating on Russian state media. Just last week, Vladimir Putin, sort of in a national address, told Russians look, stop listening, and I'm

paraphrasing him here.

Stop listening to the rumors about the vaccine just listen to the scientists and so they really are sort of going all guns now to try and get

people vaccinated.

KINKADE: Yes, absolutely desperately needed there. Our Matthew Chance for us in Moscow thank you. Well, the Delta variant is also fueling a rise in

cases in England yet the British government is planning to ease restrictions there even further.

We are hearing or expected to hear from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the coming hours on what's happening with regards to masks, social

distancing, and working from home. In London is where we find our Bianca Nobilo now and a good to see you Bianca. So give us a sense of what we can

expect, because it certainly sounds like there will be a sense of normality, about two weeks from now.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So the 19th of July has been touted as Freedom Day, the day when things are going to be as normal

as they have been for people in the United Kingdom for a very long time.

So we're expecting the prime minister to speak to the nation about face masks and face coverings, it's likely that those are now going to become

voluntary and not mandated. Also relaxation of rules around working from home and potentially other things which will affect people's lives, such as

the rule of six still applies at the moment in England, which is where you could have no more than six people or two households indoors for any kind

of gathering.

Obviously, there are still caps on events like weddings and other public events that people will go to. So there are still a number of things that

can be released and the prime minister is likely - there are also protests going on here Lynda by the way, viewers can hear that democracy in action.

The prime minister is also likely to talk about the other rules which will be potentially relaxed as we see the country come out of the final

Coronavirus restrictions, such as, as I mentioned face coverings. Now this is a contentious issue because the British Medical Association have said

that it's unwise at this juncture, when we do see cases particularly the Delta variant rising in the United Kingdom, that face coverings would be

made voluntary.

They're urging the government not to make those voluntary and to keep those because they're saying that if you've been too relaxed, lots of other

regulations, and we're already seeing a surge the R number that critical indicator of the spread of the virus across the country is over ones that

it might not be the best time to make face coverings voluntary.

They're also seeing criticism from the opposition parties in the UK saying that the prime minister is responding to pressure from within his own

party. It could also be the influence Lynda of the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who takes a far more bullish approach than his predecessor,

Matt Hancock.

So we're expecting to hear a lot of interesting things today. And it's curious too because usually the government have been quite last minute when

it comes to these announcements. This time, the prime minister has indicated that he wants to give people a bit of forward planning and some

notice before these rules will come into force, or be relaxed on the 19th of June.

And that's kind of ironic because we're now ending the pandemic and the regulations in the United Kingdom. And this is when the government's

choosing to give people the notice, but nevertheless Lynda should be interesting.

KINKADE: It certainly should. We will tune in for that announcement Bianca, good to see you there for us in London. Well, even as the UK prepares to

lift restrictions, health experts are urging caution some are calling on the government to keep appropriate measures in place even after the 19th of


They warn cases are surging and that not enough people have been vaccinated. CNN's Nic Robertson has more from London.



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Britain's leap of faith is nearing when enough vaccine is enough to remove remaining restrictions,

and the balance between politics and science tips in favor of more politically driven decisions.

DR. RAVI GUPTA, CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE: The problem is that there are too many unknown parameters in figuring out

what vaccine coverage is needed.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Dr. Ravi Gupta is an immunology expert and a member of the government COVID advisory nerve tag team.

DR. GUPTA: Fixing a target of vaccination percentage is probably the most appropriate thing at the moment because we're not going to get to the

levels that we really need because to do that, we need to go into children. And that's going to take time.

ROBERTSON (voice over): British politicians appear ready to test the science standing by an already delayed so called Freedom Day, July 19th

when remaining COVID restrictions are removed.

SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: The prime minister has called it our Terminus state. For me 19th July is not only the end of the line, but the

start of an exciting new journey for our country.

ROBERTSON (voice over): in his first full day on the job last week, the UK's new health secretary was bullish.

JAVID: No date we choose comes with zero risk for COVID. We know we cannot simply eliminate it; we have to learn to live with it.

ROBERTSON (voice over): The problem here in the UK is that infections are rising rapidly because of the Delta variant. In the past, the response

would have been to put on more restrictions. But now the moment of really testing new vaccine data has arrived.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The speed of that vaccine rollout has broken that link between infection and mortality. And that's an amazing

thing. That gives us the scope, we think on the 19th to go ahead, cautiously, irreversibly to go ahead.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Israel among the first countries to near full vaccination, and a bellwether for vaccine efficacy was recently forced to

reverse some of its COVID protections dropped when it ended all restrictions June 1st as COVID infections spiked.

A reality that seems to shade Johnson's characteristics sunny optimism, adding this caveat, Freedom Day will not be complete freedom.

JOHNSON: I try to get back to life as close to it was before COVID. But there may be some things we have to do some extra precautions that we have

to take, but I'll be sending all that out.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Getting those precautions right Dr. Gupta says is critical.

DR. GUPTA: The more transmission we allow, the more opportunity the virus has to evolve further and you know Delta may be just the beginning of

another line of things the virus is able to do.

ROBERTSON (voice over): We are undoubtedly less in the dark about this pandemic than we were a year ago. Even so, as a new phase of living with

COVID-19 nears, we remain in seriously uncharted territory. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


KINKADE: Well, Queen Elizabeth has recognized the UK's National Health Service for its work during the pandemic. Earlier she awarded the NHS the

George Cross Britain's top civilian prize for heroism. In a handwritten letter the Queen thanked healthcare workers for supporting the public with

"Courage, compassion and dedication". She says they've demonstrated the highest standards of public service and she offered the UK's heartfelt


South Africa's former president is at the center of multiple allegations of fraud, racketeering and corruption. Just ahead find out why he's comparing

his treatment to the days of apartheid? Plus, a rising death toll and a frantic search for survivors in Japan after that devastating mudslide.



KINKADE: Welcome back. The lawyers for South Africa's former president has gotten a delay in his arrest for contempt of court, Jacob Zuma faces

multiple charges of fraud, racketeering and corruption. Zuma is lashing out claiming he is being treated as unjustly as the days of apartheid.

The former leader faces a 15 month sentence for refusing to face questions at an anti corruption commission. David McKenzie joins us now with more on

the legal wrangling. Good to have you with us, David. So it seems Zuma's strategy all along has been an attempt to avoid trial. But now that he's

been sentenced for this contempt, charge, he is comparing it to an era of apartheid. Just explain.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And Lynda, I think there is no doubt that Jacob Zuma has very impeccable liberation

credentials here in South Africa 10 years on a prison in Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and a key figure in the transition into democracy.

That's not under dispute. But there is certainly a definite dispute between what happened then and what is happening now despite that Zuma is making

that connection.


JACOB ZUMA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: I am very concerned that South Africa is fast sliding back to apartheid type rule. I am facing long

detention without trial.


MCKENZIE: Now, what's happening now is that Zuma has for many years, as you said; Lynda avoided time at trial and also to go to the large sweeping anti

corruption commission that it's been ongoing on here in South Africa for several years that in the end resulted in being in contempt according to

the Constitutional Court.

That is why they've sentenced him to 15 months, because they say he's thumbed his nose at the court system and threatens the constitutional

democracy in South Africa. There is a wrinkle here, he has managed to delay that somewhat, most likely not being arrested until after a hearing that

take place on July 12th where they'll hear mitigating circumstances. Lynda?

KINKADE: David just explain for us why this is a potentially dangerous situation?

MCKENZIE: Well, there's the judicial question, the legal question surrounding Jacob Zuma's long running battles against these charges of

corruption and allegations of corruption. But then there's the political aspect to that, and that is in part tied with his status as a liberation

hero, because he has the status in this country.

And that he is a former president and holds some power within the ruling ANC and would be associated with at least one faction of that ruling party,

where many of those other members of that faction are also facing anti corruption charges.

There is a lot at stake here. It's a key test not just for the legal system, but also politically, whether the ANC and the courts are willing to

punish a man that has such a huge stature in this country. I spoke to supporters of him at his homestead at Nkandla this weekend, they appeared

ready to fight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially in South Africa, or in particular in South Africa, we seem to undermine the freedom fighters instead of congratulating

them for the work that they have done. We seem to be busy paging them.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Are you worried that if they try to arrest them there will be violence?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surely there will be violence because we are angry. If they try, they wouldn't be violent, but we don't want violence. We want

peace and order. But if they provoke us, we will go there.


MCKENZIE: Now, this is a long running battle, but it's easy to get kind of caught up in the legal nuance. But basically, what's at stake here many say

is the rule of law in South Africa, Lynda?

KINKADE: All right, David McKenzie, for us. Good to have you on the story. Thank you. Well, Pope Francis is in "Good Condition" after his planned

colon surgery. That's according to the Vatican is expected to remain in hospital for seven days barring any complications.

The 84-year-old had surgery under general anesthetic, it took three hours and the procedure involves removing one side of the colon. The condition is

an inflammation of the colon which can cause pain and bloating. Experts do say the disease is more common in the elderly. And just hours before his

surgery, the Pope addressed thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his regular Sunday blessing.

The death toll is rising in Japan after that mudslide. A massive search and rescue operation is underway to find people missing. Fourth person was

confirmed dead on Monday and 80 people remain unaccounted for, more than 1100 emergency personnel are searching for survivors.

The mudslide was triggered by torrential rain in Central Japan. When natural disasters like mudslides, earthquakes and tsunamis are common in

Japan but officials there are wondering if this month like could have been avoided.

The local Governor says investigators would determine if deforestation reduce the ability of mountain souls to retain water. Our Blake Essig has

more on the mudslide and the ongoing rescue effort.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After several days of torrential rain, the possibility of another landslide remains high. Well, that's part of the

reason roadblocks like the one right behind me has been set up to keep people away from the disaster area.


ESSIG (voice over): It's hard to imagine anyone in its path could have survived a horrifying scene captured by residents on cell phone video.

YUJI SHIMA, MUDSLIDE SURVIVOR: The mudslide looks like a tsunami. It was like a big wave that made a thunderous noise and came crashing down on the


ESSIG (voice over): It happened Saturday morning; a torrent of mud and water sent crashing through part of the city. This is what was left behind

a path of death and destruction. Turning what was once a residential area in the sea side City of Atami, to wasteland.

Atami City officials say 130 homes have been destroyed either buried or swept away. As of Monday, hundreds are sheltering in evacuation centers and

dozens more have either been reported missing or unaccounted for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just really want to see my husband again, no matter how he's found.

ESSIG (voice over): This woman, who didn't want to be named, says her husband is one of those missing people. She hasn't heard from him since the

landslide swept through the city. While she says her home wasn't washed away, neighbors say her husband was outside at the time, like we was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a smaller mudslide in the morning. I think my husband was checking for updates in the news around it, but then the

huge one happened. I haven't been able to reach him since.

ESSIG (voice over): In the days that have followed, despite bad weather and the constant threat of another landslide search and rescue crews frantic

search for any signs of life continues. So far more than two dozen people stranded inside structures have been rescued.

On the ground crew sift through debris can be heard using chain saws to cut their way through the wreckage and or even using dogs to squeeze inside

partially collapsed buildings. From the sky drones and helicopters are being used to survey the devastation or the Coast Guard scours the

coastline, a search for survivors in a place where the odds of finding them are increasingly slim.


ESSIG: The Governor of Shizuoka says that the prefecture will investigate the cause of this landslide. And some residents believe was man-made, a one

theory that will be investigated as whether it was caused by housing and development projects that have deforested the area above Atami and possibly

reduce the mountains ability to retain water Blake Essig, CNN Atami, Japan.

KINKADE: And now that have many difficult decisions as a sign of that deadly building collapse in South Florida, just to add why officials

determined that the demolition of the rest of the building might actually help with a search. And weeks after Sri Lanka's ship disaster fears of an

environmental catastrophe are growing as dozens of marine animals are being harmed by toxins.



KINKADE: Welcome back. First responders in South Florida are back on the job this hour search efforts had to be stopped overnight at the site of

that deadly condominium collapse in Surfside. Officials approved a controlled demolition of the other half of the building because of the

threat of an approaching tropical storm. Take a look.

Well, the death toll is now 24 with 121 people still unaccounted for. Many residents whose condos did not collapse had to evacuate with few of their

personal belongings. CNN's Natasha Chen is following the search for us and joins us now.

And Natasha, no doubt for anyone still missing a loved one, it would have been very difficult to watch the rest of that building being demolished,

but it had to be done.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Lynda. And the families did have a lot of communication from the officials explaining to

them why this was the best course of action. And that is because it was safer for search and rescue teams if they could bring this the rest of the

building down in a controlled manner.

Rather than having, for example, the storm that's coming take it down for us, perhaps in the wrong direction. And you know, that now that the

building has come down they resume search within 20 minutes after that demolition.

If they were given the green light to go back and they continue their search. And just within the last few minutes, we heard from the County

Mayor Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava saying that they've found three more people overnight since they resumed the search, so

unfortunately, three more dead bringing the total of confirmed deaths to 27 now.

Still 118 people on accounted for. So you can imagine the families of those 118 people still desperately hoping for any sort of news. When you look at

that tower coming down last night, you know that it does represent all the lives of the people who were there.

You know, we heard from the search and rescue team, describing furniture being found describing the fact that you know, these people potentially

thought that they could maybe retrieve their items that they could not before the demolition and they were explained why this was safer for the

search and rescue teams.

Now they can actually access more of the debris pile because prior to the demolition, they weren't able to access the park closest to the structure

being so unstable. So now they can get to most of it, get to all of the area there and continue to search.


CHEN: And as we can see from the development of finding three more people, that this has been more productive for them after the demolition, and it is

now safer as well, Lynda.

KINKADE: And Natasha just talk to us about concerns for other buildings in the area. What are you hearing?

CHEN: Right, so the building right next door Champlain Towers East, there was a memo obtained by our colleague Brian Todd showing that there has been

concrete spalling on a pillar there. That happened as a result or after the South Tower collapsed more than a week ago now.

And they are doing everything they can in that East tower to shore up the concrete and the pillars. They've got sensors in there to monitor any sort

of movement in the building and have so far reassured the residents there that they are still safe.

But you can imagine the heightened sense of urgency and anxiety for people living in buildings of similar age throughout this area. In fact, in North

Miami Beach, there was a building that had to be evacuated on Friday, all of a sudden, when the building turned in a report that was actually dated

back from January.

They turned in that report to the city that showed that there were serious structural and electrical problems. So they had to get everyone out of that


Then in Miami Beach, another city nearby, they evacuated a building there 24 units on Saturday because an inspector saw some structural issues there,

although that impacted fewer people, because only half of the units were occupied, Lynda.

KINKADE: All right, many, many residents very anxious with those reports. Natasha Chen thanks so much. Well, hundreds of turtles have been washing

ashore in Sri Lanka weeks after the country's container ship disaster.

Officials say the toxins released by the ship after it sank have likely killed the marine animals. Now there's concern an oil spill from the

wreckage could worsen the environmental disaster CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Already endangered in the waters of Sri Lanka, sea turtles are now dying by the

dozen. Likely poisoned by toxic chemical spilling from a burning cargo ship the government says more than 170 turtles for whales and 20 dolphins have

so far washed up dead according to the Marine Environment Protection Authority.

The Singapore flagged container ship Express Pearl caught fire on May 20 off the coast of Colombo. It burned out of control for two weeks before

sinking sparking fears of an oil spill. No sign yet of 350 tons of fuel oil on board seeping into the ocean. But nearly 80 tons of plastic pellets or

needles are already widespread.

CHARITHA PATTIARATCHI, OCEANOGRAPHY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: There have been instances where the needles have been caught up

in the gills of fish then they suffocate and that could same happen to dolphins or turtles suffocate.

DON MUDITHA KATUWAWALA, PEARL PROTECTORS: This is unimaginable disaster we are seeing not just to the marine environment but to the coast as well.

HANCOCKS (voice over): The United Nations representative in Sri Lanka has said an environmental emergency of this nature causes significant damage to

the planet by the release of hazardous substances into the ecosystem.

Not to mention the devastating impact on the local fishing community, many of who rely on daily wage work.

D.S. FERNANDO, NEGAMBO FISHERMAN: Not only have the shipwreck and the ban on fishing, but people is now scared of eating fish because it might be

contaminated. Prices have also dropped drastically. The situation is hopeless.

SARIKA DINALI, NEGAMBO RESIDENT: We also heard about what was in a ship and the chemicals. So we are scared. So now for weeks we have not consumed any


HANCOCKS (voice over): As locals try to assess the financial damage of one of the country's worst environmental disasters, one local activist has

filed a lawsuit against the government and ship officials for environmental damage and "Inadequacy of preparedness".

The government has not responded to CNN's request for comments on the lawsuit. The captain of the ship was arrested then released on bail. He's

not formally been charged. His attorney says the captain is a witness and is not commenting.

The cleanup along the beach has been in full swing for weeks. The devastating impact from the plastic pellets alone will be felt for years.

PATTIARATCHI: The major concern is that they lost, their inner material be distributed along most of the Indian Ocean northern Indian Ocean countries.

If you go looking for them, you will find them for years to come.

HANCOCKS (voice over): The plastic pellets alone are being spread far and wide by the ocean currents. This graphic from Oceanography Professor

Charitha Pattiaratchi shows that projected movements towards India and Indonesia.

The Express Pearl is now resting on the seabed according to the ship's owners. Its toxic cargo polluting and killing marine life in the water

surrounding it and the key concerns of an oil spill from the wreckage mean that this environmental catastrophe still has the potential to become

significantly worse for Sri Lanka and beyond. Paula Hancocks, CNN.



KINKADE: Still to come, the man who disrupted the retail space is setting his eyes on outer space while Jeff Bezos is blasting off in more ways than

one. Stay with us.


KINKADE: Well, he begin his career selling books out of his garage and now he's beginning a chapter few would ever have imagined. After more than two

decades at the helm of Amazon Jeff Bezos is officially handing the CEO title over to Andy Jassy?

Bezos will still have a leading role as Executive Chair. And we'll also focus on adventures like is Space Odyssey coming up later this month with

Blue Origin. This all comes as Amazon faces criticism over the treatment of its workers and its business model. Our Claire Sebastian has more on what

we can expect from the new chief executive.


JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, CEO OF AMAZON: Our obsessive focus on customer experience what has worked at Amazon is focusing on the customer. Customer

obsession has driven our success.

CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For 27 years this has been Amazon's stated mission from pioneering customer

reviews to Alexa, its AI personal assistant to two day shipping and then same day delivery. Jeff Bezos put customers first, even it seemed above


BEZOS: As you know, we are a famously unprofitable company.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): It took Amazon more than four and a half years after going public to make a quarterly profit two decades to see the

billions start to roll in.

BILL CARR, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF DIGITAL MEDIA, AMAZON: We were reinvesting the revenue and profit that we were earning from our operating

businesses back into the business to continuously improve the customer experience.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): Bill Carr, a former Amazon Executive says Bezos was willing to take risks, case in point, Amazon Prime, which launched in 2005.

CARR: We'd actually just invested several 100 million dollars in a fulfillment center network that was designed to ship packages to customers

in a timeframe of more like four to five days. So we knew that we would have to scrap that over time.

But if we had focused on our sunk cost investments we have, we would have never made that leap to Prime which is what customers wanted.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): Today, a growing chorus of voices believes Amazon's growth has come at too high a cost.

STACY MITCHELL, CO-DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR LOCAL SELF-RELIANCE: I think the customer focus was always about how we dominate everybody else in this

industry. There's a growing level of concern about Amazon's power.

And I think you see that, you know, across the public but particularly workers, you know, we've seen a lot of walkouts a lot of Wildcat strikes

over the last year, especially with the dangers of COVID.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): As the COVID-19 pandemic drove its sales up 38 percent last year; Amazon hired half a million people growing its workforce

by more than 60 percent.

BERNIE SANDERS, U.S. SENATE INDEPENDENT: There is no excuse for workers and Amazon not to have good wages, good benefits and good working conditions.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): While an attempt to unionize it an Alabama facility in April ultimately fails. That threat hasn't gone away. One of the biggest

U.S. labor unions the Teamsters has made building worker power at Amazon its top priority.


RANDY KORGAN, TEAMSTERS NATIONAL DIRECTOR FOR AMAZON: Millions of our members over the last 100 years have helped to propel this industry into

the middle class. And we just got to make sure that it stays there.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): Amazon says its wages are fair and workers also get benefits like health care coverage and a 401K plan. In June, Amazon told us

they'd invested a billion dollars in new safety measures in 2020.

In his last shareholder letter, a CEO Jeff Bezos updated his mission to become Earth's best employer and earth safest place to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At AWS we're customer focused.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): It's a challenge his successor, Andy Jassy now inherits the man who built Amazon Web Services from scratch into the number

one player in the global cloud market, he will likely have to do more of this.

ANDY JASSY, CEO, AMAZON: We have a policy against using seller specific data.

SEBASTIAN (voice over): Defending Amazon before lawmakers who believe it's a threat to competition. Amazon after Bezos, just like Bezos himself will

have to reckon with the risks of stratospheric success. Claire Sebastian CNN, New York.


KINKADE: Well, from a billionaire who's making waves to one who's catching them. This just looks like a hover board. Well, this might look like this

sort of date fake that Facebook says it's cracking down on but yes, this really is Mark Zuckerberg celebrating U.S. Independence Day.

He jumped to an electric surfboard to brandish the red, white and blue to the tune of John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads". We're going to just

leave that here for you to enjoy.

We might just leave that there. We'll say good night on that, I'm Lynda Kinkade. Thanks for being with us. Stay safe, stay well and stay tuned.

"One World" with Eleni Giokos from Dubai is up next.